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Corona Virus News & Info

Goldhedge

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The Biggest Conspiracy Behind COVID-19 Now Proven
Analysis by Dr. Joseph MercolaFact Checked

  • December 16, 2020
STORY AT-A-GLANCE
  • In a February 18, 2020, scientific statement in The Lancet, 27 authors strongly condemned conspiracy theories suggesting COVID-19 does not have a natural origin, stating that scientists from around the world “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife”
  • Emails obtained by U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) prove EcoHealth Alliance employees were behind the plot to obscure the lab origin of SARS-CoV-2 by issuing a scientific statement condemning such inquiries as “conspiracy theory”
  • EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak drafted The Lancet statement, intending it to “not be identifiable as coming from any one organization or person” but rather to be seen as “simply a letter from leading scientists”
  • Several of the authors of that Lancet statement also have direct ties to the EcoHealth Alliance that were not disclosed as conflicts of interest
  • Daszak is now leading The Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission charged with getting to the bottom of SARS-CoV-2’s origin — a role for which he is clearly too conflicted to perform in an unbiased manner
November 5, 2020, U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), an investigative public health nonprofit group, filed a lawsuit1 against the National Institutes of Health after the agency failed to respond to its July 10, 2020, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

The USRTK’s lawsuit sought access to nonexempt records of gain-of-function experiments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the EcoHealth Alliance, which partnered with and funded the Wuhan Institute.2

In a November 18, 2020, article,3,4 USRTK reports that emails obtained prove EcoHealth Alliance employees were behind the plot to obscure the lab origin of SARS-CoV-2 by issuing a scientific statement condemning such inquiries as “conspiracy theory”:

“Emails obtained by U.S. Right to Know show that a statement5 in The Lancet authored by 27 prominent public health scientists condemning ‘conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin’ was organized by employees of EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit group that has received millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funding to genetically manipulate coronaviruses with scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The emails obtained via public records requests show that EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak drafted the Lancet statement, and that he intended it to ‘not be identifiable as coming from any one organization or person’6 but rather to be seen as ‘simply a letter from leading scientists.’7 Daszak wrote that he wanted ‘to avoid the appearance of a political statement.’8
The scientists’ letter appeared in The Lancet on February 18, just one week after the World Health Organization announced that the disease caused by the novel coronavirus would be named COVID-19.
The 27 authors ‘strongly condemn[ed] conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,’ and reported that scientists from multiple countries ‘overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife.’
The letter included no scientific references to refute a lab-origin theory of the virus. One scientist, Linda Saif, asked via email whether it would be useful ‘to add just one or 2 statements in support of why nCOV is not a lab generated virus and is naturally occuring? Seems critical to scientifically refute such claims!’9 Daszak responded, ‘I think we should probably stick to a broad statement.’10”
USRTK points out that several of the authors of that Lancet statement also have direct ties to the EcoHealth Alliance that were not disclosed as conflicts of interest.

“Rita Colwell and James Hughes are members of the Board of Directors of EcoHealth Alliance, William Karesh is the group’s Executive Vice President for Health and Policy, and Hume Field is Science and Policy Advisor,” USRTK writes.11​
Daszak Leads Lancet Investigation Into SARS-CoV-2 Origin
This bombshell finding is all the more important in light of the fact that Daszak is now leading The Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission charged with getting to the bottom of SARS-CoV-2’s origin.12

The nomination was suspect from the start, for no other reason than EcoHealth Alliance has received numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health for coronavirus research that was then subcontracted to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Daszak had also gone on the record stating he’s convinced that the virus is natural in origin. With that, his conflicts of interest were already crystal clear, but the finding that he orchestrated The Lancet statement condemning “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin” means The Lancet Commission’s investigation is little more than a cover-up operation.

If they want to maintain any semblance of credibility going forward, Daszak would need to be replaced with someone less tainted by conflicts and personal gain potential. Five other members of The Lancet Commission also signed the February 18, 2020, statement in The Lancet,13 which puts their credibility in question as well.

Daszak has every reason to make sure SARS-CoV-2 ends up being declared natural, because if it turns out to be a lab-creation, his livelihood is at stake. It would be naïve to believe that safeguarding the continuation of dangerous gain-of-function research wouldn’t be a powerful motivator to preserve the zoonotic origin narrative.

If you want to see just how deeply the mainstream media is in complete collusion with Daszak and is being used to bolster this fake narrative, you can view the “60 Minutes” interview with him below that was broadcast earlier this year.

3:30 min

Lab Escapes Are Commonplace
For the past decade, there have been red flags raised in the scientific community about biosecurity breaches in high containment biological labs in the U.S. and around the world.14

There were legitimate fears that a lab-created superflu might escape the confines of biosecurity labs where researchers are conducting experiments. It’s certainly a reasonable fear, considering the many biosafety breaches on record.15,16,17,18 For example, in 2014, six glass vials of smallpox virus were accidentally found in a storeroom in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s lab at the National Institutes of Health.19

It was the second time in one month mishandling of potential deadly infectious agents was exposed. One month before this shocking discovery, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention20 realized as many as 84, and possibly 86, of its scientists had been exposed to live anthrax.21,22

The live pathogen had been sent from another, higher-security facility, which failed to follow biosafety protocols. The anthrax sample was supposed to have been inactivated prior to transfer, but for a variety of reasons it wasn’t dead on arrival.

The next year, in 2015, the Pentagon realized a Dugway Proving Ground laboratory had been sending incompletely inactivated anthrax (meaning it was still live) to 200 laboratories around the world for the past 12 years. According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report23 issued in August 2016, incompletely inactivated anthrax was sent out on at least 21 occasions between 2003 and 2015.

In 2017, the BSL 4 lab on Galveston Island was hit by a massive storm and severe flooding, raising questions about what might happen were some of the pathogens kept there to get out.24 As recently as 2019, the BSL 4 lab in Fort Detrick was temporarily shut down after several protocol violations were noted.25

Between October 2014 and December 2017, a moratorium on dangerous gain-of-function experiments was in effect in the U.S.26,27 The moratorium was initially issued after a rash of “high-profile lab mishaps” at the CDC and “extremely controversial flu experiments” in which the bird flu virus was engineered to become more lethal and contagious between ferrets.

The goal was to see if it could mutate and become more lethal and contagious between humans, causing future pandemics.

According to Francis Boyle, who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the West Africa Ebola pandemic likely originated out of a BSL-4 facility in Sierra Leone. He believes they were testing a live Ebola vaccine, thereby causing the outbreak.

Asia Times28 lists several other examples of safety breaches at BSL3 and BSL4 labs, as does a May 28, 2015, article in USA Today,29 an April 11, 2014, article in Slate magazine30 and a November 16, 2020, article in Medium.31

SARS Lab Escapes
The Medium article,32 written by Gilles Demaneuf, reviews SARS lab escapes specifically. No less than three out of four reappearances of SARS have been attributed to safety breaches. In the first incident, which took place in September 2003 in Singapore, an inexperienced doctoral student was infected with SARS. The case was blamed on “inappropriate laboratory standards” and cross-contamination.33

Other shortcomings that contributed included “inadequate record-keeping procedures, totally inadequate training, inexistent virus stock inventory, patchy maintenance records plus a variety of structural problems including the absence of gauges to indicate the pressure differentials, the lack of a freezer to store samples, problems with HEPA filters and air supply, and other equipment deficiencies.”34

As long as we are creating the risk, the benefit will always be secondary. Any scientific or medical gains made from gain-of-function research pales in comparison to the incredible risks involved if these creations are released.

The second accident took place in December 2003 at the Level 4 lab at the Taiwan Military Institute of Preventive Medical Research (IPMR) of the National Defense University.

A lieutenant-colonel working with SARS was infected as a result of negligence when disinfecting an accidental spill. The third incidence took place between February and April 2004 in Beijing, resulting in nearly 1,000 people being medically quarantined.

Why Tracking Down Origin of SARS-CoV-2 Is Crucial
As noted by the National Review,35 getting to the bottom of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is crucial if we are to prevent a similar pandemic to erupt in the future:

“If it originated from a person eating bat or pangolin at a wet market, then we need to take steps to ensure that bat and pangolin consumption and trade stops everywhere in the world … Bat guano is used as fertilizer in many countries, and that guano can be full of viruses … If this is the source of the virus, we need to get people to stop going into caves and using the guano as fertilizer …
In a strange way, the ‘lab accident’ scenario is one of the most reassuring explanations. It means that if we want to ensure we never experience this again, we simply need to get every lab in the world working on contagious viruses to ensure 100 percent compliance with safety protocols, all the time.”
We’re told gain-of-function research is necessary in order to stay ahead of the natural evolution of viruses. A pathogen that mutates and jumps species, for example, may end up posing a severe threat to mankind. However, by manipulating pathogens, turning nonlethal viruses into lethal ones, for example, we are creating the very risk we’re supposedly trying to avoid.

And, as long as we are creating the risk, the benefit will always be secondary. Any scientific or medical gains made from this kind of research pales in comparison to the incredible risks involved if these creations are released. This sentiment has been echoed by others in a variety of scientific publications.36,37,38,39

Considering the potential for a massively lethal pandemic, I believe it’s safe to say that BSL 3 and 4 laboratories pose a very real and serious existential threat to humanity.

U.S. biowarfare programs employ some 13,000 scientists,40 all of whom are hard at work creating ever-deadlier pathogens, while the public is simply told to trust that these pathogens will never be released, either involuntarily or voluntarily.

Historical facts tell us accidental exposures and releases have already happened, and we only have our lucky stars to thank that none have turned into pandemics taking the lives of millions.

Considering safety breaches at these labs number in the hundreds, it’s only a matter of time before something really nasty gets out. Consider the ramifications if a souped-up Ebola or Spanish flu were to get out, for example. Is SARS-CoV-2 the product of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology? It might be. There’s certainly compelling evidence to suggest it.

But even if such suspicions turn out be wrong, we must ask the question and do a proper investigation. We absolutely need to know how this virus came about, and if it was a lab creation, how it got out.

Naturally, there will be resistance. As mentioned, many thousands of researchers stand to lose their careers were this kind of research to be banned. As Antonio Regalado, biomedicine editor of MIT Technology Review, told Boston Magazine,41 “If it turned out COVID-19 came from a lab it would shatter the scientific edifice top to bottom.”

Some might be looking at an even worse fate. With sufficient evidence, certain researchers and public health authorities could face life behind bars for their involvement, which is the penalty for bioterrorism under the Anti-Terrorism Act. All things considered, there’s virtually no benefit to gain-of-function research, but plenty of risk.
 
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dacrunch

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Too bad that however interesting and important an in depth article and analysis can be, it's just too easy to get blurry eyes and overwhelmed on these tiny phone screens.
Sad but true, in these days of the 5 second soundbite.
 

Goldhedge

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Goldhedge

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Too bad that however interesting and important an in depth article and analysis can be, it's just too easy to get blurry eyes and overwhelmed on these tiny phone screens.
Sad but true, in these days of the 5 second soundbite.
get an 9" iPad or similar device. 32G ram should suffice for what you desire.
 

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COVID-19 hospitalizations by state: Dec. 16



California has the most COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the U.S., according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The Atlantic's COVID tracking project compiles data directly from the websites of local or state public health authorities. When data is missing from the websites, it supplements available numbers with information from official news conferences. Data was last updated Dec. 13, Dec. 14 or Dec. 15, depending on the state.

States are listed alphabetically. Not all states report both cumulative and current totals.



Alabama
Current: 2,353
Cumulative: 29,259
State's hospital bed capacity: 15,278

Alaska
Current: 140
Cumulative: 908
State's hospital bed capacity: 1,636

Arizona
Current: 3,702
Cumulative: 31,266
State's hospital bed capacity: 13,846

Arkansas
Current: 1,070
Cumulative: 10,096
State's hospital bed capacity: 9,517

California
Current: 15,198
State's hospital bed capacity: 72,511…….

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/number-of-covid-19-hospitalizations-state-by-state-july-15.html
 

ABC123

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How Many Times Are the “Facts” About COVID Going to Change?



I have never worked in the medical field. But, I have had many friends and family work in the medical field over the years. We could speak together, intelligently in the past. We could share information and ask one another questions.
It’s important for me to learn what I can do to better take care of myself and my children. While advice from individual practitioners varied somewhat, there was similar advice throughout the field, all around different parts of the country.
Everything is different now, and there is far too much uncertainty

This year everything changed. Mainstream media says one thing; the people I know in medicine have various things to say. Some agree with everything on the news, while others disagree. In fact, one day they agree, the next day they don’t. There has been doubt about the numbers from the very beginning.
Chaos reigns. It’s hard to make informed decisions because it’s hard to know what’s going on. Medicine has changed considerably over the last 20 years, likely contributing to the chaos and confusion.
The health care system has become more bureaucratized over the decades for a variety of reasons. The Affordable Care Act dramatically sped up the process. It significantly increased overhead expenses, which encouraged many private doctors to work for larger groups, such as hospitals, to absorb those costs more quickly.
Private ownership has been decreasing for years but markedly reduced during the years between 2012 and 2018. Physicians began moving away from offering their services privately to providing services at larger institutions. Hospitals and larger groups of physicians can more easily shoulder the burden of high overhead costs.

The voice of humankind no longer belongs to us
I have worked in a variety of settings. When I worked for a privately owned burger joint in high school, I dyed my hair orange and purple and had five earrings. The customers did not care. My boss’s opinion was all that concerned me. His only concern was whether it affected revenue. It didn’t. My boss was cool with my being a strange-looking teen.
After college, I worked for a large consulting firm. My hair was back to its natural color, and most of the piercings were gone. My more heavily tattooed coworkers had to dress very modestly. We represented a business with dozens of offices around the country and were expected to conduct ourselves in a certain way.
Rules on what is acceptable in places of employment vary. In larger organizations, these rules tend to be much stricter. In today’s environment, these rules do not only apply to appearance. Especially in larger institutions and corporations.
In medicine, the move away from independent practices toward larger institutions made it difficult for physicians to voice their stance if it differs from the institutions that now employ them, which leads to a lack of information.
“Guard your heart” is advice I’ve heard a lot over the years, but better advice for today would be “Guard your mind.”

https://www.theorganicprepper.com/facts-covid/

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the_shootist

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the_shootist

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People are actually buying this shit now! How stupid are we??? They won't stop coming and will never let it end....until they're dead!

1608205598035.png
 

ABC123

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Imagine more freedom in Mexico than in the USA

FREEDOM: Mexico’s President Says COVID Lockdowns Are ‘Dictatorship’



AMLO describes supporters of lockdowns as having "authoritarian instincts"
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has described coronavirus lockdowns as “dictatorship” during a recent press conference with reporters.

He described such lockdown measures as “fashionable among authorities … who want to show they are heavy handed, dictatorship”, according a report by the Associated Press.
He went on to claim that the advocates of such measures have “authoritarian instincts” and do not respect the freedom of the Mexican people.

“A lot of them are letting their authoritarian instincts show,” he stated. “The fundamental thing is to guarantee liberty.”
López Obrador has strongly resisted efforts to introduce lockdowns and curfews in Mexico, despite the popularity of such measures in other Latin American countries. However, just as in the United States and Brazil, many state and local officials have defied the President and introduced various restrictions at lower levels of government.
For example, the third most populous state in Mexico, Jalisco, currently governed by the opposition left-liberal Citizens’ Movement, has introduced a mask mandate in all public areas. Other states have gone further still, introducing stay-at-home orders and shutting non-essential businesses. Even states governed by conservative politicians, such as Puebla, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, have adopted strict lockdown restrictions.

During the press conference, López Obrador also spoke out against mask mandates, expressing his belief that wearing a mask should be voluntary.

“Everyone is free,” López Obrador added. “Whoever wants to wear a face mask and feel safer is welcome to do so.”

The Mexican federal government under López Obrador has taken a skeptical attitude towards both the mass use of face masks and mass testing of the population for COVID-19.
Although a hard-leftist, López Obrador has been a prominent skeptic of excessive government power over the course of this pandemic. He also declined to congratulate Joe Biden for over 5 weeks after the November election, citing his own struggles with electoral fraud in the 2006 Mexican presidential election. That election was widely speculated to have been rigged in favor of López Obrador’s opponent, center-right candidate Felipe Calderón. López Obrador has compared his treatment by the media during that period to the treatment of President Trump over the last month.


https://nationalfile.com/freedom-mexicos-president-says-covid-lockdowns-are-dictatorship/
 

the_shootist

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Imagine more freedom in Mexico than in the USA

FREEDOM: Mexico’s President Says COVID Lockdowns Are ‘Dictatorship’



AMLO describes supporters of lockdowns as having "authoritarian instincts"
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has described coronavirus lockdowns as “dictatorship” during a recent press conference with reporters.

He described such lockdown measures as “fashionable among authorities … who want to show they are heavy handed, dictatorship”, according a report by the Associated Press.
He went on to claim that the advocates of such measures have “authoritarian instincts” and do not respect the freedom of the Mexican people.

“A lot of them are letting their authoritarian instincts show,” he stated. “The fundamental thing is to guarantee liberty.”
López Obrador has strongly resisted efforts to introduce lockdowns and curfews in Mexico, despite the popularity of such measures in other Latin American countries. However, just as in the United States and Brazil, many state and local officials have defied the President and introduced various restrictions at lower levels of government.
For example, the third most populous state in Mexico, Jalisco, currently governed by the opposition left-liberal Citizens’ Movement, has introduced a mask mandate in all public areas. Other states have gone further still, introducing stay-at-home orders and shutting non-essential businesses. Even states governed by conservative politicians, such as Puebla, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, have adopted strict lockdown restrictions.

During the press conference, López Obrador also spoke out against mask mandates, expressing his belief that wearing a mask should be voluntary.

“Everyone is free,” López Obrador added. “Whoever wants to wear a face mask and feel safer is welcome to do so.”

The Mexican federal government under López Obrador has taken a skeptical attitude towards both the mass use of face masks and mass testing of the population for COVID-19.
Although a hard-leftist, López Obrador has been a prominent skeptic of excessive government power over the course of this pandemic. He also declined to congratulate Joe Biden for over 5 weeks after the November election, citing his own struggles with electoral fraud in the 2006 Mexican presidential election. That election was widely speculated to have been rigged in favor of López Obrador’s opponent, center-right candidate Felipe Calderón. López Obrador has compared his treatment by the media during that period to the treatment of President Trump over the last month.


https://nationalfile.com/freedom-mexicos-president-says-covid-lockdowns-are-dictatorship/
The Mexicans take a lot of crap and sometimes for good reason but, they're not communists
 

the_shootist

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Quoted:


Reminder that over 600K Americans die of heart disease on a yearly basis and another 600K die of cancer on a yearly basis
Both of these numbers are down this year while the worst fucking disease outbreak to hit this country struggled to hit half that
 

Silver

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Thursday, 17 December 2020

http://www.domigood.com/2020/12/breaking-news-mike-pence-will-get-covid.html

Mike Pence will get COVID-19 vaccine at the White House LIVE on television on Friday in order to build Americans' confidence in the shot

Vice President Mike Pence plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the White House on Friday morning on live television in order to build ‘vaccine confidence’ among skeptical Americans, it has been reported.
The vice president wants the major television networks to broadcast his inoculation live in order to maximize the audience so they can be reassured that the treatment is safe, Axios is reporting.
He will be the highest ranking Trump administration official to be given the vaccine.
Pence, the leader of the White House coronavirus task force, will be joined on Friday morning by his wife, Karen Pence, and Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.
Karen Pence and Adams will also receive the vaccine.
 

ABC123

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1608252370053.png

https://twitter.com/PaulMitchell_AB/status/1339425673497067521



https://tnc.news/2020/12/14/un-praises-canada-for-keeping-borders-open-to-refugees-during-pandemic/
 

Someone_else

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Vice President Mike Pence plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine
Firstly, which one? Will it be one that messes with DNA, or a traditional one that emulates the virus?
Secondly, if he has been keeping his immune system up, he should be fine anyway.
 

Goldhedge

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ABC123

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CDC Reveals Hospitals Counted 130,000 Heart Attacks, Flu and Bacterial Pneumonia As COVID-19 Deaths



The Centers for Disease Control says hospitals counted over 130,000 deaths from heart attacks, influenza and bacterial pneumonia as Covid-19 deaths.

Over 84% of all Covid-19 deaths are in Democratic states, according to the CDC.

Hospital systems are accused of counting patients who died from serious pre-existing conditions as Covid-19 deaths in order to receive more money from the government for Covid-related deaths.
The CDC updated their death counts to reveal that Covid-19 is rarely the actual cause of Covid-19 deaths.



https://sandrarose.com/2020/10/cdc-reveals-hospitals-counted-130000-heart-attacks-flu-and-bacterial-pneumonia-as-covid-19-deaths/
 

the_shootist

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Over 84% of all Covid-19 deaths are in Democratic states, according to the CDC.
Save yourself, step away form a Demonrat!
 

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SongSungAU

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This isn't going to help them get people in line. LOL! Yes, I know... she has a history of passing out due to various things. Just saying....

Nurse passes out after taking the Covid Vaccine (1 min 02 sec):​
Published on Dec 18, 2020 by Black Pegasus​

Tennessee Nurse Passes Out On Camera Minutes After Taking COVID-19 Vaccine
https://www.zerohedge.com/covid-19/...ws-crew-minutes-after-taking-covid-19-vaccine

excerpt:

She told WRCBtv that this is 'not an uncommon reaction for her,' explaining "I have a history of having an over-reactive vagal response, and so with that if I have pain from anything, hangnail or if I stub my toe, I can just pass out."
The rest of the vaccinations reportedly went off without a hitch after the hospital received 975 doses.
 

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Nurse Collapses on Television Minutes After Receiving Covid Vaccine

Spiro Skouras
 

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Another death BEFORE covid. Seems the killinton's outsourced not only the makers of HQC but the test.


https://dnascience.plos.org/2019/08/15/rip-kary-mullis-father-of-pcr/

RIP Kary Mullis, Father of PCR
August 15, 2019 Ricki Lewis, PhD Uncategorized




When the name Kary Mullis popped up in my news feed on Monday, I was excited to read what I thought would be an update on the renegade inventor I’d met years ago at a small biotech gathering in San Diego. Back then, in the late 1980s, I’d interviewed him for Genetic Engineering News, where I had the gene amplification beat – a field that began with the polymerase chain reaction, aka PCR.
An Eclectic Technology
Kary Mullis died on Monday, August 12, of heart disease and respiratory failure. He was so quirky that obituaries, like the one in the LA Times, led off with such descriptors as “LSD-dropping, climate-change-denying, astrology-believing, board surfing.” That obit calls PCR a “discovery.” But the technology wasn’t laying around waiting for someone to find it, like an ancient skull. Instead, it was an invention deduced from the scrutinizing the mechanics of DNA replication.
Other obits repeat the mantra that Mullis was an “untamed genius,” a phrase oddly the opposite of an oft-echoed presidential boast.
I bought into the Mullis mythology, relating the PCR origin tale in the dozen editions of my human genetics textbook:
“PCR was born in the mind of Kary Mullis on a moonlit night in northern California in 1983. As he drove through the hills, Mullis was thinking about the precision of DNA replication, and a way to tap into it popped into his mind. He excitedly explained his idea to his girlfriend and then went home to think it through. “It was difficult for me to sleep with deoxyribonuclear bombs exploding in my brain,” he wrote much later. (A quote so common that I can’t find the original source, which I think was Scientific American.)
The idea behind PCR was so simple that Mullis had trouble convincing his superiors at Cetus Corporation that he was onto something. Over the next year, he used the technique to amplify a well-studied gene. Mullis published that landmark paper in 1985 (on amplifying the sickle cell mutation) and filed patent applications, launching the field of DNA amplification. He received a $10,000 bonus for his invention, which the company sold to another company for $300 million. Mullis did, however, win a Nobel Prize in 1993.”

Some biotech friends tell me that Mullis’s story didn’t unfold quite so neatly, dramatically, and independently. And variations on the theme were well underway, according to this article I wrote for The Scientist in 1991. Still, PCR’s importance and ubiquity are clear – anyone who’s had a rapid strep or flu test has benefited from it.
Back in the 1980s, Mullis probably didn’t foresee PCR identifying the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and other atrocities and natural disasters. The impact on forensics has arguably been as profound as the effect on diagnostics.
The invention of PCR came just after Sir Alec Jeffreys introduced the first DNA fingerprinting (now called profiling) technology. PCR extended DNA profiling to vanishingly small forensic specimens. The technology became entrenched, a buzzword by the time Olivia Benson and company tossed the acronym around on Law and Order: SVU.
With each edition of my textbook, I curate the list of applications, so here’s some of PCR’s greatest hits. It has been used on:
  • A preserved quagga (a relative of the zebra) and a marsupial wolf, both extinct.
  • Poached moose meat in hamburger.
  • A cremated man, from skin cells left in his electric shaver, to diagnose an inherited disease in his children.
  • The brain of a 7,000-year-old human mummy.
  • The digestive tracts of carnivores, to reveal food web interactions.
  • Roadkills and carcasses washed ashore, to identify locally threatened species.
  • Products illegally made from endangered species.
  • Genetically modified bacteria released in field tests, to follow their dispersion.
  • One cell of an 8-celled human embryo to detect a disease-causing mutation.
  • Remains in Jesse James’s grave, to make a positive identification.
  • The intestines of genital crab lice on a rape victim, which matched the DNA of the suspect.
  • Fur from Snowball, a cat that linked a murder suspect to a crime.
How PCR Works
To picture PCR, imagine a row of aligned couples at a dance where lots of other folks are standing around, unpaired, a little like the gym scene in West Side Story. People keep arriving. The couples part and draw in new partners, over and over, until the gym fills with twirling pairs. Each new dancer wears a distinctive item, like a red scarf, to be noticeable. Not a perfect analogy to PCR DNA amplification, but close.
The “P” in PCR stands for “polymerase,” the enzyme that replicates DNA by adding the new dance partners. (“ase” indicates an enzyme; DNA is a polymer, a molecule of repeating units). DNA polymerase – DNAP – guides the doubling of DNA each time a cell divides, bringing in new DNA bases to form the “daughter” helices.
Mullis invented the basics of PCR in 1983, and the patent issued in 1986 (which now eerily reads “2019-08-12 Application status is Expired – Lifetime). The patent claimed “a process for amplifying existing nucleic acid sequences if they are present” adding “For diagnostic applications in particular, the target nucleic acid sequence may be only a small portion of the DNA or RNA in question.” Probing a whole gene isn’t necessary to identify a bacterium in spit, or a virus in blood.
DNAP (green) is the enzyme that adds new DNA bases during replication.
As first envisioned, PCR used DNAP from E. coli, the workhorse bacterium common in our guts and in molecular biology labs. Short bits of DNA, called primers, guide the DNAP to the gene part of interest, and are labeled by incorporating a fluorescent marker. So you have to know what you’re looking for to amplify a specific gene. (One of the many gaffs in Dan Brown’s “Inferno” was using PCR to find an unknown piece of DNA, which I dissed here.)
When Mullis heated the DNA before each doubling to separate the helix halves, though, the crucial E. coli DNAP fell apart, requiring a constant fresh supply. Researchers at Cetus soon invented the first thermal cycling device, named Mr. Cycle, to automate the temperature shifts. But it was an unwieldy process, taking time.
Then Mullis had an idea: switch to a “thermostable” version of the same enzyme from Thermus aquaticus, a microbe that thrives in the hot springs of Yellowstone. Microbiologist Thomas D. Brock had discovered and described it in 1969. Bingo.
T. aquaticus is an “extreme thermophile.” It’s a member of the Archaea, one of the three domains of life along with the Prokarya (bacteria) and Eukarya (everything else). (Domains top kingdoms.)
I admired an exhibit on T. aquaticus at Yellowstone this past May, near the colorful hot springs it calls home, but was frustrated at the museum’s omission of acknowledging the microbe’s role in PCR or the importance of the Archaea in the origin of life. The info just vaguely mentions “biotech.” I told my tour group the tale of another inventor, Francis Barany, a professor at Weill Cornell Medicine. In 1991 he fell into a Yellowstone hot springs in search of a different thermostable enzyme, a ligase, burning up his leg. The enzyme picks up where a polymerase signs off, knitting the sugar-phosphate backbone of a DNA molecule to which the four types of bases attach. Dr. Barany got his enzyme and invented the ligase chain reaction.
Mullis’s magic enzyme did just fine at the high temps required to repeatedly part the DNA double helices as PCR proceeds. He and his colleagues published the retooled, much more efficient gene amplification scheme in Science in 1988.
The heat-resistant enzyme made all the difference, and soon PCR and gene amplification took off. A DNA snippet could be mass-produced to millions of copies in just hours. PCR could detect one bit of DNA in a specimen of 100,000 cells. Roche acquired the technology from Cetus in 1991, pushing it towards diagnostics.
Mammoth hot springs, Yellowstone
In honor of Kary Mullis, I went in search of ever more applications of PCR and quickly came up with a new list:
  • Rapid diagnostics for fungal infections (Aspergillus and Candida), TB, and hepatitis.
  • Field-based PCR for acute Q fever at a combat support hospital in Iraq; for a mysterious lung infection (Chlamydophila pneumoniae) among military recruits in Turkey; and anthrax.
  • In residents of labs, zoos, and natural habitats, diagnostic tests for white nose syndrome in bats; camelpox and monkeypox; herpes in pigs, minks, monkeys, and kangaroos; and a PCR panel of four pathogens used to quarantine snakes and lizards.
  • Forensically speaking, lipstick is a great source of DNA.
  • PCR is used to detect pig DNA in halal cosmetics, indicating meat contamination, which is against Islam law.
 

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