Transcription – English – Dr. Steven Pelech

22. Dr. Steven Pelech.mp4: Video automatically transcribed by Sonix

22. Dr. Steven Pelech.mp4: this mp4 video file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
So I'm a professor at the University of British Columbia. I'm also the president of Nexus Bioinformatics. And so we have been undergoing a clinical trial to look at people who have had COVID, as well as the general population in terms of whether or not they have antibodies that recognize the virus. We've been working for about two years on this, a little actually a little over two years. We've looked at blood samples from about 3600 people, primarily in British Columbia and also in Ontario in particular. And we've come to the conclusion that about 90%, nine 0% of the people that we've tested have natural immunity. And we developed a very sensitive test that tracks, I guess, about originally 16 of the SARS-CoV-2 proteins. There's actually 28 in the virus. When people are vaccinated, they're actually making antibodies against just one of those proteins, the spike protein. So with our tests, we're monitoring the Nucleocapsid and many of the other proteins. And there's been a number of studies across the country to evaluate the extent of natural immunity. And one of the studies, the ABC study concluded, if you look last fall, that maybe about 5 to 6% of Canadians had natural immunity. With our own studies, we were actually getting closer to 90%. Since then, other organizations such as Ichor Blood Services have determined, even in places like Northern Alberta and La Crete, that of people who were unvaccinated.

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
They found that 89% of them had antibodies against the spike protein. Other studies have looked at the NUCLEOCAPSID protein as a surrogate marker for the natural immunity. And recently the Canadian Immunity Task Force has determined that up to 40% of Canadians actually got infected with the the Omicron strain. And this is partly from a study that was done by Canadian Blood Services. So as we start to look around, as more data comes out, it's very clear that natural immunity is extensive throughout the country and other countries like the United Kingdom, for example, where they tested and found that 97% of high school kids actually had natural immunity as about 63% of elementary school children. So the extent of natural immunity is really quite prevalent throughout our society two and one half years into the pandemic. On top of that, the when we take a look at the the how does the people who've been vaccinated. Do they have natural beauty? And we found that almost everybody that we've tested that's been vaccinated already has antibodies against the other virus proteins. So either they were already infected and had natural immunity and then got vaccinated or after they were vaccinated they got COVID. And as we know from the last few months, since Christmastime, in fact, whether you are unvaccinated or vaccinated, you you could still get actually COVID 19.

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
We found that the degree of infectivity was the same, the viral load. We also found that the duration of time that people were sick was pretty much the same between unvaccinated and vaccinated people. So then the real question is, well, how how protective is natural immunity once you've actually been exposed to the virus? And in fact, most of the young people that are exposed to the virus had no idea that they actually had been infected and have natural immunity. So the question is, well, how does that natural immunity stand up over time and your likelihood to get reinfected? And we've all heard that, well, if you're vaccinated, yes, you can still get it. You can still transmit it, but you're going to be much more mild in your symptoms and less chances of it being severe. Well, if people already have natural immunity, then I firmly feel myself that the reason why we're seeing more cases which are more mild, the Omicron seems to produce less hospitalization for the number of people that are infected. Then, in fact, I think the natural immunity is accounting for much of the the resistance that we're seeing the population to not developing more severe COVID and hospitalizations and deaths. And in fact, when we look at the data from, for example, British Columbia and we looked at 14% of our population that is unvaccinated, we find that they account for between 7 to 9% of the deaths of COVID in 2020 to 2022.

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
So you actually when you start looking carefully at the epidemiology data, even accounting for the the rate per capita, that means that when you have two groups being compared, you're you're you're accommodating for the difference in size of those groups. So per capita per 100,000 people, we're actually finding now that that certainly people who are. Unvaccinated are not that much different from people who actually have been vaccinated. Now, the problem with the vaccination is it doesn't last. And this is the reason why we have to have repeated vaccinations of people that were double vaccinated, basically have no protection, and now they have to be triple vaccinated. And we know from studies in Israel that that triple vaccination, again, is limited in duration, maybe 3 to 4 months of protection. So you're on a program for constant vaccination. Now, the concern is, is, well, if most of our population has already been vaccinated, so it has been natural immunity and they're vaccinated. How does the vaccine work on individuals that already have natural immunity? And this has been explored. And one study that came out of Israel basically observed that if you were. Previously you had immunity because of a COVID 19 infection before, and then you got vaccinated.

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
And then they looked at the Nucleocapsid protein, which would be a marker of the natural immunity. What they found was that only about 40% of the participants actually had nucleocapsid antibodies, whereas people that had not been vaccinated, then they got COVID. They found that 93% of those people had nucleocapsid antibodies. And in our studies, we find that the nucleocapsid when we look at people who have had COVID, we find that actually half of them don't have nucleocapsid antibodies. They have antibodies against many of the other proteins. So so what it means to me is that actually the evidence is starting to mount that by continuous immunization we may in fact be reducing the immunity of people that already even had natural immunity, and that will make them more likely to get infected. We already know that, that when we look at the population that's unvaccinated, the population that's vaccinated and we look at COVID cases, there's about 2 to 3 times more COVID cases per capita amongst the vaccinated population. So this is of concern. We may, in fact be driving future waves of the pandemic and also other variants by continually to use leaky vaccines that don't actually stop the person from getting infected and being transmissible. Now, why are the two comparable? Well, when you're vaccinated, you're making antibodies against this spike protein. When you have natural immunity, you're making antibodies against the whole virus.

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
Secondly, we know with natural immunity, you establish immune memory. In our studies, we find that people, even two years after they've had COVID 19 and no vaccinations, that they have very strong antibody responses that we can still measure. And even if the antibody levels go down in people, you have what's called the cells that produced these antibodies, B cells, they form memory B cells or plasma B cells, and they kick into action when you get re infected with the virus. But the reason why these antibody levels are maintained in peoples, because they're constantly being re exposed to the virus during the pandemic and it keeps their antibody levels up. The third thing, and this is probably the reason why people who are vaccinated can still transmit the disease, is that the antibodies that you generate, they're of a class we call IgG antibodies and these are produced and they're in your blood and throughout your body and they're very protective, but they're low concentrations in your upper airways and upper lungs, where with this respiratory virus you're breathing it in and it's able to replicate and leave that person. And that's why they're still infectious. When you have a natural infection, the kind of antibodies you produce are at the site of the infection, first in the upper airways and lungs, and you produce IgG and IgG antibodies.

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
And these are secreted into those spaces and they offer much better protection for people than from the IgG antibodies, which are low concentrations in those regions. So for a variety of reasons, we can understand now why the natural immunity is in fact works. Well, we can see in the waves, for example, in India where they had about three, 400,000 deaths in May and June of last year, but it just dropped when less than 15% of the public was actually vaccinated in that country. And that's showing, again, the the it's attributed to either natural immunity working well or ivermectin or some combination of the both, because that's what was used to treat these people. So that's sort of give you a quick overview of where things are at with natural immunity, how it's actually already here. People are actually quite well protected from this. The natural immunity that we have is very good against future variants of the virus. Even Omicron is 97% identical to the original Wuhan strain for the spike protein. And when people are making antibodies, they're making against many different antibodies, against different parts of these viral proteins. So every mutation was in one of those places. You're still going to have 97% of your protection. So that's sort of where we're at now. And I'd be happy to answer some questions from the panel.

Trish Wood:
Well, that talk really explains a lot of the data that we're seeing now, the kind of inexplicable data coming out of hospitals showing who is getting repeated, repeated COVID infections. But I want to throw it to the panel and I'm sure they've got tons of questions for you.

Preston Manning:
Yeah. Thank you very much for that explanation, which is intelligible to laymen, even to politicians. Thank you for that. But my question is, if the evidence and effectiveness of natural immunity had been recognized and acknowledged earlier, what difference would that have made to the health protection measures that were eventually adopted?

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
Well, we tend to test whether a person is actively infected, and that would be through the PCR test initially. And but because it takes a long time to do a PCR test, then we went to rapid antigen testing, which is monitoring the presence of the NUCLEOCAPSID protein or sometimes the spike protein. So that tells when a person might be infected. But we know that that with a rapid antigen test, the first few days of being infected, you you actually would test negative. And even two weeks after you've been tested, recovered from COVID, you could still get positive results, especially with the PCR test. So we should have been testing instead for the level of antibodies that the general a person might have. If they have high antibody levels, then really it's not necessary to do this kind of daily testing. As in some industries have happened with the rapid antigen testing. We would have a better sense that who's really at risk? So we can focus our energies in terms of of prophylactic treatments if possible, or at least maybe they should be immunized. So I'm not against vaccination of of people. I think you have to balance the risk of if you've already had COVID or if you're in an age group like young children, which even if they get COVID for the first time, they're likely to be less affected.

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
I mean, it's it's dramatic. The difference is the elderly is a different story. And they're if they have co-morbidities, if they're very elderly, there, you can make a case that maybe it's worth vaccinating these people even with the risks that the vaccines pose to individuals. So I think the strategy of of dealing with the management of disease, we should have probably have let natural immunity take its course in the bulk of our population, which is what the Great Barrington Declaration, where they have, I guess, over 50,000 medical doctors and scientists have called for this. We I think a lot of people that are doing immunology research recognize the real potential lasting power of natural immunity. And that should have been acknowledged right off the bat when we were talking about vaccine passports. Instead, these immunity passports were really just immunity to go out and spread the virus versus protection from the virus itself.

Preston Manning:
And is there a forum or should there be a forum where like the arguments that you've made or the the research that you've made could have been presented at the policy level earlier. So it became one of the options or one of the things that the government had to take into account in developing its its approach. Is there is there a regulatory forum or is there some kind of arena, you know, other than, you know, scientists publishing papers and hoping somebody picks it up? Is there a formal arena or should there be an arena where those kind of arguments could be made at the front end?

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
Yes. Well, I'm part of a network of research scientists across the country in Cancun. It and so some of us are presenting our data. I've not been asked to present my data, but the ABC study did. And based on their presentation, I think, as I said, that probably informed Government as to the extent of natural immunity. They concluded it was down around five or 6% at the time and that didn't factor into their equation. Well, is it worth testing people of very few people of natural immunity? But in fact, it's very clear that that's not the situation today. The data is very strong. I think if early on we had tested for natural immunity or at least put more resources into supporting research to do better tests, my company went and we applied to a variety of different organizations. I won't name them for funding to do this, and in the end, our letters of intent weren't even considered. And so what we ended up doing was funding it ourselves for a while. And now the people that have been in our trial are actually helping to support the costs of conducting that trial. And I think we should have had a much better effort at the level of the regulatory agencies and the health research foundations to support a stronger examination of natural immunity and how to best create that with our with our vaccines. It's just focused on one protein of the virus. And clearly there's other really good targets. In fact, the membrane protein of the virus, which is also on its surface, is actually the best marker that we have for detecting antibodies against that protein that in fact, a person's been infected.

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
And so any antibodies that target the outside of the virus are actually going to provide protection to you. And this is one of the shortcomings of testing that we're doing now. We talk about neutralisation antibodies, and so not even testing the level of an antibody itself anymore. What they're doing is they have tests. We have constructs of of a lentivirus, another virus that you put on the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And then you add the blood from a person to the culture medium with cells and see whether or not these cells will die because they're able to get inside those cells if the spike protein can bind to the surface of those cells to gain entry of those cells. So when you add just straight blood, what you're getting is you're adding antibodies. And the assumption is that it binds to this receptor binding domain of the spike protein and interferes with that. And so all the research and reports tend to focus now on neutralizing antibodies. But the problem is that most of the mutations, the critics, some of the critical ones that are occurring in Omicron, for example, to make it more infectious, is improving that that binding. But your your antibodies that you're getting from your vaccines are all against the original strain. So those antibodies don't work. And many companies early on developed antibodies that target specifically the receptor binding domain monoclonal antibodies. And of course, they were all for the original Wuhan strain. So they actually don't work very well on the variant that we have now. So all that development of monoclonal antibodies for therapy, it turns out to be very, almost useless. Those those products now.

Preston Manning:
Thank you.

David Ross:
So in the interests of full disclosure, I do want to say that Dr. Pelech is is chair of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee for Canadian Cove at Caroline's. And. And really, Dr. Pelech, thank you very, very much. It's an honor for me to to work with you in this volunteer organization that we have across the country. Dr. Pelech is representative of of the many dozens of of courageous independent scientists who are willing to to present the evidence and actually to debate the evidence. There hasn't been much debate because it generally takes two people to debate. And the other side really hasn't hasn't showed up for debates, but they have been on TV. So. Anyway, I do want to thank Dr. Pelech for his leadership and for the team of scientists that he leads for Canadian COVID Care Alliance and really for for all Canadians.

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
So I will comment, David, that we are actually doing that debate and the debate is in the courts. And so we have the expert witnesses that are actually from the crown in many of these cases. Good. And we have our own expert witnesses. And my sense of it is actually, I'm not that impressed personally by the arguments that were presented by their experts. That has not really justified the actions that have been taken so far by government regulatory authorities.

Trish Wood:
I just want to say to that. Preston was asking about whether or not the discussions are on natural immunity happen within the regulators at the beginning. And just to say my recollection, I'm sure yours is too is that natural immunity was actually pooh poohed originally. Yeah, the World Health Organization was saying, no, no, we don't want to talk about that. The news media was dumping on it. The Great Barrington Docs were pilloried by some of their scientific colleagues and and ordered to be discounted by Tony Fauci and emails that came out later. So nobody wanted to talk about this at the beginning, did they?

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
No. And in fact, my colleagues, when I asked them about the natural beauty we found with our tests early on, even in the first wave in in around May of March to May of of 2020 that we were seeing and we published this in in in peer reviewed journal for the American Association of Clinical Investigators, JCI Insights that 90% of about 276 healthy adults that we had tested. Half of them were health care workers, had clear evidence of antibodies that recognized multiple proteins in the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself. Now, whether that came from a little bit of previous immunity to related viruses or whether that was from the actual infection of SARS-CoV-2 itself was unclear at the time. It's now become clear to me because I've tested more than ten times that number of people, and it's very clear that people were infected with SARS-CoV-2 and they had antibodies against that virus at the time. And the problem was that the tests that were available early on were very insensitive and they're very specific for just the two proteins, the nucleocapsid and the spike protein. So as we have much better tests, it became much more obvious what was actually going on. But based on on those poor original tests. It was rapidly discounted, which was very natural. And that's very surprising because anybody who studies immunology recognizes just how effective natural immunity actually is. There's nothing that's better than that. I don't think any vaccine can approximate the immune response that you're going to generate from the actual virus itself versus a component in the virus. So this is this is where I'm very surprised that we we put so much faith into these particular vaccines that were very focused. Other vaccines work quite well because they often use the whole virus. It might be heat treated and inactive or it could be weakened. And that's usually the kind of vaccines that we give to people that provides this kind of lasting immunity for years, sometimes for decades.

Trish Wood:
Okay, Dr. Pelech, thanks so much. Very, very enlightening.

Dr. Stephen Pelech:
Thank you.

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