Reply to Bennett: David Ho's 'virological mayhem model' has long since been debunked 20 February 2005
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Alexander H Russell,
Writer/artist/philosopher
WC1N 1PE

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Re: Reply to Bennett: David Ho's 'virological mayhem model' has long since been debunked

Regarding David Ho's debunked 'virological mayhem model' Nicholas Bennett stated:

"Ho et al found 3,500 tissue-culture infectious doses of HIV per milliliter of peripheral blood. How much HIV would Mr Russell like?"

The 'gung-Ho' theory purporting to show 'high viral titres' was completely demolished within a very short time, not least by a letter from Peter Duesberg and Harvey Bialy grudgingly published in Nature (375, 1995, p. 197). It is worth quoting at length:

"The senior researcher [George Shaw] of the Wei et al paper has previously claimed that the method they used overestimates by at least 60,000 times the real titre of infectious HIV [Piatak et al, Science, 259, pp 1749-1754, 1993]. 100,000/60,000 is 1.7 infectious HIV's per ml ... Further, Ho and a different group of collaborators have just shown [Cao, et al New Eng. J. Med 332, pp 201-208, 1995] that more than 10,000 'plasma virions', detected by the branched-DNA amplification assay used in their Nature paper, correspond to less than one (!) infectious virus per ml. And infectious units, after all, are the only clinically relevant criteria for a viral pathogen.” [my emphasis]

Moreover, David Ho's mathematical calculations have been challenged by Prof. Serge Lang, the greatest mathematical mind in America, as being rubbish, a typical example of a gigo – 'garbage in, garbage out' - Lang stated:

"Ho and Shaw (among other authors) engage in the practice of throwing math and statistics at people, pretending to give a mathematical model for HIV infection and its purported effects, namely the destruction of CD4 T- cells. There is developing a substantial history of criticisms of these papers. We have already mentioned some criticisms in the preceding section, concerning control groups. We now list other criticisms which have developed over the last five years." (The Case of HIV: We Have Been Misled, Sege Lang, Yale Scientific, Spring 1999, Volume 72, Nos. 2 & 3, pp. 9-19).

According to Mark Craddock, (School of Mathematics, University of New South Wales, Sydney), the Nature papers (12 January, 1995) by Wei et al (Viral dynamics in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection ) and Ho et al (Rapid turnover of plasma virions and CD4 lymphocytes in HIV-1 infection) should have failed peer review for the following reasons alone:

1) Obvious mathematical errors,

2) Unjustified assumptions unrelated to the empirical data,

3) Lack of control groups: (a) "Neither group compared the rate of T4 cells generated in the HIV positive patients with HIV negative controls", (b) "It must surely be admitted that the system they are trying to study, namely the interaction of HIV with T4 cells, might behave substantially differently in people who are not being pumped full of new drugs, in addition to 'antiretrovirals' like Zidovudine?"

Yet these flawed papers got past the peer reviewers and instigated the fatal consequences of 'early intervention' ('hit early, hit fast') which translated is a cynical marketing strategy for the 'anti-retroviral' drug pharmaceuticals. It could be argued that David Ho's 'virological mayhem model' was only ever devised to hard-sell 'anti-retroviral' drugs in asymptomatic patients.

Here is Mark Craddock's crique of the Ho and Shaw Nature papers:

"The logic [of Ho and Shaw] here is remarkable. It is claimed that HIV sends the immune system into overdrive as measured by a supposedly accelerated production of T4 cells...But where are the healthy controls? How can this production of T cells be ascribed to HIV if there is no comparison made with healthy people? And even if there were a comparison, how can the production be unambiguously attributed to the ‘battle’ with HIV?...Does what Shaw and Ho say actually make sense?... Is their mathematical analysis sound?...As a mathematician, I was intrigued by the claim of John Maddox, editor of Nature, that the new results provide a new mathematical understanding of the immune system. Unfortunately, my confidence in this claim was badly shaken when it turned out that on the very first page of the Shaw paper (Wei et al., p 117) they make an appalling mathematical error. And in the same paragraph make an assumption which turns out, by their own admission to have no basis in observation, and which they give no justification for...They are trying to estimate viral production rates by measuring viral loads at different times and trying to fit the numbers to their formula for free virus. But if their formula is wrong, then their estimates for viral production will be wrong too..." ('HIV: Science by Press Conference', AIDS - Virus or Drug Induced?', Kluwer Academy, 1996).

Craddock concludes in his analysis of the flawed Ho and Shaw papers:

"Ho uses the analogy of a sink with water pouring into it but the drain is open. He argues that the virus is killing slightly more cells than the body can replace and so you get a slow decline in T cells. In terms of his analogy, the water flows out of the sink slightly faster than it flows in. A better analogy would be that as the water level drops, the drain gets bigger. So the process speeds up. Ho and Shaw’s data if you read it correctly predicts that AIDS should develop in a matter of days after infection or at most a few months. This is what exponential growth is all about. The virus grows exponentially, doubling in number every 2 days in the absence of an immune response they say. So when the immune response is weakest, before antibody production, it should kill every T cell in the body quickly. This does not happen. I wonder how they explain this?" (Analysis of the Ho and Shaw Papers, Mark Craddock PhD, School of Mathematics, University of New South Wales, Australia).

If Ho and Wei were correct, it would be possible to pellet down virions from fresh plasma taken from a person who has had a recent 'high viral load' test result, and to see tightly packed identical viral particles using EM, but so far this has never been achieved with HIV'. And again: if Ho's 'viral mayhem model' was correct, why, in the previous decade of 'HIV' research, did no one ever see these alleged 'high viral titres'? More importantly, why, in the presence of these teeming quantities of putative 'virus' did they need to amplify it using PCR to find it at all – especially if 'HIV' is deemed to be at such high titres?

Bennett concludes: "HIV has certainly been isolated to extraordinary levels of purity from lab cultures of peripheral blood and lymph nodes."

Precisely - but never in pure culture, always in co-culture, utilising cell lines which are themselves suspected of harbouring virus. It is also worth remembering that cultures exclude anything resembling an immune response or any form of viral inhibitor. Cultures produce artefacts which are very easily misinterpreted – "To culture is to disturb"! Contrary to Bennett's unfounded claim, 'HIV' has never been recovered and purified from a fresh blood or semen sample. 'HIV' has certainly not been truly isolated.

As Peter Duesberg stated in 1987, 'HIV' is restricted to virtually complete latency by antibodies and a latent 'virus' cannot cause a disease.

Competing interests: None declared