Wasn’t this the plot to 2007’s movie “I Am Legend”?
If you are among the many Americans who have reservations about the COVID-19 vaccines, you may find the idea of a self-spreading vaccine to be somewhat disconcerting.
Scientists are working to develop a “contagious” vaccine “that could replicate in a host’s body and spread to others nearby, quickly and easily protecting a whole population from microbial attacks,” according to a new report in The National Geographic.
They are trying to create “genetically engineered viruses,” anticipating they will “spread from one animal to another, imparting immunity to disease rather than infection.”
Call me crazy, but considering that the world is still reeling from the last experiment with gain of function research, this sounds like a horrible idea.
The article explains the justification for this dangerous research. They cite U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, which estimates that “60 percent of all known infectious diseases and 75 percent of new or emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic.” And scientists “cannot predict why, when or how new zoonotic diseases will emerge.”
Could one then argue that scientists cannot predict why, when or how messing with these deadly diseases could bring calamity to the world?
Scientists maintain that if they’re able to develop this technology now, they may be able to prevent the next pandemic. They claim this research could “revolutionize public health.”
We’re told that “many experts” believe SARS-CoV-2 jumped from an animal to a human. In reality, the only experts who agree with that theory are those who stand to benefit from National Institutes of Health grants. Most rational scientists suspect that a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology triggered the pandemic.
Do you think this is a really bad idea?
Anyway, the goal is to “reduce infectious disease transmission among wild animals, thereby lowering the risk that harmful viruses and bacteria can jump from wildlife to humans.”
The research will be conducted on animals. Because “wild animals are difficult to vaccinate because each one must be located, captured, vaccinated and released,” they conclude that “self-spreading vaccines offer a solution.”
Scientists began this research in the 1980s, but advances in technology have facilitated it.
They are currently working on vaccines for Ebola, bovine tuberculosis and Lassa fever, and they hope to address rabies, West Nile virus, Lyme disease and the plague next.
The National Geographic spoke to Filippa Lentzos, a science and international security expert at King’s College in London. They learned that because “viruses are genetically unstable and prone to frequent mutations … a self-spreading vaccine virus could evolve to jump species or cause other unknown consequences in wild and domestic animal populations and, perhaps, even in humans.”
“Once you set something engineered and self-transmissible out into nature, you don’t know what happens to it and where it will go,” said Jonas Sandbrink, a biosecurity researcher at the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute. “Even if you just start by setting it out into animal populations, part of the genetic elements might find their way back into humans.”
The article discussed the first and only real world experiment with a self-spreading virus. In 1999, veterinarian José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno tested a vaccine against two viral diseases that affect rabbits: rabbit hemorrhagic disease and myxomatosis.
After creating a “vaccine” in a lab, Sánchez-Vizcaíno’s team traveled to an island off the coast of Spain. They captured 147 rabbits, “placed microchips in their necks, administered the vaccine to about half of them and released them all back into the wild.”
Thirty-two days later, “[w]hen researchers recaptured micro-chipped rabbits that had not been vaccinated originally, they found that 56 percent of them had antibodies to both viruses, indicating that the vaccine had successfully spread from vaccinated to unvaccinated animals.”
The team submitted their results to the European Medicines Agency (Europe’s version of the CDC) “for evaluation and approval for real-world use. The EMA noted technical issues with the vaccine’s safety evaluation and requested that the team decode the myxoma genome, which had not been done before.”
Sánchez-Vizcaíno never supplied the EMA with the requested material.
The National Geographic spoke to Juan Bárcena, then a Ph.D. student working under Sánchez-Vizcaíno. He no longer supports self-spreading vaccine technology because he has learned it can lead to “unforeseen consequences.”
It turned out that the reason why myxoma had become so rampant in the European rabbit population was because in 1952, a man in France who was trying to keep rabbits out of his garden had deliberately released the virus.
Nearly 50 years later, the virus was affecting huge numbers of rabbits in Europe. That wasn’t the only unforeseen consequence.
The article said, “In 2018 Spanish researchers started noticing that a myxoma virus was killing wild hares, a species similar to rabbits. Scientists sequenced its genome and concluded that the myxoma virus had mixed with a poxvirus, enabling it to jump species.”
Bárcena said: “I don’t know if a mathematical model would have said that 70 years later something like this can happen.”
Scientists are essentially creating contagions that didn’t exist previously and introducing them into animal populations. This could lead to disaster for the world, especially one that’s trying hard to move on from a devastating and lingering pandemic.
They tell us it could revolutionize public health. It could also bring calamity.
Once a disease is unleashed, researchers lose absolute control over it. Consider how many illnesses have jumped from animals to people.
Additionally, regardless of whether or not COVID-19 originated from a lab leak, the fact is that lab leaks are common. If a genetically engineered vaccine, which is a virus, were to accidentally leak, we could have another pandemic on our hands.
There are also biosecurity concerns over the development of these pathogens. What if a nefarious government decided to unleash one of them on the world? In fact, Putin may be toying with the idea right now.
There are so many ways that this could go wrong, ways that scientists haven’t even considered. It’s been said that if there are 100 ways to get caught for a crime, even the smartest criminal will only think of 99 of them. It’s that one small detail he overlooked that will nail him.
This isn’t like software that can easily be patched by rolling out an update. Once this is out there, it’s out there.
Our government should do everything it can to stop this — Oh, that’s right.