The persistence of the covid-19 pandemic has unleashed an unbridled race for a vaccine, the narrowest of approaches. Epidemics are always a time of upsurge for the voracious pharmaceutical industry, which is hyper-concentrated on 20 major transnationals that control most of the global market and are not interested in health, but in profits (https://tinyurl.com/y67zqdx2).
They are seizing the opportunity that governments, urged to find a quick way out of the state of pandemic crisis and population fatigue, are willing to contribute enormous public resources – money, knowledge, and public facilities – and to relax regulations and vaccine safety evaluation.
Highly experimental vaccines, most of them transgenic, are being developed at an accelerated pace, with mechanisms of action in our body about which there are great uncertainties and many risks. For the transnationals, it is an unusual bonanza to be able to experiment massively, with public funding and coverage, in technologies similar to gene therapies in humans, whose research was restricted after causing serious damage and even death in the beginning (https://tinyurl.com/yyy25o6y).
According to the World Health Organization, as of September 9 there were 35 vaccines for Covid-19 in clinical studies (in phase one to three human trials) and 145 in pre-clinical studies. Of the first 35 in testing, 17 are based on genetic engineering techniques not previously tested in humans. These transgenic vaccines have mostly taken three approaches: one that uses a plasmid (small circular molecule of DNA) as a vector to introduce DNA into our cells, a second that introduces RNA directly into the cells, and a third that introduces DNA by means of a virus, which in turn is manipulated by genetic engineering so that it cannot replicate.
Conventional vaccines are based on inserting a dead or attenuated virus (which supposedly does not infect), which causes a reaction of the immune system, which thus learns to recognize this type of virus and prevents future infections. The transgenic vaccines, on the other hand, introduce foreign DNA or RNA in our body, where they encode to create a protein similar to those of SARS-CoV2, using our own cellular resources, for example, to create an S protein or spike (the thorns that form a crown in the virus). If this works, it would be recognized as foreign by our immune system, which would produce antibodies to prevent future infections.
The form of action of these vaccines in fact makes us transgenic, at least temporarily, because it is not a foreign protein before which our system reacts (as the previous vaccines), but it manipulates our organism to create the supposed enemy to attack.
In the third group of transgenic vaccines (non-replicating viral vectors) are, among other companies, Johnson and Johnson (United States), CanSino Biologics from China and Sputnik V from Russia, with which Mexico committed to provide volunteers for experimentation in humans in phase three.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine in development is also based on this technique, in whose mass production Argentina and Mexico will participate, financed in part by the Carlos Slim Foundation. The Government of Mexico also agreed to participate in phase three trials with Walvax, China, which is developing a transgenic vaccine based on RNA, and with the company Sanofi-Pasteur, which is developing another type of vaccine, based on introducing small subunits of proteins.
According to experts in vaccines and molecular biologists, there are serious risks with these transgenic products. For example, once the DNA or RNA has been introduced into our cells to create the S-protein, it is not clear how the production of that antigen will be stopped, nor what effect the continued presence of the synthetic DNA/RNA will have on the cells, which, in the case of the DNA cells, arrives with a very active gene promoter.
It is also not clear which cells will be affected, beyond the targets, if the introduced proteins or DNA enters the circulatory system and reaches other organs. ACE2 receptors, which are the ones that enable S-proteins to enter the cells, exist in kidneys, lungs and testicles, which could lead to severe inflammatory responses, autoimmune reactions or other unknown effects.
In animal experiments, such transgenic vaccines have produced severe inflammatory processes and what they call paradoxical response: the organism attacks other viruses present in our body (all living beings live with viruses and bacteria naturally), producing inflammation and other harmful symptoms.
Evaluations of the vaccines that are being managed only consider short-term risks, but adverse reactions may arise later, so the vaccine approval processes takes several years which are not being considered now.
At the same time, no action is being taken to address the causes of pandemics – from the agro-industrial food system to the destruction of biodiversity – although there are multiple warnings that other pandemics are in the offing (https://tinyurl.com/ycfcksva).
It appears that this is the largest mass transgenic experiment in humans and that the winners will be the pharmaceutical transnationals, who profit from both the causes and the continuation of pandemics.
Silvia Ribeiro. Researcher of ETC Group