Saturday, June 26, 2021
No One Is To Blame
We all got our COVID vaccines. For many of the reasons John Green talked about in his video last week, I have not wanted to talk much about vaccination. This is because I understand both sides, personally. We have a history of vaccine reactions, sensory integration issues, and seizure in our home. We also know more people than we should, statistically speaking, who had Guillain-Barre after vaccinations pre-COVID. I have also heard all the arguments, and I worked in science long enough to know how things can sometimes work in that industry.
I figured it is time to speak out because I met a new neighbor who is a retired dentist who seemed like he was kind of confused himself and said that “they passed a law that we are not allowed to say anything against ‘them’ and that “they can now go through our text messages and email.” I couldn’t get him to elaborate on who “them” was, and he did mention that his wife would not be happy if she knew he was talking to me about it, which made me wonder all sorts of things about how our beliefs about things can be sources of shame in our relationships. I didn’t want to add to anyone’s fear of the vaccine unnecessarily, so I have been keeping my mouth shut until I know how my family is doing. I was under no illusion that we would be able to continue on indefinitely alone. While my sudden illness in 2019 had the effect of cutting us off from many people, I didn’t anticipate how isolating it would be.
I understand why people are afraid of the vaccine. They have a right to be. For people who have not noticed a change in their cognition after illness or vaccine, of course they’re not going to think these things are a big deal. But to have a neurological illness is torture. Just like you can’t explain to a woman what it is like to push seven and a half pounds of human being through her vagina before she does it herself, you can’t explain what constant vertigo, arm and leg weakness, fatigue, and feeling cold as pain is like to a person who has not experienced it.
We had reactions to the COVID vaccine. I’m not sure I can say they were severe, because they were different than actually having COVID. They were like apples and oranges, neither particularly enjoyable, but the virus itself was way worse for us. Well-meaning liberal people have shrugged our vaccine reactions off saying, “Well, that must mean you’re getting good immunity.” As far as I know, we know nothing about the severity of reaction to vaccines and how it may be connected to effective immunity. Besides, if they *didn’t* have a reaction, what does that mean for *their* immunity? It may mean nothing at all. I never had a positive COVID test when I was ill, yet I lost my sense of smell and had many other symptoms which distinguish COVID from other illnesses.
My son had a reaction to the MMR vaccine when he was an infant. As a scientist, it has been excruciating having to deal with other health professionals who have never experienced a severe vaccine reaction, which can go on for months or even years because medicine does not know how to treat it. That being said, I am not an immunologist, and I am going off what I have heard from other immunologists and what my gut has told me that what we understand about immunity from the cursory survey I got through molecular biology, biochemistry and cellular biology courses. Our understanding of how to prevent infectious disease at the immunological level is poor at best. We do, however, have a pretty good track record when it comes to life-extending band-aid pharmaceutical interventions, and I think we are missing that opportunity with COVID, because we place too much trust in vaccines as an encompassing solution.
I don’t like being experimented on without my consent, yet because I am female, that’s essentially what has always been done to me.
Much to my frustration, my husband was digging around in the medical literature last year and became convinced that because he saw evidence of gene splicing activity involving furin and coronavirus before the pandemic, that it was a lab leak. Because I had worked on engineering retroviruses and was trained to work in a BSL4 lab, I knew it was possible. When I was in grad school, we had a unit on genetic engineering and ethics in my cellular biology class which informed us about the problems Monsanto had generated in Argentina (this was in the mid-90’s) which had wiped out most of the indigenous corn. Our professor made no bones about the fact that genetic engineering technology came with great responsibility, and that it was possible that humans actually weren’t intelligent enough to make good decisions about how and when to use it. A few years later, I would find myself cutting up pieces of DNA to insert into murine leukemia virus as therapy for osteoporosis in mice for the government. Animals don’t really get out of test facilities, and there are a lot of protocols in place to make sure that doesn’t happen. Many of the animals used for research are genetically engineered and so we need to keep them from the wild populations of animals. People in PETA don’t understand that, let alone the damage their precious vinyl does to the environment over the more sustainable leather that was good enough for the people who came before us. Letting genetically altered animals out of lab facilities undermines the work they are doing to protect natural species. Given what I knew, I figured a lab worker probably contracted the virus. There are a lot of ways to goof as a lab worker, including accidentally sticking oneself with a needle. But I sure wasn’t going to say anything to push forward any conspiracies because the government at that point had no ability to make a calm and cool decision about anything. I’m pretty sure I am right about that.
Furthermore, I understand how the scientific community works, and also that if we looked hard enough, we would probably find information tying the intellectual property back to the United States somehow. We invent a lot of technologies, and we also educate people from many other countries. Scientists work in multi-center global teams. Most of the people I encountered in my career as a molecular biologist were Chinese. Many of them had gone to medical school in China. I don’t know how it was at other research Universities in the United States, or if this was a phenomenon that Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio and California shared. This is not some sort of conspiracy on the part of the U.S. intelligentsia; I know from having worked as staff in a molecular biology department that American citizens just weren’t applying for grad school positions in science 25-30 years ago, because it was a job for nerds.
Nevermind that beyond the stigma of it being a job for nerds, if one doesn’t do a postdoc position, many jobs pay so poorly that a job at a convenience store sometimes pays more. That was my experience. Even after I had found a “good paying” job, it still was barely enough to cover childcare, and that is a big reason I left the profession. And, I realize now that most of the time I was working with volatiles I needed to be using a respirator, but at that time we weren’t aware of that. I never had one until I begged for one because I was pregnant, and that was only because I called the California Teratogen Registry to ask specifically about the things I was working with. There were no specific advisories for the things I was using at the time, only the advice to take precautions if the mother was feeling unwell, which I think was probably the reason I called, even if I wasn’t aware of it at the time.
That all being said, I want to make sure that I say that the effects of long-haul COVID are much, much worse than the vaccine. Yes, I wish we had something better than vaccines, too, for sensitive individuals. There are so many problems with relying on vaccination to protect ourselves from infectious disease. For most “vaccine preventable illnesses” the burden has mostly been on developing children, whereas adults can carry disease silently as immunity from vaccines is usually not permanent. Only people working in the healthcare industry might bother to get titers done to see if boosters are needed, because they are costly. So with COVID, the shoe is kind of on the other foot - the elderly population at risk has to be protected by the voluntary actions of people who would otherwise be unaffected by the disease and develop natural immunity. Getting compliance out of the adult population is extremely difficult, as evidenced by our sub-50% COVID vaccination rate in the United States. Vaccination only ever worked because children are not given a choice. The symptoms of autism and spectrum disorders are subtle enough that it would be easy to attribute them to something else.
I understand this perhaps more than most people because I took the time alone to really comb through my perceptions. Essentially, I took up the study of phenomenology which is the in-depth study of consciousness. I studied my perceptions and how they changed, and I learned how to control my consciousness to feel happier. I paid attention to the things that altered my perceptions negatively and how they altered other aspects of my health. I learned a lot about how our environments conspire to produce different states of consciousness. My sensory issues are greatly affected by metabolic stress, which includes toxic exposures, emotional stress, and illness. They were absolutely affected by the vaccine, but as I am addressing my mitochondrial health, I am slowly improving.
What our government needs to understand is that we will never get COVID out of control relying on vaccination alone, because of the impossibility of adult compliance. Until people understand that the vaccine reaction is preferable to long-haul COVID, and children are vaccinated, we will continue to be bothered by COVID, and its effects will burden our society and our healthcare system.
Leave it to me to figure out how to voice several unpopular opinions at once! I might as well put a target on my head.
Here is the most recent paper I could find on what we know about vaccine reactions. The researchers do state that a significant number of cases of vaccine-induced epilepsy (which is rare) were in people who had "pre-existing neurologic or neurodevelopmental abnormalities."
COVID shed an interesting light on these things for me. Early on I, along with many other scientists, were keeping a close eye on the discovery of the mechanism of the virus’ action. I wondered if we know it binds to the ACE2 receptor and we know the sequence for that, why we didn’t come up with some therapy taking advantage of that knowledge? Preventing viral entry into the cells in the first place, while giving the immune system a chance to recognize myriad targets on the native virus would mean the body would be given a chance to develop proper immunity, before the virion were ultimately phagocytosed and eliminated. I’m willing to bet an approach like this would have actually addressed most of the symptoms, too.
Theoretically, we should be able to come up with a safe biologically-based substrate to block the entry of any virus into cells, rather than having to work with the complex immune system and exposing so many scientists to native virus. If it’s furin that is helping COVID enter cells, why do we not have some furin-based technology to block entry?
The Salk Institute has found that COVID ultimately does its damage by causing mitochondrial fractionation. The mitochondria are what make energy in the cell. The part of COVID that does this is actually the spike protein itself. The different vaccines contain different portions of the spike protein. Pfizer is the mRNA encoding just the spike protein. Moderna is a few fragments, and also mRNA. I had the Pfizer vaccine, and my post-vaccination reaction was very similar to having COVID. I had more psychiatric issues, however, which I think has to do with the nanoparticles helping the spike protein cross the blood brain barrier.
When I say psychiatric issues, I am going to broadly say that it made me anxious and afraid. More than just the background COVID situation was making me. I’m not exactly sure what was making me anxious or afraid, but I had to meditate all the time. My sister is a doctor who ended up with long-haul COVID and she was telling me she was pretty sure it messes with the autonomic nervous system somehow. When she said this I had been reading about Polyvagal Theory and was trying to be more mindful of my autonomic state.
I need to explain what the “nanoparticles” are, because my next door neighbor was totally brainwashed by conservative propaganda. It is possible to make fake cells using fatty acids. We call these micelles. They are “fake” because they don’t have any cellular machinery like mitochondria, ribosomes, or golgi apparati, so eventually they will just degrade. With the fake cells, it is possible to insert different augmented cellular components and see how it affects the concentration of various things inside and outside the micelle. Essentially, the mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are packaged in these micelles. The lipids they used in the micelles for the vaccines were man-made, and not a lot of testing has been done on them. I am wondering if some of the symptoms I had from vaccination were actually from those man-made lipids because I am sensitive to oxidizable lipids. There shouldn’t have been that many, though. It really puzzles me how such a tiny amount of something could make me feel so crappy. But anyway, these lipids do end up being eliminated through the liver completely after 40-60 days.
Anyway, I’m really thankful for the vaccines. I read the paper the European Medicines Agency prepared for approval of the Pfizer vaccine, and it’s nothing short of miraculous that it came together the way it did. I do hope we do not use this as an excuse to discontinue research on other methods of prevention, because the virus is surprisingly small and elegant, and it has given us a good model to work with which might benefit our approach to other infectious disease. It’s pretty clear that at least in the case of COVID, mitochondrial support is critical. I think if more people understood what this was, our population might actually become healthier overall, and we may be less susceptible to infectious disease.
The whole reason we have vaccination is to protect the weakest among us. But what if it’s not doing that? What if it is doing further harm to certain people, overall? We really need some alternatives, and we need to be more understanding about people’s concern about consent. Neurological illness is life altering. I have seen people use vaccination as an excuse to behave fairly recklessly, specifically around the flu season. In Asia, it is customary to wear masks when one is not feeling well, and it’s not cool to show up to gatherings sick. But people here have a runny nose and write it off as allergies, because we’re too proud to admit we may have gotten a virus. This strange American ethos we have around hiding our weaknesses, casting blame, and failing to listen when others are hurting is just going to perpetuate divisiveness.