Ramon Bril (00:12)
Hello. Welcome to Cafe Weltschmerz. Today I’m talking with Emeritus Professor Beda Stadler from the University of Berne. He used to be the director of the Institute of Immunology of this university, and has quite some things to say about this coronavirus pandemic. Thank you so much for joining me, Professor.
Beda Stadler (00:34)
Ramon Bril (00:34)
You have worked for quite a long time at the University of Berne as an immunologist, or am I seeing this wrong? So may I ask you, what did you do?
Beda Stadler (00:48)
I was heading the Institute of Immunology and most of — we were always a group of about 50 people, but half of them working in research, mainly research in allergy, vaccine production, artificial and natural antibodies. So basically an autoimmune disease. So that’s the field that we’ve worked in, in immunology. You would say, I worked basically with the B cells and immunology has two most important cells. The B cell, that’s the one that makes the antibodies and the T cell. That’s the one that can make immune suppression that can recognize cancer and so on or viruses.
Ramon Bril (01:36)
That’s the hunter, right?
Beda Stadler (01:38)
Yeah. It’s the hunter, right.
Ramon Bril (01:41)
Yeah, it’s the hunter, yeah. So I imagine for you, this is quite an interesting and busy time during this coronavirus pandemic. And I’ve read your article and listened to most of the podcast for how much I could because my German…it’s okay, but not very good. Um, I’m very, very interested in what you’ve got to say. And, um, where I would like to start maybe is, um, how related is this virus in your opinion to viruses that we already know, or at least that our immune systems, know?
Beda Stadler (02:11)
It’s, uh, a coronavirus. And if you can say that before, even, you know what it’s doing, that means it belongs to a family. This family has several groups and one group the better coronaviruses. There are a couple of them, some have already made some troubles worldwide that was SARS or MERS, but there are other coronaviruses which always go around the world and people get mad. If you say it’s a virus that makes a cold basically also, SARS-CoV-2 is a virus that makes a cold. But yes, right now it makes for many people more than a cold and it’s creating some problems. But before we start, I mean, I started in Switzerland. I’m known, and I was kind of involved in this discussion, but I’m not eager to be in this discussion unless all of a sudden, I felt immunity’s not taken enough…is not given enough credit that this whole thing. And let me start with a small, small story. In 46, there was a, uh, Danish, uh, carpenter that, uh, went, uh, on land at the Island of Farrah and this Farrah Island that belonged to Denmark. And that it was a population of a little bit more than 7,000 people. He got, uh…but he had the measles.
But at this time the measles were not known. It was the disease. What was kind of known, but it was of course not known whether it’s a virus and all this. So no specifics. So he goes on land. And then within several weeks, 6,000 people got sick on this island over counting a little something a little bit more than 7,000 people. And there was one doctor, a Danish doctor who observed all this. And then he realized some people didn’t catch it. It was the old people. It was very strange because children were dying middle aged, but the old people, people above in pension, you know, growth is like me. They were surviving. And then these people said, Oh, we remember this kind of disease we had as young children. So those were survivors from a measles epidemic on this Island. And then it disappeared for 60 years.
Now, the virus came back and created all these problems and now they were immune. So then this was for an immunologist. This is a story that everybody has to read and learn because it was so typical nowadays, it’s just the opposite. Now we have a virus that goes wild all over the world, but does it affect children? Children below 10 years are basically never affected. So normally everybody would say, okay, probably they are immune, but nobody said this. So that’s what made me actually mad people was we’re repeating. This virus is so dangerous because it comes on to populations with no immunity and the virus is new. And you started the first question with is the virus new. No, it belongs to a family. It has common prop — common peptides and proteins on the surface, but also inside the virus, which most of the coronavirus have. So he has relatives and the relatives have common structures.
Ramon Bril (06:20)
So would you say that, um, because a lot of people in the beginning or a lot of epidemiologists would say, oh, look at our models. We’ve made models. The virus is new, everybody’s susceptible, but you just told me that at least children are not very susceptible or totally not. But I think this might also hold for older people or even very elderly people who have had a very different coronavirus. Is this true? Or am I looking at this in the wrong way?
Beda Stadler (06:48)
Yes. So in the long run, the more it becomes clear, the virus looks for immunocompromised people. And of course, during puberty, your immune system is the best, the highest. From then on it goes only downwards. Your immune system becomes worse and worse and worse. The older you get, the more troubles you have: autoimmunity, cancer. All these things are because your immune system is not working as it should. But some older people still have a perfect immunity. So it was not possible to infect them. And right now the tragedy goes on. Like most people don’t realize America who has a real problem now with the virus. The five biggest centers of the disease outbreak are prisons, jails. So the virus looks for immunocompromised people and people who cannot avoid other people. So in America, people don’t like to talk about this, but it’s their social system, which is a problem.
And in Europe, we don’t have this problem. We don’t have, we don’t put so many people in jail and we don’t have jails and situations like in America. And we don’t have all these racial problems that America has. And now the virus goes around the world. It doesn’t look for the same risk patients as with us; it’s the predisposed with disease, and the elderly. But like in Brazil, you don’t have these elderly people. They, they died from other reasons. So it’s young people there, but you have the poor, you have the malnourished, you have the people who starved. If you live in the favelas and you say, “Oh, just stay home,” they laugh at you. They have to go out or they don’t have anything to eat. And now the virus will look for exactly these places.
Ramon Bril (09:02)
So are, um, these immunocompromised people are not also very susceptible to other cold-like viruses or influenza, uh, or other infectious diseases?
Beda Stadler (09:15)
Yes, of course.
Ramon Bril (09:16)
Is this virus especially dangerous, would you say?
Beda Stadler (09:20)
It is not really, especially dangerous. It’s one of the risk factors for people with such predispositions. The same people also usually can die because of influenza for example. Influenza has a very similar pattern with the big exception. And that’s why you should not say this virus is less dangerous than influenza, but what you can say is this coronavirus does not attack babies. It does not attack young children. And it does not attack pregnant women. And all three things are done by the normal influenza viruses. So if you ask me what I prefer right now, this virus is a danger for me, for people like me who are elderly and at risk. But for all the other people, the virus is not dangerous. It’s a serious cold, but it’s not dangerous.
Ramon Bril (10:32)
But how come we got so scared of it? How come our politicians took this as a warrant to lock down everything and everyone?
Beda Stadler (10:42)
Yeah. The problem of us humans are that we have still brains that resemble the “monkey brain” very strongly. I was scared to death as well for two, three weeks. And I couldn’t think clearly anymore, everybody was. We were fed with videos from, uh, from Italy that probably many people died because they were maltreated. Doctors didn’t know yet how to treat these patients. They treated them wrongly or, or, you know, they made the situation worse. It is known now that they get infected people from the emergency room and they were sent back to asylums for the elderly, you know, the most stupid thing you can do has been done. Yeah. And we saw these pictures and these pictures created panic. And, uh, for example, in Switzerland, I got so mad and I’m still mad if I think that some of my colleagues, some medical doctors went in public and said “By the way, we probably have to make a triage; people about over 80 will not get ventilated.”
Even very young people heard this. This created such a mass panic that everybody said, “Oh, so this must be dangerous?” That’s something we have to talk, really, about as a society. I don’t know how it was in Holland, but in Switzerland, people said, we have to make a decision between protecting the system or the patient. And I had such troubles with this decision, you know, and finally, everybody tried to convince…I also started to believe at the beginning that maybe we have to protect the system so that the collateral damages are not too great, not too many…But then within one to two weeks, everybody could find out that maximally 6% of the whole, of the emergency beds that were created or proposed, where ever occupied. So there was, the system was never in jeopardy, never. So that is a big problem. Now then for this, I would expect some excuses that really created a panic. And then it took a couple of weeks until people started to think…
Ramon Bril (13:25)
Honestly, the mainstream media is definitely a culprit in this. I will believe, I hope if you would give me your opinion on this, but they seem to have made the panic worsen by orders of magnitude.
Beda Stadler (13:39)
Yeah. And the problem is that there were always, some reasonable people that came up, like a professor back in Germany who had a wonderful record in his work, but because he was such an opposition to the mainstream media and, uh, and all the experts that were talking to the government that, yeah… a new system came up and everybody who was not in line was immediately put into a corner of, uh, wearing aluminum hats. And, you know…
Ramon Bril (14:26)
I know. Yeah. We know.
Beda Stadler (14:29)
So, and also science, you know, it’s a good thing that there were so many different opinions in science. And, uh, but laymen don’t understand this because most systems that base on belief, there you have an absolute truth in science. You don’t have, you have different science facts. Then you have to find out who is wrong. And scientists should be very happy that somebody was wrong because you can learn from the false.
Ramon Bril (15:05)
It’s not modern science anymore. In my opinion, modern science — one of the telltale signs is that it’s 97% certain and the issue is settled and we should only continue and nobody’s allowed to talk against it. And mainstream controls it.
Beda Stadler (15:21)
That’s a big problem. And this development is dangerous and we have to talk about this and change it. It was not a bad thing saying that people learned that scientists fight together, you know, but usually we fight to find the truth and not to blame that one — is it the denier, you know. At the end if you were not of the same opinion, then you were a denier, like a climate denier. And so, you know, just for fun. I was starting to call all my scientific friends as immunology deniers. I would just want it to provoke them so that they would start thinking a little bit.
Ramon Bril (16:13)
Use it in your advantage. But, um, please let’s continue and go back to coronavirus. Um, so one of the major claims made was that, uh, asymptomatic people, people who didn’t have many of the symptoms of coronavirus or none, they were still very infectious or possibly infectious. Um, but this, this is kind of a weird statement, would you say?
Beda Stadler (16:44)
Yeah, that frightened me because of course there are a number of diseases where you have silent carriers for a small time, but here it was totally exaggerated. And now we have to talk about the Corona test. The test assay that was used. Because if you are immune and the virus attacks you, you inhale it, you become infected. But if you are immune, you fight the virus and you destroy the virus, but the virus in some cells, it can replicate. You still make some virus, but you fight it. Finally you win. So over a period of several days, you can be positive because the coronavirus test, it measures only a very tiny, tiny piece of the genome of the virus. And if your immune cells have killed the virus, then you have debris. You have pieces of the, of the nucleic acids in your blood and everywhere. And the assay can pick up these, uh, these, rotten pieces. And then it looks like you’re infected. You’re not, you have won the fight, so it cannot discriminate. And then the second point is, if you say somebody without symptoms can inect. That means this person must throw a whole bunch of viruses out. When he speaks. in his droplets, there must be a load — a viral load, which must be significant or else you cannot [infect].
But how do you make these viruses? These viruses are made by your body cells that have been destroyed. Then the virus comes out. Now, if you do this, the body will immediately recognize this and say, that’s an influx and immunologically, react against it. And that’s called an inflammation. And if you have inflamed regions, there are five cardinal symptoms. But one, it’s not only that you get fever and all this. No, it’s pain. So if somebody says, I have not felt anything, no scratch, nothing, no symptoms. But I have — that is a ridiculous assumption. Imagine I could, I could walk around and say, “Oh, I had AIDS for two weeks, but I didn’t have symptoms.” You know? “And now I’m fine, again.” you know, who would ever, you know, if you can, all of a sudden have a viral diseases without symptoms and transmit the disease constantly.
This is, for our health system, a huge problem, because any school pupil who doesn’t want to go to school, he can tell the teacher look I had influenza for three weeks, no symptoms, but I had influenza. So I have to stay home because I would, you know — so it’s a ridiculous assumption. And I’m just amazed how everybody is repeating it. And I was going to the biologist to publish this first. Let’s not mention the name, but this guy at the crucial moment there where it would be, the proof should come. That it’s, that the viral load is not just a PCR signal, but through infectious viruses at this moment, he cites another paper and he says, it has been proven that, and that comes to citation. And in the citation, he cites himself. An old paper, you know? So when I saw this, I was shocked and I said, Jesus. How can you do this? This is so, so we have lots of scientists who just wanted to be the first. They didn’t care about what they publish. They wanted to be the most beautiful, the first and also impress anybody and get support from the government.
Ramon Bril (21:16)
And it was added into the maelstrom affair that the media was creating and… But you’re saying that basically everybody who is infectious must have some kind of dying cells in the lungs or wherever. And these hurt it. Can’t just be very infectious and not have any pain or inflammation.
Beda Stadler (21:33)
I mean, it’s, it’s a very rare disease where you don’t feel anything. You know, if you have a disease where you don’t feel anything, then how can you ever find out that you had the disease, but if you have too sensitive test method, the PCR for coronavirus disease: okay, if you want to see there are some residues; where is it? And so on. There’s nothing wrong with this test, but you can apply it wrongly and you can measure a piece of DNA and claim it was a viable, vital infectious virus that it wasn’t. It was just a piece of RNA.
Ramon Bril (22:13)
Dead, dead virus, long dead remnants. They still test positive, but even in a case of like in Korea where people were tested twice, and the second time people would even come to conclude look these people, you can get ill twice. And people don’t build immunity and such these crazy, crazy conclusions have come, come to us.
Beda Stadler (22:39)
It’s fun. And that’s, that’s what I respect the Koreans because this went around the globe and, uh, even, uh, who took it up on their webpage to say that the immunity is very bad and so on. And then about a couple of weeks, I don’t know how many weeks later Korea officially apologized for this because they said they made a mistake that it is true, that they could measure the virus again. But the people had been immune in, in the meantime. And what they measured was just trash from the virus. And they apologized for this.
Ramon Bril (23:17)
Very interesting, because when the news first came out, a lot of people that totally have nothing to do with virology, just people on the streets were talking about, “Oh, this is another one of those viruses. You cannot get immune to it so dangerous.” But I’ve never heard anyone talk about, or I didn’t even know that the Korean scientists said, sorry for this accident. That’s just too strange for me. The media should be as open with negative news as with positive news. Yeah.
Beda Stadler (23:48)
Yeah. I have a certain degree of understanding. It is for most journals, print media or video media. Most of them got rid of the science department that they once had. Now, usually there is some poor journalist who is put on the track of some news story. He doesn’t understand anything of this and he has to make a story. And then he goes and calls three experts with deep guts. Then he gets mixed up from all what he heard and he does…So I have some degree of understanding. And the problem is that there are basically only some very, very big, very large print media who still have scientists in the reductions. That’s one of the problems. So that’s why this time, uh, scientists were so much in need but also so much in need because journalists wanted somebody to explain it. But when I was young, the problem was in, in the public…
If you have money from industry to do your research, then you were not believable. You know, you’re not trusted. Now, all of a sudden the opposite, the industry doesn’t support so much anymore, and scientists are extremely dependent on the government. So this has created the same situation. Now we have all these experts who give the politicians exactly the opinions and what they want to hear so that they can get the support from the government. I, in Switzerland, I know some guys who, for example, at the time, when we had the BSE story, he went on TV and said, Switzerland has to count with about 10,000, that death because of BSE, the prion disease. And, uh, everybody was shocked. He got more, he got several millions from different foundations for his own research because of this, because he was the expert and he claimed that he could do this and he could prevent certain things, not a single person ever died in Switzerland because of the prion disease. You know, the very same person this time came immediately up again and said, Switzerland has to calculate with 60,000 tests like this…
Ramon Bril (26:37)
And then, then listen, it’s the same in most European countries, it’s the same offenders that make the wrong models that don’t, that scare people to death. They come again and again, and again, and somehow they have some kind of authority to, you know, to, to advise the conference. Um, please, if you would, could we talk about the immunology tests? How many people were immune before coronavirus, because a lot of tests have been done and we don’t hear so much about this. And many of the claims that people were immune to this virus, they, uh, were ridiculed also here in this country, the Netherlands, uh, what is your view on this?
Beda Stadler (27:16)
Yep. The problem is first that eeverybody said there is no immunity, but there was no test, no tests all over the world. So everybody said there is no immunity, but nobody had antibody tests. And then test came out. The first one which came out on the market in Germany, was an antibody that formerly previously was made against SARS. And because SARS is related to SARS-CoV-2 this antibody also recognized this new virus, the new, you know, which has the same structure as the old one. And because SARS died out, you know, there were antibodies around and people gave up to make a vaccine because even if you had one, you couldn’t test it and so on. So there was old material around that all of a sudden could be used too. That’s the first point then I was asked by some venture capitalists.
They sent me some information from Chinese companies who were trying to sell antibody test in Switzerland. So I got all the information about the test and I called them back and said forget it. This is just plain bullshit. It’s always positive and matches everything. At the time, I didn’t think much about it, but now looking back, it’s clear that they just measured the virus — the natural, normal residual immunity. That’s in everybody around, in you and me, everybody. That’s why these tests were positive. And now then they came several companies. In between, what happens is that CDC starts to retract some of these antibody tests right now because they, they realized they are not precise enough and so on. So nobody has the repertoire of tests that you needed. You would need a test that could specifically see SARS-CoV-2, but then you would need a test that can discriminate between SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses.
And then you need a test who can measure, is it a primary immune response or a secondary immune response. You can usually do this at the beginning. We make IgM antibodies later. We make a GG. And then the most important export antibody is IGA that we put in there in our mucus membranes, which would be the most important to fight the virus at the beginning. And so then amongst all this virus, you always would have to discriminate. Is it protective antibody and neutralizing antibody, or is it an antibody that can collaborate with the normal basic immunity? For example, IgM antibodies can take in other proteins, like complement a very important group of proteins in our body that together with antibodies can fight off the virus. So, so there’s a whole plethora of assets that you would need to where you have to study the immune response of people who have been sick, who are sick who never have seen the virus and so on. And all these tests are not around. Everybody everywhere, people are making now tests, but most of them just make tests against the spike protein of coronairus.
Ramon Bril (31:19)
In the Netherlands. And then they conclude that 3% of the people have had the virus. And so actually the situation is super bad and there will be a second wave with the other 97 percent. Yeah.
Beda Stadler (31:32)
It’s, it’s plain stupid. I mean it, of course, I mean, of course anti spike antibodies are also important, but it’s not the only one you can test against other structures. And people don’t know how many structures actually can induce protective neutralizing antibodies. That’s not known about this virus,
Ramon Bril (32:00)
Sorry to interrupt you. You could be immune, let’s say without having specifically antibodies against the spike protein, but for example, against parts of the RNA or certain other components of the virus.
Beda Stadler (32:13)
Right. Not the RNA, but syncs structures on the surface of the virus. RNA, it’s not so simple. Once it’s in the cells and — or without the virus, the RNA cannot go into the cells. And then there are other proteins which are common in all better coronaviruses, which help the us to replicate that and so on. These only come about once the virus is in, within the cells. So, but everything that’s on the surface — and then if you have two, three proteins, proteins of this size can induce several hundreds of different types of antibodies against it. So, and among them, you can have several. Now, in addition, what comes is in order to say that you have a neutralizing antibody, people use cell lines, and then they throw virus on it. Virus kills the cell line. If the antibody, their cell line is not killed.
Yeah, it’s, it’s a test, but this virus infects so many different cell types and to see whether normal cells are also protected. You could guess it a little bit from a cell line, but it’s not through tests. So for, for some, for some viruses you have to do a challenge test in the animal, but you cannot do this because the, the receptor that virus is binds to, you would have to make an artificial animal first to prove this and so on. So in other words, there’s so many open questions, but the most important point here to realize is everybody who claimed there is no immunity had no assay to prove this. So it was just a gut feeling and not science. You know.
Ramon Bril (34:24)
But a gut feeling made by some very unprofessional virologists, or am I wrong? Because…
Beda Stadler (34:33)
Everybody claimed this, you know, everybody said, the virus is new and there is no immunity. And some, I heard it from the best, most famous immunologists in America, in Switzerland, Germany, everywhere, everybody repeated this, but nobody had while — they’re at the beginning and they were saying this — nobody of them had an assay to prove there’s a…
Ramon Bril (35:03)
Actually they were very wrong. Weren’t they?
Beda Stadler (35:09)
Yeah. And now […] there are papers coming out, showing that there is immunity. There is, there are cross-reactive antibodies. People have now even found in a llama. They have found a, an antibody that recognizes SARS CoV-2 and MERS, you know, so the longer, the more, uh, also the, the assays that people try to make, create problems because all these naturally occurring antibodies from previous cold infections are interfering. And they desperately all try to make a test that is not interfering with these antibodies. And thereby they miss probably the most important antibodies and they run after the specificity, which is probably even not so important.
Ramon Bril (36:01)
Hmm. Hmm. So what do you think of the use of models at the beginning of this crisis? Um, all kinds of, uh, specialists, epidemiologists, they made a lot of models and these models forecast huge amounts of deaths.
Beda Stadler (36:18)
Yeah. I mean, these models are maybe it’s even, it’s even exaggerated to call them models. You know, the models are only as good as the assumptions, you know. FIrst they made the assumption that the virus is new and there is no immunity. So the models are based that there is no herd immunity and their models were based at that early immunity slowly builds up. And so on. Their models also didn’t realize that there are superspreaders and most people do not spread dramatically. And the superspreaders, uh, I don’t understand it. And I don’t know, uh, how much fiction and how much reality is in there. It’s an interesting concept, but I, I think I haven’t ever heard an explanation why somebody would be a superspreader. What, what happens in such a human being that he spreads the disease different than others. It’s, it’s another concept that has been proposed, but not proven.
Ramon Bril (37:35)
So the, um, one, the blood bank, one of the institutes here in the Netherlands, they had a very political headline above their, um, above their study. The immunity study, which showed in the beginning, it was three. And then a few weeks later it was 5.5% of our population here in Netherlands was immune. And they said herd immunity is not an option, basically, something like that, or it was a very far flung option. Um, I find that very political and not very scientific. Um, do you, would you agree because they only studied one. I, like I said, only despite protein…
Beda Stadler (38:15)
And there are several experts who claimed that we need 60 to 70% herd immunity. Everybody who said that made this proposal based on, you know, uh, believing it. It was — we don’t have data. We don’t know how big the herd immunity must be. If they would now start to the ground immunity that is there, this basic immunity, which is from cross reactions, then you probably would need a much lower herd immunity. There are, uh, there are experts who say, if, if the ground immunity is elevated 20% or more, maybe you will need only a 20% herd immunity together.
And you know, what, what is known is wherever you have SARS, the first of these virus types. SARS-CoV-2 have almost no chance to infect people. That’s another observation that immunity plays a role and then SARS disappeared. Usually a virus disappears if it cannot find anymore anybody to infect, you know, so it runs dead and we — at present, we don’t know how big herd immunity really must be. Somebody has claimed 67% but I have not seen a real science about it. And we don’t know how great immunity is. What we know is from more papers now is that our second type of defense, not with antibodies — so far, we have primarily talked about antibodies that are important at the beginning to guard, to, to, to shove the virus away, to kill it rapidly, to hinder entrance in the cells and all this that’s important, but that’s not complete and biology has no a hundred percent.
So you will always have some viruses that are successful, go in, and then you need the second arm. And these are the T cells, cells. They are kind of stupid cells, but they can, what they can do is whenever you have a cell that is infected or it’s changed with cancer or so, it shows up on a little presenting protein, little tiny proteins peptides, and T cells can recognize this. So it’s not very specific. What they see is much less specificity than what an antibody sees. People have looked, there is a study, several studies now. For example, one in Berlin, they looked at people who have never had contact with SARS-CoV-2 and among those people, 34% had T-cell immunity, 34%. So in words, the natural immunity must be in that order. It’s not that you have 34 T-cell and no B cells or so it’s, you know, there is not a dichotomy in the immune system. You always have both arms to develop together. So I would assume that the basic immunity is also in that range. You could just count all the children below 10 that are not infected. And then you can, you know, people say 90% of the people who are in contact with the virus have basically no symptoms. So if you, if you count them all, then you might, might have a kind of a basic immunity between 40 and 60% already. That would then be the explanation why it disappeared everywhere in Europe.
Ramon Bril (42:36)
And also because it was similar, right? I mean, most of the time…
Beda Stadler (42:40)
That helped in addition to UV light and so on, then about people say no, but look at other countries it’s different. Yes. The virus does not only go away because of the sun and if a virus, if you give this virus a chance to infect several times, and that’s the point of America is all the, the jails that the five centers. These people live so close together, that they don’t infect each other once. You know, they probably do it several times a day. And until you’re immune to it in two weeks during this time, if you constantly get infected and there is now several examples in this direction, for example, the Navajo Indians in North America, they had the, they had these casinos, but not much work was there. So the casinos were closed. So all these Indians were without a job, but culturally, they liked to meet in big, uh, in big rooms be together.
So in other words, the viral load that is provided, provided during infection plays at all. That’s why all the tracking apps that are now coming, they only make an alarm. If you are 15 minutes together with something, you know, so, you know, like measles, it doesn’t take 15 minutes. Something is really infectious that you could go in a room where two hours before somebody with disease was in the room, go in there for 10 seconds. You go out, you can have measles when you go out, you know, that’s that’s infectious. So this virus needs a lot of time. So in other words a high viral load, lots of droplets with viruses in it. And, and that’s why I always say, go out, going to some, but if you live somewhere like in the favelas where people are close together, many people, malnutrition, you have no chance to evade. You have to be close to all the others. You will, will be constantly infecting at the end. Your immunity breaks. You lose and the virus can start fighting you now, rather than you would fight the virus.
Ramon Bril (45:27)
The health of the immune system is really important. I would say because, um, as you see, like the, the prisons, I don’t expect people in prisons to have the best immune system also in favelas or like elderly people. Um, this really plays a big role in this. Um, I think the situation we’ve got ourselves into with this whole coronavirus pandemic is, is, is rather serious. Wouldn’t you say? And, um, I’m actually a little bit, um, astounded. I dunno how to say, um, it worries me that so few scientists up to this point, and I think more will come later have, have, have gone up and stood up and said, listen, listen, listen, this situation, we make so many claims. We don’t know, the lockdown, the consequences are super harsh. And it seems like a very difficult thing for scientists, especially those who are paid and have a job, uh, under a government or university, uh, to come forward.
Beda Stadler (46:30)
There are two interesting things. First, when I wrote the article, that’s now more than almost two weeks ago now almost. Um, I, I expected some very harsh reactions from my colleagues. Then, interestingly until today, nobody has attacked me for this. Nobody has said, this is wrong. Nobody has said, this guy is stupid, or this guy is wearing an aluminum hat or whatever, you know? So I was expecting that they fight this. What I say is, is so obvious that, and I’m not I’m since six years in pension. So I did not have any interest in, in being at — You know, it’s just, I couldn’t stand this opinion. That’s all. Yes. At the second point and that’s make me sad. I had several young immunologists calling me up and said they were so happy that I spoke up. I said, why? You know me.
They said, yes, of course we know you, and you were always outspoken, but we believe we are also immunologists. We believe you’re right. And these have seen the same thing independent of me. So in other words, some of them were my former students, even. So I was proud to be called teacher, you know, so, but the point is, and then I made fun and I said, so why don’t you say something? She said, first of all, when they did among friends, even their payment, all of a sudden they were in opposition and people were attacking them. They said, we did not dare to go out in public with it because I have a, I want to have a career…I am in pension. There is nothing that can have to do me, you know, unless, unless you, you attack me, then, then you know, I don’t even think I can even have some fun with it. You know? So…
Ramon Bril (49:01)
You also have a very high stature, honestly, ’cause you were the director of the Institute. You have been a professor for so long.
Beda Stadler (49:08)
So the second point is the most important. It shows that obviously — and it goes together with what we discussed with being a denier or not all of a sudden — science should be free of opinions. You know, opinions do not matter. I’m not interested in any opinion, but facts about what we’ve talked about now is facts. It is a fact that nobody had the test. It is a fact that old antibodies recognize this new virus and so on. So we talked about things which are facts, and there you can fight. Then the facts will win at the end. But if young immunologists are afraid to come up with facts, that means that some people are obviously so much empowered that independent of facts, they can harm young people. You know, that’s not funny, that’s not.
Ramon Bril (50:13)
And I think there is also a third point to be made. And that is that the standard character of a scientist, maybe not a very political one. I don’t know when I was in university, most of the scientists that I would meet or learn something from they weren’t the type to come out and say, this is what we should do. This is how we should, have, uh, how we should, uh, work against as far as whatever, they, they weren’t really, they didn’t have aspirations to be a politician. And I think maybe the type of scientist that wants power, that wants to be a politician, is not the type of scientist that we want to have that power or…
Beda Stadler (50:51)
Oh, I’m glad you say this. To me, this is a very important point because I was also believing the other sayings that, okay, as a scientist, you give the fact, politician makes the decisions. And so on since many years I didn’t do this anymore. I was heavily involved in gene technology, promoting this. I was in Switzerland. People called me the Maxine Pope, you know, because I always was, uh, I was fighting homeopathy and alternative medicine, all these things. I’m very much that I have. I have a large panel of enemies. They’re all in the same esoteric field. And so every belief system I made fun of, especially also religion, I always made fun out of these things. Now, if, if, if what you’re saying is that now all of a sudden, if science also becomes a belief system, you know, but then a normal, it doesn’t matter what you know, it’s, it only matters who do you know.
Ramon Bril (52:13)
Very scary thing you just said.
Beda Stadler (52:15)
That’s very scary. Some people say it was bad when industry just supported us. And I had lots of industry money for doing research, but it is also bad if the government supports you, you know, with the condition in all these, a promotion and these agencies that support science, these people, they all know each other, you know? And, uh, so it’s, it’s kind of mafiosi type of thing. I, you give me this grant, so I will, uh, close my eyes with this paper. And, uh, so that’s not so I’m behalf, although we’ve started to publish too many papers, you know, for each little tiny thing, people write up papers.
Ramon Bril (53:10)
Yeah. Modern science is, is definitely decrepit in many, many areas. Um, but I think that’s for another discussion. May I ask you one last question, Beda, professor Beda? Um, what do you think of the second wave? The media is already blowing big winds of second wave coming. Um, is there going to be a second wave? Should we be afraid of it? What do you think?
Beda Stadler (53:35)
No, there will be no second wave. There was once a second wave with influenza, but there, the second wave was even deadlier than the first one, because it was a period where there were no antibiotics. Medicine was completely different and so on. This virus will come back most likely this winter, but…it’s a cold virus. It comes back. But if we now start to learn that all we have to do is protect the risk, the group of risk, uh, patients, then there are no death. If we can protect them, then the young people can do whatever they want — to have a little influenza-like disease for a week, for a young person — come on!
Yeah. And that’s so we can, we can look. So I don’t think that our society is no more constructed. We will have second and third waves in every country that has hidden social problems that are, we don’t talk about. Germany has such a case now, but in this…system where better Belgium had this problem because they have people working on the miserable conditions — close to whenever people are so close to get the similar, like in a prison, working on where we have really social problems. The virus will find these places, but it’s not the second wave. These will be clusters that come up. And that divide us shows us may have to be half racial and other social problems. And, uh, of course there may be countries where the, the whole country is a racial problem. You know? So there, it may look like a, like a second wave because yeah.
And if you look in the day, it’s good that the Americans look to Europe and every country they see in every country, the virus is down. Right now in, in Switzerland, the number of cases as they call it are smaller than the specificity of the Corona test. If the Corona test has 90, I need to present specificity. So that means if you test 100 people, two are false. So right now, Switzerland tests, almost more than five thousand people every day. So that means four for a hundred to 4,000, 25,000 to a hundred. So we should have a hundred false positive cases every day, but we only have about 20 to 40 now fluctuating since two weeks. So nobody even knows whether, the virus is still there — [Ramon: but you don’t even have a way to know whether it’s there or not.] You would have to isolate the virus sequences or infect cells with it, you know? And if you don’t do this, you even don’t know whether the virus is still around. Right now, I’m just for, you know, helping the people a little bit to say, if right now in Switzerland, you run around with a mask, then you should probably better wear a helmet because the danger that something falls on your head is bigger than getting infected by coronavirus. That’s the situation right now. I know it’s not in every country, the same scene, you know?
Ramon Bril (57:42)
Alright, thank you so much for this interview. Um, I had an absolute pleasure talking to you. Um, you, you told us so many interesting things. I hope everybody who has been listening to this, wanting to this also find it extremely interesting. Like I did. Um, professor, thank you so much for talking with me. People who have been listening, viewers, thank you so much for listening and see you the next time. Cheers.
Beda Stadler (58:10)