Viruses and vaccines

A discussion with emphasis on Sars-Cov-2

This blog will  deal with a few thoughts on covid and the various so called “vaccines”. In todays blog we are featuring the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna   and the Vector vaccines from J&J and Astra Zeneca. I will get back to talking about more important subjects like collapse of civilizations later. I think I may also talk about the the joys and pitfalls of a small farm and being a grandfather. Since I don’t keep a journal I might as well do it here.  This is a rambling discursive approach to a serious subject but I like to ramble  sometimes…………Today’s topic is how do viruses and vaccines work? Viruses have long been an interest of mine because they are just outside of what we call “life” . They are tiny and powerful and can give orders with the force of my favorite Cuban Marine drill sergeant back in Beast Barracks . Viruses can bring a civilization to its knees. If we tame them they can save a civilization. What’s not to like about viruses….?

      This digression about viruses and vaccines and the takeover of our civilization by the corporate big Pharma political alliances including the Gates Foundation worldwide has been better covered in places like the and recently Paul Kingsnorth in Ireland on his website. Most of it is paywalled(which I am thrilled to pay) but the covid stuff is not. Read it and then do your weeping offline.

Lets get down to what these vaccines are and are not and whether we should continue using them. First what are mRNA vaccines and how do they work?

   The mRNA Vaccines are not vaccines in the traditional sense. In a traditional vaccine you isolate your pathogen and grind them up in a Waring Blender and then filter the mess thru a coffee filter and stick it into a vial for later use on some poor defenseless child. Ok. A little more complicated than that. You isolate and purify your bad viruses and inactivate them by chemicals or heat or radiation or what have you where they are now still in one piece so to speak, but have lost enough of their genome so they can’t replicate and do damage. Once in your arm or your stomach they end up in cells so that your immune system   can react to them because these are composed of amino acids assembled into protein”antigens”. Your immune system recognizes them as foreign proteins and kick starts your immune system to making antibodies of various sorts like T cells and neutralizing antibodies . Some of these are quick acting and short lived and some long acting and some somehow file away information so your body can remember and thereby mount an immune attack months or years or even decades  later if needed.

      mRNA  vaccines were part of Trump’s “warp speed” vaccine development program as you recall. Viruses are of all kinds of shapes and forms just like people, and it turns out this Covid 19 virus  properly called SARS-cov-2 was of the class of Corona viruses so called because of their “crown” or corona of spike proteins. It happens that these so called spikes in the crown were the way the virus attacked the cells to get in to the cell factory to make the cell produce viruses instead of the usual production of constituents for the cell and the body. The spikes attach to receptors on the cell called ACE receptors which stands for angiotensin converting enzyme receptors which are receptors plentiful in many organs primarily the heart and lung. These hijacked cells  now start to make new products sort of like during WW2 when the Ford factory in Michigan switched from making jalopies to making B-24 bombers.

      Pfizer uses protein nanoparticles  of mRNA  to enter the cell taking over the muscle cells to make the so called “S” proteins of the Covid  spikes. The instructions are very specific to the early variety of the Covid virus, the Alpha variant, which was first on the scene. Note they are not making the whole Covid virus but just the spike proteins. These proteins somehow accumulate on the surface of the cell and the body’s immune system sees them as foreign invaders and mounts an immune response making antibodies to these foreign protein amino acid sequences. These antibodies’ flood the body. When some schmuck now comes along and coughs in your face, you inhale his virus load which attacks your ace receptors but this time the now armed immune system attacks the invading virus spikes and binds to it or neutralizes it in some fashion. That’s the way it works or is supposed to work. Are there possible things that can go wrong like unintended consequences or side effects? Sure but we will cover that later.

    How do the non mRNA vaccines work like those from J&J and AZ?  Instead of using RNA they use DNA for the instruction set. The DNA is tucked inside a benign virus which has been made even more benign by “inactivating” it so it can’t cause you a URI. J&J uses a cold adenovirus and Astra Zeneca the other main player over there in merrie olde England uses a chimpanzee virus. They also inactivate the chimp virus to keep it from replicating. Once these so called Vector viruses get inside the cell the DNA  escapes and gives genetic instructions using DNA instead of RNA to make the S proteins and you know the rest. An immune response. There are a bunch of other players using similar approaches with  different viruses to deliver their protein instructions. Some work pretty well and some don’t.

   There are many types of vaccines.There are virus vector vaccines, protein subunit vaccines and mRNA vaccines.  Let’s get to the virus vector vaccines because they have been around the longest and have had the most research and testing. There are 4 types: RC,RD,SC, AND MS. RC is replication competent,RD is replication deficient,SC is single cycle, amd MS is multisegmented. RC means the virus can reproduce, RD means it can’t, single cycle is self explanatory, and SC and multisegmented I may try to take up in a later blog. This blog will just talk about the RC/RD vector vaccines.

   The RC vaccines have advantages and disadvantages. They have the advantage of reproducing releasing gobs and heaps of antigens and if you use them, you have what amounts to “leverage” in production. A few viruses can produce a lot of antigens. They have disadvantages which were noted fairly early. Specifically they can overwhelm people who have deficient immune systems, because of certain diseases like cancer or taking immunosuppressants. Virologists like the RC class because of the leverage involved which means fewer product needed, lower cost etc. They have tried tinkering with the RC virus vectors to tone them down to improve the safety profile which has worked in some circumstances and not in others so worries remain.

      The RD class of virus vectors on paper looks good because with the virus prevented from replication, the safety profile is much improved. With these viruses you may be dealing with real nasties like the Ebola virus so you want to prevent them replicating. There have been a few success stories with human and animal vaccines, Most notably the ERVEBO by Merck used for Ebola, a very dangerous virus. It took 5 years to develop the vaccine and was licensed in late 2019.  According to the NIH this year over 300000 people have so far gotten the jab including babies and pregnant women and even HIV folks. This after extensive animal testing. Data on efficacy is still being collected but so far so good. Fingers crossed. Contrast this Merck work with the Pfizer trials of 50,000 people over six months. I wonder why Pfizer  got the nod for the Covid vaccine instead of Merck. It might have taken too long and Trump had an election to win? Just sayin’. Of course with such rushed trials the Trump administration couldn’t wait for the wheels of careful responsible vaccine development to turn so they had to sweeten the pot with help from the Pfizer lawyers so Pfizer was released from liability in case the vaccine was a dud or caused injuries. Because everything was a big Emergency don’t you know. Trump had to give it a EUA(emergency use authorization) to get it out to the voters . The trial results and data from the research should be a matter of public record because much of this initial research was underwritten by the public. In order to backstop my comments I would need to look at the data with help from vaccine experts who would have to be impartial and independent. But guess what ? Our FDA has sealed these records until 2076 at Pfizer’s request!!! Do you think it’s possible they have something to hide? Do I look cynical to you? Lily Tomlin said:”No matter how cynical I get, I find that I just can’t keep up.”

     Somehow I got off track because I wanted to talk about all the fascinating and incredibly complex work done with the other virus vectors using all manner of viruses. Here is just a sample of those viruses used for human and animal diseases and cancer immunotherapy:Retroviruses and Lentiviruses. Lentiviruses have been used for immunotherapy. Then of course we have the ever popular pox viruses, herpseviruses, arrenaviruses and flaviviruses. Yellow Fever is a flavivirus and I read that immunity in some have lasted 39 years! Then of course I’m sure you are familiar with the paramyxoviruses which cause rubeola and mumps. There are others of course like the Rhabdoviruses which cause Rabies but I think I see a lot of glazed eyes out there so let’s wrap this up. We can talk about the social cost and the political polarization with world wide protests against this globalized vaccination against a virus which as Trump said was no worse than Flu. FYI look at this year by year  fatality  table from  of all people, the CDC:

SARS-Cov-2 mortality by year

BTW I should list this most excellent paper from Pub Med about the excellent work developing the Ebola vaccine:

pubmed logo Search:

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Review Vaccines (Basel)

. 2021 Feb 25;9(3):190. doi: 10.3390/vaccines9030190.

Development of Pandemic Vaccines: ERVEBO Case Study

Jayanthi Wolf  1 Risat Jannat  2 Sheri Dubey  3 Sean Troth  4 Matthew T Onorato  5 Beth-Ann Coller  6 Mary E Hanson  7 Jakub K Simon  6 Affiliations

Free PMC article

Compare and contrast with the botched and secretive Pfizer trials. I read the whole paper but I forgive anyone for not doing the same. It would be a slog for some…hugh


Published by Rendezvous Mountain Farm

I was born in Cascade county Montana and raised in a dozen Air Force SAC bases. I attended Holy Cross,West Point and UNC in Chapel Hill(MD"71). Army doc in the last years of the Viet Nam fiasco. My wife and I live in a log cabin I built from standing dead lodgepole trees we cut from Shadow Mountain and regional local timber in 1976 . I've done a dozen different jobs including construction, boat building,magazine writing and commercial fishing and retired from the Emergency and Operating Room in 2004. We manage a small diversified organic farm including leased land which totals about 40 acres in the Jackson Hole valley. We raise a variety of livestock which includes some heritage breeds of animals and poultry. We grow most of our food and forage. Our land is irrigated from Granite Creek and the Snake River and we raise and bale our own organic hay. We supplement with food collected from Jackson Hole Food rescue which is mostly dairy, bread and past date vegetables and food from the grocery stores and restaurants.

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