Q. How Many Nobel Prizes have been awarded since the creation of the Nobel Prize in 1901?
Q. How many citizens of the Peoples Republic of China, the world’s second largest economy, a nation of 1.439 billion mainland citizens and an annual PHD award rate reported to exceed 100,000 persons annually; how many of these highly trained, remarkably competent, dutiful citizens, on a cumulative basis, have been awarded a Nobel prize for a meaningful contribution to science or medicine?
A. 1. Tu Youyou is the only citizen of the PRC to have been awarded the Nobel prize for science in 2015, for her 1972 discovery of Artemisinin, a malaria therapeutic derived from a wormwood plant.
The Faroe Islands, a tiny island nation with a population of less than 50,000 persons, sports as many Nobel Laureates in the fields of science and medicine as has mainland China, since initiation of the annual awards.
From a public relations perspective, China domestically touts a 13 person list of Nobel winners. 77% were not born in the PRC, several have never so much as set foot on mainland China soil; of the three Chinese Nobel prize winners that that hold actual Chinese citizenship, two are for peace or literature. For a country to feel compelled to appropriate foreign nationals, refer to them as Chinese, solely to inflate the national ledger of Nobel prizes, seems non-emblematic of a nation in possession of immense self-assurance and Wolf-Warrior spirit.
The Communist Party of China is keenly aware of the domestic lack of success in medical and scientific fields but faces a structural problem; the obstacle is a systemic “fear based application” of the scientific method utilized by China and rejected outright in the western world. Simply put, most of the world does things differently than China in terms of medical and pharmacological research and clearly, based upon award winning output, does it far better.
The global medical and pharmaceutical research model is to observe diligently, question continually, hypothesize frequently and experiment heavily, with an understanding that failure IS an option; to western science, failure is probable but not necessarily problematic.
Failures, when evaluated dispassionately in science, and even in the world of equity investing, represent a resolution of a hypothesis; once results determine that the hypothesis is invalid, further experimentation on that line of questioning is capped off and capital, both human and otherwise, can be allocated to other areas. Global scientific and medical research is undertaken at universities that represent the great incubators, relying upon a mix of government and private funding. The western model has been replicated with varying degrees of success all throughout the world, save for China.
Bureaucracy laden, results oriented, Communist Party of China overseers of the scientific and medical community refuse to subscribe to the global model due to the fact that China deems failure to be a source of great national and personal shame, whereas in western science, failure represents nothing more than a tie-up of a loose end.
In order to avoid defeat, the bulk of Chinese scientific and medical research revolves around tinkering at the margins: “if existing pharmacological compound A does this, then let’s experiment with stronger dosing, or a change in the pill design, in order to come up with a win”. This tinkering process results in lower outright washout rates which mightily pleases the masters and maintains continuity of the current blood supply to the brain of the researcher, but almost never produces any meaningful breakthroughs. The millions of scientists slaving away in PRC state sponsored organizations primarily serve as automatons, performing monotonous dosage experimentation on already proven western products. This model, sticking to what already works, nudging ever so gingerly at the envelope, so as to continually report successes, does little to provide the foundation for “eureka” moments which account for the great scientific successes provided by the communities in the western world.
Adoption of the progressive, aspirational western research model would permit scientists in China to question, hypothesize, experiment and fail without fear of execution, re-education or other harsh reprisal. Automatons would revert back to their human form, complete with natural states of curiosity, within a generation. Failures would multiply but so would successes.
Alternatively, China could maintain the status quo, a heavy handed, repressive centralized model of largely militarized pharmaceutical research that relies upon tight control over the domestic scientific community who operate under constant scrutiny and fear for personal and extended family safety. A grotesque lack of productivity could conceivably be partially offset through brute force, multiplying the total number of PHD holders tenfold sequentially increases the probability of winning more Nobel prizes. If China requires almost 500,000 PHD holders to produce 1 Nobel prize winner in medicine or science; then the apparatchik within the Communist Party of China science divisions require a minimum of 5 million PHD holders to get them the necessary results. Chinese media reports PHD graduates exceeded the total number awarded to US citizens for several consecutive years now. The CPC intends to ramp up the annual number of PHD degree holders by 100% within five years. The scientific method is out, more is better, brute force it is.
A national intolerance of failure, in my view, represents the crux of the matter regarding China’s present development programs for Covid-19 vaccines. Numerous pharmaceutical arms, state sponsored entities of the Chinese government, have all claimed to come up with incredibly effective, groundbreaking, world-beating Covid-19 inoculants. “Pfizer reports a 95% efficacy? Well our scientists tell us that this formulation has an efficacy rate of 110%, it doesn’t just immunize the subject against Covid-19, it also partially inoculates those close the the subject via dermal transference of antibodies + reverses aging.”
Various vaccines now being tested on non-Chinese subjects or Chinese ethnic minorities, invariably in destitute and far-flung vassal states, beholden to the Chinese government for infrastructure loans and that cannot be independently verified by anyone outside of the Chinese scientific community, report success rates that just don’t add up. One of the heavily touted vaccine candidates, produced by Sinovac, initially had reported efficacy rates in the 86 percent range, then it fell to the 70% range, based on results comprised from a number of test subjects in these Chinese vassal countries. Those numbers were not terrific, but certainly enough to call the vaccine a potential aid based on a low proposed purchase price. 70%-80% success rates also prevent execution of the immediate families of the scientists involved. Then came Brazil, who reported at least one death by a trial participant, halted trials for a period and only after cajoling by Sinovac and strong-arming by the Chinese government, did Brazil reluctantly agree to finish the trials. The final efficacy rates? 50.36%. That .36% is critical for Sinovac, the Chinese government and for the World Health Organization, who require that any vaccine put into the market have a minimum of 50% effectiveness.
We long-haulers in the pharma and biotech investment world are acutely aware that 95% reported effectiveness of a Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer, 94.6% effectiveness rate by Moderna, 62% effectiveness rate by Glaxo, these are all “best-case scenario, not to be replicated in a real world setting” sets of numbers. Akin to fuel economy figures affixed to that new car you purchased, or estimated kilometers per electric charge on your Tesla; produced on a rubberized track using overinflated tires, a modest tailwind and a vehicle stripped down of all gear except the engine and sheet metal; finally sent off with a thumb-drive loaded with bitcoin, inside the manila envelope providing the fuel economy estimate, for the EPA bureaucrat to stamp, estimates are just that, estimates.
In the real world, I am already aware of reports by nursing homes in Norway and Quebec (Canada) of 15%-20% infection rates after the first jab of the Pfizer vaccine has been administered, but before the second. The “best-case” scenario figures used to come up with 95% effectiveness assume that Covid inoculation success rates are just 50% after the first jab, requiring the subject to bunker in a hermetically sealed chamber for 21 days until the second jab, the subject is shrink-wrapped again in CRYOVAC, deposited back into a hermetically sealed chamber for several additional weeks, does not have ANY underlying conditions and is of the right age and genetic fortitude; well, that’s not the real world. In the real world, one gets inoculated, invariably has at least a bit of contact with other humans throughout the next 5 weeks, and who doesn’t have either an existing condition or a precondition in the senior populace?
Actual effectiveness rates for even the best in class Covid-19 vaccines are likely overstated, perhaps greatly. This is probably why Moderna, a company presently producing an mRNA vaccine with a top line stated efficacy rate of just under 95%, recently entered into a 10 YEAR contract with Lonza, a Swiss based contract pharmaceutical manufacturer, to produce the Covid-19 based ingredients in its current product. Statistically speaking, if real world efficacy was 95%, Covid-19 would not be a problem ten years out because the virus will have been rendered ineffective, lacking sufficient infectible hosts to spread, in as little as a few more years; a binding long term contract for output, between one of the world’s two mRNA vaccine producers and one of the world’s leading contract pharmaceutical producers, clearly suggests otherwise. Just what is the justification for entering a decade long contract, specifically to produce Covid-19 vaccine base ingredients, if the virus will soon be defeated?
What does this suggest for a Sinovac Covid-19 formulation that, perhaps only due to creative removal of test subjects, is just able to squeak past the 50% minimum hurdle rate for WHO approval? It could mean that real world benefits of the Sinovac formulation are on par with traditional influenza vaccines, that is to say, not very effective at all.
If the Sinovac formulation is a dud; if the rational for its failure is that it never really worked to begin with but scientists in the PRC, in fear of their lives, were unable to report that the product does not work, what does that infer about the remainder of the many miraculous inoculants now undergoing testing by other PRC state run pharmaceutical and biotech companies? A culture of fear and repression by a heavy handed bureaucracy might be the right environment to create military pathogens designed to kill, but it doesn’t tend to work well in curative and disease prevention settings. The Chinese medical and scientific communities operate with an entirely different definition of the term “cancel-culture” within the PRC. The Chinese government will continue to publicly insist that their products are a remarkable success; this could likely result in more needless deaths while simultaneously preventing resources and human talent being redeployed towards potentially more productive formulations. The world requires tens of billions of doses of relatively effective vaccines, just to get through the first round of inoculations. We presently have a massive vaccine gap.
A Chinese state sponsored pharmaceutical firm has recently announced planning towards creating the world’s best mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, far better, much shinier, infinitely easier to transport, less temperature sensitive than anything being developed or presently under rollout by the west thus far. A brand new facility to produce this vaccine is furiously under construction and may ultimately produce upwards of a billion doses annually. Obtaining the precursor for this soon to be monster breakthrough, logically either the Moderna vaccine or the Pfizer inoculant, in order to reverse engineer the “new and improved version” is just a modest, transitory hiccup; whenever human greed takes priority over national strategic defense, a few vials of the base product have likely already disappeared from freezers and were declared to be inventory spoilage. This “world’s best vaccine”, potentially with efficacy rates of well beyond 100% (injected subjects, when breathing near non subjects, offer powerful airborne antibody transference simply by exhaling), might be available in just a little over a year, from this new and highly responsive Chinese developer.
Differing from the World Health Organization, a political health lobby agency of the United Nations, the Nobel Prize committee has no official ties to the Chinese government and therefore, this imminent evolutionary breakthrough, this best vaccine, will not not likely produce a Nobel Prize for any of the automatons charged with reverse engineering existing formulations or face shameful death. 3 injections vs 2 or 1 or 1 massive dosage, delivered via a giant spinal needle or vaccine shipped in vials that hold 10 doses vs 6, none of those qualify as legitimate scientific breakthroughs.
PRC Wolf-Warrior plutocrats state a muscular intention to best the world in the field of science and medicine. Timid and pliant western media, supported by heavy China-centric advertising, advances the inevitability of such an outcome. Thankfully, the west does possess a redoubtable scientific bulwark brimming with indomitable spirit; a bastion of defense, that China must first surpass in their quest for global domination; the Faroe Islands.