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May 28, 2024 Agency Capture Health Conditions News

Drugs/Vaccines

NIH-Funded Scientists Develop mRNA Bird Flu Vaccine ‘to Prevent Human Infections’

The two University of Pennsylvania scientists are co-inventors on patents for using mRNA technology as a vaccine platform. One of the scientists also receives money for consulting services from several pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Merck.

Federally funded researchers have developed an experimental mRNA H5N1 bird flu vaccine that they said is “highly effective” in preventing severe illness and death in infected lab animals.

According to a University of Pennsylvania press release, the vaccine “could potentially help manage the outbreak of the H5N1 virus currently circulating in birds and cattle in the United States, and prevent human infections with the virus.”

The news comes as the U.S. and European nations consider vaccinating workers deemed as at risk for contracting bird flu.

The researchers — who on May 23 published their results in Nature Communications — reported their mRNA lipid nanoparticle vaccine elicited “strong” T cell and antibody responses in female mice infected with H5N1.

They also said their vaccine produced an immune response in male ferrets and prevented death.

U.S. News and World Report and other media outlets reported on the study, which was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Robert Malone — an early pioneer of mRNA vaccines technology and an outspoken critic of U.S. federal biomedical corruption during the COVID-19 pandemic — called the news coverage of the study “investor hype” and “fear porn.”

“There’s no evidence of human-to-human transmission of H5N1,” Malone told The Defender.

Malone said the researchers would need to show that there’s a “reasonable facsimile” between ferrets and humans to claim the vaccine can prevent severe illness and death in humans.

The likelihood of people getting H5N1 is very small, Malone said. “The thing is, it doesn’t readily infect humans.”

Only those who are immunocompromised or who slaughtered an infected waterfowl might be at risk of transmission, he said, so H5N1 is being “used to instill fear” in the public to generate federal funding for H5N1 vaccine research.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of evidence that the lead researchers have clear conflicts of interest, Malone said. “They absolutely stand to profit” from their experimental bird flu vaccine.

Scott Hensley, Ph.D. and Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D. at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania — who led the research — are listed as co-inventors on patents for mRNA vaccine technologies.

They’ll likely receive royalties payments, Malone said. “It’s similar to how [Dr. Anthony] Fauci gets money from his royalties.”

Malone said the Bayh-Dole Act, passed in 1980, incentivized U.S. universities and their faculty members to patent federally funded research — so it’s common for university researchers to develop something they believe to be patentable. “They disclose it [their discovery] to the university and the university files the patent.”

The patent’s terms and conditions typically say that the money from the license gets split between the university, the school or department chair and the researchers, according to Malone.

Hensley is a paid consultant for Pfizer, Merck, Lumen, Novavax and Sanofi.

Hensley did not immediately respond to The Defender’s questions about his research and consulting fees from pharmaceutical companies.

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U Penn is a ‘pharma R & D’

The University of Pennsylvania is a $11.1 billion enterprise, according to its press release.

Malone referred to the school as a “pharma R & D” because of how much of its efforts focus on researching and developing pharmaceutical technologies.

Much of the school’s money comes from the pharmaceutical industry, which pays to use patents held by the university, he said. “Penn is sitting on royalty cash from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.”

Weissman, who has been at the university since 1997, was one of the two scientists awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discoveries that enabled the modified mRNA technology used in Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines.

The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania did not immediately respond to The Defender’s request for comment.

Fox News today reported that the U.S. is in talks with Pfizer and Moderna about developing an mRNA H5N1 bird flu vaccine to protect poultry and dairy workers from a potential pandemic threat.

Dawn O’Connell of the U.S. Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response told Fox News the government is “looking closely” at the possibility of vaccinating farm workers and others in close contact with the virus.

Earlier this month, O’Connell told NBC News that an mRNA bird flu vaccine could be quicker to manufacture than a non-mRNA bird flu vaccine because “you can switch in and switch out the genetic sequencing very easily.”

Bill Gates has been a long-time funder of mRNA vaccine research.

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