When we last left our story, we had discussed a research paper about the spike protein downregulating the ACE2 receptor in endothelial cells, which is likely the source of damage to the vascular system that clinicians have observed in patients with severe COVID-19 as well as some long-haulers.

We had observed that this paper became the subject of an entire social media discourse and pseudoscience panic about vaccine safety that led to a popular Youtuber’s videos on COVID-19 being taken down and restrictions placed on that channel’s ability to post content. There is now a campaign called #followthesilence — a clever play on Follow the Science but about censorship instead of an encouragement to actually follow the science — protesting the restrictions placed on this popular Youtuber.

This is all about censorship and a conspiracy theory that Big Pharma along with its lackeys in Big Government are in cahoots to force an unproven vaccine on the masses with potentially horrific and unknown consequences in the future like leukaemia and infertility and cancer oh my!

I am not sure what to think about the individuals involved in this matter. It really doesn’t matter who they are in the end, although I will examine what we can glean about their various motives in a later post. 

What matters is the substance of their claims.

The video in question makes the assertion that “spike protein collects in ovaries & bone marrow” and provides a link to an article on this subject — obtained through a freedom of information request from Pfizer in Japan and the other a link to a website by Austin G Walters writing about the dangers of the Covid-19 mRNA vaccine.

Let’s dig down a little deeper into this story…

Note the fancy chart with lines purportedly showing the level of spike protein in various tissues produced by Austin G Walters. Note the title: Vaccine Concentration, Reproduction & Cancer.

The source paper from which the data is taken to create the chart is in Japanese, but there are a number of tables in English which describe the data used in the study. There is also a translation, but it is very difficult to read due to the translation quality.

Pretty scary looking chart, no? Look at how the lines increase for “post-vaccination total lipid concentrations/ml”.

The total lipid concentrations in various organs post-vaccination appears to increase in the first hour and then gradually decrease over the next 8 – 24 hours with the exception of bone marrow and ovaries, which appear to be low to start, but then increase instead of fall. The spike on ovarian lipid concentration is quite significant.

Based on this chart, the moderator of the video makes the claim that this could lead to infertility and cancer as well as leukaemia. 

Scary, right? 

Is this a legitimate conclusion to be drawn from the chart? Or is this an example of pseudoscience panic that simply gets the science wrong and creates a panic of disinformation as a consequence?

Here’s a couple of charts using all the data:

Here’s another chart. Not quite as scary.

I am not competent to evaluate the paper, so I leave that to others with more respectable credentials, but clearly if you leave out certain data, the chart and graph will change

The moderator of the video expresses serious concerns about the study, and talked about the threat of cancer from the vaccine and the need to “save the world”. The other guest, who apparently was one of the original inventors of the mRNA technology while a PhD student, did nothing to really counter either the other guest’s or moderator’s concerns. He reinforces them.

Is this concern about the vaccine distribution in tissues valid?

The video makes it appear as if the chart is showing spike protein concentration in human ovaries and bone marrow, when in fact, the study is done on rodents and that the measured substance is a lipid nanoparticle not the virus spike protein.

Thankfully, there has been legitimate research and analysis on the distribution of the vaccine in the body that shows that no, the spike protein does not accumulate in the ovaries and bone marrow after vaccination, and will lead to cancer and leukaemia down the road…

Here’s Dr. David Gorski’s response to the paper and the pseudoscience panic about its findings:

The bottom line is that there is no evidence that the lipid nanoparticles in the Pfizer vaccine (or any of the COVID-19 vaccines) accumulate at significant quantities in the ovaries, much less cause female infertility. This new claim is nothing more than a repackaging of the previous claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause miscarriages and female infertility because of the supposed resemblance of sequences in the spike protein and the placental syncytin protein causing the immune response from the vaccine to attack syncytin, which was a repackaging of old antivaccine claims that vaccines sterilize women. Spike protein does not sufficiently resemble syncytin to cause miscarriages and infertility, and the lipid nanoparticles in the vaccines do not accumulate in the ovaries, much less cause female infertility.

In other words, the dose given to the rats in the study was between 18 – 35x higher than a dose of vaccine would be.

This pseudoscience panic on the part of Antivaxxers is, as Gorski says, old panic wrapped in a new bow.

Here’s the relevant passage from the European Medicines Agency study about the tissue uptake of vaccine in tissues:

The DART Study found no effects on female rat fertility after administration of the mRNA vaccination.

From the study:

There were no effects of BNT162b2 on female mating performance, fertility, or any ovarian or uterine parameters nor on embryo-fetal or postnatal survival, growth, physical development or neurofunctional development in the offspring through the end of lactation. Together with the safety profile in nonpregnant people, this ICH-compliant nonclinical safety data supports study of BNT162b2 in women of childbearing potential and pregnant and lactating women.

This claim about the dangers of the mRNA vaccine and spike protein is also being spread by Dr. Byram Bridle, Associate Professor in the Ontario Veterinary College. 

Bridle’s claims have been challenged by PolitiFact, which states the following:

“The credentials of Byram Bridle, a viral immunologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, include research funding from the Canadian government and the Canadian Cancer Society, as well as dozens of publications in research journals.

But experts told PolitiFact that, despite a document Bridle cites, there is no evidence to back his claim that what is known as the vaccines’ spike protein produces a toxin that could cause heart problems and neurological damage.

“There is no data that the spike is a toxin,” said Dr. Drew Weissman, a vaccine expert and professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “The document he cites is an anti-vaxxer product with no real scientific data supporting its claims.”

What appears to be another refutation of this “pseudoscience panic” on the part of Byram Bridle can be found on the website bearing his name. Someone, not Bridle himself, claimed the web domain and posted the refutation.

The website bearing his name provides links to other papers and articles that refute the claims being made by Bridle.

This article by Edward Nirenberg on DeplatformedDisease.com reviews the journal article cited by Bridle as evidence of the spike protein circulating in the body causing harm to vaccinated individuals.

“this study is interesting- but it in no way impugns the safety of mRNA vaccines for COVID-19, or mRNA vaccines as a whole. In fact I would take it a step further and say we don’t need to know anything about the biology of a pharmaceutical to make judgments about whether or not it’s safe. That determination is based on epidemiologic surveillance. To date, the epidemiologic data on mRNA vaccines is exceptional and reassuring: anaphylaxis can occur but is rare and very treatable. Otherwise no events have produced safety signals in these vaccines to date, and outcomes in pregnant patients are reassuring. We have given out hundreds of millions of doses of these vaccines and despite a pharmacovigilance system sensitive enough to detect an adverse event reported in fewer than 1 per million doses, we are seeing no such problems with mRNA vaccines. Papers analyzing the mechanisms of how these vaccines work are valuable because they can be used to guide smarter vaccine design. But they cannot tell us anything definitively about safety. All of this data must be held in context. COVID-19 has killed nearly 600,000 Americans, and the death toll globally is staggering. People are additionally experiencing disabling complications after getting over even seemingly mild cases. Vaccines are the way out.”

Nirenberg argues that the safety of a vaccine is ultimately determined by epidemiological surveillance and not based on the biology of a particular pharmaceutical. While we would like to know for certain that a vaccine is safe before administering it to the public on a global basis, it is only through surveillance that we can determine the longer-term safety. Otherwise, we could never develop a vaccine in time to see meaningful treatment during a pandemic or epidemic. 

So, it appears that these individuals, both those with science credentials and those without, have misunderstood / misrepresented the research and have misinterpreted the risks relating to vaccination.

What is going on here?

Is this simply an honest misunderstanding?

We have a PhD in Biology with specialization in genetics, one of the scientists who first developed the mRNA technology, and a PhD in immunology who appear to have misunderstood the science.

More on this in Part 3.