Robert Malone says he is the real inventor of mRNA vaccines and this is why you must trust him when he warns those vaccines are deadly. Instead, to protect yourself against COVID-19 you should take ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, fluvoxamine, Vitamin D and of course the hurt-burn drug famotidine. In a bucket, probably.
It’s not just antivaxxery of course, Dr Malone goes for the full deal of covidiocy and rejects everything, except of quack cures of course.
Here a conference Malone organised in Italy:
“The International Covid Summit in Rome took place in the Italian Senate and was hosted by Roberta Ferrero, an Italian senator. It concentrated on the question of early treatment protocols for COVID, some of which include Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine. The conference opened with a video message from Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, whom Dr. Malone then called a hero who deserves the Nobel Prize for his heroic and effective way of saving the lives of many COVID-19 patients throughout this coronacrisis.”
So this is Smut Clyde‘s and mine contribution to the Nobel Prize week.
With Dr Malone eagerly going to bed with quacks, antivaxxers and far-right white supremacists (like Steve Bannon), it is a bit reminiscent of the paranoid conspiracy theorist and COVID-19-denialist Judy Mikovits, who by being a former virologist is the proper scientific authority whom these people will accept. Incidentally also an article by Smut Clyde!
Not just the narrator of a novel-length soliloquuy by Sam Beckett
By Smut Clyde
Vaccinations make COVID-19 infections worse, because ADE. No, really.
ADE, or ‘Antibody-dependent enhancement’, is the idea that vaccines or a previous infection with X results in the second infection with X becoming worse. This doesn’t happen with COVID-19. Malone doesn’t bother to explain what ADE is supposed to be, because his audience only want Worship Words and acronyms so they know it’s Science.
As CBS reported:
“One particularly damaging tweet that gained a massive response came from Robert Malone, an infectious-disease researcher and accused spreader of anti-vaccination misinformation who calls himself the “inventor” of mRNA vaccines despite evidence to the contrary.”
This Robert W. Malone – “a prolific social media poster who raises a rare breed of Portuguese horses on a farm in Virginia” – is the most recent addition to the antivaccine Pantheon of Leading World Authorities. His tweets churn through social media to become a leading vehicle for the dissemination of crappy Vaccines’R’Bad papers (before their inevitable retraction). He has been profiled in articles in Nature and The Atlantic. His antivax admirers hail him as the Inventor of mRNA Vaccines – a description which is backed by the authority of the website of one Robert W. Malone. Before June 2021, though, none of them had heard of him.
In fact Malone himself only realised recently that he had invented mRNA vaccines. The assertion of intellectual parentage does not appear in a 2019 archived copy of his site.
It seems that this paternity claim only occurred to him when Katalin Karikó and her colleagues developed the BioNTech / Pfizer mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 and licensed the same methods to Moderna, confounding the skeptics (including myself [and myself, I must admit!- LS]) who’d doubted that this new technology – previously only applied to cattle – would work against a respiratory virus.
The Atlantic article documents Malone’s harassment of Karikó.
“Karikó shared with me an email that Malone sent her in June, accusing her of feeding reporters bogus information and inflating her own accomplishments. “This is not going to end well,” Malone’s message says.”
One’s first impulse is to check what Wikipedia has to say on the matter, but the otherwise-pristine waters of that fount of knowledge are muddied by the inevitable Drama. Notably, Malone sockpuppet ‘Glasspool1‘ spent March and June 2021 rewriting the entries on ‘DNA vaccine’, ‘mRNA vaccine’ and ‘RNA therapeutics’ to position Malone at the forefront of innovation. After Glasspool1 was blocked and her revisions were reverted, another sockpuppet ‘Asailum‘ sprang up in her place to denounce the persecution, to defend antivax misinformation, and to blame everything on
AntiFa / BLM agitators Wikipedia’s left-wing bias. Both are evidently Dr. Jill Glasspool Malone, Robert’s wife and for already 20 years “President at RW Malone MD, LLC“.
‘Orac’ at Respectful Insolence ventured into the morass, to a depth that is exhaustive even by my standards. All that matters here is that the removal of Dr Glasspool’s spamming additions gave Malone the chance to seek out the company of sympathetic medscammers and wrap himself in the mantle of a persecuted victim of a Censorship Conspiracy, just like them.
When Malone’s name first popped up in the churning hybrid of Ouroboros and the Human Centipede that constitutes antivax discourse, I took myself to the journals and found the same references that everyone else finds. As a grad student, Malone had indeed joined a research team at the Salk Institute that had studied RNA expression / transcription, before falling out with his supervisor and moving to a start-up rather than wait around for a PhD. The Salk work produced a 1989 paper on RNA transfection with Malone as first author (“Cationic liposome-mediated RNA transfection”).
In biology authorship etiquette, that is the totem-pole position for the student who did the experiments, under the direction of the laboratory leader who assigned the topic and becomes the last author [incidentally, the then-Salk director Inder Verma, who claimed the prestigious last author’s position, was retired in shame in 2018 for his decade-long practice of sexual harassment and discrimination at Salk. In case of Malone’s, it’s likely the research was actually coordinated by the middle-author and vaccine developer Philip Felgner -LS]
Malone was also a minor author of a second paper from 1990, from Felgner’s Vical start-up (“Direct Gene Transfer into Mouse Muscle in Vivo”).
At one stage Malone and Glasspool worked on injecting DNA as a vaccine (to be absorbed by recipient cells, expressed as mRNA, and then transcribed as protein)… which is why he described himself in 2019 on his promotional website, with unusual modesty, as “one of the inventors of DNA vaccination”. I come here not to bury these accomplishments, but to praise them.
His name appeared next to Felgner and others as one inventor on Vical patents US-7250404-B2 and US6867195B1 (inter alia) on therapeutic applications of injectable mRNA, including its use as a vaccine: instructions for cells in the recipient’s body to assemble a protein, to elicit an immune response (rather than injecting the protein directly). In the absence of crucial details for implementing that concept (like stabilising the mRNA molecules and tailoring them to look less virus-like to one’s immune defenses), the patents held little value, and duly expired in 2006. No place for them in Nature‘s display of mRNA intellectual inter-dependence!
However, Malone did not linger at Vical, leaving later in 1989, ‘citing disagreements with Felgner over “scientific judgment” and “credit for my intellectual contributions”.’ He subsequently alternated between Academia and a career in the pharmaceutical industry. This is an important CV adornment if one is to be lionised by Pharma skeptics, as an insider-turned-apostate is more credible than someone who’d been on the right side all along. Everyone loves a Road-to-Damascus Conversion story, though personally I regard it as the least of the Crosby / Hope / Lamour movies.
More accurately, a succession of Big Pharma careers, driven by disagreements from one difficult working environment to another. Tom Bartlett remarks at The Atlantic:
“The portrait [colleagues] paint of Malone is of an insightful researcher who can be headstrong. They related accounts of him, pre-pandemic, getting booted from projects because he was hard to communicate with and unwilling to compromise.”
Catherine Offort at The Scientist:
“As former chief medical officer of Alchem Laboratories Corporation, Malone has previously been involved in work on famotidine: in April 2020, Alchem and its subcontractor Northwell Health were awarded a $20.7-million government contract to test the drug in combination with hydroxychloroquine in patients with moderate to severe COVID-19, the Associated Press reported last summer.
Malone left that study and resigned from Alchem shortly after the contract was awarded, citing a difficult working environment, he told the AP and confirms in an email to The Scientist.”
It never seemed to occur to him that there might be a single common element in all these difficult environments.
The famotidine contract is a story in itself. “There were no published data or studies to suggest that famotidine, the active ingredient in Pepcid, would be effective against the novel coronavirus“, but it inspired another priority battle: Malone and a Dr Callaghan both claimed credit for the brain-fart of using it to treat COVID. Before he walked away from the study in protest at his lack of recognition, Malone believed strongly enough in famotidine to take it himself to cure his own infection (to strengthen his immunity, he also accepted a dose of Moderna vaccine, which he now blames for his lingering post-COVID malaise). The insouciant, pervasive corruption of the Trump administration made it easy to throw $21-million down a rat-hole in the hope of a miracle occurring that would obscure the incompetence of the president’s decisions.
This combination of corruption and faith provides a convenient segue to the other aspect of Malone’s current popularity: his role in the Rise of Ivermectin (IVM). Leonid covered this topic already and it rarked so many first-time commenters into a spittle-flecked rage that I should briefly touch on it again.
It isn’t clear why the quest for an existing, pre-licensed drug with serendipitous antiviral powers moved on from the Hydroxychloroquine fiasco, then famotidine, and came to settle on IVM (which kills ticks and nematode worms) as a cure for COVID-19. At least in the HCQ farrago, there were anecdotal reports from China to give it some credibility… patients who take HCQ for Lupus seemed to become less susceptible to COVID.
Now, of course, the $$-million griefers have emerged from the woodwork: the “Frontline Doctor” fraudsters, devoting what time they can spare from the inflation of their credentials to discourage vaccination and to pimp their on-line IVM prescription / sale services. The IVM-advocacy anti-mask ‘BIRD Group’ behind the meta-analysis by Bryant et al. (2021) are smaller in scale, but they’re crowd-sourcing funds to establish a “Ivermectin Buyers’ Club”. Also the disinformation grifter sites like “ivmmeta.com” and “c19ivermectin.com” from the same anonymised network that previously pumped HCQ for equally dubious, bad-faith reasons. But before all that happened, why IVM in particular?
One could speculate about the sway that is exerted on the Chiliast imagination by parasites. The Millennialist mindset is dominated by the promise of perfect health when the New Paradise dawns, both physically and in terms of the Body Politic, and the only obstacle to the arrival of the Eschaton is the presence of parasites in our midst. Eradicate enough of them – by summary execution in the case of counter-revolutionary saboteurs, intellectuals, rootless cosmopolitans or Deep-State Elites, or by IVM and bleach enemas in the corporeal case – and we will finally enter Utopia. Norman Cohn’s historical survey is always worth reading.
But I digress. A few large, early studies reported very positive outcomes from IVM: Niaee et al (2020), Carvallo et al (2020), Elgazza et al (2020), Patel & Desai (2020), Cadegiani et al (2021). These were widely read (not only by emotionally-invested enthusiasts like Pierre Kory and his FLCCC), and included in meta-analyses, which were thereby swayed towards favouring the drug. Prior to Kyle Sheldrick and Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, no-one looked closely enough to see the red flags of fraud and completely made-up data. So there is no shame in initially sharing that enthusiasm. Why the authors of those early studies were so confident that less-fabricated research would support them, so they could safely fake data without fear of any close inspection, remains a mystery.
Catherine Offort at The Scientist picks up the story here. Readers will be familiar with Special Issues as a “multilevel marketing” aspect of the Frontiers business model. Malone approached Frontiers with the suggestion of a Special Issue on drug-repurposing approaches to COVID-19 (therapeutic serendipity does happen but it is not a reliable avenue to pharmaceutical success). Primarily he had papers in mind that would vindicate his wisdom in promoting famotidine. For balance he invited Kory to contribute a piece of IVM advocacy.
Readers should also be familiar with the Frontiers policy of wishing regrettable papers into the cornfield, with no explanation, nor acknowledgement that they’d ever existed. In fact they dissolve entire Research Topics with the same Orwellian erasure of the past. That damnatio memoriae happened here. Less sympathetic readers of Kory’s contribution saw all the cherry-picking and judged it to be a display of orchardry more than of impartial scholarship. The authors withdrew it, to find a friendlier home elsewhere (though not in a horticulture journal). Meanwhile the Frontiers management rejected one of Malone’s own papers, so he and his co-editors – belatedly realising that the publisher is yet another hostile work environment – disbanded the Special Issue by resigning. [Poor Frontiers. The serious scientists left, and now the unserious ones are leaving also. -LS]
Don’t worry about Malone’s rejected paper: versions are available at the preprint servers ResearchSquare and SSRN, looking for a good home. While according to his Editorial for a forthcoming issue of Digestive Diseases and Sciences, famotidine has already “gained informal acceptance worldwide due to anecdotal positive clinical responses and practicing physician referrals“. Well done Springer! This must be the ‘cancel culture’ we hear about!
Kory subsequently abandoned any pretence that large-scale data support the prescription of ivermectin. Now he ridicules the notion of relying on mere studies for treatment guidance, appealing instead to Clinical Judgement, anecdotes and Personal Testimonials as the highest grade of evidence. But this is the point where he leaves the story.
Meanwhile Malone is accepting and promulgating more and more outlandish beliefs, for he has slipped the surly bonds of consensus reality. Spike proteins as toxic? Accumulation in ovaries? Conspiracies? Why not?
It is tempting to think that Malone went over to the Dark Side for money, but he’s not selling anything AFAIK, nor crowd-sourcing donations to support spurious law-suits.
One thing I learned in a previous career is that although money, and blackmail, and ideology can all cause someone to betray their oaths to county and turn into an intelligence asset for the other side, a major risk factor is thwarted self-esteem: resentment at a perceived lack of recognition. People who feel deprived of the credit that they think they deserve will gravitate to new friends who do at least pretend to respect them sufficiently. The recruitment of HUMINT assets is all about playing on this resentment. Don’t elect a fragile narcissist to a position with access to state secrets or policy, is my passing advice to US voters.
Malone has been embraced by the far right as a result of his contrarian posture (while Kory and the FLCCC are snuggling up to sites like “Gateway Pundit”, noted for mixing far-right conspiracism with extreme stupidity). This only increases their credibility in the antivaxosphere.
I don’t know what it is about antivaxxers and inflated self-esteem. When “Inventor of E-mail” didn’t work for Shiva Ayyadurai anymore, and his career as a rightwing US politician crashed and burned, he started competing with Robert Kennedy Jnr. to be Antivaxxiest of Them All [Spoiler Alert: Shiva Ayyadurai did not invent e-mail]. I am personally the inventor of three new sex positions, but you don’t hear me going on about that accomplishment all the time.
Malone’s website is packed with other grandiose accounts in which he was central to (for instance) the defeat of Ebola fever, but I have lost interest in determining how (if at all) these relate to reality.
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