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We are in the middle of an information war
Interview with 3D artist, hacktivist, bioinformatician and “Drosten whistleblower” Bobby Rajesh Malhotra
Berlin/ Vienna 12.01.2021. Talking to Bobby, you quickly feel like an astonished Arthur Dent in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: Bobby’s world consists of blockchains, 3D programs and 3D protein graphics reminiscent of space landscapes or psychedelic art. Until the end of 2020, he worked as a 3D illustrator at a molecular medicine research center and was part of the SARS-CoV2 task force there. His task in the spring of 2020 was to illustrate the spike protein of the coronavirus. When he began to have doubts about the scientific process on which the corona PCR test is also based, he dove deeper into the inconsistencies surrounding the Corman-Drosten paper. Today, he is a co-author of the report calling for the paper’s retraction. Bobby talks to me about the Drosten scandal, the power of critical mass, and the “fine art of trolling.”
This interview first appeared in abridged form on Jan. 29, 2021, in the 35th edition of “Demokratischer Widerstand”, Democratic Resistance. www.demokratischerwiderstand.de This version is unabridged and illustrated with Bobby’s molecular artwork. Bobby is on Twitter: @Bobby_Network.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
When all the resources of a state fail, art must step in.
Bobby Rajesh Malhotra
Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview! I honestly can hardly imagine what you do professionally…
Bobby: (laughs) Yes, my biography is a bit complicated, but I can give you a short overview. I used to be a club owner. I got screwed with that and I decided to become an artist.
I moved from Innsbruck to Vienna and studied Digital Art. After that I applied to a research center for molecular medicine in Austria at the department of Bioinformatics as a 3D artist. There I was accepted at the beginning of 2019 and I have been hanging around in the labs. My task was to create deep scientific 3D visualizations in protein and molecular business, as well as “interfaces” and “apps”, easy to understand 3D visualizations for communication with the public. I’ve pretty much involved myself into this whole protein thing with what I call the RCSB database, sort of the ‘Alexandria library’ of proteins. I transfer molecular structures into 3D programs and can thus represent proteins truthfully and on a scientific basis in three-dimensional space.
You were also involved in the COVID-19 research. How did that come about?
When Corona kicked off last year in January, a lot of labs got into a kind of race for scientific supremacy in this field. I was assigned to a SARS-Cov2 task force at my research center. My job was to visualize and look at the so-called “spike protein” of the Coronavirus.
As we artists are, we always do a bit more than is actually required. For example, I used my 3D program to fill gaps in the sequences. To do this, you compare them with other existing molecular data from the RCSB database, and where something is missing, you sort of piece it together and thus have a “fuller” picture of the spike protein.
At this point, I started asking the lab staff critical questions about the methodology, questions about so-called gaps-filling and alignments. They responded by keeping a very low profile. In retrospect, I know that they simply did not want to admit to me that it is their daily bread to “experiment” with these holes in the code during in-silico production.
What does “in silico production” mean?
This is the theoretical production of virus fragments and protein parts. The whole thing suddenly seemed Spanish to me. Added to this was the problem of primary patient isolates. The lab was just busy isolating and sequencing 1,000 Austrian samples. In the process, more and more mutations were coming out. I wondered how there could be so many mutations in a country cluster all at once. It was quite unrealistic. The day came when I was told that my employment contract would not be renewed (4th quarter 2020). That was more or less the starting signal for me — to become even more critical (laughs). On a day when I was very upset, I created a mega thread on Twitter with 124 tweets. In “Corona Ausschuss Nr. 22”, Corona Committee №22, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Kämmerer had explained the problem of Drosten PCR tests. I linked this with my knowledge and tried to explain it for the beginner on Twitter — a mixture of corruption, bioinformatics and the PCR problem. This thread pretty much hit home.
This is how I came across Dr. Pieter Borger, who was already critical on ResearchGate (science platform, editor’s note) at the same time. At some point he wrote to me, Mr. Malhotra, do you want to join me, I want to write a retraction for the Drosten paper. Then I had to open up to him that I am not a classical scientist at all, but a digital artist and self-taught bioinformatician. He was very surprised why I was able to talk to him at all about these issues. I then told him basically the same story I told you. After a meeting with Pieter Borger and Ulrike Kämmerer, everything was actually clear relatively quickly. We split up, asked our scientific circles and gathered 22 scientists. After we had submitted this to Eurosurveillance, the question came: What do we do now? Do we wait and the whole thing disappears inconspicuously into nowhere? I then decided to make a website (https://cormandrostenreview.com) out of it. That’s how the whole discussion about PCR testing got out into the open.
Is there a public response from “Team Drosten” yet?
(Laughs) Not really. Drosten is managed by one or more PR think tanks for social media. However, the advice and support from these PR firms is rather modest. That is, he then sends over some low-quality/ low-tier “shills” (comment writers hired by PR firms, editor’s note) who have an appropriate response script ready.
You are systematically attacked on social media by paid PR writers — and these people then claim to have a clue and defend Drosten and Co.?
Yes, exactly. When we then pin them down on scientific details, they usually run away. I am a professional “troll” myself. I grew up with the Internet. I know exactly how it works, and I recognize them right away. One of the running gags on my Twitter profile is that I always get blocked really quickly. I actually celebrate that every time.
We’re also planning a database of all the shills to make the connections available to everyone: All these PR think tanks that are selling us this story here. Drosten, of course, didn’t give us any answers other than half-baked hashtag campaigns from the Binder Lab (lab from around the Drosten network, ed.) or that we were some Nazis. The scientific discourse itself, however, was not there. Even the Eurosurveillance Journal only gave us completely absurd answers. That’s when we increased the pressure on social media and published these answers — which, of course, is not scientific “custom” now. But everything that concerns the current situation requires other ways than the ones taken before.
In a way, this is also a David versus Goliath battle. Your opponent has powerful PR networks. So in this unequal battle, your tool of choice is impudence, deliberate provocation?
Exactly. The players around Drosten have powerful people behind them. My personal opinion — and it’s certainly not shared by all the other authors — if we zoom out one step from all the technical details, the whole thing is just a diversionary game for something that’s actually going on in the background. I would agree with Ernst Wolff here: it’s all about business transformation and holistic digitization. All the other puzzle tasks are, so to speak, just “smoke grenades” designed to distract. Still, we thought we’d attack the whole thing from the scientific vector, because it’s all about public opinion. If people realize that the PCR method does not work — that is a good attack vector.
So if they are now already presenting us with the Drosten as a “muppet animal”, as a mascot, then we are deliberately attacking this field and then looking at what is next in the “script”. I say script deliberately, because we are witnessing a script being executed. They have come up with all kinds of scenarios to implement what they have in mind. It is, of course, a field of speculation what is going on in the background. But many know by now, it’s about transformation, it’s about digital currencies, it’s about cushioning past financial crashes or total micro-management control of every human being under the guise of goodness. The more people wake up and understand that this is not just a familiar pharma game, but there is much more at stake — the higher the probability that the main players will fail with it. There are many models that say it really only takes 10% of the population not playing along. Then the whole house of cards collapses.
The critical mass.
Exactly, the critical mass. What are they going to do if simply 10% of the population doesn’t play along? Then it’s going to be pretty hard for them. Sure, the critical authors who are now positioning themselves in the Retraction Report have a lot to lose. But we also have a lot to lose if we do nothing at all.
After all, a big problem with critical discourse on Corona is the complexity of the scientific arguments, which is difficult to communicate to a broader audience. How do you get your arguments across to the “critical mass”?
This is a very important point. One approach would be a so-called long-form discussion that lasts two to three hours. In this format, scientists come together at a table with “normies,” i.e., normal people. We want to use the digital field for this kind of education. Over the next few weeks, we plan to release videos with Howard Steen on a weekly basis. Howard is an artist, just like me. We are the “interface,” so to speak, between art, science, and the public. Unfortunately, the artists have been silent for the last 12 months. Now it’s up to us. We have to process what has happened, pack it into strong images. When all means of a state fail, art must step in.
How do you explain to a layman what your “Corman-Drosten Retraction Report” and the current “Addendum” are about?
For the sake of simplicity, I’ll call it the Main Review Report (1) and the Addendum (2) . The Main Review Report was simply about good scientific work. If the Drosten protocol is supposed to be the gold standard among PCR protocols, does the associated paper also meet the corresponding standards? Only a few critical points be mentioned: the so-called CT data are not correct, this is the critical issue of the cycles. In the WHO document and in Drosten’s paper, 45 cycles are given. There is no so-called “cut-off value”. But the cut-off value is important, it has to be determined in the practical scenario. Anything above 35 is meaningless. But after this cut-off is not specified, most likely many laboratories have run 45 cycles. Then there are too many false positives.
Do you think the cut-off value was deliberately kept so high or open?
The whole thing is designed in such a way that it always leads to errors, either false positives or false negatives come out. Furthermore, it is strange that Drosten was already in the starting blocks in January. He has made a mystery of where he got his in-silico templates. There is a quote from him that he read that somewhere on social media and then figured the virus had to be somehow like this or that. Then he most likely did the same thing we were doing at the time: plugging something together. So he plugged something together and then sent it to Hong Kong with his bosom friend Olfert Landt (TIB Molbiol / Roché Partner). The delicacy was that Drosten’s PCR protocol was paid for by the Berlin Charité (tax money) and was tested on a patient somewhere in Hong Kong. And then: hurray, it turned out positive!
What happened then?
He sent it to WHO before he had given it to Eurosurveillance for peer review. And WHO uploaded it immediately (3). Only then did he submit it to the journal Eurosurveillance! (4) His colleagues Marion Koopmans, Maria Zambon and Andreas Nietzsche (formerly TIB Molbiol, now RKI), most likely advised WHO and achieved that de facto only their protocol was officially recommended by WHO. The WHO recommendation is like a seal of quality. Drosten has always been able to rest on it: WHO recommended it! That is how he worked. If you want to reconstruct the process, he always used his network to pass on all orders to his friend Olfert Landt: Hey, now the Iranians need your test prototype again, why don’t you send it there and then I’ll put in a good word for you — we’ll make sure you get the dominant market sector there, at least at the beginning of the pandemic. We didn’t articulate that so clearly in the review report, but it comes out between the lines that that’s how it went. (5)
I won’t go into the conflicts of interest now and jump directly to the “Addendum”. This is how it came about: We had set up a comment field on our site. Of course, the Drosten fanboys and -girls immediately arrived and criticized this and that. The bottom line always remained one thing in the criticism: You don’t have any real experiments, what is called “wet lab”. And they were actually right about that. So we went on a search with Kevin McKernan. He’s sort of our “Mister Technical Details,” the technical details man, the “Mister PCR” of the scientific literature.
From him we know that this Charité primers & probes design is actually pretty garbage. We then put such technical details into the addendum. For example, the RdRp gene has too low a sensitivity. The point is that you have to have a certain kind of sensitivity to be really sure that this result is true. It just isn’t. Another piquant detail: There is a study by Muenchhoff et al. (6), that also came out in Eurosurveillance. In it, Drosten is a co-author, and their conclusion is that the RdRp gene should be removed from the protocol and replaced. The Muenchhoff et al. study came out in late July 2020, published and peer reviewed, and the Corman-Drosten paper came out in January 2020. The conclusion of the Muenchhoff et al. study says the RdRp gene should be replaced because it is too non-specific. If Drosten were a good scientist, he should have called WHO immediately and said, “Guys, I was in on a new study, and we found out after lengthy wet lab tests, this gene belongs out. But he didn’t do that.
So here the entire quality assurance of science has failed.
Yes, there is a lack of internal controls in science. We need a kind of template that applies to the whole. This would then measure, for example, how much variance, how much deviation there is in the whole. If the variance is too large, you can correct it and “normalize” it, so to speak. Then you get more accurate results again. But since these internal controls do not exist, we have a “Wild West” of interpretation possibilities.
There is the already mentioned problem with the missing or too high CT value. Furthermore, in the NCBI database — a database that records all possible sequences — one should have actually noticed that Drostens is missing two major primers. The N gene and the E gene are missing, or do not match, respectively. Kevin McKernan has been able to prove that this was not investigated because everything was simply waved through far too quickly — so that they could get their WHO recommendation quickly. You should have been able to tell from the technical details mentioned that the whole thing was a) totally badly designed, by really mediocre to bad scientists, or b) it was all deliberate. My personal interpretation is the latter: everything is specially designed to have lots of false positives.
We have now added this little shovel of evidence with the addendum, because it silences critics on Twitter very quickly. They are then simply told, look at our addendum, 60 pages, 20 wet-lab literature references. The Charité primer design does not meet scientific standards.
Who exactly are you primarily attacking with the Corman-Drosten review? The authors or the journal?
Both together, but we as a group of authors are primarily blaming the journal Eurosurveillance. Nothing about that journal is transparent. Pieter Borger asked there if we could at least get the minutes of the peer review process. They gave us two pages of, well, let’s call it lame excuses and said: No, we can’t give you that, because the reviewers of the paper have to remain anonymous. It was supposedly “totally unusual” in science to release the protocol, which was only intended for internal use. It would contain the identity of the reviewers, which is of course total humbug — you can publish a review protocol without the names of the authors. But then at least we would know how the review process went.
To the question, was it waved through in two days? Definitely even less: with typesetting and all that, it must have taken somewhere between 3.5 hours and 27.5 hours. The actual peer review process was something just over a day, tops. And of course, that’s not possible at all. And especially with such a complex topic as PCR protocol design. Here, all instances simply failed. Whenever we ask Eurosurveillance now — when will this be finished with our review process? Then they say: we have been in existence since 1995, and we have been publishing scientific papers since 2007. It has never happened that we had to retract a paper.
And there is a nice little detail: Eurosurveillance is a journal that allows so-called “rapic communications”. The “star virologist” Drosten, who is also a member of the editorial board, together with Chantal Reusken, submitted their paper under the pretext that “world catastrophe” is now the order of the day, so we have to submit a rapid communications paper. This is also one of the main arguments of the low-quality shills, that “that’s just how it was back then”. It was an emergency, something was needed very quickly.
Data analyst Wouter Aukema on Twitter, wondering about the short peer review process of the Corman-Drosten-paper
Ok — let’s let this argumentation stand, temporarily. And let’s move on to our review report: We also submitted this as ‘rapid communication’, but now it already takes nine weeks to process it. In other words, it didn’t happen that quickly for us, although it would actually be just as urgent. For a scientific journal, where trust in the peer review process is the real currency, all this is a scandal. My personal opinion would be that this journal should close down now. But it has an incredible number of connections to European Disease Control, to grants commissions. One is closely linked to Charité Berlin, one cites each other all the time…
Exactly. And the fascinating detail is, all of this was funded with European taxpayer money and Grants Control to boot. What happened as a result? Two things: by not patenting it and telling Drosten you can do whatever you want with it, Charité opened the door to the “Wild West” of the RT-qPCR market. Drosten acted as if they released it as “open source” out of niceness, only he just forgot to mention that together with Olfert Landt he has the ultimate market advantage (7). In Australia, he pulled it off completely analogously, with his friends there Ian M Mackay and John F Mackay, my very special friend on Twitter, with whom I’ve been fighting a Twitter war for some time.
Twitter Wars: Pharma lobbyist and collaborateur of the Drosten-network John F Mackay intimidates Bobby on Twitter. Mackay is a partner from the Drosten’s pharma network. He lobbied for the Drosten-PCR-Test in New Zealand in January 2020, at a point in time when there were no Covid-19 cases at all (8).
He wrote a book back in 2009, “RT-qPCR in Microbiology.” Even then, exactly the same names appear: Christian Drosten, Andreas Nietzsche, John F Mackay, Olfert Landt, Marion Koopmans. Marion Koopmans was a nobody before — after the book she was somebody. They didn’t just all meet each other at conferences. They kept quoting and reciting each other.
Then came the story with Wodarg, who actually single-handedly stopped the false alarm of swine flu in 2009. He had believed that such a thing would not happen again. Well, he was wrong about that. This is quite a sworn squad among themselves.
Have any Drosten trolls contacted you since the release of the “Addendum”?
(laughs) No, not since yesterday! They’ll probably plow through it now, and have a meeting every day to put together a script of what they have to say to us on it. They’re going to fail with it, because the technical details are just under wraps. You also have to look very carefully at the figures and graphs in the scientific literature; often the conclusion does not match what is in the graphs. If the graph says: the Charité primer is useless, then the conclusion says: it is super! In the meantime, such means are used in science, because in the meantime everything has degenerated to a pseudo-science, because due to some gatekeepers or conflicts of interests people are no longer interested in entering into a real discussion. Interestingly, most of the battles are happening on Twitter right now. I’m pretty deep into this war right now, this digital information war.
You would really call that a war?
Yes, definitely. If I zoom out again and look at it from my artist’s perspective — this may sound a bit exaggerated — then we’re almost in a kind of Third World War, only this one is taking place digitally. There’s a lecture by Richard Dawkins where he talks about so-called memes, or the memplex, the collective consciousness of ideas. I am quite experienced in the “high art of trolling”.
That’s where the so-called memes come in. Memes, memes and memetics. You work with images, humor, or information tidbits for laypeople, and now it’s a question of: Who’s going to win this visual information war? We’re fighting de facto against well-budgeted PR firms that have been given a specific mandate to “push” certain content. We are fighting it with facts so that as many people as possible wake up. Zoomed out agaihe le thing seems clownesque, like a clown’s world. There are people whon’t even want to deal with it because it’s such a dark, dark topic. But more and more understand:evision is trying to program me, so I’d rather get my info from somewhere else.
On the Internet. But we are also being attacked on an unprecedented scale by “virtual propaganda weapons” on the Internet. These are still completely unknown to us.
Exactly, we are curre being attacked at the memplex level, at the level of ideas. This realization is central to me.
We see that the tech world is acting as a cartel, especially evident since the blocking of Parler by Amazon, on whose servers the program was running. Suddenly, this war of sovereignty is again about very tangible advantages: who can provide the computing power to keep up with the big top dogs?
Precisely. If cloud servers say we no longer support Parler for political reasons, we have a huge problem. There is an agenda and the Big Tech companies are playing to that, they are sort of the tool for that. We have become too dependent on the Big Tech companies.
Since the beginning of the Internet, it has always been the trolls who have spoken out against censorship. The Chan culture, for example, is one of the few areas of the Internet where you can still express your opinion anonymously without the police being at the door (given that you have a good VPN). You can find out about extreme opinions from the far left to the far right, but you can also get an idea of how a truly open discourse might work. That’s not possible in traditional social media, for example, because we’ve been sensitized to so-called “safe spaces,” safe debate spaces, where you’re not allowed to talk about certain things. Example: someone who demands an isolate of the Coronavirus is a virus denier, a “Corona denier.”
The pigeonholes are now clearly set.
Exactly. It’s a mixture of fear, of framing, collective assassinations, of pigeonholing. There is also controlled opposition on the demos, which I always draw attention to because, for example, I don’t want our group of authors to be infiltrated in any way. That’s why I’m so loud on Twitter about this. I’m allowed to do that, as a digital artist, or see it as my job as an artist as well, to keep calling attention to it. And the controlled opposition has left the Corman-Drosten report alone, i.e. not mentioned it once since it’s been around. My opinion: they will have their reasons. I don’t think there’s anything in the script about that.
In Germany, people have been mobilized, but then — another buzzword PR wording — pushed into the “Schwurbler” corner. “Schwurbel” is a frame that was invented to signal to “normal people” very quickly what they should definitely not hear. We are in a very dark time right now, accumulating all sorts of things we never really wanted in our lives. If anyone thinks that’s not designed — they’re too naive. It’s designed through.
If we go back to the past, to the various PR think tanks, how was the Iraq war sold to the U.S. public at the time? That was the so-called incubator lie, where the British diplomat’s daughter, posing as a nurse, said that Iraqi soldiers were ripping babies out of incubators:
In truth, she was Kuwaiti diplomat’s daughter, and that didn’t happen at all. The second was the vial of “weapons of mass destruction” that Colin Powell held up to the camera. That’s how this war was sold to the public. Hill+Knowlton sold that at the time. And the same people are now back in the WHO for COVID propaganda. That is, people who are responsible for half a million deaths in the Iraq war are also responsible for COVID-19 communications now.
These plans have to do with digitization. If you get the wrong blockchain among the masses, the centralized blockchain, and not the decentralized blockchain, then you’re sort of in control. These are details that people should know.
As a democracy movement, do we need the blockchain for our content to be decentralized from being accessed by governments?
Yes. Satoshi conceived of this system and then “took off” as a precaution — to this day, no one really knows who he is. Why did he do that? Well, because it was perfectly clear to him that this technology eliminates the “middle man”: the bank, or the state. That, of course, was a big thorn in the side of the states and the banks: that there was a “weapon” that would make them obsolete. That’s why they now pushing the so-called “Blockchain 2.0,” or centralized Blockchain, into the market and buttering people up. I’m a big supporter of anything decentralized: whether that’s a payment system or a peer review system on the blockchain — yes please! That would sort of get us out of this situation. Kevin McKernan and I talk about this a lot — we’re very much in favor of the scientific peer review process really being done on the blockchain, then every step time-stamped as a mini-transaction and you can follow everything very closely.
So technology in itself is not “evil,” but could, for example, make institutions more transparent?
Yes, technology itself is not “evil”. For me, the solution is decentralized work, in all fields: Politics, payment systems, science. It is clear to us by now that the old normality will not return. In the meantime, so much damage has been done that this old normality will no longer exist. All we can do now is look at what a “new normal” should look like, as we see fit.
You mean we have to create our own vision “from below”?
The grassroots is the magic word. Things change when more people realize that they are the base of everything. If Amazon makes us too comfortable with delivering goods, we actually have to think ten times about how far we want to push this: Are we now going to become couch potatoes to the point where we say we’re always going to rely on Amazon from now on, or are we going to try the smaller service and give everyone a little more share so that there’s not too much monopolization. One of the classic dystopias in science fiction is that the corporations monopolize everything and make politics and grassroots democracy obsolete. The opportunity is to turn the whole thing into a utopia that starts from us. I assume that people are actually intelligent enough. The “Silent Majority” — that’s who we should be hoping for in 2021.
You spoke earlier about the ‘high art of trolling’. In mainstream discourse, however, trolls are generally portrayed as something negative and suspicious. The ‘troll bubble’ has struck again.
Who is the troll for you?
The troll is actually the same as an artist, an artist is also a troll. If you look back in history, it used to be the juggler or the joker. The joker has had the privilege of dancing back and forth between royalty and regular folk, making fun of the king. The king has needed to have jokes made about him to make him think. Once the artist or troll does it, you’re better prepared for it when it comes down to it. Humor is often the key to success in many situations in life. A bit like in South Park… you just laugh your way through life. So the troll has an important function in my eyes, much like memes. Good memes don’t need text to tell you what to think. They are understood everywhere in the world.
Thank you very much for the exciting conversation!
 Official recommendation of the Corman-Drosten protocol & manuscript by the WHO,published on January 13th 2020 as version 1.0 of the document: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/wuhan-virus-assay-v1991527e5122341d99287a1b17c111902.pdf; archive: https://bit.ly/3m3jXVH
 Official WHO-recommendation for the Corman / Drosten RT-qPCR-protocol, which directly derives from the Eurosurveillance-publication, document-version 2–1, published on 17th January 2020: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/protocol-v2-1.pdf?sfvrsn=a9ef618c_2
 Charité’s response to Partsch & Partner Attorneys Christoph J. Partsch inquiry / questionnaire: http://schlussjetzt.org/Antwortschreiben%20Charite%20auf%20Pressefragen%20Jens%20Wernicke%20vom%2018.06.2020.pdf
 Muenchhoff et al. (2020): https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.24.2001057
 Christian Drosten & Victor Corman, responsible for viral diagnostics at Labor Berlin: https://www.laborberlin.com/fachbereiche/virologie/ Archive: https://archive.is/CDEUG
 https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/24/asia/testing-coronavirus-science-intl-hnk/index.html, https://twitter.com/Bobby_Network/status/1321205679043059714, https://twitter.com/Bobby_Network/status/1321205827223621634, https://twitter.com/Bobby_Network/status/1321862811174264834, https://twitter.com/Bobby_Network/status/1321863420577239045, https://twitter.com/Bobby_Network/status/1321864159844323329, https://twitter.com/Bobby_Network/status/1321864844237250560, https://twitter.com/Bobby_Network/status/1321867089355919364