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CDC Under Fire: Redfield and Birx Faulty History

by Oui Fri Jun 5th, 2020 at 08:55:02 AM EST

Picking candidates for a leadership position with a troubling CV. Potentially a risk for blackmail, Redfield and Birx laid their heads in the political lap of Trump and Conservative America.

More below the fold ...

AIDS Researcher Robert Redfield Is the New CDC Director. Here's Why the Pick Is Controversial| TIME - March 22, 2018 |  

Redfield will be replacing Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who stepped down from CDC director after Politico reported that she had bought shares in a tobacco company after accepting the position.

Redfield will not require Senate confirmation.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, Sen. Patty Murray also called out a policy advocated by Redfield in which HIV-positive soldiers were segregated from other soldiers. Redfield also helped implement an HIV screening program where military recruits were screened for the disease and barred from service if they tested positive. "This pattern of ethically and morally questionable behavior leads me to seriously question whether Dr. Redfield is qualified to be the federal government's chief advocate and spokesperson for public health," Murray wrote in her letter.

Public health leaders have also questioned Redfield's lack of experience leading a public health agency, and the potential impact of his reportedly conservative positions on sexual health.

Excerpt of a long read ...

[Links added are mine - Oui]

Army's top AIDS researcher transferred amid controversy | Hartford Courant - June 30, 1994 | [cached]

The U.S. Army's top AIDS researcher, besieged by accusations that he overstated test results of a Connecticut company's experimental AIDS vaccine, has left the laboratory he headed for the past six years at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland.

By mutual agreement with his superiors, Lt. Col. Robert R. Redfield moved this month to an Army hospital in Washington, D.C., where he began work as a doctor treating patients, spokesman Chuck Dasey said.

Redfield's transfer was the latest twist in the brief history of MicroGeneSys Inc., a tiny Meriden company at the center of political battles in Washington over AIDS research.

Redfield could not be reached for his reasons on making the transfer to a less prestigious position at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Dasey said the change was not a demotion, but was related to the Army's investigation of the controversy surrounding tests of the MicroGeneSys vaccine.

"The transfer was not punitive in any way," Dasey said. "He was more comfortable working in the clinical arena as opposed to the research arena. That's where he started out."

He said Redfield retains his role as a principal investigator and will continue to direct four AIDS vaccine trials, three of them using the vaccine made by MicroGeneSys.

Once touted as a candidate for U.S. surgeon general, Redfield was chief of the retroviral research department at the Walter Reed institute, where a staff of scientists and doctors worked for him. The primary thrust of his laboratory's research was pioneering -- using a vaccine for treatment, as well as prevention, of disease.

At the time Redfield was changing jobs, Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, sent a letter calling on Congress "to investigate charges of grave impropriety" by Redfield and his team of researchers.

Public Citizen characterized as a whitewash an Army investigation clearing Redfield of misconduct charges that first surfaced in 1992.

Franklin Volvovitz, president of MicroGeneSys, dismissed the charges as politically motivated. "The allegations about Dr. Redfield are old news," he said. "For the most part, those allegations are preposterous."

Franklin Volvovitz, the brash head of MicroGeneSys Inc., was fired by his board of directors | Hartford Courant - Dec. 15, 1994 |

Today's headlines ...

CDC woes bring Director Redfield's troubled past as an AIDS researcher to light | CNN News |

A potential AIDS breakthrough

By the time he arrived in Amsterdam in July 1992 for the International AIDS Conference, Lt. Col. Robert Redfield was considered a leading mind in the world of HIV/AIDS research. The son of two scientists at the National Institutes of Health, Redfield had gone from Georgetown Medical School into a career at the prestigious Walter Reed Army Medical Center .

While much of the early work on AIDS focused solely on the virus within the homosexual community, Redfield was one of the first researchers to present findings that HIV was also transmitted heterosexually. At a time when those with HIV/AIDS were stigmatized, Redfield had a reputation for being open and accepting of his patients.

"Bob, I think, did more than any one person I know to dispel the fear and biases against HIV infected people at the time," one former colleague of Redfield's told CNN.

From the stage that July, Redfield presented what amounted to a potential breakthrough at the height of the AIDS epidemic: A vaccine treatment called gp-160 that he had been testing as a treatment at Walter Reed showed a stabilization or significant reduction in the amount of HIV blood cells in patients.

Recollections of how Redfield's data was received by the audience vary among those present that day. While some say it was viewed as revolutionary, others remember there being a palpable sense of skepticism inside the room.

Among the skeptics in the audience that day was Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the nation's foremost AIDS expert at the time. In an interview in Science magazine published on July 31, 1992, Fauci poured cold water on Redfield's work, and questioned how much the vaccine truly decreased the overall amount of HIV in a patient's body.

The origins of an investigation

Meanwhile in Texas, an Air Force doctor named Craig Hendrix started getting calls from associates at Walter Reed who were concerned about Redfield's findings. Hendrix, who was then Director of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Unit on Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, decided to run the numbers himself. The results did not match Redfield's.

Hendrix eventually traveled to Maryland and in a meeting that September at Walter Reed, both he and McCarthy watched as Redfield fell on his sword. He admitted to making mistakes in his analysis and delivering misleading presentations, according to two sources in the room, and agreed that the record should be corrected. Hendrix was so satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, that he called Redfield the following day to thank him--noting that he was glad they worked at a place where these things could be candidly discussed.

A month later though, Redfield again presented the overstated data--this time to an AIDS conference in Anaheim, California, where Hendrix was in the audience.

Hendrix fired off a scathing letter to Burke, demanding a full outside investigation and calling for Redfield to be censured for "potential scientific misconduct," and to "publicly correct the record in a medium suitable for widespread dissemination."

Though it did open an informal investigation, the Army conducted it internally and did not involve other branches of the military. CNN reviewed more than 100 pages of documents produced by the 8-month investigation, including statements from more than a dozen witnesses, many of whom gave conflicting accounts of what happened. Overall, the documents paint a picture of a toxic work environment inside the research unit of Walter Reed, filled with distrust and competing factions .

In October 1992, even as the investigation was ongoing, Congress appropriated $20 million for large scale, Phase III testing of gp-160, Redfield's study. According to a source familiar, Col. Burke tried to refuse the funding, in hopes of preventing more scrutiny on his elite Army researching unit. But it was too late.

After the investigation?

Though Redfield was not charged with misconduct, the Army investigation did find that he had violated Army code through an improper relationship with Americans for Sound AIDS Policy (ASAP), a conservative organization run by evangelical activist Shepherd Smith. The Army determined the group had received scientific information from Walter Reed "to a degree that is inappropriate" and that it appeared to be an outlet "for marketing LTC Redfield's research."

Redfield served on ASAP's "Science Advisory Board," as did Birx. Redfield had also written a foreword for Smith's 1990 book, "Christians in the Age of AIDS," in which he "denounced distribution of sterile needles to drug users and condoms to sexually active adults, and described anti-discrimination programs as the efforts of "false prophets."

by Oui on Fri Jun 5th, 2020 at 03:15:17 PM EST
Estimating the effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe | Nature Journal |

Lockdowns and other anti-Covid-19 measures may have saved 3.1m lives in Europe - UK study

The results of the study were published online by the Nature journal and suggests that lockdown measures have been sufficient to control the growth of the epidemic.

The Imperial team used death data to estimate changes during the COVID-19 epidemic as a result of non-pharmaceutical interventions. They analysed data from 11 countries in Europe, including Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland up to May 4th.

The research indicated that between 12 and 15 million individuals in these countries had been infected with Covid-19 (3.2% to 4% of the population).

Hey Trump, Boris and Mark ... still a long way off from herd immunity ... check out possibilities in Sweden and Brazil.

by Oui on Mon Jun 8th, 2020 at 07:38:29 PM EST
COVID-19 was brought into UK by 1,300 travellers, mainly from Europe - study finds
Spain and France were where most travellers who then spread the disease came from, researchers from the University of Oxford, University of Edinburgh and the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) found.

The analysis found China, where the virus originated, had a less than 1% impact on cases in the UK.

Researchers looked at the genetic code of more than 24,000 samples from people with COVID-19 in the UK and worldwide and looked at the numbers of inbound travellers to the UK as well as the estimated numbers of infections worldwide.
They estimate 80% of all those who came to the UK and spread COVID-19 arrived between 28 February and 29 March - when the UK was debating whether to halt international travel and go into lockdown.

Researchers found the numbers of people travelling into the UK and spreading coronavirus rose rapidly in early March and peaked around 15 March before quickly declining to a low level in April after the lockdown started on 23 March. Early cases came into the UK from Italy and China, but by early March travellers from Spain who passed on COVID-19 surpassed both of them, then those from France from mid to late-March.

A football match between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid at Anfield on 11 March was largely blamed for an increased spread of COVID-19 in the UK.

by Cat on Thu Jun 11th, 2020 at 12:20:20 AM EST

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