It doesn’t matter what stressors may or may not contribute …

Comment on Dr. Richard Lenski’s “Unicorns” by Sean Pitman.

It doesn’t matter what stressors may or may not contribute to protein biogenesis. The fact remains that whatever else might contribute to mutagenesis, novel proteins are dependent upon novel genetic mutations. In this particular Lenski experiment, no novel protein was produced. However, there was a novel genetic mutation that gave rise to the new functional abilities of the E. coli bacteria. This genetic mutation simply allowed a protein-coding gene to be turned on in a different type of environment by moving a gene to a different location within the genome. Statistically, this isn’t a problem given the number of bacteria in the steady-state population over the course of a few tens of thousands of generations. It’s very predictable in fact – statistically. What is not statistically tenable, however, is the evolution of a qualitatively novel protein-based system of function that requires more than 1000 specifically arranged residues. Such a feat is not statistically feasible – and Lenski should know better than to suggest otherwise.

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Dr. Richard Lenski’s “Unicorns”
There was no change in the citrate receptor or transport protein, or any other protein. No structural change took place at all. You simply don’t understand the Lenski experiment. All that happened was that the gene that codes for the citrate transport protein, which already existed and was active under anoxic conditions, was turned on in an oxygenated environment by being placed next to an active promotor. That’s it. There’s simply no new receptor being made here. No new gene or protein – olfactory or otherwise.

Dr. Richard Lenski’s “Unicorns”
I’ve read your blog about the Lenski experiment “Microbes: living in the past”. However, I think you’re mistaken. You wrote:

The adaptations arose [in the Lenski experiment] due to the de novo creation of olfactory receptor genes under conditions that would otherswise lead to death by starvation.

This simply isn’t true. No new receptor genes evolved at all – olfactory or otherwise. The very same genes stayed exactly the same. The only thing that changed is the location of the very same genes within the genome. Also, the bacteria were not starving. They simply started using citrate as an additional source of energy to the nutrients that they were already being provided with – over the course of the decades that Lenski has been running this particular experiment. I see no evidence for epigenetic factors in play here or thermodynamic instability before or after the changes in function.

Sean Pitman

Dr. Richard Lenski’s “Unicorns”
@Bob Helm:

Most of this information, in this particular article, has already been published by others in various journals. The only thing I contributed here of any uniqueness is the concept of changes in the ratio of beneficial vs. non-beneficial sequences in sequence space at various levels of functional complexity.

When I submitted the technical argument for sequence space to Origins (a few years ago), they told me that it was too technical for their readership to understand. I should probably try again to submit a toned down version for more general readership.

Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Dr. Walter Veith and the anti-vaccine arguments of Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche

Can you talk about the blood clot side affect — the rash side affect — and the other side affects listed in the VAERS document? Are these deaths and suffering are just “ho-hum” dispensable humans to the cause of good for all?

I talk about VAERS here (Link). The Herpes Zoster rash happens in a low percentage of immunocompromised people who have previously been infected with the Herpes virus (Link). While certainly uncomfortable, it’s not life-threatening and it isn’t a risk for most people. The blood clot risk is a very rare risk (about 1 in a million for young women) for the DNA vaccines, possibly related to the adenoviral vector used for the vaccines. I talk about this here (Link). There is also a very rare risk for severe immune thrombocytopenia (Link). Note that for all of these risks for the vaccines, the very same risks are much much much higher when it comes to being infected by the live COVID-19 virus. So, if you want to reduce your risk as much as possible, the best way to do that is to get vaccinated.

What is happening to cause so many side affects? How is one to know if there is a chance of dangerous side affects of the vaccine for a person?

The thing about risk is that it is impossible to know, ahead of time, exactly how a particular person will react. That’s just the nature of the concept of “risk”…

Are vaccinated women who get the vaccine during pregnancy, or get pregnant and give birth having any side affects among their babies?

No. I talk about this rumor here (Link).

Also, have your children been vaccinated? What is your opinion of elementary or high schools requiring the vaccine for school children? Which childhood conditions need to be studied before administering the vaccine to children with these conditions?

The mRNA vaccines are not approved for children under the age of 16. They are currently in the trial phase of testing for younger children. My own boys are 9 and 11 years of age, so no, they haven’t been vaccinated yet. However, once approved, I would be getting them vaccinated since even children are at risk for long-term injury and sickness from COVID-19 (30% of children get Long-Hauler’s following even asymptomatic infections with COVID-19). As far as childhood “conditions”, I know of no common childhood conditions which would preclude vaccination…

What “empirical evidence” is there that mRNA vaccines do not cause any side affects “a year or two or three down the line”? Is there a study I can read – link?

As I’ve already mentioned, the evidence for this is the very long history that we’ve had with vaccines and understanding how they work with the human immune system. When complications arise, they do so within the first few months for large populations (Link). It is extremely unlikely that something brand new and unexpected will come to light years down the line (Link). Also, by that time, millions will have been killed and permanently injured by the very real and very well-known risks of the COVID-19 virus itself.

Yes, your glowing recommendation is convincing with several issues not addressed in the glow.

I have addressed most of your questions already in other posts on this topic…

Do you recommend a yearly booster vaccine like now is being developed? I think big Pharma announced a flu/covid combo vaccine coming out for next fall. What is your opinion please?

For now, it seems likely to me that the mRNA vaccines will produce immunity lasting more than a year, likely several years. However, as with most viruses, the COVID-19 virus mutates. If a new mutant strain comes along that “breaks through” the immunity provided by the original vaccine(s), then yes, a booster would be necessary. However, if enough people would get vaccinated quickly, it would make the odds of such breakthrough mutations less likely.

Thanks for your help in understanding the full spectrum of topics about these mRNA vaccines.

Thank you for your thoughtful questions.

Dr. Walter Veith and the anti-vaccine arguments of Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche
It’s certainly highly advisable to look at both sides of the issue. However, many, including Dr. Veith, just aren’t doing this in an evenhanded manner where the overall weight of evidence is carefully considered and laid out for evaluation. Your own claims, in particular, aren’t exactly balanced and unbiased either…

First off, the mRNA vaccines are not just “experimental”. They have been extensively studied now for over 30 years. Scientists are very well aware of how they work. There is no significant mystery here. Also, they were subjected to very large clinical trials in both humans and animals that were double-blinded and placebo-controlled. These trials included 70,000 human participants (combined between the Pfizer and Moderna trials), who have been carefully observed now for over six months. The Pfizer mRNA vaccine is now eligible for full FDA approval. Past experience with vaccines tells us that the vast majority of adverse outcomes, if they happen, happen within the first few months. The argument that something serious will turn up a year or two or three down the line simply isn’t based on empirical evidence. And, simply sitting back to “see this pandemic play out” is a recipe for continued disaster – costing millions of lives worldwide.

The weight of scientific evidence that is currently in hand very strongly supports the very high efficacy as well as the safety of the mRNA vaccines as compared to the risks of getting infected by the live COVID-19 virus – to include up to 1/3 of people of all ages ending up with long-term sicknesses and injuries from originally mild and even asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 (Link). This isn’t something to play around with. The mRNA vaccines are truly a miraculous gift to humanity. Take advantage of it…

The Arguments of Adventists Opposed to Vaccines
Here’s a pre-print of a paper demonstrating that the antibodies produced in response to the mRNA vaccines are actually more effective, and probably last long-term, as compared to a natural infection (Link). This is yet additional information in favor of the idea of going ahead and getting vaccinated against COVID-19 even if one has already been previously infected.

Dr. Walter Veith and the anti-vaccine arguments of Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche
What a deal for us, you mean. Without this deal, the mass production and distribution of life-saving vaccines and other medications wouldn’t be possible.

Dr. Walter Veith and the anti-vaccine arguments of Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche
The FDA initially granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in December of 2020. The FDA usually requires at least six months of data for the clinical trial participants before full FDA approval is granted. Pfizer, in particular, has previously said that it planned to apply for full FDA approval this month (April 2021). With full FDA approval, Pfizer would be allowed to sell its vaccine directly to hospitals and other health care providers. (Link)

The process required to get the initial EUA from the FDA is fairly extensive and detailed upfront. The mRNA vaccines (put out by Pfizer and Moderna) underwent double-blinded placebo-controlled trials in 70,000 humans, along with double-blinded placebo-controlled trials with animals as well – at the same time. These Phase III trials continued for 10 weeks and showed >95% efficacy against COVID-19 infections – far better than expected. Perhaps even more impressively, none of those vaccinated had severe COVID-19 symptoms, required hospitalization, or died – while more than two dozen such cases were noted in the placebo arms (along with 6 deaths). This data, together with other data dealing with vaccine production protocols and other such safety data, was taken into account as the basis for the FDA’s EUA.

Of course, since the general rollout of the mRNA vaccines worldwide, the data has only gotten better. Take the results of the rollout in Israel for example (since Israel is far ahead of the rest of the world in the percentage of its population that it has been able to vaccinate). So far, the mRNA vaccines in Israel have shown a 98.9% efficacy rate in “preventing hospitalizations” from COVID-19 (Link). That’s amazing! The data in the US is similar with less than 1 in 1 million deaths for those vaccinated so far (Link). Now, let’s say that the overall death rate for COVID-19 is 1% (or 1 in 100 people on average, but exponentially higher with age beyond the age of 50). The mRNA vaccines would be able to reduce that death rate to between 1 in 100,000 and 1 in a million! That’s miraculous! It truly is!

“The 2 mRNA vaccines have similar efficacy of approximately 95% for the prevention of symptomatic COVID-19 and nearly 100% efficacy in preventing death from COVID-19 after 2 doses.” (Rio and Malani, JAMA, March 4, 2021)

If that’s not enough, around 1/3 of people who come down with a COVID-19 infection who don’t die, will end up with some long-term illness or injury (Link). Commonly, these long-term injuries involve the lungs, heart, and brain – and affect even 1/3 of those who had no symptoms or just mild symptoms during their initial infection. The mRNA vaccines can dramatically lessen “Long-Hauler’s Syndrome” as well… and are even showing some benefit for those who already have long-term illnesses as many seem to recover once they get vaccinated.

Given that the technology for the mRNA vaccines isn’t new either (mRNA vaccines have been studied for over 30 years now), it isn’t like scientists don’t have a very good understanding as to how they work and what to look out for already. Known potential risks have been solved, such as ADE. Also, the mRNA vaccines require no adjuvants, like mercury or aluminum. They are the cleanest vaccines ever produced since they also require no culture on any kind of cellular tissue or organic medium.

In short, the mRNA vaccines will have full FDA approval very soon, and for very good reason. They have been studied and tested far more than most vaccines or other drugs or medications have been tested before receiving full FDA approval. They have demonstrated amazing efficacy, far far better than expected, and are far far safer than getting sick with the live SARS-CoV-2 virus. I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost more than a dozen family friends to this pandemic so far. So, not only have I been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, but my wife as been vaccinated (Moderna), both of my parents have been vaccinated (Moderna), both of my wife’s parents have been vaccinated (Pfizer), my brother and his wife have been vaccinated (Moderna), all three of my wife’s siblings and their spouses have been vaccinated (Pfizer and Moderna)… and many more. I highly recommend that you do the same as soon as the vaccine becomes available to you!

For more information, you might find some benefit from a short talk I just gave on this topic: Link