83 thoughts on “Thursday’s Papers

    1. benblack


      It’s nearly midnight and I’m about to lose a slipper.

      But, before I do, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas(yes, that’s how you spell it – all you X freaks) and a Happy New Year!

      See you all in the New Year!

      Good luck, and, God bless.

      1. Steph Pinker

        The X in Merry Xmas is derived from Greek which is a colloquialism of καλά Χριστούγεννα (kalá Christoúgenna); on a related note, St. Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and children in Greece (and a few other needy cases as well), so they’re will always be sailing boats lit with lights and presents in harbours and ports no matter where one goes at Χριστούγεννα.

          1. Brother Barnabas

            how come The Battleship Potemkin was classified as X-rated when it was released, but now it’s just another movie ?

      2. Tom J

        Happy Christmas
        Happy new year
        Happy St Valentine’s day
        Happy St Patrick’s day
        and looking forward to April 1st.

    2. Charger Salmons

      Declan Ganley gets full apology and substantial damages from RTE over a hatchet-job on him 12 years ago as the state broadcaster was doing its best to support the government line on the Lisbon Treaty 2 referendum.
      So apart from Ganley RTE has also in recent years paid damages for libelling to David Quinn,Kevin Myers,
      Sean Gallagher and Fr. Kevin Reynolds.
      Like the BBC it is unfit for purpose.

  1. Formerly Known As @ireland.com

    For all the Ivorians, your herd immunity theory is not valid:

    Cyclist leaves Giro after being reinfected with COVID-19
    The cyclist Fernando Gaviria is one of only a handful of COVID-19 patients worldwide to have had the disease twice after his UAE Emirates team doctor confirmed that his test result during the Giro d’Italia was not a false positive.

    Colombian Gaviria was withdrawn from the Giro on Tuesday after testing positive for the second time after a first infection in February.

    “In Fernando’s case he is asymptomatic the second time around. This is not a false positive as he has undergone confirmation testing and this confirms his repeat infection,” Jeroen Swart said.

    Gaviria spent four weeks in a hospital after showing COVID-19 symptoms at the UAE Tour last winter.

    There was a separate case in Melbourne, this week.

    1. f_lawless

      I’d urge you to do some more research. You don’t currently seem to have a very good grasp of the definition of the term ‘herd immunity’.

      Here’s a pointer:

      Professor Sunetra Gupta:

      “..Most of us will never have heard of these other four ‘seasonal’ coronaviruses that are currently circulating in our communities. And yet surveys indicate that at least 3% of the population is infected by any single one of these corona cousins during the winter months. These viruses can cause deaths in high risk groups or require them to receive ICU care or ventilator support, so it is not necessarily true that they are intrinsically milder than the novel Covid-19 virus. And like the Covid-19 virus, they are much less virulent in the healthy elderly and younger people than influenza.

      One important reason why these corona cousins do not kill large numbers of people is because even though we lose immunity and can be reinfected, there is still always a decent enough proportion of immune people in the population to keep the risk of infection low to those who might die upon contracting it. ..

      ..It is important to bear in mind that the attainment of the herd immunity threshold does not lead to disease eradication. Instead it corresponds to an equilibrium state in which the infections lingers at low levels in the community. This is the situation we tolerate for most infectious diseases “

    2. f_lawless

      another one worth considering:


      “Vineet Menachery, a coronavirus researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston… laid out four possible scenarios for how humans might interact with SARS-2 over time — in other words, what kind of immunity we might expect….

      Functional immunity, ..may be within reach. In fact, it’s the scenario Menachery sees as most likely.

      Under this scenario, people whose immune systems have been primed to recognize and fight the virus — whether through infection or vaccination — could contract it again in the future. But these infections would be cut short as the immune system’s defenses kick into gear. People infected might not develop symptoms or might have a mild, cold-like infection.

          1. f_lawless

            I don’t know alick, I gave a quote by Sunetra Gupta:

            It is important to bear in mind that the attainment of the herd immunity threshold does not lead to disease eradication

            The article which you link to seems to be making making a strawman argument in contradiction to that:

            “Knowing the transmission efficiency of a virus, measured by the basic reproduction number Ro, epidemiologists have created a mathematical formula to derive the herd immunity threshold necessary to eliminate transmission.

            The error theoretical epidemiologists made was to assume that the same formula could calculate the herd immunity threshold in terms of what fraction ought to be immune (due to infection) to reach the tipping point. However, again, there is no precedent of any contagious disease having reached zero transmission with herd immunity.”

            Also, don’t you find it curious that Dr. John is basing his estimate of those in India who’ve already been infected with virus based on antibody surveys alone when it’s now strongly suspected that (as this article in the British Medical Journal puts it) –

            “Current antibody tests fail to identify people who had mild infections”

            – why isn’t he giving consideration to that factor in his article?

          2. alickdouglas

            I don’t follow your argument relating to the strawman, sorry.

            Also, please note, I wasn’t supplying the link to Dr John’s article to refute yours, it was to point out that there was an article somewhat in the same vein as the Kortepeter article but from an Indian perspective. I don’t find John’s article particularly well structured, but I do find it interesting. He’s one of the last old-world physician-epidemiologists I can think of (JD Cherry in flu/pertussis the only other), who had deep experience of smallpox eradication and the efforts at polio and measles. His level of experience is simply mind boggling. Most importantly, he is entirely focused on patients and the health of the disenfranchised, and I think that’s where his anger is directed. He sees Herd Immunity as a nice-on-paper affair, but it’s rotten for the people who aren’t accounted for in the theory. You might be able to make it work in London, but that encourages the concept to be taken up elsewhere, and the people who will pay for it are those who are already economically on the fringes and/or in poor health due to strep, worms and diarrhoeal infections.

            When it comes to John’s reference to seroprevalence, I assume he’s citing that as that is the data he has access to. You are free to impute an error margin into that based on the assumed test error, but I don’t think it would adapt John’s position. John’s discussion is based on the fundamentals of epidemiology (hence his reference to the historical origins of ‘herd immunity’) and my reading was that he was comparing seroprevalence of COVID vs other diseases that can be controlled with vaccines. Those seroprevalence tests also have a roughly similar error, so there’s no need to correct if you assume the error is the same across pathogens.

          3. f_lawless

            It’s a bit of a side-tangent but

            ‘Strawman’ ie – a form of argument where a person misrepresents an opposing viewpoint and then attacks that misrepresentation in a bid to dismiss the original opposing viewpoint.

            The viewpoint of Indian national ,Prof. Gupta, one of the world’s foremost theoretical epidemiologists:

            “We do not yet have a very clear idea of what this threshold is for Covid-19 as the landscape in which it spreads includes people who are susceptible to it, people who have built up immunity to it, and people who have immunity to other coronaviruses….It is important to bear in mind, the attainment of the herd immunity threshold does not lead to disease eradication”.

            Dr. John, however, claims that theoretical epidemiologists are in “error” because, according to him, they assume they can calculate a herd immunity threshold (one which is achieved through infection rather than vaccination) based on a mathematical formula they created. He then dismisses this on the basis that ” there is no precedent of any contagious disease having reached zero transmission with herd immunity”

            To me that reads like a strawman argument or else he’s not aware of how leading epidemiologists conceptualise the herd immunity threshold of Covid-19 and calculate how it may be arrived upon. The latter seems less likely.
            This is worth a read – top level experts discuss the significance of highly prevalent preexisting immunity to Covid-19

            I suspect India is much closer to a herd immunity threshold than the doctor is willing to consider. Incidentally, India currently has one of lowest number of Covid-19 deaths per million population globally

      1. bisted

        …hard luck f_lawless…you lost this time despite the government taking a two week gamble before accepting the NPHET advice…sadly, the figures don’t lie, don’t confuse, don’t quack…new cases rose to over 1100 a day before proven action was taken…what motivates you to keep pedalling your dangerous doctrine…

        1. E'Matty

          cases rose because testing rose. At the peak in March/April, we were testing about 5k a week. Now it’s closer to 100k a week. False positives alone would provide hundreds of “cases”. Most of these people didn’t even know they had a “coronavirus” and were only tested as “close contacts”. Deaths have remained very low, with a slight rise as we see every autumn with the elderly. For the tiny number of deaths, we don’t even know if Covid actually played any part in their passing. These may well be just dying of cancer, or heart disease, or parkinson’s etc, and be deemed a Covid death as they tested positive at some time. They don’t even need to have shown any Covid symptoms to be considered a Covid death. A positive PCR result, with it’s well known flaws is all that is required. It’s complete lunacy but of course, the sheep obligingly and obediently follow their voices of authority. Too frightened and ignorant to face reality, they cling to a parental figure for safety.

          1. bisted

            …lunacy you say…maybe…no incident will be analysed more than this pandemic…in the meantime I’ll take the advice of the experts…not random quacks…

          2. E'Matty

            @bisted “in the meantime I’ll take the advice of the experts…” of course you will. You’re a herd animal, a sheep. A sheep is really just a childlike person who abdicates all responsbility for thinking to a voice of authority. In times of crisis, fear drives them to the buxom of a parental figure i.e. the State, desperate to keep them safe in their induced state of fear. People like you who use the word “expert” don’t even know what it means. You seem to think it means infallible truth speaker or some such nonsense. You’re the kind of people in Irish society who once said “Oh, you think you know morality better than the bishop eh? Yeah, you know morality better than a man of God”. Or, cried “nonsense, conspiracy theory!” when stories of widespread child abuse were coming to light. People like you just follow voices of authority, not reason, not facts, not evidence, just follow your supposed betters obediently and think yourself virtuous for doing so.

            Unlike you, some of us do not suffer the intellectual inferiorty complex you suffer from. We have not ignored our responsibility to educate and inform ourselves. Unfortunately for everyone, you and I included, we’re all screwed because they are simply too many mindless unthinking frightened sheep like you. Destroying Irish society in some mad induced state of fear in a futile attempt to stop a virus, which is little worse than a bad annual respiratory illness, the kind we see every couple of years as a matter of course.

            “no incident will be analysed more than this pandemic” and of course, you’ll be waiting for someone else, an “expert” to do this for you…

          3. bisted

            …ok mattie…it’s a fair kop…you’ve spotted all my flaws…can’t understand why NPHETs advice has been taken over yours…

          4. SOQ

            Well said Matty- if at this point someone cannot see through this charade then it is quite obvious that they don’t want to.

            But there is another angle to this other than fear, Some people are doing very nicely out of lockdowns- particularly state sector employees- working from home with reduced costs- no wonder personal savings are at an all time high.

          5. Junkface

            The amount of people online calling everyone sheep, for not agreeing with their awesome investigation skills is getting very daft, ooooooh you are such a Wolf! It’s happening so often now, it’s almost like THEY are the sheep, mindlessly repeating the same attack.

            No one really knows what the hell they are talking about except for a handful of scientists and medical professionals.

          6. SOQ

            No one here is claiming to be an expert Junk but when you see people who do know what they are talking about being blacklisted from the mainstream media and banned for social media- something is very very wrong.

            And besides, you don’t need to be an ‘expert’ to crunch the numbers- a deadly killer pandemic which produces average overall fatality rates- does not make sense.

          7. Cian

            Lol @SOQ
            Which is it? Listen to experts or not?

            You are pushing for ivor to go in the late late show as some sort of “expert”? He may be an expert engineer, but he’s no expert about pandemics.

          8. SOQ

            I was referencing the likes of Dolores Cahill and google censoring The Great Barrington Declaration- as you well know.

            I never said Ivor was a medical professional but- if what he is saying is so off the wall then why is he getting so much coverage?


            Come on Cian you can do better than that.

          9. E'Matty

            @ Junkface. Except, the term sheep is perfectly apt and appropriate where the person is defining themselves as someone who follows “experts”. They are literally just saying, “I am not going to analyse the information myself. I am incapable of doing so (the conditioned intellectual inferiority complex). I will abdicate that civic responsbility and simply follow what a voice of authority tells me to think on the subject (the herd mentality)”. That is the very defintion of sheep-like behaviour.

            “No one really knows what the hell they are talking about except for a handful of scientists and medical professionals.” Simply not true. The subject is not so complicated that most people of average intelligence with properly applied critical thinking can make an assessment for themselves. Indeed, this is not even an issue that is solely for medical “experts” or scientists. This is a geopolitical issue with a pandemic as the pretext. Arguably, someone in high finance or the geopolitical sphere would be better placed to understand this Covid madness than a doctor.

          10. Daisy Chainsaw

            And what animal analogy should be given to those who get their information from youtube and medicalkidnap.com?

          11. E'Matty

            @ Daisy. I dunno. The elites and Left Hand Pathers see themselves as the goats to your sheep, but I think those of us questioning this blatant nonsense would be best represented by the eagle of liberty or perhaps the all seeing owl, who faces into the shadows and sees the truth. In any event, you guys are definitely the epitome of the sheep… indeed, it’s your total innocence of the reality of the world you live in that has you blindly bleating and following your shepherds… lambs to the slaughter…

    1. V AKA Frilly Keane

      I wasn’t in close contact Lil

      Not like our crowd would have caught up and told me anyway

      10 plus months
      F knows how many experts
      Special Advisors
      Doctors and Specialists and oligists n’ the like
      000,000,000s manpower hours
      +Billions in Top ups that could have built 100,000 3 and 4 bed housing units
      And a PR Guru

      And what have we got
      Lockdown with Masks on

      btw. Best wishes to Martin. GWS

      1. MME

        Out of interest Frills, what government handled the pandemic to your liking? Sweden? Germany?

        Government need to take you on as a special advisor. You would sort it all out.

        1. Vanessanelle

          Not really the answer to what Government handled the Pandemic to my own liking

          but as to a Leader that took charge and lead from the top all the way through
          didn’t fumble or linger or stall
          or bend to politics or polls
          or hide behind experts and committees or PR Gurus
          or be afraid to backtrack a decision if it wasn’t working
          or take ownership of mistakes and errors and failings

          Has to be Nicola Sturgeon

          and Hon de Mná eile,
          Jacinda Ardern
          Meanwhile, Angela Merkel took her time, just for a small bit when she forgot she was supposed to be a co-operator within the Union, but when she stepped up she is very much the boss
          the Chancellor also has the advantage of being a scientist by qualification – phd in chemistry (asair,) and is navigating the science and the governing very well

          Whether they’ve got it all right, or could have done it better
          Well that’s something for the Broadsheet men and the Covid watchers and trawlers

          But in terms of being leaders, and in charge
          and leaving not one of their citizens in doubt as to where the buck starts and stops
          and who was behind the decisions, and how they were made
          Yep, the Mná mentioned above

          and I tell ye, I wouldn’t want to fall out with Nicola Sturgeon

          1. MME

            That is fair enough and I would not disagree with your POV Frills.

            You see a lot of folks on here are addicted to pointing out what the Irish government are doing wrong either out of genuine concern and of course the mass control/plandemic/great reset conspiracy brigade. If one can so readily point out what wrong then one must also have some idea as to solutions and other ways.

            Sturgeon is an interesting fish and a lady I have come to admire for her sheer pluck, more out of Brexit and the two to fingers given to Scotland’s position by Westminster. Covid-19 has opened up another battle with Westminster as Boris and co. have come to realise that devolved administrations are taking away their limelight. The war is only starting- the Internal Market Bill is the first battle, as it seeks to put power firmly back in Boris’ hands.

  2. Slightly Bemused

    Ok, I must admit this has absolutely nothing to do with the papers. My head went into a tailspin, and somewhere in there came Adventures in Babysitting
    So I googled the song. It turned out to be a rap battle.

    They remade Adventures in Babysitting! What is next, Baby’s Day Out?

    I mean no disrespect to the new version, but for me there will only ever be the the one Babysitter Blues!

  3. GiggidyGoo

    A full square inch approximately on the front page is given to the story that the Central Bank has reported suspected criminal activity to the Gardai in relation to the Tracker Mortgage scandal. More important news obviously is the story about pieces of plastic shortages in Guinness cans.

    1. V AKA Frilly Keane

      Anyone remember that heads up on a BS.tv from back when
      It- the Tracker Mortgage Scandals in the Banks, being a matter for the Garda Financial Crimes Unit / CAB

      It t’was a Credit Union it would be headlines
      And the top item on Morning Ireland

    2. Ian-Oh

      I love the total lack of awareness with the “Irish” Daily Mail – top banner warning about phones “controlling our minds” then a side piece about an influencer getting rich. It really is comedy central.

  4. alickdouglas

    An well-informed and evidence driven overview of the potential real-world impact of vaccines (in the UK) by David Salisbury a bit hidden in The Graun


    “…Adherence to recommendations for any Covid-19 interventions – social distancing, lockdowns, home working, cancelled holidays or vaccinations – depend on trust. If politicians are telling us that the present impositions on our lives are only going to last until we have vaccines, then the reality is that a false hope is being promulgated…”

    1. goldenbrown

      good article

      the vaccination subject is oft discussed in my own circle…and not a single one of us will be rushed into taking a C19 vaccine no matter who says what.

      plain commonsense tells you to be suspicious of it, personally speaking I wouldn’t be an “early adopter” for the next iPhone yoke nevermind a vaccine

      1. Janet, dreams of warm feet

        wait until a year of on off lockdown has broken your spirit, you’ll change your tune ;)

        as an aside I went to get my whopping cough vacine yesterday, I was discussing with the doc, flu vacine and covid eventual vacine, she was great, really objective and open to discussion, she said that the swine flu vaccine was being pushed on her when she was pregnant and she opted not to take it because in her opinion it was too rushed and looking back she is very happy she didn’t, I think that’s a good litmus test of a rational mind to anything rushed, that’s why it’s going to be a case of take it or stay in lockdown imo.

        1. alickdouglas

          I do hope it’s obvious from my postings here that I do have a conflict of interest when it comes to vaccines. Nevertheless, I do agree with the sentiment of questioning and healthy suspicion. One aspect for me was that until recently, I knew a fair chunk of the individuals working in vaccine developemt (it’s a fairly small industry), and overall it’s a motivated group of individuals who care about what they are doing. That said, the industry has changed totally with the influx of new developers (or at least, small developers now being higher profile), and I have major concerns about some of these companies level of experience, motivation and focus. I for one will be scrutinising data carefully before I get my two jabs.

          One thing I would absolutely encourage anyone who can receive any vaccine to do is to search for the ‘Summary of Product Characteristics’ on the EMA website (you can google ‘product name’+’SmPC’+’EMA’), and usually you will land on the official data summary. It only appears *after* a license is issued , if memory serves, the product cannot be sold until the SmPC is on the EMA site. They tend to be long and dry, but they contain a summary of the data that EMA considered in awarding the license which EMA and the manufacturer have agreed is the most relevant. If you spot things in the SmPC you don’t like or understand you should talk to your GP, and if they don’t want to talk to you about it like an adult, quite frankly you need a new GP. Another point worth mentioning perhaps is that vaccines work by eliciting an immune response. If you don’t feel like a bag of potatoes the day after you get it, it probably hasn’t been effective. This is part of the reason why you see so much reference in SmPCs to ‘headache, myalgia, muscle soreness etc.’. And this is why ‘Risk benefit’ is a more useful term than ‘safety’. For me at least, the word safe means it doesn’t hurt. Risk benefit is more ‘well, I’ll feel hungover for a half day, but it’s better than being in bed with flu for 5 days’ or something.

          1. Janet, dreams of warm feet

            thanks for taking the time for that great comment, could I ask your opinion on this year’s flu jab ?

          2. alickdouglas

            I’m not medically qualified, but I’ll give you my read on this years flu shot. The WHO reco on the composition of the 2020/21 northern vaccine is here:


            More dry stuff, but in short, the bets are that the most common circulating types overall will be the same as 2019/20. However they point out that there’s a significant drift (mutation) in the H1N1n type (quite amazing that it’s still circulating 11 years post pandemic, herd immunity my arse).

            Where does that leave you as a consumer? I’m assuming you had the egg-based tetravalent jab last year. Flu vaccine is not the most effective in the world, plus it’s debatable the extent to which it gives year-to-year protection, drift or not. WHO reckon the H1N1 has drifted significantly, so if you have last year’s jab, is it going to protect you this year? I would speculate probably not. Hard to tell with the H2N2 and B elements.

            In terms of safety profile, the vaccines are made the same way every year, so I wouldn’t expect any change in the profile: you’ll have a sore arm for 2 days.

            On the flip side, remember this discussion happened in Feb. Since then, flu transmission has been whacked by lockdowns. Your risk of exposure to flu is probably significantly less than previous years. Do you have a comorbidity? Are you over a certain age? Are you shielding someone with comorbidity? I have a (medically qualified) colleague who prefers to get their flu jab in late December because that gives you peak immune response in late Jan, equating to peak protection in Feb and Mar.

            I have a minor comorbidity, I’m not shielding and I’m healthy overall, so I’ve decided for me to not take the flu shot this year, principally to leave it for someone else. I’ll reassess end December: if stock is available, and if transmission creeps up, I’ll consider getting it then.

          3. Janet, dreams of warm feet

            thanks I’m being advised due to pregnancy, I have never had the jab and wouldn’t even consider it if it was just me as I’m not leaving the house except for daily walks in the wood !

          4. SOQ


            Surely if a virus has a serious mutation then previous herd immunity- natural or vaccine driven- never works?

            Also, has the way in which vaccines made not changed and moved away from egg-based production?

          5. alickdouglas

            Ah, congratulations Janet on the pregnancy.

            From your description earlier, you seem to have a sensible GP. Discuss it with them. Being vaccinated always carries some risks, being not vaccinated carries other risks; best way to approach it is with someone who knows you and you can trust, not some dubious person on Broadsheet.

          6. alickdouglas

            How vaccine antigen-induced immunity interacts with mutated viruses is unfortunately something of a dark art. Polio vaccine-induced immunity, especially that from Sabin OPV appears to be able to cope with quite fundamental mutations. Similarly there are studies that show that complex adjuvant systems ‘broaden’ the immune response against some drifts and even what are regarded as other ‘types’ (I don’t have the data, but I think that was one of the arguments for adjuvanted HPV vaccine). Flu vaccine-induced immunity doesn’t seem as robust vs drift, hence the re-issue every year. Some bacterial vaccines induce decent cross-type responses (pneumococcal) probably helping protect against types not included in the vaccine, but others not so much (pertussis), but that’s a slippery slope since bacteria and viruses are so different.

            There was a major push to end egg based production; it’s really messy, it’s not vegan-friendly (at all), and it results in incredible amounts of waste (the eggshells are a biohazard). On the flip side, there’s a huge supply chain in place to support egg based flu vaccine manufacturing, and the systems in place have all been depreciated and the technicians know the systems well. I think rabies and other previous egg based systems have moved over to cell culture, but flu if memory serves is tricky on cell based systems. It’ll disappear eventually I imagine, but still going.

          7. SOQ

            Thanks alickdouglas.

            The mistake some people make is that immunity is an all or nothing thing when in fact either your own body or vaccine assistance may provide a certain level of immunity which may not be 100%. For example- I know someone who tested positive for Hepatitis B which he cleared but despite the assumption that he would be immune for life, he was not. The antibodies did not appear so he was then given the vaccine- it is not an exact science.

            Dr. Judy Mikovit suggests that flu vaccines may leave people more susceptible to corona viruses and the link drawn was that because they were manufactured using animal linings rather than eggs- that some of the animal’s corona viruses may be present in the vaccine. This is why I asked btw,

          8. alickdouglas

            Yes, SOQ, totally agree, there’s no all or nothing with immunity, and people looking for clean answers are going to be horribly disapointed. It’s one of the frustrating aspects of dealing with vaccines; clinical studies inform us about likelihood, but don’t inform us about the individual experience. The vast majority of people who get a HepB shot are protected for life. However, in healthy people the odd one is not protected, and there are loads of special groups where the vaccine take is poor–people on dialysis for example, or people with any kind of immunodeficiency (and of course, you can have a perfectly functioning immune system, and just be unlucky to be in that fraction of a percent that doesn’t respond. More often than not, a second or third shot elicits a reaction. It’s great in theory, but it sucks big time if you are the one who isn’t protected, or has a peculiar reaction.

            I’m not going to comment on Mikovits. She’s a silly billy.

        2. E'Matty

          The swine flu jab? Just as well as that flu jab, which again the State was enocuraging everyone to get, had never been fully clinically tested (think it was a new adjuvant and antigen combination) and was rushed to market to treat what the WHO was calling a pandemic. Young recipients of the jab in Ireland, Britain and the Scandanvian countries were left with narcolepsy. A Council of Europe investigation into the “pandemic” heavily criticised the World Health Organization, national governments, and EU agencies for their handling of the swine flu pandemic. National governments, WHO, and EU agencies had all been guilty of actions that led to a “waste of large sums of public money, and unjustified scares and fears about the health risks faced by the European public,” said the report. This isn’t their first rodeo…

          1. alickdouglas

            The narcolepsy case is particularly interesting, because despite almost a decade of research, a huge amount of it done independently of pharma or WHO or FDA, nobody has really come up with a strong explanation of what happened and whether the observed rise in incidence in narcolepsy (in a weirdly narrow geographic area: Ireland and parts of Scandinavia) was down to the vaccine antigen, adjuvant, the circulating flu virus, an interaction, or supplementary reporting due to media coverage.

            Neither GSK nor Novartis particularly rushed their adjuvanted vaccines that year; the antigen element was made the same way as in previous years, using eggs for both conpanies (I think) and standard virus origin seeds from the usual seed banks. The adjuvant for both was somewhat novel and similar, but had been scrutinised fairly extensively up to Phase II. Both companies had soemwhat foreseen the risk of a H5N1 or H9 pandemic and had been submitting data as a precaution prior to the outbreak (they hadn’t considered H1 I think). One certainly fair criticism is that if memory serves a fair chunk of the supportive data submitted involved different (non-flu) antigens with either the same or very similar adjuvants. Both vaccines were only released after Phase III testing was done, following the same criteria that are used for standard flu vaccines. Both vaccines were made available in November 2009 which is quick enough, but in line with the standard production cycle. Production was certainly panicky, but I’ve not seen any evidence that safety oversight was cut. Production on that timeline was possible because the virus was isolated early enough in the year that the companies had not started full production of trivalent.

            One peculiar feature of the apparent outbreak of narcolepsy is that practically all of the unfortunates who ended up with it, were found to have genetic markers indicative that they were susceptible to narcolepsy: it has a tendency to manifest in late adolescence. Some have stated that this is an indicator that ‘they would have got it anyway’ (personally I think that’s an ethically dubious conclusion; it’s a terrible condition, and I don’t think there’s been nearly enough emphasis on the victims).

            You can put ‘pandemic’ in quotes, but that year’s pandemic met the criteria for the WHO definition of a pandemic, so it was a pandemic. And the council of europe are not exactly an organisation over-burdened with credibility.

          2. E'Matty

            @alickdouglas. Thank you for your considered reply. The vaccine was rushed to market without full clinical testing of the adjuvant and antigen combination (in Europe). A narrative was spread of a pandemic spreading from the virus which first appeared in Mexico, I believe. The Council of Europe investigation found that WHO had grossly exaggerated the threat of a pandemic. The inquiry criticised the issue of a “falsified pandemic” that was declared by WHO in June 2009 on the advice of its group of academic experts, SAGE, many of whose members were documented to have intense financial ties to the same pharmaceutical giants such as GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, Novartis, who benefitted from the production of drugs and H1N1 vaccines.

            “One peculiar feature of the apparent outbreak of narcolepsy is that practically all of the unfortunates who ended up with it, were found to have genetic markers indicative that they were susceptible to narcolepsy: it has a tendency to manifest in late adolescence.” Yes, you correctly identify the peculiar genetic disposition that was attributed to the “Nordic Gene” i.e. only kids in Scandanavia, Britain and Ireland were impacted. This is similar to what was revealed by Dr Zimmerman in the US, which he had advised DOJ lawyers of during his time as their expert witness in the MMR hearing. US paediatric neurologist Dr Andrew Zimmerman says vaccine fever and immune stimulation could cause autism in a subset of children with a mitochondrial dysfunction. So, like the vaccine bringing about narcolepsy in kids with a certain genetic disposition towards it, kids with pre-existing mitochondrial dysfunctions would also be susceptiple to developing full blown autism. This does not mean people should not take vaccines. It does though mean we should have more transparency around the harm they can cause to certain genetic subgroups. A risk assessment should be made for such people as to whether the vaccine or illlness they are seeking to protect against pose the greater threat to their health and quality of life. Unfortunately now the debate does not allow for any discussion on vaccine harms, as many rather zealously deny any such harms even exist, which is anti science and rather bizarre given every vaccine comes with a PIL detailing the known potential side effects. A well informed risk assessment and personal choice should be central to any vaccine program.

          3. alickdouglas

            this is very civilized, I hope nobody else notices…

            Don’t dispute what you say, but I think we are looking at it from different angles, one of which has major implications for the amount of data that will be available on licensure if a vaccine becomes available.

            My position that the H1N1v vaccine was not rushed is that it met the criteria for licensure as they were set out at the time. Your interpretation, if I read it correctly, is that there was not enough data to determine whether or not somehing rare, like narcolepsy, might be associated. I don’t really disagree with that. Traditionally, vaccines need to have been given to a minimum of 3000 people prior to licensure. In effect, most are given to far more people than that, but the reason for going beyond 3000 is not safety, it’s impact/efficacy, and that’s driven by the attack rate, and the impact you are trying to measure. Since study sponsors anyway have to see the volunteers to estimate impact/efficacy, they traditionally also capture ‘safety’ (side effects etc). I don’t believe (he said slightly uncertainly) that there’s actually always a regulatory obligation to collect safety beyond 3000 people however, it’s just done because it’s ‘free data’. The reason this is important is that this figure of 3000 (give or take) permits an estimation of fairly uncommon side effects. However, narcolepsy for example is more of a 1 in a million event. Although largely forgotten now, the H1N1v vaccine was used *extensively*, many many millions of doses in a very short period of time. Because of that the signal flared up very obviously in real world use. However, if you look at other vaccination programs, which roll out more slowly, or less intensely, you are unlikely to spot such side effects. This presents a major problem for everyone in vaccination, because it implies that you need to subject pandemic vaccines to tighter scrutiny than non-pandemic ones (I dont’ want this comment to grow unfeasibly long, but Phase IV studies largely exist so that sponsors and regulators can gather additional data after roll out, and then adapt the license based on real-world use: the assumption usually is that initial roll out ramps up slowly, but this obviously is not the case for pandemic vaccines). There are interesting implications here for why manufacturers want to waive liability, but I think that’s out of scope here (I don’t like waiving of liability, but understand why a lawyer working for a company wants it).

            One final point, any program I’ve worked on, we’ve always been extremely conscious of safety and wellbeing of vaccinees. Developers typically are well aware that a quickly tested vaccine might lead to short term cash flow, but long term administrative nightmares, compensation payouts and visits to jail. The proportion of development team members with medical, paramedical or veterinary qualifications in vaccines development is extremely high. (including commercial). I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve felt pressured to overlook a safety signal or to get a product out the door, quite the opposite in fact. Which is one of the reasons I get really angry when I see chief medical officers of some companies offloading their shares to make cash during a pandemic.

          4. E'Matty

            @ alickdouglas – I am not sure that’s wholly correct in respect of the testing. It has been reported (Irish Indo 23.09.2020) that “Ireland offered GSK a full indemnity to rush Pandemrix supplies into service – with the vaccine not having fully completed trials.” You’ll note this case settled in autumn 2019 setting a precedent for the many others in the pipeline.

            “However, narcolepsy for example is more of a 1 in a million event.” Except, there are currently 100+ cases coming before the Irish courts. Given those impacted have been mostly under 18, this raises that rate if you take account of the age group. The flu poses little to no threat for the vast majority of under 18s. Were parents aware that 100 kids in Ireland would suffer narcolepsy for the rest of their lives, might they have opted to run the risk of the flu instead, and wouldn’t they be entitled to make that risk assessment and choice for their own children?

            We now see this Covid 19 hysteria with the government highly likley to be very forceful in trying to impose a mass vaccination campaign, whatever vaccine comes from this historically rushed project. We know kids are almost entirely unaffected by this virus. What if say 1 in every 100,000 kids who receives the vaccine ends up with severe Guillain-Barré syndrome, encephalitis, narcolepsy, or similar. Would this be a good public health trade off? Would the testing you describe adequately identify the risk to children, of the various genetic types we have, of such an outcome? Would parents be in a position to make an informed choice before deciding to administer the vaccine to their child? Trials of the Oxford vaccine have been paused twice after two participants, both British women, sequentially developed “unexplained neurological symptoms” and we see similar with Astrazeneca and their vaccine. Clearly these trialled vaccines show that such vaccines do impact on the neurology of the recipient. Will all such “kinks” be ironed out before we see a mass roll-out of the great Covid vaccine, the saviour of us all? Highly improbable I would think.

            As someone clearly informed in this area, can you perhaps please provide your insight into the disturbing well documented history of coronaviruses and respiratory viruses in general, and vaccine interference causing cytokine storms? I have spoken with GPs and pharamacists and none seem to be able to address this area at all. The worst affected by Covid are all suffering these cytokine storms, yet there is relative silence on the history of such reactions where coronaviruses and vaccines are concerned. Who is suffering these cytokine storms? Mostly the elderly and medical workers. Who gets the flu jab most commonly each year? Why isn’t this avenue of inquiry being pursued?

          5. alickdouglas

            You’re correct, there is a legal case there on narcolepsy, it was settled, I’ll stop commenting on it.

            Guillain barre has been a side effect that is ‘associated with’ both influenza infection and influenza vaccination since at least 1973. Because of this flu vaccine trials have made special efforts to look for it, and the incidence of guillain barre in a population is one of the drivers of the sample size calculation for flu vaccine trials because of that. Because GBS is very poorly understood, it is now one of those rare disorders that trial designers whether in corporations or not pay particular attention to, there’s usually a specific question relating to it at study visits for safety. Up to 2009 narcolepsy was not associated with viral disease, so it wasn’t looked for, to my knowledge.

            When it comes to safety monitoring, it can be quite tricky. Say for example you have 1000 subjects in a trial, and you have 3 reports of gbs: 2 in placebo recipients, and 1 in a vaccine candidate recipient? What is your conclusion? If I was being facetious I would say that the data shows that the vaccine *protects* against GBS, as the rate in vaccinees is half that in placebo recipients. I use this example to highlight the statistical problem with this kind of monitoring. You always hope to see a clear ‘go’ for safety, but usually you see awkward findings; for example, what happens if you have 7 GBS in one group and 4 in another? Or when you have a multi country study, when you have some GBS in one country or not in another? That’s when the statisticians go to town, and you end up messing about with confidence intervals and the like. From my experience this ends up in the registration dossier, and the sponsor physicians and statisticians spend a few days discussing with the regulator physicians and statisticians. The options open to the regulator are to grant the license, decline the license, or, if they see fit, to license with a black box warning on the label (this isn’t unheard of). As I said somewhere else here today, this is one of the reasons I think it’s important to read the SmPC for any licensed vaccine.

            I’m not well-versed in the cytokine storm thing, I should stay out of it.

      2. Junkface

        Luckily safety testing for vaccines move very, very slowly and can’t be compared with iPhone app updates. App updates regularly screw up or make everything worse.

        Vaccines usually take years to complete safely. I wonder who has taken up the Russian vaccine? I think it fell of the back of a lorry somewhere, so naturally Putin injected his daughter as a Guinea pig.
        “What is problem? She can still eat potato.”

  5. Johnnythree

    @Bisted asks me for a ‘solution’ whilst ignoring his own uninformed comment above. The first solution I’d give you is to read a little bit more because you are clearly uninformed. Go look at Poland too, it’d be a start.

      1. bisted

        …Poland…that’s new…mind you if I wanted to find the experience of a politically corrupt,priest infested country, riven by facists and homophobes I might not have to venture that far…in fact I could stay within the 5k limit…mind you I herd the Amazon being quoted this morning…

    1. E'Matty

      Yes, it’s truly tragic. The entertainment, hospitality and travel industries all face annihilation. The SME sector is being crushed with the global corporate titans now sweeping everything up online. If you’re not digital, you’re not coming to the New World. UBI (State dependancy with heavy strings attached) awaits for many poor souls. To think, they have fooled the public into calling for their own suicide as a society…grim times ahead…

      1. johnny

        its killing ny,two brothers started out as barmen in New York built it,a lifes work,they had 11 thriving pubs pre covid,must have employed about 1,000 people.i hear Bobby Vans steakhouse chain,started also by two irish barmen in new york may be closing.

        i headed for hills/farming while back,in berkshires growing and selling cannabis where with a license its totally legal,the place is rammed with city folks fleeing ny,the green cannabis industry is creating some hope and brightness in the smaller berkshire towns.


        1. E'Matty

          Sorry to hear about your brothers, but you seem to have chosen well in your move into the cannabis industry so congratulations for that. It’s a growth industry and will be strong in this new world emerging. I made a move last year from a traditional profession into the tech sector. My old colleagues all took a 25% pay cut at the start of this. I just received a 10% pay rise. There will be winners and losers in this global shift. You and I have the advantage of having chosen industries which will thrive. But, I think we both feel desperately for the many many who are now seeing their lives seemingly evaporate before their eyes. It’s tragic stuff and much worse to come. That’s before we consider just what kind of a controlled society will eventually emerge from this. Many people haven’t yet realised that the world we experienced in 2019 and before is gone, never to return. The New Normal was never intended to be temporary…

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