The 16th International Conference on Lyme Borreliosis (ICLB) will be held September 4-7, 2022, in Amsterdam. Featured speakers include Allen Steere, Gary Wormser, John Branda, and Erol Fikrig--all old-timers in the scandalous world of Lyme disease. The conference is sponsored in part by Valneva--and they must have paid a lot, because they snagged the final presentation slot of the conference to promote their vaccine-in-development that's actually not a vaccine, just before the closing remarks.
I find it notable that all of the sponsors aside from Valneva are diagnostic companies. These companies are making a killing selling tests that everyone knows don't work. I suspect even Valneva knows they don't work, since Valneva paid consulting fees early in the trial process, to several of the well-known players in the Lyme Science sphere. I imagine the topic of consultation was how to run a vaccine trial when the diagnostics don't work for most of the people who display early signs and symptoms of Lyme borreliosis. In other words, how to keep up the charade.
Here is a list of Valneva payments to individuals in 2018 (source https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/company/100000010526):
Setting aside the synergistic relationship between diagnostic companies and the current vaccine developer, what is the major takeaway from diagnostic manufacturers' bankrolling of the premier, international, scientific conference on Lyme disease?
It's that the charade depends on them. As the "controversy" of Lyme disease is drawn out over a fifth decade, it is more important than ever for Lyme scourge-deniers to maintain their position through the appearance of scientific advancements in diagnostics. Meanwhile we're perpetually stuck with test methods that were practically developed in the Stone Age.
That's why the September 5, 9:00 a.m. presentation is "What's New in Lyme Diagnostics?" by John Branda of Harvard University. Want to know what is Branda's most recent publication? It's "Laboratory Diagnosis of Lyme Borreliosis," which he wrote with Allen Steere. This is a longwinded promotion piece in support of serologic testing (i.e. what we've been stuck with since the beginning of Lyme time) masquerading as a review of potentially better methods. No wonder Dr. Branda only needs 20 minutes to speak. There is nothing new.
The authors' disclosures:
We did not receive any direct or indirect financial support for drafting this review article.
J.A.B. has received research support from Zeus Scientific, bioMérieux, Immunetics, Alere, DiaSorin, the Bay Area Lyme Foundation (BALF), and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID; award 1R21AI119457-01) for research projects related to the diagnosis of Lyme borreliosis. J.A.B. has also received consulting fees from Roche Diagnostics, T2 Biosystems, and DiaSorin. A.C.S. has received research support from NIH grants R01-AI-R01-101175 and R01-AI-144365, the Mathers Foundation, the Eshe Fund, and Zeus Scientific.
Soooo much money in diagnostics!
Wednesday morning at ICLB, from 8:50 to 10:30, is dedicated to diagnostics. After a brief introduction there will be a 30-minute rehash of "limitations of current tests," already covered by Branda. Then there are three quick mentions of "new" approaches.
First we have Abhijeet Nayak, whose claim to fame appears to be as an employee of Valneva publishing with other Valneva employees about their OspA vaccine candidate.
Next up is Ivar Tjernberg with "A novel laboratory approach to discriminate active Lyme borreliosis from non-Lyme individuals in addition to anti-Borrelia serostatus." Quite a mouthful, and it doesn't appear in his list of publications on PubMed. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that, based on the title, he seems to be okay with serology.
Finally, Olga Stukolova from the Russian Federation discusses a test that will never be commercialized in the West, but thank you for the invitation to speak--it is quite an honor.
So, we're hammered by the standard bearers of serology with "oh, gosh, serology is kinda bad, but then nothing else is any better, so, oh well!" Then we're given an illusion of scientific inquiry into improving Lyme diagnostics. And that's exactly how the sponsors Viramed, Reagena, and Euroimmun like it. They get to keep raking in profits with their serodiagnostics that work for few people other than those who are likely to develop an arthritic knee, while maintaining the Lyme charade ("controversy!") on behalf of the likes of Steere, Branda, Wormser, et al.
Mark my words: diagnostics will be the downfall of the Lyme syndicate.