TWiV 696: Tear down that SARS-CoV-2 manuscript

December 20, 2020

TWiV explains that COVID-19 is not harmless for young adults, FAA approval for Pfizer mRNA vaccine, lack of justification for the claim of reverse transcription of SARS-CoV-2 RNA and integration into the human genome, and lack of evidence for increased transmission by new variants in the UK.

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Dickson Despommier, Alan Dove, Rich Condit, and Brianne Barker

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Links for this episode

Weekly Science Picks 1:55:44

Dickson2020 Audubon Photography Winners
BrianneCOVID-19 Changed Science Forever
AlanEntangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake
RichLie of the Year: Coronavirus downplay and denial; John 18:38
VincentHow New York City Vaccinated 6 Million People in Less Than a Month (my article from 2009)

Intro music is by Ronald Jenkees

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13 comments on “TWiV 696: Tear down that SARS-CoV-2 manuscript

  1. I pretty much agree with Vincent on how we should behave, on how the government should work, etc. I am on the same page with him. That said, he is being very “political,” i.e. opinion based. Again, agree with the opinions, but they are opinions–science based opinions, but since based opinion is not science.

  2. Re the op-ed in the New York Times by Tufekci & Mina, Can We Do Twice as Many Vaccinations as We Thought? 18 Dec 2020

    I have been wondering the same thing for some time: would one dose be better than two? The authors talk about speed, efficiency and effectiveness, but perhaps the central question for any scientist or policy maker should be: which regimen would save more lives?

    The cynic in me notes that there is no financial incentive for vaccine producers to test this possibility.

    • Janet Dec 28, 2020

      As a follow on question, would it be possible to give the primer vaccine and only add the booster as a therapeutic IF/when infection occurs? Easier to do with the less fragile vaccines, not so much the mRNA ones. Also only makes sense where rates of infection are being effectively suppressed so cases are proportionally low. Make sure as many as possible of population get the first dose and hold back a lesser amount for booster therapy-especially for vulnerable population.
      Might be a way of increasing vaccine coverage initially while stocks are still low? Given it seems unlikely that the vaccine prevents transmission to a significant degree this might be a be a ‘more bang for the buck’ method.

  3. Orly Friedgut Dec 21, 2020

    about this UK new mutant – You are sitting all calm in your offices, In my world, mostly on the radio everything is blowing up. The prime minister of the UK has cancelled Christmas. Israel has closed down flights from the UK., Also Denmark (or is it Holland?). Police are escorting people from flights to Corona quarantine hotels. I think that should be done for everyone flying to Turkey and Dubai to party there as if there is no Corona. Writing from Israel, extremely irritated. I am a veterinarian doing viral diseases of cattle, small ruminants, sometimes camels and other animals.

  4. Juan Hernandez Dec 22, 2020

    Hi guys, listener from the Middle East. Thanks for all the good work. What do we know about the sinopharm vaccine results? It has been approve in UAE and they are offering it to any resident, I can go get it, but the results from stage 3 haven’t been released. Would you guys recommend me to get it?

  5. Kelly Jordan Dec 24, 2020

    As a 34 year old, mother of a 4 year old and married to a 44 year old; I hope I can speak to the age group you referred to. I also have 6 siblings and in-laws ranging from 22 to 38, some of who have kids ranging have from age 1-10. we’re white and economically privileged, but send our kids to school in-person because between 3 different states, multiple schools and districts. We’re told it’s safe to send our kids to school. We’re told the teachers are safe. My sister, a teacher in Austin TX, is required to work in person or she’ll lose her job. Kids come to school, from homes with lab confirmed cases, with symptoms! The school sends them home and may or may not suggest the symptomatic students, again from homes with lab confirmed cases, get tested. If they are tested, results are rarely reported back to correct channels at the school. There’s no national database of ongoing testing of our kids. Hell, we didn’t even start testing kids widely until there was a political agenda to open schools in person. It’s really easy to make an argument if you don’t have data or any data you have is hodgepodge at best. Cases are cherry picked to support one argument.

    Those of us in that age group that have kids are being pushed into sending kids in person because we need our kids in school to work, we don’t have sound and hard data to review to make a decision regarding safety ourselves amd there is a massive political agenda to get people back to school.

    Why would we think we’re at risk if are kids are “safe” to go to school, are teachers are safe to teach in person, maybe we’re required to work in an environment outside our homes, etc?

    Believe it or not, I don’t have an opinion on schools open or closed because I don’t have any conclusive data telling me one way or the other. There’s a lot of pseudoscience science and suggestions that things are safe for me and my kid…there’s almost no one pushing an alternative message.

    I want to hear from my local health commissioner, the state commissioner, the cdc, actual infectious disease, virus experts just factual messages based on data.

    If they don’t have the data, that’s okay, just be honest about that. Don’t start making conclusions just to tow the party line.

  6. I have to disagree with the basic tenor: not getting infected is all that matters.

    While that might be somebody’s position, others might as well assess the risk of infection and the risk of the subsequent harmful consequences (death or lasting damage) and conclude that it’s lower than other risks they take any day (by a dangerous sport, harmful habits, or just being old and sick).
    On the other hand, someone might also prioritize a long remaining life other than you might: missing out a chance to reproduce with the female of choice might carry more weight for a young male than any risk to his life expectancy, any many elderly would prefer substantially lowered survival odds for the next year over missing out everything that still matters for them for that time.
    Even examining the generation born in the 60th there could very well be a position that they don’t fear covid-19 above all: once again there is a (quite low) probability for an infection times a (very low) probability for serious harm to be balanced against the risks implied by protective measurements (e.g. lockdown), where those might carry a substantial risk for longtime unemployment and poverty for the rest of their lives; and even in countries where you don’t face eviction within weeks, longterm poverty shortens you life expectancy by several years.

    So maybe it’s not that these people don’t hear the message, may they simply have other priorities or prefer other kinds of risks.

  7. Hello.

    I can’t access the paper “Excess mortality 25-44 years”, so may somebody could tell me
    – with which year or long term average did the compare the excess mortality?
    – did they correct for population development?
    – what exactly is a “confirmed case of Covid-19′? (Here in Germany these include people who once had a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR-testresult, died from any respiratory infect or died in a nursery home where someone else died of Covid-19 before).

    For the remaining mortality I’ve got some suspicions:
    – suicide; 2020 we had a record suicide rate in Berlin; probably desperation, loss of livelihood and loneliness drive these up.
    – avoiding the doctor: under the threat of forced testing resulting in quarantine, closed practices, postponed prophylaxis and surveillance or even operation might take a toll.
    – rising violence, especially domestic violence but also turf wars due to cabin fever.
    – other infections of lungs from contaminated masks, especially if worn on the toilet where they get fertilized with fecal germs and cardiovascular incidents them N95 masks are worn by people with heart issues.
    – health issues when becoming homeless or losing your health insurance with your job.

  8. To Prof. Racaniello:

    I really don’t agree with your statement about the risks of mRNA vaccines that “I don’t think this will happen” is a sufficient guarantee for safety.

    While that might be sufficient for a vaccine against a deadly (like Nipah-, bird flu- or black death-deadly) disease or to (sterilizing) immunize only a small part of the population to contain a breakout; but that’s not the situation we face.
    But if the idea is to vaccinate 7 billion humans against a not so deadly (0.5% international, 0.62% CDC estimated mortality, IIRC) disease of the old men (primary, even if the JAMA report shifts this a bit), then nothing short of rigorous testing in all stages and many years of clinical studies, also done by government agencies and competing companies is acceptable.
    Everything else is a gamble with all of humanity at stake.
    The group at most risk is quite able to protect itself in most cases, or decide that it’s not worth the hassle, for all others it’s a small decrease of survival probability of the next few years until we either reach herd immunity or a vaccine with proven product safety is available.

    IMHO as a species, we should never put all our eggs in one nest, and instead, divide the population in factions to be supplied with the different (or none) vaccines so that no riks that late manifesting side effects can threaten the majority of the population.

  9. Pharmer1 Feb 22, 2021

    Anyone who suggests that a preprint research paper be retracted because of the way some people view it, forfeits access to my brain time. It’s lovely for the public to become aware that humans have endogenous reverse transcriptases, and this could possibly figure into what happens to any exogenous RNA that is introduced into the body by infectious or artificial means. The conflicting narratives and behaviors of those who wish to rule us have spawned a good deal of mistrust, which will adversely public health initiatives for decades to come. The loss of life from people avoiding medical care will far exceed that which has been associated with SARS CoV-2. In terms of any vaccines, It’s all about informed consent, which many technocrats don’t believe is a human right. (To them, it seems that “my body, my choice” only applies to ending the life of a separate individual developing within a body.)