This originally appeared in The European Conservative (EC). The EC recently caught up with Dr. Robert Malone, whose name is floated as a contender for the Nobel Prize for Medicine as the father of mRNA vaccine technology, to talk about his concerns about the risks associated with mass vaccination programs.
The European Conservative: Dr. Malone, you're currently in Rome for a conference, the International COVID Summit. What's it all about?
Dr. Malone: This summit is really the first international meeting of physicians and scientists to discuss early treatment protocols and reach consensus. There's never been an opportunity before for physicians and scientists to come together during this outbreak. We've all been head-buriers, unwilling to travel. In virtually every continent, small numbers of physicians have started treating patients with existing drugs, for the most part, early in their disease course, and the results have really been phenomenal, but have largely been ignored by authorities. And yet, the patient results for morbidity and mortality show that we can clearly change the course of the death and disease associated with this pandemic, whether or not you're vaccinated, by beginning early treatment with these existing agents.
EC: Around a year ago, the World Health Organization made a statement, which was speedily retracted, basically saying that one is only likely to transmit the virus if one has symptoms. With regards to the vaccinated, even if the viral load is the same as the unvaccinated, the vaccine tends to suppress the symptoms — which is surely what we want. But are people who are vaccinated equally likely to transmit the virus?
Dr. Malone: Let's not say "equally likely," because to say "equally likely" suggests that we have some statistics behind it, and I don't know that those studies have been done yet. What we do know is that the vaccine does not fully protect you from infection. It also does not fully protect you from replication, the replication in the nose and in the mouth. And virus levels for the vaccinated and unvaccinated are about the same, at least, if not higher for the former, and the vaccine does not completely prevent you from transmitting the virus. So, we don't know if the vaccinated and unvaccinated are equally likely to transmit the virus, but we do know that the measure of the virus in the nose and in the mouth is at least equal. So, it's at least reasonably likely that the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, when infected, will be equally able to transmit the virus.
EC: Given that governments around the world are starting to consider the idea of obligatory vaccines, isn't it essential — because of these public policy implications — that research is done on this point, especially as there are risks associated with the vaccine? Sweden, for example, announced recently that it is considering compensating people who have negative reactions to the vaccine. (I've had the vaccine — I had the Johnson & Johnson — but I'm against making it mandatory).
Dr. Malone: I share that concern. That's one of my fundamental points. I believe strongly in the right of individuals to elect whether to accept or reject medical procedures. I believe this is basically the sanctity of life, that individuals have the right to control their own bodies.
EC: It is funny that you use the words "sanctity of life" because since the 1960s the abortion movement has gained great ground with the quasi-libertarian, "my body, my choice" argument. So too the pro-euthanasia lobby, which stresses the right of individuals to refuse life-saving treatment. But now, after being bombarded with that principle for 50 years, it has just vanished in the face of the vaccine rollout.
Dr. Malone: I think this is a simple thing. It goes to the fundamentals of the Nuremberg Code, the Helsinki Accord and common principles of bioethics for medical research and for medical treatment. As a physician, I believe there is a sanctity of life. I've been trained to understand there is a sanctity to the rights of individuals to accept or reject medical treatment and that there is a requirement for full disclosure of risks associated with any treatment, as well as the benefits.
Obviously, the counterpoint that's made is, basically, the benefits to society, the benefits to the community, the rights of the community and how these outweigh the rights of the individual, certainly in the case of vaccination — that one's failure to be vaccinated puts at risk other members of society. Now, that might be the case in a situation where vaccines are limited, but here in the West we don't have that situation. Unfortunately, in most of the world we do have that situation, but not here in the West. We have plenty of vaccines. Some countries would argue that we're hoarding vaccines.
But my argument is that if an individual is at high risk of grave sickness or even death from COVID-19, for instance, let's imagine a hypothetical 70-year-old man. It's still that person's right to accept or reject the vaccine, and whether or not he takes it is his personal choice. If he decided not to accept the vaccine and then became infected, then that was his choice, and he accepted that risk. In general, I hold that it is not appropriate for the State to make vaccines obligatory.
The argument that I hear being made is that universal vaccination is necessary to protect those at high risk. But my opinion is that those at high risk can elect to take the vaccine or not take the vaccine; that's their right and that's their risk, that they take personally. It's not the role of the State to determine whether someone is going to take the vaccine. Of course, the counterargument is that the spread of the disease impacts the State, impacts it financially; it impacts the population; it impacts hospitals, and public services might be overloaded.
EC: Shouldn't this cause us to reconsider the efficacy of socialized medicine, rather than accepting socialized medicine and ending up with a national policy?
Dr. Malone: I agree. The phrase that's used is the "nanny state." This is my objection. It may be a libertarian argument, but I believe that we must have the freedom even to fail. If we seek a world in which the State assumes complete responsibility for our actions, then we lose our freedom. I believe that if we lose that, we will lose motivation, and we move towards the socialist situation in which people can stop accepting responsibility for their actions. So I do have a libertarian perspective on this, but it's coming from a place of conviction about fundamental human rights and medical rights, which is that the State does not have the right to control my body or to demand that you accept treatment that you, right or wrong, believe is not in your best interests.
Dr. Malone: That is a fundamentally authoritarian position, but it's also not grounded in solid science. We have a situation of imperfect vaccines. Of course, we rarely, if ever, have a perfect vaccine, but these are especially imperfect. They don't provide us with very robust protection against infection, they don't provide us with very robust protection against virus replication, and they don't protect us from virus-shedding or spreading it to others. So, the argument that one must get vaccinated in order to prevent further spreading is not valid. It doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
EC: Because we don't know yet — if I've understood you correctly. Tests on this detail haven't yet been done. We don't yet know …
Dr. Malone: There is much we still don't know. But we absolutely do know that vaccinated persons who are infected can infect others. What we have here is a "noble lie." This concept comes from Plato: In politics, those in positions of authority may find it acceptable to speak untruths — lies — to the public for the sake of the common good. The public has been told that if they all accept vaccination, herd immunity will be achieved, in which the virus will stop spreading, society can get back to normal, we can fix the economy, stop the lockdowns, end all threat of this virus — but only if everyone accepts the vaccine.
The problem with that logic is exposed by the Delta variant, with a baseline replication coefficient of between 5 and 8, whereas the Alpha strains were more in the 2 to 3 range. With the current vaccines that offer protection from infection at an efficiency of between 40–60%, we numerically cannot achieve herd immunity. So, we are currently in a situation in which governments are pressurizing their populations into accepting unknown risks for the sake of something that is not achievable.
Now, there's a further problem with the logic of universal vaccination, and that is the problem that what we are in fact doing is virus-selecting through evolution. We are selecting for viruses to become more resistant to vaccines. And there's a problem that's even worse. In certain veterinary models, there's a chicken disease called Marek's disease; if you vaccinate a flock of chickens as this virus is moving through their population, you can actively generate more highly pathogenic viruses that are far more infectious.
There are multiple examples that indicate that we are developing viruses in the human population that are derived from the Alpha strain; these new Delta strains and others are escaping the effects of the vaccine. This is likely to continue and become much worse if we have universal vaccination. My argument, that I recently conveyed to Steve [Bannon] — and that Peter Navarro and I have put out in editorials — is that a more rational strategy (and more ethical and equitable) would be that of administering vaccines to those at highest risks, for whom it's clear, despite adverse effects associated with the vaccine, the risks of death and disease from the virus are higher. Use the vaccine for those people. For the majority of the population, use early drug interventions so that they can develop natural immunity. We can protect people from hospitalization and all the costs and burdens associated with that by providing means of early detection — self-diagnosis or home-diagnosis — with apps or computer-based tools that help people to assess their own personal risk.
EC: Now that we're moving towards vaccinating kids, we seem to be doing the very opposite of the strategy that you recommend.
Dr. Malone: The vaccination of kids is difficult to justify, in my opinion. Just speaking from the American data, since the beginning of the outbreak, we have had fewer than 400 deaths attributed to this virus among children. (In comparison, on average, we lose around 600 children a year from influenza.) Of those U.S. children — that is up to the age of 18 — almost every one of them had a major pre-existing medical condition. So, the average risk of death for children up to age 18 from COVID-19 in the United States is around 2 per million or even less, but the risks for a healthy child are even less than that. But the risk of the vaccine — this is important to understand — the one risk that we know, it is clear, is the risk of heart damage. Particularly in young males, the risk of the vaccine for heart damage is significantly greater than the risk of death from the virus.
I hear people say, "We have to vaccinate children to protect the elderly." But the elderly can be protected by accepting the vaccine. People do not realize that by trying to vaccinate the whole world, we create the enormous risk of generating escape mutant viruses that are completely resistant to any vaccine because the vaccines we have are very narrow vaccines, only to one antigen. Herd immunity is the protection afforded by natural immunity and is up to 20 times better in terms of protection from disease than anything the vaccine can give us. If we pursue universal vaccination, we are reasonably likely to generate viruses that will overcome the vaccine protection in the very people who need it most, namely the elderly, the obese and the immuno-compromised. One of the chief tools that we have to protect those who are at high risk is this vaccine, imperfect as it is, and we're throwing it away due to this naïve belief that we can achieve herd immunity and get back to normal if only everybody would take the vaccine. The data show that this cannot be achieved with these products.
EC: My own organization, Patriot Party Italia, recently put out a statement saying that Italy's funding of the World Health Organization (WHO) should be suspended until an independent investigation has looked into the WHO's response to the COVID virus, specifically with regard to the WHO's protection of China's national interests. Is that a proposal that you think is feasible?
Dr. Malone: Suspending funding for the WHO? So here's the problem. A similar argument could be made for other health organizations, even national public ones. They've been compromised by pharmaceutical interests — we use the term regulatory capture. What you're talking about, though, is a different type of capture.
There are many that argue that the WHO has been captured and compromised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and their financial interests. Bill Gates has spoken about how he has had over a twentyfold return on his vaccine company investments. So, Gates, who has major investments in Moderna, Pfizer, etc., is not losing money on this pandemic, but rather making money on this pandemic. And he's a major funder of the WHO. I think many people are now coming around to seeing that the WHO, as it currently exists, is not serving global interests effectively. And it has been compromised by other interests.
The question is, what do you do about it? An alternative response is, in my opinion, that a parallel organization of sufficient robustness needs to be established before we cease to fund the existing one. To stop funding, in the face of a pandemic, of the WHO, despite its many limitations, would be counterproductive. Many are saying there are different organizations trying to do this right now, and what's needed is to build a parallel structure, mature it to the point that it can accept the responsibilities that have been vesting with WHO, and then migrate to this new structure that might provide a better service to the world and be less compromised by national or special interests.
EC: In a new organization, wouldn't the regulatory capture start all over again?
Dr. Malone: That is the nature of human beings. They will attempt to exert their influence. In any case, I believe that an abrupt disbanding of the WHO, despite its limitations, in the face of a pandemic, would not serve the interests of the global community very well. The appointment of a new director could be a reasonable interim step while an alternative structure is developed.
The problem with building an alternative structure, of course, is who is going to do it? For instance, there were those who hoped that the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) would mature into something like that, but many think that CEPI has already been compromised. There is an initiative, I hear, in the Rockefeller Foundation to try to do something like this; but the Rockefeller Foundation has its own financial interests. So, there are these operational practicalities of how to establish a foundation that reflects equitable, global interests as opposed to more national or financial interests, whether it's the World Economic Forum or BlackRock Capital or whatever.
That's the fundamental tension that we have now as a world community: How do we come to terms with the fact that so much of global capital is controlled by a very, very small number of individuals? I think that is the fundamental tension of our world today.
EC: Finally, Dr. Malone, how can people follow you and continue to benefit from your insights?
Dr. Malone: I have yet to be deplatformed from Twitter. So that's @rwmalonemd. I have set up a Gab account as a backup. I have a LinkedIn account, which is less useful these days, and we have our website: www.rwmalonemd.com. Also, there's a new initiative being launched through a new portal that can be found at www.globalcovidsummit.org. That is designed to support both video and text in a way that will be difficult or impossible for large media and data centers to compromise.
Read Part II.