August 26, 2020 | By Omar S. Khan | Medium.com |
“There is only one way out and forward, from the mad, compounding meltdown fostered by our manic over-reaction to COVID-19. And to understand “this solution” which is an adaptive solution, not a technical one, we have to face squarely some rather unflinching realities. The infection rate, the death rate, the effectiveness of tests, together already render the crisis essentially incomprehensible. Source
We first “flipped a switch,” tragically, incompetently and myopically when we went from “flattening the curve” (meant to be a multi-week exercise to keep health systems from being over-run and to be able to organize), to “eradicate the virus at all costs” and stay paralyzed and panic-riddled no matter how tame the death rate (the only real statistic of relevance) is as a percentage of the population, or even as a percentage of those infected (though this we don’t know, as we haven’t tested everyone, and given widely varying quality of tests, we don’t know the degree of “false positives” or even “false negatives” from those tests across the globe).
Since no amount of flattening of death statistics, no rational comparison of 800k+ “COVID ascribed” deaths (if you had corona and died in a motorcycle accident or also had cancer or heart disease, you still are being overwhelmingly catalogued as a “COVID” fatality) compared with over 60 million people who die annually of various causes, seems to rein in the sheer life-annulling hysteria; while the narrative that the merest suggestion of “COVID” should suspend life as we know it perseveres, then it’s time to face a trinity of truths:
- We have vaccines for TB (which still kills 1.6 million people annually), and for colds (which mutate and in bad cold/influenza periods, according to WHO, lead to 600–700k annual deaths). So if “eradication” is the key, we have no sane medical precedent in the viral families to suggest we have that to look forward to, vaccine or not. It could “help” but so does summer, and that hasn’t “helped” nearly enough.
- Virtually everybody, who is not over 65 with pre-existing conditions, recovers (most don’t even know they’ve had it), AND it’s very hard to get infected outside of extremely cramped spaces without sustained contact, mostly from droplets, unless someone was to cough or hack or sneeze emphatically and directly on you. The “aerosol transmissibility” is extremely limited from any demonstration outside of laboratory settings, where the “testing” was machine amplified. Ergo, quaking with terror given that it is very hard to be infected by others AND given that you are overwhelmingly likely to recover (outside the most vulnerable demographic, and frankly even there, you have better than even odds), seems a form of derangement that may require as much investigation as the virus.
- Asymptomatic contagiousness is nominal to nil (outside of modeling, hence WHO asserted this, then backtracked citing models but conceding that, while it was not definitive, they had not seen any evidence of such “spread”). Recent large contact tracing studies from China (Guangzhou) and elsewhere confirm secondary infection severity ranging from 0.3% for asymptomatic to 3.3% for mild, 5.6% for moderate and 6.2% for severe. And overwhelmingly via “home transmission” (so why the hell practice “lockdown?”). That means masks won’t do much (unless you are openly symptomatic, in which case you are probably not prowling the streets these days), and quarantines are largely a waste of time, therefore, and a futile further waste of money and resources.
Wear masks where very crowded, or keep a little extra distance if not feasible, wash your hands. That’s it. End of sermon, evangel, and global meltdown.
If we accept this “trinity of truths” which on the facts is indisputable rationally, then we must be able to “flip the switch” to living prudently with this seasonal virus, which is clearly on no merits whatsoever, a world-ending pathogen.
How To End the World
But there are other ways to end the world, and we’ve been practicing many of them.
- Lock people away, deprive them of liberty, autonomy, choice, or any chance to know what to do next. So, here comes economic devastation, suicides, divorces, family abuse, depressions, in larger numbers than any impact “ascribed” to the virus.
- Ensure online retailers and home delivery food providers flourish and marshal large capital reserves, while small and medium sized businesses collapse irreparably and no longer have a viable business model to cope with such mindless volatility.
- “Train” people to retreat further into private diversion and hope the eviction notices can be postponed a bit further. For the world at large, ladle on literally ruinous economic situations, starvation, educational disaster and medical explosions of untreated illnesses or future medical tsunamis from deferred vaccinations.
- Literally, put the great historical urban centers, the civilizational hubs on life support, terrify people with hobgoblins about “population density” (though Tokyo and Hong Kong show the correlation between that and COVID with intelligent hygiene practices is extremely poor), and remove their allure and viability and render them over-priced crime riddled vestiges of former bastions of cultural elan and stimulus.
- Convert “economic strategy” into “money printing” while cutting support services as national debt soars, and “surveil” our lives further (COVID apps) already building on “Patriot Act” intrusions into the private sphere (all for our own good, of course), and privacy, dignity and intimacy will seem as quaint as handwritten notes or quiet family evenings.
- Coddle and encase children, enfeeble their wits, deaden their wills, consider no “risk” acceptable (even though we know this virus is of no risk to them), consider “courage” recklessness and let them stay dangling on the lowest rungs of creative human engagement and fulfillment.
- Of course, keeping the young from social contact, not having to learn to navigate responses, reflexes and ideas different from their own, will serve only to further foster mindless dungeons of despair or pointless cliques. Then imploding or exploding private torment expresses itself in suicide or homicide (or both), absent any vocabulary for healthy much less creative emotional interaction or collaboration.
- Just take rights away and say the “virus made me do it” or “scientists advise” (though they cannot agree on whether you should eat a bagel or a plate of cheese after a half century of nutritional controversy), neither of which are a basis of being stripped of constitutional rights. But foster fear-filled compliance and render people pliable if not outright supine to the next barking of a bureaucratic diktat.
- Showcase “experts” whose ties to the pharmaceutical companies are so obscenely transparent that you can “predict” their “scientific” posture with uncanny accuracy on that basis.
And then look wistfully by contrast at how the Taiwanese and the Swedes manage to still be recognizable societies and economies and cultures in the midst of all this.
The devastating danger of Polio for the young did not lead to school closures or shutting down society, New York City and other urban powerhouses continued to prosper and grow despite that. The 1.1 million lost in the Asian flu epidemic of 1957–8, the 4 million lost worldwide during the Hong Kong flu of 1968–9, all still allowed sane leaders to assess comparative risks, to realize death is part of life, and that we can “safeguard” but not “eliminate” various assaults on life, but we needn’t compound them by adding our own assault on not only life but liberty and even future viability of society and entire ways of life. The world again moved on to fresh chapters of progress and prosperity, building on, rather than tearing down the present.
No serious mainstream debate was allowed to give a proper hearing to dozens of Nobel prize winning doctors and researchers and global epidemiologists who said this was a virus, and it too will pass, and nothing draconian of the type we’ve inflicted, is mandated on any of the known facts or indications. Given the ruinous opportunity cost, should this not have been openly, broadly and vigorously debated and considered, and then decisions taken?
The segue from “flattening the curve” to “utter eradication” and from “fatalities” to “cases” (irrelevant given imprecise tests, and potential conflating of COVID with flu and influenza given virtually identical symptoms), particularly over the summer to foster the “resurgence” narrative, is a grotesque example of journalistic malpractice and criminal negligence on the part of policy makers who are still ruining lives and compounding economic consequences based on this “sleight-of-mind.” How can “cases” be relevant when 99% recover?
Towards Flipping the Switch
New “COVID” orthodoxy protest groups are springing up. And in the UK, a group of commentators, researchers, modelers, and doctors, have written to PM Boris Johnson (Kevin Corbett is galvanizing this effort and “Stand Up” I think, is their call to sanity).
A few articles ago, in COVID — The Lies We Don’t Question, I shared research about Koch’s Postulates, four essential “tests” for the verifying of a distinctive virus or pathogen. These have been applied over time and represent the hardiest scientific demonstrability for credible policy making.
In this letter, penned late June, the petitioners allude to WHO curiously having advised Public Health England and counterparts around the world not to isolate or purify the virus that allegedly causes COVID-19.
Given that strange “advice” and severe doubts about the validity of testing procedures (specifically as it relates to the throat swab RT-PCR test), the petitioners are demanding a demonstration that Koch’s Postulates can be fulfilled and the so-called COVID-19 virus can be isolated and verified.
Their demand was that by July 22nd, Public Health England (we now read as a body that is en route to being scrapped) produce peer reviewed, independently verified scientific evidence to the above effect.
And if the UK Government’s own health agency cannot do so, then it should declare there is no such distinct virus and cease measures against something that does not exist, and all such activities including vaccination and track + trace efforts, should cease immediately.
For ease of reference, Koch’s postulates are:
- The bacteria must be present in every case of the disease.
- The bacteria must be isolated from the host with the disease and grown in a pure culture.
- The specific disease must be reproduced when a pure culture of the bacteria is inoculated into a healthy susceptible host.
- The bacteria must be recoverable from the experimentally infected host.
Surely this demand is long overdue to ring out worldwide. How can we, with even a scintilla of credibility, insist on pillaging and plundering the livelihoods of the planet and imposing extraordinary emotional, psychological, financial and indirect medical suffering on the bulk of the world absent this? That we have, and continue to, beggars not only reason, but also imagination.
Why Will Next Year Be Any Different?
We have multinationals saying they won’t let senior teams meet in public (even if in that country 500 person weddings are going forward, with no “spikes” of deaths certainly, and in many of the instances, not in “cases” either), until next year. Well, unless we “flip the switch” in terms of balanced response, how will next year be any different?
A winter spike plus, say, a less than invincible vaccine, then what variable that is not the case today will suddenly “manifest” next year? And can we continue to impose whatever inefficiency or ineffectiveness or damage to our corporate or community social fabric, over a disease not even incorrigibly in existence, unable to be reliably tested, over what is at worst a serious but not exceptional viral threat seen against any historical record, even key years in different parts of the world, over the last several decades?
New York’s Mayor, bloviator-in-chief, has said “no indoor dining until next year,” Broadway is already pushed to spring/summer 2021 at the earliest. Well, exactly what will be different, other than the irreparable damage to NYC’s viability, appeal and magnetism, and the skyrocketing unemployment in the restaurant industry and mushrooming business failures, as “eating outside” is not economically viable there even overall in the summer, and is not practical as winter looms? And why are museums closed now at all? And what science is being defaulted to? Are we really saying we will NEVER have indoor dining or go to a show until this virus “disappears” or there is a 100% effective vaccine! Really?
A Mayor gets to determine that with such trifling mortality numbers outside care homes (which was a policy blunder not inevitable). And then what of the next virus? So, the edict is, close your business, certainly don’t start a business, freeze all cultural activity, because, hey, you never know… This is utter fact-free moronic dribble.
Not to be outdone by her pals “across the pond” Professor (no less) Catherine Noakes, of the magnificently misnamed “SAGE” (models decoupled from reality government advisory service) feels she has “flirted” with the Grim Reaper by having “lunch” based on the tenor of her recent tweet. She is “mortified” by the table spacing and cramped toilets and decibel level, though slightly “pacified” by the open doors and life-giving ventilation coming through as a result.
Unpack her attention-nabbing agitation, though, and you cannot be but perplexed. She is under 65, ergo chances of dying from COVID, lower than from heart attack or a road accident. As cited in an earlier article, COVID Rebellion, living in the UK, currently she is six times as likely to perish from the flu or pneumonia (has been true for roughly six weeks). As Lockdown Sceptics highlights, assuming the Professor had not taken a sabbatical from socializing or public dining in 2017–18, UK seasonal deaths to date were higher then. Was she on even greater “high alert” at that time?
Again, as there is no rhyme or reason, and so no sane benchmark or indicator as the basis for this, no future state — short of total viral metamorphosis of the ecosystem — could possibly relieve us of this hellish if self-inflicted agony.
We have to “flip” that sodding switch!
The Swedish ‘Switch’
Now, the Swedes never flipped the switch in the first place, and today visitors to their shores report parks and cafes full of families, basking in sunshine. Restaurants were preparing, shares a friend, for lunch, over the weekend, with a sense of anticipation that could only be considered quintessentially European. Perhaps shops were not overflowing, but doing decent business, and nary a mask in sight.
Sweden’s GDP percentage drop is roughly half Spain’s and the UK’s, considerably less than Italy, less than Germany and the US. Retail and construction industries have actually grown modestly to date in 2020.
You almost want to cry with relief as the architect of Sweden’s response, vilified in certain circles as “Dr. Doom” (except the corpses refuse to appear), the mild-mannered epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, states the philosophy and the strategy:
“Mandatory lockdown was a waste of time. Sweden had a long-established plan for a pandemic and was going to stick to it. People should be sensible, wash their hands, avoid public transport and keep a safe distance, but that’s it.
Closing schools was ‘meaningless.’ Shutting borders was ‘ridiculous.’ Masks were, by and large, a waste of time. Shops and restaurants should stay open.”
he nursing home mismanagement spiked short-term deaths in Sweden, and they are more densely populated than Norway, Denmark and Finland (three large cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo), and while, as I have argued, that is not destiny, it is a variable. And it can be managed.
Reports from the Baltic island of Gotland (described by one writer as a Scandinavian version of Cornwall) are of a holiday season that is well subscribed, busy and largely merry.
COVID numbers, whatever they mean, are middling now, a daily death toll of three, six, one, ten…the medical chorus there is of a crisis that, as a crisis, is over and done with.
Their philosophy and strategy was not subservient to crowd pleasing panic responses and media pandering hop scotch as we have seen in the US and UK, or just outright “mania” as has afflicted so much of the planet… a meteor heading on a collision course to earth would today by comparison be greeted with relative calm… but not another uptick in…dare we even whisper the dread name?
The floundering almost deranged seesawing of actions in various US states and the UK, nutty delays in opening to tourism in countries with barely any cases, all to appease an insatiable hysteria is the enemy, not COVID.
The Swedes trusted to rationality, to what we know of viruses, and to each other’s sense of mutual accountability and sensible citizenship. That’s where we have to focus, not playing “lock up.”
By the way, we know to date of not one case recorded worldwide of a child infecting a teacher with the virus, and children are not at risk from COVID (echoed again by Mark Woolhouse, a leading epidemiologist in the UK and a member of the government’s ‘SAGE’ committee, no less, in a statement to The Times on July 21, 2020). So, why are schools closed anywhere?
Again, you see that switch over there?
Once More Into the Testing Fray
We’ve already cited in an earlier piece that in 2006 PCR tests for whooping cough had about a 14% false positive rate. In 2015 PCR tests conflated MERS coronavirus with cold viruses, with 8.1% false positives.
Tests globally routinely flip when the same patient is retested (from Asia to Europe to the US). We read in July from the UK statistical agency that tests would have to have a substantially greater “specificity” than 99.9% (they don’t have it) to avoid the UK’s reported June COVID numbers from being essentially meaningless.
Professor Carl Heneghan of Oxford University, nemesis of bad data being touted as “analysis,” points out that as we do not know the false positive rate of PCR testing, we are in a spiral of bad data. And with what potentially tragic policy consequences?
Moreover, the “tests” determine COVID, and what “tests” the tests, as we’ve asked before? Hence the relevance of Koch’s Postulates.
And we are further at sea as while some countries have certainly seen spikes in excessive deaths clustered around difficulty in breathing, many others have not, compared to an average of deaths from 2016 to the present, and these include, despite the “pornographic” media numbers, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Finland, Greece, Hungary, among others. Why? Surely, this is a larger debate and exploration that should be happening instead of flashing silly aggregate case numbers from varyingly unreliable tests.
A tip of the hat to Mike Hearn for pointing out that when the Norwegian health authority says to find one true positive they have to test 12,000 people, 15 of which will be false positives, and one will be real, they are “assuming” they have some basis for knowing the test is accurate. They are defining a “true positive” as two positive tests.
Let’s put it simply: calibrating a test against itself is meaningless no matter how many angels you can try to get to balance on the head of that pin. The test to be “evaluated” is a part of the very “reference standard.” More data will not help. That Gordian knot needs cutting.
More testing especially when false positives are generated will lead to “more cases” which will be misconstrued as a “surge” which will lead to more fact-free liberty and economy debilitating panic rituals in perpetuity (lockdowns, quarantines, masks becoming goggles and Darth Vader like head gear, children in “pens” hemmed in psychologically and emotionally and who knows what).
Again, monotonously, unless and if, we flip the frigging switch!
So Now What?
150,000 deaths from normal recurring causes daily, 60 million a year, COVID not even a noticeable “blip” on the screen, particularly with all the anomalies. “Grow up” and move on would be an interesting tonic, but alas, not heady enough to work.
US round-up of survivability percentages show those numbers as being north of 99% for virtually every age demographic, until you start to hover around 75, particularly with comorbidities.
There is even an implausible inconsistency re nostrums. If masks protect you, you should be able to wear one and visit ailing family members in hospitals and care facilities. If they can’t keep you and others safe in a medically supervised, repeatedly sterilized environment, then they clearly don’t work anywhere and should be ditched. Pick a stance, but you can’t campaign from all quadrants.
So, we have a “perpetual emergency” which is oxymoronic, based on tepid risk compared to various other life variables, and the abuse showered on those who point this out, is “outrage” at the suggestion that “livelihoods” are part of “life” and disproportionate responses do not show you care more, just that you think less. And when your alleged “compassion” is more histrionic rather than genuinely valuable, that further shows the disquiet lurking under the reflexive vehemence.
Unless someone can answer the following questions clearly and without tap dancing, we have to move on from this recurring fraud.
1) What is the basis for holding society hostage? What disproportionate risk or impact can be demonstrated? No modeling allowed! No extrapolation… we’ve been at this since February, let facts speak.
2) What could realistically change or shift to trigger a release from this suicidal paralysis? If nothing tangible, why don’t we just offer people the option to perpetually jettison their lives or not, without claiming it’s a matter of weeks or months? Why can we not do a sober comparative assessment of risk and reward?
3) Can we dispense with the pseudo-scientific tweeds and confess that those in authority have lost the plot, have misplaced the constitutional guarantees they are to uphold, are on a power and authority kick and are pounding their chest drunk on braggadocio and mindless assertion of authority? If not, explain the policy, philosophy, strategy, and milestones clearly, compellingly and unambiguously. And explain how this is consistent with the experience of Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Sweden, Sri Lanka, and more.
Otherwise, can we just finally, fully and decisively, flip the switch and reclaim our lives, our liberties, our present and our future?”