There has been a significant increase in cases of alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), which is a tick-borne disease that causes an allergic reaction to red meat. This disease was first reported in Virginia in 2008 and has seen a rapid rise in cases over the past few years. Check out more details about the matter below.
CDC releases new statement
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a statement indicating that an estimated 450,000 people in the U.S. have tested positive for alpha-gal since 2010. In 2021, there was a 41.3% increase in positive test results for AGS compared to 2017, with 66,106 people being tested that year.
Coincidentally, there has been an increase in funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation towards researching the Rhipicephalus microplus (“Asian blue”) tick, which is known to cause AGS. This tick has been verified as the cause of AGS in a publication in the ImmunoTargets and Therapy journal, which is available in the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), American Faith notes.
An official for the company Oxitec reached out to us via an e-mail and made the following amendment: “In the US, Rhipicephalus microplus was eradicated in 1943, with only periodic incursions since. There are many, abundant species of tick in the US that are able to bite people. As stated by the CDC, the lone star tick is likely the usual culprit for inducing AGS.”
A biotechnology company, Oxitec Ltd., received a grant to genetically modify male ticks with a “self-limiting gene” to control the tick population in high-infestation areas.
The project aimed to address the global pest problem affecting cattle, a significant source of red meat, said the same publication that we mentioned above, but the official rep who reached out to us, highlighted the following:
“the feasibility project which launched in 2021 was only the first step towards building a solution for this tick. This project involved lab studies of the tick, none of which was undertaken in the USA”
In June 2023, after Oxitec reported high efficacy in its tick experimentation, the Gates Foundation provided an additional $4.8 million in funding. However, there is scrutiny over the intertwining of Gates’s interests and the rise in AGS cases, says the online publication, but the rep whom we mentioned above noted the fact that “No efficacy studies were conducted, as no self-limiting tick has yet been developed._Oxitec states “Launched in 2021, Oxitec’s cattle tick program has conducted in-depth assessments of tick biology and genetics, assessed methods for the development of a Friendly™ tick solution, artificial production methods, cattle management practices in regions threatened by R. microplus, and modeled the impact of future implementation on target tick populations. ” – the results of the modeling work were promising for a future solution.”
Gates holds stakes in pharmaceutical companies that produce antibiotics commonly used to treat tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease. In addition, his foundation granted over $1 million to a diagnostics company specializing in Lyme disease detection. Gates also has significant investments in plant-based and lab-grown meat companies, including those approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for meat substitute products.
Gates’ funding of tick research
Gates’s participation in disease research and prevention has caused controversy before, as seen in his focus on malaria. In the United States, malaria had been eradicated for decades until recent developments.
The CDC reported the last detection of malaria in the US in 2003 when seven people were infected in Palm Beach County. In 2007, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested hundreds of millions of dollars in malaria research, increasing their malaria budget by 30% in 2014.
A new treatment for Plasmodium vivax malaria, Krintafel (tafenoquine), was launched in July 2018 by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). This was the first new treatment for the disease in over six decades. Funding from the Gates Foundation was instrumental in the drug’s development, as confirmed by Forbes. The Foundation continued to support tafenoquine research, financing various studies, including a Lancet-published article that praised the drug’s performance.
We suggest that you check out the latest reports about the issue and learn more details in the original article.
It is highly recommended that you carefully review the notes from the official representative of Oxitec, which were sent to us via email. These notes highlight the possibility that important publications may sometimes lack evidence to support their claims, and thus should be thoroughly scrutinized.
Note: Special thanks to Joshua Van Raalte for making clarifications for our article.