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EXCLUSIVE: Health Canada Not Concerned About Scientists' Finding of Plasmid DNA Contamination in COVID Shots
Reminder: Health Canada initially created for population control measures
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8/25/2023 Updated: 8/25/2023
After two scientists independently raised red flags about an inordinate amount of plasmid DNA in the COVID-19 mRNA shots—which they say could potentially alter the human genome—Health Canada did not express concern with the findings, given the testing data provided by the manufacturers.
"Health Canada was aware of the presence of residual plasmid DNA as a process-related impurity during review and prior to the authorization of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines," the agency said in an email to The Epoch Times.
Plasmid DNA is used in the manufacturing of mRNA vaccines and is supposed to be removed to a level below a threshold set by health regulatory agencies before the final product is released for distribution.
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“Health Canada conducts an in-depth independent review of the required evidence provided by the manufacturer to ensure that our high standards for safety, efficacy and quality are met,” it says.
The health regulator adds that “it is important to assess the results using the authorized validated assays performed by the vaccine manufacturers to ensure that the quality of commercial vaccine lots are comparable to lots shown to be safe and efficacious in clinical studies.”
Different tests assessing a vaccine property, or the same test conducted in a different laboratory, can produce different results, Health Canada explained.
Mr. McKernan has 25 years of experience in the genomic field and previously worked on the Human Genome Project at MIT. He’s currently the chief scientific officer and founder of the biotech company Medicinal Genomics.
In April, he published a paper documenting his research in which he used several methods to test four expired Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine vials—which were thought to only contain mRNA—and discovered the presence of double-stranded DNA plasmids.
Mr. McKernan found that the quantities of DNA contamination exceeded the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) 330 ng/mg of DNA to RNA requirement by 18 to 70 times and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 10 ng/dose requirements with a reading of 12 ng/dose.
Mr. McKernan warned that the presence of DNA plasmids in the vaccines meant they could potentially integrate into the human genome.
Public health agencies have repeatedly claimed that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines do not alter human DNA.
“The presence of residual plasmid DNA in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines does not change the safety assessment of these vaccines by Health Canada,” says Health Canada. The agency added that scientists have been working on plasmid DNA-based vaccines since the 1990s.
“Although chromosomal integration of the plasmid DNA was initially a major theoretical concern, the data obtained to date do not support this concern,” it says.
'I Guarantee You There Has Been Genome Modification'
After Mr. McKernan published his findings, another scientist came to a similar conclusion.
During the summer, Dr. Phillip J. Buckhaults, professor of cancer genomics and director of the Cancer Genetics Lab at the University of South Carolina, posted his findings on platform X, previously known as Twitter.
Dr. Buckhaults says he found there were up to 2.5 billion molecules of plasmid and about 100-200 billion pieces of plasmid DNA identified by sequencing, per Pfizer dose of 300 microliters (µL) identified by a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. This equates to 20 ng/dose, or double the limit set by the FDA and WHO.
The PCR test is a laboratory technique for rapidly producing (amplifying) millions to billions of copies of a specific segment of DNA, which can then be studied in greater detail.
However, Dr. Buckhaults cautions that the measurements are not very precise and that on one day there will be a reading of 5 ng/dose and on another 10 ng/dose.
"There are pieces of plasmid DNA in the vaccine. No one knows if this DNA does anything clinically significant, but it is prudent to check vaccinated people for any evidence of genome modification,” Dr. Buckhaults told The Epoch Times.
“If found, it could motivate changing the regulatory guidelines by lowering the limits for allowable DNA in a lipid-nanoparticle based vaccine.”
He says he doesn’t believe the manufacturer sought to escape regulations, with the issue rather being the regulatory limits. Dr. Buckhaults adds that 10 ng of contaminating DNA would not be a problem in normal vaccines, as it would be “naked” and “chewed up immediately upon injection.”
“Those old regulations may not be appropriate for this new type of vaccine in which the whole point of the vaccine is to wrap the nucleotides (supposedly RNA but now both RNA and DNA) in a protective lipid nanoparticle that will deliver it to the insides of cells. Totally different ballgame.”
Dr. Buckhaults, who is not opposed to COVID-19 vaccination and instead seeks to improve it, posted on social media that the plasmid DNA is a potential mechanism for the “rare adverse events that have been observed among vaccinated people.” But he adds that “as of now, this is entirely a theoretical concern."
The molecular biologist also said there was a possibility that plasmids could be causing rare cases of vaccine-induced myocarditis. Dr. Buckhaults said if the needle injecting the vaccine accidentally hit a blood vessel instead of the intended target of muscle, "the plasmid could circulate to other organs and make stable transformants of those cell types, causing long-lasting immunological reaction against those transfected cells."
Dr. Buckhaults said that with hundreds of millions of molecules of DNA plasmids in each 300 µL vaccine dose, there are a "lot of chances for DNA to transfect and integrate."
"Multiply this [number] by the number of arms that it has been put into worldwide, and I guarantee you there has been genome modification. The only question is, how frequently [did this happen] and did it ever do anything bad?"
When asked, Health Canada didn't say if it would attempt to verify the findings made by Dr. Buckhaults and Mr. McKernan and explore the potential consequences to Canadians' health. It says that the "risk/benefit profile continues to support the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine," based on "our evaluation of the data and scientific information."
Concerns With Manufacturing Process
In email exchanges with The Epoch Times, Mr. McKernan raised concerns about Health Canada’s stance on the issue.
He remarked that Pfizer used a different process to produce the injections for the clinical trials, from which the safety and efficacy data is drawn, as opposed to mass production. He says the “Process 1” used by Pfizer in the trial used a plasmid-free manufacturing method.
The production was scaled up using plasmids for “Process 2,” which produced the batches that have been injected on a mass scale.
Mr. McKernan wonders how Health Canada can be certain the vaccines are safe if different processes were used.
Health Canada said that “Process 1” involves using PCR-amplified, linearized plasmid as a template, yielding clinical materials that are “not entirely plasmid-free,” while “Process 2” uses only linearized plasmid DNA without PCR amplification. They said both processes include steps to degrade the DNA template into fragments and then reduce the quantity of DNA in the final product to less than the approved limit.
“Efficacy and safety demonstrated using clinical batches manufactured using ‘Process 1’ are also applicable to commercial batches produced using ‘Process 2,’” Health Canada said.
Mr. McKernan told The Epoch Times this response by Health Canada was a “trust me” answer, and questioned why the results measuring the double-stranded DNA contamination were hidden.
Health Canada says that it cannot fully review the testing methods used by the manufacturer, given they're proprietary.
“They are not public information. However, the methods used for measuring residual DNA fragments were appropriately validated by the manufacturer and evaluated as fit for purpose by Health Canada,” the health agency said.
Mr. McKernan says that in the “absence of transparency” from Health Canada, the public will be “relying on the more transparent work of independent researchers who have not hidden such results.”
Patrick Provost, a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the Faculty of Medicine of Université Laval, said because Process 2 used a different protocol for large-scale production and included DNA plasmid more proximally and likely at a much higher concentration, the contamination by plasmid DNA could be an issue.
Dr. Provost also criticized Health Canada for not “seeming to bother” with independently examining the plasmid DNA digestion and removal process, which he said resulted in “very high levels of plasmid DNA” being detected in the vaccine vials.
“Why accept that much DNA in mRNA vaccines? This limit should not be a goal, but a maximum, with the aim of having no DNA at all,” Dr. Provost told The Epoch Times. “Who set that limit, anyway? On what basis? Was that studied at all for biodistribution and safety? “Do the limits set for the DNA contamination of mRNA vaccines consider transfection (via lipid nanoparticles) as the delivery mechanism?” he asked.
Genome Integration Through Other Means
Concerns about the vaccines being gene-altering therapies have been raised by opponents of mass COVID-19 vaccination but shot down by its proponents, who dispute the “gene therapy” label.
The American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy considers the mRNA injections a gene therapy, “because the vaccine introduces new genetic material into cells for a short period of time to induce antibodies.”
With regards to whether they can alter the human genome, this hasn’t yet been demonstrated in living individuals, but scientists have found it does during an in-vitro experiment. According to a Swedish study published in February 2022, mRNA from the Pfizer vaccine was reverse-transcribed into human DNA in just six hours during the experiment involving human liver cells.
Mr. McKernan mentions the study in his April paper and says that for the mRNA vaccines to integrate into the genome, it would require “LINE-1 driven reverse transcription” as described in the Swedish experiment.
But he says that with the double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) contamination he found, “encoding the spike protein wouldn’t require LINE-1 for Reverse Transcription.”
“This work does not present evidence of genome integration but does underscore that LINE-1 activity is not required given the dsDNA levels in these vaccines,” he wrote.
This view is shared by Bernard Massie, a virologist and former National Research Council acting director general with a sizeable body of research on gene therapy and work on industrial production of therapeutic antibodies and vaccines.
“This plasmid DNA doesn’t even need to be reverse-transcribed before integrating itself in the genome,” he told The Epoch Times in a previous interview.
Dr. Buckhaults said the U.S. FDA should revisit the topic, in an Aug. 15 post on X. “Have someone look for the presence or absence of plasmid DNA integrated into the genomes of long live stem cells of vaccinated individuals. This is not a crazy idea.”
Pfizer did not return a request for comment.
Health Canada has had several names since its inception in 1919. Despite how innocuous its name and mandate sound, this organization had an initial purpose: population control. It’s been previously covered how PHAC was an artificial creation from the World Health Organization to serve a global order.
This will sound controversial, but PHAC, the Public Health Agency of Canada, is essentially a branch of the World Health Organization. It’s therefore logical that Theresa Tam (or whoever that person is), would actually hold dual roles.