She arrives, a sheaf of sheets in her hand, with passages highlighted in neon: these are eight articles of 20 minutes in which our newspaper verified some of his claims. Alexandra Henrion Caude wishes to clarify a point, in an article published in 2021. We were writing when Inserm had dissociated itself from her, taking up information from LCI. “Inserm could not dissociate itself from me insofar as I have not been their employee since August 2019, having requested early retirement”, launches this former researcher, when we meet her on the premises. of his publishing house.

Why so much importance on this point? This may be because it has become for almost three years one of the scientific guarantees of opponents of vaccination against Covid-19. This past as a geneticist is also highlighted by the Albin Michel publishing house, where she has just published The Sorcerer’s Apprentices, everything we hide from you on the messenger RNA. The opportunity to ask her if she is vaccinated against Covid-19. Alexandra Henrion Caude then evokes “medical secrecy”, then launches a joke.

In the preamble, Albin Michel argues that this book, the release of which was notably welcomed by Florian Philippot, “should not be considered as an incitement to the refusal of vaccination”. However, Alexandra Henrion Caude paints an unflattering picture of vaccination with messenger RNA. In particular, she mentions the possibility that RNA can modify DNA. A scenario dismissed by the scientistsin the current state of our knowledge.

The publishing house provides 20 minutes that “this book has been the subject of scientific and legal re-readings”, before seeming to take some distance: “The publisher’s job is thus to point out the questions that may arise, but it is the author who decides in fine of his remarks and assumes it. A fortiori when it comes to a scientist specializing in her subject. »

“His positions and his words in no way reflect those of Inserm”

So, is Alexandra Henrion Caude a specialist and qualified in messenger RNA? “To speak of messenger RNA, in the sense of what a messenger RNA is, no more than any scientific student”, answers a personality who has rubbed shoulders with her. And to evoke the role of messenger RNA in therapy or vaccination? “She never worked on immunity, on infections, on vaccination, on messenger RNA as a therapeutic molecule,” adds this personality.

Scrolling down the list of scientific publications by Alexandra Henrion Caude, there are indeed no publications on messenger RNA. For a researcher, whatever his field of research, it is indeed the work published in peer-reviewed scientific journals that attest to his work. The geneticist, on the other hand, published on microRNAs and mitochondria. In 2012, his work carried out with the Reunion University Hospital on a hereditary disease on the island was the subject of a publication in the prestigious journal Pnas.

After a doctorate under the responsibility of the geneticist Axel Kahn and a post-doctorate at Harvard Medical school, Alexandra Henrion Caude spent most of her career at Inserm. She was busy there for a time, in the 2010s, with a database listing genes. She finally put herself on leave from the institute in 2018 “for personal convenience” according to Inserm, before retiring from it in August 2019. The institute is now distancing itself from its former employee: “Her catches position and his words in no way reflect those of Inserm and do not have the consent of the Inserm scientific collective. »

The mask compared to a handkerchief

How did a researcher go from the laboratory to the stands alongside Francis Lalanne or Jean-Marie Bigard? In July 2020, she gave an interview to the far-right web TV TVLibertés. The interview is viewed two million times. Alexandra Henrion Caude compares the wearing of a mask to that of a handkerchief and explains that “we have the capacity to face almost any virus, we have the defense system to fight it. A health capital that is maintained, by doing sports, therefore avoiding being confined for two months, by having good oxygenation, that is to say by avoiding putting on masks [le port prolongé du masque n’empêche pas une bonne oxygénation], by having a good diet, that is to say by having the freedom to go out and buy everything we need to have the food diversification we need. »

In March 2021, she demonstrated alongside Francis Lalanne in Paris. Two months later, in May, it is with Jean-Marie Bigard that she appears. The comedian describes Agnès Buzin, the former Minister of Health, as a “big bitch”, a sequence filmed by the teams of Daily. Alexandra Henrion Caude intervenes, asking him “not to say swear words. Why was she there? She remembers having “been invited [à la manifestation] by “Ami do you hear”, a collective of artists who had contacted several scientists”. “You don’t choose who you demonstrate with,” she continues. You are there for the cause and only the cause! »

Alexandra Henrion-Caude began to intervene in the press in the early 2010s to defend the embryo.
Alexandra Henrion-Caude began to intervene in the press in the early 2010s to defend the embryo. – Olivier Juszczak / 20 Minutes

In 2011, it was another cause that Alexandra Henrion Caude defended: the human embryo. In the midst of a debate on bioethics law, like other researchers, she opposes research on stem cells from human embryos.

She says she is vigilant about ethics and had created a website, science in conscience, in the early 2010s. “I always tell my team that we must conduct each of our searches as if one day an International Criminal Court were to arrive and evaluate us, she develops. For example, in the United States, because the legislation was different, we poured baths of radioactivity into sinks, whereas in France, we poured them into separate drums. It is important to tell ourselves that there can be a consequence to our actions. It seems important to me not to do what researchers are currently doing, namely to outsource the ethical dimension of their work to this or that external committee. »

It does not take a position solely on this subject. In 2018, she gave a conference on PMA with the Cosette et Gavroche association, which was created “to fight against the Taubira bill on marriage for all”, according to the website of this association.

“A label stuck on your back”

Is it the Catholic faith of this mother of five children that pushed her to take these positions on the embryo? “To defend the human embryo, I absolutely do not need my faith! “, she answers 20 minutes.

In May 2021, before his death, the geneticist Axel Kahn advanced in the columns of the Parisian that his former doctoral student “articulates reality around its spiritual truth”: “Alexandra is, in my opinion, a unique case of its kind, then explained the person who directed the thesis of the former Inserm researcher. Accursed scholars with a fine career, who suddenly have an idea and are unable to question it, there have been many. See Didier Raoult, or Luc Montagnier. But his case is different. It articulates reality around its spiritual truth. »

Alexandra Henrion Caude, now 53, replies that it is not her religious convictions, “but what[elle] analyzed by genetics” which prompted her to take a stand against anti-Covid-19 vaccines.

In October 2020 with LCI, Axel Kahn had spoken of a positioning “at the limit of a religious and sectarian commitment” of his former student. She had filed a defamation complaint, before withdrawing it, Axel Kahn being seriously ill. “Fundamentalist then sectarian, I don’t know where he got that from,” answers Alexandra Henrion Caude. Again, it’s word against word. He was able to express himself, I couldn’t. It’s really for me this story of rumours: “some people said she was a fundamentalist”. And how does it work out? Once again, it’s a label stuck on your back to discredit you, to silence you. »

A research laboratory in Mauritius

An experience would have made a strong impression on the researcher. In 2013, Alexandra Henrion Caude spent a month in the United States as fellow of the Eisenhower Foundation. A distinction, which is however “not part of the scholarships, awards or usual prizes that researchers ask for. It’s very confidential, ”explains a personality who knew the researcher.

A few years after her return, Alexandra Henrion Caude took over the management of Mauritius. In 2016, she was announced there at a round table of the Women’s Forum, alongside a researcher from a South African university, as well as the vice-president of Sanofi in charge of access to medicines and a manager of an initiative of Lancet. In an interview with the Mauritian press in 2018, she announced that she was part of the island’s Economic Development Council. She is not currently a member of the governing council, according to the council’s website.

It has set up a research laboratory on the island called SimplissmA. The objective is to draw inspiration from “traditional remedies” to “provide simple, sustainable, ethical and low-cost health solutions to people living in Mauritius, but also around the world”, explained Alexandra Henrion Caude in 2018 at the Luxury Mauritius magazine.

This institute does not publish scientific articles. Its goal is “to share certain knowledge with the public, not to speak to scientists”, replies Alexandra Henrion Caude. A phrase that resonates with his journey since the Covid-19 crisis.

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