If you’re vaccinated, you’ll be glad to know that the Covid vaccines will not make you glow in the dark. Or else you’ll be disappointed. How you feel about it is up to you, but the reality remains unchanged.
I mention this because Newsmax’s White House correspondent tweeted that “the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends.”
The last book of the New Testament? When’s it due out? I’ll pre-order it and get back to you with a spoiler as soon as I have it in my non-glowing paws.
In the meantime, though, let’s talk about luciferase, which does exist, isn’t scary, and doesn’t need capital letters. It’s the stuff that makes fireflies glow at night. And (because we can’t take anything for granted anymore) they glowed well before Covid vaccines were created.
Is luciferase in any of the Covid vaccines? No, but it is used in labs–and again, and was well before any of us put the letters C, O, V, I, and D together in that order.
Let’s turn to Axandra Becker for an explanation of what scientists at the Texas Medical Center did with the stuff earlier in the pandemic–and let’s switch to the past tense to do it: It was used to “develop faster and more accurate diagnostic tests for Covid-19 as well as to analyze potential therapies and gain a clearer understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself.”
They inserted luciferase into the genomes of the Covid, Zika, and West Nile viruses. That produced light, which made it easier to track where they (I believe that’s the viruses we’re talking about) went in a cell culture, along with what they’re reading and what they do on social media.
Okay, I’m filling in a bit where the explanation of the tracking went wavery. All it said was that they could track what was happening in them.
Admit it, my version’s more fun.
What’s any of this got to do with Lucifer? Because we can’t take anything for granted, we’ll start on the ground up and work our way up. Lucifer’s the antagonist who makes sure that there’s a market for that forthcoming book of New Testament, because without tension, no one can keep a plot rolling for that many pages and through two testaments, and antagonists are a cheap and easy way to create tension. If you open with “And God created the world and everything was nice from there on,” you have a short book.
Lucifer’s name comes from the Latin for bringer or light, or morning star, so when scientists isolated the stuff that makes fireflies (and a few other lucky creatures) glow, some clever devil named it luciferase.
Okay, we’re done with the name, now let’s go back to the vaccines: There’s no luciferase in them. None. Zero. It was used in research only. I’m multiply vaccinated and even in this post-truth era of ours I still can’t see my arm after I turn off the light. No matter what religion you do or don’t adhere to, you can get your vaccine safe in the knowledge that Lucifer–whether you believe in him or not–is not in it.
And you’ll still need a light source other than your own lovely self if you want to read in bed.
“A disease of the unvaccinated”
A doctor who writes as the Secret Consultant (consultant is British for a senior hospital-based doctor) says that although some vaccinated people are hospitalized with Covid, they tend to be elderly or frail or have underlying health problems. In Britain, an unlucky few otherwise healthy people will be hospitalized briefly on the general wards, but in the intensive care unit, “The patient population consists of a few vulnerable people with severe underlying health problems and a majority of fit, healthy, younger people unvaccinated by choice.”
None of them glow in the dark. Do you have any idea how helpful it would be if they did?
An update on needleless vaccination
Assorted groups of scientists are working on ways to deliver vaccines without using needles. One group’s working on a Covid vaccine in pill form. A trial has been approved in South Africa and will start enrolling people any day now–if it hasn’t started already.
A second approach uses a patch with spikes so tiny you can’t actually see them. These deliver the vaccine into the skin, not the muscle, which turns out to be an advantage. Muscle tissue is–well, think of it as a semi-arid zone as far as immune cells are concerned. You won’t find many of them there. Skin, on the other hand, goes into high alert when you bother it with a bunch of teeny tiny needles. The immune system wakes up, asks, “Did you need something from me?” and sends out messengers, who quickly learn to fight what looks like an invading army.
But patches have other advantages as well:
- They use less vaccine than a needle.
- Babies don’t scream when they’re vaccinated–or if they do it’s for some other reason.
- The vaccine in patches is stable at room temperature and keeps for longer than the stuff used for needles.
- Anyone who can find one arm with the other one could use them. That means you could stick the patches in the mail for people to use at home.
One version of the patch has been tried on mice. Other versions–well, I don’t know what stage they’re at. The problem at the moment seems to be how to produce them in large enough quantities.
Scientists working at assorted universities and institutes in India have found an antibiotic that also works as an antiviral by messing with Covid’s ability to replicate.
But let’s not pretend that I can explain how it works. The best I can do is try to scare you with phrases like “amino acids . . . present in the ‘finger’ subdomain of the nsp12 protein” and “the viral protein’s ‘palm’ subdomain cavity and the linear form of Kannurin.”
What matters is that “this approach could help us address the pandemic threat when yet another novel coronavirus emerges and medicine needs new pharmaceutical treatments ahead of the development of a suitable and widely available vaccine.”
It’s good to know that, however screwed up humanity is, we have people among us who can figure this stuff out.
Why you should take candy from strangers
A test group of 3,000 people will be sent a piece of colorless hard candy every day for 90 days. They’ll sniff it and eat it and then log onto an app to report what flavor it is and how sweet or sour it is. If the app notices any drop in drop-off in their sense of smell or taste, it will tell them to quarantine and get a Covid test.
The goal is to see if this is a way to spot Covid in otherwise asymptomatic people.
How does Britain fight Covid?
Why, by pissing money out the window, that’s how.
Okay, that’s not entirely fair. It got a vaccination program rolling early and that’s been reasonably successful, although the government followed that up by encouraging us all to run out and infect each other, since, what the hell, we’re mostly vaccinated.
Except for the people who aren’t. Or are too frail for the vaccines to spark a good immune response. But that’s okay, because compassion’s not a big thing lately so we don’ thave to care.
But let’s go back to the money: We’re in the midst of a sleaze-valanche, and every few days we get more news about conflicts of interest and politicians giving lucrative favors to friends and donors.
Now comes the news that we’re spending roughly £1 million a day on consultants for the test and trace system.
Those aren’t consultants as in very senior doctors. Those are consultants as in the outsiders who fly into an organization, look important, and charge a lot of money for it. They may perform priceless services. They play Tetris all day. I wouldn’t know. Either way, they do charge lots of money. On average, test and trace is paying £1,000 a day (and in a pinch a person could probably live on that), but some are making as much as £6,000 a day. In September, test and trace had one consultant wandering the halls (or working from home–again, I wouldn’t know) for every civil servant doing the same.
A year ago, it was going to reduce the ratio to 60%, although I’m not sure which side of the balance was 60 and which was 40. It doesn’t matter, though, since it didn’t happen.
What’s the country gotten for its money? Let’s fall back on the House of Commons spending watchdog, which said test and trace hadn’t achieved its main objective, which was to cut infection levels and help the country return to normal.
So as of earlier this fall, it had spent £37 billion in the process of failing to meet its objective. I wouldn’t mention that–I mean, what’s a few billion pounds between friends?–except that I mention the government’s incompetence so much that I thought I’d give you a quick sample of what I’m talking about.