Features Australia

The Petrovsky Affair

There’s no immunity to bureaucratic madness

6 November 2021

9:00 AM

6 November 2021

9:00 AM

Professor Nikolai Petrovsky has just developed Australia’s first successful vaccine in 40 years. In any approximation of a normal world, he would be feted as the living incarnation of the government’s much trumpeted aspiration to be an ‘innovation nation’. Instead, he has been stood down by his university and threatened with arrest if he sets foot in his office. Why? For refusing to be immunised with one of the vaccines approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

It’s ironic. Petrovsky was immunised with his own vaccine more than a year ago. Recently concluded phase III trials show it is far safer than any vaccine approved by the TGA and better at preventing infection with and transmission of the Sars-Cov-2 virus. This week, the TGA recognised the Chinese Sinopharm and the Indian Covaxin vaccines as effective. Yet the TGA refuses to look at Petrovsky’s Australian vaccine until he pays a fee of $350,000.

The travails of Petrovsky are a cautionary tale of governments picking losers and punishing winners. Aside from being professor of medicine at Flinders University, director of endocrinology at the Flinders Medical Centre and vice-president and secretary-general of the international Immunomics Society, Petrovsky is the founder of Vaxine, an Australian biotech company that has won numerous awards, developed successful vaccines against Sars and Mers and is funded by the US National Institutes of Health.

Despite an outstanding record of achievement, Petrovsky’s application for funding to develop a Covid vaccine was rejected by the federal government. Instead, the government funded a project developed by the University of Queensland and backed by CSL, the only vaccine manufacturer in Australia. Before phase I trial results had even been completed, federal health minister Greg Hunt announced an investment of $1.7 billion to pre-order 84.8 million doses of the UQ and AstraZeneca vaccines. The project never made it beyond the phase I trial, but CSL still refuses to manufacture Petrovsky’s vaccine and the federal government refuses to fund a vaccine that is not manufactured in Australia.


The results of Petrovsky’s trials in monkeys, ferrets and hamsters showed not only that his vaccine was safe but that vaccinated animals produced neutralising antibodies in the nose and throat, blocking transmission to animals which had not been immunised. Before injecting the vaccine into a single person, Petrovsky injected it into himself to demonstrate his confidence in the product. Compare that with the CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla who began dosing people with its experimental vaccine on April 23, 2020. Bourla didn’t get his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine until 21 March 2021.

Vaxine was the first Covid sub-protein vaccine in the world to gain regulatory approval, on 8 October, beating Swiss-American pharmaceutical giant Novartis, which teamed up with the Bill Gates-backed Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and this week gained regulatory approval for its Novavax vaccine. Yet rather than being a great Australian success story, Petrovsky has had to team up with an Iranian manufacturer to produce his Covax-19 vaccine, sending Australian manufacturing jobs offshore, and is using a GoFundMe site to raise the $350,000 to pay the TGA fees which go directly to the Commonwealth Department of Health.

Why has Petrovsky faced so many hurdles? There is no doubt that there is a highly influential vaccine establishment which has played along with the fiction that Sars-Cov-2 could not have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Petrovsky was one of the first major Western scientist to say that having studied the virus, it was highly unlikely that it could have acquired its unusual characteristics other than in a laboratory. That would have angered powerful and influential people.

But is there something murkier? Petrovsky says a government MP told him that doors would remain closed to him in Canberra unless he paid a lobbyist to open them. Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck, Novartis and Sanofi on the other hand all have the deepest pockets to smooth their way. Whatever the truth, this week, the nation’s most successful vaccinologist was stood down during a global pandemic and South Australia sacked ten per cent of its healthcare workforce because they refused to comply with the same draconian, unscientific and unethical vaccine mandate. And this, a fortnight before the state’s borders will open to wide-scale infection which will inevitably lead to increased hospitalisations of vulnerable people.

Petrovsky was sacked even though he may well have better immunity than those who are sacking him. And the vaccine mandates remain in place even though the most recent vaccine surveillance report in the UK states that vaccine effectiveness wanes after ‘the first three to four months’ and that the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine, even at its peak, only provides 65-75 per cent protection and both AZ and Pfizer wane to no effective immunity within six months. Indeed, in every age group over 30, the vaccinated are more likely to get infected than the unvaccinated. The mandates also refuse to acknowledge that infection-acquired immunity is as robust as vaccine acquired immunity, even though this is backed by 102 research studies, and according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professor Dr Marty Makary, data from Israel shows that natural immunity is 27 times more effective than vaccinated immunity.

‘We know they are lying, they know they are lying, they know we know they are lying, we know they know we know they are lying, but they are still lying’ wrote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. How did it come to pass so quickly that Australia feels like a former Eastern bloc country where virological Lysenkoism is an official doctrine, dissidents are sacked, the newspapers report propaganda and the truth is relegated to social media samizdat?

In his 1961 farewell address to the nation, President Dwight Eisenhower warned that ‘the prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded’, and ‘in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite’. Eisenhower said it was the task of statesmen to balance these forces within the principles of our democratic system so that security and liberty could prosper together.

Sadly, there is no one to hold a candle to him today. If we are to get out of this mess, we must save ourselves.

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