Tuesday 5 May 2020

Deadly agency nominated for award

Having written about the 'public health' racket for well over a decade, I am not easily shocked by lies and corruption, but some stories still have the capacity to knock me for six.

Yesterday, Peter A. Briss of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was nominated for a Service to America medal in the Science and Environment category. He is a finalist, and may yet win it, because he supposedly...

Identified the chemical compound in vaping products that caused life-threatening lung injuries among young adults, communicating the danger to public health and saving lives. 

In a staggering rewriting of history, we are told that the source of the disease was a 'mystery' until the CDC got to the bottom of it in November 2019:

All of these individuals vaped, inhaling an aerosol via an e-cigarette or other device, but it was a mystery to medical professionals why they suddenly were getting sick with what they would later call E-Cigarette or Vaping Use-Associated Lung Injury.

At the helm of the response was Dr. Peter Briss and a large Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team that, alongside federal and state scientists, conducted hundreds of labor-intensive studies and tests searching for clues. Within months, they discovered direct evidence that a chemical compound, vitamin E acetate, used in some vaping products, was the likely culprit in the disease. Since this discovery in November 2019, emergency room visits and deaths have decreased sharply.

And what was this discovery?

The team had a breakthrough in November 2019 when they found vitamin E acetate in vaping products containing THC, the active agent in marijuana, and, crucially, in the lungs of sick patients. Vitamin E acetate is an oily substance that was being added to THC products, and it was interfering with normal lung function in otherwise healthy people.

Indeed it was, but if the CDC discovered this in November, how could it be that a non-scientist like me, watching from the other side of the Atlantic, was writing this in early September?

The most likely culprit is Vitamin E acetate, an additive that has been used as a thickening agent on the black market since late last year. Vitamin E acetate is not safe to inhale and has been linked to lipoid pneumonia, which can be fatal. Whatever the killer chemical turns out to be, it is not nicotine.

The answer is that it was already common knowledge to anybody who was paying attention. The New York State Department of Health identified Vitamin E acetate as the problem in August.

"Our laboratory was the first to identify vitamin E acetate in vaporizer fluids recovered from pulmonary injury patients, which we promptly reported to officials of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and public health officials from numerous states via conference call and via e-mail on August 19, 2019," said David C. Spink, Ph.D., Chief of the Laboratory of Organic Analytical Chemistry at Wadsworth and corresponding author of the study.

 "Based on our work, the New York State Department of Health issued a press release on September 5, 2019 indicating that vitamin E acetate was a key focus of the Department's investigation of potential causes of vaping-associated pulmonary illnesses."

On 24 September, journalists at Leafly had discovered everything that needed to be known about the 'epidemic'. If awards are going to be dished out, there should be a Pulitzer Prize for this article telling the full story of how Vitamin E acetate got into the THC black market.

What was the CDC doing while all of this was going on? They were doing their best to shield the truth from the American public, telling them in so many words that conventional nicotine vaping was deadly. As I wrote in September...

The CDC has been the worst offender, using weasel words such as ‘e-cigarette product use’ and ‘vaping or e-cigarette use’ to describe the behavior which led to the recent deaths. When asked in a press conference how a product that has been around for a decade could suddenly cause an acute epidemic, the CDC’s Brian King suggested that the problem had been around the whole time but was only becoming visible thanks to ‘increased diligence’. He put the blame squarely on conventional e-cigarettes, saying: ’We do know that e-cigarettes do not emit a harmless aerosol. They can include a variety of potential harmful ingredients, including ingredients that are harmful in terms of pulmonary illness… we know there’s a variety of constituents in e-cigarette aerosol that could be problematic in terms of illness.’ Again, not a complete lie, but far from the truth.

The FDA was slow to wake up to the real causes of the ‘mysterious lung illness linked to vaping’, but it got there in the end. On Friday, it published a sensible warning on its website, telling Americans to ‘avoid buying vaping products on the street, and to refrain from using THC oil’. The CDC, however, simply reiterated its advice that people shouldn’t vape anything, ever.

The CDC is playing a dangerous game. When a bad batch of drugs appears on the streets of Britain, the police do not issue a general warning against taking drugs. Instead, they describe what the bad batch looks like so that drug users can avoid it. Why? Because telling people not to take drugs doesn’t work. Telling people to avoid a particular bunch of green Ecstasy pills does. By the same token, the CDC’s policy of telling people not to vape is not only a tacit instruction to smokers to keep smoking, but is a less effective way of tackling the current spate of hospitalizations than telling people to steer clear of black market THC cartridges.

It wasn't until January 2020 that the agency finally withdrew its advice for everyone to stop vaping and accepted that illegal THC cartridges were the problem.

The CDC's misinformation last autumn almost certainly killed people. The idea that anyone at the agency be rewarded for their response is a sick joke.


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