Yeadon former Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of pharma giant Pfizer for 16 years. Also a successful entrepreneur, the founder of a biotech company which was acquired by Novartis… plus biological sciences Double First with Honours, and research based PhD in mechanisms of drug action
“In this exclusive film, former Pfizer Vice President Mike Yeadon discusses his thoughts as to why the lockdown was a mistake, and why the government strategies to manage the pandemic are only making things worse.”
Machine-Generated Transcript (to be cleaned by human)
“My name is Dr Michael Yeadon. My original training was a first-class honours degree in biochemistry and toxicology, followed by a research-based PhD into respiratory pharmacology, and after that I’ve worked my entire life on the research side of the pharmaceutical industry, both big pharma and also biotech. My specific focus has been inflammation, immunology, allergy in the context of respiratory diseases, so the lung, but also the skin. So I would say I’m a kind of a deeply experienced inflammation, immunology, pulmonology kind of research person.
I initially became concerned about our response to the coronavirus pandemic towards the middle or back end of April, as early as that. It had become clear that if you look at the number of daily deaths versus the date, the pandemic had turned really pleasingly already. The wave was fundamentally over and we would just watch it fall for a number of months – which is what it did.
And so I became very perturbed about increasing restrictions on the behavior and movement of people in my country, and I could see no reason for it then and I still don’t.
Government’s response to emergencies is guided by the scientific group who sit together under the Strategic Advisory Group for Emergencies or SAGE, so they should provide scientific advice to the government about what’s appropriate to do. SAGE has got several fundamental things wrong and that has led to advice that’s inappropriate and not only has had horrible economic effects, but has had continuing medical effects in that people are no longer being treated properly.
SAGE took the view that since SARS-CoV-2 was a new virus, that they believed there wouldn’t be any immunity at all in the population. So I think that’s the first thing. I remember hearing that, and I puzzled. Because I already knew, because I read the scientific literature, that SARS-CoV-2 was 80% similar to another virus you may have heard of, called SARS, that moved around the world a bit in 2003. And more than that, it’s quite similar in pieces of it to common cold causing coronaviruses. So when I heard that there was this coronavirus moving across the world, Ii wasn’t as worried as perhaps other people were because I figured that since there are four common cold causing coronaviruses, I figured that quite a lot of population, we’ve been exposed to one of those viruses, and would probably have a perhaps substantial protective immunity.
And just to explain why I was so confident. Everybody knows the story of Edward Jenner and vaccination, and the story of cowpox and smallpox, and that this old story was that milkmaids had very clear complexions. They never suffered from things like smallpox. That if it didn’t kill you, it would leave your skin permanently scarred. And the reason that they had the protection was that they were exposed to a more benign related virus, called cowpox. Edward Jenner came up with the idea that if it’s cowpox that saves the fair maid, he reasoned that if he could give another person an exposure to the cowpox, he would be able to protect them from smallpox. Now he did an experiment that you can’t do now, and he never should have done it. (But apocryphally or really or maybe you’re ill we’re not sure 3:37 XXX) Edward Jenner acquired some of the liquid from a person infected with cowpox. Relatively mild pustules that then go away, and he got some of this and he scraped it into the skin of a small boy. And a few weeks later, he obtained some liquid from some poor person that was dying of smallpox and infected the boy. And lo and behold, the boy did not get ill. And that gave birth to the whole field of what’s called vaccination. And vax, it’s v-a-c, it comes from vaccus, the latin name for cow.
So we are really familiar with the principle of cross immunization. I’ve thought quite a lot about, you know, the vulnerable people in care homes, and there’s an awareness that even though people are really careful, using PPE and so on, but that’s only going to go so far in a kind of hot house environment where people are pretty close together in a care home. So the question I’ve had all year is, once one or two people you know got the virus in a care home, why wouldn’t almost everyone get infected and, of course, the truth is they didn’t. And one interpretation of that distinction is that a large proportion of people in the care homes had prior immunity.
At this time of year, about 1 in 30 people have a cold, caused by one of these coronaviruses. And just like the protection against smallpox provided by previous exposure to cowpox, so people exposed to having had a cold, caused by one of these coronaviruses, they’re now immune to SARS-CoV-2. So 30% of the population was protected before we started. SAGE said it was zero and I don’t understand how they could possibly have justified that.
There’s a second and equally fatal unaccountable error that they have made in their model. The percentage of the population that SAGE asserts have been infected to date by the virus is about seven percent. I know that that’s what they believe, and you can see it in a document they published in September, called non-pharmaceutical interventions. And it says, sadly more than 90 percent of the population is still vulnerable. It’s unbelievably wrong and I’m just going to explain why. They’ve based their number on the percentage of people in the country who have antibodies in their blood. And only the people who became most ill needed to actually develop and release antibodies around their body. So it is certainly true that the people who have lots of antibodies were infected, but a very large number of people had milder symptoms and even more people had none at all. And the best estimate that we can arrive at, is that those people either made no antibodies or so low amounts that they will have faded from now.
Recent publication on the percentage of care home residents, who have antibodies to the virus, was very very interesting. This time, they were using high sensitivity tests for antibodies, and they carefully picked out residents that never were PCR-positive. These were people who never got infected. And they found that 65% of them had antibodies to the virus. They never got infected. So I believe there was a high prevalence of immunity in that population prior to the virus arriving.
Big story in the media recently was that the percentage of people with antibodies against the virus in their blood was falling. Now this was cast as a concern, that immunity to SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t last very long. Well, you know, anyone with knowledge of immunity would just simply reject that. It’s not the way immunity to virus works. That would be T cells. So, if the antibodies are falling gradually over time, which they have from spring to present, the only plausible explanation is that the prevalence of the virus in the population is falling. And that’s why the antibody production gradually subsides.
Less than 40 percent of the population are susceptible. Even theoretical epidemiologists would tell you that that’s too small a number to support a consolidated and growing outbreak. Community immunity, herd immunity. (XXX 8 min) So SAGE says that we’re not even close, and I’m telling you that the best science by the best scientists in the world, published in the top peer-reviewed journals, says they’re wrong, that more than 60% of the population are now immune, and it’s simply not possible to have a large and growing pandemic.
Really good news, genuine good news to hear that there’s data emerging from the vaccine clinical trials, and we are seeing vaccines that raise not just antibodies, but they’re also producing T cell responses. This is great. Back to proper science, proper immunology. That’s how immunity to viruses works. So my surprise, though, and it’s just annoying that when we’re talking about the percentage of the population that’s still susceptible, we only talk about antibodies, like seven percent from SAGE. Why are we not talking about the 50% that have got T cell immunity.
And so you might be thinking, if Mike Yeadon, doctor Mike Yeadon is telling you these things, well, how come the pandemic isn’t over? Well, this may come as a surprise to you, but I believe, fundamentally, it is over. The country has experienced almost a complete cycle now of the virus sweeping through the land, and we are at the end of it. London was horribly affected in the spring. And somewhere in early April, they were experiencing several hundred deaths per day from people dying with similar symptoms, you know, respiratory failure and inflammation. And at the moment, the number of people dying of SARS-CoV-2 in the capital is less than 10. So it’s down by 98% or something like that. And the reason it’s down, is because there are now too few people in London susceptible to allow the virus to magnify, to amplify, to get an epidemic. And they would have been hit by now because they were the first place hit in the spring. And I think what we’re seeing now in the Northeast and the North West would be the dying embers of the spreading out of this virus. And I’m very sorry that it is still true that a small number of people are catching it, getting ill and dying.
So why aren’t the media telling us that the pandemic is over? It’s not over because SAGE says it’s not. So SAGE consists of very many scientists from a range of disciplines, mathematicians and clinicians, and there are multiple committees, but I found to my surprise, and I’m actually going to use the word horror, that in the spring, all the way through the spring and summer, SAGE did not have on their committee someone who I would call a card-carrying immunologist, a clinical immunologist. I have to say I think that in the spring and summer, SAGE was deficient in the expertise it had. They should have armed themselves, you know, with around the table, all the people required to understand what was happening, and they didn’t do that.
People asked me then, well, Mike, if it’s, you know, if it’s fundamentally over, why are we still getting hundreds of deaths a day from SARS-CoV-2? And I’ve thought a lot about this. There is a test that’s performed where people have their noses and tonsils swabbed, and then a test called a PCR test is performed on that, and what they’re looking for isn’t the virus – you might think it’s looking for the virus, but it’s not – what they’re looking for is a small piece of genetic sequence. It’s called RNA. Unfortunately, that bit of RNA will be found in people’s tonsils and nose. Not if they’ve just caught the virus and they’re about to get ill, or they’re already ill. It’s also going to be found if they were infected previously, weeks or even sometimes a small number of months ago. Let me just explain why that is. If you’ve been infected and you’ve fought off the virus, which most people do, you’ll have broken dead bits of virus. These are tiny things, smaller than your cells, perhaps spread all the way through your airway, embedded in bits of mucus, maybe inside an airway lining cell. And so over a period of weeks or months, you bring up cells that contain broken dead pieces of the virus that you have conquered and killed. However, the PCR test is not able to detect whether the viral RNA has come from a living virus or a dead one as I’ve just described. So I think a large proportion of the so-called positives are, in fact, what I call cold positives. They’re correctly identifying that there is some viral RNA in the sample, but it’s from a dead virus, it can’t hurt them, they’re not going to get ill, they can’t transmit it to anybody else, so they’re not infectious. So that accounts for a large number of the so-called positive cases. These are people who’ve beaten the virus. Why are we using this test that cannot distinguish between active infection and people who’ve conquered the virus?
This test has never been used in this way. And I’ve worked in this field. It’s not a suitable technique. It’s the kind of technique you would use for forensic purposes, if you were trying to do a DNA test to establish whether or not a person was at the scene of a crime. You would not be doing these tests by a windy supermarket car parking, what looks like plastic marquee tents, on picnic tables. It’s not suitable at all and it definitely shouldn’t be done in the way it’s been done. It’s subject to many mechanical errors, should we say, handling errors. If this was a test being used for legal purposes, for forensic purposes, like a DNA identity test, the judge would throw out this evidence, would say it’s not admissible. It produces positives even when there’s no virus there at all. We call that a false positive. As we’ve increased the number of tests done per day, so we’ve had to recruit less and less experienced laboratory staff, and now we’re using people who’ve never worked professionally in this area. What that does is it increases the frequency of mistakes. And the effect of this is that the false positive rate rises and rises. So if you had a false positive rate of one percent, which Mr Matt Hancock told us was roughly the number they had in the summer, then if you tested a thousand people that had no virus, ten of them would be positive, astonishingly.
If the prevalence of the virus was only one in a thousand, that’s 0.1 percent – as the Office of National Statistics told us it was through the summer – then if you use the PCR test, only one of them will be positive and genuinely so. But if the false positive rate is as low as one percent, you’ll also get 10 positives that are false.
Some people did say to me, well, there’ll be a higher percentage of people coming forward for testing in the community, so-called pillar 2 testing, because they’ve been instructed only to come if they’ve got symptoms. But I call BS on that one. I don’t think that’s true. I know lots of friends and relatives who’ve been told by an employer, well, you’ve sat near someone who’s tested positive, and I don’t want you to come back to work until you’ve got a negative test. I’ve seen information from many towns in the North, certainly Birmingham was one, Manchester was another, Bolton, where councils, and I really think they were trying to be helpful, were out leafleting the people of their cities saying, “We’re going to come around and swab you all because we want to track down this virus.” Now, once you start testing people more or less randomly, instead of having symptoms, you get the same amount of virus in the population as the Office of National Statistics found, which at the time was one in a thousand. And I’ve just told you, Matt Hancock confirmed during the summer they had a false positive rate of about one percent, so that means out of a thousand people 10 would test positive, and it would be a false result. And only one would test positive and it was correct.
this test is monstrously unsuitable for detecting who has live virus in their airway it’s subject to multiple distortions that are worsening as we get into the winter as the number of tests done per day increase the number of errors made by these overworked not very experienced lab staff increase i think it’s not unreasonable to say a best guess of the false positive rate at the moment what’s called the operational false positive rate is about five percent five percent of three hundred thousand is fifteen thousand positives i think some of those positives are real i don’t think it’s very many now the problem with this false positive issue it doesn’t just stop it quotes cases it extends to people who are unwell and go to hospital so people who go to hospital having tested positive and it could be a false positive and i think most of them are at the moment if you go to hospital and you’ve tested positive previously or you test positive in hospital you’ll be counted now as a covered admission although there are more people in hospital now than a month ago this is normal for autumn regrettably people catch respiratory viruses and become ill and some will die i just don’t believe it’s got anything to do with coffee 19 anymore there are more people in intensive care beds now than they were a month or so ago that’s entirely normal as we move through late autumn into the early winter those beds become used but there aren’t more people than is normal for the time of year and we’re not about to run out of capacity certainly as a national level but i think you know it is going now if you should now die you’ll be counted as a covered death but that’s not correct these are people who might have have gone to hospital having had a broken leg for example but they’ll three percent of them will still test positive and they’re not they haven’t got the virus it’s a it’s a false positive and if they die they’ll be called a coffee death and they are not they’ve died of something else one of the most troubling things i’ve heard this year was mr johnson telling us about the moon shot testing everybody often maybe every day is the way out of this problem i’m telling you it’s the way to keep us in this problem that number of tests is orders of magnitude higher than we’re already testing now and the false positive rate however low it is will be far too large to accept it will produce an enormous number of false positives what we should do is stop mass testing not only is an affront to your liberty it will not help at all it will be immensely expensive and it will be a pathology all of its own we’ll be fighting off stupid people mostly government ministers i’m sorry to say who are not numerous and do not understand statistics if you test a million people a day with a test that produces one percent false positives 10 000 people a day will wrongly be told they’ve got the virus if the prevalence of the virus was say 0.1 like the office of national statistics said it was in summer then only a tenth of that number one thousand would correctly be identified but you can’t distinguish amongst the eleven thousand who have genuinely got the virus and who are false positives moonshot i think will have a worse false positive rate it’s not fixable and it’s not necessary either the pandemic having passed through the population not only of of the uk but of all of europe and probably all of the world quite soon it won’t return why won’t it return well they’ve got t-cell immunity we know this it’s been studied by the best cellular immunologists in the world sometimes people will say well it looks like the immunity is starting to fade you’ll sometimes see things like that and when i saw the first headline like this i i remember being really quite confused because that’s not the way immunology works just think about it for a moment if that was how it worked it could kill you when you had to fight it off and if you had successfully done that it somehow didn’t leave a mark in your body well it does leave a mark on your body the way you fought it off involved certain pattern recognition receptors and has left you with as it were memory cells that remember what it was they fought off and if they see that thing again it’s very easy for them to get those cells to work again in minutes or hours and they will protect you so the most likely explanation is it’ll last a long time so i read a bit more about this so-called tailing off of immunity and i realized they were talking about antibodies just incorrect to to think that antibodies and how long they stay up is a measure of immune protection against viruses i mean you can tell i’m i don’t agree with this it says there have been some classic experiments done on people who have inborn errors in parts of their immune system and some of them have inborn arrows that means they can’t make antibodies and guess what they they are able to handle respiratory viruses the same as you and me so i don’t think it’s harmful to have antibodies although some people are worried about the potential for amplifying inflammation from antibodies but but my view is that they’re they’re probably neutral and you definitely should not believe the story that because the antibody falls away you’ve lost immunity again that’s just not the way the human immune system works the most likely duration of immunity to a respiratory virus like saskov to is multiple years why do i say that we actually have the data for a virus that swept through parts of the world 17 years ago called sars and remember saskov 2 is 80 similar to sars so i think that’s the best comparison that anyone can provide the evidence is clear these very clever cellular immunologists studied all the people they could get hold of who had survived sars 17 years ago they took a blood sample and they tested whether they responded or not to the original sars and they all did they all have perfectly normal robust t-cell memory they’re actually also protected against saskov too because it’s so similar there’s cross-immunity so i would say the best data that exists is that immunity should be robust for at least 17 years i think it’s entirely possible that it is lifelong the style of the responses of these people’s t-cells were the same as if you’ve been vaccinated and then you come back years later to see has that immunity been retained and so i think the evidence is really strong that the duration of immunity will be multiple years and possibly lifelong there have been but a tiny handful of people who appear to have been infected twice now they’re they’re very interesting we need to know who they are and understand them very well they’re probably got certain rare immune deficiency syndromes so i’m not pretending no one ever gets reinfected but i am pointing out that it’s literally five people or maybe 50 people but the world health organization estimated some weeks ago that 750 million people have been infected so far by saskov too that means most people are not being reinfected and i can tell you why that is it’s normal it’s what happens with viruses respiratory viruses some people have have called for zero covid as if it’s some political slogan and there are some people i’ve heard calling for it almost every day they’re completely unqualified to tell you anything something that’s really important to know is that sarskoff ii it’s an unpleasant virus there’s no question about it but it’s not what you were told in spring we were originally told that it would kill perhaps three percent of people it infected which is horrifying that’s 30 times worse than flu we always overestimate the lethality of new infectious diseases when we’re in the eye of the storm i believe the true infection fatality ratio of covid19 the true threat to life is the same as seasonal flow so there’s no reason why you would want to try and drive covert to zero it’s a nonsense that’s just not how biology is and all the means i have heard uh proposed as ways to get us there are much more damaging and pathological i would say than than the virus itself it’s simply not possible to get rid of every single copy of the covered 19 virus and the means to get you there would destroy society forget the cost although it would be huge it would destroy your liberty you would need to not go out until you’ve been tested and have your result back and i i have described how the false positive rate would just destroy it from a statistical perspective i don’t believe it can be done it’s not scientifically realistic it’s not medically realistic and it’s not what we have ever done as the virus swept towards the uk in the in the late winter and early spring i too was concerned because at the time we were told perhaps three percent might die so when the prime minister called for a lockdown i wasn’t pleased about it but i understood that we should try this but it’s important that you understand that when we look at the profile of the pandemic as it passed through the population that it was clear that the number of infections every day was falling we’d pass the peak quite a long time before lockdown started so we took all that pain that locked down pain which was multiple weeks i don’t remember exactly how many multiple weeks we took it for nothing if there was a really important effect of lockdown on the number of people who died or the rate of it you should at least be able to order them like these people had locked down and these didn’t and you cannot all heavily infected countries shapes are the same whether they had locked down or not they don’t work i don’t know why anyone is allowing you know you to be pushed into this corner i don’t think we entirely know why it is that some countries were hit harder than others but i have to say i think scientifically the smart money is on a mixture of forces one would be this cross immunity although china had an awful time in wuhan in hubai province it didn’t spread elsewhere in the country and i suspect that meant because a lot of them had this cross immunity and i think nearby countries in the main had lots of cross immunity so that’s one possibility the other one though is in terms of the severity of what did the virus do to a particular population we’ve seen devastating effects in countries like uk and in belgium uh france and maybe even in sweden and much smaller numbers of deaths in other countries like like greece and in germany and you might think well was that what it was it’s something that they did and i wish it was true because if it was something we did we could learn from it and do it and it would work in the future but there’s no evidence whatsoever that it was anything humans did the passage of this virus through the human population is an entirely natural process that completely ignored our puny efforts to control it so there is this theory i don’t like the name very much but it’s called dry tinder if people in a country who are vulnerable for to dying in the winter usually of respiratory viruses if you have a very mild winter season like uk did we had a very mild seasonal flu last year and the year before and so did sweden then what happens is there are larger number of very vulnerable people who are even older than usual and and i think that’s why we suffered a rather large number of deaths it was still only 0.06 percent of the population equivalent to about four weeks of normal mortality but countries that had very severe winters recently and greece and germany certainly had very lethal winter flus in the last two years i think then they had a smaller population of very vulnerable people and that is the main reason why they lost fewer people it’s not to do with locking down it’s not to do with testing or tracking or tracing i i personally don’t think any of those measures have made any difference at all so belgium and uk and sweden were particularly vulnerable whereas adjacent nordic countries i i get fed up with hearing about this uh idea that they lock down and that’s why it saved them and fred the other nordic countries had normal flu epidemics the last two or three years sweden like uk had very mild epidemics you can just go and look at the number of debts it’s sub-normal for uk and sweden and now we’ve got a supra-normal a larger than normal number of deaths from covet now there may be other reasons i’m not saying there are not but i think those two main forces the amount of prior immunity and the so-called dry tinder what vulnerable fraction of the population did you have as a result of seasonal flu being intense or not i think that accounts for most of it and it’s it’s just puberistic and uh and and kind of silly that our governments and advisors tell you that doing things that have never worked in the past like lock down are going to make any difference for the transfer of respiratory viruses i don’t believe it for a moment there’s no scientific evidence behind it and there are much stronger scientific hypotheses that do explain it you might think that in terms of numbers of deaths excess deaths that covet has produced such a large number that this will be an awful year for excess deaths but surprisingly not 2020 is lining up to be about eighths in a list since 1993. roughly 620 000 people die every year in this country they say in life we are also in death and it’s true it’s been awful for those who have been personally affected by illness and death but it’s not particularly unusual in terms of the number of people who’ve died so one of the things i’ve noticed has happened in in recent years is that we almost seem to be moving uh you know post-science post fact as if as if facts don’t matter for someone who’s qualified and practiced as a professional scientist 35 years i think it’s deeply distressing that i don’t think you should listen to me if i talked about i don’t know the design of motorways or something like i don’t know anything about motorways or or how to grow trees better i don’t know anything about that but i do know quite a lot about immunology infection inflammation and the way infectious organisms move through a population i’ve no other reason for giving this interview other than i really care what happens to my country and we have to pull ourselves out of this and i personally believe the way forward is twofold it’s not difficult one we should cease mass testing of the mostly well in the community immediately it only provides misleading and grey information and yet we’re driving policy almost completely based on it it’s definitely wrong should not do it use the tests in hospital i’m not saying don’t test don’t continue mass testing and for god’s sake don’t increase the number of tests it is a pathology all of its own which must be stamped out by right thinking people and i’m afraid the people on sage who have provided the modeling the predictions the the measures that should be taken that their work is so badly and obviously flawed lethally incompetent that you should have no more to do with these people they should be fired immediately and the effect of that advice has been to have cost lots of innocent people their lives from non-covered causes they should be dismissed and reconstituted using an appropriate group of skilled individuals especially avoiding any who might even have the suggestion of a conflict of interest i think we’re right at the edge of the precipice i i really hope that we can pull back you Up next”
Source: Unlocked UK (YouTube censored & removed within hours of broadcast, 19th Nov 2020)