Readers of TCW will be familiar with Neville Hodgkinson’s critical reporting of the ‘Covid crisis’ since December 2020, notably his expert, science-based informed alarm about the mass ‘vaccine’ rollout, so absent from mainstream coverage. What they may be less aware of is the international storm this former Sunday Times medical and science correspondent created in the 1990s by reporting a scientific challenge to the ‘HIV’ theory of Aids, presaging the hostile response to science critics of Covid today. In this series, written exclusively for TCW, he details findings that form the substance of his newly updated and expanded book, How HIV/Aids Set the Stage for the Covid Crisis, on the controversy. It is available here. You can read Part 1 of this series here, Part 2 here, Part 3, Part 4 here and Part 5 here.
COVID has shown how the scientific and medical professions, which have done so much to improve our lives, can go badly off track when fear, and big money, come into play. Most doctors failed to resist lockdowns and vaccines, despite the violation of research and medical ethics on an unprecedented scale. Thanks to the internet, groups such as HART and many individual health professionals were able to register their protests, but still about two-thirds of the global population took a Covid vaccine which was neither safe nor effective. Around the world, concerned individuals are asking how such a disaster could have happened and how it may be prevented from happening again.
These developments have increased the relevance and importance of a long-neglected scientific challenge to the very existence of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the purported cause of Aids. Acceptance of the HIV theory of Aids 40 years ago brought a goldmine for the medical research community and pharmaceutical industry, generating hundreds of billions of dollars for trials and treatments. This flood of money also brought advances in molecular biology that contributed to the creation of the genetically engineered Covid virus, SARS-CoV-2, and the mRNA gene therapy technology on which most Covid vaccines are based.
Yet a vaccine against HIV that in 1984 was promised to be available within two years is still not on the horizon. That is after more than 250 failed trials – and still the funds are flowing. Also, despite drugs that can support patients with genuine immune deficiency, there is no cure for the purported HIV infection. ‘Anti-HIV’ drugs, now also marketed as a supposed preventive against infection, often prove toxic when taken for long periods. Lawsuits over resulting kidney and bone damage have been lodged by thousands of patients across America.
After four decades, might these failures indicate that the most studied infectious agent in history is an emperor with no clothes? That is the view of a group of scientists based in Perth, Western Australia, on whose work this series is based.
Contrary to what nearly everyone believes, public health experts knew from the start that the HIV test could not be used to diagnose Aids. This was because the proteins used in the test were not obtained from purified virus particles. It meant that the antibodies the test purports to detect were never shown to specify the presence of a new virus. But the experts, meeting under the auspices of the World Health Organization in 1986, put their reservations on one side. The HIV wagon was on a roll and it was considered ‘just not practical’ to stop it. The theory suited so many purposes that it became a fact without the data to support it.
The same uncritical acceptance greeted claims by the HIV pioneers Luc Montagnier and Robert Gallo to have sequenced a full-length genome for the virus. That, surely, meant HIV was no figment of the imagination? And yet, according to a case painstakingly assembled by the Perth group, the genome claims were just as ill-founded as those for the antibody test.
Our bodies teem with genetic activity, responding to the demands of life. Levels of activity vary within cells, and in communications between them. Genes code for proteins, and when production of a particular protein needs to be increased, such as for tissue repair or to fight disease, tiny structures called exosomes carrying specific coded instructions, both as RNA and DNA, are generated by cells.
When cells break down, a ‘soup’ of genetic material may be released. Failure to recognise these confounding factors, or to have valid controls in place to make sure the laboratory work was not producing misleading results, contributed to the construction of the ‘deadly new virus’ story.
HIV is claimed to be a retrovirus, a microbe that inserts a DNA copy of its RNA genome into the DNA of a host cell. To prove that a fragment of RNA is the genome of a retrovirus, it must be distinguished from other genetic material by showing that it originates from a retroviral particle. Yet, as previously described, with ‘HIV’ no such particles have ever been demonstrated to exist.
Genetic sequences that Gallo and Montagnier took to be the virus’s genome were of a type called messenger RNA (mRNA), identifiable through a ‘tail’ comprised entirely of the nucleotide adenine, one of the four building blocks of the genetic code. Gallo and colleagues maintained that finding these sequences, known as poly (A) RNA, meant finding a retrovirus, but once again, that was a false assumption. Poly (A) RNA is non-specific. Cells use it as an intermediate between DNA and the production of proteins, and fragments of it appear in a centrifugation process used to try to purify retrovirus particles, ‘banding’ at the same density.
This is why it is so important to use electron microscopy to show that particles with the characteristics of a retrovirus are clearly present in the banded material. The Perth scientists say that since no one has achieved that, then or since, there is no way of identifying ‘HIV’ proteins and genome and determining their roles and properties. Nowhere in the scientific literature is there proof of the existence of the HIV genome based on extraction of RNA from purified retroviral particles.
Gallo’s work was suspect from the start, as a two-year Office of Scientific Integrity investigation into his laboratory practices found. A cell line which he claimed to have infected with HIV was not exposed to material from an individual Aids patient, but to culture fluids from first three and ultimately from ten patients. The inquiry found this to be ‘of dubious scientific rigour’ (one scientist called it ‘really crazy’). Nevertheless, it formed part of the sequence of events that led to the construction and acceptance of the theory that a new virus had been identified as the cause of Aids, a theory whose reverberations are still affecting millions today.
Segments of the purported HIV genome can be detected through amplification with the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, and are often wrongly used to confirm an ‘HIV’ diagnosis. The segments vary by as much as 30-50 per cent (compared with less than two per cent between the human and chimpanzee genomes). This huge variability is much more consistent with the sequences being newly generated within abnormally stimulated cells than from a virus for which no researcher has ever published proof of purification.
The abnormal stimulus can come from chemicals used on cells in the laboratory, or from the many agents, chemical and biological, to which Aids patients or those at risk of Aids are liable to be exposed. The common factor is the ‘shock’ to the cells (a term used by Nobel laureate geneticist Barbara McClintock for stimuli that rearrange DNA), not the common presence of a mythical virus. This interpretation is supported by the finding of so-called ‘HIV’ sequences from tumour tissue in several types of cancer.
It means that an army of people around the world are testing for a virus never proved to exist, using proteins and genetic sequences often originating from normal (albeit abnormally stimulated) cells.
Countless articles and letters in which the Perth scientists tried to convey this critique were rejected, over many years, by scientific and medical journals. In February 2003, however, a paper published in the British Medical Journal sparked an intensive, 26-month-long online correspondence, involving 842 postings, in which it looked as though the group might at last be heard.
Several exchanges were with Brian Foley, custodian of an HIV database at Los Alamos, New Mexico, who ultimately agreed that RNA selected by Gallo was the basis for what is considered to be the HIV genome, and that it was of a type not specific to retroviruses. He also agreed that it originated from the centrifugation density band used to look for retroviruses, and that there was no proof the band contained actual virus particles. Nevertheless, Foley insisted Gallo’s RNA should be seen as the HIV genome. His grounds for doing so were that when a copy (‘molecular clone’) of the RNA was introduced into a cell culture, it resulted in the production of infectious retrovirus particles with the same appearance and constituents as the parent virus.
But when pressed to cite papers proving the existence of such a sequence of events, he was unable to do so. ‘When we asked for proof for the existence of such an HIV infectious molecular clone he responded with a long list of papers. Although the titles of these papers included the phrase “infectious molecular clone” no such evidence could be found in any of them,’ the Perth scientists wrote.
In what was to be their last posting, they repeated their request: ‘Would Brian Foley please give us a summary of the evidence (not just the title) of a study as well as the evidence from a few confirmatory studies where the existence of an “infectious molecular clone” (as defined by Brian Foley) of “HIV-1” has been proven. If Brian Foley fails to respond with his summaries and references then we must conclude his whole argument for the existence of “HIV-1”, based upon the existence of the “HIV-1 infectious molecular clone”, collapses.’
At that point, instead of giving the proof requested according to his own criteria, Foley and two other prominent ‘HIV’ advocates, Simon Wain-Hobson and John Moore, put pressure on Richard Smith, the BMJ editor, to stop the debate. They did this through a letter of complaint about it to the science journal Nature, which over many years had rejected numerous Perth group submissions.
To his credit, Smith resisted, writing: ‘I find it disturbing to see scientists arguing for restriction on free speech. Surely open communication and argument is a fundamental value of science . . . We should never forget Galileo being put before the inquisition. It would be even worse if we allowed scientific orthodoxy to become the inquisition.’
Moore, a specialist in Aids vaccine development, responded: ‘The denialists crave respectability for their maverick opinions, and anything that energises them to continue their efforts to damage science and public health is to be deplored. Let them exercise their right to free speech on their own websites, not on one run by a respected medical journal.’
Soon afterwards, Smith resigned – for unrelated reasons, he has since told me – and in April 2005 the BMJ’s letters editor terminated the debate.
The reality is that construction of the HIV theory was riddled with errors, but once it became established, no one wanted to bring it down. The late Kary Mullis, who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for inventing the polymerase chain reaction, once asked: ‘Where is the research that says HIV is the cause of Aids? There are 10,000 people in the world now who specialise in HIV. None has any
interest in the possibility HIV doesn’t cause Aids because if it doesn’t,
their expertise is useless . . . I can’t find a single virologist who will
give me references which show that HIV is the probable cause of Aids. If you ask a virologist for that information, you don’t get an answer, you get fury.’
Similar pressures are at work currently, as the scientific establishment tries to maintain funding for pandemic preparedness (see here, here and here, for example) by covering up the laboratory origin of SARS-CoV-2, by failing to acknowledge deaths and injuries from the Covid vaccines, and by ridiculing as ‘conspiracy theorists’ those who challenge their stories.
This is not science: it is institutional self-interest. With both ‘HIV’/Aids and Covid, it is causing vast suffering. The World Health Organization has been a party to these deceptions, and yet is seeking even more power (see here and here).
Is there any other body capable of providing ethical oversight of medical science? How can we best protect ourselves against such failings in future?
Next: A challenge we all face