I’m not a fan of censorship (at least not within …

Comment on Review of “The Surge” with Dr. Lela Lewis and Friends by Sean Pitman.

I’m not a fan of censorship (at least not within reason). However, public media platforms, in this country, are free to make their own rules regarding what ideas they want or do not want to offer their platform as a means of broadcast. I might not agree with their decisions, but that’s their free choice.

As far as ivermectin is concerned, I’ve had many people send me this very same meta-analysis paper that you reference, along with the argument that it works “if given early enough” following infection. The problem with these “meta-analysis” studies is that putting together an analysis on a bunch of small studies that individually have limited predictive power doesn’t necessarily make the overall meta-analysis any better than the largest and most statistically significant single underlying study. As Gorski and others point out, meta-analyses are only as good as their raw material – a phenomenon Gorski labels “garbage in, garbage out.” That’s the reason why larger double-blinded placebo-controlled trials are seen as more reliable, generally speaking, compared to meta-analysis papers. The problem here is that the preliminary results from such a trial, known as the “Together Trial” (consisting of nearly 2300 participants in a Phase 3 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial), showed no significant effect on reducing emergency room visits or hospitalizations – despite “early treatment”.

Another smaller double-blinded randomized placebo-controlled trial, involving 476 patients, also failed to show any advantage for ivermectin use (Lopez-Medina, March 4, 2021).

Now, you suggest that this lack of evidence from this trial might be due to some sort of bias in these trials. Perhaps, but I don’t see how this is likely. This is especially true given that this particular meta-analysis paper that you reference (by Dr. Pierre Kory, et. al.) was published April 22, 2021. Why might this be a problem? Because, it was published before the paper published by Dr. Ahmed Elgazzar from Benha University in Egypt, was withdrawn because it was shown to be fraudulent (originally published on the Research Square website in November, 2020) (Link). Dr. Kory’s meta-analysis paper depends heavily upon the Elgazzar paper – which is now known to be completely worthless. If one removes the Egypt data and re-runs the meta-analysis, “the benefit…largely loses its statistical significance.” (Link)

Now, I really wish there were clear evidence that ivermectin and/or hydroxychloroquine worked, but so far, I just don’t see the claims in this regard as being supported by the weight of evidence that is currently in hand.

Do I think Dr. Kory was lying? No. I think he really believed in and probably still believes in ivermectin as a useful treatment for COVID-19. I just think that various treatment protocols, that I think have shown some good success, which are attributed to ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, are far more likely the result of some of the other drugs being used – such as steroids, monoclonal antibodies, etc…

As far as your understanding of natural immunity, it’s actually the opposite of what you imagine. Sure, while natural immunity derived by a full-blown infection by COVID-19 will produce a broader spectrum of antibodies and T-cells, this doesn’t mean that such immunity will be better at fighting off a COVID-19 infection or subsequent variants of the original virus. The reason for this is that natural immunity is, in fact, so broad-spectrum that it doesn’t produce the concentration of targeted antibodies that vaccine-based immunity produces, against a small target. It is precisely because the target for vaccine-based immunity is so much smaller than the many targets for naturally-acquired immunity, that the vaccine-based immunity is, in fact, better able to stop mutational variants – since the sequence space open to variations of a small target region is much smaller (without a complete loss of function for that target sequence). There is, however, an advantage to naturally acquired immunity. If someone with naturally acquired immunity get vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine, the resulting immunity, for that person, will generally be better than someone who only has vaccine-based immunity (as explained in more detail in my article above).

As far as the argument that “natural immunity lasts – usually for a lifetime” that’s sometimes true and sometimes not true – depending upon the type of infection that produced the natural immunity. The big advantage of vaccine-based immunity is, of course, gaining useful immunity without the body having to go through a potentially lethal or debilitating infection first. You reference “tested vaccines” like polio and smallpox vaccines, but many other “tested vaccines” require boosters. Again, it all depends. And, it’s not like the mRNA vaccines haven’t been “tested”. They have been extensively tested via double-blinded placebo-controlled trials in both humans and animals. And, even before these tests, they have been around and have been carefully studied and used for over 30 years.

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Review of “The Surge” with Dr. Lela Lewis and Friends
First off, Dr. John Barthelow Classen (as discussed in the comment just above yours with Inge Anderson), while being an immunologist, is also a well-known anti-vaxx conspiracy theorist. He has a long history of claiming that other vaccines also cause “more harm than good” (Link). He also wrote an article (February 8, 2021) arguing that mRNA vaccines can produce “prion disease” – which is sheer nonsense. Many of his other anti-vaxx conspiratorial papers can be found on his website (Link).

Also, the papers that he publishes, that he claims are “peer-reviewed”, although supposedly in different journals (such as the journal of “Microbiology & Infectious Disease” or the journal of “Trends in Internal Medicine”) show exactly the same format – strongly suggesting that he is, in effect, self-publishing these papers while claiming that they are “peer-reviewed” – by using what is known as a “predatory journal”. And, surprise surprise, it turns out that the actual publisher of these papers, Scivision Publishers, is included in Beall’s list of publishers of predatory journals.

“Predatory publishing (also write-only publishing or deceptive publishing) is an exploitative academic publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without checking articles for quality and legitimacy, and without providing editorial and publishing services that legitimate academic journals provide, whether open access or not.” (Link)

In any case, if you actually read through the paper that you reference, claiming “more harm than good”, that claim simply isn’t supported at all. It all depends upon what one defines as “severe”. Regardless, when it comes to actual hospitalizations and deaths, for the Phase 3 clinical trials of the mRNA vaccines, there is no evidence to counter the conclusion that the mRNA vaccines ended up being highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 compared to the placebo arms of these trials.

In short, this guy just isn’t credible and his arguments make no sense given the data that we have in hand. There simply isn’t anything in the mRNA vaccines that would make them remotely comparable to the risks associated with the actual viral infection itself. The actual “spike protein” produced by the mRNA vaccines is modified to make it much less biologically active (i.e., frozen in the “pre-confirmation state) and almost all of it remains local at the site of injection. In comparison, the live COVID-19 infection also makes spike proteins that are much more biologically active and the live virus goes everywhere throughout the body involving and disrupting pretty much every organ system you have. Where then is the mechanism whereby the vaccine could be more harmful than the disease? There just isn’t such a mechanism. It just doesn’t exist. So, the mRNA vaccines are not only amazingly effective at preventing severe COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and death, they also are far far FAR safer than getting infected by COVID-19 – when it comes to every single risk factor one can name.


Review of “The Surge” with Dr. Lela Lewis and Friends
The dosage doesn’t matter much within this range (and the TOGETHER Trial used a dose of 400 μg/kg/day). There is also no evidence for “synergism” between ivermectin and other drugs used in McCullough’s early-treatment protocol (or other such protocols such as the MATH+, I-MASK+ and I-RECOVER Protocols) – despite him making this very same argument (Link).

The problem, as mentioned in my article, “You can’t just throw together drugs that don’t work at all by themselves and expect that they will suddenly work if used in combination – Dr. Vincent Iannelli explains (Link). There just is no scientific evidence or any kind of mechanism for this when it comes to efforts to save ivermectin as providing some kind of benefit against COVID-19.

See also a recent review of the Cochrane Review of ivermectin: Link


Review of “The Surge” with Dr. Lela Lewis and Friends
Yes, I generally agree with Dr. Damania (Dr Zdogg) and have watched many of his videos. He’s a good place to start researching a topic if he has actually made a video about it.


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
I’m just saying is that if you think that what you say on blog sites like this one doesn’t really affect people, especially when you present yourself as an MD, you’re mistaken. I know that people have been influenced against taking the mRNA vaccines by what you’ve said here in this forum. You’re not simply being neutral in what you’ve posted. You do, in fact, come across as being opposed to the mRNA vaccines – also noting that you didn’t get vaccinated yourself and chose to get infected by the live COVID-19 virus without pre-established vaccine-based immunity. You’ve also come across as being strongly against any response by me to the articles that you’ve referenced where I point out how these papers really do not actually undermine the efficacy and/or the relative safety of the mRNA vaccines. Clearly, you don’t come across as being neutral on the topic.

And, such comments have an effect on people – they really do. While that upsets me, again, it’s more important to me to allow for those who disagree with me to also post their comments rather than to only allow what I personally think is true to be posted.

Beyond this, no one is twisting your arm to post our comments here. You can post or not post as you wish. That’s entirely up to you. But, don’t expect that I won’t push back when you post comments that I think will increase the risk of those who read what you have to say…


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
The difference between us is that I see people in the ICU, as does my brother-in-law Dr. Roger Seheult (a pulmonologist in S. Cal.). You might see the occasional person die from COVID-19, but those who work ICUs in larger medical centers see far too many people die from COVID-19 – to include young people (not just those in nursing homes). You might offer the vaccine to those whom you see, but if you present arguments to them like the ones you’ve presented here, such advice most certainly does result in increased injuries and even death. For me, that’s a big deal. You might call it “weird and overly dramatic” if you want, but for me the effort to save lives and reduce injuries is neither “weird” nor “overly dramatic”. I mean, that’s why I do what I do…

Now, you say, “The discussions that I have on blogs like this are my personal thoughts and concerns. They don’t reflect the way that I actually practice primary care medicine on a daily basis.”

That would be great if this were a private conversation, but it isn’t. It is a public conversation and your words have an impact on the hundreds who read this blog every day. I mean, in a very real sense, especially given that you include your title “MD” with your name, and often point out that you are a medical doctor when you post to this blog, you are, in fact, practicing medicine when you post public comments like you do. You cannot simply say, “I don’t actually follow my own advice that I post in blogs when I practice primary care medicine on a daily basis.” Your influence simply isn’t limited to what you do face-to-face with patients in your clinic. Your influence also extends to what you say and do in front of people outside of your daily medical practice.


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
Well, I’m glad you go at least this far… although I still think that the kinds of arguments you present here really do put people’s lives and health at increased risk. I know you don’t agree, but that’s how I see things from my own perspective.

Now, I’m fine with you, and those who think like you, having the ability to freely share your opinions – despite how mistaken and damaging I personally think these opinions may be. That’s just the nature of living in a free society – which I think is far more important than restricting the freedom of speech.


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
Yes, I’ve been reviewing these particular evolutionary arguments for over 20 years myself: Link, Link

Again, however, when it comes to active retrotransposons in normal human cells, naturally, the expression of LINE sequences is repressed in most cell types. Its RNA is mainly heritable during early embryogenesis because of its enrichment and high retrotransposition activity in early embryos (Grow et al., 2015). That’s why the Swedish research team used a tumor cell line where LINE-1 sequences where more strongly expressed.

On the other hand, it does seem to be true that cells infected by live SARS-COV-2 viruses do show enhancement of expression of retrotransposons:

In our study, we analyzed publicly available transcriptome data of human cells infected with coronavirus MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2, and observed enhanced expression of TEs including several retrotransposons, as well as inflammation, immunity, and apoptosis related genes. We further noticed potential fusion of SARS-CoV-2 RNA with retrotransposon transcripts especially LINEs and SINEs… One of the major mechanisms for LINE-1 silencing is DNA methylation, and we examined expression of genes encoding DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and Ten-eleven translocation (TET) enzymes mediating active DNA demethylation. We observed that Tet genes were generally upregulated after coronavirus infection (Figure 2D), and upregulated DNA demethylation activity may lead to demethylation of retrotransposon promoters. This result supports that increased retrotransposon expression was caused by genome-wide DNA demethylation. We obtained similar results in MERS-CoV/SARS-CoV infected MRC5 cells which are noncancerous human lung fibroblast cells (Figures 2A–D)… SARS-CoV-2 infection also causes upregulation of TET gene expression (Figure 2D). Similarly, SARS-CoV-2 was identified to have the capability of infecting human intestinal organoids (Figure 2E) and increased retrotransposon expression can also be observed post infection in a time-dependent manner (Figure 2F)…

Coronaviruses are RNA viruses and are not supposed to integrate into host genome by themselves. However, it was reported that several RNA viruses have capacity to recombine with retrotransposons to invade host genome (Geuking et al., 2009)… This demonstrates high efficiency of LINE family especially LINE-1 in forming chimeric transcript with SARS-CoV-2 RNA. LINE-1 is autonomous retrotransposon with retrotransposition activity, and RNA-RNA ligation mediated by endogenous RNA ligase RtcB was previously reported for LINE-1 to carry other types of RNA for host genomic invasion (Moldovan et al., 2019), so similar mechanisms may apply for SARS-CoV-2 transcripts. Further examination of human genome from SARS-CoV-2 infected human cells or biopsies will be particularly important to identity existence of integration of coronavirus RNA into human genome.
(Link)

So, you see, if anything, infection by live SARS-COV-2 viruses puts a person at higher risk of cellular genetic modification compared to the mRNA vaccines. This only adds to the reasons to get vaccinated against COVID-19 rather than to gain “natural immunity” the hard way – i.e., via a live SARS-COV-2 infection. Yet again, the risks are simply far higher here for the natural infection vs. vaccination.


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
I think everyone’s knowledge of retrotransposons is limited when it comes to how they might possibly pose any kind of real risk for the use of mRNA technology – for vaccines or any other use. If you think otherwise, by all means, do share with me how retrotransposons reasonably create such a risk? This paper from Sweden that you’ve most recently forwarded certainly does no such thing.

As far as what kind of “weight of evidence” it would take to change your mind about mRNA vaccines, you say that you don’t require “absolute knowledge”, but it certainly seems as though you’re raising the bar far far higher than is reasonable – to the point of preferring to get sick with a COVID-19 infection, putting yourself at a far higher risk of long-term injury and even death, rather than take an mRNA vaccine. Given the evidence that is currently in hand, I find that position to be rationally untenable – especially when it comes to trying to convince others to do the same thing during a time when those who are getting very sick and dying, still thousands every day, are almost all unvaccinated.

Now, I’m glad that you personally survived, but spreading misinformation like this has cost and is still costing many lives. I have a problem with that and I do not at all apologize for my strong recommendation that pretty much everyone who has access to the mRNA vaccines get vaccinated against COVID-19.