Developers of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine tied to UK eugenics movement (2)
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Vaccitech: doing well by doing “good”?
The official reason Sarah Gilbert and Adrian Hill created Vaccitech in 2016 per The Times was because “Oxford’s researchers [are] encouraged to form companies to commercialize their work.” Vaccitech, like other “commercialized” Oxford research enterprises, was spun out of the Jenner Institute via the university’s commercialization arm, Oxford Science Innovations, which was Vaccitech’s largest stakeholder at 46 percent. Hill and Gilbert were reported to maintain a 10 percent stake in the company.
The largest investor in Oxford Science Innovations, and by extension one of the largest shareholders in Vaccitech, is Braavos Capital, the venture-capital firm started in 2019 by Andrew Crawford-Brunt, Deutsche Bank’s long-time global head of equity trading at its London branch. Through its stake in Oxford Science Innovations, Braavos owns about 9 percent of Vaccitech.
Prior to covid-19, Vaccitech’s main focus, especially in 2019, was the development of a universal vaccine for the flu. Vaccitech’s efforts in this regard were praised by Google, which is also invested in Vaccitech. At the same time, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was funding research to develop a universal flu vaccine, reportedly because the field of influenza vaccinology was not yet able “to design a flu vaccine that would protect broadly against the strains of flu that infect people every winter and those in nature that could emerge to trigger a disruptive and deadly pandemic,” according to a STAT News report. The Gates Foundation effort originally partnered with Google’s cofounder Larry Page and his wife Lucy.
To fully finance Hill and Gilbert’s Vaccitech, and specifically its quest to develop a universal flu vaccine, Oxford Science Innovations sought £600 million from “outside investors,” chief among them the Wellcome Trust and the venture-capital arm of Google, Google Ventures. This meant that Google was poised to make a profit from the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at a time when its video platform YouTube had moved to ban covid-19 vaccine–related content that shines a negative light on covid-19 vaccines, including the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate. Other investors in Vaccitech include Sequoia Capital’s Chinese branch and the Chinese pharmaceutical company Fosun Pharma. In addition, the UK government had put an estimated £5 million into the company and was also expected to make a return on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. See Vaccitech’s homepage showing company co-founders Adrian Hill and Sarah Gilbert, from vaccitech.co.uk.
Information on the profit motive behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine had been muddied due to the extensive media promotion of the claim that Hill and Gilbert would not be collecting royalties on the vaccine and that AstraZeneca would not make a profit off the vaccine. However, this was only true until the pandemic is “officially” declared over, and the virus is labeled a persistent or seasonal condition that would require the mass administration of covid-19 vaccines at regular intervals and possibly annually. Sky News reported that the determination of when the pandemic is over “will be based on the views of a range of [unspecified] independent bodies.” At that point, both Vaccitech and Oxford will obtain royalties from AstraZeneca’s sales of the vaccine.
Those tied to the vaccine have been at the center of promoting the idea that the covid-19 vaccine will soon become an annual affair. For instance, in early May 2020, John Bell – an Oxford medical professor and an “architect” of the Oxford-AstraZeneca partnership – told NBC News, “I suspect we may need to have relatively regular vaccinations against coronaviruses going into the future,” adding that the vaccine would likely be needed every year like the flu vaccine. NBC News failed to note that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in which Bell is involved stands to significantly benefit financially if that does come to pass.
Later, Bell told The Week that, “should there prove to be a market for regular vaccinations against coronavirus in the future, ‘there is some money to be made.’” Such sentiments have been echoed by Pascal Soriot, the CEO of AstraZeneca, who told Bloomberg that the company stood to make a “reasonable profit” once the pandemic was declared over and covid-19 deemed a seasonal illness requiring regular vaccinations. On this matter, Vaccitech’s CEO, Bill Enright, stated that Vaccitech investors would receive a “big chunk of the royalties from a successful vaccine as well as ‘milestone’ payments” if and when the pandemic is declared over and covid-19 vaccines become a seasonal event.
Vaccitech, in particular, appeared quite certain that this possibility was slated to become reality. For all subsequent iterations of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Vaccitech will reacquire a much larger percentage of rights to the vaccine, rights it was splitting with Oxford for the first iteration. Sky News had noted that the technology that Vaccitech owns “could drive the second generation of covid-19 vaccines” and that it “has [already] received £2.3 million of public funding to develop it.”
US government officials such as Anthony Fauci have also signaled that the covid-19 vaccine will require annual shots. Notably, the government, through Health and Human Service’s BARDA, has poured over $1 billion into the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine development. In addition to government officials, several published mainstream media reports have claimed that the “expert” consensus “seem[s] to be leaning toward an annual shot like the flu vaccine” with regard to the covid-19 vaccine. For instance, Charles Chiu, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of California–San Francisco, told Salon, “This may end up being a vaccine that’s not a one-time shot or even a two-time shot… it may end up being what we call either a seasonal vaccine, or vaccine that needs to be administered every couple of years.”
Such hints about an annual covid-19 vaccine from 2021 onward have recently become commonplace from the leading covid-19 vaccine manufacturers themselves. For instance, on December 13 (2020), Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla was quoted by the Telegraph as saying, “How long this [vaccine] protection lasts is something we don’t know … I think it is a likely scenario that you will need periodical vaccinations.” Pfizer also recently issued a statement that noted that “we don’t know how the virus will change, and we also don’t know how durable the protective effect of any vaccination will be,” adding that its vaccine would be suitable “for repeated administration as booster shots” in the event that the vaccine only induces an immune response for a few months.
Then Moderna released information that suggested immunity from its covid-19 vaccine would only last several months, with Forbes writing that “the duration of neutralizing antibodies from the Moderna vaccine will be relatively short, potentially less than a year,” an outcome that would favor the push for an annual covid-19 shot. The developer of the Pfizer covid-19 vaccine, Ugur Sahin of BioNTech, also stated that “the virus will stay with us for the next 10 years…. We need to get used to the fact there’ll be more outbreaks.” He later added that “if the virus becomes more efficient… we might need a higher uptake of the vaccine for life to return to normal,” implying that these regular outbreaks he foresees occurring over the next ten years would be correlated with increased vaccine administration.
Quotes from the developers of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine themselves also point to a pandemic-dominated future and a desire for the crisis to be prolonged so that the vaccine can be widely distributed. Gilbert told the UK Independent in August 2020 that she believes covid-19 is just the beginning and that covid-like pandemics will become more frequent in the near future. The Jenner Institute vaccine team seems so determined to create the covid vaccine that, in June 2020, Hill was quoted by the Washington Post as stating that he wanted the pandemic to stick around, saying, “We’re in the bizarre position of wanting covid to stay, at least for a little while. But cases are declining.” He also stated that his team was in “a race against the virus disappearing.”
With the vaccine developers, “medical experts,” government officials, and the CEOs of major vaccine manufacturers all agreeing that a seasonal covid-19 vaccine is an increasingly likely outcome, it is worth considering a possible ulterior motive regarding the initial “nonprofit” model being used by the Jenner Institute/Vaccitech and AstraZeneca for their joint covid-19 vaccine.
Given that vaccine guidance in several countries states that each dose of the multidose covid-19 vaccine is necessary to be produced by the same manufacturer as previous doses, the implication is that in the event of a need for periodic covid-19 vaccine variants, those who initially received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would likely be required to receive that same “brand” of vaccine seasonally. In other words, those who initially received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would likely be required, not just to receive a second dose of the same “brand,” but continue receiving that same “brand” of vaccine every year.
If this turns out to be the case, it would certainly behoove the Oxford-Vaccitech-AstraZeneca team to want their vaccine to be the most widely used one in the first year in order to guarantee the largest market for subsequent annual covid-19 vaccines. This could be a possible motive behind the efforts of the Oxford-AstraZeneca partnership “to supply the entire world with the Oxford jab” and to supply the vaccine “to the most vulnerable groups to covid-19.” This vaccine has already been purchased, even before regulatory approval, by governments around the world, including in Europe, North America, Australia, and most Latin American countries.
The Wellcome Trust
Adrian Hill holds a senior position at the Wellcome Trust’s Centre for Human Genomics. The Wellcome Trust is a scientific charity based in London, established in 1936 with funds from pharmaceutical magnate Henry Wellcome. As previously mentioned, Wellcome founded the pharmaceutical company that eventually became the industry giant GlaxoSmithKline. Today, the Wellcome Trust has a $25.9 billion endowment and engages in philanthropic endeavors, including funding clinical trials and research.
Hill has been closely tied to Wellcome for decades. In 1994, he participated in the founding of the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics and was awarded a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellowship the following year. He became a Wellcome professor of human genetics in 1996. The Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics website boasts of the large-scale genetic mapping they’ve conducted in Africa. The center also publishes papers that explore genetic dispositions in relation to male fertility and “reproductive success.”
The crossroads between race and genes is important in the center’s work, as an entire working group at the center, the Myers Group, is dedicated to mapping the “genetic impacts of migration events.” The center also funded a paper that argued that so long as eugenics is not coercive it’s an acceptable policy initiative. The paper asks, “Is the fact that an action or policy is a case of eugenics necessarily a reason not to do it?” According to Hill’s page on the Wellcome Trust site, race and genetics have long played a central role in his scientific approach, and his group currently focuses on the role genetics plays in African populations with regard to susceptibility to specific infectious diseases.
The Wellcome Genome Campus, which houses the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, is located on the grounds of Hixton Hall, in Cambridgeshire, England.
Of even greater concern, in 2020 Science Mag reported that Wellcome was accused by both a whistleblower and the University of Cape Town South Africa of illegally exploiting hundreds of Africans by “commercializing a gene chip without proper legal agreements and without the consent of the hundreds of African people whose donated DNA was used to develop the chip.” Jantina de Vries, a bioethicist at the University of Cape Town South Africa, told the journal that it was “clearly unethical.” Since the controversy, other African institutions and peoples such as the indigenous Nama people of Namibia have demanded that Wellcome return the DNA it collected.
The Wellcome Centre regularly cofunds the research and development of vaccines and birth control methods with the Gates Foundation, a foundation that actively and admittedly engages in population and reproductive control in Africa and South Asia by, among other actions, prioritizing the widespread distribution of injectable long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). The Wellcome Trust has also directly funded studies that sought to develop methods to “improve uptake” of LARCs in places such as rural Rwanda. As researcher Jacob Levich wrote in the “Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism”, LARCs afford women in the Global South “the least choice possible short of actual sterilization.” Some LARCs can render women infertile for as long as five years, and, as Levich argues, they “leave far more control in the hands of providers, and less in the hands of women, than condoms, oral contraceptives, or traditional methods.”
One example is Norplant, a contraceptive implant manufactured by Schering (now Bayer) that can prevent pregnancy for up to five years. It was taken off the US market in 2002 after more than fifty thousand women filed lawsuits against the company and the doctors who prescribed it. Seventy of those class action suits were related to side effects such as depression, extreme nausea, scalp-hair loss, ovarian cysts, migraines, and excessive bleeding. Slightly modified and rebranded as Jadelle, the dangerous drug was promoted in Africa by the Gates Foundation in conjunction with USAID and EngenderHealth. Formerly named the Sterilization League for Human Betterment, EngenderHealth’s original mission, inspired by racial eugenics, was to “improve the biological stock of the human race.” Jadelle is not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.
Another scandal-ridden LARC is Pfizer’s Depo-Provera, an injectable contraceptive used in several African and Asian countries. The Gates Foundation and USAID have collaborated to fund this drug’s distribution and introduce it into the health-care systems of countries including Uganda, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Bangladesh, and India.
Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, where Hill’s Jenner Institute resides, is enmeshed with the Gates Foundation. His employer, the University of Oxford, has received $11 million for vaccine development research from the foundation over the past four years and $208 million in grants over the past decade. In 2016, the Gates Foundation gave $36 million to a team of researchers that was headed by Pollard for vaccine development. In addition, Pollard’s private laboratory is funded by the Gates Foundation. Given this, it should come as no surprise that the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI), a public-private partnership founded and currently funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, planed to distribute the Oxford-AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine to low-income, predominantly African and Asian, countries once it’s approved.
Read the third part of the article
February 24, 2022