Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Can COVID-19 be treated with low-dose radiation?

Climate skeptics are well aware of radiation hormesis

A new paper published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation asserts that low-level nuclear radiation might be much less dangerous than previously thought. At the same time, other researchers are renewing interest in applying low-dose radiation therapy – studied as early as 1905 as a tool to fight pneumonia – in the ongoing fight to contain and control deadly and disruptive outbreaks of the virus known as COVID 19. Yet, still other research recommits many in the medical field to fighting ANY use of radiation therapy as too dangerous to risk.

According to authors Dr. Edward Calabrese and Dr. Mikko Paunio, recent reviews of seminal research conducted following the end of World War II have uncovered serious flaws in the “linear no-threshold” assumption that all nuclear radiation is dangerous no matter low the level of exposure.

Dr. Calabrese, a UMass – Amherst professor of toxicology, has for two decades focused his research on understanding the nature of the radiation dose response in the low-dose zone. His observations are leading to a major transformation in improving drug discovery and development and in the efficiency of the clinical trial, as well as the scientific foundations for risk assessment and environmental regulation for radiation and chemicals.

In a 2013 paper, Dr. Calabrese partnered with Dr. Guaray Dhawan to review the historical use of radiotherapy for fighting pneumonia and determine if low-dose radiation might still be a valuable pneumonia killer. They found a 1905 study by noted University of Pennsylvania professor John Herr Muller and D. L. Edsall of five pneumonia patients who benefited from X-ray treatments.

A decade later A. W. and W. A. Quimby successfully treated 12 cases of unresolved pneumonia, stating that “no pathological process in the body responds quicker to an X-ray exposure than the non-resolved following pneumonia.”

In 1924 German researchers Heidenhain and Fried reported that they had used X-rays to treat 243 cases of acute and subacute pyrogenic infections. The X-ray treatments blocked or reduced all types of inflammation, regardless of location in the body and whatever the cause. Fried reported that patients with high fever, severe dyspnea, and cyanosis typically reported improved breathing with six hours of being irradiated.

American researcher Eugene Powell championed X-ray therapy for treating pneumonia at the Medical Association meeting in Houston, Texas, in May 1936. Later, Powell blew off a double-blind trial because his patients who were receiving the X-ray treatment were relieved of respiratory and circulatory distress in less than 3 hours.

Until now, the latest use of radiotherapy to treat pneumonia came in 1943, when A. Oppenheimer reported using X-ray treatment to control coughing in recovering pneumonia patients. He later extended the application to patients suffering through acute pneumonia.

X-ray treatments proved effective against a broad range of pneumococcal pneumonia strains/types, offering a distinct advantage over the use of serum therapy. But with the arrival a few years later of sulfonamides, and later penicillin, X-ray therapy never became a component of systemwide public health measures to treat pneumonia.

Upon reading these positive reports, Dr. Calabrese weighed the lack of any new research on using radiotherapy to help pneumonia patients since 1946 against the findings of highly protective effects on about 850 patients along with rapid resolution of the disease. X-ray treatments had prevented considerable human suffering, reduced health care costs and the burden on families, and accelerated a return to normal living, whether work, school, or other activities.

Yet the question remained as to how to reactivate a well-established, yet 65-year-old hypothesis, with contemporary research questions, methods, and technologies that still may hold public health potential. Calabrese and Dhawan proposed a focused clinical research program to assess the use of X-ray therapy for pneumonia as an adjunct treatment for high-risk patients. Seven years later, X-ray therapy has found a new target – the high-risk patients infected with COVID 19, of which up to 20 percent develop pneumonia and are at risk of death.

Standing in the way of this research, should believers in the precautionary principle take control of the science, is the belief, expressed in a new report by Richard Bramhall and Pete Wilkinson, which was produced by the Low-Level Radiation Campaign for Children With Cancer UK. The authors assert that even tiny doses of radiation can have devastating effects on the human body, particularly by causing cancer and birth defects. This, they believe, makes a strong case for a basic rethink on so-called “safe” radiation doses.

But Calabrese states the claims that any dose of radiation is dangerous are now known to be based on scientific studies that were deceptive, flawed, or even fraudulent. Dr. Paunio, former chair of the Finnish Radiological Protection Board, explained that support for the linear no-threshold assumption was bolstered by began with a study that followed the life histories of the Hibakusha – survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs.

According to Dr. Paunio, another team of Japanese researchers recently found major flaws in the older research. As he explained, “Their error was extraordinary. They failed to account for the effects of secondary radiation exposures and fallout. This means that the rather low numbers of cancers observed in the Hibakusha were actually caused by quite high exposures to radiation.

Calabrese and Paunio should be thrilled at the Number of major clinical trials already under way to determine the value of low-dose radiation in fighting the COVID 19 pandemic. Radiation’s track record with pneumonia may prove helpful to the 15 to 20 percent of those infected with COVID 19 who otherwise develop severe inflammatory effects that can lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and death.

Just a few weeks ago, James Conca, writing in Forbes, confirmed the Calabrese-Paunio research, noting the early 20th Century success using low doses of radiation to treat the deadly inflammation of pneumonia, particularly viral pneumonia like that caused by COVID-19, and agreeing that radiation may have a role in mitigating today’s pandemic. Conca reported that several medical institutions are set to start radiation therapies for COVID-19.

Dr. James Welsh at Loyola University Medical Center, is moving to begin a national trial within the next few months on this treatment using low-dose radiation to the lungs. Trials are already underway at  at Emory University and in Italy and Spain. At least five other trials are recruiting patients, and the U.S. FDA has been urged to conduct a low-dose radiation trial at the Hines VA Medical Center in Chicago.

Just remember, as Calabrese and Dhawan said in 2013, radiotherapy had been broadly accepted by the radiological community starting in the second decade of the 20th century, with notable successes in the treatment of a wide range of inflammatory and infectious diseases such as gas gangrene, carbuncles, sinusitis, arthritis, and inner ear infections.


Sen. Cruz Among 141 Political Leaders Pledging To Keep US A Dominant Natural Gas Producer

Sen. Ted Cruz is among 141 political leaders in a pledge to keep the United States’s energy industry dominant amid the coronavirus pandemic and the consequential economic downturn.

The Texas Republican, as well as seven additional senators, three governors and 15 attorneys general are among those who signed The Empowerment Alliance’s Declaration of Energy Independence, promising to take steps to establishing the United States’s energy independence.

“American energy producers have ushered in an energy renaissance and made the United States the number one producer of oil and gas in the world,” Cruz said in a joint statement with The Empowerment Alliance. “Maintaining our energy dominance is key to ensuring American families have access to affordable energy and it’s imperative for our national security.”

Other signatories include Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, John Cornyn of Texas and Joni Ernst of Iowa.

The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained an exclusive copy of the pledge, which says it represents a commitment to “four principles that will help power America’s economy for everyone over the next century and beyond.”

Those principles listed are: affordable energy for families; clean energy for the environment; abundant energy for the future; and domestic energy for national security.

The principles list benefits of energy independence, which include decreasing utility bills, cleaner air, “a continuous 100-year supply of natural gas. They also note that ensuring energy dominance would make certain that the U.S. “is no longer dependent on rapidly changing global markets and unstable or hostile countries.”

The Empowerment Alliance is a nonprofit that was formed in 2019 to oppose supporters of the Green New Deal, a proposal crafted that year that sought to shift the U.S. entirely away from fossil fuels within a decade. Senate Republicans defeated the proposal shortly after it was introduced, but Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats are hoping to bring it back

“For too long, Americans have spent their hard-earned dollars on energy that is produced overseas, risking our nation’s security and stability and shunning millions of family supporting jobs,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in the statement alongside Cruz. The Declaration of Energy Independence is “something all Americans can agree on.”

The pledge comes nearly a year after the U.S. first became a net exporter of gas. The U.S. exported roughly 89,000 barrels of fossil fuels per day during September 2019, according to Energy Information Administration data. That’s the first full month the U.S. has exported more than it imported since the U.S. began tracking such data in 1949.

Government officials began locking down their economies in March to slow the spread of a coronavirus, which has killed a reported 127,000 people in the U.S.. Their orders resulted in a significant downturn in the economy and an oversupply of oil, which caused crude prices to collapse. Several shale companies filed bankruptcy to avoid ruin.

“In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become even more important to support America’s energy producers to spur economic growth, lower energy costs, help employ thousands of hardworking men and women, and increase America’s energy independence,” Cruz said in the statement.

Empowerment Alliance Executive Director Jim Nathanson added: “Affordable, clean, and abundant domestic energy will be critical to America’s economic recovery. We cannot afford to squander our domestic energy advantage, and we call on all political leaders to join us and embrace natural gas as essential to our shared future prosperity.”


Michigan Court OKs Enbridge Pipeline Construction, Rules Process Constitutional

The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of a law allowing the construction of a replacement Enbridge oil pipeline tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac.

The three-judge panel affirmed a lower-court decision finding the law under which the pipeline was approved was constitutional.

Enbridge’s line 5 pipeline, part of a much larger network of pipelines Enbridge operates, is a 645-mile, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that was first brought into operation in 1953. Connecting to other Enbridge pipelines, Line 5 originates in Superior, Wisconsin, travels through Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, and terminates in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Beneath the Straits of Mackinac, Line 5 splits into two 20-inch-diameter, parallel pipelines that are buried onshore and deep underwater, crossing the Straits west of the Mackinac Bridge for a distance of 4.5 miles.

State Sues to Block Replacement

Under Public Act 359 (2018), Enbridge requested Michigan’s approval to replace the aging pipeline with a newer one.

At the request of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel sued to block replacement.

In a March 2019 opinion, Nessel argued Public Act 359 violated the Michigan Constitution’s title-object clause, which requires that each law portray its contents accurately, because “its provisions go beyond the scope of what was disclosed in its title.”

In the initial trial, Michigan’s Court of Claims ruled the law was constitutional, as it amended a 1952 law under which the original pipeline was approved.

The appellate court, composed of Judges Thomas C. Cameron, Mark T. Boonstra, and Anica Letica, agreed, ruling the 2018 law did not violate the title-object clause of the Michigan Constitution.

“Defendants’ argument that the Court of Claims improperly considered extraneous material is unsupported,” Cameron wrote in the opinion. “We conclude that the title of 2018 PA 359 does not address objects so diverse that they have no necessary connection.”

Good for Jobs, Environment

In response to the ruling, Enbridge released a statement saying the company will continue to operate the two existing Line 5 oil lines while the tunnel is being built.

“We look forward to working with the State to make a safe pipeline even safer,” an Enbridge spokesperson said in the statement. “We are investing $500 million in the tunnel’s construction—thereby further protecting the waters of the Great Lakes and everyone who uses them.”

The court’s ruling recognizes the importance of finding environmentally sound solutions to the region’s energy needs, John Walsh, president of the Michigan Manufacturers Association, told The Detroit News.

“Replacing the portion of Line 5 beneath the Straits with the Great Lakes Tunnel is the safest, most reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound energy solution for Michigan’s citizens and businesses,” Walsh told The Detroit News. “That’s why the tunnel is supported by Democrats and Republicans, business and labor.

“We’re glad the court rejected the latest stall tactic and are excited about next steps in the development process,” said Walsh.


An Endlessly Renewable Source of Green Agitprop

Stoking the fires of renewable energy’s purported advantages is the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental outfit whose chief purpose is to serve as a spigot for endless propaganda. Its official message is that fossil fuel is an archaic source of electricity now being battered by upstart competitors wind and solar. Bear in mind that world electricity supply pans out at 38 per cent for coal, 23 per cent gas and 26 per cent hydro/nuclear. Wind/solar supply 10 per cent.

IRENA tirelessly advocates for renewables, saying they “could form a key component of economic stimulus packages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.” And in the purple prose so common with these green-spruiking agencies it claims, “Scaling up renewables can boost struggling economies. It can save money for consumers, pique the appetites of investors and create numerous high-quality new jobs.” Investment in renewables is amplified by other benefits, the story goes, as it is alleged to bring “health, sustainability and inclusive prosperity.” When it comes to renewables, no snake-oil salesman of old could hold a carbon-neutral candle to the likes of their modern green-lipped urgers.

IRENA would have us see renewable power installations as a key component of economic stimulus packages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming that replacing one quarter of the world’s existing coal capacity with wind and solar would, in addition to cutting electricity costs, bestow a stimulus worth US$940 billion, or around one per cent of global GDP.

All this is, of course, is super-heated hot air billowing from the deep pockets of IRENA’s multi-government funding. It rests upon the sort of spurious arithmetic swallowed whole by Australian governments which, having granted regulatory favours to wind/solar, cheer the dynamiting of low-cost, dependable coal plants and the consequent price escalation and network unreliability.

IRENA estimates the cost of electricity from new coal plants at between US$50 per MWh and US$177 per MWh. The cost of plant itself is pretty standard internationally, but that of transmission and fuel is highly variable, as are construction costs. For Australia, rigorous analysis by GHD for the Minerals Council estimated a new, high efficiency/low emissions black coal generator would be as low as $40 per MWh. Australian coal’s locational advantages were the key to this low cost, offset somewhat by a “CFMEU” union loading disability (lifting labour costs 25 per cent above the level that would prevail without unionised rigidities).

Compared with its coal-generation cost estimates, the shaded area in the diagram below, IRENA puts the cost of solar photovoltaics as having declines to US$68 per MWh; of large scale solar to US$182 per MWh; and that of wind to $US53 per MWh.

Given all these entirely confected “advantages” of wind and solar, IRENA is disappointed that global growth in renewable investment seems to have stagnated over recent years. It attributes this to the concocted story — cooked up by itself, mind you — about “subsidies” to coal, the estimates for which are derived from another IRENA paper which confusingly traverses many different international sources with widely different approaches and estimates.

The global subsidy figure IRENA cites for fossil fuels is $447 billion, which excludes greenhouse “externality costs”. The subsidies for coal itself are said to be $17 billion (astonishingly, this includes the UK which no longer has any generation from coal). Germany is the largest coal subsidiser (to enable its coal industry to compete with imports). Coal comprises 40 per cent of German electricity supply, and IRENA quotes annual subsidy estimates ranging from $US 10 billion while also lending credibility to the (US)$58 billion Greenpeace estimate. Aside from coal, add a further $128 billions of subsidies to electricity generation generally, this from government-mandated price controls, estimates of concessional finance and support for carbon-capture and storage.

Coincidental to the IRENA release was a report of an agency dedicated to destroying the competitiveness of the Australian energy industry, the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (GCCS).  Bear in mind that GCCS was bankrolled by the Rudd/Gillard government but, despite all that money from the public purse, it is very secretive about its accounting.  Its latest press release refers to yet another reputed success in carbon capture and storage, said to be burying 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 a year with Canadian government subsidies of C$558 million. Some may take a perverse comfort in knowing Australia is not the only country dedicated to committing economic suicide with addled “energy competitiveness” initiatives.

Agencies like IRENA parade their cost fabrications purely to arm the governments that finance them with the information they can use to promote the subsidies that are needed – temporarily of course – to get these “clean” energy investments over the line.

The message is heard loud and clear in all Western nations (except Trump’s America) and lip service is paid to it in the developing world just so long as rich countries pick up the tab. Most of the Western world is adopting economically debilitating emission-restraint policies, but there is no prospect of China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia sacrificing their possibilities of Western-style living standards by abandoning fossil fuels, always the cheapest energy source. As these nations are now responsible for two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, all the international agitprop in the world will make no difference to the trivial global warming that the burning of fossil fuels may be causing.

Agencies like IRENA, their national counterparts, lobby organisations and leaders like that of EU President Ursula von der Leyen  continue to beat the drum even as reality bites elsewhere.

But reality bites elsewhere.  In Melbourne, several green-left councils have announced deferral of “sustainability” expenditures as they grapple with massive funding reductions in the light of the lockdown.  These councils will not be the only government agencies who decide that, with reduced incomes, saving the planet takes a back seat to saving public service jobs!



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