COVID-19 Mistakes to Avoid: Don’t Mix Up Prophylaxis and Cure

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

As I wrote yesterday, one depressing aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic is to see two of the usual suspects – Big Tech and Big Pharma – trying to distort what we hear, learn, and understand about the ongoing situation. Yesterday, I discussed the fallacy of conflating contact tracing with contact tracing by app – a mistake big Tech wants you to make so we all spend money on something that may not work all that well rather than relying on tried and tested methods of contact tracing. Similarly, Big Pharma wants us all to believe that the way to manage COVID-19 is with a new, expensive, proprietary patented vaccine; or with some new expensive proprietary drug, rather than with a tweaking of an existing therapy, or an off-the-shelf generic approach.

I’m going to try to pitch this post at a fairly general level and include what I think might be useful links for people to study: asking questions, rather than supplying anything like definitive answers. Why? Well I’m not a medical doctor or a scientist, and though I identify avenues that might look promising, I cannot hope to begin to supply answers (nor, to be sure, is the state of science such that there are answers to be supplied).


Today, the newspapers featured positive news about Moderna’s efforts to produce a viable COVID-19 vaccine (see this WSJ account, Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine Moves to Bigger Study and this report from Stat First data for Moderna Covid-19 vaccine show it spurs an immune response). Meanwhile, The Times of India discussed the efforts of Indian pharmaceutical maker Zydur to make its own vaccine in India’s Zydus begins human trials for potential Covid-19 vaccine,

Now, as you are no doubt aware, developing a new vaccine poses formidable challenges. And for surmounting those challenges, the rewards will be vast.

But two studies suggest some existing vaccines, the Bacillus Calmette–Guerin (BCG) TB vaccine, and the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, might convey some protective effect – which would be more or less immediate. It should be emphasized that neither of these approaches was developed to address COVID-19 directly. Nonetheless, there is some evidence that each may provide some benefit.

I was first informed about the MMR connection by my friend Dr. Sara Borwein, when I mentioned the interesting situation with the BCG vaccine. Sarah sent me a clip discussing the MMR connection, which originated in Kazakhstan, while noting the source was not the best. Permit me to discuss each in turn.

First off, how does the mechanism work. Believe it or not, a decent laypeson explanation is provided by The Daily Mail, Why experts think the MMR jab may save adults from: Childhood vaccine at heart of dramatic new trial:

Most of the 100 or so Covid-19 vaccine trials under way worldwide focus on specific targets unique to the virus itself, and are made either with traces of the ‘spike’ protein found on the surface of the virus, or fragments of its genetic material. The idea is the immune system recognises the virus material in the vaccines as foreign and creates infection-fighting cells (antibodies and T cells) should it then encounter Covid-19.

In other words, they are designed to work against Covid-19 and nothing else.

The same applies to most infectious disease vaccines. But a small group of vaccines, including the MMR, the BCG jab given to protect against tuberculosis (TB) and the oral version of the polio vaccine, are different.

These are made with ‘live’ but massively weakened versions of the viruses or bacteria (in the case of the BCG) themselves.

As well as priming the immune system to produce disease-fighting cells that target the infectious organism, live vaccines pep up the whole immune system so it’s more alert to any invading organisms.

It’s thought this is because the presence of any live virus or bacterium is enough to put the whole immune system on alert.

‘It’s a bit like an army putting all its snipers on duty, ready to take out anything that is a potential threat,’ explains Eleanor Riley, a professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Edinburgh University.

The best evidence so far for the efficacy of the MMR vaccine comes from the good ship Theodore Roosevelt. Again from the Daily Mail:

The protective potential of MMR hit the headlines when the crew of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was struck by a Covid-19 outbreak.

More than 1,100 sailors on board tested positive, yet just one needed hospital treatment, (and later died) according to a report published last month in the journal mBio.

Even allowing for the likelihood that many were young and fit, researchers calculated it would still be expected that about 14 per cent (over 150 in this case) would need to be hospitalised.

But the sailors all had one thing in common; as new recruits mostly in their late teens or 20s, each had been given the MMR vaccine, in line with U.S. military policy.

Some scientists think the jab may have protected many crew members against serious illness and could also explain why so few children develop symptoms from Covid-19. In the UK, children make up less than two per cent of confirmed cases.

Between 80 and 90 per cent of all UK children, teenagers and young adults have had the MMR jab, their first dose aged one, and a booster, at three years.

Now the idea that the readily available and relatively cheap vaccine (it costs about £50 privately) could be used to protect millions of adults against Covid-19 is attracting wider interest.<

I’ll stop there, for as I said, questions, not answers.

As for the BCG vaccine, I’ll once again begin with a popular account. this from yesterday’s Hindustan Times, TB vaccine averts severe infections, deaths from Covid-19: Study:

The inexpensive and widely-used Bacillus Calmette–Guerin (BCG) vaccine that protects against childhood tuberculosis also prevents severe infection and death from coronavirus disease (Covid-19), concluded two peer-reviewed studies released last week, including one led by Indian researchers from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Delhi.

The JNU study from India found that the quality of protection depends on the BCG strain used to make the vaccine, with Mixed, Pasteur and Japan strains being superior to the three other strains which together account for more than 90% of the BCG vaccines being used in the world. The peer-reviewed study was published in Cell Death and Disease, which part of the Nature group of journals. The second study from the US, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also linked BCG vaccination with reduced Covid-19 deaths.

“Those who got BCG vaccination, not just in India but in other countries, are more protected than those who were not, shows this analysis of data for countries with over 1,000 reported cases. We think BCG-mediated immune response would help in lowering both incidence and severity of infection,” said study author Gobardhan Das, chairperson, Centre for Molecular Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Around 100 million children around the world get the BCG vaccine every year.

Again, rather than targeting the aim of reaching any definitive conclusions, I’ll just refer interested readers to the two underlying studies, BCG vaccination policy and preventive chloroquine usage: do they have an impact on COVID-19 pandemic? in Cell Death and Disease; and BCG vaccine protection from severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Now, unsurprisingly, big Pharma is, to my knowledge, not promoting further exploration of either of these vaccines, as either an interim or stopgap if and until a COVID-19-specific vaccine emerges. Why not? Each has been around for a while, in the case of BCG, for more than a century. And while these options might prevent or lessen suffering from COVID-19, no one is going to get rich from making and distributing them. Whereas the profit potential from a new vaccine…..Well, the sky looks to be the limit there.

Cure and Prophylaxis: What About Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)?

From the onset of this pandemic, I’ve been hearing about the efficacy -or lack thereof of HCQ, sometimes combined with zinc and azithromycin, either for treatment of COVID-19 or prophylaxis. By now, the scientific record is muddied and for a while, the reputation of two  respected medical journals, The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine was damaged by their publication of studies based on dubious data from the US company, Surgisphere. The studies led to a shift in World Health Organization (WHO) policy (see Surgisphere: governments and WHO changed Covid-19 policy based on suspect data from tiny US company). HCQ is something that has become highly politicized, partly because Donald Trump has advocated its use and continues to do so. You can’t be for HCQ if you’re anti-Trump. You can’t be pro-mask if you are pro-Trump. Which is obviously ridiculous. These are scientific questions, not political ones. But many Americans have lost their ability to think seriously about scientific questions – if they ever had it in the first place.

But without getting too foily, i can’t help but think that it’s big Pharma that benefits most from all this confusion about HCQ, and I wonder whether this is an accident. I guess it all boils down to which general approach to history one takes. Big Pharma won’t profit if this cheap, widely available generic drug proves to  have a COVID-19 protective effect; it barely costs $1 per dose.. But someone certainly benefits from the use of remdesivir, which even at concessionary rates, is priced so I believe they still make out very well from each course of treatment, according to Stat, Gilead announces long-awaited price for Covid-19 drug remdesivir:

For all governments in the developed world, including the U.S. government’s Indian Health Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Gilead will charge $2,340 for a five-day course. U.S. insurers, in addition to Medicare and Medicaid, will pay 33% more, or $3,120. Countries in the developing world will get the drug at greatly reduced prices through generic manufacturers to which Gilead has licensed production.

And the drug is in short supply – so that in Hong Kong, where along with interferon, it is the preferred therapy, doctors can’t secure enough to treat patients.

Now, one very basic issue I’ve noticed with HCQ studies is a failure to appreciate and distinguish its use as a prophylactic from that of a cure, especially once massaged and presented in the press. Many studies have looked at its use as a cure for those who have late-Stage COVID-19, and those poor results are extrapolated to conclude the drug has no utility whatsoever.

India thinks otherwise, and has combined HCQ does with use of PPE to reduce the COVID-19 risk of its healthworkers (see this India Today account  4 or more hydroxychloroquine doses reduced risk of coronavirus in healthcare workers: ICMR study). I can’t help but think that the muddy scientific record is partly because big Pharma doesn’t benefit from clarity here,

Imagine, for example, we made the same type of logical mistake in evaluating the efficacy of birth control pills, e.g., conflation of the use of something as a cure, and as a prophylaxis. Assume you waited ’til week 24 of your pregnancy to take your birth control pills and then concluded that the drug didn’t work very well: the pills didn’t prevent pregnancy at that stage and for all I know, their use might lead you to bring to term a damaged fetus or spontaneously abort. Whereas, if you used the drug as directed – taking the pills regularly, before and after you have sex, they work just fine.

The Indians seem to think that the same applies to HCQ and perhaps it does – even if Donald Trump thinks so.

But no one at big Pharma will get rich if that is the case. So there’s a whole lot of conflation of prophylaxis and cure going on with people who should know better.

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  1. Darius

    I had the mumps in 1965, the rubella vaccine in the second grade in 1969 or ’70, and a measles shot in 1989. Does that count?

    1. Robert E Most, MD

      (I’m a clinician but have a decent research background at UNC-CH, birthplace of SARS-CoV-2014. Have been part of an informal consortium of scientists trying to answer the question: is SARS-CoV-2 a laboratory creation?)
      But the theme of having had a – recent – live virus vaccine is a bit different. The recent vax for the sailors may have increased their immune alertness. Your years-ago vaccines and completed illness gives you specific antibodies for MMR and it would take a different study to determine if there is beneficial overlap.

      Otherwise, note that we have some suspicion that the quadrivalent flu vax of 2019 may have led to reduced immune competence to COVID. The cases are population groups and one case is Lombardy Italy. It is a terrible comparison because of the advanced age of the patients and the terrible air pollution there. (Hubei Province in China also has bad pollution and Wuhan may be the 5G capital of the world. We know very little about health effects of 5G but I am NOT optimistic. But I guess we need the self driving Ubers and 24/7 spymeters in our homes, or else Western Civ as we know it will collapse into blissful enlightened privacy.)

      So, vaccines can work either way. Finally, note that previous attempts at a SARS CoV vax have run into the problem of INCREASED hypersensitivity reactions to subsequent infection (in animal models) IDK exactly what happened but Baylor U abandoned their attempt at a SARS vax in 2006.

      1. Adam1

        Interestingly in the long form version of the MMR article they do note that the antibodies generated by the MMR vaccine are very similar to the antibodies generated by the body for covid-19. It hasn’t been confirmed, but there is speculation that there is a positive immune response with them too.

  2. marcel

    The big problem with COVID19 is that it kills so few. Even when taking no medication at all, over 80% won’t barely notice they got the disease. But a few will get seriously sick, and even fewer will end up in the ICU (and about half of those die).
    Now if you start handing out HCL as a prophylactic, you are medicating 100% of the population, hoping to save, say, half of the 1,5% that dies from the disease, ie 0,75% of the population.
    HCL does have nasty secondary effects (you may ask Jair Bolsonaro, who has his heart checked twice a day). So you are exposing 99,25% to extra risks, with no guaranteed benefits for the remaining 0,75%.
    You have a similar issue with a test to validate the use of HCL (or anything else as a prophylactic), as you’ll need to run huge numbers (10 of 1000s of patients) before you can say something valid about the usefulness of HCL as a prophylactic.
    Perhaps that the ICMR study you referred, or over time the outcome of the Indian experiment will give an answer, but otherwise it is not really feasible to do a double-blind study on such numbers.

    (for the same reason, healthy people should not take aspirin to avoid heart disease, but that’s for another day).

    1. urblintz

      There is far more evidence that HCL can be effective than that Jair Bolsonaro has a heart…

    2. cirsium

      Yes, there are contraindications but patients with autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis have been taking HCQ for years without side effects. This immunomodulatory drug is safe, cheap and effective against SARS-CoV-2. It is used by many countries, both as a course of treatment for patients in high risk groups with symptoms to prevent the infection progressing to Covid-19 and as a safeguard for front line staff like the police in India. The doses and timing are different. Here is an example of a country using it to treat people infected with SARS-CoV-2. Morocco uses the Raoult treatment protocol.

      Pencillin was first used in World War II to save soldiers’ lives without a double-blind study. Dr Zelenko who has also advised governments on using HCQ + Zinc + azithromycin considers that the non-use of this immunomodulatory drug in the battle against SARS-CoV-2 is a crime against humanity.

      Healthy people who are in one of the risk categories for heart disease can be prescribed a small daily dose of aspirin.

    3. Robert E Most, MD

      I see there are other good answers already.
      But Re the heart – docs were subjected to terrible propaganda against HCQ (usual abbrev for HydroxyCholoroQuine). We are used to checking an EKG for many drugs. About 10 % of the population has somewhat long QTc – the interval between the heartbeat/ electrical discharge in the ventricles, and the electrical recovery. Bolsonaro may be one of those 10 percent.

      I would not advocate overall population prophylaxis. I WOULD advocate early treatment for mild COVID symptoms. ALL indications are that it would work. I have one short course of HCQ+AZT at home to use if needed, since I work for a large brain-dead medical institution. (I always take Zinc, Vit D, glutathione, vit C, and I would take N-acetyl-choline if I had an active infection.)

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        Thanks for drawing my use of an incorrect abbreviation to my attention. I have corrected the post.

        1. Robert E Most, MD

          Great article. Some small bit has got the ire of Attila.
          Grouchy Hun, as usual. You’d think 1 1/2 millennia would mellow a guy out a bit, but no

      2. My Name

        You take glutathione pills? The bio availability of glutathione in the blood is next to nothing in this case.

    4. Rob

      Surely with HCQ and Ivermectin, the moment you get Covid symptoms, you call your doctor and a prescription is sent to pharmacy.
      In the UK, GP’s don’t give prescriptions at will, but I am thinking to write a letter to mine, along with enclosed research evidence, to ask her for a prescription in advance. We have a good relationship and she knows I’m a responsible person, so here’s hoping…

      1. The Rev Kev

        Don’t forget to add Zinc to your order. That’s important that and helps make the combo work.

  3. Kris Alman

    I am a retired physician. BCG has been used toward the treatment of malignant melanoma as an immunologic adjuvant with interesting results.

    Anecdotally, I know a woman who was treated with BCG for melanoma discovered during pregnancy that had already metastasized to a regional lymph node. This was in the late 1980s. She’s still cancer free.

    That says a lot about how our bodies use the immune system to both fight viruses and rogue cancer cells. When immunity wanes, the body isn’t primed to fight invaders.

    Pre-menopausal women generally have an edge when it comes to fighting infections. But as we age, both men and women exhibit reduced abilities to mount appropriate antibody responses especially toward new antigens. That goes for cell-mediated responses as well.

    While this is something well known, we discuss “herd immunity” as though everyone who gets the vaccine will mount a significant immune response. At the same time, any vaccine that will be developed will be a greater risk for elderly people who receive these vaccines. They may suffer side effects that could even kill. This includes Guillain-Barré syndrome. The CDC describes this as a rare disorder where the body’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis, where people older than 50 are at greatest risk. In 1976, there was a small increased risk of GBS after swine flu vaccination.

    OTOH, NEJM recently published an article that Guillain-Barré has been associated with SARS-CoV-2–though they didn’t report the ages of those affected. Multiple Grammy-winning singer and composer Christopher Cross (age 69) has been reported to suffer from Guillain-Barré from Covid.

    Regardless, one has to wonder if any of these vaccine trials are including the elderly. If not, seniors will face a dilemma regarding the risks/benefits of a Covid vaccination.

    1. Kris Alman

      Of note from link above:

      There is limited information on the safety of administering BCG to senior persons, since BCG is a vaccine based on a live attenuated Mycobacterium that should not be administered to immunocompromised individuals (49). M. tuberculosis infection can remain latent for decades and reactivate in the elderly when a senescent immune system loses the ability to contain the infection (50). Nevertheless, a small study found that vaccination of adults ≥ 65 y old with BCG prevented acute upper respiratory tract infections (51), and there is an active clinical trial vaccinating adults aged >65 y with BCG to boost immunity (52).

      1. SKM

        thanks for that, I`ve been trying to find out about flu jab immune response in older folk. Then there is the problem of possible immune interference i.e. some evidence exists that the flu jab increases the risk of bad outcomes for other respiratory infections caught in the same season

    2. Robert E Most, MD

      Great comment.
      I am 66. I will refuse almost any COVID vaccine. Or, I would need a lot of reliable data -and I sadly do not trust the medical press much anymore, so damn sad – before i would take it.

      It looks like the many odd complications of Covid are often due to the “Cytokine storm” enhancing cross-linking of von Willebrand’s factor, leading to micro-emboli and strokes, etc. So, I would want early treatment with N-acetyl-cysteine. There is a fairly large literature on NAC in other conditions and good reason to believe that, with HCQ, a COVID infection would be unpleasant but not fatal or filled with comorbid complications.

  4. Bill Carson

    I’ve heard some people and at least one doctor praising the effectiveness of Budesonide as a treatment for COVID. Has anyone heard anything about that?

    1. Dean

      Budesonide may have been from this Texas Doctor interview:

      As a synthetic corticosteroid it may reduce inflammation or potentially cytokine storm in patients. While Bartlett claims success there were no control-treated patients.

      I can find no publications relating budesonide and Covid 19, not even a single case study.

    2. Robert E Most, MD

      Heard of it, a bit skeptical. I do think it could halt the cytokine storm and improve breathing, quickly. For literature (@Dean, below) need to look at Taiwan and Japan. I just have not had time yet.

  5. carl

    I keep reading on RT and nowhere else about some vaccine being developed in Russia which they are planning on distributing to the entire population as early as this fall. Anyone know any more about this?

    1. Brian (another one they call)

      I keep thinking about the most famous corona virus, the common cold. Nothing for it but to try to treat the symptoms to ease the severity. It may be that cov19 is going to be the same thing. For this reason and that there has been nothing of note so far except to relieve symptoms, it appears the real world medical community may agree for now.
      HCQ/azithromycin/zinc, Roalt Didier MD, France. Did the heavy lifting. But it is a preventative type of prophylaxis to use upon onset of symptoms. Invermectin apparently interferes with the virus as well.
      There is of course the odd function of Anthelmics for parasite control (like Invermectin) That also may interfere with growth of some cancer.
      The only thing that seems to be falling in line are the governments intent to make illegal anything generic that will prevent illness, death and a debilitating recovery. There is still little talk about the blood born nature of the virus as well. Is it too much for the public to deal with?
      When the public is sacrificed for profit now going on 6 months, one has to ask the question why are they letting everyone die when decent cheap, generic and non harmful drugs are available but illegal to save people’s lives? Where do we send thanks?
      The conspiracy theories regarding a grand diversion for systemic collapse no longer seem so odd.

      1. Robert E Most, MD

        grand diversion for systemic collapse is possible
        So is the right-wing fantasy that all the criminal activity against Donald J Trump is proof that the “Deep State” or Cabal is terrified of his coming after them. Why couldn’t Obama et al just try to work with Trump, hold the line on a few items and seek compromise on others? Was he really all that bad?

        Because, it turns out, they WERE all that bad. This whole Russia hoax, the lies about hacking the DNC server, the Ukraine hoax (where I know enough to be sure they – McCain, Lindsey Graham, HRC, Tory Nuland, Pyatt, Masha Y, Kerry, Biden – have plenty to hide) has traumatized the nation. Trump is a nationalist through and through, but I believe he has been pushed to the right. Did not need to happen.

        So then they released the Cracken.

      2. Roberoo

        I can’t fully agree with your assessment. The UK government has approved the use of bog standard dexamethasone, an inexpensive and widely available anti-inflammatory drug, as a valuable treatment for severe cases of COVID-19. See:

        Of course, they are also using basic antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent secondary infections and sepsis. In some areas they are even using convalescent plasma

        Big Pharma doesn’t control the field in its entirety.

  6. arte

    Well, I was part of a cohort that got the BCG as a child and MMR during my mandatory military service. I think those were the only vaccinations (out of many over my lifetime) that left a permanent mark on my skin, and the MMR jab was probably the vaccine that left my shoulder aching and fingers tingly for a week or two; it would make sense that the live vaccines have a bigger chance of some real side effects.

    Of course, any immune system-priming effects of those shots are surely long gone.

    1. grayslady

      Don’t be so quick to dismiss the MMR vaccine. I am 72 years old and couldn’t remember if I had measles or German measles, or both, as a child; so my doctor approved a measles blood test a year ago. Turns out my level of immunity is ten times the minimum level required for immunity. You may well have continuing immunity.

      1. divadab

        Yes. Since I am old enough NOT to have been vaccinated against measles, I had to have a blood antibody test to take a class at our local college. Turns out I had had measles (thanks to the neighborhood Mom’s having chicken pox and measles parties for all us kids) and my immunity was strong.

        Interestingly, there is huge variability in severity of disease (and I guess immune system effectiveness) even between siblings – I had only three chicken pocks, and my brother, who went to the same chicken pox party as I, had pocks all over his body, even down his throat. It’s not surprising how variable the severity of covid-19 infections and symptoms is.

    2. Math is Your Friend

      Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what the vaccination is aimed at, and possibly the details of the vaccine.

      IIRC, I know of vaccines that work for 1 year, 5 years, 10 years (yellow fever – it only gets 4 ‘slots’ in your immunization book), and life.

      I have even encountered one that claims to be effective against one disease for six months and another disease for life.

      As always, YMMV. People react differently to vaccines, both in individual ways, and by definable characteristics, such as age. In the latter case, this is compensated for by having a specific vaccine variant designed to improve response by those groups for whom the standard vaccine may not be effective.

      Then again, the joker in the deck is measles, which has been recently shown to erase immune response learning for previous diseases.

  7. Cuibono

    I am hearing reports that some Japanese Medical Personnel are using this Chinese Traditional medicine:
    Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

    Dont know much about it. Anyone?

    1. Ook

      That would be 補中益気湯, for those of us who can read Japanese. Based on my brief look, that term plusコロナウイルス (corona virus) is indeed trending, and there seems to be some history of this being used with SARS.

    2. Robert E Most, MD

      I don’t know specifics. You can find studies on PubMed. I looked at several herbals that are used in TCM. Individually, they have weak positive effects and I would not waste my time trying them on patients.

      But in TCM, there may be combinations that have synergistic effects.

      ALSO, in Mozambique, they have tried a traditional herb that is known to have anti-malarial effects. I forget the name and cannot go look now, but find the Nobel Prize winner who worked on this. The herb may work against malaria (being tried in Tanzania now)

      BTW, I hate the pharma cos and really really hate our O-care-enhanced fascist medical system.
      O-care was nothing more than a stalling tactic to prep us for the TISA. One good thing done by Trump, to stop the TPP and slow these other global corporatist sell-outs.

  8. VietnamVet

    The coronavirus pandemic in the USA is a perfect storm of what happens when government is dismantled and the only concern is corporate profits. Government by and for the people must be restored to invest in research and a public health system that saves American lives not kill them. Incidentally, it is also the only way to restore the economy.

  9. attila the hun

    This article is nonsense. BCG has been in use for about seventy years and among its uses, is a version which is in widespread use in treating bladder cancer. It’s an immunotherapy for various carcinomas. To expect big, little or medium sized PHARMA to get involved in evaluating the possible applicability of BCG in the treatment of the Corona virus, indicates a misunderstanding of what these companies were established to do. They are not government or university research institutions supported by government funding. Those are the organizations that are and should be evaluating BCG and other old medicines for possible utility in treating Corona. The pharma companies were setup to develop new medications, not evaluate old ones. Any competent generic pharmaceutical company can produce BCG, since it has no patent protection. Why should research oriented companies, whose primary purpose it is to develop patent protected new products with large markets, want to use their research resources to evaluate medicines which are generic.,

  10. skippy

    Echoing VV above … the battle is not with the virus per se … its with those that ascribe all things to GDP and why – E.g. anything that messes with the supply chain of people moving into or currently facilitating that metric, contra the dead [tm] weight of those – regardless of age – that would succumb to it in any manner and dealing with it outside that econometric might befoul it.

    For all the knowledge and wealth some nations have I’m aghast at it all and what it portends, especially when framed by all the use of the word rational [tm] bandied about to facilitate the perspective above … Barf~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  11. rtah100

    The latest post at In the Pipeline discusses the T-cell response rather than antibodies and, in particular, a Nature paper on T cell reaction to SARS-CoV-2 in patients who have had SARS-Cov-1, patients who have had SARS-CoV-2 and, crucially, patients who have had neither.

    1) A significant portion of SARS-naïve patients can mount a decent T-cell reaction, albeit targeting different viral proteins to patients who had either disease.

    2) The SARS-naïve patients have T-cells targeting non-structural proteins of the virus whereas infected patients target the structural proteins. The researchers hypothesise that the non-structural proteins are presented at the first step of viral replication and are the natural intervention point whereas an infection will have presented the structural proteins, as new virons are made and released, so the T-cell target shifts in infected people.

    3) the researcher also show that the non-structural proteins targeted by naïve patients have highly conserved sequences but not with other human beta coronaviruses – instead with animal beta coronaviruses. There’s a suggestion that exposure to another pandemic / endemic animal beta coronavirus may have made a significant part of the population non-susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, whch would change the calculations on attack rate and required herd immunity threshold (both lower) and therefore IFR and CFR calculations (higher – no iceberg of undiagnosed cases).

    4) There’s even a suggestion elsewhere that cat owners may have benefitted from exposure to cat flu!

  12. Jesper

    The HCQ situation is an embarrassment to the medical industry.
    On one hand they might have allowed a dangerous drug to be prescribed for decades without checking for dangerous side-effects and on the other hand their ‘checking’ now comes across as being a paid hatchet-job.

    Seriously, the drug has been around for decades with millions of doses used and only now the medical professionals are getting concerned? Were loads of unintended bad effects hidden in some sort of conspiracy or what? If HCQ is as bad as claimed then who let it be prescribed for decades?

    For me then either there was a conspiracy in the past decades to hide bad effects of HCQ (no idea why, the drug is so cheap so why bother) or we’re now seeing an organised co-ordinated movement (which does sound like the description of a conspiracy) to stop the use as other treatments would generate more revenue for the industry….

    Isolated cases which supports the case of the medical industry are supposed to be evidence and cases which discredit the case of the medical industry are anecdotes without any merit. Intellectual honesty or just plain dishonest?

    & if HCQ is so dangerous, which other drugs might be used without the medical industry bothering to check? Is HCQ the only drug where the industry failed (what a coincidence!) or should we be concerned about other medications as well?

    1. Carla

      Only drugs that cost less than $3,000 per dose are allowed to fail — and they MUST fail — or — the economy!

      1. Carla

        And don’t forget, someone makes a profit on manufacturing and selling HCQ for $1 per dose, so imagine the profit margins on the other $2999 to $50,000 per dose drugs… Why isn’t Bezos in the pharma business — or is he?

    2. Calltoaccount

      The entire heart risk scare promulgated and propagandized by Fauci and WHO was/is BOGUS.

      He and his cohorts intentionally ignored a Mayo Clinic study by Mark Ackerman MD, its leading authority on QTC prolongation and heart arrhythmia. values. Released March 25, 2020, it concluded that HCQ is safe for the vast majority of the population and that for the small number who might be at risk, doctors can easily mitigate any risk by increasing the patient’s potassium, manganese or calcium values.
      Ackerman discusses the study results in a recent video at

      Ignoring this evidence and proffering a contrary narrative, over and over and over, so that people became afraid to even participate in HCQ clinical trials, bespeaks of a preconceived deadly hostile intent.

      The trials they did authorize consistently used HCQ in a manner destined to fail. (See:

      And the bad faith doesn’t stop there. Anybody ever hear Fauci or the WHO mention the word zinc? Dr. Zelenko says: “Hydroxychloroquine’s main function within this treatment approach is to allow zinc to enter the cell. Zinc is the virus killer, and azithromycin prevents secondary bacterial infection in the lungs and reduces the risk of pulmonary complications.” Leaving out the zinc is a tell.

      If you think Fauci may not have known about zinc:
      Back in 2010, a researcher named Ralph Baric put his name on a study published in NIH journal which found that ZINC + Zinc Ionophores were effective against CV’s, to include SARS-1. Zn2+ Inhibits Coronavirus and Arterivirus RNA Polymerase Activity In Vitro and Zinc Ionophores Block the Replication of These Viruses in Cell Culture Author Summary Positive-stranded RNA (+RNA) viruses include many important pathogens. They have evolved a variety of replication strategies, but are unified in the fact that an RNA-dependent RNA poly…

      You’ll likely be surprised to know that Ralph Baric gained his biggest “notoriety” for conducting “gain of function” research with the Wuhan Virology Lab (funded by Fauci through NIAID) that turned moderately virulent SARs viruses into monsters. Lab-Made Coronavirus Triggers Debate The creation of a chimeric SARS-like virus has scientists discussing the risks of gain-of-function research. Controversial virus research seen both as groundbreaking, reckless :: Years before the world knew what the novel coronavirus was, a local researcher was sending out warning signs.

      So even though Fauci and Baric well knew that Zinc + Zinc Ionophores work against CVs, they never brought it to the public’s attention

      Maybe that’s because Remdesivir, the expensive drug Fauci (continues to promote) as a treatment for COVID was developed in a partnership between Gilead Sciences and Ralph Baric’s lab! Remdesivir proves effective against COVID-19 in NIAID human clinical trials | UNC-Chapel Hill Remdesivir was developed through an academic-corporate partnership between Gilead Sciences and the Baric Lab at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

      And worst of all, notwithstanding dozens of positive studies re use of HCQ etc. ( to date, there is still no study sponsored by the WHO, Fauci, NIAID, or NIH investigating efficacy of early use of Zinc + Hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19, especially in high risk patients.

      There is no logical explanation for all of the above except– the ugliest one….

      For a comprehensive history see:Hydroxychloroquine and Fake News:

  13. Synoia

    In other words, they are designed to work against Covid-19 and nothing else.

    Making Drug development be effective on on only one condition?

    So maximizing profit?

    What a surprise.

  14. Ping

    I am interested in expert opinions on the new technology being touted by Moderna. I find this type of cell re-programming alarming prone to unintended consequences, disturbed that it is being fast tracked to market and the stock’s “pump and dump” type activity. If it could prompt auto-immune diseases, that would not be evident for a year of more, after millions of doses had been administered?? I am NOT an anti-vaxer.

    Big trials are being conducted where I live. Thank you in advance for any opinions.

    One opinion on another site:
    “The mRNA vaccine made by the firm Moderna is based on a very dangerous concept and is not a traditional vaccine. A traditional vaccine is essentially a protein from a virus that is injected into the body. The human host’s immune-system identifies it as foreign and develops antibodies and cellular immunity against it. In this case you inject genetic material that instead codes for the protein. An artificial spherical membrane/envelope is made that contains the mRNA strands inside it.
    The envelope containing the mRNA is unspecific, unlike a live virus’ surface that has special surface-proteins that only will bind to one type of human cell. The mRNA containing sphere will enter/ be endocytosed by any cell not only respiratory epithel. The mRNA will attach to the host cells enzymes and start production of a viral protein. Every type of cell that produces it will be recognized as foreign and be attacked and killed by the hosts immune system, not only cells in the lungs. Again it is a substance that will weaken the body because all/most of the cells that has “swallowed” it (the viral messenger RNA ,mRNA) will have the viral protein it has produced on its surface and will be targeted by the immune system. This mRNA technique has never been tried before in humans. It is more of a deadly poison than a therapy and people should absolutely avoid it. It is incredible that dr. Anthony Fauci supports this pseudo-vaccine concept and purportedly has financial interests in the company producing it, Moderna.”

    1. Stephen The Tech Critic

      Thank you! I have a sister much younger than me who is finishing her B.S. in Biology and I believe she some put a fair amount of focus on genetics (epigentics) and I believe immunology too. She’s definitely serious about the science, not at all an anti-science or even anti-vaxxer sort of person.

      And she told me that she’s highly skeptical and will probably opt out of any sort of vaccine that Big Pharma rushes to the market. It’s not about whether vaccine science is “good science” but whether Pharma companies and regulatory agencies can be trusted to do the right thing by it in this instance. How can I argue with that? And if my scientist sister doesn’t think Big Pharma can be trusted, how can others be convinced?

      1. Lambert Strether

        Many. I am not skeptical of vaccination as such, and I believe that public health implies and deserves a legal mandate.

        That said, the players involved here are pretty icky. It would be nice if, say, South Korea or Thailand cane up with a vaccine — both are developing their own so they can’t be denied it by the great powers — and the rest of the world gave Big Pharma the finger and used it.

  15. Yves Smith

    I need to leave a big caution re the BCG vaccine: the evidence is that having previously had the BCG vaccine does offer protection now versus Covid-19. However, (and due to the crappy state of internet search, I cannot readily find the evidence, but readers discussed this a couple of times in comments), getting a BCG vaccine NOW would increase the odds of getting Covid-19. It isn’t a solution to the present crisis, save for vaccinating children (who are generally at low risk of Covid-19 infection so that they have much better immunity when they grow up and would otherwise be more vulnerable.

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