Monthly Archives: June 2021

According to Doctor Robert Hess, the Delta variant is not the dreaded super mutant

Dr Robert HEss

Dr Robert Hess – 06/18/2021

According to Doctor Robert Hess, the Delta variant is not the dreaded super mutant, but it may be a game-changer in a negative sense.

In various parts of the UK, incidences are rising sharply again; the seven-day rate, which has long been around 20 new infections per 100,000, has recently risen to over 90. Mass testing has now been started in the north-west of England and the vaccination campaign has been stepped up.

Delta has twelve genetic changes in its spike protein compared to the original Wuhan strain discovered in December 2019. However, it has no changes at positions 501 or 484 of the receptor binding site, which I are closely monitoring. These mutations have so far been detected on the Beta (South Africa B. and Gamma (Brazil P.1) virus variants and defined as escape mutations. In the case of the Delta variant, however, the relevant change is the L452R substitution in the spike protein. Initial experiments in the laboratory suggest that it significantly boosts binding to the ACE 2 receptors, making it more infectious on the one hand and more dangerous on the other. This means that the risk of infecting a person from the same household is 60% higher with Delta than with the previously dominant Alpha variant; in other words, it is much more easily transmissible. This is apparent not only from the increase in the number of cases but also from contact tracing. The percentage of infected contacts is higher at 12.5% than for persons infected with B.1.1.7 at 8.1%. Data from the UK also indicate that individuals who contract B.1617.2 are at greater risk of ending up in hospital than those who contract B.1.1.7. These statistics make it clear that Delta is not only more infectious, but also more dangerous.

In a study just published in the Lancet, medical experts looked at how effective the antibodies produced by vaccinated individuals are against the Delta variant. The good news is that everyone who received two doses of their particular vaccine developed antibodies against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. The bad news, however, is that these antibodies are clearly less able to neutralize the Delta variant than the wild-type virus by a factor of more than 5.8.

For those who have received only one vaccine dose, the effect was even more worrying. 21% did not neutralize the wild type very effectively. For Alpha it was 50% and for Beta (i.e. South Africa) it was as much as 75%. The antibodies produced by a single dose were to all intents and purposes ineffective against the Delta variant in 80% of cases. These findings are clearly at variance with the report issued by Public Health England in which it was stated on a purely empirical basis and without any clinical evidence having been gathered that double vaccination could prevent 96% of hospitalizations. We are deeply skeptical of this claim.

Another study from England with a much better design shows that effectiveness against the Delta variants is clearly reduced, with a single dose of an mRNA or vector-based vaccine protecting against a symptomatic course of the disease in only 34% of cases. By comparison, a single jab protects in 51% of cases caused by the Alpha variant. Efficacy is thus clearly reduced by the new variant. After two doses of an mRNA vaccine, protection against Delta is 88%, slightly lower than the 93% efficacy rate for Alpha. The equivalent rate for two doses of the AstraZeneca vector vaccine is 60% protection against symptomatic disease with Delta and 66% with Alpha. The UK government has already responded by postponing the lifting of all restrictions, originally planned for 21st June, by four weeks. This change was of the utmost urgency, as Prime Minister Johnson announced it immediately after the G7 summit. What has been dubbed “Freedom Day” has now been postponed to 19th July.

The UK is once again at the focus of our attention because, in the western world at least, it is “Delta land” par excellence and, at the same time, it is a leader in the field of gene sequencing. It therefore makes sense for other countries to closely observe what is happening there. The current scenario is also absolutely fascinating for us as scientists. Infections have increased in the UK by 64% in the last few weeks. In the worst-affected areas, cases are even doubling every week. The link between infections and hospital admissions has weakened, but it has not been broken. The number of people in intensive care units is also growing again. According to Public Health England, 91% of new cases are now caused by the Delta variant. Our prediction has been validated, and the race between mutations and vaccination is vividly illustrated here once again. How quickly can the vaccination program be implemented? How well will the vaccines work? And how soon will the next mutation emerge? What is still unclear are the numbers of Delta patients admitted to hospital who had been vaccinated. At the moment, we have three different figures which range between five and twelve percent, so we cannot say that the vaccines are forming a solid wall of defense against these mutations so far. We endorse the four criteria laid down by the UK for mapping the way out of the crisis.

1) the progress made by the vaccination campaign

2) the efficacy of the vaccines

3) the burden on the health system and

4) the risk posed by new mutations.

We predict that the fourth criterion will be the most challenging worldwide.

Looking carefully at the mutations observed in the Delta variant, it is clear that this is definitely not the dreaded super mutant that would ultimately render the entire vaccination strategy futile. It is only a foretaste of what may lie ahead.

Even in other countries that already have a high vaccination rate, such as Chile, the infection rate continues to rise, although the Delta variant has not yet made an appearance there. In Chile, they are still struggling to control the P1 variant. Due to the non-homogeneous vaccination regime in the country, where mRNA- and vector-based vaccines are being administered alongside protein vaccines from China, it is not yet possible to make a definitive comparison of their effectiveness against P1. Ultimately, we have to conclude that, even with a high vaccination rate, a reduction in the number of infections is nowhere in sight, especially as winter is now beginning in Chile.

In Israel, another country that we are observing closely, the vaccination strategy has paid off so far. However, gene sequencing there shows that the Alpha variant still has a monopoly. It remains to be seen whether further mutations will be introduced into the country.

In Moscow, which has taken on the status of “Delta city”, the rate of infection is also soaring and the number of patients requiring artificial respiration in intensive care units has risen sharply.

We are working on the assumption that the antibodies triggered by the vaccines currently in use are therefore less effective. It is possible that, with an overall higher antibody volume, Class 1 of the neutralizing antibodies (i.e. those with the highest efficacy) will also increase and consequently be more effective against the Delta variant. I measure these levels every three months for our Premium clients.

We are now several months into the vaccination campaign

Dr Robert Hess 06/11/2021

Dr Robert Hess 06/11/2021

We are now several months into the vaccination campaign, and it is clear to us from our own SARS-CoV-2 antibody and immunization testing that the track record of the vaccines is very disappointing, with more side-effects than originally expected. We therefore intend to have a personalized vaccine combination in place for 2022.

It is the opinion of Doctor Robert Hess that ultimately it is clinical and biochemical data determining success rather than the phase 3 results quoted by the manufacturers, which are derived solely from empirical data. A gradual decline in immune status is to be expected, and this is also clearly evident from our retests. Here, the prognosis varies depending on the individual client and the vaccine regimen, but the basic tendency is towards a more rapid decline than that forecast by the vaccine manufacturers and the regulatory authorities. Autoimmune reactions are clearly apparent in the results of retests performed on our Premium clients.

Dr. Hess expected this, but not quite so soon. In the long term (i.e. over the next few years), he expects to see a veritable tsunami of autoimmune reactions, with a corresponding sharp increase in pathologies, ranging from allergies to multiple sclerosis. Furthermore it is to be expectedt that most of these side-effects will not be associated with the vaccines, because they will tend to manifest themselves as complex syndromes. And so we will be including more autoimmunological components in our retests to spot these conditions at an early stage. All vaccines, whether they are vector-based, mRNA-based or protein-based, elicit a very strong immune response. For example, a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is up to 100 times more powerful than an influenza vaccine in terms of immune response. The likelihood of creating autoimmune side-effects is therefore correspondingly higher.

There are the direct side-effects of vaccination that are already known and which has been reported on several times before, especially those cases of thrombosis that can be directly attributed to vaccination and which generally occur with a vector-based vaccine. But in addition to these, we can already see autoimmune reactions associated with the mRNA-based vaccines. On the issue of myocarditis in people who have received the mRNA vaccine, we do indeed see a correlation manifesting itself. Here too, it is difficult to obtain specific figures because the resulting myocarditis does not trigger any immediate symptoms and initially goes unnoticed. This makes it very difficult to come up with any reliable statistics, and in any case, the diagnosis is highly complex.

Some time ago, Dr Robert Hess indicated that he would be extending the Standard Panel of Salvagene in this regard so as to avoid the need for the Premium clients to undergo a biopsy. Myocarditis is a condition that mainly affects men, especially in the younger age bracket. He believes that the very high levels of antibodies produced by the mRNA vaccines cause the body to overreact. The immune proteins can target the heart muscle cells in a similar way to viral infections and lead to inflammation. In our Covid-19 Immunization Program and retests, we will therefore have two clear focuses – firstly, to monitor overall immunization status, and secondly, to track and/or detect at an early stage the most significant long-term side-effects of vaccination.

For various reasons, we have to assume that the entire SARS-CoV-2 situation will persist in the long term. In particular, we share the opinion of our colleague Young Yang Gu regarding herd immunity. Doctor Hess will upload a separate podcast on this topic shortly. He can already state in advance that he does not consider world-wide herd immunity to be an achievable goal. The limited level of success, which is clearly demonstrated by the results of our retests, can be seen in the country with the most advanced vaccination program. In the UK, a successful vaccination campaign is underway, with 77% of the adult population already having received at least one jab, including 54% who have had two. On this basis, the government has now begun to cautiously open up the economy as the summer approaches, but it is in the face of a strong upward trend in infection rates, due of course to new mutant forms of the virus. This is just a foretaste of the complications that mutations will cause in the coming weeks and months of summer and beyond. In the race between mutations and vaccine developments, the virus still seems to have the edge.

While waiting for researchers at CureVac, the University of Texas and other centers to develop AI-based vaccines to mitigate the pandemic, a further option is to combine vaccines. There are approximately 25 such projects currently underway, the most prominent of which is Com‑CoV in the UK, and they are all pursuing similar leads. The current thinking is that mix-and-match brings advantages as well as disadvantages. A straightforward combination, which is the current favorite, delivers certain benefits, but also entails huge risks, because each individual has a completely different starting point. Some need a much higher T-cell immunity, while others need much greater and more effective antibody production.

The circumstances of every individual are different. The big worry is the ease with which SARS-CoV-2 can produce escape mutants and also combine its well-disguised evasion of antibodies with increased transmissibility. One example is the delta mutant, B.1.617.2, which originated in India and is responsible for the exponential growth of infection in the UK. It significantly raises the number of already existing loopholes for infection in vaccinated people. Such viruses continue to evolve in vaccinated individuals and learn to overcome vaccine protection even better. He has already stressed in previous Keynotes that the vaccinated are the very group that should be tested the most and whose results should be submitted for gene sequencing. The big risk is that no country in the world currently has the capacity to carry this out. Nevertheless, the vaccines that have been developed so far have the potential to control this infection in the long term. Each vaccine leaves gaps yet also has its particular advantages.

The question is, how can these strengths be intelligently combined to enhance their effect and provide better protection? These are the theoretical considerations behind one of the projects that Dr. Robert Hess is pursuing with his partners. One thing is certain – there is no perfect combination regimen, because the disadvantages clearly outweigh the advantages. In the adaptive part of the immune system, there are two pathways to combating the pathogen. In the so-called B-cell response, the immune cells form antibodies according to structures found on the surface of the pathogens. Well-matched antibodies bind to these antigens (e.g. viral proteins), thus rendering them blind and unable to function. Viruses wrapped in a sticky antibody film can no longer penetrate the host cells. Precise though this system may be, it is also vulnerable. Because antibodies have to latch on to the surface features in order to become attached, any change to a building block at a site favored by a certain set of antibodies can render this group ineffective. Although dozens of antibody clones form against the virus spike protein replicated in the vaccine, some mutations change the shape of the protein to such an extent that the antibodies are no longer able to bind to it. For example, in a laboratory experiment with the new beta (South African) variant, seven out of ten antibody groups failed. And this is precisely what was discovered in the SARS-CoV-2 antibody monitoring conducted with the Premium clients of Salvagene.

In some cases, the class 3 antibodies, which are classified as low-potency, are dominant, while the high-potency ones accounted for only a few percent of the total. The second pathway of the immune response is the T-cells. These are the focus of our immunization strategy, because this is where each of us has the greatest scope for optimization. Dr. Hess would therefore urge all Premium clients to rigorously implement the list of immunization to-dos. We estimate that at least 60% of all immunization lies in our own hands, regardless of whether we are vaccinated or not. The T-cells take a little longer to spring into action, but then proceed even more combatively, hurling themselves into the melee with molecular poison darts and other weaponry – immune cell against invader. The T-cells are the defense that gives long-term protection against viruses, and that is why they are the main focus of our Immunization Program. We measure overall T-cell immunity levels at regular three-monthly intervals. The T-cells orientate themselves to the surface molecules of the pathogens and are not concerned with fine details but rather with coarser general characteristics.

For recognition purposes, T-cells need only a small part of the picture where mutations are less likely. Moreover, these snippets are often located in regions that change comparatively rarely. So far, these have been consistent with the wild-type coronavirus and its current mutants. Which is why those who have been vaccinated can still become infected with escape mutants, but do not become seriously ill. As already reported, there are advantages and disadvantages to the different vaccine platforms: vector vaccines stimulate the production of more T-cells, while mRNA-based vaccines produce more antibodies. For the sort of person who does little to boost their own T-cell immunity, combining the two types makes sense. Individuals who have received a vector-based vaccine characteristically have a lower antibody count and the antibodies that they do have can be bypassed relatively easily by the virus. On the other hand, the T-cell response is strong, though this comes with the risk of an exaggerated response in younger people, especially women. In contrast, the mRNA vaccines produce a more effective antibody response that is also stable against mutants. The response in the T-cell system, on the other hand, may be weaker. A direct comparison of the two main vaccines carried out as part of a study in the UK showed that only half as many people vaccinated with BioNTech had produced T-cells capable of neutralizing the virus spike protein compared with those who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine. The findings that vaccination with AstraZeneca produces a stronger T-cell response may be due to the fact that the properties of two viruses are combined, namely the proteins of SARS-CoV-2 with those of the adenovirus which serves as a sort of taxi.

Adenoviruses are even capable of penetrating into the cell nucleus, which should be a cause for great alarm. There are various studies on this, including one at Harvard, that suggest the provision of learning templates with different pathogens significantly improves immune response. The Harvard study covered 74,000 Covid patients who had already received either a combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine or a combined diphtheria and whooping cough vaccine. These individuals exhibited superior immune levels to members of the control group. Research done in Spain showed that Covid patients who had pneumococcal vaccination were significantly more immune. As early as last autumn, we were recommending that pneumococcal vaccines should be administered, followed up by booster jabs. With all these studies looking at combined vaccines, not a single one has concerned itself with escape mutants. Consequently, great caution must be exercised. Results so far suggest that there are definitely vaccine combinations that are significantly better than the single-variety regimens. But it is already becoming apparent that there are combinations that are less effective or in which the immune response is actually slowed down. Regarding the combinations with protein-based vaccines, Dr. Robert Hess has taken an especially close look at the combination of mRNA-based vaccines with protein-based vaccines, specifically with Novavax. Here, the spike proteins of the virus are given an effect enhancer. In addition, the proteins are highly concentrated and biotechnically modified so that our immune system has the opportunity to study them at its leisure and build even more suitable antibodies. It is theoretically possible that this might have a significant potentiating effect on the antibody system. However, the combination no longer works if a purely mRNA-based vaccine has already been given first, because the antibody reaction is then already so strong as to render the protein vaccine ineffective. When the reverse order applies, i.e. the protein-based vaccine is administered first followed by a vector-based or mRNA vaccine, the studies showed a clearly potentiated antibody formation with an across-the-board T-cell response. This results in a significant mutant-resistant degree of immunization. It is already becoming apparent that there will be a multiplicity of vaccine combinations offering many different possibilities in the coming months. But at the same time, they will entail big problems and big risks.

Against this background, Doctor Robert Hess is working to develop a customized vaccine combination for his Premium clients, which logically still cannot be 100% perfect. This was also the reason why he delayed such a long time before making any recommendations to his Premium clients while the vaccination campaign was only just starting up. He wanted to keep the options open, and from his perspective, this approach has been vindicated.

However, in the case of a booster in a few months, the question will arise: What is the next step? We assume that the amount of inoculant, i.e. the quantity delivered via the vaccine itself, will also play a role due to the current immunization status. This will naturally entail in‑depth consultation.

With so many people wanting to be vaccinated at the same time, the immune response is already being pre‑formed in such a way that certain combinations will not work. The worst case imaginable would be that the version of the virus encountered first so strongly imprints the immune system that it is no longer able to switch over when it encounters another, more dangerous version of the pathogen. We are already investigating scenarios in which antibodies are produced that actually give the infection a helping hand. The phenomenon of “original antigenic sin” (also known as antigenic imprinting or the Hoskins effect) is known to us from other infections, for example dengue fever. There are different dengue viruses – so-called zero-types – which can trigger dengue fever. After a first infection with one zero-type, people can often become more severely ill with a second infection triggered by a different zero-type, because their immune system calls up the old immune response to the original virus, but struggles to adapt to the new one.

In the case of the novel coronavirus, it is still not clear whether the immune system is sluggish in relearning or whether it reacts with some degree of flexibility. This is an issue we addressed back in April 2020. It will definitely become clearer in the next few weeks as new mutants appear and the vaccination campaign forges ahead. There is an initial study by Moderna, the findings of which have been somewhat contradictory. Some vaccinated people have already received a third dose based on the blueprints of the original Wuhan virus and the so-called South African mutant, but the results are inconclusive as to what the scope for adaptation might actually look like.

In conclusion, Dr. Robert Hess believes that, although the vaccines provide a certain platform for a solution and it was not entirely unjustified that the lion’s share of investment went into them, they will not ultimately lead to a resolution of the problem. We should therefore consider going down the second more broadly based route of antivirals, and there are already many promising projects in this regard. In the next Keynote we will look at these in a bit more detail.

As for the long-term prospects, we believe that this approach, alongside vaccines with their concomitant risks, will produce a manageable solution with very few side-effects and a significantly greater acceptance among the general population.

On 30th March 2021, the WHO Commission of Inquiry issued a statement

Dr Robert Hess

Dr Robert Hess – 06/01/2021

On 30th March 2021, the WHO Commission of Inquiry issued a statement to the effect that a laboratory accident as the cause of the pandemic was “extremely unlikely”. The skepticism we expressed at the time about their findings is now being vindicated.

The reevaluation of the surrounding circumstances by U.S. media, leading European scientists and even White House officials is not based on any new evidence, and nothing new has come to light, so we are more than surprised by the traction that the theory is gaining. At the same time, we take quiet satisfaction that our assessment at the time is now considered plausible by professional colleagues and by serious political institutions. What is supposedly new is in fact a republication of an article in the Wall Street Journal from November 2019 concerning three employees at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) who became so seriously ill with cold and flu-like symptoms that they had to be treated in hospital.

Just a fortnight ago, Science magazine published an article and open letter signed by 18 prominent experts calling for the investigation to be reopened. There is no smoking gun pointing to a laboratory leak, just as there is no proof that the virus has a natural origin. Consequently, the authors of the article have plumped for a 50:50 probability, compared with our odds of 60:40 in favor of a laboratory accident. And that is the order of likelihood we are standing by.

The authors of the Science article were stung into action by the official conclusions of the WHO Commission of Enquiry on 30th March 2021 which rated a laboratory accident as “extremely unlikely”. We strongly disagreed with that at the time and said so in no uncertain terms. We also expressed the view that this investigation was a farce. Even the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has now voiced his own criticism, and that is quite astonishing, because ultimately he was the one who authorized the March statement. At the end of the day, it has to be conceded that the commissioners did not have access to raw data while they were in China, including information on previous patient samples from before December 2019, although they were allowed to visit some institutes and the possibility of a laboratory accident was given serious consideration. Tedros now admits that this investigation was inadequate. The mission was severely handicapped by the decision on the part of the Chinese government to “disinvite” colleagues with whom we work very closely, in particular the eminent German scientist Christian Drosten.

The commission itself had considerable internal conflicts of interest in its makeup. The team included Peter Daszak, head of the EcoHealth Alliance, a non-governmental organization that aims to protect health and ecosystems. In any serious investigation of a possible laboratory accident, Daszak would rank among the main suspects, because for many years the American worked together with the Chinese virologist Shi Zheng-Li. Supported by American funding that Daszak helped to source, Shi Zheng-Li was researching the coronaviruses found in bats; he captured them in the nearby caves and brought them to the Wuhan Institute of Virology over a period of 15 years. The aim of the project was first to clarify the origin of the SARS 1 pandemic and then to find out as much as possible about other potentially dangerous coronaviruses. So, the question arises: could the honorable intention to prevent a pandemic have been the trigger for the one we are now experiencing?

The theory of a laboratory accident is given added credence by the fact that the pandemic started in Wuhan. There is a general consensus that SARS-CoV-2 will originally have developed in horseshoe bats, a species widespread in Southeast Asia. But where did the virus make the crossover to a human or an intermediate host? At first, suspicion fell on a wild animal market in Wuhan. A conspicuously large number of the early patients had spent time there. However, further investigations revealed that there were also many patients among the early cases that had no connection to the animal market. The origin of the pandemic must therefore lie elsewhere. Wuhan is an ultra-modern metropolis, and it therefore unlikely that its inhabitants naturally come into contact with bats. She Zheng-Li found the closest relative of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a mine in the southern province of Yunnan – 1,500 kilometers from Wuhan. This is only 86% identical to the novel coronavirus, meaning that decades of separate evolution have elapsed between the two viruses. However, it is conceivable that “patient zero” became infected with SARS-CoV-2 there or at some other location in China before traveling to Wuhan and spreading the virus in the city. However, there is a catch: if a virus jumps from one species to another, it can hardly happen overnight by a single change in the genome. Although an initial mutation can make the transition possible, the virus will at first be poorly adapted to the new host. Many further adaptations are necessary before a virus becomes so contagious that it can trigger a pandemic. In the case of SARS 1, which embarked on a short career as a pandemic in 2002, it has been possible to trace the many transformative steps, some of which involved viverrids as intermediate hosts. Traces of any such adaptation are missing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The genetic sequences recorded in the first patients at the end of 2019 are remarkably uniform.

The novel coronavirus seems to have come into the world out of nowhere as an already perfectly formed pathogen. It is possible, of course, that its evolutionary traces have simply not been found so far, or that China is keeping them under wraps. What is striking about SARS-CoV-2 is that, although it is no longer circulating among bats, it can infect various members of the carnivore group, including minks, cats and dogs. It is therefore conceivable that the virus adapted on large fur farms, for example among the fluffy tanuki from which China sources fur trimmings to supply the global fashion industry.

At this point, we have to ask ourselves why, after more than 18 months of mink, cats and dogs becoming infected through human contact, not a single animal-to-human retransmission has been recorded worldwide so far. This is yet another factor indicating a laboratory accident as the more likely cause.

We can pursue the matter further and explore the possibility that the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 took place in a laboratory, presumably at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Viruses have escaped from such high-security facilities before. In 1977, for example, an unusual flu virus went around the world. It caused mild symptoms, mainly affected people under 26 and its genetic sequence was identical to a variant that last circulated in the 1950s. One possible explanation for this could be that old samples were used in vaccine development, thereby allowing the virus to escape from the laboratory.

There are six recorded cases of the SARS 1 virus having leaked out of laboratories in three countries – Singapore, Taiwan and China. In 2003, for example, a 26-year-old student at the Institute of Virology in Beijing became infected, blithely got on a train and traveled to her hometown 1,000 kilometers away. The student’s mother then became infected and subsequently died. The Chinese authorities quarantined around 1,000 people and were able to contain the outbreak. If SARS-CoV-2 also escaped from a laboratory, however, the question arises as to how it could have originated there in the first place. Various researchers have been looking for clues. The American scientific journalist Likus Walter describes the chain of evidence in particular detail in a report. However, we do not consider most of the points mentioned to be scientifically plausible. He thinks that She Zheng-Li was conducting so-called “gain of function” experiments in Wuhan. In experiments of this kind, virologists combine the component parts of different viruses to create new functions. The viruses can also become more infectious as a result. The intention of such experiments can be inferred from the research proposals submitted. In one case, She Zheng-Li published a successful experiment.

Wuhan has conducted at least one such experiment under the direction of Ralf S. Barec, one of the world’s leading coronavirus researchers based at the University of North Carolina. Barec and She Zheng-Li published a paper in Nature magazine in 2015 about a project in which they used the SARS 1 virus as the basic structure and added the spike protein of another coronavirus. The new virus was then able to infect human cells. Significantly, Barec is among the authors in Science magazine calling for a more rigorous investigation of SARS-CoV-2.

Any conclusion we might reach is necessarily subject to revision, because until China makes the data more transparent, all possibilities remain open, but in our view with a laboratory as the marginally more likely explanation. A virus database at the WIV with 22,000 entries was taken offline in September 2019, and initial assurances by some virologists that SARS-CoV-2 could not be a laboratory construct are now considered premature and untenable. As it later turned out, globetrotter Peter Daszak was behind an announcement to this effect that was published in the Lancet in February 2020. At the same time, there are certain features in the gene sequence of SARS-CoV-2 that give rise to speculation about possible human manipulation.

So, the debate is set to continue. The initial reluctance of the scientific community to be drawn into what looked like a conspiracy theory and to appear too close to the Trump administration has proved to be a good thing, as such considerations no longer need to temper or cloud their judgment. However, the view of the Dr Robert Hess SARS-CoV-2 Task Force is that the chance of the mystery ever being solved is slim. At the start of 2020, China imposed a gagging order, whereby no one in the country was allowed to say or publish anything about the origin of the virus. Nevertheless, there is a body of evidence to be found outside of China.

We believe that, if more information comes to light, it should be possible to deduce the origin of the pandemic by scientific means. At the same time, it is known that U.S. intelligence agencies, as well as other Western intelligence agencies, are beginning to trawl through human and electronic sources, which may eventually provide the basis for science to get to the bottom of the whole affair.

It is possibly also a matter of significance that the pace of mutation has accelerated in the last fortnight, which is due to the vaccination programs. As we have already pointed out many times before, the virus is forced by the vaccines to activate, adapt and optimize itself by means of escape mutations. Unfortunately, there is very little awareness or acceptance among political leaders that it is precisely the vaccinated population who should be tested because of this issue and that more sequencing should be carried out as part of the tests.

The latest variant to have been detected in Vietnam is ultimately a combination of the British and Indian virus strains. It disperses very quickly through the air, so that the viral load in the throat increases much faster after infection and thus spreads very strongly in the environment. This makes it much more contagious than the previously known variants. The race between virus mutations and vaccine development goes on …