PERSPECTIVES ON THE PANDEMIC XIV
Late January, 2021
New York City
Interviewed by JOHN KIRBY
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Do we need lockdowns until the last virus in the country is eradicated? This vaccine doesn't seem to be that good either. And here we actually know why, because the virus already mutated. So the vaccine that we have is a vaccine against the virus that doesn't even exist anymore.
JOHN KIRBY: But Knut, they said it was 95% effective?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Maybe, against the other virus. Protect the vulnerable and open the schools and the economy. Everything else will just create a new wave and then a new lockdown and then a new wave. It will never end. And then we have, for the first time, in the evolution created a situation where immunity wouldn't work anymore. And that is a real danger.
In April, I was much more careful in what I said, because we didn't have data. Now, we have the data. We know that further mitigation is just breeding new strains of viruses.
JOHN KIRBY: Knut, it's been a long time since we last spoke. And since the first two interviews we did with you, were taken down off of YouTube, what's been happening with you and with the virus in that time?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: What's happening is that we now have data to confirm the fears that I had and to show that is actually even worse than what I originally talked about. And that is, I have not expected the second wave, but now we have one and we also know why we have one. That is a new virus that was bred by the lockdowns initially in Spain and France, and then in many other countries. So we see now repeatedly, and we have the theoretical models and the experiment for it, that if you flatten the curve for more than three months, then you have bred a new strain of the virus that is resistant against human and against vaccine immunity that is modeled after the human immunite.
So, if... There's no question anymore, that we would have had herd immunity, if there would not have been lockdowns prolonging it and allowing resistant strains to be bred in Spain and France, that started a new epidemic. Without lockdowns, we would not have had that new epidemic. And there is no possible dispute about it. We have seen it happening in Spain and France, and then in the UK and then South Africa.
JOHN KIRBY: In what way did the... And forgive me if I'm asking you to reiterate, but in what way did the lockdowns contribute to these escape mutations? Or I should say what should have happened?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: If there hadn't been a lockdown or only a very shorter... For maybe three weeks or something like that as originally planned, then the mutations that the viruses develop are not enough to escape and we develop herd immunity before that can happen. And the epidemic is over.
JOHN KIRBY: And you didn't propose that... When people hear herd immunity, they think that what you mean is you want to kill your grandparents, but that's not what you're suggesting, is it?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: No. It's very strange. The word herd immunity has been politicized in a way that is very difficult for an immunologist to understand. All respiratory virus disease epidemics end as soon as herd immunity has been established or developed. We can speed that up a bit, and that is with vaccination.
So if we vaccinate people, then herd immunity will arrive a bit earlier. For those who are vaccinated, don't have to wait until they get infected. They are infected right away. On the other hand, if we are mitigating and any form of mitigation, we'll do that to different degrees... If we're locking down, if we are wearing masks, if we are socially distancing, if we are closing restaurants, if... Any of that. All of that mitigation prolongs, flattens the curve and therefore prolongs the time until herd immunity develops.
JOHN KIRBY: And during that period, you're saying there's more opportunity for mutations to develop?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: The longer it takes, the more opportunities are there for the virus to develop escape mutations. And finally, an escape strain that can spread as if there had been no virus before.
JOHN KIRBY: Herd immunity is basic epidemiology, is it not? That's something you learn early on, when you're studying epidemiology.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: That is Epidemiology 101.
JOHN KIRBY: So, what do you think accounts for the decision by the WHO and the local national health authorities to violate this principle of epidemiology and create a situation where escaped mutations would occur and where the pandemic would be artificially prolonged?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: I don't think that people understand the very basic dynamics of infectious disease viruses. We have the unfortunate situation in the United States, for instance, that the three top experts, were all three virologists who have been working, at least two of them, on developing a vaccine against HIV, not very successfully.
So their idea was a virus where we do not develop immunity against. And if somebody who has spent his whole life, to work with viruses where no immunity develops... And it's understandable if somebody like Fauci says, "Well, do we really want to get that many people infected, to have that herd immunity?" "That herd immunity?" So, the word herd immunity was so unfamiliar to him, that he was putting that in quotation marks, "That herd immunity."
And if the leadership doesn't understand what herd immunity is and how important and how natural it is, then, of course, it's difficult to do something that makes sense.
JOHN KIRBY: So, Fauci is an immunologist and you think he would have a very clear understanding of what herd immunity is. And when you say not, "That herd immunity."... He has gone on to say that he feels that we need a vaccine herd immunity, that first he said was maybe 50 to 60%. And now he's saying we need 70 to 90%. And he's saying he changed that estimation based on public perception of the vaccine. And he has now told us the truth...
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Okay.
JOHN KIRBY: That we must have 70 to 90% vaccine immunity. Do you think vaccine immunity, first of all, is as good as natural herd immunity?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: So the first thing is Fauci is technically yes, an immunologist, but he was working most of his career on HIV and developing vaccines for HIV.
JOHN KIRBY: Okay.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: So, an immunologist understands how the immune system works. A virologist understands what the structure of the virus is and how the virus interacts with receptors on cells and other parts of the body. A theoretical epidemiologist understands how a virus spreads in a population. And these are very different things. There was a theoretical epidemiologist, one, early on in the whole debate. And that was Sunetra Gupta.
JOHN KIRBY: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: And Sunetra Gupta, last in March already said, "We probably already have 25% of the people who have cross immunity from previous infections. And therefore we don't really need any lockdown. And she is now also one of the three scientists who have written the Great Barrington Declaration saying that what we need to do is to protect the vulnerable. And if we do that, we have achieved the most important thing we need to do to fight an epidemic.
JOHN KIRBY: Which, of course, is what you were saying in April.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Yes.
JOHN KIRBY: In our interview. Do you think that there is a difference between natural herd immunity and vaccine immunity?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: I would vote for natural immunity, but the basic principle is the same. The human immune system gets exposed to a particular virus genetic sequence. And it recognizes that as specific for the virus and not part of the human genome. And then all cells, who are expressing this sequence on their surface, which cells routinely do, will be killed as cells who do something that the human cells should not do.
JOHN KIRBY: When you and I spoke, our talks were taken down by YouTube. What have you noticed in the intervening time? Is this a healthy climate for science, when dissenting or not necessarily even dissenting, but just alternate theories and opinions by other experts other than the WHO, are being suppressed? Is that the kind of climate in which science thrives?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: No, that's the end of science. Science lives from different people developing different hypothesis and then it gets discuss or tested. And in the end, people convene and say, that is [inaudible] has evolved. But then, there will be more questions and the whole process will go on. Without discussion, there is no science.
JOHN KIRBY: So you've been very generous with Dr. Fauci and suggested that because his focus has been on viruses or rather on developing vaccines for a particular virus, HIV... That he is making basic epidemiological mistakes as a result. But does this account for all the other global health authorities making this same basic epidemiological mistake?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: We had, unfortunately, one person who wasn't trained as an epidemiologist, but who is very assertive in the UK. And that was Neil Ferguson, who started a panic by prognosing that 500,000 people in the UK would die and over two million people in the US. And so the politicians were taking in that panic and going into fear mode. And fear is the opposite of being rational.
JOHN KIRBY: So, we haven't had two million deaths, but according to official statistics, we've had 400,000, which we're reminded is more people than the US lost during World War II. How do you feel about that statistic? Does that statistic seem correct to you? Do we know how that statistic was arrived at? Do you trust the data?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: I trust the data and I feel very bad about it. But in another way than most people. In late October, early November, the COVID 19 epidemic was over. If there had not been the strains that had been bred in, originally in Spain and France, and then in the UK and South Africa and other places during lockdowns.
So if there had been no lockdowns, there would have been no new epidemic, I would call that COVID 20, starting in November. That alone, we would have cut the number of deaths in half to 200,000. Now the CDC has officially declared that of the COVID 19 deaths, 40% happened in nursing homes. So 80,000 of these deaths could have been prevented if the United States had done what South Korea did. And that is isolating the nursing homes rather than sending infectious seniors into the nursing homes so that they could infect the other seniors.
So that would be 120,000. And there is yet another problem with mitigation. Let's take masks, for instance. Of course, the vulnerable should wear masks. And those people directly interacting with the vulnerable, like carrying them from the wheelchair into the bed or the other way round. Because that form of close interaction with heavy breathing, that can easily transmit respiratory disease virus. So if masks are working and we are not quite sure if they aren't, then these are the situations where masks should be worn definitely.
However, if everybody else also does the same thing, then the vulnerable would not have an advantage anymore. If only they wear the masks, then the virus will spread predominantly among the young and the healthy until we reach that point of herd immunity, which for this virus is about 50%. And half of it, as Sunetra Gupta said, was already there from previous Corona virus infections. And then the vulnerable are protected. Very few of the vulnerable will become infected while the virus spreads among the healthy and young.
However, if the healthy and young are also wearing masks, then the vulnerable have no benefit, no advantage anymore. So the virus will spread overall a bit more slowly, but it will spread as fast among the vulnerable as among the other people.
JOHN KIRBY: Right. Because the idea is to get it over with, among the young people. And then the virus has no more hosts or it attenuates...
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Well, there are two things. First, it should go fast. And second, the virus should spread primarily among the young and healthy. If they also wear masks, if they don't go to restaurants, if they don't work... If they mitigate all of that, what happens is we are flattening the curve, which is a euphemism for... It's going to take more time. And during that time, the same proportion of the vulnerable will be infected as of the young and healthy. And because it takes more time, all forms of mitigation are more difficult to sustain among the vulnerable.
So we have several factors that contribute to many more of the vulnerable becoming infected. And those are the people who die. Among the young and healthy people get infected, they may have some symptoms, but they rarely ever die. It is... 50% of all deaths in the United States were among people who were 80 years old and older, 50% were older than 80 years. That is the risk population, not the skilled children in school.
So if we would have separated this mitigation, or isolation for the vulnerable and let the young and healthy have their life, we would have had much fewer than these 120,000 deaths in the COVID 19 epidemic. It would probably have been something like half of it. So we would have had 60,000 deaths in the United States from COVID 19 without politicians doing the wrong thing. And that would have been just at the upper end of the range of normal flu season.
So this disease without mitigation and lockdowns would have been no different from other respiratory virus diseases.
JOHN KIRBY: Because you're saying, you went from half of the 120 and you'd already gotten down to 120 by...
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: So, we started that out with 400,000.
JOHN KIRBY: Right. Right.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Half of these 400,000 were from the second epidemic, from viruses they were incubated by the lockdowns. So the epidemic that we now are enjoying would not have been here without lockdowns.
JOHN KIRBY: Right.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: So then we are at 200. 40% of them, according to the CDC were in nursing homes. And that was preventable. That makes 120,000. Half of those would have been prevented if there had been no mitigation. And that is about 60,000.
Now, these numbers can be off by a couple of thousand or even 10 or 20,000. But, by enlarge, these numbers have been proven to be correct.
JOHN KIRBY: So, you are being again, generous with the CDC in how they are counting deaths, because of course we know that they gave recommendations. Their guidance to physicians was to assume COVID even when they didn't have positive tests. So that, already, I would argue and many have argued inflates the numbers of people who died of COVID as opposed to simply with COVID, or maybe not even with COVID, if they're not even doing autopsies or not even actually testing. And in the UK, we know that if for a period of time, if you died within 28 days of a positive test of anything, of a car accident, you were considered a death by COVID as it were. So you were counted among those numbers. So this seems a way of artificially inflating. We also know that the CDC has said itself, that only 6% of the COVID deaths died solely of COVID.
But you're saying, take them at their word, take them at 400,000. These numbers didn't need to be what they were. Whatever they were, mitigation has made things worse.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Yes, it doesn't really matter whether it's 10 or even 20%, more or less. The basic is mitigation lockdowns. In particular, the lockdowns have caused not only the indirect deaths from the economic consequences, but have directly contributed to the COVID deaths. But I don't really want to go there because I want to have the focus here on the epidemic. On what damage was done by the virus and what damage was done by the politicians in the context of the virus spreading.
We have the data from what happened in Spain and in France. We have data from the studies showing experimentally that this virus develops, break out or evades immunity within three months, all the time.
JOHN KIRBY: So everytime, in lockdown...
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: We have all the evidence that we need.
JOHN KIRBY: Yeah.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: We know that lockdowns are just breeding new viruses that will cause the next epidemic, which neither the previously acquired herd immunity nor the vaccines developed against the previous virus will be effective. The evidence is there. You just have to accept it. If we don't allow the virus to be extinguished naturally...
JOHN KIRBY: Naturally.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: The way viruses have extinct for millions of years. If we prevent that from happening, because we think we know better than nature... We will fail and we are failing.
Vitamins are important, and we should make sure that we have sufficient level of vitamins and that includes Vitamin D. And that is in particular, it's a concern for people who are vegans, because Vitamin D is typically contained in fish oil. Milk is fortified with it. It's in beef liver, it's in eggs, but if you don't eat all of that, then you are at risk of not getting enough Vitamin D. So people who are vegetarian or vegan should consider Vitamin D supplements at this time, irrespective of anything else.
JOHN KIRBY: But when you say the immune system is what kills us, that's only at a certain point when we've gone into a cytokine storm, right? I mean, before that it's about having a immune response that is defensive against an intruder, right?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Well, the problem here is that this defense is all or nothing.
JOHN KIRBY: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: The immune system, once it has the antibodies, which takes a week, then kills all cells that have been infected.
JOHN KIRBY: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: And killing all of these cells at the same time, creates a huge wound.
JOHN KIRBY: Ah!
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: And so, that by itself, that is not a cytokine storm.
JOHN KIRBY: Okay.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: That is the normal action of the immune system.
JOHN KIRBY: So what's the trick then? How do people who have not gotten sick and that is the vast majority of people, even when they've been exposed to this virus, they haven't even noticed it. So how, what is happening in the body so that they don't even notice that they've been exposed or that the viruses...
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Have been exposed to a low load, to a small number of viruses so that even if these viruses multiply... That after the five day period, they still have a relatively small wound that may be so small that they don't realize it. It's also, I mentioned comorbidities and that could be that they have, in their food, components that help. It could be Vitamin D, could be EFFA Cyclodextrin, could be many other things that we haven't talked about. It could be that certain types of foods actually help. There are no lobbyists in DC for food. There are lobbyists for vaccines.
Pharmaceutical companies exert a lot of influence on applications in so-called leading medical journals. And that's why we take them with a grain of salt.
So the way we dealt with these epidemics before was reasonable, was practical, was efficient. And there was no reason to do it fundamentally different right now. I have said that before. The initial idea to say, "Well, let's lockdown for three or four weeks. So that the hospital... We are afraid of the hospital to the system will collapse."
Okay. I understand that fear. I didn't have that fear, but I understand it. After four weeks, we knew that the hospital system would survive. Even in the epicenter of the epidemic, in New York City, the hospital ship wasn't needed. The Javits Center, with 2000 beds created, wasn't needed. The tents by Mount Sinai Hospital in Central Park, they were not needed.
There's always some problem in some hospital and typically it's in Brooklyn, the Bronx, or in Queens... In the areas where low income people live and therefore the hospitals make less money and then they have some problems, and they should also be helped. But otherwise, we knew there was no problem.
So the reason for the lockdowns was done after four weeks. And it is totally... I have no clue why the lockdowns were continued. Do we need lockdowns until the last virus in the country is eradicated? Is that really worth shutting down the economy? Because there is one virus left in the country? I don't get it.
Okay, I have at times being critical and am critical to things Fauci has said and done. For instance, you mentioned that he changed the herd immunity threshold because the political situation changed.
JOHN KIRBY: Right.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: I'm a scientist. I don't change what I'm saying based on political considerations, I change it if there's new data. But we knew from the very beginning that the basic reproduction number of this respiratory virus disease is about two. And if the basic reproduction number is about two, we need about 50% of people being immune. And half of those already have cross immunity. So we need about 25%. And we have that in New York, in April. No scientist would change his or her opinion based on some political considerations.
JOHN KIRBY: And the continued insistence on vaccine herd immunity going forward, is that necessary? Do we need the vaccine? Does everyone need it...
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Okay. I said that before here, that vaccines can accelerate the development of herd immunity. And even the WHO went back to that and now has made a 180 degree turn, and now it says, "Yes, both natural infection and vaccination contribute to herd immunity."
JOHN KIRBY: Right.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: So they both contribute. So vaccines can speed up the process, which is good. If we have the vaccine, which is... We'd never had a good vaccine for a respiratory virus disease. And this vaccine doesn't seem to be that good either.
JOHN KIRBY: Right.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: And here we actually know why because the virus already mutated. So the vaccine that we have is a vaccine against the virus that doesn't even exist anymore.
JOHN KIRBY: But Knut, they said it was 95% effective.
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Maybe against the other virus, the virus that doesn't exist anymore. But there is something fundamental, if you want to have a vaccine to speed up the development of herd immunity... If at the same time you tell the people to wear masks and to lockdown, which slows down the development of herd immunity, you're doing the same thing as sitting in a car and hitting the brake and the gas at the same time. It simply does not make any sense.
JOHN KIRBY: So when you look at the future, based on the decisions that have been made, what are you forecasting? What do you see happening?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: I'm forecasting that the cycle of lockdowns breeding new viruses will continue forever.
JOHN KIRBY: Who does this benefit? Why would they want this?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: Okay. I have no clue. I know what should be done and that is what experts have signed off on in the Great Barrington Declaration... Protect the vulnerable and open the schools and the economy and forget about masks.
But that is what we need to do. We have to protect the vulnerable, open the schools and open the economy. Everything else, will just create a new wave and then a new lockdown and then a new wave. It will never end unless we reach the point where the viruses have mutated to become so close to [inaudible] of the human genome, that the human immune system cannot find new epitopes that are specific to the virus to develop antibodies. And then we have, for the first time in the evolution, created a situation where immunity wouldn't work anymore. And that is a real danger that could happen. And this is the only thing I'm afraid of.
I'm afraid that these ongoing lockdowns will create a situation where our immune system cannot find any epitopes to bind to. And then the immune system either has to fold its cards, and we have no immunity. Or, to make antibodies that also bind to things that are within our own body. We have made an artificial auto immune disease.
SPEAKER 3: Have you gotten the vaccine yet?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: No.
SPEAKER 3: Are you planning on getting it?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: No.
SPEAKER 3: Why not?
KNUT WITTKOWSKI: First, efficacy is in doubt. We have seen more adverse events than we see with efficacy with other viruses. And the majority of study participants was younger than 55 years without comorbidities. I'm a bit older than 55 years and I have at least one. So, I'm not sure if the results, of the studies, are that informative to me.
Also, as a statistician, I haven't seen a significant result, really. We need much larger studies for that. And the studies haven't yet been completed. So I'm waiting for the completion of the study and I'm not very scared.