Former Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang is leading in the Democratic primary race for New York City mayoral candidate…

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Yang rose to political prominence in late 2019 and early 2020 as he campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination on a proposal to implement a universal basic income, in which every adult American would receive $1,000 per month, a payment he dubbed the “Freedom Dividend.”

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/548708-yang-expands-lead-in-nyc-mayor-race-poll

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Yang expands lead in NYC mayor race: poll

BY MAX GREENWOOD – 04/16/21 02:30 PM EDT 

Andrew Yang is expanding his lead in the Democratic primary race for New York City mayor, according to a new poll. 

The survey, conducted by the left-leaning think tank Data for Progress, shows the former Democratic presidential hopeful running 13 points ahead of his closest rival, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, at 26 percent to 13 percent respectively.

Only two other candidates, city comptroller Scott Stringer and attorney Maya Wiley, notched double-digit support in the survey, garnering 11 percent and 10 percent support respectively. 

The poll also shows Yang benefiting from New York City’s new ranked-choice voting system. Thirty-one percent of respondents said that Yang would be their second choice on the ballot, while Adams and Stringer picked up 13 percent each. Eleven percent of voters chose Wiley as their No. 2 pick. 

When it comes to voters’ third choice, Adams holds a slight advantage over Yang, with 15 percent of primary voters choosing the Brooklyn Borough president and 14 percent picking Yang.

The Data for Progress poll surveyed 1,007 likely Democratic primary voters in New York from March 21 to April 5, and has a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points. 

With just about two months to go before the June 22 primary election, the poll suggests that Yang has managed to broaden his support among New York City voters. A survey released last month by the government relations firm Fontas Advisors showed Yang leading Adams 16 percent to 10 percent.

“We’re not saying this race is on cruise control. We’re not saying the race is anywhere near over,” Chris Coffey, Yang’s co-campaign manager, told reporters on a conference call on Friday. “What we are saying is that we would rather be where Andrew is than where anyone else is.”

The Data for Progress poll also modeled Yang’s chances in one-on-one match-ups against several of his Democratic opponents. In each scenario, Yang cleared the 50-percent mark.

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/548708-yang-expands-lead-in-nyc-mayor-race-poll

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Yang widens his lead in latest public poll as PAC forms to boost his candidacy

By SALLY GOLDENBERG

04/15/2021 08:44 PM EDT

With a little more than two months until New Yorkers head to the polls to pick the Democratic candidate for mayor, Andrew Yang is widening the gap over his second-place rival, Eric Adams.

survey conducted by Data For Progress, a national think tank, found 26 percent of voters are supporting Yang’s candidacy — double the 13 percent who said they would support Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. The news comes as several PACS are in the works to further assist Yang’s campaign.

The poll also found Yang leading Adams 25 to 22 percent among Black voters — a surprising number given the borough president’s political base in predominantly African-American parts of Brooklyn. Data For Progress polled 1,007 likely voters between March 21 and April 5 through web and text interviews, which would not necessarily capture the older New Yorkers Adams — a former police officer and state Senator — is counting on.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer, a career politician from Manhattan, captured 11 percent of those surveyed, and former City Hall attorney and MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley came in fourth at 10 percent. Every other candidate polled in single digits.

The survey, which was conducted in English, found Yang leading his opponents in every demographic: Women, men and voters who identify as Asian, Hispanic and white. He was also the top pick for people with and without college degrees.

Yang, who joined the race in January, has dominated nearly every news cycle with both controversy and creative campaigning. He relentlessly promotes New York City’s post-Covid comeback, proposing incentives for out-of-town commuters and emphasizing a desire to lure tourists back to the Big Apple. He took in a game at Yankee Stadium, promised a “key to the city” to the TurboVax creator and made a show of buying movie tickets with his wife when theaters reopened.

His breezy style and quasi-celebrity status has dwarfed the attention received by his opponents when they roll out their own endorsements and policy proposals.

https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2021/04/15/yang-widens-his-lead-in-latest-public-poll-as-pac-forms-to-boost-his-candidacy-1375212

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China says that ‘terrorist forces’ may take advantage of U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan but is concerned only because she shares a common border with Afghanistan…

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https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/terrorist-forces-may-take-advantage-of-us-troop-withdrawal-from-afghanistan-china/article34326636.ece

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https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3129707/china-may-send-peacekeeping-force-afghanistan-after-us-troops?utm_content=article&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1618543522

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https://s.nikkei.com/3dmesiC

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A coronavirus tsunami we had never seen before – BBC News…

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Edward Nirenberg: Addressing Geert Vanden Bossche’s Claims…

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Deplatform Disease

Addressing Geert Vanden Bossche’s Claims

Mar 15 Written By Edward Nirenberg

The short version: Geert Vanden Bossche has recently published a letter in which he argues that the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 is going to precipitate a public health disaster because the vaccines will select for viral variants that can escape their protection and drive them towards higher virulence. His claims are speculative, he offers no evidence to support his arguments, and makes several comments which are blatantly incorrect. The core of his argument relies on the assumption that COVID-19 vaccines do not have a significant effect on transmission. This has been repeatedly confirmed to be false in multiple studies. Furthermore, even if his assumptions about the effects of the vaccine on transmission are true, his conclusions are incorrect based on established precedent from Marek’s disease, a viral illness of birds with a vaccine that does not strongly affect transmission- but it still shows meaningful public health benefits in the populations of chickens where it is used. The vaccines will absolutely be critical to ending the pandemic, and fortunately the modular nature of the technology allows for rapid reformulation and adjustment as necessary (and thus far, though precautions are being taken with novel variants to produce vaccines specific to their set of problematic mutations, there isn’t significant enough evidence to suggest that total reformulation of the vaccines is needed), but no issues raised in this letter warrant a re-evaluation of our current COVID-19 vaccination policy.

I won’t be addressing the contents of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s resume as it’s irrelevant to the fact that he is currently making unsupportable claims, but for those seeking a backgrounder on the subject, Dr. Iannelli has graciously obliged. I also won’t be linking to his original letter.

I’ll be blunt: there is very little within this letter that is even close to being correct, and there is almost no evidence presented to support any of its claims. I’ll now go through it point-by-point to explain where it’s wrong.

It’s not exactly rocket science, it’s a basic principle taught in a student’s first vaccinology class: One shouldn’t use a prophylactic vaccine in populations exposed to high infectious pressure (which is now certainly the case as multiple highly infectious variants are currently circulating in many parts of the world).

There is no such principle. It in fact directly goes against current policies for responding to outbreaks of e.g. measles, mumps, meningococcal disease, etc. and more generally is directly at odds with the incredibly effective ring vaccination strategy.

To fully escape selective immune pressure exerted by vaccinal antibodies, Covid-19, a highly mutable virus, only needs to add another few mutations in its receptor-binding domain

COVID-19 is a clinical syndrome, and therefore incapable of mutating; the virus causing it is SARS-CoV-2.

This claim remains to be substantiated and in fact has considerable evidence against it. While it’s true that variants of concern demonstrate reduced antibody neutralization, we do not have an absolute correlate for which antibody levels would be protective and therefore the meaning of this is hard to determine. The antibody titers induced by the vaccines are MUCH higher than those seen with infection, and we see hallmarks of memory responses induced by these vaccines from even a single dose, meaning that even though there is a drop in neutralization, it may not mean a loss in protection. Novavax’s recent Phase 3 clinical trial did show reduced efficacy against B.1.351 which has a constellation of problematic mutations that manage to reduce antibody binding affinity and also increase affinity for ACE2, however the key point is that: no one in the vaccinated group developed severe disease. The simplest explanation I can propose for this is: there is no significant change to the T cell response with the variants in either recovered or vaccinated individuals and T cell responses are critical determinants of patient clinical course. Importantly, it is possible that vaccines may simply need a bit more time for high-affinity antibodies against the variants to be generated (see “affinity maturation”; also addressed in more detail in the context of HIV here). It is also worth noting that in studies examining the antibody responses to variants of concern, some individuals do already exhibit antibodies that cross-neutralize problematic strains at similar levels. Nonetheless, it is not as though we are sitting idle and allowing SARS-CoV-2 to accumulate escape mutations. For one thing, Moderna has completed enrollment of a phase 1 trial for a variant-specific mRNA vaccine targeting B.1.351 which bears a constellation of concerning mutations in its spike protein shown to dramatically reduce antibody binding. Evidence has already confirmed that antibodies against B.1.351 cross-neutralize with ancestral variants. Pfizer and Novavax are also working on updated vaccines against the variants of concern in case they may be needed. Critically, it would seem that immunocompromised individuals are critical in the evolution of problematic SARS-CoV-2 variants, and thus protecting them from infection is imperative (and a vaccination strategy -our current vaccination strategy- will play a key role in that, but I’ll revisit this shortly when discussing evidence for the effects of the vaccines on transmission).

Not only would people lose vaccine-mediated protection but also their precious, variant-nonspecific (!), innate immunity will be gone (this is because vaccinal antibodies outcompete natural antibodies for binding to Covid-19, even when their affinity for the viral variant is relatively low).

This is absolute, unvarnished nonsense. Bossche is referencing the production of natural IgM, which is generated by B1-B cells as a stopgap measure against infections until more potent responses can be initiated; these antibodies are polyreactive, nonspecific, and critically: constitutively produced. They are always present for as long as B1-B cells generating them live. IgM is pentameric and thus even though it has lower affinity than antibodies that have had the opportunity to evolve superior binding affinity, it can compensate with the fact that it has 10 binding sites instead of 2. However, IgG antibodies bear many of the same effector functions (actually, they tend to be better at many of them, as Table 10.27 shows) and they can diffuse into extravascular sites unlike IgM. Principally, antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 could be of value if they are neutralizing. Bossche presents no evidence to support that natural IgM is neutralizing (rather than just binding) SARS-CoV-2.

Bossche subsequently goes on to define:

*NACs: Natural asymptomatic carriers ; refers to subjects who do not develop any clinical symptoms at all, or develop at most mild (involving upper respiratory airways only), after PRIMARY CoV infection

**nonNACs: Relates to subjects who develop severe Covid-19 symptoms after PRIMARY infection

Firstly, an asymptomatic patient does not develop mild symptoms. This is not what asymptomatic means. An asymptomatic patient does not develop ANY symptoms. There is another term -paucisymptomatic- which describes individuals who develop only mild disease.

He then argues that in NACs, the reason for their lack of progression to the disease state is a rapid NK cell response that clears the virus. This is possible, but he presents no evidence to support it. Current models attribute the lack of progression to (severe) disease in these patients to a rapid interferon response, and while interferon responses can promote NK cell activity to clear virally infected cells, the literature does not discuss a role for the cells, given that interferon can induce direct intracellular effectors that suppress viral replication and furthermore the presence of antibodies among asymptomatic individuals. Overexuberant NK cell responses are implicated in the development of severe COVID-19: afucosylated antibodies are extremely potent inducers of NK cell antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), and these are noted to be enriched in severe COVID-19. NK cell-mediated ADCC is extremely powerful for controlling viral infections, particularly before the adaptive immune system gets an opportunity to produce its effectors, and afucosylated antibodies are valuable players in that process, but the inflammation that results can be harmful to the health of the host if uncontrolled, such as if SARS-CoV-2 is given an opportunity to replicate extensively in a host, as might be the case in an individual whose immune system has not been primed against the virus with vaccination.

He then commits an immunological faux pas so egregious that it genuinely shocks me where he shows a dendritic cell (DC) activating an NK cell via antigen presentation on an MHC class I protein. It is basically at this point that I cannot presume that this letter is written in good faith given Dr. Bossche’s background. This is absolutely not how NK cells work. For one thing, the presence of MHC class I protein on a cell indicates to an NK cell that no viral infection is present and functions as an inhibitory signal (indeed, it is a common feature that viruses suppress expression of MHC class I proteins on cells they infect because this prevents them from being recognized by cytotoxic T cells that can kill the cell they are relying on to replicate). For another, NK cells do not examine the contents of the antigen in the MHC binding cleft. They do not have T cell receptors (with the exception of iNKT cells) and therefore have no ability to do this. There ARE reciprocal NK cell-DC interactions where each supports the other (e.g. DCs may produce cytokines promoting the activation of NK cells and NK cell cytokines can promote DC maturation, and NK cells have been known to kill immature dendritic cells in the body) but the mechanism proposed here is overtly at odds with decades of immunology research.

Frankly, to focus on NK cells for a vaccine against an infectious disease is extremely unusual (they can be very important in cancer immunotherapy though). The goal of vaccines broadly is to elicit long-lived immunological memory against a particular infectious agent. NK cells are part of the innate immune system, and while they do exhibit epigenetic modifications after infection in what has been termed trained immunity, this is not the principle by which most vaccines work. Vaccines have to achieve robust activation of dendritic cells because they are key antigen presenting cells and they need to trigger generation of memory helper T cells, ideally T follicular helper cells, memory B cells, long-lived plasma cells, and potentially cytotoxic T cells (depending on the agent)- they act virtually independently of NK cells (though NK cells may play a supportive role through ADCC on challenge with the antigen).

It is very much downhill from here. While he does not use the term, the rest of the argument Bossche makes relies on a false assumption: currently available vaccines for COVID-19 are leaky vaccines. Correlates of vaccine-induced protection: methods and implications defines leaky vaccines as follows:

According to [the leaky vaccine model], the risk of infection/disease in all vaccinees is reduced (by VE %) compared to non-vaccinees, none of the vaccinees being fully protected.

The assumption that no vaccinee is totally or permanently protected implies one or both of the following:

i) No amount (titre) of the immune marker is totally protective or, if it is, no individual can maintain that titre for a long period (because of waning or transient immunosuppression);

ii) The degree of protection is a function of the level of the immune marker – the simplest explanation being that protection is a function of both the level of the immune marker and the challenge dose.

In other words, leaky vaccines are vaccines which are not able to significantly affect transmission of the pathogen. The critical question here is firstly: are COVID-19 vaccines leaky vaccines?

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Wang Z, Schmidt F, Weisblum Y, et al. mRNA vaccine-elicited antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and circulating variants. Nature [Internet] 2021;Available from:  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03324-6.pdf  Figure 1i; note that in some individuals there is preserved antibody neutralization with the constellation of problematic mutations in the spike protein that are noted to reduce binding affinity. Red circles indicate that the patient received Pfizer’s vaccine while white circles indicate Moderna’s vaccine.
Wang Z, Schmidt F, Weisblum Y, et al. mRNA vaccine-elicited antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and circulating variants. Nature [Internet] 2021;Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03324-6.pdf Figure 1i; note that in some individuals there is preserved antibody neutralization with the constellation of problematic mutations in the spike protein that are noted to reduce binding affinity. Red circles indicate that the patient received Pfizer’s vaccine while white circles indicate Moderna’s vaccine.

To fully escape selective immune pressure exerted by vaccinal antibodies, Covid-19, a highly mutable virus, only needs to add another few mutations in its receptor-binding domain

COVID-19 is a clinical syndrome, and therefore incapable of mutating; the virus causing it is SARS-CoV-2.

Murphy K, Weaver C. Janeway’s Immunobiology. 9th ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2016. Table 10.27
Murphy K, Weaver C. Janeway’s Immunobiology. 9th ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2016. Table 10.27
  1. This study compared PCR positivity among asymptomatic individuals who had received an RNA vaccine to those who had not been vaccinated and found it was approximately 80% lower. This is a very strict bar and it likely underestimates the ability of the vaccines to reduce transmission, because PCR can detect as few as ~100 copies of viral RNA. SARS-CoV-2, being a coronavirus, likely requires several hundred viral copies to initiate productive infections from one person to the next. An asymptomatic individual who tests positive may not necessarily be contagious.
  2. Novavax’s vaccine demonstrated sterilizing immunity (the virus failed to even initiate infection) in nonhuman primate studies.
  3. ChAdOx-nCoV-2019 also showed significant reductions in PCR positivity among vaccinees compared with unvaccinated controls.
  4. The SIREN study showed that Pfizer’s vaccine prevents infection with B.1.1.7 variants.
  5. Pfizer’s vaccine was able to reduce viral load by a factor of about 4 among vaccinees compared with unvaccinated controls.
  6. The Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccine showed significant reductions in PCR positivity among vaccinees compared with controls.

And so on. In short, nothing about the COVID-19 vaccines suggests that they are leaky.

For a moment though, let’s entertain the notion that the vaccines are leaky. In general, you would have a hard time identifying any human vaccine that could be called leaky (though emerging findings regarding influenza vaccines give hints that there may be a leaky vaccine effect involved, given their excellent efficacy among children, who are critical vectors, I am not so convinced- though if we do grant that they are leaky, this only serves to undermine Bossche’s argument). The classic example of a leaky vaccine is actually the one for Marek’s disease, caused by a herpesvirus that infects chicken and causes lymphoma among other illnesses. It has been observed that over time Marek’s disease virus has become more virulent, and this has been attributed classically to a leaky vaccine effect. Still, as Osterrieder et al write (emphasis mine):

Box 2 | Marek’s disease vaccines — an open-ended success story Immunization against Marek’s disease (MD) was started in the late 1960s and first used avirulent Marek’s disease virus (MDV) or a virus very closely related to MDV, turkey herpesvirus 1 (HVT), which does not cause disease. Vaccination reduced the incidence of MD by 99% and presents a unique example of the successful application of a modified-live virus (MLV) vaccine against an extremely aggressive agent that can routinely causes >90% morbidity and mortality in susceptible, unvaccinated hosts7,116. Because MDV strains are constantly evolving towards greater virulence in the face of vaccination109 (BOX 1), combination vaccines consisting of HVT and gallid herpesvirus type 3 or an attenuated MDV strain, CVI988-Rispens, are currently used117–119.

Clearly then, even a leaky vaccine can be used with great efficacy. What’s more is there is new research challenging the dogma of leaky vaccines selecting for greater virulence (emphasis mine):

We used controlled experiments involving natural virus transmission to reveal that vaccination with a leaky vaccine, which only marginally reduces transmission, can significantly reduce post-transmission disease development and mortality among unvaccinated contact individuals. Our analysis indicates that this effect is mediated by a reduction in exposure dose experienced by susceptible individuals when exposed to vaccinated shedders, leading to lower pathogen load and concomitant reduced symptoms in contact birds. The primary objectives of vaccination of livestock with leaky vaccines are to improve animal welfare and to reduce production losses caused by disease symptom development. Our results show that even partial vaccination against MD can substantially reduce disease symptoms and mortality in the whole flock, leading to universally positive impacts on animal welfare and productivity, and these conclusions may extend to leaky vaccines used in other systems.

Ending COVID-19 will require vaccination- this is not a matter of debate or discussion. Viruses evolve towards greater transmissibility, but they cannot evolve unless they have hosts. Fortunately, SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses are unique in that they have a proofreading RNA-dependent RNA polymerase that slows mutation rates by a factor of about 20, which means they are slower to mutate, but this is irrelevant if they can infect well over 20 times more people than other RNA viruses. Vaccines clearly reduce viral load, prevent severe disease, and disrupt transmission, and they can thankfully be readily modified to address problematic variants as is done every season for influenza with great effect. They are the way out until someone proposes something better. Bossche doesn’t and his claims are baseless.

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  45. Hall VJ, Foulkes S, Saei A, et al. Effectiveness of BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine against infection and COVID-19 vaccine coverage in healthcare workers in England, multicentre prospective cohort study (the SIREN study). SSRN Electron J [Internet] 2021 [cited 2021 Mar 15];Available from: https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=3790399
  46. JANSSEN BIOTECH, INC. (A PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY OF JOHNSON & JOHNSON) COVID-19 Vaccine Ad26.COV2.S VAC31518 (JNJ-78436735) SPONSOR BRIEFING DOCUMENT ADDENDUM VACCINES AND RELATED BIOLOGICAL PRODUCTS ADVISORY COMMITTEE [Internet]. Fda.gov. [cited 2021 Mar 15];Available from: https://www.fda.gov/media/146218/download

Edward Nirenberg

Comments (6)

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Timo Kauttp 4 weeks ago · 0 Likes  

I’m not at all convinced by Vanden Bossche’s claims. However, as far as I have seen and heard his views, to say that:
“The core of his argument relies on the assumption that COVID-19 vaccines do not have a significant effect on transmission.”
is not correct. The core is surely that the vaccines won’t stop and kill the virus instantly and allows it to live and reproduce, and rather, even if the transmission rate is low with vaccine, there are still too many dangerous mutations spreading around. As a layman I can only hope this is not true, but I found the short version of the article a bit misleading.

Edward Nirenberg 4 weeks ago · 0 Likes  

The virus only has an opportunity to develop escape mutations if it can replicate within the host for sufficiently long to acquire the necessary mutations. Even if those variants do emerge, they are irrelevant for public health unless they can be spread to others. The available evidence indicates that vaccines generate rapid, robust immunity that is significantly greater than that of infection, and disrupt transmission substantially.

Ofek 4 weeks ago · 0 Likes  

Thank you so much, you are doing very important work debunking those claims. The completely outrageous and non-scientific claims that vaccine opposers make are not that bad. The real problem is when the claims sound scientific.

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In America, the shooting never ends: Latest shooting is at the FedEx facility, Indianapolis: At least 8 dead, killer Brandon Hole included…

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https://apnews.com/article/fedex-indianapolis-mass-shooting-e92ad3117c56357b3b2c71a2903e68a8

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https://www.foxnews.com/us/who-is-indianapolis-fedex-shooter-brandon-hole

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https://www.wthr.com/mobile/article/news/crime/indianapolis-fedex-shooting-shots-fired-victims-shooter/531-aa5d4c58-0cca-45c7-8c08-9697df5e793c

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https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/16/us/indianapolis-shooting-fedex-facility/index.html?utm_medium=social&utm_term=link&utm_source=twcnnbrk&utm_content=2021-04-16T04%3A44%3A13

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Coronavirus variants: What you need to know…

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Tucker Carson, Fox News host, questions Dr Fauci…

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https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9473253/Tucker-responds-Faucis-calling-vaccine-questions-conspiracy-theory.html?ito=social-twitter_dailymailus

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China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning would last barely an hour in battle against the USS Ronald Reagan…

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The entry of China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, into service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) attracted considerable attention from both the Chinese press and military observers around the world. For some, the Liaoning was a symbol of China’s global power; for others, it represented a significant first step toward a more muscular and assertive Chinese navy.

Originally built as a “heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser” for the Soviet Navy, the ship was laid down as the Riga and renamed the Varyag in 1990. A Chinese travel agency purchased the unfinished hull in 1998, and three years later the ship was towed from the Ukraine to China, where it underwent extensive modernization of its hull, radar, and electronics systems. After years of refits, the Liaoning was commissioned into the PLAN in September 2012 as a training ship unassigned to any of the Navy’s three major fleets. Two months after the ship was commissioned, the PLAN conducted its first carrier-based takeoff and landings.

Although it might be several years before a carrier air regiment is fully integrated into the PLAN, it was reported in November 2016 that the Liaoning is now combat ready. In mid-December 2016, China staged the first live-fire drills involving the Liaoning. Since September 2018, the carrier has been undergoing its first major refitting. Reports indicate that the command center – or “island” – is being upgraded.
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When one considers the respective capabilities of aircraft carriers, tonnage and deck-side size are important indicators for the amount of stores, munitions, and aircraft a carrier can bring to a fight. The Liaoning is by no means a small ship, but it is far from the largest or most capable carrier in the Asia-Pacific. The Liaoning displaces roughly 66,000 tons (60,000 metric tons) — roughly 39,000 tons more than the Japanese helicopter destroyer Izumo — and is nearly 60 meters longer. The Liaoning also boasts a size advantage over the Soviet-built Indian carrier Vikramaditya, with a deck 20 meters longer and weighing approximately 17,000 tons more.

The Liaoning’s size falls well below the U.S. Nimitz-class carrier USS Ronald Reagan currently stationed with the U.S. Seventh Fleet in Japan, the latter being over 60 percent heavier and 30 meters longer . The Ronald Reagan weighs 97,000 tons (88,000 metric tons) fully loaded and spans 333 meters long, far outsizing the Liaoning. The numbers bear out the fact that the Liaoning is neither a lightweight nor a supercarrier like the USS Ronald Reagan.
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The Liaoning’s otherwise middleweight size belies its limited capabilities. Higher speed means faster time to target and improved ability to outrun potential threats, but the Liaoning’s steam turbine power plant limits its top speed. Notably, the Soviet power plant upon which its propulsion is likely based suffered from poor design and maintenance and may limit the Liaoning to a typical speed of around 20 knots.1

These figures are on par with the Indian Vikramaditya, but likely well below the 30-plus-knot top speed of the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan. Nimitz-class aircraft carriers generate considerably more power from their nuclear reactors and  only require one midlife refueling during their approximately 50-year service life. The USS Gerald R. Ford is also capable of exceeding 30 knots, and carries newly designed nuclear reactors that are three times more powerful than that of its predecessors.
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The Liaoning’s air wing represents a significant leap in air capability for the PLAN, but its inherent capability is limited much like the carrier itself. The aircraft aboard the Liaoning are capable and advanced, but remain restricted primarily by the ship’s aircraft-launching system and relatively insufficient amount of personnel training.

While the Liaoning’s air wing of 24 Shenyang J-15 multirole fighters is larger and more capable than the antisubmarine helicopters embarked aboard the Japanese Izumo, it falls well short of Ronald Reagan’s over 55 fixed-wing aircraft.2 The fixed-wing aircraft aboard the Liaoning, although advanced, are limited in both range and endurance. The J-15 aircraft are Chinese-modified variants of the Russian fourth-generation Sukhoi Su-33. Fourth-generation fighters boast digital flight avionics and advanced radars that represent a significant improvement over the analog systems of third-generation aircraft, but lack the low-observable stealth technology of fifth-generation fighter aircraft like the American F-35C.

Advanced equipment notwithstanding, the J-15 is limited in range and payload by the Liaoning’s lack of an aircraft catapult. The Liaoning’s aircraft-launching system relies upon a ski jump-style deck instead of the steam catapults used by the United States and France, forcing the aircraft to expend considerable internal fuel during takeoff and thereby severely curtailing its payload. For instance, analysts estimate that the maximum takeoff weight for a J-15 from the Liaoning would be limited to approximately 62,000 pounds.3 By comparison, the USS Ronald Reagan can launch an aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 100,000 pounds.4 China’s second aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, was built entirely with Chinese designs and technology. It began sea trials on May 13th, 2018, and will also use a ski jump for takeoff. To learn more about the Type 001A, check out our detailed breakdown.

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China may consider mixing its Covid-19 vaccines to improve efficacy…

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https://news.yahoo.com/china-mulls-mixing-vaccines-improve-033902993.html

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Carrie Madej: The QAnon doctor pushing conspiracies about the COVID Vaccine…

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Carrie Madej passes herself off as a medical expert, but she operates at the intersection of QAnon conspiracy theories and anti-vaxxer science, with a dollop of Christian fundamentalism and Trump-worship added to the mix.

She promotes the view that coronavirus vaccines are part of a global effort to change the human genome and control the population,

https://www.vice.com/en/article/88avy5/a-qanon-doctor-who-spoke-at-the-capitol-riots-said-the-covid-vaccine-is-a-witches-brew

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Excerpts:

Coronavirus: False and misleading claims about vaccines debunked

By Jack Goodman and Flora Carmichael
BBC Reality CheckPublished26 July 2020
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The anti-vaccination movement has gained traction online in recent years, and campaigners opposed to vaccination have moved their focus to making claims relating to the coronavirus.

Claim about the impact on DNA

First, a video containing inaccurate claims about coronavirus vaccine trials, made by osteopath Carrie Madej, that has proved popular on social media.

Carrie Madej’s video makes a false claim that the vaccines will change recipients’ DNA (which carries genetic information).

“The Covid-19 vaccines are designed to make us into genetically modified organisms.”

Screenshot of the video with Carrie Madej, who is talking into a camera about vaccines. We labelled the video "false"

She also claims – without any evidence – that vaccines will “hook us all up to an artificial intelligence interface”.

There are 25 different candidate vaccines in clinical trials around the world according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but none of them will alter human DNA and they do not contain technology to link people up to an artificial intelligence interface.

The vaccines are all designed to provoke an immune response by training our bodies to recognise and fight the virus.

Carrie Madej makes a number of other false claims, including that vaccine trials are “not following any sound scientific protocol to make sure this is safe”.

“New vaccines undergo rigorous safety checks before they can be recommended for widespread use,” says Michelle Roberts, BBC online health editor.

We have asked Carrie Madej for comment about these claims, but have received no response at the time of publication.

Where has the video been shared?

It was first uploaded to YouTube in June, where it clocked more than 300,000 views, but it has also been popular on Facebook and Instagram.

It’s still circulating in the United States, the UK and elsewhere.

Anti-vaccination protesters in South Africa holding placards saying "we are not guinea pigs"
image captionThere was a small protest in South Africa a week after a Covid-19 vaccine trial started in Johannesburg

A scientist in South Africa, Sarah Downs, who writes under the alias Mistress of Science, said she was alerted to the video by her mother whose prayer group had shared it.

The scientist sent her own debunking information to this group and says: “They are now much better informed, which I’m so glad about, because they were all taken in by that video.”

Claims about the pace of vaccine trials

When the preliminary results of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine study were published on Monday, the topic provoked much debate in coronavirus-focused Facebook groups.
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Claims about vaccines and Spanish flu

A meme circulating on social media claims vaccines were responsible for 50 million deaths during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.

But this is completely wrong.

Inaccurate post on Facebook claims that the 1918 Spanish flu did not kill 50 million people, "vaccines that the government forced them to take did". Includes black and white photo of a hospital ward, apparently from 1918, and a large old fashioned syringe.

Firstly, as the US Centers for Disease Control states, there was no vaccine at the time.

Scientists in Britain and the US did experiment with basic bacterial vaccines, but these were not vaccines as we would recognise them today, says historian and author Mark Honingsbaum.

This was “for the good reason that no-one knew that the influenza was a virus”.

There were two main causes of death – the initial flu infection or from the strong enormous immune response the virus triggered leading to lungs being filled with fluids.

Additional reporting by Olga Robinson, Shayan Sardarizadeh and Peter Mwai.

Presentational grey line

https://www.bbc.com/news/53525002

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Excerpts:

Vice News

The QAnon Doctor Pushing Wild Conspiracies About the COVID Vaccine

Dr. Carrie Madej spoke at the Capitol riots Wednesday and called the COVID vaccine a “witches’ brew.”

by Jesse Hicks

When Dr. Carrie Madej took the stage at the MAGA Freedom Rally D.C. on Wednesday, police sirens wailed as pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol. The president’s guest speaker told the crowd, a mix of QAnon supporters and far-right MAGA fans, her thoughts on the COVID vaccine: that it contains bio-sensing nanomachines designed to alter human DNA and control people’s minds.

“This is not your normal flu vaccine,” Madej said. “This is something totally different. This is a witches’ brew. I’ve never seen anything like this in science or medicine.”

“There’s many ways it can be taken up into our genome,” she continued. “So when this gets into the genome, if it’s permanent, guess what? You, as a human, can be patented and owned—look it up!”

Madej describes herself as an osteopathic doctor and a “child of God and a believer in Jesus Christ.” She’s also a QAnon believer who questions why COVID-19 has been a bigger story than what she describes as a “global elite pedophile ring” and reposts byzantine diagrams supposedly revealing Bill Gates as the mastermind behind the global pandemic. 

This past summer, she was convinced that a long-debunked website advertising the “Cannibal Club” restaurant in Los Angeles was in fact a real eatery serving human flesh. “We ‘taste like pork,’” she tweeted. “Dear God—help us change this world for the better!”

To many, Madej successfully passes herself off as a medical expert, but she operates at the intersection of QAnon conspiracy theories and anti-vaxxer science, with a dollop of Christian fundamentalism and Trump-worship added to the mix. Yet the unfounded ideas she promotes—that coronavirus vaccines are part of a global effort to change the human genome and control the population—are spreading and have already had an effect. Last month, a pharmacist attempted to destroy 500 doses of Moderna’s COVID vaccines because he believed they were going to change people’s DNA. 

“This is not your normal flu vaccine. This is something totally different. This is a witches’ brew. I’ve never seen anything like this in science or medicine.”

The specter of DNA-altering vaccines didn’t originate with Madej, but she’s helped popularize it to the extent that it’s now just taken as a given in many right-wing spheres, without the need for citation or proof. While Madej has been banned from YouTube, she still has tens of thousands of followers across other social media, like Twitter, Instagram, and Parler. And thousands more heard her unfounded conspiracies on Wednesday when she spoke as a featured guest at the Freedom Rally, alongside the president and several other big names on Team Trump. 

“Guys, listen, that is the ulterior motive, that is one of the agendas of this: the ultimate enslavement of humanity,” she said, “Wake up! Wake up! Do your due diligence. Look this up. This is real.”

Needless to say, the idea that a coronavirus vaccine contains spying, mind-controlling nanomachines has been debunked. “They do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way,” the CDC writes, in no uncertain terms, about the shots. 

Madej says she started studying vaccines as a teenager, when she first came to doubt the tetanus vaccine. (She claims to be unable to find anyone who ever actually died from tetanus.) After earning her doctorate of osteopathic medicine from the Kansas City University of Medical Biosciences, she went on to practice in Georgia.

She currently lives in the Dominican Republic, she says, because it’s not safe for whistleblowers like her in the United States—her long-standing skepticism about vaccines, after all, is dangerous knowledge when elites are pushing coronavirus vaccinations for their own agenda. 

Madej first began sounding the alarm about supposed gene-altering vaccines in June on YouTube. The site eventually pulled her video for being misleading and blocked her account, but you can still easily find her video titled “Human 2.0 Warning – Doctor Issues Wake Up Call to the World.” 

Madej claims that process changes a recipient’s DNA, making them a genetically modified organism that’s subject to patent law. Further, she contends, the vaccines use nanotechnology—a word that simply describes extremely small tools but is often associated with tiny computers. Those tiny computers, she claims, can be used to both monitor everything happening inside our bodies and possibly remote-control our thoughts and emotions. 

Wearing a labcoat and a cross around her neck, Madej appears as a talking head on a soft blue backdrop. Over the course of 20 minutes, she focuses on Moderna’s vaccine, which uses messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, to produce an immune response in humans. Although they’ve been researched for decades, COVID-19 vaccines are the first mRNA vaccines approved by the FDA. 

Most people are familiar with injecting a piece of weakened or inactivated germ into the body for inoculation, like the flu vaccine. The COVID vaccines work differently: They contain a piece of the coronavirus mRNA that, once inside the body, provokes cells to produce a distinctive (but harmless) part of the virus—a “spike” protein. The immune system, in turn, learns to defend against this protein, thereby creating antibodies that can protect from actual COVID infection. 

Madej claims that process changes a recipient’s DNA, making them a genetically modified organism that’s subject to patent law. Further, she contends, the vaccines use nanotechnology—a word that simply describes extremely small tools but is often associated with tiny computers. Those tiny computers, she claims, can be used to both monitor everything happening inside our bodies and possibly remote-control our thoughts and emotions. 

Although the COVID vaccines do use nanotechnology, it’s not computers—it’s simply extremely small droplets that carry the mRNA into the body. There’s no massive DNA reprogramming and nanobot-insertion program designed as a part of a transhumanist push to “Human 2.0.” 

Nevertheless, Madej’s story found an audience—and continues to. As of late July, her YouTube video had 300,000 views, according to BBC, and archives suggest her videos were still available under her name on the platform in late August, with tens of thousands of subscribers and millions of views. Even now, supporters try to sneak her videos past YouTube’s safeguards.   

The idea that the COVID vaccine will alter a recipient’s DNA even recently led to criminal charges. Last month, Steven Brandenburg, a 46-year-old pharmacist from Grafton, Wisconsin, attempted to destroy more than 500 doses of coronavirus vaccine because he reportedly thought “it could hurt people by changing their DNA,” according to the detective who took his probable cause statement. It’s unclear whether Brandenburg was directly exposed to Madej’s content, but it doesn’t matter—her ideas are in the ether now, carried on the winds of right-wing social platforms and media. 

Since being banned from YouTube, Madej has made her home on BitChute, where she has more than 2,000 subscribers. She’s on Parler, too, with 2,800 followers; she follows lawyer and Trump conspiracist Lin Wood, the Daily Caller, Breitbart, Ron and Rand Paul, and Bongino Report. And on Twitter, she emphasizes her medical credentials (her Twitter handle is @DrMadej and her avatar features her with a stethoscope around her neck) while encouraging her more than 26,000 followers to resist vaccination. 

“Our genome should not be played with like a Fisher-Price playset,” she tweeted on Tuesday. “Say No to being in these dangerous experiments. Say No to the Va$$i&e.” 

https://www.vice.com/en/article/88avy5/a-qanon-doctor-who-spoke-at-the-capitol-riots-said-the-covid-vaccine-is-a-witches-brew

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