By Louis Conte
“A large-scale scientific calamity had been brought to light and most of them looked wary of blinking. Finally, a scientist broke the dead air, standing up to ask a question that prompted a barrage of questions directed at Mikovits, as well as animated whispering among the other scientists.
Frank Ruscetti later told Mikovits that at that moment, Coffin leaned over to Dr. Vineet Kewal Ramani, also of the HIV Drug Resistance Program, and said, “Oh, my God, you mean all those sequences we saw in the 1980s were real?”
At some point in reading Plague, the reader realizes that while the notion of a retrovirus infecting millions of people is scary, the corruption of science is downright terrifying.
Dr. Judy Mikovits emerges from Plague as a champion of true science, confronting a system gone off the rails due to political forces, the personal ambitions and a public health establishment that sees what it wants to see and does what it wants for its own purposes. Plague has the feel of a true crime suspense novel as Mikovits pursues the truth about XMRV through the intrigue of the public health establishment and the Nevada research center where she ran her experiments.
Kent Heckenlively’ s riveting descriptions of Mikovits’ arrest and incarceration – she was actually jailed for her work and her principles – renders Mikovits a modern Dr. Stockmann from Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. The skilled telling of the drama that unfolded around Mikovits work on the XMRV retrovirus leaves the reader unable to put the damn book down.
Judy Mikovits took on the autism-vaccine controversy in her 2009 Nevada Public Television interview with host Sam Shad:
“Shad said the news had tremendous potential for parents looking for treatments or cures for their autistic children. Mikovits replied by saying that XMRV: “might be linked to a number of neuro-immune diseases, including autism…“There’s always the hypothesis that my child was fine, then they got sick, and then they got autism. Interestingly, on that note, if I might speculate a little bit. This might explain why vaccines lead to autism in some children because these viruses live and divide and grow in the lymphocytes, the immune response cells, the B and T cells. So when you give a vaccine you send your B and T cells into overdrive. That’s its job…Well, if you’re harboring one virus, and you replicate it a whole bunch, you’ve now broken the balance between the immune response and the virus. So you could have had the underlying virus and then amplified it with the vaccine and then set off the disease, such that your immune system could no longer control the infections and create an immune deficiency.”
In just over thirty seconds, Judy Mikovits pissed off the planet. Heckenlively states “Trying to find answers for the millions of children with autism apparently “rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.” Given the lack of interest, and even outright hostility expressed by those at the Cleveland Clinic conference on XMRV, it’s difficult to understand what part of the “public health” these scientists were interested in protecting.”
Mikovits becomes persona non grata in the public health community – “In an email sent on December 1, 2011, to Varmus and copied to Fauci and Ruscetti, Lipkin wrote that Mikovits would be associated with the National Cancer Institute for purposes of the replication study, but she could not step foot on the NCI campus, a prohibition which would be enforced by security…Ruscetti would later call this banning of a scientist from working in a lab and yet wanting to have her name on the ensuing paper, “unprecedented in contemporary American science.” It was a little like the Catholic Church allowing Galileo to participate in a “replication study,” but then denying him the use of his telescope.”
Mikovits life work was driven by the impact of cancer in her family. “To Mikovits, the path was a straight line. A scientist should investigate human disease, try to unlock its secrets, and when she does, figure out the quickest course to bring relief to those afflicted. All other issues were of secondary concern…The important question was how to deal with those who were sick now. Anything which kept patients with ME/CFS a single day longer in their darkened rooms, which kept children with autism from being able to speak the thoughts that flashed through their overexcited brains, or that put an honest scientist in jail could only go by a simple name: evil.”
Dr. Mikovits sought the truth and confronted evil. She paid a heavy price; she was arrested in her home without a warrant and jailed without cause. She was forced into bankruptcy and driven from the career she loves. If you want to honor her sacrifice and end the plague of corrupted science, start by reading Plague.