Luck and vaccines

I now have the cable to fix my car, and then I can find out what else has rusted up after its month-long furlough as a lawn ornament. I’m not going to do it myself. I do have a trolley jack so I can lift it easily enough, but I don’t have axle stands. The way this year has been going I am not confident that getting under a car that’s just on a jack is in any way going to go well. I’ll call the mechanic.

The cable came from United Arab Emirates. In under a week. I had a text to say there was import duty, as expected, but shortly afterwards Fedex showed up with the cable. I guess they trusted me to pay the duty later, so I did. Under a week to get one from halfway across the planet. The local dealer hasn’t got one yet.

I’m going to get the other one too, when it arrives. This part is absolutely critical, the car simply will not move at all without it so I’d like to be ready in case it happens again. Also, it’s a part that is clearly in very short supply in this part of the world so when I sell the car I can put the spare cable on eBay, assuming I haven’t used it. The third one I have stopped, I am really not likely to need three.

The arrival of this cable, I hope, means my luck is changing. It’s been pretty crap so far this year.

Now, vaccines. I am a microbiologist and have dealt with some nasty diseases but never with vaccines. The stuff I’ve dealt with is all intestinal and I’ve developed treatments, not vaccines. However, it’s all part of the subject area so I do know a little.

There are no antivaxxer microbiologists. You can’t get on the undergraduate course without a basic set of vaccines otherwise you’re just a liability in practical classes. Tetanus, TB, polio, that sort of thing. They don’t want you catching something from the stuff you’re handling even if it seems, on the face of it, harmless. It might be contaminated.

I don’t know for sure but I suspect the same is true in most areas of biology or any of the environmental sciences. If a student catches something in a practical class or on a field trip, the college or university risks getting sued all to hell. Imagine a geology field trip where a student trips, cuts themselves and gets tetanus. Hoo boy, it’s lawyer time.

As you move up in the field you come into contact with more dangerous stuff (especially when you specialise in gut bacteria) and then you get more needles stuck into you. I have a list somewhere. If you want to visit certain countries where yellow fever is present, you have to have a certificate of vaccination or they’ll turn you around at the airport. I don’t have that one. I did get rabies vaccine before visiting China, but that doesn’t make me rabies-proof. It simply gives me time to get to a hospital before I start frothing at the mouth and biting people.

Antivaxxers aren’t just putting their children at risk of disease. They are seriously limiting their future career options. Unvaccinated kids cannot get on to medical or veterinary courses. Pretty much no biological science courses. I bet they won’t even let an unvaccinated cleaner into a hospital.

The parents of this generation don’t know much about measles or mumps or a host of other things we had to deal with before there were vaccines. They consider them ‘childhood illnesses’ that kids just have to get through. I had to catch them all and some of them are real bastards. If there had been vaccines against measles or mumps when I was a kid, and my parents put me through those horrors anyway, I’d be furious. Mumps isn’t just a bit of swelling. It hurts like hell. Measles isn’t just spottiness. It’s horrible and it can kill.

Scarlet fever, German measles, chicken pox… I road tested the whole lot as a kid because there were no vaccines to stop them. You’ll all be familiar with the antivaxxer line ‘Oh but years back kids were only injected with eight vaccines, now they get dozens’. That’s because years ago we only had eight effective vaccines. We didn’t have vaccines against all the diseases I went through in childhood. In most cases, now we do.

It’s true that not all vaccinations are safe. Polio is a case in point. There are two vaccinations, injected or oral. The injected one puts a load of dead virus into you, there can be no infection, your immune system just forms antibodies against the alien proteins. The oral one uses a live but attenuated virus. You get a weak infection which your immune system soon clears up. The risk is that a live virus can mutate back into its nasty form. It has happened.

This is how a virus works. There is no intelligence involved.

Imagine one of your body cells as a factory making important stuff. Someone gets in and makes a subfactory that hijacks your production line to make something else and also the packaging to put it in. The thing is, their staff are blind, drunken idiots. What they put into the packaging won’t always work because it’s often the wrong stuff. Sometimes the packaging is faulty and won’t stick to what it’s supposed to stick to. The workers don’t care, they make so many copies that a few are bound to be right.

Once in a while they make a packaging that sticks to a different receptor. Once in a while they pack in some new genes that the original plan didn’t have. These events are rare, in the order of one in a hundred million, but they are producing billions. So the new combinations, like the infinite monekys typing Shakespeare’s plays at random, will happen.

Polio doesn’t change much even though it’s an RNA virus like the coronaviruses. Its effective configuration is in a small range and mutations don’t do well. Vaccination can work. Coronaviruses are like ninjas, they have a wider range of effective configurations so the tiny bastards just keep coming back. Sometimes with a mild cold, sometimes with a killer flu.

There is no vaccine against tthe common cold and no truly effective vaccine against any form of the flu. There won’t be one against this new Flu Manchu either. Ever. Some things simply cannot be vaccinated against. Immunity is the only way to go.

The Bill Gates vaccine is based on an idea that has never produced a marketable vaccine. It’s a stupid idea. It gets DNA ro RNA into your cells so your own body produces virus surface protein and your immune system then attacks… you. An autoimmune disease. It will never work.

Unless your goal is population reduction. Then it will be very effective indeed.

18 thoughts on “Luck and vaccines

  1. I had the hep B vaccine at the beginning of med school. Then the forced me to have a booster in 1995 but I had excellent titres anyway. I last had vaccinations in 2008. I don’t need anymore. I caught chickenpox and have had shingles already. I had the mumps because my wonderful Dad caught it from a patient and brought it home for my thirteenth birthday. Infected the whole house. Mum got it too. It is no fun drinking glucose through a straw for two weeks. And then the officious bastards were asking me if I’d had the MmR. I told them off. I had the single measles vaccine and the single rubella one. . It became a nightmare. My GP in London just had the thing again to avoid the bureaucracy. If they give me shit about a new vaccine I’ll turn round and deck them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had the measles twice when I was quite young and the mumps when I was about 13. The one thing I do remember is that I don’t ever recall feeling unwell. On each occasion, it was pointed out to me that I was ill, due to the visible tell tale signs.

    Unlike about three years ago, when I somehow managed to contract hand, foot and mouth disease (even though it never quite reached my hands and feet). Now, that was uncomfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I survived all the usual childhood diseases- not pleasant – but vaccine-induced Guillaume Barre very nearly killed me at age 16. Diabolical. Still suffering after-effects 50-odd years later.
    Wuflu vaccine? After you!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I remember being vaccinated before going abroad with the Air Cadets. It was a yellow fever vaccination because we were going to – Germany! It was 1964, though and we found out about good beer . . ..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I dunno too much about what the organized anti-vax movement(s) want, but I seem to recall reading a time or two over concerns with poor or even sloppy manufacturing processes for vaccines. Over time, companies want to lower costs by using cheap fillers or mediums, using unapproved or even expired ingredients, not being entirely forthcoming about allergy risks and/or potential allergic reactions/side-effects, stuff like that. Seems like I’ve also read that maybe the testing of some of the vaccines (especially any new ones) might not be accurately reflective of the population(s) that will eventually get these vaccines. As such, something gets approved, labeled as safe, you’re required to take it so you can remain part of society, and a few weeks later you have an abscess on your ass the size of a dinner plate because it turns out you are “the one they didn’t anticipate”.

    Vaccines are meant to save lives, but that’s accomplished one life at a time. I can understand why some might be confused at the notion that this thing which was supposed to make your life better, made your life worse, and perhaps even takes your life entirely. Hell, maybe we humans are nothing but a school of fish swimming in air instead of water, and the fishies on the periphery are expendable in order for the school to survive. /shrug

    Sometimes tough to make a decision as to what is the right thing to do when you’ve got two different parties pulling at you in different directions in order to (supposedly) get you to the same place.

    ^Life During Wartime (Talking Heads) Lyric Video^

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vaccines are meant to save lives,

      They do save lives, and in vast numbers. Smallpox is eradicated, Polio almost, etc. Those two were major killers. We don’t notice it now, because they have all but disappeared, but vaccines did that.

      The thing is that we are working from the worst to the least worst disease, so that the margins for error with newer vaccines are so much smaller. (And some things, like HPV, are hard to recognise as killers — even though they are — so people resist the vaccines).

      I don’t get the flu vaccine. I barely suffer from flus anyway, and it isn’t often very effective. But my kids got all the killer ones without any question at all.

      If a vaccines for dementia and cancer came along, how many anti-vaxxers would hold out against them? The true believers no doubt, but not many of the waverers.


  6. Re Flus and the annual Flu pot luck vaccine.
    If we were.bothered about the annual scythe through the elderly, we would require anyone working in a care home or as a carer to have an annual flu jab?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t know much about viruses, not a microbiologist, so maybe you can answer this.

    If I remember correctly, viruses can exchange genes?
    If so, what is the chance of this virus crossing with something nasty, like Ebola, and us ending up with something truly horrific? Something with a 14 day incubation and infectious period, then a 50% fatality rate.
    Is that, or something similar possible?
    I guess it can only swap with other Coronaviruses, but could it do it with MERS? Or could it do it with anything? Or even at all?


    Liked by 1 person

    • Bacteria can exchange genes. They have a single circular strand of DNA, but can also pick up other small circles of DNA called plasmids. These are often associated with antibiotic resistance and bacteria can pass them around.

      Viruses, when not infecting, are inert. They don’t do a thing on their own. They pick up new genes by mutation or through the inefficiencies of their system for assembling copies of themselves. Usually they get bits of host RNA or DNA and usually that makes the new copy a dud – but they make so many copies they can afford a 90% failure rate and still spread.

      If a cell is infected with two viruses at the same time then it is possible they’ll produce a few mixed-up ones and some of them might be viable new viruses. Most won’t be. It depends how closely matched the viruses are.

      Crossing ebola with a coronavirus would be difficult because their outer coats are very different. The first one will be packed into one or other already-assembled outer coats so it could still infect – but does it have the genes to produce an intact outer coat or is it just making parts of one and parts of the other? Those parts won’t fit together. If that’s the case then it will only infect one cell and won’t be able to produce new, active virus particles. Could be happening all the time, nobody will ever notice one dead cell 😉

      Two coronavirus infections at once could potentially produce a new coronavirus, but having the genes to make an intact outer coat is essential, otherwise the new virus stops after infecting one cell.

      So, if a virus ever appears which is a hybrid of two very different viruses, I’m going straight to the ‘made in a lab’ hypothesis.

      Liked by 3 people

    • “If so, what is the chance of this virus crossing with something nasty, like Ebola, and us ending up with something truly horrific? Something with a 14 day incubation and infectious period, then a 50% fatality rate.”

      Heh, we think alike. Here’s a passage from page 140 of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains” (2003):

      The increased health risks of epidemic diseases spreading in the confined and now heavily recirculated air of our planes will never be apparent until a disaster occurs… and by then it will be too late. The worldwide spread of an airborne infectious disease may someday be laid at the doorstep of the Great American Antismoking Crusade. An airborne Ebola, antibiotic-resistant pneumonia, or bio-terror horror could be the final legacy of those trying to save us from ourselves.

      Fortunately, at least so far, COVID is falling a goodly amount short of that, but what you ask about is the real concern: it may not cross genes with Ebola, but there ARE lots of different ways it could get nastier.

      Plus, I don’t know how accurate the reports are, but they’ve been talking about nasty aftereffects on different organs around the body showing up after the COVID itself is supposedly gone and done with. *AND* they’re talking about it being susceptible enough to mutations that it might become like the annual flu or common cold where it’s difficult/impossible to effective vaccinate against and just keeps coming back over and over and over again.

      We very well COULD end up with a society like

      – MJM, still COVID-Free here in Philly…


  8. I had the required 1960’s, jabs got the indent on my arm to prove it (and some more when I went to Soviet Ukraine). Still got chicken pox and (I think) measles, worst thing was being in bed for a few days when Radio 1 still had a playlist, same bloody pop songs each and every hour.
    A worthwhile piece in todays local live website saying that ours is the first generation not to have a collective memory about epidemics (clearly written by a youngling). Goes on to list most of those you mention from plague to TB and how they affected our city including a 17thC map I have not seen before locating disease victims mostly in the then slum areas.
    I’m old enough to remember Polio victims clanking about and TB was still spoken about with fear but both were things that happened in the olden times.
    We have an outlieing 1930’s hospital surrounded by post-war housing, few people remember that it was built as the TB isolation hospital, took decades to almost, get rid of that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The jabs given us oldies at school a long time ago and the standard tetanus, yellow fever and other standard travel jabs are completely different to the ones that are recommended for children from birth now and were a lot lower in number. I’m not anti-vaccine but anti the new damaging ones that cause horrendous problems to the population. My wife was recommended the flu jab one year, nearly killed her and she took a long, long time to recover, doctor’s not interested. Look at autism etc rates and compare country to country based on how many vaccines the children are given, very interesting. Japan – no mandated vaccination programme, effectively zero autism. The USA, lots of jabs, huge numbers of autism and increasing early as number of vaccinations increase. Thailand almost zero autism, now increasing as number of mandated vaccinations is increasing. Cause and effect? maybe but there is a definite correlation that anyone who tries to study it seriously gets shouted down as an unbeliever – much like the global warming new green deal and this pandemic.

    Liked by 2 people

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