One year ago Luc Montagnier, one of the greatest virologists of the 20th century, died. He discovered the HIV virus and won the Nobel Prize for his work. He was humiliated however and marginalised for his criticism of the pandemic management and the vaccination campaign. Today, his words seem prophetic and he has left a considerable intellectual legacy to treasure.
One year ago, on 8 February 2022, Luc Montagnier, one of the greatest virologists of the 20th century, passed away. He headed the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, and the Viral Oncology Unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, where he and Françoise Barré discovered the HIV virus in 1983: this scientific achievement earned the two the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine. In addition to this, he produced thousands of scientific publications.
Despite this extraordinary career, over the past two years the French scientist was fiercely and often vulgarly attacked for expressing scientific doubts about the political handling of the pandemic. He was treated by the mainstream media as a pathetic old man who proposed conspiracy theories. Actually, from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, the professor carefully studied several of its aspects, including the possible side effects of vaccines, the predominance of economic and marketing aspects over health aspects, and the availability of more effective and cheaper alternative treatments.
Despite the fact that the media had labelled him an ‘anti-vaxxer', a label that was ridiculous to say the least, considering for decades he had devoted himself to the research of an AIDS vaccine. And perhaps precisely because he had been conducting this type of research for such a long time, he had become suspicious of the ease with which these gene drugs were produced in 5-6 months. Over decades, however, neither Montagnier nor any other talented scientist ever succeeded in producing a vaccine for what had been called 'the plague of the 20th century'. This is not unprecedented, since obtaining a vaccine for a given disease is not always successful: other examples of failures are Hepatitis C and tuberculosis.
In the light of the scientific evidence, Montagnier questioned the way in which these products had been decided on, and also contested the compulsory nature of the treatment, based on the stated lack of experimental studies that could guarantee efficacy and safety.
He was also one of the first to point out that we were not dealing with real vaccines, but with “complicated assemblages of molecular biology, which can even be dangerous as well as ineffective”.
This scepticism towards the official narrative on vaccines, seen as the only solution to the pandemic problem, came from him being a genuine scientist. He also applied it to his own discoveries: he was always willing to question them, when it would have been much easier and more gratifying to ride the wave of the pharmaceutical industry and the big government authorities who wanted to take credit for solving the AIDS problem by selling HIV-specific drugs.
Montagnier continued for years to study this disease, which has never been definitively solved. And it is significant that many misgivings about Covid were expressed by the very scientists who had previously devoted themselves to AIDS: Montagnier, Robert Gallo, and Angus Dalgleish. In his life and work the French virologist seems to have followed a research method made famous by a renowned colleague of his from the beginning of the last century, also a Nobel Prize winner, Alexis Carrell, who had stated that “much reasoning and little observation lead to error; much observation and little reasoning lead to the truth”.
Truth was the concern of his entire life, which is why he questioned his findings, saying “this is a very important discovery, but let us make sure we unravel all aspects of it, without giving in to grand statements and simplifications”. Precisely because he continued to exercise his scepticism, out of personal integrity, he became an embarrassment to those who cashed in on the profits and fame of his discoveries.
A few days before his death, he held a public meeting in Italy, appealing to his medical colleagues to do their duty to the full: to inform themselves and research, and to discover that active drugs were already available, capable of healing the Covid patient if used at the beginning of the infection. He spoke of “alternative methods to cure this infection that are less risky and also less expensive for the health care system, and that would allow us to get rid of this virus”.
The French scientist was not only concerned with the virus, but also and above all with the strategies that had been adopted internationally to deal with it, strategies that were - according to Montagnier - totally inadequate. He tried to explain that it was not the vaccine that could stop the epidemic, but a combination of treatments. He also spoke of the emergence of data documenting very significant vascular and neurological side-effects. A few days later, the elderly scientist passed away, leaving a testimony that a year later cannot but appear prophetic, and bequeathing a great intellectual legacy that must be treasured and developed.