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Which version of the Pfizer vaccine is Israel using now?
Howard Richman, 11/21/2021

Israel was the first country in the world to inoculate the vast majority of its citizens with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and the statistics were amazing. On May 6, I mistakenly reported in American Thinker:

Israel achieved herd immunity by vaccinating almost 60% of its population using the U.S.-made Pfizer vaccine. According to a chart published by Worldometer, the COVID death rate has fallen to almost zero in Israel.

But in early July, the number of COVID-19 cases in Israel started to rise exponentially. There were two theories about why this occurred:

  1. The COVID-19 virus evolved into the delta strain through natural selection because that strain avoided the antibodies created by the alpha-targeted vaccine.
  2. The vaccine simply stopped working 6 months after administration.

At the beginning of August, Israel started testing the second theory by massively administering a third dose of the same alpha-targeted Pfizer vaccine which had earlier failed. For the next month the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise rapidly. By September 1, Israel had more confirmed cases of COVID than any other country in the world according to statistics calculated by the Daily Mail.

Fortunately, during the first two weeks of September, the rate that COVID-19 cases were rising in Israel started to slow. In mid-September the number of cases per day peaked according to statistics published by By early November, the number of COVID-19 cases in Israel had fallen back to a low level. Other countries have experienced seasonal waves of COVID-19 cases. This wave surged when Israelis were using air conditioning and receded when they would have stopped doing so.

We don't know why the Pfizer vaccine appeared to work in September after it had seemed to stop working in July. Perhaps the booster renewed the effectiveness of the alpha-targeted Pfizer vaccine. Perhaps the tailing off of air conditioning use was responsible. It is also possible that Israel switched in September to a version of the vaccine which targets the delta variant. On August 24, Israel's coronovirus czar Zarka had told Times of Israel that Israel would eventually switch to Pfizer's delta-targeted vaccine. Specifically:

Zarka said he expects that by late 2021 or early 2022, Israel will be giving shots that are especially adapted to cope better with variants.

We also know that the Pfizer's delta-targeted vaccine exists and is being tested. According to Advisory Board:

Currently, Pfizer-BioNTech is working on two reformulated vaccine candidates, one targeting the beta variant and one targeting the delta variant. According to Vox, results from the clinical trial testing the delta-specific vaccine are expected in the fourth quarter of this year.

Pfizer would be reluctant to make public any news that its delta-targeted vaccine was being used in Israel. That version has not yet been approved by the slow-moving public health bureaucracies in the United States and Europe, and Pfizer would not want to get stuck with old alpha-targeted vaccines that nobody wanted. An epidemiologist interviewed by Advisory Board suggests that this would be their motivation:

Separately, Benjamin Linas, an epidemiologist at Boston University, said another reason development of delta-specific vaccines has been slow is because public health officials and drugmakers were concerned unused doses of the original vaccines would be wasted if people only wanted "new and improved" versions of the vaccines.

Adding fuel to speculation that Israel had switched to the delta-targeted vaccine, on September 23 Pfizer Vice President Dormitzer privately told selected scientists in a Zoom call that Pfizer was using Israel as a "laboratory" to test its experimental vaccines:

Pfizer continues to refer to Israel as its laboratory in all matters relating to vaccinations, which are considered experimental. 

Did Israel start giving the delta-targeted booster to Israelis in September?  If so, we probably wouldn't know. Pfizer would not want any announcement that would diminish demand for its alpha-targeted vaccine.


Comments: 8

An (almost) censorship-free approach to the challenges of fake news and propaganda in social media
Jesse Richman, 11/16/2021

For the last several years social media and internet companies have grappled with the challenge of how to manage or contain the spread of fake news and propaganda on their sites.  This remains a major problem for the big tech companies.  Some recent research suggests that the degree of populism in democracies around the world is correlated to a significant degree with the extent of market power possessed by Facebook, and the degree to which internet service provision is concentrated.  Facebook and related platforms have historically arguably played a magnifying role in the spread of fake news and propaganda.

More than three hundred years ago, the humorist Jonathan Swift wrote “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it.” And so it has proved to be in social media.  The attention-getting exaggeration goes viral.  The fact check often fails to follow, as all too often no one finds the fact check unless they go looking for it.  And the people who most need it don’t go looking at all.

The reaction to this problem began in force after the 2016 presidential election and has involved the selective identification of accounts for removal, and attaching fact checks to posts, linked articles, and tweets that have been identified as potential vectors of fake news.  It has recently expanded to the wholesale removal of apps and websites believed to be vectors of propaganda, radicalization, and misinformation (e.g. the delisting of Parler by Google and Apple, followed by the cancelling of the entire Parler website by Amazon in January 2021.

This censorship strategy for coping with the problem of misinformation involves wholesale removal from the public sphere of specific platforms and voices.  It often entails enormous collateral damage.  A trivial example.  In December 2020 I  was forced to switch from Google to rival search engine DuckDuckGo in order to find fact checks of a viral story about election vote totals being changed because the search filters that seemed to be in place on Google to protect me from finding falsehoods about the election were so aggressive that they also kept me from finding a USA Today fact check of those falsehoods. 

Censorship as a way to protect the integrity of political debate and thwart malign forces has ancient problems.  In Federalist 10, perhaps the most profound of the Federalist Papers, James Madison wrestled with the problem of factions adverse to the rights of other citizens on the long term interests of the community.  Madison noted that one possible strategy for dealing with these evil actors is to try to label and suppress them: to destroy their liberty.  But he rejected this as antithetical to the entire project of liberty – the basic foundations of freedom and self government.  The fundamental challenge once this road is taken is that one person’s ‘faction’ may be another person’s speaking truth to power.  Like the government agents who labeled Martin Luther King a dire threat and set out to destroy him, this approach risks misidentifying threats and undermining liberty.  Madison wrote

“Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.” 

Is there an alternative approach that could help thwart radicalization and better connect the public sphere without need for censorship?  I think that there is.  It is to find ways to reconstruct the public sphere in order to curtail the effects of factious misinformation and fake news instead of attempting to eliminate the causes.  Most fundamentally, it is to give truth (or at least rebuttals) wings equal to the falsehoods they pursue.  In this way, fact can balance falsehood more fully...


Comments: 1

Dr. Robert Malone's take on regulatory capture and the COVID vaccines
Howard Richman, 11/13/2021

If you like to hear both sides of questions and make up your own mind, then Dr. Robert Malone's long interview with Veronika Kyrylenko at the New American is a must watch. Currently, the Main Stream Media and the tech monopolies are all purveying the "noble lie" that the COVID vaccines are safe while censoring everything that might discourage people from taking them.

Malone shouldn't be censored. He knows what he is talking about. As a young post-doc at the Salk Institute he was an inventor of RNA vaccines. He also knows U.S. health regulators on a personal basis.

I especially found the first half of this interview to be fascinating. He explains how Pfizer, in its initial reports to U.S. regulators, hid the fact that its vaccine didn't stay in the muscles where it is injected, but instead spread throughout the body. When it spreads to the heart it can produce permanent scarring which can cause sudden early death. He also discusses the sad current state of U.S. health regulation. Our health regulatory agencies have been thoroughly compromised by the large pharmaceutical companies.

If you don't watch this interview, you won't understand why 5 European countries recently warned young people not to use the Moderna vaccine after a study by the European Medicines Agency found that both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines produced heart disease in a few people, with the Moderna vaccine being about 5 times more dangerous than the Pfizer vaccine. Meanwhile, Taiwan has halted plans to give second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to young people after finding that the risk of getting myocarditis was 10 times higher after the second dose than after the first dose.  And be sure to check out this interview with Dr. Peter McCullough about the huge spike in myocarditis cases among young males in the United States and the censorship of his scientific paper on the subject.

But think for yourself: Malone has his own biases. He has been seeking to conduct studies on the effectiveness of re-purposed drugs as alternatives to the vaccines -- inexpensive drugs such as HCQ, Ivermectin, and Aspirin.


Comments: 1

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  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

    Journal of Economic Literature:

  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

    Atlantic Economic Journal:

  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]