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Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, SUNY 2003Frank Visser, graduated as a psychologist of culture and religion, founded IntegralWorld.net in 1997. He worked as production manager for various publishing houses and as service manager for various internet companies and lives in Amsterdam. Author of Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion” (SUNY Press, 2003), which has been translated into 7 languages, and of 175+ essays on this website.
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The Corona Conspiracy

Part 4: Why Viruses are Not Exosomes

Frank Visser

Real scientists publish their views in scientific journals, not through YouTube videos or obscure online radio shows.

Researching further on the topic of exosomes, and their supposed equivalence with viruses—an idea proposed by conspiracy-scientist Andrew Kaufman—I found two relevant videos that clarify the scientific point of view even further. I also contacted several real experts in the field of exosome research to see if my essays contain any errors. To recap: Kaufman believes there is no virus, but people get sick because of stress, radiation, toxins or any other environmental impact. We have discussed his views in Parts 1-3.

But first, let's give a bit of chronology of the various YouTube video postings following Andrew Kaufman's original presentation containing this claim, which expose him as a pseudo-scientist who cherry picks from the scientific literature whatever (he thinks) supports his own opinions—disregarding large areas of solid science.

A Bit of Chronology

The original Icke/Kaufman videos
David Icke: There is no COVID-19. It doesn't exist.
David Icke: ‘There is no
COVID-19. It doesn't exist.’
Online Criticisms of Icke/Kaufman
Andrew Kaufman
Andrew Kaufman: ‘I think I
know what is really going on.’

Coffeezilla on Icke and Kaufman Keven McCairn on Kaufman Another Perspective on Kaufman
Coffeezilla Kevin W. McCairn Another Perspective

THE REAL EXOSOME EXPERTS

Searching in Google for any other relevant attempts to debunk Kaufman's ideas about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, I stumbled on two highly relevant vlogs between to exosome experts. They don't mention Kaufman by name but because the commenters to their videos bring up his ideas, they felt compelled to respond:

Jan Lötvall is an expert on exosomes, as his Wikipedia page tells us:

Jan Lotvall
Jan Lötvall
Jan Lötvall (also spelled Lotvall) is a Swedish clinical allergist and scientist working on translational research primarily in the field of asthma. He is the former director of the Krefting Research Centre at the University of Gothenburg.[1]
Lötvall's group notably contributed to early research on extracellular vesicles such as exosomes and microvesicles as shuttles of RNA molecules between cells.[2] Specifically, Lötvall's group showed that mRNA in exosomes are functional when taken up in recipient cells. A year later, the biomarker potential of RNA in microvesicles was described Xandra Breakefield/Johan Skog (Harvard University),[3] confirmed that also microRNA could be functional when transferred via extracellular vesicles from one cell to another.
Lötvall was a member of the Executive Committee of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, its secretary general from 2005 to 2009, and its president from June 2009 to June 2011.[4] Lötvall was also co-editor-in-chief of Respiratory Research from 2003 to 2018.[5] He was the first president of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (2012-2016) and chaired the first society meeting in Gothenburg, in April 2012.[6] Lötvall is the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Extracellular Vesicles from 1 August 2019. (Wikipedia)

Methinks we have a scientific authority here who can dispel erroneous notions of the SARS-CoV-2 virus actually being an exosome.

Lötvall speaks in these two videos with Kenneth Witwer, who has the following credentials in this particular field:

Kenneth W. Witwer
Kenneth W. Witwer
Kenneth W. Witwer is an associate professor of molecular and comparative pathobiology and neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. His laboratory studies extracellular vesicles (EVs), extracellular RNA (exRNA), and retroviruses, including HIV. Witwer has served as Secretary General and Executive Chair of Science and Meetings of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV), has been a scientific advisor to the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US National Institutes of Health, and is an associate editor of the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles. (Wikipedia)

According to his Linkedin page, Witwer has been active in combatting the HIV/AIDS denialism movement, consisting of the small but vocal minority of scientists who deny that HIV causes AIDS, through the website AIDSTruth.org. Apparently, he is now confronted with "scientists" who deny that SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19. Some extremists, like Kaufman, deny even the very existence of this virus.

Let's see what these exosome-experts have to say about these conspiracies about COVID-19.

Is COVID-19 virus an Exosome?

Is COVID-19 virus an Exosome? Ken Witwer and Jan Lötvall.

TAKE-HOME MESSAGE FROM THIS VIDEO
The coronavirus is a in a very specific sense an "exosome", but be careful, it has a very different biogenesis.
Viruses and exosomes are both similar and different in various aspects (content, size, origin, behavior, healthy/unhealthy).
coronaviruses are everywhere but some varieties unfortunately can cause significant mortality.
The virion (virus particle) is produced under tightly controlled conditions of protein incorporation.
Some viruses essentially are using the exosome pathway, and so it is with this coronavirus.
Conspiracy theories about exosomes and COVID-19

Conspiracy theories about exosomes and COVID-19.

TAKE-HOME MESSAGE FROM THIS VIDEO
Why somebody would believe [that the virus doesn't exist or is harmless] in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence is unclear.
We don't confirm the presence of viruses by looking at them through a microscope (but by qPCR), so it doesn't matter how closely their appearance resembles exosomes.
When viruses were discovered Koch's postulates were revised to account for the [specific nature of the] virus.
Some bacteria (and of course viruses) cannot live outside the host, but that doesn't mean they cannot become infectious.
Even though the corona virus is hijacking the exosome manufacturing process, it is still a fundamentally different beast.

DIFFERENCES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE

You might recall that in his video presentation Kaufman stressed the (supposed) similarities between exosomes and viruses, with the implication that they might be the same thing. Let me repeat his claims: "many times scientists have actually said they are the same thing, or they have substantial overlap." (see Part 3)

This is from an interview Kaufman did with London Real, the same platform that interviewed David Icke—which started off this whole series of articles:

So, the reason why this is so important is, one, the similarities have been recognized by scientists, including virologists, and many times scientists have actually said they are the same thing, or they have substantial overlap. Including prominent virologists. And they also found them to have a combination of what they call viral RNA or DNA mixed with human RNA or DNA. So remember from what I said earlier that we don't know the true source of what they call "viral genetic material". And nonetheless, whatever it is, they found it in our own body, in these exosomes. (1:40) ["Unmasking The Lies Around COVID-19: Facts vs Fiction of the Coronavirus Pandemic", londonreal.tv, no date.]
Edwin van der Pol
Edwin van der Pol

I have looked around for scientists to question these dubious claims, and found one very close to home. Edwin van der Pol, Assistant Professor Biomedical Engineering & Physics at the Amsterdam University Medical Center, wrote his PhD on "Detection of extracellular vesicles: size does matter" (University of Amsterdam, 2015) and is co-author of 41 publications on exosomes. He is interested in the detection of exosomes, microvesicles and other extracellular vesicles as possible biomarkers for disease. He sent me the following information, which highlights the salient differences between viruses and exosomes, and which I reproduce below with his permission:

The international society for extracellular vesicles (ISEV) endorses “extracellular vesicle” (EV) as the generic term for particles naturally released from the cell that are delimited by a lipid bilayer and cannot replicate, i.e. do not contain a functional nucleus. Since consensus has not yet emerged on specific markers of EV subtypes, such as endosome- origin “exosomes” and plasma membrane-derived “ectosomes” (microparticles/microvesicles) assigning an EV to a particular biogenesis pathway remains extraordinarily difficult unless, e.g. the EV is caught in the act of release by live imaging techniques [1].

Some salient differences between extracellular vesicles and viruses
Some salient differences between extracellular vesicles and viruses.

  • EVs including exosomes have a broad size distribution [2]. As far as I know, most viruses have a narrow size distribution. We therefore sometimes even use viruses as a reference material [5].
    Cup shaped morphology of an exosome
    Cup shaped morphology of an exosome.
  • EVs can be seen as phospholipid bags filled with water and some RNA / proteins. Hence, the refractive index, which tells how efficient an EV scatters light, is lower than the refractive index of viruses [3-5]. For the same reason, EVs are vulnerable once exposed to the vacuum of transmission electron microscopes. Due to the vacuum, the main content of EVs, water, evaporates, resulting in a cup-shaped / doughnut morphology (like a deflated football) [6]. I suppose most viruses do not suffer from the evaporation of water, as viruses are more dense in proteins, lipids and nucleic acids.
  • Depending on the composition of an EV, EVs would have a hard time remaining intact without water (water keeps the phospholipid molecules together).
  • EVs do not necessarily transport nucleic acids.
  • Once imaged by cryo electron microscopy, EVs can be differentiated from other particles in blood plasma by the presence of a 5 nm thick bilayer [7]. All EVs <500 nm in diameter are spherical [7]. Slide 26 of: "Refractive index of extracellular vesicles by nanoparticle tracking analysis":
  • Once a virus transports itself in the blood circulation, it's for the body and immune system “fully an exosome” [a reference to James Hildreth, FV].

Perhaps Kaufman should look more closely at the photos he comments on, or through his microscope, if he does that at all, or even better, use multiple detection techniques to see the real and relevant differences between exosomes and viruses.

MORE THEN A THOUSAND WORDS...

As a bonus, and to add animations to words, here is a simple, two-minute video about the nature and behavior of these "circulating microvesicles" or exosomes.

TAKE-HOME MESSAGE FROM THIS VIDEO
Exosomes are membrane enclosed structures that are released into the extra-cellular space of various cell types.
Once released from the cell circulating microvesicles can be detected in a variety of body fluids.
Circulating microvesicles can transfer their content to other cells, in support of various biological processes.
Circulating microvesicles can contain biomarkers to diagnose the presence of a disease.
Circulating microvesicles can contain cell material (RNA, proteins) from their cell of origin.

END OF THE VIRUS = EXOSOME STORY

This concludes my series on Icke, Kaufman, viruses and exosomes and hopefully it has become clear that disinformation about these scientfic topics can only be dispelled by allowing ourselves to be educated by real science.

Self-appointed exosome specialists, like Andrew Kaufman, who declare there is no virus to worry about, and that the cause of COVID-19 is 5G, stress or any other environmental variable, but who neglect to mention sophisticated disciplines such as bioinformatics and genomics, are irresponsible and should be refuted.

Real scientists publish their views in scientific journals, not through YouTube videos or obscure online radio shows, seeking recognition and fame directly from the public, as fringe scientists such as Andrew Kaufman tend to do. For example, at the start of his presentation Andrew Kaufman thanks the following people who have been "instrumental and inspiring" to him. So you know where he is coming from:

Andrew Kaufman's sources
  • Thomas S. Cowan, alternative medicine celebrity, author of Human Heart, Cosmic Heart, Cancer and the New Biology of Water and Vaccines, Autoimmunity. Links COVID-19 to 5G: it weakens our immune system (so he does believe in viruses!). Recommends Vitamin C, like Kaufman does.
  • James True: "Author, Seer. Literary alchemist." Author of Technology of Belief. Blueprints of Mind Control and Spell of Six Dragons. See: www.jtrue.com/
  • Richie from Boston: "5G: The most important conspiracy of all time", right-wing YouTuber with 100.000.000+ views. "If you are closed minded, leave, leave now."
  • Jason Lindgren and Crow: rado host Ccrow777, "belief is the enemy of knowing", UFOs, astrology, "the highest quality UFO and anomaly footage possible".
  • His children. I first read this as "my patients" but it was "my patient and supportive children". No comment.
  • Stefan Lanka: German molecular biologist who denies the existence of any virus. Offered €100,000 for proof of the existence of the measles virus. See: "David Bardens vs. Stefan Lanka law suit". See: wissenschafftplus.de. See Part 7.
  • Nancy Turner Banks: "Do Infectious & Pathogenic Viruses Even Exist?", author of The Slow Death of the AIDS/Cancer Paradigm and AIDS, Opium, Diamonds and Empire. As to viruses: "They never isolated anything."

They have turned into viruses themselves by spreading their harmful memes of misinformation across the Internet.

REFERENCES

[1] Théry C, Witwer KW, Aikawa E, Alcaraz MJ, Anderson JD, Andriantsitohaina R, Antoniou A, Arab T, Archer F, Atkin-Smith GK, others. Minimal information for studies of extracellular vesicles 2018 (MISEV2018): a position statement of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles and update of the MISEV2014 guidelines. J Extracell Vesicles Taylor & Francis; 2018; 7: 1535750.

[2] van der Pol E, Coumans FAW, Grootemaat AE, Gardiner C, Sargent IL, Harrison P, Sturk A, van Leeuwen TG, Nieuwland R. Particle size distribution of exosomes and microvesicles determined by transmission electron microscopy, flow cytometry, nanoparticle tracking analysis, and resistive pulse sensing. J Thromb Haemost 2014; 12: 1182-92.

[3] van der Pol E, de Rond L, Coumans FAW, Gool EL, Böing AN, Sturk A, Nieuwland R, van Leeuwen TG. Absolute sizing and label-free identification of extracellular vesicles by flow cytometry. Nanomedicine Nanotechnology, Biol Med 2018; 14: 801-10.

[4] van der Pol E, Coumans FAW, Sturk A, Nieuwland R, Van Leeuwen TG. Refractive index determination of nanoparticles in suspension using nanoparticle tracking analysis. Nano Lett 2014; 14: 6195-201.

[5] Tang VA, Fritzsche AK, Renner TM, Burger D, Lannigan JA, Brittain GC, Ouellet C V, Van Der Pol E, Langlois M-A. Engineered Retroviruses as Fluorescent Biological Reference Particles for Nanoscale Flow Cytometry. BioRxiv Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; 2019; : 614461.

[6] Coumans FAW, Brisson AR, Buzas EI, Dignat-George F, Drees E, El-Andaloussi S, Emanueli C, Gasecka A, Hendrix A, Hill AF, Lacroix R, Lee Y, Van Leeuwen TG, Mackman N, Mäger I, Nolan JP, van der Pol E, Pegtel DM, Sahoo S, Siljander PM, Sturk G, De Wever O, Nieuwland R. Methodological guidelines to study extracellular vesicles. Circ Res 2017; 120: 1632-48.

[7] Arraud N, Linares R, Tan S, Gounou C, Pasquet JM, Mornet S, Brisson AR. Extracellular vesicles from blood plasma: determination of their morphology, size, phenotype and concentration. J Thromb Haemost 2014; 12: 614-27.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Thanks to Edwin van der Pol who reviewed this series of essays for accuracy and provided valuable input on the differences between exosomes and viruses.



Websites of David Icke & Andrew Kaufman

YouTube Channel Andrew Kaufman

YouTube channels critiquing Icke / Kaufman / London Real

YouTube Channel Another Perspective YouTube Channel London Fake YouTube Channel Kevin W. McCairn

Corona virus

THE CORONA CONSPIRACY
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

Check out: 27 Covid-19 Myths &
83 Vaccine Myths from docbastard.net






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