On January 8, 2023 the US has to release a federal prisoner who is known as one its most notable opponents of treatment of Cuba since its revolution. She is Ana Belén Montes, and she will be freed after over 21 years in a federal military prison.
She was a top official on Latin America in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) who, solely out of moral conviction, gave Cuba information on top secret US military plans and operations. Unrepentant in her trial, she defended herself saying, “I obeyed my conscience rather than the law. … I felt morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it.”
Ana Belén is one of the many Americans who have taken a moral stance in opposition to the actions of their government, and who were subsequently hunted as traitors or spies. Edward Snowden was another such figure, having exposed how the National Security Agency’s spying on the US population and leaders of other countries. Rather than spend much of his life in a federal prison, Snowden has opted to live in exile in Russia.
While the US movement in defense of Cuba did not champion the case of Ana Belén as with the very similar situation of the Cuban Five, she is recognized as a hero in Cuba. In 2016, the famed Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez dedicated a song to her, explaining, “The prisoner I mentioned yesterday… is Ana Belén Montes and she was a high official of the US secret services. When she knew that they were going to do something bad to Cuba, she would pass on the information to us. That is why she is serving a sentence of decades…Much evil did not happen to us because of her. Freedom for her.”
Silvio Rodríguez le dedicó esta canción a la presa política del imperialismo Ana Belén Montes, quien saldrá libre este fin de semana después de pasar 20 años de prisión en aislamiento total #FreeAnaBelen #FreeLeonardPeltier #FreeJulianAssange #FreeAlexSaab pic.twitter.com/4OphzkUXVp
— Roi Lopez Rivas (@RoiLopezRivas) January 4, 2023
Ana Belén did not receive any money from Cuba for her 16 years of work. Knowing the dire risks she faced, she acted out of a belief in justice and solidarity with Cuba. For over 60 years, the country has suffered under a US blockade – repeatedly condemned by the United Nations – imposed in retaliation for choosing national sovereignty over continued neocolonial status. US supported terrorism against Cuba has killed 3,478 and caused 2,099 disabling injuries over the years.
One of the charges brought against Ana Belén was having helped assure Bill Clinton and George W. Bush that Cuba represented no military threat to the US, and therefore contributed to avoiding another US regime change war that would have meant the death of countless Cubans. She also acknowledged having revealed the identities of four American undercover intelligence officers working in Cuba.
“The Queen of Cuba” hailed from a family of feds
Born in West Germany on February 28, 1957, a Puerto Rican citizen of the United States, and a high official in the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ana Belén was convicted as a spy for alerting Cuba to the interventionist plans that were being prepared against the Cuban people.
In 1984 while working as a clerk in the Department of Justice, Ana Belén initiated her relationship with Cuban security. She then applied for a job at the DIA, the agency responsible for foreign military intelligence to the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The DIA employed her in 1985 until her arrest at work 16 years later. She became a specialist in Latin American military affairs, was the DIA’s principal analyst on El Salvador and Nicaragua, and later Cuba.
Because of her abilities, Ana Belén became known in US intelligence circles as “the Queen of Cuba”. Her work and contributions were so valued that she earned ten special recognitions, including Certificate of Distinction, the third highest national-level intelligence award. CIA Director George Tenet himself presented it to her in 1997.
“She gained access to hundreds of thousands of classified documents, typically taking lunch at her desk absorbed in quiet memorization of page after page of the latest briefings,” which she would later write down at home and convey to Cuba.
Avoiding capture through discretion, until the intercept came
On February 23, 1996, the Cuban Ministry of Defense asked visiting American Rear Admiral Eugene Carroll to warn off Miami Brothers to the Rescue planes that planned to again fly over Havana. Carroll immediately informed the State Department.
Instead of ending the provocations, the US let the planes fly, and two “Brothers to the Rescue” planes were shot down over Cuba the next day. The US exploited the flare-up to sabotage the growing campaign to moderate the US blockade of the island. The US official who arranged Admiral Carroll’s meeting was Ana Belén. Her explanation that the date was chosen only because it was a free date on the Admiral’s schedule was accepted.
Nevertheless, a DIA colleague reported to a security official that he felt Ana Belén might be under the influence of Cuban intelligence. He interviewed her, but she admitted nothing. She passed a polygraph test.
Ana Belén had access to practically everything the intelligence community collected on Cuba, and helped write final reports. Due to her rank, she was a member of the super-secret “inter-agency working group on Cuba”, which brings together the main analysts of federal agencies, such as the CIA, the Department of State, and the White House itself.
The Washington Post reported, “She was now briefing the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Council and even the president of Nicaragua about Cuban military capabilities. She helped draft a controversial Pentagon report stating that Cuba had a ‘limited capacity’ to harm the United States and could pose a danger to U.S. citizens only ‘under some circumstances.'”
Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, a US agent in Cuba’s Ministry of Interior that Cuba had uncovered and imprisoned, was released and traded for three of the Cuban 5 in 2014. He had “provided critical information that led to the arrests of those known as the “Cuban Five;” of former State Department official Walter Kendall Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers; and of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top Cuba analyst, Ana Belén Montes.”
In 1999 the National Security Agency intercepted a Cuban communication. It revealed a spy high in the hierarchy, who was associated with the DIA’s SAFE computer system. It meant the spy was likely on staff of the DIA. The suspect had also traveled to Guantánamo Bay in July 1996. Coincidentally, Ana Belén worked in the DIA and had traveled to the Bay on DIA business. The spy was using a Toshiba laptop, and it was discovered she had one. A decision was taken to break into her flat and copy the hard drive.
Since the case being put together indicated she was providing information to Cuba, she was arrested by FBI agents on September 21, 2001 while in her DIA office. She was charged with conspiracy to commit espionage for Cuba. “She told investigators after her arrest that a week earlier she had learned that she was under surveillance. She could have decided then to flee to Cuba, and probably would have made it there safely.” But her political commitment made her feel “she couldn’t give up on the people (she) was helping.”
Nigerian commentator Owei Lakemfa presented ten reasons he thought Ana Belén Montes avoided detection during her 16 years in the DIA. Among the most important was that she was extremely discreet and kept to herself. She lived alone in a simple apartment north of the US capital, and memorized documents, never taking any home. And she never received unexplainable funds.
Ironically, her brother was an FBI special agent, and her sister an FBI analyst who “played an important role in exposing the so-called Wasp Network of Cuban agents [the Cuban 5 and 7 others] operating in Florida.”
Ana Belén avoided the death penalty for high treason, highly likely in the post September 11 atmosphere, by pleading guilty before the US federal court handling her case. Since she acknowledged her conduct, and told the court how she worked, she was sentenced to “only” twenty-five years. However, she was imprisoned in conditions designed to destroy her, as the case with Julian Assange today. She was sent to special unit of a federal prison for violent offenders with psychiatric problems.
“I obeyed my conscience rather than the law”
In her October 16, 2002 trial statement, she declared that she obeyed her conscience:
“There is an Italian proverb that is perhaps the one that best describes what I believe: The whole world is one country. In that ‘world country’, the principle of loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself, is an essential guide for harmonious relations between all our ‘nation-neighborhoods’.
This principle implies tolerance and understanding for the different ways of others. It mandates that we treat other nations the way we wish to be treated – with respect and compassion. It is a principle that, unfortunately, I believe we have never applied to Cuba.
Your Honor, I got involved in the activity that has brought me before you because I obeyed my conscience rather than the law. Our government’s policy towards Cuba is cruel and unfair, deeply unfriendly; I feel morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it.
We have displayed intolerance and contempt for Cuba for four decades. We have never respected Cuba’s right to make its own journey towards its own ideals of equality and justice. I do not understand how we continue to try to dictate how Cuba should select its leaders, who its leaders cannot be, and what laws are the most appropriate for that nation. Why don’t we let Cuba pursue its own internal journey, as the United States has been doing for more than two centuries?
My way of responding to our Cuba policy may have been morally wrong. Perhaps Cuba’s right to exist free of political and economic coercion did not justify giving the island classified information to help it defend itself. I can only say that I did what I thought right to counter a grave injustice.
My greatest wish would be to see a friendly relationship emerge between the United States and Cuba. I hope that my case in some way will encourage our government to abandon its hostility toward Cuba and work together with Havana in a spirit of tolerance, mutual respect and understanding.
Today we see more clearly than ever that intolerance and hatred – by individuals or governments – only spreads pain and suffering. I hope that the United States develops a policy with Cuba based on love of neighbor, a policy that recognizes that Cuba, like any other nation, wants to be treated with dignity and not with contempt.
Such a policy would bring our government back in harmony with the compassion and generosity of the American people. It would allow Cubans and Americans to learn from and share with each other. It would enable Cuba to drop its defensive measures and experiment more easily with changes. And it would permit the two neighbors to work together and with other nations to promote tolerance and cooperation in our one ‘world-country,’ in our only world-homeland.”
Brutal prison conditions aimed to destroy Ana Belén
Jürgen Heiser of the German solidarity Netzwerk-Cuba reported that “Ana Belén has been isolated in conditions that the UN and international human rights organizations describe as ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’ and torture. Her prison conditions were further exacerbated after her trial, when she was placed in the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Carswell, outside of Fort Worth, Texas. The FMC is located on a US marine compound and previously served as a military hospital… It includes a high security unit set aside for women of “special management concerns” that can hold up to twenty prisoners. A risk of “violence and/or escape” are specified as grounds for incarceration in the unit. This is where the “spy” Ana Belén is being held in isolation, in a single-person cell.”
Her cell neighbors have included one who strangled a pregnant woman to get her baby, a longtime nurse who killed four patients with massive injections of adrenaline, and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, the Charles Manson follower who tried to assassinate President Ford.
The Fort Worth Star Telegram has regularly covered the abuses against the women inmates at Fort Carswell Carswell prison, which has also housed two other political prisoners Reality Winner and Aafia Siddiqui. Detainees have suffered gross violations of their human rights, including documented cases of police abuse, suspicious deaths where the investigations into them have been blatantly obstructed, deaths due to the denial of basic medical attention, rape of prisoners by guards, and exposure to toxic substances. In July 2020, 500 of the 1400 prisoners had Covid. The Star Telegram reported “the facility showed a systemic history of covering misconduct up and creating an atmosphere of secrecy and retaliation…”
Ana Belén wrote, “Prison is one of the last places I would have ever chosen to be in, but some things in life are worth going to prison for, or worth doing and then killing yourself before you have to spend too much time in prison.”
She has been subjected to extreme conditions in that prison, akin to those imposed on Assange. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has reported that:
She can only have contact with her closest relatives, since her conviction is for espionage.
No one can inquire about her health or know why she is in a center for people with mental problems, when she does not suffer from them.
She cannot receive packages. When her defenders sent her a letter, it has been returned by certified mail.
Only people on a list (no more than 20 who have known her before her incarceration and have been approved by the FBI) can correspond, send books, and visit Ana. Few people have visited her besides her brother and niece.
She cannot interact with other detainees in jail, and was always alone in her cell.
She is not allowed to talk on the phone, except to her mother once a week for 15-20 minutes.
She could not receive newspapers, magazines or watch television. After a dozen years in prison, the restrictions were slightly relaxed.
Karen Lee Wald noted in 2012, “If she is taken out of her cell in the isolation unit for any reason, all other prisoners are locked in their cells so they cannot speak to her. Basically, she has been buried alive.”
David Kovics, the renowned leftist songwriter, was moved to pay tribute to her in song. Oscar Lopez Rivera, who was jailed by the US during his fight for Puerto Rican independence, said, “I think that every Puerto Rican who loves justice and freedom should be proud of Ana Belén. What she did was more than heroic. She did what every person who believes in peace, justice and freedom and in the right of every nation to govern itself in the best possible way and without the intervention or threat of anyone, would have done.”
On Monday, Charles III entered Buckingham Palace for the first time as king. It was the British people’s first real chance to greet their new sovereign. Huge crowds thronged outside the gates, letting out deafening cheers every time he raised his hand to wave. His Majesty seemed genuinely touched—and a little surprised.
For decades, Charles has been mildly unpopular with the British public. For half a century, he has been the British media’s favorite punching-bag. Films and television shows about the Royal Family always cast him in a negative light. On a good day, his approval rating hovers around 50 percent.
Yet this anti-Charles sentiment has always seemed a little forced. Britain’s new king is one of the most fascinating men in public life.
The 70 years he spent waiting to inherit the throne certainly were not wasted. Charles used his family’s wealth and influence exactly as one ought to do. Above all, he has devoted himself to good works. He is not only Britain’s foremost philanthropist, but also her greatest patron of the arts. And he has used his spare time to broaden his own horizons. He has traveled almost constantly, studying with the greatest philosophers, painters, and poets (and polo players) in the world. Once upon a time, we would have called him a renaissance man.
Charles is the first “high church” monarch since James II. The British aristocracy have always been decidedly “low church.” They prefer simpler forms of worship, more in keeping with the Protestant tradition. Meanwhile, Charles—now Supreme Governor of the Church of England—has one foot in the Orthodox Church. As Prince of Wales, he was known to sneak away from Clarence House to go on retreat at Mount Athos and created a Byzantine-style prayer corner in his private residence.
Still, Charles is firmly devoted to the Anglican Church. He has long served as a patron of the Prayer Book Society, an organization for liturgical conservatives.
Charles is a theological conservative as well. During a trip to Pennsylvania, he opted to worship at a Presbyterian church rather than the local Episcopal cathedral. (The Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion, whose “Mother Church” is the C of E. It is also the Communion’s most liberal province.) When a layman asked him why, he reportedly said, “You know very, very well why I cannot worship in an Episcopal Church.”
The King is also a follower of the Traditionalist School, a group of scholars and philosophers who are committed to the idea of “resacralization.” As Charles himself explained,
The teachings of the Traditionalists should not, in any sense, be taken to mean that they seek, as it were, to repeat the past—or, indeed, simply to draw a distinction between the present and the past. Theirs is not a nostalgia for the past, but a yearning for the sacred and, if they defend the past, it is because in the pre-modern world all civilizations were marked by the presence of the sacred.
Charles’s affinity for the Traditionalist School explains his novel translation of the title Fidei Defensor. First bestowed on Henry VIII by Leo X (before all the unpleasantness), it is usually translated as “Defender of the Faith”—that is, the Christian faith. Yet Charles floated the idea of calling himself “Defender of Faith”—that is, a belief in the presence of the sacred.
The idea went over badly, even with Rowan Williams, then archbishop of Canterbury. Usually seen as a moderate, Williams insisted that the monarch “has a relationship with the Christian Church of a kind he does not have with other faith communities.” Happily, Charles dropped the whole business.
This Traditionalism may also explain his (in)famous love for Islam. This affinity hasn’t made him many friends on the British right. Yet Charles isn’t naïve. He has studied extensively with Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a Sufi philosopher who was exiled from Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini. The King understands Islam at its best and at its worst. So, he feels a duty to help “build bridges between Islam and Christianity and to dispel ignorance and misunderstanding.” On the other hand, he has raised millions of dollars to help Christians who are being persecuted by Islamists in the Middle East.
Charles III is a traditionalist (with a little “t”) as well. To quote His Majesty,
These traditions, which form the basis of mankind’s most civilized values and have been handed down to us over many centuries, are not just part of our inner religious life. They have an intensely practical relevance to the creation of real beauty in the arts, to an architecture which brings harmony and inspiration to people’s lives and to the development within the individual of a sense of balance which is, to my mind, the hallmark of a civilized person.
Charles has spent most of his adult life in his efforts to recreate that balance. In 2005 he founded the Prince’s School of Traditional arts, which seeks to “to continue the living traditions of the world's sacred and traditional art forms.” He also serves as patron of the Temenos Academy, whose fellows include localist Hossein Nasr, Rowan Williams, and the American localist Wendell Berry.
I think the affinity between Charles and Berry is instructive. Both are traditionalists, though not exactly conservatives. They’re more what my friend Bill Kauffman would call “reactionary radicals.” Both are critics of industrialism, consumer capitalism, and scientism. Both champion agrarianism. They believe that small-scale agriculture (that is, family farms) are the only basis for a stable and happy society. As a matter of fact, Charles has written a couple of books on organic gardening.
Both are also what we might call Christian ecologists. They’re environmentalists driven less by fear of climate change than by love for God’s creation. As the new king wrote in his book Harmony, “We are not the masters of creation. No matter how sophisticated our technology has become, the simple fact is that we are not separate from Nature. Just like everything else, we are nature.”
The King is no primitivist, however. Charles is also a pioneer of the New Urbanism. Since the 1980s, the King has been the most outspoken critic of modernist architecture in the English-speaking world. And, here, he pulls no punches. “You have to give this much to the Luftwaffe,” he said: “when it knocked down our buildings it did not replace them with anything more offensive than rubble. We did that.”
In 1993, he decided to put his theories to the test. Charles hired the architect Léon Krier to build a brand-new community on four hundred acres of grassland outside of Dorchester. The result is the town of Poundbury.
In Poundbury, all the buildings are designed in the local styles of South West England. Of course, there are no skyscrapers; a “tall” building might be four or five stories tall. Shops and residences are mixed; there’s no hideous business district surrounded by soulless housing units. This also minimizes the need for cars, saving residents time and money while reducing the need for emissions.
Even the King’s worst critics have been forced to admit that his “feudal Disneyland” has been a triumph. Poundbury is beautiful. It is prosperous. And it proves that life can still be lived on a human scale.
Of course, the King is far from perfect. Britain’s media will be sure to point that out whenever they get the chance—and whenever they don’t. Yet every now and then the press will also shed light on Charles’s virtues. They don’t mean to, of course. Usually, they’re taking a shot at him and the bullet ricochets. Still, these moments have allowed the British people to catch a real glimpse of their new king.
Take the “black spider memos.” For decades, it had been rumored that Prince Charles wrote to senior politicians with the hope of effecting policy changes. The media had long dubbed him the “meddling prince.” Then, in 2015, the Guardian (a far-left British newspaper) convinced a government tribunal to publish the letters in full.
The monarchy’s opponents were thrilled. After all, the British Crown has survived in the 21st century by being purely apolitical. Elizabeth II was content to play a purely symbolic role in government. But not Charles. As king, it was suggested, he would insist upon his right to rule as well as reign. The British people (they said) must choose: monarchy or democracy? Of course, the choice was clear. It seemed to spell death for England’s thousand-year-old crown.
Once the public actually got to read the memos, however, all of that changed. They saw him pleading with Tony Blair not to cut subsidies to beef farmers, and instead to help them develop better treatments for bovine tuberculosis. He urged the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to develop better public housing for low-income families. He shared with the Minister for the Environment his concerns about the destruction of rainforests and the overfishing of sea bass.The media had always sought to paint Charles as a goof and a snob. Yet his letters showed him to be witty, self-effacing, intelligent, and compassionate. The British people were amazed and delighted. For a moment, they loved the prince nearly as much as he loved them. That is who Charles is. He is a good man. And he’ll be a good king, if we let him.
The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating.
– Mohandas K. Gandhi
I once read an account of bullying in rural America in the early 20th century. The narrator said, “If a victim did not stand up to them, there was no limit to how far the bullies would go.” He described them tying another child to the train tracks as a train approached (on the parallel track). There was no appeasing the bullies. Each capitulation only whetted their appetite for new and crueler humiliations.
The psychology of bullies is well understood: compensation for a loss of power, reenactment of trauma with roles reversed, and so forth. Beyond all that, though, the Bully archetype draws from another source. On some unconscious level, what the bully wants is for the victim to cease being a victim and to stand up to him. That is why submission does not appease a bully, but only invites further torment.
There is an initiatory possibility in the abuser-victim relationship. In that relationship and perhaps beyond it, the victim seeks to control the world through submissiveness. If I am submissive enough, pitiable enough, the abuser may finally relent. Other people might step in (the Rescuer archetype). There is nothing intrinsically wrong with submission or what improvisational theater pioneer Keith Johnstone called a low-status play. There are indeed some situations when doing that is necessary to survive. However, when the submissive posture becomes a habit and the victim loses touch with her capability and strength, the initiatory potential of the situation emerges. The bully or abuser intensifies the abuse until the victim reaches a point where the situation is so intolerable that she throws habit and caution to the wind. She discovers a capacity within her that she did not know she had. She becomes someone new and greater than she had been. That is a pretty good definition of an initiation.
When that happens, when the victim stands his ground and fights back, quite often the bully leaves him alone. On the soul level, his work is done. The initiation is complete. Of course, one might also say that the bully is a coward who wants only submissive victims. Or one might say that resistance spoils the sought-after psychodrama of dominance and submission. There is no guarantee that the resistance will be successful, but even if it is not, the dynamics of the relationship change when the victim decides she is through being a victim. She may discover that a lot of the power the bully had was in her fear and not in his actual physical control.
Until that shift happens, even if a rescuer intervenes, the situation is unlikely to change. Either the intervention will fail, or the rescuer will become a new abuser. The world will ask again and again whether the victim is ready to take a stand.
Please do not interpret this as a cavalier suggestion to someone in an abusive relationship to simply “take a stand.” That is easier said than done, and especially easy to say in ignorance of just what sort of courage would be required. In some situations, especially when children are involved, there is no way to resist without horrible risk to oneself or innocent others. Yet even in the most hopeless situations, the victim often learns a certain strength that she didn’t know she had. Because submission often leads to further, intensifying violation, eventually she will reach her breaking point where courage is born. In that moment, freedom from the abuser is more important than life itself.
The relationship between our governing authorities and the public today bears many similarities to the abuser-victim dynamic. Facing a bully, it is futile to hope that the bully will relent if you don’t resist. Acquiescence invites further humiliation. Similarly, it is wishful thinking to hope that the authorities will simply hand back the powers they have seized over the course of the pandemic. Indeed, if our rights and freedoms exist only by the whim of those authorities, conditional on their decision to grant them, then they are not rights and freedoms at all, but only privileges. By its nature, freedom is not something one can beg for; the posture of begging already grants the power relations of subjugation. The victim can beg the bully to relent, and maybe he will—temporarily—satisfied that the relation of dominance has been affirmed. The victim is still not free of the bully.
That is why I feel impatient when someone speaks of “When the pandemic is over” or “When we are able to travel again” or “When we are able to have festivals again.” None of these things will happen by themselves. Compared to past pandemics, Covid is more a social-political phenomenon than it is an actual deadly disease. Yes, people are dying, but even assuming that everyone in the official numbers died “of” and not “with” Covid, casualties number one-third to one-ninth those of the 1918 flu; per-capita it is one-twelfth to one-thirty-sixth.1 As a sociopolitical phenomenon, there is no guaranteed end to it. Nature will not end it, at any rate; it will end only through the agreement of human beings that it has ended.2 This has become abundantly clear with the Omicron Variant. Political leaders, public health officials, and the media are whipping up fear and reinstituting policies that would have been unthinkable a few years ago for a disease that, at the present writing, has killed one person globally. So, we cannot speak of the pandemic ever being over unless we the people declare it to be over.
Of course, I could be wrong here. Perhaps Omicron is, as World Medical Association chairman Frank Ulrich Montgomery has warned, as dangerous as Ebola. Regardless, the question remains: will we allow ourselves to be held forever hostage to the possibility of an epidemic disease? That possibility will never disappear.
Another thing I’ve been hearing a lot of recently is that “Covid tyranny is bound to end soon, because people just aren’t going to stand for it much longer.” It would be more accurate to say, “Covid tyranny will continue until people no longer stand for it.” That brings up the question, “Am I standing for it?” Or am I waiting for other people to end it for me, so that I don’t have to? In other words, am I waiting for the rescuer, so that I needn’t take the risk of standing up to the bully?
If you do put up with it, waiting for others to resist instead, then you affirm a general principle of “waiting for others to do it.” Having affirmed that principle, the forlorn hope that others will resist rings hollow. Why should I believe others will do what I’m unwilling to do? That is why pronouncements about the inevitability of a return to normalcy, though they seem hopeful, carry an aura of delusion and despair.
In fact, there is no obvious limit to what people will put up with, just as there is no limit to what an abusive power will do to them.
If the end of Covid bullying is not an inevitability, then what is it? It is a choice. It is precisely the initiatory moment in which the victim—that is, the public—discovers its power. At the very beginning of the pandemic I called it a coronation: an initiation into sovereignty. Covid has shown us a future toward which we have long been hurtling, a future of technologically mediated relationships, ubiquitous surveillance, big tech information control, obsession with safety, shrinking civil liberties, widening wealth inequality, and the medicalization of life. All these trends predate Covid. Now we see in sharp relief where we have been headed. Is this what we want? An automatic inertial trend has become conscious, available for choice. But to choose something else, we must wrest control away from the institutions administering the current system. That requires a restoration of real democracy; i.e., popular sovereignty, in which we no longer passively accept as inevitable the agendas of established authority, and in which we no longer beg for privileges disguised as freedoms.
Despite appearances, Covid has not been the end of democracy. It has merely revealed that we were already not in a democracy. It showed where the power really is and how easily the facade of freedom could be stripped from us. It showed that we were “free” only at the pleasure of elite institutions. By our ready acquiescence, it showed us something about ourselves.
We were already unfree. We were already conditioned to submission.
In Orwell’s 1984, Winston’s interrogator O’Brien states: “The more the Party is powerful, the less it will be tolerant: the weaker the opposition, the tighter the despotism.” The Covid era has seen endless indignities, humiliations, and abuse heaped upon the public, each more outrageous than the last. It is as if someone is performing a psychological experiment to see how much people are willing to take. Let’s tell them that masks don’t work, and then reverse it and require them to mask up. Let’s tell them they can’t shake hands. Let’s tell them they can’t go near each other. Let’s shut down their churches, choirs, businesses, and festivals. Let’s stop them from gathering for the holidays. Let’s make them inject poison into their bodies. Let’s make them do it again. Let’s make them do it to their children. Let’s censor their first-hand stories as “false information.” Let’s feed them obvious absurdities to see what they’ll swallow. Let’s make promises and break them. Let’s make the same promises again and break them again. Let’s require authorization for their every movement. Wow, they’re still going along with it? Let’s see how much more they will take.
I have written the above as if the bullying powers were a bunch of cackling sadists delighting in the humiliation of their victims. That is not accurate. Most people staffing our governing institution are normal, decent human beings. While it is also true that these institutions are hospitable environments for martinets, control freaks, and sadists, more often they turn people into martinets, control freaks, and sadists. These individuals are more symptom than cause of the generalized abuse of the public today. They are functionaries, playing the roles that a systemically abusive drama requires. Causing suffering is not their root motivation, it is to establish control. The quest for power doubtless finds justification in the idea that it is all for the greater good. Yes, they think, it would be bad if evil people were in charge of the surveillance, censorship, and coercive apparatus, but fortunately it is we, the rational, intelligent, far-seeing, science-based good guys who are at the helm.
Through the absolute conviction by those who hold power that they are the good guys, power transforms from a means to an end. As maybe it was to begin with—Orwell dispels the false justifications of power when he has O’Brien say:
The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?'
The theme resumes on the next page:
He paused, and for a moment assumed again his air of a schoolmaster questioning a promising pupil: 'How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?'
Winston thought. 'By making him suffer,' he said.
'Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating?
Thus it is that the privation, humiliation, and suffering of those they dominate is pleasing to the controllers. It isn’t suffering per se that pleases them. They may even consider it a regrettable necessity. It pleases them as a hallmark of submission.
Covid-era policies cannot be understood merely through the lens of public health. In an earlier series of essays I explored them from the perspective of sacrificial violence, mob morality, dehumanization, and the exploitation of these by fascistic forces. Equally important is the perspective of power. Seeing Covid through the lens of rational public health, of course we should expect the “end of the pandemic” quite soon. Seeing through the lens of power, we cannot be so sanguine, any more than the bullied child can hope the bully will stop because, after all, I’ve done everything he told me to.
The bully doesn’t want the victim to do X, Y, and Z for their own sake. He wants to establish the principle that the victim will do X, Y, Z, or A, B, or C, on demand. That’s why arbitrary, unreasonable, ever-shifting demands are characteristic of an abusive relationship. The more irrational the demand, the better. The controllers find it satisfying to see everyone dutifully wearing their masks. As with O’Brien, it is power, not actual public safety, that inspires them. That is why they roundly ignore science casting doubt on masks, lockdowns, and social distancing. Effectiveness was never the root motivation for those policies to begin with.
I learned about this too in school. In the senseless, degrading busy work and the arbitrary rules, I detected a hidden curriculum: a curriculum of submission.3 The principal issued a series of trivial rules under the pretext of “maintaining a positive learning environment.” Neither the students nor the administration actually believed that wearing hats or chewing gum impeded learning, but that didn’t matter. Punishments were not actually for the infraction itself; the real infraction was disobedience. That is the chief crime in a dominance/submission relationship. Thus, when German police patrol the square with meter sticks to enforce social distancing, no one need believe that the enforcement will actually stop anyone from getting sick. The offense they are patrolling against is disobedience. Disobedience is indeed offensive to the abusive party, and to anyone who fully accepts a submissive role in relation to it. When “Karens” report on their neighbors for having more than the permitted number of guests, is it a civic-minded desire to slow the spread that motivates them? Or are they offended that someone is breaking the rules?
It is uncomfortable for those who have knuckled under to a bully to see someone else stand up to him. It disrupts the idea of powerlessness and the role, which may have become perversely comfortable, of the victim. It invokes the initiatory moment by making an unconscious choice conscious: “I could do that too.” To resist the abuser asks others if they will resist too. It is far from inevitable that they will accept the invitation, yet the example of courage is more powerful than any exhortation.
Today a wave of resistance to Covid policies is surging across the globe. You’ll see little mention of it in mainstream media, but thousands and tens of thousands are protesting all across Europe, Thailand, Japan, Australia, North America… pretty much anywhere that lockdowns and vaccine mandates have been applied. People are risking arrest to defy lockdowns and curfews. They are walking out of jobs, losing licenses, enduring forced closures of their businesses, sometimes even losing custody of their children because they refuse to comply with vaccine mandates. They are getting kicked off social media for speaking out. They are sacrificing concerts, sports, skiing, travel, college, careers, and livelihoods. Under compulsory vaccination laws In Austria, they will soon risk prison.
Some people have much more to lose than others by speaking out, refusing vaccination, or engaging in civil disobedience. As someone who has relatively little to lose, it is not my job to demand other people be brave. It isn’t anyone’s job. We can, though, describe the reality of the situation. That fosters bravery, because it isn’t only external fear, force, and threat that breeds submission. In an abusive relationship the victim often adopts some of the abuser’s narrative: I am weak. I am contemptible. I am powerless. You are right. I am wrong. I need you. I deserve this. I am crazy. This is normal. This is OK.
When the victim internalizes the abuser, I say that the bandits have breached the castle walls. I know well what it is like to be a fugitive in my own castle, dodging the patrolling invaders to protect my secret sanity.
My understanding of the bullying victim comes from direct experience. I was among the youngest in my grade and reached puberty quite late. At age 12 I was a scrawny 4’10”, 90-pound weakling among the hulking adolescents of my former friend group. Their cruel jokes and torments were mostly not intended to cause physical pain, but rather to assert dominance and humiliate. Fighting back was not much of an option—the ringleader was literally twice my weight. When I tried to fight back, the gang looked at each other with amusement. “Uh oh,” they said, “Chucky’s getting mad! Did your daddy tell you to stand up to us, Chucky?” The next thing I knew, I was on the floor in a submission hold, surrounded by a chorus of mocking laughter. That was what happened when I resisted. Yet submission didn’t work either; it appeased them for a day or perhaps a few minutes or not at all. It was an invitation to further violence. In this difficult situation, I internalized the abusers by taking on their opinion of myself as pathetic and contemptible.4
In this case, literally fighting back was futile. My initiatory journey took the form of stepping into the unknown of finding new friends—a frightening prospect in the cacophony and chaos of the junior high cafeteria. Exiting the role of victim doesn’t usually mean physical combat or legal combat, though it might. Invariably, it means refusing to comply with violation or humiliation. In real life it could be blocking a caller, getting a restraining order, or simply running away. It cannot be a mere gesture. It must be determined and sustained until the old role no longer beckons.
It is worth noting that none of my abusers were particularly bad people. Nor were those who joined in the laughter, nor those who stood by in disapproving silence. They went on to become solid contributing members of society, good fathers and husbands. There was something in the confluence of our biographies that called them to the role of abuser, enabler, or bystander at that moment. The abuser-victim drama issues a powerful casting call. An abusive spouse may no longer occupy that role in a subsequent marriage. The roles allow each actor to discover—and possibly integrate and transcend—something in themselves. So it is society-wide as well. What will the functionaries of our abusive, degrading, oppressive system become when the drama ends? Already a lot of them are getting sick of their roles. The victim does the abuser no favor by prolonging the drama.
Earlier I wrote that often, the point of courage comes when the pain of submission grows intolerable. The erstwhile victim reaches a breaking point and throws caution to the wind. The abuser may still wield the outward apparatus of power, but no longer does that power have an ally within the victim, who becomes ungovernable. A lot of people are reaching that breaking point now. Powering the aforementioned wave of resistance is a hurricane of fury brewing just offshore of official reality. If you want to get a sense of it, subscribe to the Telegram channel “They Say Its Rare.” It displays without comment Tweets from vaccine-harmed individuals and their friends and families. Thousands upon thousands of Tweets, raw, outraged, and indignant. Most of these people will never comply with vaccination again no matter what the pressure, nor will many of their friends. Perhaps this partly explains low public uptake of boosters. (That and the fact that the first two shots did not deliver the promised rewards of immunity or freedom.)
The drama continues. The bully does not relent at the first sign of resistance. On the soul level, the bully serves his purpose only when he provokes real, sustained courage. As resistance grows, so grows the coercion. We are very nearly at a tipping point. The scale is evenly balanced—so finely, perhaps, that the weight of one person may tip it. Could that person be you? Whatever reasons you have to comply, to stay silent, to keep your head down—and they may be very good reasons indeed—please do not accept the insidious false hope that someone else will take the risk if you do not.
What can one person do? Will it matter if I resist, if too many others do not? Five percent of the population can be locked up, locked in, or locked out of society. Forty percent cannot. Will you resist and risk being one of the five percent? Safer to wait and see, isn’t it. Safer to wait until after critical mass has been reached, and join the winning side.
Of all the lies of a controlling power, the key lie is the powerlessness of its victim. That lie is a form of sorcery, coming true to the extent it is believed. All modern people live within a pervasive metaphysical version of that lie. In a Newtonian universe of deterministic forces, indeed it matters little what one person does. It is wholly irrational for the discrete and separate self to be brave, to defy the mob, or to stand up to power. Sure, if lots of people do it, things will change, but you aren’t lots of people, you are just one person. So why not let other people do it? Your choice won’t much affect theirs.
To refute that logic with logic would require a metaphysical treatise that reclaims self and causality from their Cartesian prison. So I won’t use logic. Instead I’ll appeal to Logos—the fiery logic of the heart. Something in you knows that your private struggles and the choices of just-one-person are significant. Furthermore, something in you knows when the time has come to make the choice, to be brave. You can feel the approach of the breaking point. It may feel like, “I’ve had enough. Enough!” It may be a calm clarity. It may be a leap in the dark. Probably you recognize the moment I’m describing; most of us have gone through some life initiation of this kind, bursting out of a cocoon of fear. In that moment you know something significant has happened. The world looks different. That is because it is different.
An abuser, whether a person or a system, offers an opportunity to graduate to a new degree of sovereignty. We claim by example what a human being is. When made at risk, such a claim issues forth as a prayer. An intelligence beyond rational understanding responds to that prayer, and reorganizes the world around it. We may experience this as synchronicity, which seems to happen with uncanny frequency just at those moments where one takes a leap in the dark. She leaves the abusive spouse in the dead of night with nowhere to go. Yet she is not reckless, because she knows It is time. She steps out into nothingness and Lo! Something meets her foot. A path invisible from the starting point opens with each step along it.
So it shall be. The world will rearrange itself around the brave choices millions of people are making as they trust the knowledge, It is time. If you join us, you will be witness to a most marvelous paradox. The transition to a more beautiful world is a mass awakening into sovereignty, far beyond the doing of any hero, any leader, any individual. Yet you will know that it was you—your choice!—that was the fulcrum of the turning of the age.
Third part of a timeline of ivermectin-related events in theCOVID-19 pandemic
Mika Turkia M.Sc.
September 30, 2021
This review presents a third part extending two previous parts of a timeline describing ivermectin-related events in the COVID-19 pandemic, with this third part covering a period from July 2021 to September 2021.
Among the most notable developments during the period were allegations that a clinical trial about prophylaxis and late treatment of COVID-19 with ivermectin by Elgazzar et al. carried out in Egypt in mid-2020was fraudulent, with some of the introduction plagiarized and the patient data claimed to appear fabricated.
The government of Egypt initiated an investigation on the issue, the results of which were not available bythe end of the period.
Ivermectin skeptics noted that the retraction of the Elgazzar et al. trial, along with suspicions about failed randomization in another trial by Niaee et al., seemed to invalidate the various meta-analyses which had included these trials. Ivermectin proponents argued that the retraction did not aﬀect the conclusions of their meta-analyses. Later, the validity of an Argentinian prophylaxis trial by Carvallo et al. was questioned; as an observational trial it had not been included in the meta-analyses.
Among new trial results were the results of ’Together’ trial led by a Canadian university but carried out in Brazil. The primary endpoint was extended emergency room observation or hospitalization, and the secondary endpoint was mortality. Fluvoxamine produced a statistically signiﬁcant result for the ﬁrst endpoint but not for the second. In 677 treated patients vs 678 controls ivermectin indicated some risk reduction but the diﬀerences were not statistically signiﬁcant. One of the authors concluded that ivermectin had ’noeﬀect whatsoever’ on their endpoints. On the other hand, a intervention program in La Pampa province of Argentina with 3,269 treated and 18,149 untreated indicated mortality rates of 1.5% vs 2.1% (p=0.029),and in subjects over 40 years 2.7% vs 4.1% (p=0.005). A Cochrane meta-analysis concluded that all aspects regarding ivermectin’s eﬃcacy for either treatment or prophylaxis were currently unknown.
After a 24-fold increase in ivermectin prescriptions from US pharmacies compared to the pre-pandemic baseline, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists campaigned against ivermectin, calling for‘an immediate end’ to prescribing, dispensing and using it. However, this campaigning also resulted in an increased public awareness of ivermectin.
A prominent social media ﬁgure with over ten million followers revealed that he had been prescribed ivermectin for COVID-19. The fact was subsequently propagated internationally by the news media which represented ivermectin as a dangerous ‘horse dewormer’. Several international news outlets published a false story about emergency rooms in Oklahoma being full of people having overdosed ivermectin, blocking out other patients including gunshot victims.
A Japanese doctor who had treated 500 patients with ivermectin reported having received death threats after telling about his methods on a television program. A group of British scientists which had published a meta-analysis about ivermectin reported having received death threats after questioning the eﬃcacy of ivermectin. An ivermectin discussion forum was ﬂooded with pornographic images and incoherent babbling.
A hospital was harassed for not administering ivermectin.
An Indian physician claimed that due to the World Health Organization’s opposition to ivermectin, India’s second wave had been countered by an almost nationwide covert use of early treatment protocols including ivermectin. Another physician reported that in one city in Amazonas, Brazil, a mass distribution of ivermectin had resulted in the city having no hospitalized COVID-19 patients during the surge of the gamma variant in the ﬁrst half of 2021.
Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) faced criticism for its ivermectin advocacy and communication style. With regard to treatment protocols, the addition of dual anti-androgen therapy to FLCCC’sMATH+ hospital treatment protocol was said to have restored the protocol’s eﬃcacy against the delta variant in intensive care unit patients. FLCCC also published a scoping review of the pathophysiology ofCOVID-19, emphasizing the role of platelet activation with the release of serotonin and the activation and degranulation of mast cells contributing to the hyper-inﬂammatory state.
In an overview, the period from April 2020 to March 2021 could be characterized as a period of argumentation and attempted rationality, the period from April 2021 to June 2021 as a period of emotion and campaigning,and the period from July 2021 to September 2021 as a period of chaos.
Current best practices for meta-analyses were found to be unsound. A new approach based on individual patient data analysis was proposed.
The period covering the ﬁrst part of the timeline from April 2020 to March 2021  could be characterized as a period of research, argumentation and rationality. During the period, smaller-scale research and experimentation of ivermectin for COVID-19 was pursued and eventually, alliances and groups of clinicians and researchers were formed to promote combination treatment protocols that included ivermectin. However, at the end of the period, ﬁrst the European Medicine Agency (EMA) and second the World Health Organization(WHO) advised against the use of ivermectin except in clinical trials.
The second period from April 2021 to June 2021  could be characterized as a period of emotion and campaigning. During the period, a failure of the approach based on argumentation led to a disillusionment of clinicians and researchers in favor of ivermectin treatments and stopped communication between the proponents and administrative agencies. Instead, ivermectin proponents turned directly to the public and the clinicians. The analysis related to the second part of the timeline focused on possible structural corruption and the role of the WHO.
The third period from July 2021 to September 2021 covered in this paper might best be characterized as a period of chaos, initiated by accusations of plagiarism and data fabrication in one of the early ivermectin trials . As the trial was included in published meta-analyses of ivermectin’s eﬃcacy [4,5,6], the allegations undermined the believability of these meta-analyses, although the authors of the meta-analyses at ﬁrst stated that the exclusion did not essentially change the results of the analyses. Later, one of the groups diverged from this view.
The history, indications and safety of ivermectin have been described in the previous parts. Some events preceding July 2021 not included in the previous parts of the timeline have been included.
On March 25, Waltner-Toews et al. wrote that COVID-19 requires a new approach to science . They referred to ‘post-normal science’ (PNS) developed in the 1990s by Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome R. Ravetz which represented a novel approach for the use of science on issues where ‘facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent’ . As an example, PNS recommended that models to predict and control the future should be replaced by models to map our ignorance about the future; it also stressed the importance of trust, participation and transparency, all of which had been lacking during the COVID-19pandemic. Waltner-Toews et al. wrote that ‘everywhere, we are seeing a total breakdown of the epistemic consensus required to make normal science “work”. This is happening not only in the ﬁelds you might expect– behavioral psychology, sociology, and ethics – but also in virology, genetics, and epidemiology. In other words, when “applied scientists” and “professional consultants” are no longer in their comfort zones but ﬁnd themselves in a post-normal context, ﬁtness for purpose changes meaning. And even in established ﬁelds, disagreements can’t be hidden (or consensus enforced) from broad audiences: are the present draconian measures justiﬁed or not? More data (even “reliable data”) and better predictive models cannot resolve the“distribution of sacriﬁce” which involves, among other things, the arbitration of dilemmas that appear at every scale. Hiding behind some general notion of science or the “lack of data” – as if data had the power to resolve these dilemmas – is feckless, feeble and confused’.
On November 29, an article by Cherkes et al. in the clinical practice guidelines and recommendations section of an Ukrainian journal Proceedings of the Shevchenko Scientiﬁc Society – Medical Sciences gave a detailed description of FLCCC’s MATH+ hospital treatment protocol .
On April 14, an article by Seet et al. described an open-label randomized trial (n=3,037) describing a 42-day prophylaxis regimen with four diﬀerent medications, one of which was povidone iodine throat spray(n=735), compared to 500 mg per day of oral vitamin C (n=619), indicated 44.7% lower risk of severe disease (5.7% vs 10.3%, RR 0.55, p=0.05) and 31.1% lower risk of infection (46.0% vs 70.0%, RR 0.69,p=0.01) [10,11]. A single 12 mg dose of ivermectin (n=617) did not produce a statistically signiﬁcant diﬀerence. Hydroxychloroquine produced a slightly smaller risk reduction than povidone iodine.
On May 11, two Norwegian doctors presented data on ivermectin trials to the Norwegian government .
On May 26, an investigational monoclonal antibody for mild to moderate COVID-19, sotrovimab, was issued an emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Sotrovimab was to be administered as a single intravenous infusion of 500 mg over 30 minutes within 10 days of symptom onset .
The wholesale price of a single dose was USD 2,100 .
On May 28, Bloomberg Law discussed YouTube’s censorship practices . YouTube chief executive oﬃcer Susan Wojcicki commented that ‘the complex nature of misinformation online presents a number of challenges for platforms such as YouTube and I welcome your suggestions as to what we can do better’.
On June 1, a commentary by Chosidow et al. asked whether ivermectin would be a potential treatment forCOVID-19 .
On June 4, an article by Payne et al. about evidence-based approach to early outpatient treatment considered zinc gluconate, melatonin and vitamin D feasible options but repeated the usual objections to ivermectin.
On June 7, an article by Sajidah et al. discussed the host nuclear transport machinery in detail .
On June 10, Kumar et al. discussed the role of vitamins and minerals as immunity boosters in COVID-19, pointing out for example the protective roles of calcium, magnesium, copper, iodine, selenium, manganese,cobalt and sulfur, and the possibly harmful eﬀect of iron .
On June 14, an article by Duru et al. described an in silico study suggesting that ivermectin bound well toSARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein .
On June 17, an article by Yanagida et al. concluded that ivermectin had low proarrhythmic risk .
On June 18, an article by Mart´ınez investigated the antioxidant properties of several pharmaceuticals, positing the idea that oxide reduction balance might help explain the toxicity or eﬃcacy of these drugs, and noting that ivermectin and molnupiravir, two powerful COVID-19 drugs, were not good electron acceptors,and the fact that they were not as eﬀective oxidants as other studied molecules might be an advantage .
On June 18, a commentary by Taibbi discussed politicization and censorship of ivermectin in the US [23,24].
On June 18, a Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten interviewed two Norwegian proponents of FLCCC protocols, one of whom was FLCCC founding member Eivind Hustad Vinjevoll  and the other Anders Bugge.
The Norwegian Medicines Agency remained unconvinced, stating that it was not their task to assess unapproved treatments: they only followed the recommendations of US National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.
On June 21, referring to lack of evidence and low quality of trials, eleven Norwegian senior physicians disagreed with Vinjevoll’s and Bugge’s views .
On June 22, Huang et al. summarized recent advances in the exploration of ivermectin’s anticancer properties .
On June 27, Salvador et al. published a protocol of a prospective observational study aiming to evaluate the eﬀectiveness and safety of a single-dose ivermectin for treatment of uncomplicated strongyloidiasis in immunosuppressed patients .
On June 28, Bugge replied to the Norwegian senior physicians .
On June 28, an article by Roman et al. presented a meta-analysis of ten randomized controlled trials(RCTs) including 1,173 patients with mild or moderate disease . The authors wrote that in comparison to standard of care or placebo, ivermectin did not reduce all-cause mortality, length of stay or viral clearance.
They concluded that ivermectin was not a viable option to treat COVID-19 patients. The article was based on a previous preprint [31,32]. The CovidAnalysis group noted that in addition to numerous uncorrected errors,the preprint and the PDF of the article stated that the authors had no conﬂicts of interest, yet Pasupuleti’saﬃliation listed in the abstract on the journal’s website was a company delivering brand and portfolio commercial strategy for biotech and pharma, working with 24 of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies as well as hundreds of biotechs globally [33,34]. The company also stated that they were working withthe European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries (EFPIA) to support their activities, and that the company’s regulatory consultancy practice in the US was preparing a number of emergency use authorizations to the FDA .
On June 28, an article by Patterson et al. presented a model for predicting COVID-19 severity and chronicity . A score measuring severity of COVID-19 was deﬁned as (IL-6 + sCD40L / 1000 + VEGF / 10 + 10 * IL-10) / (IL-2 + IL-8). A score measuring chronicity (long haul symptoms) was deﬁned as (IFN-γ+ IL-2) / CCL4-MIP-1β. CCL4 (chemokine ligands 4), also called MIP-1β(macrophage inﬂammatory protein-1β),was related to the C-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CCR5) pathway. About VEGF, see also [37,38,39,40].
On June 30, Thailand’s FDA and Chiang Mai University’s faculty of pharmacy warned against using ivermectin for COVID-19 .
On June 30, an article by Nippes et al. reviewed research on the presence of chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, ivermectin, dexamethasone, remdesivir, favipiravir and some HIV antivirals in the environment, and presented treatment technologies for each drug .
On June 30, Syed interviewed FLCCC’s Marik about treatments and the origin of SARS-CoV-2 .
On July 1, HART group consisting of UK doctors compared adverse events reported to the WHO of ivermectin (20 deaths and 5,484 adverse events since 1992), remdesivir (534 deaths and 6,707 adverse events since 2020) and COVID-19 vaccines (6,667 deaths and 1,198,200 adverse events since 2020) . They also suggested that some of the ongoing studies were designed to fail and actually aimed at stalling the adoption of ivermectin.
On July 1, Vice magazine wrote about ivermectin advocates, saying that ‘proponents of a dubious COVID19 cure have signaled they’re ready for a long ﬁght against what they see as censorship in medicine and media’ .
On July 2, an article by Vallejos et al. described a low dose RCT with 501 relatively low-risk outpatients in Argentina which did not produce statistically signiﬁcant results (NCT04529525) [46,47].
On July 2, an article by Adegboro et al. reviewed the antiviral eﬀects of ivermectin .
On July 2, a Twitter post reported that a video featuring Nobel prize winner Satoshi ¯Omura discussing Japanese ivermectin emergency use authorization bill had been removed by YouTube for violating their terms of service .
On July 2, a blog post by Crawford investigated the details and the background of the meta-analysis by Roman et al., noting that the meta-analysis came at a politically contentious moment, the language and behavior appeared political, the work was error-laden, took research out of its true context, used numbers that didn’t seem to come from the actual studies, chose papers testing ivermectin under the least favorable circumstances, gave unexplained and inappropriate weights to the small amount of data that stood as outliers to the bigger picture, and extracted an unfavorable conclusion from a massive average mortality reduction that did not quite reach statistical signiﬁcance while consistently complaining about the low quality of evidence represented by the studies . Crawford asked whether these were ‘just mistakes’, adding that ‘a medical journal published all this – just in time to push back the Lawrie case. Think on all that for a moment’.
On July 3, an open letter signed by 43 researchers and clinicians requested retraction of the meta-analysis by Roman et al. [51,52].
On July 6, an article by Hill et al. (submitted on January 20) presented a meta-analysis including eleven RCTs of moderate/severe infection . The analysis indicated 56% reduction in mortality (3% vs 9%, RR0.44, 95% CI 0.25-0.77, p=0.004), favorable clinical recovery and reduced hospitalization. In contrast to the preprint stating that ivermectin should be validated in larger studies before the results are suﬃcient for review by regulatory authorities , the published version said that a network of large clinical trials was in progress to validate the results seen to date.
On July 6, a TrialSite news report suggested that the WHO might have been attempting to limit the use of ivermectin to neglected tropical diseases only [54,55,56]. The report also discussed the apparent lack of objectivity of Wikipedia, noting that it had, among other omissions, mentioned the rejection of FLCCC’s review by Frontiers of Pharmacology but failed to mention that it had later been published in the American Journal of Therapeutics, failed to mention the meta-analysis by the BIRD group, and failed to mention USNIH’s transitioning to a neutral stance on ivermectin. The report asked why any positive aspects would be omitted unless there was an explicit goal to completely discredit this possible therapeutic option and researchers looking into the matter.
On July 6, Yahoo News UK published a news story featuring ivermectin in a positive light .
On July 6, WHO announced that it had updated its patient care guidelines to include interleukin-6 receptor blockers tocilizumab (by Roche) and sarilumab (by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanoﬁ) . The strong recommendation was based on ﬁndings from a prospective and a living network meta-analysis including data(also prepublication data) from over 10,000 patients enrolled in 27 clinical trials. The meta-analyses were said to show that in severely or critically ill patients these drugs reduced the odds of death by 13% and the odds of mechanical ventilation by 28% compared to standard of care, with high certainty of evidence . WHO said tocilizumab and sarilumab were the ﬁrst drugs found to be eﬀective against COVID-19 since corticosteroids were recommended in September 2020 . WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, however, that the drugs would remain inaccessible to most, and called on manufacturers to reduce prices and make supplies available to low-and middle-income countries. Ghebreyesus also encouraged companies to agree to transparent, non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements using WHO’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) platform and the Medicines Patent Pool, or to waive exclusivity rights. Rochwerg et al. noted that compared with other treatments IL-6 receptor blockers were expensive but the the recommendation did not take account of cost eﬀectiveness . They also acknowledged that access to these drugs was challenging in many parts of the world and that the recommendation could exacerbate health inequity. However, the strong recommendation aimed at providing a stimulus to improve global access to these treatments.
On July 6, an article by WHO Rapid Evidence Appraisal for COVID-19 Therapies (REACT) WorkingGroup presented a meta-analysis on the eﬃcacy of tocilizumab and sarilumab . Absolute mortality risk was 22% for IL-6 antagonists compared with an assumed mortality risk of 25% for standard of care or placebo, with especially sarilumab showing very low eﬃcacy. Regarding conﬂicts of interests, one of the authors reported being involved with two patents owned by Genentech/Roche, one on treating COVID-19with an IL-6 antagonist, and another for tocilizumab and remdesivir combination therapy for COVID-19pneumonia. Two other authors reported being co-inventors of a ﬁled patent covering the use of low-dose tocilizumab for treatment of viral infections. Nine other authors also reported associations with Roche.
Seven authors reported associations with Sanoﬁ. Three reported being employees of and owning stock in Regeneron, and two reported other associations with it. Also associations with, for example, Merck Sharp and Dohme, Gilead Sciences, ViiV Healthcare, Janssen, Cilag, Thera technologies, Lilly, Biohope, Gebro, Bristo lMyers Squibb, Abbvie, Pﬁzer, Novartis, PharmaMar, GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim, Celgene,Alexion, Inatherys, AB Science, Argenx, Oncoarendi, Biogen, Ose Pharmaceutical, Shionogi, Genetech, EliLilly, Swedish Orphan Biovitrum AB, Sanoﬁ Genzyme, Aspen Pharmacare, Crist´alia and AM Pharma were reported.
On July 6, a press release by M´edecins Sans Fronti`eres (MSF) noted that the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche continued to have de facto market exclusivity and tocilizumab was likely to remain unaﬀordable and inaccessible for most of the world . MSF wrote that Roche had kept the price of tocilizumab very high in most countries (USD 410 in Australia, USD 646 in India and USD 3,625 in the US per dose of 600mg for COVID-19, while the manufacturing cost was estimated to be around USD 60).
On July 6, an article by Malin et al. presented a key summary of German national treatment guidance for COVID-19 inpatients . The guideline recommended corticosteroids, prophylactic anti-coagulation, and optionally tocilizumab. Convalescent plasma, azithromycin, ivermectin and vitamin D3were recommended against. With regard to ivermectin, it was said that achievable tissue concentrations seemed to be far below the half maximal inhibitory concentration in vitro, that in February 2021 only one peer-reviewed RCT with 72 patients was available for consideration, and that the numerous preprints did not report clinically relevant endpoints or presented with signiﬁcant methodological issues and a high risk of bias.
On July 6, a commentator asked why WHO targeted IL-6 instead of going upstream to block NF-kB  which in turn inhibits IL-6 (ivermectin is an NF-kB antagonist ) [65,66].
On July 6, the US president Biden proposed the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), a new organization under the NIH, aimed at facilitating and accelerating more innovation and breakthroughs in fundamental biomedical and health research .
On July 6, an article by Margolin et al. described a small controlled trial (n=113) that suggested beneﬁts from supplementation with zinc, zinc ionophores quina plant bark extract and quercetin, vitamins C, D3and E, and L-lysine .
On July 7, an article by Cadegiani et al. about an open-label observational prospective outpatient study indicated 98.0% lower risk of hospitalization (0% vs 19.7%, RR 0.02, p<0.001) and 94.2% lower risk of ventilation (0% vs 6.6%, RR 0.06, p=0.005) [69,70,71]. The authors said treatments showed overwhelming improvements; therefore, it had become ethically questionable to conduct further studies employing full placebo arms in early COVID-19.
On July 7, a preprint by Hazan et al. described a retrospective late treatment study with 24 outpatients and a synthetic control arm calculated from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)database . The study used a combination therapy protocol with ivermectin, doxycycline, zinc, vitaminD and vitamin C, resulting in 100% survival and cure in unselected ambulatory ‘moderate to severely’ illCOVID-19 outpatients, with some initially presenting with SpO2values as low as 73% and 77%. Despite a symptom to treatment delay of over nine days, mean SpO2values rose from 86.5 to 93.1 in the ﬁrst 24 hours.
On July 8, an article by Muthusamy et al. described an in silico study identifying 32 anti-parasitic compounds eﬀectively inhibiting the receptor binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein . The most eﬀective compounds, in a descending order, were selamectin, ivermectin, artefenomel, moxidectin, posaconazole, imidocarb, piperaquine, cepharantine, betulinic acid and atovaquone.
On July 9, Cameron et al. proposed a two-axis model to describe variability in decision-making among critical care physicians . The authors emphasized the necessity for a better understanding of the root causes of physician-attributable diﬀerences in patient management in order to foster a better collaborative and educational environment to help critical care systems adapt to emerging ideas. The ﬁrst axis of the model measured interventionism (early, aggressive treatment) versus minimalism (’wait and see’) preferences. The second axis measured individualism versus collectivism.
On July 12, a preprint by Neil et al. described a Bayesian meta-analysis of ivermectin’s eﬀectiveness in COVID-19 .
On July 13, a news report in the Atlantic by Mazer discussed FDA’s recent approval of Alzheimer’s disease medicine aducanumab . It said aducanumab was approved despite scant evidence of beneﬁt, and against the nearly unanimous advice of the agency’s expert advisers, with ten members against approval and one being uncertain . Aducanumab was priced at USD 56,000 a patient per year. The estimated cost of treating all patients with it was larger than NASA’s yearly budget. The article said that ‘the actions of drug regulators, like those of industrial polluters, are often freighted with unacknowledged externalities .. . the FDA speciﬁcally does not really worry about those larger societal issues and doesn’t really worry about cost. . . instead, the agency is judged by how many drugs it can approve’.
On July 14, an opinion by Flam said that high hopes for ivermectin owe more to politics than to science.
On July 14, Mathachan et al. reviewed current uses of ivermectin in dermatology, tropical medicine andCOVID-19 .
On July 15, an article by Ravikirti et al. describing a clinical trial in India on patients with mild to moderate disease (n=112) using 12 mg of ivermectin on two consecutive days did not produce statistically signiﬁcant results .
On July 15, referring to a 2020 preprint by Elgazzar et al. , a news article by Davey in the Guardian said that a huge study supporting ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment had been withdrawn over ethical concerns . The article described ivermectin being promoted by right wing ﬁgures, then interviewed a person described as a medical student, Jack Lawrence, who had analyzed the preprint and the associated dataset for an assignment as a part of his master’s degree. He had found that the introduction section appeared plagiarized, raw data apparently contradicted the study protocol on several occasions, there were errors in data formatting, and the dataset didn’t match the numbers in the preprint. He also described that ivermectin hype was ‘dominated by a mix of right-wing ﬁgures, anti-vaxxers and outright conspiracists’.
A data analyst Nick Brown had helped Lawrence to analyze the data. He said that the main error was that at least 79 of the patient records were obvious clones of other records. An epidemiologist, Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, commented that the data appeared totally faked, and since the study had been included in most meta-analyses, if removed, the conclusions of these meta-analyses would have their conclusions entirely reversed. Yet another researcher said the data appeared fabricated. Lawrence concluded that ‘something is clearly broken in a system that can allow a study as full of problems as the Elgazzar paper to run unchallenged for seven months . . . thousands of highly educated scientists, doctors, pharmacists, and at least four major medicines regulators missed a fraud so apparent that it might as well have come with a ﬂashing neon sign’.
On July 15, a post by Lawrence on an online disinformation website discussed retraction of the preprint by Elgazzar et al. . Jack Lawrence introduced himself on his blog as a journalist and a disinformation researcher .
On July 15, a blog post by Brown analyzed details of the study by Elgazzar et al .
On July 15, a blog post by Meyerowitz-Katz pictured ivermectin for COVID-19 research as ‘potentially the most consequential medical fraud ever committed’ .
On July 15, the Covid Analysis group removed Elgazzar et al. from their meta-analysis. Since the study was a preprint, the analysis of 37 peer-reviewed studies (n=11,352) in the July 15 version 99 of 60 studies  remained unchanged, indicating 88% eﬃcacy in prophylaxis (95 % CI 70%-95%), 74% eﬃcacy in early treatment (95% CI 58%-84%) and 42% eﬃcacy in late treatment (95% CI 19%-58%). Since Elgazzar etal. only concerned prophylaxis and late treatment, also the early treatment results remained unchanged, indicating 64% reduction in mortality (95% CI 15%-85%). In comparison to the previous, July 9 version 98 of 62 studies  (Elgazzar study included prophylaxis (n=200) and late treatment (n=400) parts), the new version indicated the same or slightly improved prophylaxis eﬃcacy but slightly widened conﬁdence intervals, with all studies indicating 85% (95% CI 75%-91%) vs 85% (95% CI 75%-92%) eﬃcacy, and RCTs indicating83% (95% CI 39%-95%) vs 84% (95% CI 25%-96%) eﬃcacy. For late treatment, the new version indicated lower eﬃcacy, with all studies indicating 46% (95% CI 30%-59%) vs 43% (95% CI 26%-56%) eﬃcacy, and RCTs indicating 40% (95% CI 11%-60%) vs 29% (95% CI 3%-48%) eﬃcacy.
On July 16, FLCCC and BIRD gave a joint statement saying that there was no scientiﬁc basis to state that the removal of one study from meta-analyses would ‘reverse results’, yet the Guardian article had reported it as a fact . They also said that according to the most recent analyses by BIRD, excluding the Elgazzar data from the meta-analyses by Bryant and Hill did not change the conclusions of these reviews, with the ﬁndings still clearly favoring ivermectin for both prevention and treatment. They added that even the prestigious Institute Pasteur in France had conﬁrmed that the evidence was sound .
On July 16, Hill tweeted that ‘after removal of Elgazzar trial from ivermectin meta-analysis, borderline signiﬁcant eﬀects still seen for hospitalization and survival, but small number of endpoints. More evidence still needed from large ongoing randomized trials – must be continued’ .
On July 16, a news article said that a study that had ‘lit up the right-wing sphere of COVID deniers had been retracted over questionable methods’, adding that it was ‘just totally faked’ .
On July 16, a South African news article reviewed the retraction . It also featured video interviews of patients, doctors and oﬃcials which concentrated on the black market of ivermectin in South Africa and the possible dangers of counterfeit medications.
On July 16, an opinion by Razak, the rector of International Islamic University of Malaysia, aimed at ‘setting the pace for a more courageous narrative’ about ivermectin’s possibilities in COVID-19 .
On July 17, the United Arab Emirates announced the treatment results for intravenously administered monoclonal antibody sotrovimab, produced by GlaxoSmithKline, in treating mild to moderate COVID-19cases among high-risk outpatients . 6,175 patients were administered sotrovimab in Abu Dhabi between30 June and 13 July. Within 14 days, 97 percent of recipients achieved full recovery. There were zero deaths. 1 percent were admitted to ICU.
On July 17, a news report by Weisser described that early in the pandemic in Indonesia, an enterprising philanthropist Haryoseno made ivermectin available to the masses for free or at low cost, which resulted in Indonesia having an extremely low COVID-19 mortality rate. On June 12, 2021, however, in line withthe WHO recommendation, the ministry of health decided to disallow ivermectin and threatened Haryoseno with a ﬁne and a ten-year jail sentence. Subsequently, the supply of ivermectin dried up and mortality increased ﬁve-fold . About Australia, the report noted that clinician Mark Hobart had been reported to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) which had decided that there had been no infringement. Subsequently, federal health minister had written that oﬀ-label ivermectin prescribing was not regulated or controlled by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) but was at the discretion ofthe prescribing physician. The physicians had formed Covid Medical Network , the members of which predominantly followed a ‘triple-therapy protocol’ developed by Thomas Borody, consisting of ivermectin, zinc and doxycycline . The report also said that although the research on ivermectin for COVID-19 had originated from Australia, the researchers had been starved of resources and the discovery ignored.
On July 20, BBC wrote about Indonesia, saying that local media reports had incorrectly stated that theIndonesian authorities had granted ivermectin emergency approval . The reports had been based on a July 15 statement issued by the Food and Drugs Authority of Indonesia (BPOM) in which ivermectin had been listed together with other drugs, two of which had had emergency approval. Shortly afterwards the head of BPOM had told local media that no emergency approval had been given to ivermectin. It had been listed because it was undergoing clinical trials at eight hospitals, the results of which were not expected until October.
On July 20, Med Page Today wrote about retraction of the preprint by Elgazzar et al. .
On July 20, a Swedish medical newspaper published an opinion by three Swedish doctors suggesting that Sweden should follow the example of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and other countries which had adopted ivermectin .
On July 22, Los Angeles Times wrote that ‘ivermectin, another bogus treatment, becomes a darling ofconspiracy-mongers’ . In addition to reviewing the main points behind the retraction of the Elgazzaret al. preprint the columnist delved into an analysis of ivermectin politics, saying it was rather diﬀerent from hydroxychloroquine controversy, as ‘the political underpinning of the ivermectin craze involves a conspiracy-infused attack on the pharmaceutical and medical establishment. In this it resembles the antivaccine movement .. . like anti-vaxxers, ivermectin advocates claim that information about the drug is being “suppressed,” generally by agents of Big Pharma; the core idea is that because drug companies can’t make very much money out of a drug available in generic form, they prefer to foist vaccines, on which they canmake billions of dollars in proﬁts, on the innocent public . . . let’s be clear: information about the drug isn’t being “suppressed” for political reasons. It’s being treated as what it is: dangerous misinformation’.
On July 23, an interview of science writer Matt Ridley in the Wall Street Journal said that science had lost the public’s trust and that the politicization of science had led to a loss of conﬁdence in science as an institution, and whereas the distrust may have been justiﬁed it left a vacuum that was often ﬁlled by lessrigorous approaches to knowledge . Ridley pointed to a distinction between ‘science as a philosophy’ and‘science as an institution’, with the former wanting to remain open-minded, and the latter wanting to present a uniﬁed and authoritative voice, fostering a naive belief in the supremacy of scientists in understanding the world, luring politicians to aﬃliate themselves with this alleged power. Regardless, scientists often deliberately published things that ﬁt with their political prejudices, ignored things that didn’t, or presented models based on rather extreme assumptions. Pessimistic predictions often being more popular in the media introduced a bias. A third conceptualization of or a type of identiﬁcation with the concept of science,‘science as a profession’, had become oﬀ-puttingly arrogant and political, permeated by motivated reasoning and conﬁrmation bias, with increasing numbers of scientists falling prey to groupthink . According to Ridley, the tendency of scientiﬁc establishment ‘to turn into a church, enforcing obedience to the latest dogma and expelling heretics and blasphemers’ had previously been kept in check by the fragmented natureof the scientiﬁc enterprise but social media was eliminating the space for heterodoxy, leaving those believingin science as a philosophy increasingly estranged from science as an institution.
On July 23, an article by Mansour et al. described a preclinical tolerance study on the safety of inhaled lyophilized ivermectin formulation indicating 127-fold increase in drug aqueous solubility but also safety issues .
On July 24, World Ivermectin Day was organized by the BIRD group, the FLCCC, TrialSite News and 15 other aﬃliates . Panel discussions included Shabnam Palesa Mohamed in conversation with PinkyN.J. Ngcakani (South Africa) and Wahome Ngare (Kenya); Erin Stair in conversation with Hector Carvallo(Argentina), Lucy Kerr (Brazil) and Flavio Cadegiani (Brazil); Shabnam Palesa Mohamed in conversation with Pierre Kory (US), Ira Bernstein (Canada) and Sabine Hazan (United States); Vincent Rey Vicente(US) in conversation with Iggy Agbayani, Homer Lim and Allan Landrito (Philippines), and PriyamadhabaBahera, Binod Kumar Patro, Biswa Mohan Padhy and Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty (India); Daniel O’Connorin conversation with Juan Bertoglio (Chile) and Matjaˇz Zwitter (Slovenia); Daniel O’Connor in conversationwith Juan Chamie (US), Pierre Kory (US) and Nathi Mdladla (South Africa).
On July 25, a preprint by Ontai et al. described a nationwide implementation of multi-drug COVID-19inpatient and outpatient treatment protocol CATRACHO in Honduras since May 3, 2020 [106,107]. The inpatient protocol consisted of dexamethasone, colchicine, tocilizumab, ivermectin, zinc, azithromycin andheparin. There were two outpatient protocols, one consisting of mouthwash, azithromycin, ivermectin andzinc, and the other consisting of prednisone, colchicine and rivaroxaban. The results indicated a case fatalityrate (CFR) decrease from May 3,2020 baseline of 9.3% to 3.0%, or from June 10, 2020 baseline of 5.0% to3.0%. Mexico used as a control country failed to show a similar decline.
On July 27, upon receiving a Special Benevolence Award from Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew of Malaysia on World Ivermectin Day, Kory of the FLCCC gave a lecture outlining the history of ivermectin in COVID-19 [108,109].
He mentioned that the MATH+ protocol had been adopted as the standard protocol in Ukraine, and thatthe hospital mortality rate there was the lowest of the countries in the area.
On July 27, press releases by Cochrane Deutschland and the University of W¨urzburg stated that there was no evidence of ivermectin’s eﬃcacy [110,111].
On July 27, the university hospital of St. Anny in Brno in the Czech Republic published a report about their ivermectin treatment, saying it had been well tolerated and likely had a positive eﬀect on COVID19 . Ivermectin had been available at hospitals and for outpatient treatment since late 2020. Head of internal cardioangiology clinic Michal Rezek described the results of their analysis of 150 patients with a mean age of 63 years (32-93 years, median 65 years) treated between December 2020 and January 2021 with two doses of 0.2 mg/kg of ivermectin. 117 patients had required oxygenation and corticosteroids, 42 had required high-ﬂow oxygen, and 17 had received also remdesivir. 18 patients had needed mechanical ventilation, six of which had died. Hospital mortality had been 10%, with the average age of the deceased being 75 years. There had been no control group. The hospital intended to continue ivermectin treatment and was preparing a RCT in collaboration with Masaryk University and Czech Clinical Research InfrastructureNetwork (CZECRIN) . Lack of COVID-19 patients was mentioned as a possible obstacle to the trial. Rezek said a combination antiviral therapy with ivermectin and remdesivir was likely more eﬀective than single-agent therapies.
On July 28, a Cochrane review by Popp et al. concluded that its authors were uncertain about the eﬃcacy and safety of ivermectin for treatment or prophylaxis of COVID-19 . With regard to late treatment(inpatients), the authors were uncertain whether ivermectin compared to placebo or standard of care reduced or increased mortality (RR 0.60, 95% CI 0.14-2.51, 2 studies, n=185, very low certainty), mechanical ventilation (RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.11-2.59, 2 studies, 185 participants, very low certainty), need for supplemental oxygen (0 participants required supplemental oxygen, one study, 45 participants, very low certainty), adverse events within 28 days (RR 1.21, 95% CI 0.50-2.97, one study, 152 participants, very low certainty), or viral clearance at day seven (RR 1.82, 95% CI 0.51-6.48, 2 studies, 159 participants, very low certainty). With regard to outpatients, the authors were uncertain about mortality up to 28 days (RR 0.33, 95% CI 0.018.05, 2 studies, 422 participants, very low certainty), mechanical ventilation (RR 2.97, 95% CI 0.12-72.47,one study, 398 participants, very low certainty) and symptoms resolution up to 14 days (RR 1.04, 95% CI0.89-1.21, one study, 398 participants, low certainty). With regard to prophylaxis there was only one eligible study, with mortality up to 28 days being the only outcome eligible for primary analysis; the authors were uncertain whether ivermectin reduced or increased mortality compared to no treatment (zero participants died, one study, 304 participants, very low certainty). The Covid Analysis group criticized the meta-analysis for being ’a very biased meta analysis designed to exclude almost all studies’ .
On July 28, an opinion in the Wall Street Journal questioned FDA’s negative stance on ivermectin . The next day the authors wrote that they had not been aware of the retraction of the Elgazzar et al. study, yet stated that ‘the broader point stands: there’s strong evidence of ivermectin’s eﬃcacy in COVID-19’ .
On July 28, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology announced a joint procurement agreement with European Commission to supply up to 220,000 doses of sotrovimab , a contract worth USD 462 million at the wholesale price of USD 2,100 per dose. The agreement enabled participating European Union member states to quickly purchase sotrovimab, following local emergency authorization or authorization at the EUlevel, to treat high-risk patients with COVID-19 who might beneﬁt from early treatment with sotrovimab.
On July 29, an article in Times of India explained a much higher rate of infections in the state of Kerala bylower COVID-19 seropositivity .
On July 30, a Czech Republic newspaper published a timeline of ivermectin-related events in the CzechRepublic .
On July 30, an article by Rella et al. suggested that in the current conditions the vaccines-only pandemic response may create vaccine-resistant strains [121,122].
On July 31, Kiekens interviewed George Fareed about outpatient treatment protocols for newly infected andfor long haul COVID-19 syndrome (LHCS) patients, implemented jointly with Brian Tyson on thousands of patients in the US . For neurological LHCS symptoms in some instances, Fareed suggested a two to three-day high-dose ivermectin treatment as suggested by Alessandro Santin .
On August 2, a news article from Israel reported on a clinical trial by Biber et al. (NCT04429711) , saying that ivermectin could help reduce the length of infection for less than a USD 1 per day, and that only 13%of ivermectin-treated patients were infectious after six days, compared with 50% of patients in the placebo group . Schwartz, the leader of the trial, said that three journals had rejected the paper: ‘No one even wanted to hear about it. You have to ask how come when the world is suﬀering’.
On August 2, an open letter by Covid Medical Network stressed the importance of early treatment and noted that the federal health minister had acknowledged and even encouraged oﬀ-label prescribing of some treatments including ivermectin .
On August 2, an article by Reardon in Nature said that shocking revelations of widespread ﬂaws in the data of a preprint study by Elgazzar et al. dampened ivermectin’s promise and highlighted the challenges of investigating drug eﬃcacy during a pandemic . Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, an Australian epidemiologist,said he had lost all faith in the results of ivermectin trials published to date.
On August 2, an article by Sengthong et al. said that repeated ivermectin treatment induced ivermectin resistance in Strongyloides ratti infected rats .
On August 3, an article by Santin et al. reviewed the current status of ivermectin research, mentioning that the indicated biological mechanism of ivermectin, competitive binding with SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, was ikely non-epitope speciﬁc, possibly yielding full eﬃcacy against emerging viral mutant strains .
On August 3, BBC wrote about the mystery of rising infections in India’s Kerala . The southern Indian state of Kerala, with barely 3% of India’s population, accounted for more than half of the country’s new COVID-19 infections. Kerala was testing more than double the people per million compared to the rest of the country. Antibody tests survey revealed that only 43% people above the age of six in Kerala had been exposed to the infection, compared to 68% nationwide. Kerala had fully vaccinated more than 20% of its eligible population and 52% had received a single jab (70% of people over 45 years) which was much higher than the national average. BBC wrote that the state appeared to be testing widely, reporting cases honestly and vaccinating quickly, ensuring that future waves of infection would be less severe. Yet Kerala was said to be at an early stage in runaway exponential growth of cases. More forceful enforcement of rolling lockdowns was suggested as a solution.
On August 3, George Fareed discussed early treatments on Fox News television .
On August 5, an article by Behera et al. described a prospective cohort study (n=3,532) in India, indicatingthat two doses of oral ivermectin (0.3 mg/kg/dose given 72 hours apart) as chemoprophylaxis among healthcare workers reduced the risk of COVID-19 infection by 83% in the following month (6% vs 15%, adjustedrelative risk 0.17; 95% CI, 0.12-0.23) .
On August 5, a preprint by Rana et al. described an in silico study showing strong binding aﬃnity ofivermectin and doxycycline for SARS-CoV-2 main protease 3CLpro, and increased binding aﬃnity for thecombination of both [134,135].
On August 5, a Finnish technology magazine wrote about ivermectin, saying that according to FLCCC,there was already an eﬀective medication for COVID-19 but it was rarely used . A head of unit at theFinnish Medicines Agency (FIMEA) commented that doctors were allowed to prescribe it oﬀ-label, providedthat the patient was informed about it not being oﬃcially approved for COVID-19. The oﬃcial commentedthat ‘in an international comparison the Finnish medical community is quite conservative about adoptingnew treatments without a suﬃciently strong evidence base’. Also, a process to oﬃcially adopt ivermectin forCOVID-19 could only be initiated by a producer of ivermectin or the European Medicine Agency (EMA).
On August 6, an article by Kow et al. reviewed sample size calculations in ivermectin trials, indicating thatexisting trials had been very underpowered .
On August 6, US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Collaboratory published a video interview of EdwardJ. Mills, the head researcher of Together adaptive platform trial . Mills discussed interim results of their outpatient trial which included ﬂuvoxamine and ivermectin (0.4 mg/kg for three days). For ivermectin,the risk reduction for extended emergency room observation or hospitalization was 9% (86/677 vs 95/678,RR 0.91, 95% CI 0.69-1.19) and for mortality 18% (RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.44-1.52); these were not statistically signiﬁcant. Mills commented that ivermectin had had ’no eﬀect whatsoever’ on their primary and secondary endpoints. For ﬂuvoxamine, the risk reduction for extended emergency room observation or hospitalization was 31% (74/742 vs 107/738, RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.52-0.91) and for mortality 29% (17/742 vs 24/738, RR0.71, 95% CI 0.39-1.29); the ﬁrst endpoint was statistically signiﬁcant while the second was not. The trial was done at ten locations in Minas Gerais, Brazil. It was unclear whether over-the-counter ivermectin usehad been an exclusion criteria. At the time the gamma variant was prevalent and assumed to cause higher viral loads and a more severe disease than most other variants. The Covid Analysis group criticized various aspects of the trial .
On August 6, a report on SARS-CoV-2 variants by Public Health England indicated that concerning deathswithin 28 days of positive specimen date between February 1 and August 2 there had been 71 deaths in people under 50 years and 670 in people over 50 years . In the ﬁrst group, 18% had been vaccinatedtwice and 68% were unvaccinated. In the second group, 58% had been vaccinated twice and 31% were unvaccinated.
On August 6, a podcast by Nature discussed ivermectin .
On August 9, a commentary by US medical doctor using a pseudonym Justus R. Hope described a ‘blackouton any conversation about how ivermectin beat COVID-19 in India’ [142,143]. It claimed that the US newsmedia were trying to confuse the public with false information by saying the deaths in India were ten times greater than oﬃcial reports. Using August 5 numbers as examples the author said that in ivermectin-using states of India such as Uttar Pradesh with a population 240 million of which 4.9% were fully vaccinated there were 26 daily cases and three deaths, in Delhi with a population of 31 million of which 15% were fully vaccinated there were 61 daily cases and two deaths, in Uttarakhand with a population of 11.4 million of which 15% were fully vaccinated there were 24 daily cases with zero deaths. In states not using ivermectin such as Tamil Nadu with a population of 78.8 million of which 6.9% were fully vaccinated there were 1,997daily cases with 33 deaths. In the US with a population of 331 million of which 50.5% were fully vaccinated there were 127,108 daily cases with 574 deaths. He compared FDA’s and WHO’s ban on ivermectin to Pope’sban on all books and letters that argued the Sun was the center of the universe instead of Earth, adding that the US government was ‘all-in with vaccines with the enthusiasm of a 17th century Catholic church’.
On August 10, a news story by Yahoo! Japan reported that a Japanese clinician Kazuhiro Nagao, appearingon the Fuji TV television program, had suggested that ivermectin should be distributed to all Japanese nationals in advance to be taken after COVID-19 infection, and that COVID-19 should be in the same administrative category as seasonal inﬂuenza in order to avoid delays and make early treatment possible .
On August 10, a news report from La Pampa province of Argentina described minister of health MarioRub´en Kohan releasing the latest results of the implementation of a monitored intervention program on the use of 0.6 mg/kg of ivermectin for ﬁve days in 3,269 treated patients versus 18,149 untreated patients[145,146]. The risk of death was 27.4% lower (RR 0.73) and the risk of death or ICU admission was 38.0%lower (RR 0.62). For people over 40 years of age the risk of death was 33.4% lower (RR 0.67). For people over 40 years of age and with comorbidities the risk of death was 44.0% lower (RR 0.56).
On August 11, Los Angeles Times wrote about ivermectin having ‘no eﬀect whatsoever’ in the Togethertrial . The head researcher Mills said that ‘in our speciﬁc trial we do not see the treatment beneﬁt that a lot of the advocates believe should have been seen’. He complained that many researchers had faced unprecedented abuse from advocates of speciﬁc treatments.
On August 11, an article by Cobos-Campos et al. reviewed ivermectin for COVID-19 .
On August 12, vaccine expert Geert Vanden Bossche, who on May 24, 2021 had proposed mass chemoprophylaxis with ivermectin , demanded stopping of COVID-19 mass vaccination . A rationale for the demand was the increased infectiousness of new variants already noted with respect to the alpha and delta variants, both more infective than the original variant, and the delta variant being signiﬁcantly more infective than the alpha variant. Bossche expected this trajectory to continue, possibly resulting in an uncontrollable situation. In Bossche’s view, the increased infectivity had resulted from a natural selection of increasingly vaccine immunity escaping variants in the vaccinated part of the population. In other words, mass vacci11nation had created an evolutionary pressure for development of these variants which were then transferred to the non-vaccinated population. In addition, vaccine-induced antibodies possibly competed with natural antibody based, variant-nonspeciﬁc immunity, possibly rendering the population more vulnerable to some vaccine immunity escaping variants. The issue was also taken up by other researchers .
On August 12, a preprint by Elavarasi et al. described a retrospective study about hospitalized patients in India which did not show a statistically signiﬁcant result .
On August 12, an article by Pedroso et al. described that self-prescribed use of early ivermectin treatment by 45 healthcare workers in Brazil was associated with a lower rate of seroconversion in a dose-dependentresponse .
On August 13, an article by Zhou et al. suggested that ivermectin might be a new potential anticancer drug therapy for human colorectal cancer and other cancers .
On August 13, on NIH Collaboratory, Smith discussed the history of proposed therapies for COVID-19 andthe adaptive platform trial ACTIV-2 .
On August 14, a Japanese clinician Kazuhiro Nagao wrote in a blog post that he had been harassed and had received death threats after appearing on TV and telling about treating 500 COVID-19 patients with ivermectin with no deaths [156,157].
On August 14, Kiekens interviewed an Italian physician Andrea Stramezzi about his early treatment protocol and his telehealth treatment method . He was using hydroxychloroquine as a part of the outpatient protocol due to its easy availability. According to Stramezzi, it was useful in the ﬁrst few days. Initially in the pandemic it had been provisionally recommended , then banned . Stramezzi had initiated a legal proceeding about the ban, initially winning the case but subsequently losing an appeal. Regardless,the judge had decreed that physicians were free to prescribe medications oﬀ-label at their discretion. In addition, the protocol had included anti-inﬂammatories such as aspirin, and bromhexine. Also vitamins C and D were used, although Stramezzi did not consider high levels of vitamin D suﬃcient to prevent COVID19. Additionally, vitamin K was administered separately from vitamin D due to their antagonism. A later addition, ivermectin, useful also in later stages to reduce replication of the virus, needed to be imported from the neighboring countries. Stramezzi said that about 10% of Italians had a genetic vulnerability toSARS-CoV-2 induced hyperinﬂammation. For this group, prevention with corticosteroids and enoxaparin was necessary. He said that there were approximately 1,500 physicians in Italy working with the similar protocols, exchanging information with each other. The public’s awareness of early treatments in Italy was still low because health authorities did not recommend it or talk about it, instead just recommendingparacetamol and waiting for severe pneumonia to emerge before contacting healthcare facilities. Stramezzisaid they had met Sileri, a physician/researcher and deputy minister of health (M5s) [161,162], for an hour.
Sileri had said he was aware of the therapeutical options, had treated a hundred patients himself, and hadco-authored an article about the genetic defect . Also, the parliament of Italy had voted in favor ofearly treatments . Regardless, after several months nothing had happened with regard to adoption of these treatments. Stramezzi was developing a free mobile phone app for doctors who had too many patients or who were unsure of how to treat COVID-19: the app would give suggestions for a suitable treatment protocol.
On August 16, a letter to the editor by Chahla et al. in the American Journal of Therapeutics described a randomized controlled trial (n=234) in Argentina with ivermectin and iota-carrageenan as pre-exposureprophylaxis for health care workers (NCT04701710) [165,166,167]. The treated group (n=117) received 6mg ivermectin every seven days, and six nasal sprays of iota-carrageenan per day for 4 weeks. The risk ofCOVID-19 infection was 84.0% lower (3.4% vs 21.4%, RR 0.16, p=0.001), and the risk of moderate or severe disease was 95.2% lower (0.0% vs 8.5%, RR 0.05, p=0.002). The authors hypothesized that the combination treatment formed a double viral barrier: ﬁrst, carrageenan behaved as a mucolytic agent in a barrier of sulfated polysaccharides with negative charge in the nasal cavity; second, ivermectin decreased viral load by systemic cellular action.
On August 16, an article by Winter examined the ongoing discussion about ivermectin .
On August 17, an article by Gonz´alez-Paz et al. described an in-silico elastic network model analysis of ivermectin components (avermectin-B1a and avermectin-B1b) providing a biophysical and computational perspective of proposed multi-target activity of ivermectin for COVID-19 [169,170].
On August 17, Associated Press reported that ’dozens of people in Oregon have contacted the state’s poisoncenter after self-medicating against COVID-19 with a drug used to treat parasites, with ﬁve becoming hospitalized and two of them winding up in intensive care units’ .
On August 18, Los Angeles Times wrote that ﬂuvoxamine may actually work against COVID-19 .
On August 19, an article by Gonz´alez-Paz et al. described an in silico analysis of the components of ivermectin (avermectin-B1a and avermectin-B1b), suggesting diﬀerent and complementary inhibitory activity of each component, with an aﬃnity of avermectin-B1b for viral structures, and of avermectin-B1a for host structures [173,174].
On August 20, an article by Amaya-Aponte reviewed ivermectin in COVID-19 .
On August 20, the investigational monoclonal antibody sotrovimab was granted a provisional approval forthe treatment of COVID-19 in Australia .
On August 20, a letter by Popp et al. in the BMJ said that the diﬀerent assessments between Popp et al’sCochrane meta-analysis and the one by Bryant et al. were partly due to baseline data of included studies:Bryant et al. pooled heterogeneous patient populations, interventions, comparators and outcomes whereasPopp et al. did not; thus, according to Popp et al., Bryant et al. compared apples and oranges, ‘serving a large bowl of a colorful fruit salad’ . The authors accused Bryant et al. of ‘creating pseudotrustworthiness for substances that cannot be considered eﬀective and safe treatment options nor game changers, at this stage’.
On August 21, an article by Karvanen et al. described a new algorithm for causal eﬀect identiﬁcation: do search based on do-calculus . The algorithm might allow for improving clinical trial result analysis [179,180,181].
On August 21, due to overlap and confusion with the I-MATH+ prophylaxis and early outpatient treatment protocol, the FLCCC discontinued its I-MASS mass prophylaxis and home treatment protocol introduced a few months earlier .
On August 21, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tweeted about ivermectin, stating that ‘You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.’ . The tweet linked to FDA’s March 2021advisory against ivermectin .
On August 21, a Slovenian newspaper reviewed ivermectin, mentioning two previous articles published in the same newspaper written by a Slovenian ivermectin proponent Matjaˇz Zwitter [185,186].
On August 21, a blog post by Meyerowitz-Katz discussed a study by Cadegiani et al. , claiming that thedata in a spreadsheet uploaded by the authors didn’t look real: ’data for this study may not be fake, but it is at least incredibly suspicious’ [187,188].
On August 21, a preprint by Izcovich et al. presented a systematic review about bias as a source of inconsistency in ivermectin trials . Based on a review of 29 RCTs with 5,592 cases the authors concluded that previous reports about ivermectin’s beneﬁts were based on potentially biased results, and further research was needed.
On August 22, an Indian geriatrician, preventive cardiologist and anti-aging specialist Lenny Da Costa described ivermectin use in India [190,191]. According to Costa, beginning from March 2020, India distributed an outpatient home treatment kit containing hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, doxycycline, ivermectin and vitamin C. In March 2021, ignoring evidence from India, WHO stated that ivermectin should not be used.
The statement was given by an Indian epidemiologist, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan. A group of Indian physicians ﬁled a legal case against her. To protect Swaminathan, Indian central government removedivermectin from oﬃcial recommendations. However, state governments were responsible for guidelines for medical care in the states, not the central government; most states continued the use of ivermectin. Costasaid that no-one had stopped using ivermectin but they did not advertise the fact. According to Costa,during the deadly second wave in April-May 2021, India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, reduced the number of daily cases from 60,000 to 15,000 in a month by distributing ivermectin for everyone for free. Clinicians did not wait for RT-PCR test results; instead, medication was started immediately on the presentation of symptoms. Prescriptions were given for free by telemedicine (WhatsApp). Ivermectin prevented people from infecting others, especially family members. Also, numerous physicians had been using ivermectin since March 2020 for prophylaxis, with none of them getting infected. On June 29, 2021, the government of Uttar Pradesh announced a home treatment kit for children, containing paracetamol, multivitamins and ivermectin. Costa claimed that India’s success in controlling the second wave was primarily due to an early administration of ivermectin, doxycycline, zinc and other medications used for early treatment.
On August 23, a medical doctor writing under a pseudonym Justus R. Hope continued on India’s ‘ivermectin blackout’ [192,193]. On August 15, Kerala, a state reportedly not using ivermectin, with a population of approximately 3% of India’s population, had accounted for 56% of India’s new cases and 25% of India’s new deaths. Delhi, a state with nearly the same population size as Kerala but using ivermectin, accounted for 0.2% of new cases and 0% of deaths. Uttar Pradesh, with a population almost eight times larger than
Kerala, accounted for 0.09% of new cases and 0.2% of deaths. Hope wrote that Kerala ranked in the top ﬁve most vaccinated of India’s 29 states, adding that Kerala’s failure in comparison to most other states of India could be explained by the facts that Kerala had not used ivermectin for early treatment whereas most other states had, and that ivermectin lowered the viral load and inhibited transmission whereas vaccination did not, giving a false sense of security. Those with prior infection, negative test result, or at least one vaccine dose (56% of adults) had been exempted from lockdown . Hope called Kerala’s comparatively highvaccination rate its most problematic feature leading to rampant viral transmission. Kerala had adopted ivermectin in April but restricted its use to severe cases with additional risk factors. On August 5, Kerala had removed ivermectin from state guidelines completely. In contrast, Uttar Pradesh had been the ﬁrst stateto introduce large-scale prophylactic and therapeutic use of ivermectin. The state had treated all contacts of an infected patient prophylactically with ivermectin. The lesson, Hope said, was that ivermectin could make up for the low use of vaccination but vaccination could not make up for the low use of ivermectin.
On August 23, ABC News report written by a medical toxicology fellow and an emergency medicine physician in New York stated that health oﬃcials had said that a potentially dangerous, unproven deworming drugs hould not be used to treat COVID-19 . The report blamed social media for informing people about the medication ‘not authorized by independent regulators at the FDA’ (see e.g. ). Not a single trial to prove ivermectin’s usefulness existed and an interviewee advised that people ‘don’t have to go with something that doesn’t have a scientiﬁc basis’.
On August 23, CBS News reported that oﬃcials had warned against using anti-parasite drug for COVID19 .
On August 24, Mother Jones magazine interviewed Boulware, an ivermectin researcher, involved in a University of Minnesota trial (NCT04510194) [198,199]. Boulware had received hostile messages calling him ’are embodied Josef Mengele’ from people believing that ivermectin was a miracle cure and placebo-controlled trials were therefore unethical. Another researcher at Washington University in St. Louis commented on the polarization, saying that if she tweeted something about vaccines as positive, she was being attacked by people pro early treatment, and if she tweeted about potential treatments, she provoked the ire of vaccine advocates who ‘kind of seem to suppress any information about early treatment, maybe because they feel like it’s going to make people think they don’t need to be vaccinated’. The article also described Steve Kirsch’s frustration with the government’s unwillingness to recommend treatments on the basis of small trials with encouraging results. Researchers also worried that the recent reports of ivermectin self-dosing could scare people oﬀ of enrolling in any kind of treatment trials in the future.
On August 25, an article by Mohan et al. described a trial (RIVET-COV, n=157) investigating the eﬀect of single-dose oral ivermectin (12 or 24 mg) in mild and moderate COVID-19 which indicated no statistically signiﬁcant eﬀects on viral load or RT-PCR negativity .
On August 25, on the social media platform Reddit, subreddit r/ivermectin which had been a public, uncensored discussion forum initiated a year before for discussions related to ivermectin research and treatments,was ﬂooded with tens of horse-themed pornographic cartoon images, in reference to ivermectin as ‘horse paste’, as well as hundreds of sexual, oﬀensive or irrelevant comments. The moderator said the attack had been coordinated by a group of moderators of other, large subreddits, yet refused to remove the irrelevant content, referring to his disbelief in censorship .
On August 25, in a FLCCC weekly update, endocrinologist and researcher Fl´avio Cadegiani described his experience in the state of Amazonas in Brazil during a gamma variant outbreak in 2021 (the gamma variantwas considered to cause a more severe disease than the delta variant) . The research group had visitedvarious cities with hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. However, in the city of Coari located afew hundred kilometers west from Manaus there had been no hospitalized COVID-19 patients at all. At ﬁrst Cadegiani had been unable to get an explanation to the situation but later, in private, a health oﬃcial had revealed that the city had been providing ivermectin for its whole population for two months already. As to the question why the explanation had not been given immediately the oﬃcial replied that she had been afraid of being accused of giving unapproved treatments. Cadegiani said the experience had been shocking.
He added that secondary endpoints in single-agent trials were important indicators of possible eﬃcacy as a component in a multi-agent treatment protocol.
On August 25, in the FLCCC weekly update, Kory and Marik discussed the addition of dual anti-androgentherapy (dutasteride 2 mg on day one followed by 1 mg daily for ten days , and spironolactone 100 mg twice daily for ten days ) to their delta variant early treatment protocol which at the time included twelve components . They stated the addition provided ‘massive improvements’.
On August 26, Krolewiecki et al. published additional details about their trial on the antiviral eﬀect of high-dose ivermectin in COVID-19 .
On August 26, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that ivermectin prescriptionsfrom US pharmacies had increased 24-fold from the pre-pandemic baseline . Ivermectin-related calls to poison control centers had increased ﬁve-fold, respectively. The report gave two examples of adverse eﬀects:one patient becoming disoriented after taking tablets of unknown strength (5 tablets per day for ﬁve days),and another patient presenting with confusion, drowsiness, visual hallucinations, tachypnea and tremors after drinking an injectable form of veterinary ivermectin.
On August 26, Newsweek interviewed Joe Varon of the FLCCC saying that since a year ago he had treated thousands of COVID-19 patients in the US with oﬀ-label ivermectin in combination with other pharmaceuticals in the FLCCC treatment protocols . During the pandemic Varon had been widely featured in the US media but the reporters had chosen to not mention ivermectin.
On August 26, a news story in Vice magazine complained that Facebook did not properly censor ivermectin content and Facebook’s ivermectin groups were ‘unhinged and out of control’ [208,209].
On August 28, Newsweek reported about a far-right political commentator’s use of ivermectin for his COVID19 infection .
On August 28, Newsweek reported that a Republican representative from Texas had appeared to speak in support of unproven treatments for COVID-19, including ivermectin, a drug often used as a dewormer for cows and horses . The representative was also said to have praised president Trump and have raised concerns about vaccines.
On August 29, Anthony Fauci warned against using ivermectin for COVID-19 .
On August 29, Cohen wrote in Forbes that ivermectin had become embedded in a ‘cultural war’, commenting that ‘of all drugs right-wingers would have gravitated to, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine are most unusual candidates, in that they’re largely used in humans in developing nations for conditions rarely seen in the US’ . Ivermectin for COVID-19 was pictured as unproven misinformation harming public health, and the politicization of the issue had been to the detriment of eﬀorts to contain the pandemic, taking attention away from clinically conﬁrmed instruments such as vaccines. The author worried that there were a surprising number of people in the medical profession who believed in ivermectin, such as the physician advisor to Florida’s governor. Cohen said that ‘these contrarians are not waiting for the completion of conﬁrmatory studies to disseminate their advice to the gullible minions to take ivermectin oﬀ-label, even if doing so may endanger lives’.
On August 30, Newsweek reported that an US hospital had refused to administer FLCCC member FredWagshul’s prescription for a patient, after which a judge had ordered the hospital to administer it . The next day, a regional US newspaper interviewed Wagshul who attributed the lack of adoption of ivermectinto ‘propaganda, money and big pharma’ .
On August 30, a report by German news agency said that ivermectin trials have been of a low quality and that Cochrane Deutschland and the University of W¨urzburg considered ivermectin ineﬃcacious .
On August 30, a video interview of Fernando Valerio describes Honduras’ treatment protocols in detail .
On August 31, a preprint by Omrani et al. presented a systematic review and meta-analysis of eﬀectiveness of ivermectin/doxycycline combination, concluding that based on low-quality evidence, the combination was accompanied with a shorter time of clinical recovery but did not signiﬁcantly reduce all-cause mortality, viral clearance, and hospital stay .
On August 31, Pfeiﬀer described patients’ experiences in US hospitals .
On August 31, Kory of the FLCCC accused the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) of being the main agent in the ‘war against ivermectin’ due to not having given a recommendation for ivermectin . Healso stated the FDA was only ‘running interference for [NIH] by telling jokes and lies’.
On August 31, a Swedish newspaper G¨oteborgs-Posten wrote about veterinary ivermectin use in the US .
On August 31, a preprint describing a randomized controlled trial of community-level surgical mask promotion in rural Bangladesh with 111,525 individuals in the intervention arm and 155,268 individuals in the control arm indicated 14% relative reduction in COVID-19-like symptoms, with absolute reductions of 7.5%vs 8.6%. Divided by age groups, diﬀerences were not statistically signiﬁcant in people under 50. In people between 50-60 years there was a reduction of 23%, and in people over 60 a reduction of 35%, respectively.
The impact of the intervention faded after ﬁve months .
On September 1, ABC News wrote that due to lack of evidence and increase in reports related to ivermectin toxicity, the American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists had called for an ‘immediate end’ to prescribing, dispensing or using the deworming drug ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19 .
On September 1, Washington Post wrote that people using ivermectin for prophylaxis had been shocked about having ended up being hospitalized for COVID-19 . The story mentioned the rise in prescriptions and FDA’s tweet and warned about overdoses. Numerous interviewees advised against ivermectin, with the most critical comparing it to ‘snake oil’. Overall, a part of the population preferring ivermectin and vitamin cocktails over vaccines was seen to indicate ‘a broader problem: a public health crisis made worse by many people’s distrust of medical authorities while they rely on often faulty information from some ofthe country’s most inﬂuential people, which is ampliﬁed through social media’. Ivermectin was said to have gained particular traction in conservative circles. Wagshul of the FLCCC was quoted saying that ivermectin was more eﬀective than vaccines against variants given waning immunity. A researcher working on an ongoingclinical trial on ivermectin in the US ([225,226]) commented that ‘there’s either people that believe it totally is a cure-all and works or that it is highly dangerous . . . and the reality is, neither extreme is true’.
On September 1, a letter by Keehner et al. in the New England Journal of Medicine reported about a dramatic decline in vaccine eﬀectiveness from June to July in a highly vaccinated health system workforce in California, likely due to the emergence of the delta variant, waning of immunity over time, and the end of masking requirements in California .
On September 1, KFOR News published a news story in which a rural Oklahoma doctor, Jason McElyea,claimed that local emergency rooms were so backed up with patients having overdosed ivermectin that gunshot victims had hard time getting to the facilities . In addition, ivermectin overdose patients were completely clogging ambulance services: McElyea was quoted saying that ‘all of their ambulances are stuck at the hospital waiting for a bed to open so they can take the patient in and they don’t have any, that’s it. . . if there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s no ambulance to come to the call’.
On September 1, 2021 the subreddit r/ivermectin was ‘quarantined’ by the Reddit platform but that did notstop the ﬂood of oﬀensive posts. Alternative forums were created but they seemed to fail to capture largeaudiences (e.g. ). Another subreddit, r/IVMScience appeared to have stalled after August 23, 2021,with the moderator’s account deleted.
On September 1, podcaster Joe Rogan, with 11.1 million followers on YouTube, 13.2 million followers on Instagram and a USD 100 million contract to publish his podcast exclusively on Spotify, revealed on Instagram that he had got COVID-19 and had been treated with monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, azithromycin, prednisone, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide drip and a vitamin drip for three days in a row . Rogan’s statement was widely taken up by news media [231,232,233]. On July 1, 2021, in the context of an unrelated controversy, a journalist at the New York Times had called Rogan ‘too big to cancel . . . one of the most consumed media products on the planet – with the power to shape tastes, politics, medical decisions’ .
On September 1, a letter to the editor by Bryant et al. commented on the recent report in the Guardian discussing the eﬀect of the removal of the Elgazzar et al. trial on the meta-analysis by Bryant at al. .
The authors stated that ‘while quantitative measures of eﬀect do of course change on removal of any study,the overall ﬁndings of a signiﬁcant mortality advantage in ivermectin treatment, and in prophylaxis, remain robust to removal of the disputed data. The claim that conclusions are “entirely reversed” cannot be sustained on the evidence’ .
On September 1, Due˜nas-Gonz´alez et al. discussed repurposing of ivermectin as a novel anticancer .
On September 2, Newsweek published a version of McElyea’s story, saying people taking the horse de-wormer medication were ﬁlling up the area’s emergency rooms . The report mentioned FDA’s ‘stern warnings’against ivermectin, the unavailability of ambulances, and gunshot victims’ diﬃculties.
On September 2, Rolling Stone wrote about how Joe Rogan ‘became a cheerleader for ivermectin . . . no one has been more successful at promoting ivermectin than Rogan’ .
On September 2, a major Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat republished a news article written by Finnish News Agency (STT) about an US podcast host Joe Rogan treating his COVID-19 infection with a ‘dewormer intended for horses’ warned against by ‘medical oﬃcials’ . The article described that after his diagnosis Rogan begun taking ‘all kinds of potions’ including ivermectin, which, according to Washington Post and the Guardian, was used as a dewormer for horses. However, ‘some representatives of conservative media’had ‘advertised the controversial dewormer’. In addition to mentioning the negative stance of the European
Medicine Agency (EMA), the article also cited FDA’s tweet saying: ‘You are not a horse. You are not a cow.
Seriously, y’all. Stop it’. According to the article, calls about ivermectin exposure to poison control centers in the US jumped to ﬁve times over normal levels in July 2021. Rogan was also described having spread ‘lies’about COVID-19 and being against vaccines. The leading infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci was said to have criticized Rogan’s earlier statements. Up to the 1990s, STT, founded in 1887, was often consideredt he ‘oﬃcial’ national news source. Helsingin Sanomat, the most widely distributed newspaper in Finland,essentially holds a monopoly in the metropolitan area. The article was also republished by the most widely distributed yellow press media Ilta-Sanomat belonging to the same concern as Helsingin Sanomat . In addition, the story was posted in some regional newspapers , essentially reaching the whole population of the country.
On September 2, a competing Finnish yellow press newspaper wrote about Rogan’s use of dewormer, saying that it had no proven eﬃcacy and it could be dangerous, even deadly . Rogan was said to regularly ‘ﬂirt with misinformation’. The article also described FDA warnings and retraction of the Elgazzar et al. trial.
On September 2, citing insuﬃcient evidence of eﬃcacy, leading health experts in Sri Lanka urged people to stop using ivermectin for COVID-19; however, a local trial was ongoing .
On September 2, Marik and Kory published a reanalysis of the data of their earlier meta-analysis ,saying that the summary point estimates were largely unaﬀected when the study by Elgazzar et al. was removed .
On September 2, a letter to the editor by Neil et al. said that their Bayesian analysis provided suﬃcientconﬁdence that ivermectin was an eﬀective treatment for COVID-19, also after the exclusion of Elgazzar et al. study .
On September 2, a Cochrane review concluded that the authors were uncertain whether the investigational monoclonal antibody sotrovimab had an eﬀect on mortality (RR 0.33, 95% CI 0.01-8.18) and invasive mechanical ventilation requirement or death (RR 0.14, 95% CI 0.01-2.76). Treatment with sotrovimab was said to possibly reduce the need for oxygenation (RR 0.11, 95 % CI 0.02-0.45), hospital admission or death by day 30 (RR 0.14, 95% CI 0.04-0.48) .
On September 2, an article by Alves et al. in the BMJ about poorly designed studies contributing to misinformation in Brazil said that ’much like a poorly written sequel to a blockbuster, the ivermectin narrative appears to be a subsidiary of the rationale that gave the world the HCQ pseudo-solution to COVID-19: cheap, readily available answer to the biggest sanitary crisis of our time’ . The authors argued that public communication of science (i.e. news reporting) should be evidence based: any interaction between scientists and press should aim at summarizing and contextualizing the most important ﬁndings of an article for the general public, preserving context and limitations of the research, promoting transparency,integrity and scientiﬁc literacy. Also, research ﬁndings should be published without delay and include full datasets. Otherwise, the authors said, public communication may be only fueling polarization and an eventual implementation of harmful, ineﬃcient or wasteful public health policies.
On September 2, an article by Chaudhry et al. presented a systematic review about the role of ivermectin in hospitalized patients .
On September 2, a report in BuzzFeed news questioned the validity of two prophylaxis trials by Carvallo etal. in Argentina . The report claimed that the reported numbers, genders and ages of trial participants had slight inconsistencies. Carvallo was said to have declined to share the raw data even to his coauthors, the timeline and ethical approvals of the trials were unclear, as well as who had performed the statistical analyses.
It was also unclear which hospitals had been involved and in which ways. Carvallo denied accusations of fraud.
On September 3, an article by Okogbenin et al. described a retrospective study in Nigeria, with 300 patients treated with ivermectin, zinc, vitamin C and azithromycin, reporting zero mortality .
On September 3, a rapid response by Bryant et al. to Popp et al.  stated that their Bryant et al. metaanalysis was a non-commissioned research paper that strictly followed PRISMA systematic review guidelines,and that Popp et al. itself contained several misleading items, including using death instead of infection for the prophylaxis outcome, specifying outcome measures not found in the included trials but ignoring the outcome measures found in the trials, subsequently stating that they found ‘no data’ . The authors concluded that in a pandemic context, the beneﬁts of ivermectin almost certainly outweighed any risks.
On September 3, a blog post by Meyerowitz-Katz discussed the study by Carvallo et al. , pointing outissues that indicated possible fraud, yet noted that the study was not a randomized controlled trial and thus
not included in most meta-analyses or given the same credence, and it did not change recommendations foroﬃcial medical organizations. However, Meyerowitz-Katz added, ’it perhaps had an even bigger impact onpeople actually taking ivermectin than previously fraudulent research. This paper showed a 100% beneﬁt,it was enormously popular on social media, and it was given a huge amount of credence by promoters ofivermectin for nearly a year. It is not a stretch to say that this one study has perhaps caused hundreds ofthousands or even millions of people to take ivermectin as a prophylactic drug to prevent COVID-19’ .
On September 3, South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) repeated its warnings against the use of ivermectin, saying its stance was aligned to that of US FDA .
On September 3, Yahoo News published a version of McElyea’s story, mentioning that he was an emergency room physician aﬃliated with multiple hospitals in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, and that the situation was so dire that even people with gunshot wounds have to wait their turn to get treatment . McElyea added that people were suﬀering real ramiﬁcations from taking a dosage meant for a full-sized horse, including ‘scary’instances of vision loss, nausea, and vomiting.
On September 3, Rolling Stone magazine published a version of McElyea’s story .
On September 4, the Guardian published a version of McElyea’s story .
On September 4, BBC published a version of McElyea’s story .
On September 4, the administration of Northeastern Health Systems (NHS) Sequoyah posted a statement saying that although McElyea was not an employee of NHS Sequoyah, he was aﬃliated with a medical staﬃng group that provided coverage for the emergency room at Sallisaw but he had not worked there in over two months [259,260]. The administration clariﬁed that NHS Sequoyah had not treated any patients due to complications related to taking ivermectin, including not treating any patients for ivermectin overdose. They added that all patients who had visited the emergency room had received medical attention as appropriate,and the hospital had not needed to turn away any patients seeking emergency care.
On September 4, KXMX interviewed a hospital administrator of NHS Sequoyah who stated that the hospital being overloaded by ivermectin patients was ‘simply not the case in Sallisaw .. . we have not seen or had anypatients in our ER or hospital with ivermectin overdose . . . we have not had any patients with complaints or issues related to ivermectin . . . we are not overrun with patients with ivermectin related issues’ .
The administrator added that McElyea had treated patients in the Sallisaw emergency room but not in the past several months, and added that she wanted the public to know that McElyea did not speak for NHSSequoyah.
On September 4, NPR wrote that poison control centers are ﬁelding a surge of ivermectin overdose calls [262,263].
On September 4, Reuters published a fact-check article saying that ‘outrage has spread online that Afghan refugees entering the United States will receive the drug ivermectin although it does not have U.S. approval as a COVID-19 treatment. However, the posts miss the vital context that refugees are given ivermectin for infections unrelated to the novel coronavirus . . . ivermectin is administered as a presumptive treatment forintestinal parasite’ . The ‘outrage’ was said to have been caused by ivermectin being administered to refugees but being largely unavailable for US citizens willing to use it for COVID-19.
On September 4, an article by Associated Press published in Indian Express said that eﬀorts to stamp out use of parasite drug ivermectin for COVID-19 in US were growing . It said that ivermectin was being‘promoted by Republican lawmakers, conservative talk show hosts and some doctors, ampliﬁed via social media to millions of Americans who remain resistant to getting vaccinated’, with the American Medical Association, two US pharmacist groups, FDA, CDC and WHO advising against it.
On September 5, the Guardian added an amendment to the end of their article, quoting parts of the statementby NHS Sequoyah, saying that the hospital had not treated any patients related to taking ivermectin,including overdose .
On September 5, a ‘fact check’ by Shore News Network called the McElyea story ‘completely false’, mentioning that the publishers had not issued retractions, saying that ‘the left continues to push a media narrativethat conservatives and Republicans are creating an ivermectin health crisis’ .
On September 6, a preprint by Buonfrate et al. described randomized controlled trial in Italy with results indicating statistically insigniﬁcant dose dependent viral load reduction (NCT04438850) . The authors said that ivermectin remained safe with dosing regimes of 0.6 mg/kg and 1.2 mg/kg for ﬁve days. The study was terminated early due to lack of eligible patients.
On September 6, a blog post by an US doctor working on new models for mental health care called theMcElyea story ‘too good to check’, saying that ’the media has tried to spread the word that the scientiﬁc consensus [about ivermectin for COVID-19] remains skeptical. In the process, they may have gone a littleoverboard and portrayed it as the world’s deadliest toxin that will deﬁnitely kill you and it will all somehow be Donald Trump’s fault’ [269,270].
On September 6, a report by News On 6 said ‘a false report has Oklahoma trending nationally . . . the doctor at the center of the story told News 9 he was misquoted, and the story was wrong’. McElyea clariﬁedthat ‘as the story ran, it sounded like all of Oklahoma hospitals were ﬁlled with people who have overdosed on ivermectin and that’s not the case, . . . the cases we are seeing, people who are overdosing on ivermectin,they are taking full strength cattle doses and coming in and that is something that could be avoided’.
The report mentioned another hospital in the area, Integris Grove, having stated that they had seen ‘a handful of ivermectin patients in their emergency rooms . . . while our hospitals are not ﬁlled with people who have taken ivermectin, such patients are adding to the congestion already caused by COVID-19 and other emergencies’. The report concluded with a mention that the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information had received 12 ivermectin-related calls last month .
On September 6, Soave analyzed the media reporting, saying that the media fell for a viral hoax about ivermectin overdoses straining rural hospitals . He commented that McElyea clearly stated that ivermectin overdoses were a problem and claimed that some hospitals were dealing with strain in general but he neveractually connected these two issues. Instead, the KFOR’s journalist had added that framing; she had notresponded to a request for comment. If other media outlets had called the doctor or the hospitals they would have easily uncovered the error. Soave added that while the mainstream media had vigorously condemned COVID-19 misinformation in social media, readers could also encounter it in mainstream media such as Rolling Stone, New York Times or Associated Press (AP) which had recently reported that 70 percent of calls to Mississippi’s poison hotline were from people who had taken ivermectin while the actual ﬁgure was 2 percent  (AP was a member of the Trusted News Initiative (TNI) ).
On September 6, another judge reversed the earlier decision concerning administration of ivermectin prescribed by Wagshul to a patient in a US hospital, saying there ‘was no doubt that the medical and scientiﬁc communities do not support the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19’ . The judge addedt hat ‘COVID-19 has ravaged the world. However, the rule of law must be followed once the court system is involved. The law in its purest form shall have neither hatred nor sympathy to anyone or anything. It shall stand unwavering in its truth, justice, and fairness to call’ . A spokesperson for the hospital described the ruling as ‘positive in regards to the respect for science and the expertise of medical professionals’, adding that they implore the community ‘to do what we know works: wear a mask, become fully vaccinated and use social distancing whenever possible’. She added that the hospital appreciated scientiﬁc rigor and did not believe they should be ordered to administer medications ’against medical advice’.
On September 6, a German magazine for pharmacists reported about American Pharmacists Association’s recent demand to stop oﬀ-label ivermectin prescribing . The article mentioned the ongoing PRINCIPLEtrial by University of Oxford.
On September 7, Fox News reported that McElyea was an employee of an agency that staﬀs emergencydepartments . The report also mentioned that while NHS Sequoyah had stated they had not treatedany ivermectin patients, Integris Grove Hospital, had seen a handful’. Integris added that ‘there is a lotof media attention surrounding remarks reportedly made by Dr. McElyea. While we do not speak on hisbehalf, he has publicly said his comments were misconstrued and taken out of context’.
On September 7, a CNN reporter Daniel Dale tweeted about McElyea case, saying local media had misrepresented the interview of McElyea, national and international media had failed to do due diligence, and readers and critics had jumped to conclusions. He concluded that ‘lots of people involved here – certainly the local outlet/the big aggregating outlets/the prominent tweeters on the left, but also some critics on the right – could’ve done a better job pursuing facts/waiting for facts before coming to conclusions’ . CNN published a ‘fact-check’ report with similar content .
On September 7, an Austrian newspaper wrote that the misconception that horse dewormer ivermectin wouldhelp against COVID-19 is widespread internationally and also in Austria . The article mentioned thatno poisonings had been reported in Austria, and that Czech Republic had adopted ivermectin in hospitals.
A toxicologist commented that ivermectin was still dangerous and there was insuﬃcient data on the safety of chronic consumption.
On September 7, the title of a January 2021 article in a German women’s magazine, originally asking whether ivermectin might be useful, was updated to ‘People are not horses’ .
On September 7, a Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet wrote that instead of being vaccinated Americans are taking ivermectin as the latest alternative treatment for COVID-19, the only problem being that it was intended for treating parasites in horses and cows .
On September 7, Joe Rogan complained that CNN had reported that he had been taking ‘horse dewormer’;Rogan stated that ‘I literally got it from a doctor’ .
On September 7, wealthy Chinese exile Guo Wengui was said to be using his online misinformation network to promote the use of unproven treatments for COVID-19 .
On September 8, an article by Cruciani et al. presented a systematic review and meta-analysis of ivermectin for prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19 . Based on an analysis of eleven RCTs, the authors concluded that there was limited evidence for the beneﬁt of ivermectin.
On September 8, a letter published in the Guardian by Hill, the main author of one of the meta-analyses about ivermectin , said that after his team had questioned the clinical beneﬁts of ivermectin the team and his family had received daily death threats. As social media platforms had not reacted he had stopped using social media but abuse by email had continued. Hill described the situation as shocking, aﬀecting many scientists, and said that scientists must be protected from anti-vaxxer abuse, possibly by police action .
On September 8, Wired magazine wrote about Together trial results, quoting the head researcher saying that ivermectin proponents had ignored their ﬂuvoxamine ﬁndings, only being interested in ivermectin,‘feeling strongly’ about it but not about other possible options . The article also mentioned US NIH’s ongoing ACTIV-6 ivermectin trial, into which people could sign up at home. A co-chair of the trial’s steering committee said that there was no data on ivermectin’s beneﬁt but since people were using it, the point of their trial was to get a deﬁnitive answer.
On September 8, the Guardian worried about some Australian clinics’ oﬀ-label prescribing of ‘unapproved’ivermectin . The president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) said that while RACGP did not consider its role to be looking over the shoulders of every GP, the advice from the health experts to not use ivermectin was ‘100% clear’. However, she added, ‘the status of other drugs, suchas sotrovimab, is very diﬀerent. That is an example of a new drug for the treatment of Covid-19 that haspassed through the rigorous testing safety procedures of the Therapeutic Goods Administration’.
On September 9, Geert Vanden Bossche summarized the negative eﬀects of mass vaccination as follows: itwill, ﬁrst, eventually drive dominant propagation of super variants that are highly infectious and increasinglyresist vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies; second, erode innate immune defense in the non-vaccinated(due to high infectious pressure exerted by enhanced circulation of more infectious variants); and third,erode naturally acquired immunity (due to increasing viral resistance to neutralizing spike protein speciﬁcantibodies). Of these, the second and third consequences together prevent herd immunity from being established.
Yet the solution, according to Bossche, would be induction of herd immunity by starting from scratch against the more infectious variants. This could be achieved by providing multidrug early treatment for the infected which would result in enhanced rates of recovery from disease and rise in the number of people who develop life-long protective immunity. Also, mass antiviral treatment with any drug that would eﬀectively reduce viral infectious pressure would be required to prevent innate antibodies in previously asymptotically infected individuals from being suppressed by short-lived, spike protein speciﬁc antibodies and thus enable the healthy, unvaccinated part of the population to deal with all SARS-CoV-2 variants; these massantiviral campaigns might need to include pets and live-stock and be combined with lockdown rules foras long as titers of these short-lived antibodies were measurable (6-8 weeks).
Boscche said that a larger unvaccinated population would circulate also less infectious variants, attenuating circulation of more infectious variants. However, the above methods would still be unlikely to suﬃciently reduce transmission among healthy individuals; therefore ultimately an immune intervention able to prevent infection in all susceptible age groups would be required, and as long as such an intervention, likely based on natural killer cell based vaccines, would not be available, repeated antiviral chemoprophylaxis might be necessary. However, as along term strategy the chemoprophylaxis would not be feasible, as overuse could promote viral resistance to the compound.
About his personal intentions Bossche wrote that ‘one can always do more, write morearticles, bring more scientiﬁc evidence to the table, do more interviews and podcasts, reply to more questionsand destroy more of the nonsense divulgated by scientiﬁcally incompetent experts or illiterate fact-checkers.
However, I’ve decided to not continue along this path as I knew from the very start that this big alliance of stakeholders would not listen and as the primary purpose of my endeavors has always been to share, as broadly as possible, my scientiﬁc insights on why this [mass vaccination] experiment is an incredible blunder, so that none the involved experts, key opinion leaders, public health authorities or peers from industry could ever pretend that this was unknown and simply unpredictable’ .
He said that he had a history of going against ‘groupthink’, for example speaking against the results of Gavi The Vaccine Alliance’s phase III Ebola vaccine trials conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and published in a peer-reviewed journal. Bossche said the results falsely concluded that the vaccine had 100% eﬃcacy, whereas according to Bossche’s analysis ‘the truth looked extremely diﬀerent’ . He added that to him it seemed that ‘many of our experts and scientists, even including a substantial number of renowned professors, are so stuck within their small silos that they have simply lost touch with reality’.
On September 9, Hill responded to a tweet by the BIRD group which had said that according to Hill, the conclusions of the meta-analysis by Hill et al. remain clearly in favor of ivermectin even after exclusion ofElgazzar et al. trial [292,293]. Hill stated: ‘Misleading information from the BIRD group. In our analysis there is no signiﬁcant survival beneﬁt for ivermectin in randomized trials after exclusion of apparently fraudulent and biased studies’ . Later on the same days he responded with ‘more misleading information from the BIRD group misquoting our research’ to another tweet by the BIRD group which had said that‘Hill’s work also shows that ivermectin not only reduces the risk of death, it clears the virus from the bloodstream faster than controls, thus ivermectin reduces the time that an infected person can transmit the virus’ .
On September 9, Joe Rogan discussed the ‘horse dewormer’ narrative, referring to regulatory capture in theUS .
On September 10, a news report in the BMJ discussed US court rulings and ivermectin prescriptions .
On September 10, the BIRD group announced that their meta-analysis by Bryant et al.  had reached a position in the top ten of 18.9 million articles tracked by Altmetric [297,298].
On September 10, Hill tweeted that the ‘survival beneﬁt of ivermectin disappears when only trials at low risk of bias are analyzed. The reported survival eﬀects are entirely driven by studies at high risk of bias or medical fraud’ . An accompanying graph indicated slightly over 50% beneﬁt (p=0.01) with Elgazzar et al. study included, slightly under 40% beneﬁt (p=0.05) without it but including studies with a high risk for bias, and approximately 4% beneﬁt (p=0.90) with only low risk studies included.
On September 10, a blog article discussing failed communication attempts between ivermectin skeptics and proponents commented that ‘what you are witnessing is just the most absurd example of a decades-long war on re-purposed (aka “non-proﬁtable”) medicines’ [300,301,302].
On September 10, Hindustan Times wrote about a clinical trial (RIVET-COV) with 157 patients with mild to moderate disease carried out by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) which indicated that ivermectin did not reduce the viral load or duration of symptoms . Mohan said that ‘all the ivermectin being prescribed or being taken by people left, right, and centre will deﬁnitely not show any eﬀect’; therefore ivermectin should not be used outside clinical trials, although he added that their trial did not investigate possible eﬀect on mortality.
On September 11, TrialSite News wrote about US NIH’s refusal to release information on who had been involved in its decision to recommend neither for nor against ivermectin . However, US CDC had released the names of the members of the working group . According to TrialSite News, three of the nine members, Adimora, Bedimo and Glidden, had disclosed a ﬁnancial relationship with Merck & Co/MSD.
Another member, Naggie, had later received USD 155 million funding for US NIH’s ACTIV-6 trial which included ivermectin, ﬂuvoxamine and ﬂuticasone (NCT04885530) .
On September 11, TrialSite News wrote that Australia’s Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA) had formally placed a national prohibition on oﬀ-label prescribing of ivermectin to all general practitioners,citing interruption of vaccination as a factor in the decision .
On September 12, a three-day International Covid Summit started in Rome [308,309], with presentationsin the Roman Senate held also in Italian and Spanish and translated into sign language. Lecturers included Roberta Ferrero, Francesca Donato, Albert Bagnai, Luigi Icardi, Ivan Vilibor Sincic, Joseph Tritto, Robert Malone, Mauro Rango, Christof Plothe, David Anderson, Ira Bernstein, Fabio Burigana, Steven Hatﬁll,Roberto Accinelli, Tess Lawrie, Oswaldo Castaneda, Rosanna Chifari, Antonietta Gatti, Andrea Stramezzi, Peter Mccullough, George Fareed, Pierre Kory, Roberta Lacerda, Carlos Maggi, Bruce Patterson, DilipPawar, Victor Villa, Mattia Perroni and Francesco Matozza. In addition, the summit featured groups of researchers and clinicians from Italy, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, Mali, Spain, UK, France, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Canada and US. Several treatment protocols including McCullough et al’s sequenced multidrug protocol  and FLCCC’s MATH+protocol were discussed.
On September 13, a Dominican Republic newspaper described details of an early 2020 ivermectin trial by Morgenstern et al. [311,312].
On September 13, a story in Rolling Stone ridiculed ‘anti-vaxxers’ for using povidone iodine mouthwash to prevent COVID-19 . An interviewed gynecologist/obstetrician commented that ‘we use it before surgery to clean the vagina’ and that ‘it could result in iodine poisoning if taken orally’. Another physician who appeared unable to give statements without including profanities in his sentences commented that ‘drinking iodine’ had caused a patient a transient kidney failure and that povidone iodine deﬁnitely could not reducethe eﬀects of COVID-19 or prevent its transmission. An ’Australian family physician’ stated that ‘there have been no human studies on the use of Betadine to treat COVID-19, just hypotheses and lab studies’.
On September 13, the Guardian wrote about ‘ivermectin frenzy’ being ‘a cottage industry of advocacy groups, anti-vaccine activists and telehealth companies’ despite stances of FDA, NIH and some US medical and pharmaceutical associations . It noted that FLCCC had signed open letters in favor of ivermectin which had also been signed by ‘anti-vaxx’ organizations. Telehealth sites were said to have connections to a conservative doctor group America’s Frontline Doctors in favor of hydroxychloroquine treatments and whose opinions had been quoted by ‘Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr and numerous QAnon conspiracists’.
On September 13, Mother Jones magazine wrote that people associated with Q-Anon had harassed a hospital where a Q-Anon member had been hospitalized with hundreds of calls and emails, in order to get ivermectin administered to her .
On September 14, in a Cochrane Collaboration author interview, Stephanie Weibel and Maria Popp described their ivermectin meta-analysis . The authors said that because of a lack of good-quality evidence, it was unknown whether ivermectin reduces or increases mortality, caused adverse eﬀects, improved or worsened patients’ condition, or increased or decreased viral load, led to more or fewer negative COVID-19 tests 7days after treatment. Likewise, they could not say whether ivermectin prevented COVID-19 infection or reduced the number of deaths after high-risk exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
On September 14, Menichella wrote about Peter McCullough’s inﬂuence in Italy and about a protocol developed in Italy by a group led by Giuseppe Remuzzi . The Remuzzi protocol was mainly based on relatively selective COX-2 inhibitors . In a retrospective observational matched-cohort study with 90outpatients and 90 controls with mild disease the proportions of patients who required hospitalization were2% vs 14% (p=0.01); cumulative days of hospitalization were 44 vs 481 days, and costs of hospitalization were EUR 28,000 vs EUR 296,000, respectively. Menichella wrote that the standard of care resulted in approximately 2% mortality; with a ’serious home treatment protocol’ mortality could be lowered to 0.05%.
On September 15, an article by Talwar et al. described a case of a successful management of ivermectinpoisoning . A 6-year-old girl weighing 20.5 kg had accidentally consumed 600 mg of ivermectin (29.3mg/kg). Mechanical ventilation, ceftriaxone, clindamycin, intravenous midazolam, phenytoin and supportivemeasures were utilized. The girl was discharged after nine days of hospitalization.
On September 15, a news report in Willamette Week discussed US biologist Bret Weinstein’s role in the ivermectin controversy, including his inﬂuence on Joe Rogan .
On September 15, a letter to the editor by Boretti discussed quercetin, suggesting that quercetin might help to lower inﬂammation, as well as reduce the toxic eﬀects of COVID-19 vaccines and the chances of being infected . Quercetin had been included in the FLCCC protocols since early 2020.
On September 15, Fenton et al. discussed unreliability of current vaccine studies .
On September 16, Cheng et al. presented a meta-analysis about eﬃcacy and safety of various medications for treating severe and non-severe COVID-19 patients .
On September 16, Malhotra discussed Indian Bar Association’s legal notice to WHO .
On September 16, an Australian medical newspaper wrote that a secretive organization called the COVID19 Antiviral Advisory Group had said it had been instructing 200 doctors to prescribe ivermectin and was planning on going public against TGA’s ivermectin ban .
On September 17, an article by Singh et al. suggested a positive correlation between European populations’zinc suﬃciency status and COVID-19 mortality. The authors noted that the observed association was contrary to what would be expected if zinc suﬃciency was protective in COVID-19, suggesting that controlled trials or retrospective analyses of the adverse event patients’ data should be undertaken to correctly guidethe practice of zinc supplementation in COVID-19 .
On September 17, an article by Gurung et al. described an in silico study which indicated that ivermectin demonstrated moderate binding to human serum albumin .
On September 17, a preprint by Karale et al. presented an updated systematic review and meta-analysis of mortality, need for ICU admission, use of mechanical ventilation, adverse eﬀects and other clinical outcomes
. 52 studies (n=17,561) were included in a qualitative analysis and 44 of those (n=14,019) were included in the meta-analysis. A mortality meta-analysis indicated lower odds of death (OR 0.54, 95% CI 0.34-0.86,p=0.009, 29 studies). As adjuvant therapy, the odds of viral clearance were higher (OR 3.52, 95%CI 1.816.86, p=0.0002, 22 studies), the duration to achieve viral clearance was shorter (p=0.02, 8 studies), andthe need for hospitalization was reduced (OR 0.34, p=0.008, 6 studies). The authors concluded that themortality beneﬁt of ivermectin in COVID-19 is uncertain but as an adjuvant therapy ivermectin may improve viral clearance and reduce the need for hospitalization.
On September 17, a news report by Piper in Vox magazine questioned the validity of studies by Carvallo etal. [329,330], saying that experts on scientiﬁc fraud didn’t believe Carvallo conducted his study as described:the data appeared fabricated, key data was missing, study registration and published results didn’t match with each other, Carvallo could not explain these issues, and the hospital in which the study was said to have been conducted stated that it had not been conducted there, to which Carvallo replied that it had been but without the hospital administration knowing . In another context, Lawrie of the BIRD group had been asked what evidence would persuade her that ivermectin didn’t work, to which she had replied thatthere could be nothing that would persuade her. Mills involved in the Together trial commented that themost culpable parties weren’t those who had believed in the apparently fraudulent studies but those whohad conducted, published, and boosted them.
On September 17, Business Insider wrote about FLCCC’s Kory and Marik, calling them ’fringe doctors whipping up false hope that could have deadly consequences’ . According to Business Insider, Kory was’a once respected doctor whose hospital rejected his unsupported treatment ideas’ while Marik was ’a doctor who ostracized himself from mainstream medicine after his high-proﬁle sepsis treatment was a dud’, adding that ’Marik’s failed sepsis protocol later became the backbone of the FLCCC’s ﬁrst iterations of COVID-19treatment’ (the MATH+ inpatient protocol) . Recently they had been ’sucked (willingly or not) into the embrace of the anti-vaccine far right .. . ivermectin is now a darling drug of QAnon’. A former FLCCCmember, Eric Osgood, had left the group in summer 2021. The editor in chief of Science Communication said that FLCCC’s communication style was objectionable but added that the existence of ’rogue opinions’was a necessary condition for scientiﬁc breakthroughs. However not everyone had the skills to assess claimsnor understood how science worked, which had led to ’a conﬂict between our commitment to freedom of speech and a clash with the nature of scientiﬁc truth and people’s right to say anything they want . . . the hype machine they’ve created is out of control’.
On September 17, Seheult on MedCram reviewed ivermectin, with comments from cell biologist Rhonda Patrick . Seheult stressed the importance of taking all treatment options into account; Patrick said ivermectin had seemed to consistently reduce viral load but the hype around ivermectin was pushing researchers away from the subject.
On September 20, an Indian news agency reported that 31 of 75 districts of the state of Uttar Pradesh inIndia were COVID-19 free . In total, the state reported 17 new cases in the last 24 hours out of 182,742samples tested.
On September 20, the Guardian worried about horses being deprived of a deworming agent .
On September 21, Brazil’s president Bolsonaro stated that Brazil had supported clinicians’ early treatment measures since the beginning of the pandemic, adding that he could not understand why some countries opposed early treatment measures .
On September 21, Ars Technica discussed the validity of Covid Analysis group’s ivmmeta.com meta-analysis.
On September 22, a letter to the editor by Lawrence et al. in Nature Medicine concluded that metaanalyses based on summary data alone were inherently unreliable . The authors stated that most,if not all, of the ﬂaws in recent ivermectin meta-analyses would have been immediately detected if metaanalyses were performed on an individual patient data (IPD) basis. They recommended that meta-analysts who study interventions for COVID-19 should request and personally review IPD in all cases, even if IPDsynthesis techniques were not used. They also recommended that all clinical trials published on COVID-19should immediately follow best-practice guidelines and upload anonymized IPD. They authors said that their proposal was a change to a nearly universally accepted practice over many decades and substantially more rigorous than current standards; regardless, the proposed change was imperative.
On September 22, in a FLCCC weekly update, Marik announced an upcoming publication of an article on the pathophysiology of COVID-19 .
On September 22, a video by John Campbell described the contents of ivermectin kits used in state of Goain India . The kits in Goa contained pulse oximeter, a thermometer, paracetamol, vitamin C and D,multivitamin tablets containing zinc, ivermectin (10 x 12 mg), doxycycline (10 x 100 mg), and personal protective equipment. The cost of one kit was USD 2.65. The kits used in Uttar Pradesh contained ivermectin, doxycycline, vitamins B, C and D, zinc, paracetamol, thermometer and a pulse oximeter. Outpatients weremonitored by phone twice a day. Campbell said that the intervention had actually been organized under a WHO monitoring program. A WHO report described that since May 5, 2021, 141,610 government teams were moving across 97,941 villages in 75 districts over ﬁve days in Uttar Pradesh, a state with a population of 230 million . WHO ﬁeld oﬃcers monitored over 2,000 government teams and visited at least 10,000 households. WHO also said it was to support the Uttar Pradesh government on the compilation of the ﬁnal reports; these reports had not yet been published.
On September 23, a preprint by Mayer et al. described an intervention program of high-dose ivermectin in COVID-19 carried out by the Ministry of Health of the Province of La Pampa, Argentina . Within ﬁve days of symptoms onset, 0.6 mg/kg/day of ivermectin for ﬁve days was administered. Active pharmacosurveillance was performed for 21 days, with hepatic laboratory assessments performed in a subset of patients. From 21,232 subjects with COVID-19, 3,266 were oﬀered and agreed to participate in the ivermectin program. 17,966 did not participate and were considered as controls. A total of 567 participantsreported 819 adverse events; 3.13% discontinued ivermectin due to adverse events. Mortality was lower in the ivermectin group in the full group analysis (1.5% vs 2.1%, OR 0.720, p=0.029), as well as in subjects over 40year-old (2.7% vs 4.1%, OR 0,655, p=0.005). ICU admission was signiﬁcantly lower in the ivermectin groupcompared to controls among participants over 40 year-old (1.2% vs 2.0%, OR 0.608, p=0.024). According to Covid Analysis group , in a full group analysis the unadjusted risk of death was 27.6% lower (RR 0.72,p=0.03) and unadjusted risk of ICU admission was 26.0% lower (RR 0.74, p=0.13).
On September 23, several groups of clinicians in favor of early treatments announced a new organization,World Council for Health, an umbrella organization with over 45 aﬃliated organizations . The council released a home treatment guide with a combination protocol consisting of vitamins C and D, zinc, quercetin, melatonin, ivermectin, mouthwash, ibuprofen, N-acetylcysteine, antihistamines, aspirin, and others .
The protocol was one of the ﬁrst ones to tentatively include iodine (Lugol’s solution).
On September 23, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) dropped ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine from clinical guidelines for the management of adult COVID-19 patients [347,348,349,350].
On September 23, a fact-checking website discussed social media posts claiming that ’ivermectin apparently sterilizes the majority (85%) of men that take it’ and a news report claiming that ’ivermectin causes sterilization in 85 percent of men, study ﬁnds’ [351,352].
On September 24, the Guardian wrote about misinformation spreading globally .
On September 24, the Guardian wrote about fraudulent ivermectin studies .
On September 24, Mashable interviewed ex-FLCCC member Osgood who said that he had initially joined the FLCCC because they were ’forward thinking doctors who were able to get ahead of the profession’ on a few hospital treatments (e.g. the use of anticoagulants) but he had left the organization because of his view that FLCCC insisted on promoting ivermectin over vaccines . He referred to povidone iodine prophylaxis of COVID-19 as misinformation.
On September 26, an article by Marik et al. presented a scoping review of the pathophysiology of COVID-19. The article described severe COVID-19 as one of the most complex of medical conditions known to medical science, noting that an overarching and comprehensive understanding of its pathogenesis, a requirement for the formulation of eﬀective prophylactic and treatment strategies, was still lacking. Threebasic pathologic processes were identiﬁed: a pulmonary macrophage activation syndrome with uncontrolled inﬂammation, a complement-mediated endothelialitis together with a procoagulant state with a thromboticmicroangiopathy, and platelet activation with the release of serotonin and the activation and degranulation of mast cells contributing to the hyper-inﬂammatory state (quercetin had been a part of FLCCC protocols sinceMarch 2020; in one study, it was found more eﬀective than cromolyn in blocking mast cell cytokine release). The article also mentioned the C-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CCR5) pathway which interacts with chemokine ligand 5 (CCL5 or RANTES).
On September 26, in a discussion with Robert Malone, Geert Vanden Bossche stated that the proper way would have been to vaccinate vulnerable groups only, and mentioned ivermectin chemoprophylaxis as a possible solution .
On September 26, the New York Times interviewed the acting head of the New Mexico (US) state health department who claimed that ivermectin ’had contributed to’ deaths of two hospitalized patients who had previously self-medicated with ivermectin ’instead of proven treatments like monoclonal antibodies’ .
On September 27, in a discussion with Anmol Ambani and Peter A. McCullough, Marik presented the contents of the new article in a video lecture .
On September 27, 5,200 doctors had signed a Global Covid Summit related ’Rome declaration’ .
On September 27, an article by Deng et al. presented a systematic review and meta-analysis about the eﬃcacy and safety of ivermectin . Based on an analysis of three observational studies and 14 RCTs representingvery low to moderate quality of evidence, the authors concluded that ivermectin was not eﬃcacious atmanaging COVID-19.
On September 28, an article by Barkati et al. concluded that corticosteroid therapy was an important risk factor for Strongyloides hyperinfection but there were challenges associated with the performance, availability and quality of Strongyloides tests. The authors concluded that presumptive use of ivermectin was reasonablein selected situations .
On September 28, an article by Zhang et al. presented a Bayesian network meta-analysis of 222 randomized controlled trials with 102,950 patients, suggesting that imatinib, intravenous immunoglobulin andtocilizumab led to lower risk of death; baricitinib plus remdesivir, colchicine, dexamethasone, recombinanthuman granulocyte colony stimulating factor and tocilizumab indicated lower occurrence of mechanical ventilation; tofacitinib, sarilumab, remdesivir, tocilizumab and baricitinib plus remdesivir increased the hospital discharge rate; convalescent plasma, ivermectin, ivermectin plus doxycycline, hydroxychloroquine, nitazoxanide and proxalutamide resulted in better viral clearance . On a treatment class level, the analysis found that the use of antineoplastic agents was associated with fewer mortality cases, immunostimulants could reduce the risk of mechanical ventilation and immunosuppressants led to higher discharge rates.
On September 28, the New York Times wrote that Facebooks groups promoting ivermectin continued to ﬂourish .
On September 28, a rapid review by Cardwell et al. about pharmacological interventions to prevent COVID19 mentioned ivermectin prophylaxis trials .
On September 29, a preprint by Budhiraja et at. described secondary infections in hospitalized patients inNorth India, mentioning that 43.5% of the patients had been administered ivermectin .
On September 29, referring to FLCCC, BIRD and America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS), Scientiﬁc Americanwrote about fringe doctors’ groups promoting ivermectin for COVID despite a lack of evidence .
On September 29, Chemistry World wrote that ivermectin debacle had exposed ﬂaws in meta-analysis methodology . The report stated that ’the people who’ve done these meta-analyses haven’t stuﬀed up. . . they haven’t deviated from accepted standards or made big mistakes . . . instead, there is a fundamentalﬂaw in the approach’.
On September 29, the Hill, the largest independent political news site in the US, wrote that ivermectin disinformation had led to new kinds of chaos .
On September 30, a preprint by Schaﬀer et al. describing changes in dispensing of medicines proposed for re-purposing in the ﬁrst year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia noted that there had a small but sustained increase in ivermectin dispensing between March 2020 and November 2020 .
On September 30, an introduction to Popp et al.’s Cochrane review by Jordan said that at this stage there were very few completed well conducted studies about either prevention or treatment but 31 trials were underway .
On a closer look it appeared that the quality of some early ivermectin trials had been lower than assumed.
As individual patient data had not been generally available, most parties including various groups publishing meta-analyses had implicitly trusted the summary data and ignored slight inconsistencies. The current best practice guidelines did not require analysis of individual patient data. The proposal that meta-analyses should be performed on individual patient data appeared justiﬁed. An additional, likely necessary change to methodology would be adoption of the do-search method, assumedly the most general tool currently available for causal eﬀect identiﬁcation, and as such an improvement over Bayesian methods [179,373].
In 2014, Every-Palmer et al. noted that little ‘high quality’ (according to evidence-based medicine standards)empirical evidence existed that EBM should beneﬁt the population, i.e. evidence about EBM’s superiority in improving patient outcomes . In 2018, Anjum claimed that EBM relied on a ﬂawed positivist methodology . Recently, Martini claimed that the concept of evidence was insuﬃciently deﬁned .
A fundamental error appeared to be the insistence on trialing single agents instead of combination protocols.
All of the currently utilized early treatment protocols were combination protocols and it was unlikely that the same results could have been obtained with a single agent. Thus, combination protocol trials would have been more likely to produce statistically signiﬁcant eﬀects. The insistence on large trials, instead of eliminating biases, possibly introduced them. For example, a lack of funding for repurposing may have introduced a severe funding-related bias.
It appeared that prolonged stress and continuing unpredictability of the situation had overwhelmed many,occasionally leading to actions whose consequences were perhaps badly thought out. The situation seemedto amplify preexisting tendencies and weaknesses within groups, leading to group-speciﬁc biases, formationof subcultures, or variants of ’groupthink’ . Groups suspecting the pharmaceutical industry, authoritiesand ’the mainstream’ seemed to amplify these tendencies in-group, whereas groups suspecting anything’fringe’ but favoring mechanistic thinking and overreliance on speciﬁc methods or paradigms seemed toamplify these tendencies. Groups with a tendency to act out in panic or anger exhibited that behavior,while groups with a tendency to retreat into fearful inaction and silence did that. The central role of trustwas highlighted, yet trust seemed practically nonexistent.
Also strengths were exhibited, most prominently the capability of forming groups and alliances. However,these groups tended to become tribal in their nature, and the result resembled tribal warfare, a practice that the humanity should already have transcended. It seemed as if everyone was trying to take care of others in their own ways but these ways were incompatible with each other; someone once deﬁned conﬂicts as ’failed attempts to love’.
It also seemed that journalists and the public had an idealized image of science and were trying to ﬁnd solace in it as in a religion, with some scientists maybe trying to maintain these illusions. One commentator noted that ’society was not ready to watch science in real time’ . Another added that ’science was not prepared to display itself to the public in real time’, while a third said that ’society was not ready to watch science in any other way either’.
In the news media, emotionally manipulative tactics seemed common. A prime example of arrogance and lack of due diligence was the case of Rolling Stone ridiculing povidone iodine use , claiming that there had been no human trials about it on COVID-19, despite the fact that there had been several, with promising results [10,378,379,380,381] (for observational studies, see e.g. [382,383]; for an updating list, see ).
Ways of reasoning appeared incompatible for example in the case of the Guardian’s critique of the BIRD group aﬃliating with organizations labeled as anti-vaccine for the purposes of promoting early treatment.
In the view of the BIRD group founder, vaccinations were unrelated to early treatments and, subsequently,the vaccination stances of the aﬃliates irrelevant. While technically correct, this view predictably appeared confusing.
In a similar manner it could be noted that, for example, the possible usefulness and validity of FLCCC’s protocols was unrelated to FLCCC members’ extra-medical opinions, and that ivermectin was only one component of the synergistic protocols consisting of more than ten components. Also, some news reports severely misrepresented the sepsis protocol . With regard to the social media communications of the FLCCC, it may have made a mistake in leaving these communications largely to a couple of ex-journalists whose communication style appeared unsuitable already in the ﬁrst half of 2020.
With regard to conﬂicts of interest, the members of US National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) ivermectinworking group had disclosed several relationships to pharmaceutical companies working on COVID-19 treatments . As mentioned, three of the nine members of the working group  had disclosed relationshipswith Merck & Co/MSD which, during the pandemic, had issued a statement against the use of ivermectinin COVID-19 , was working on a competing product molnupiravir [387,388,389], and had receivedsigniﬁcant US government funding for development of investigational pharmaceuticals for COVID-19 .
Adimora had received research support from Gilead Sciences and was a consultant and a member of an advisory board of Merck & Co/MSD; Bedimo was a member of advisory boards of Gilead Sciences, Merck &Co/MSD and ViiV Healthcare (a subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline); Glidden was a consultant to Gilead Sciences and a member of an advisory board of Merck & Co/MSD . A fourth member, Pavia, was a consultant to GlaxoSmithKline. A ﬁfth member, Naggie, the head of US NIH’s ACTIV-6 trial (NCT04885530) had received research support from AbbVie and Gilead Sciences, had a connection to Bristol Myers SquibbCompany, and was a stockholder and an advisory board member of Vir Biotechnology, the producer ofsotrovimab together with GlaxoSmithKline . In summary, more than half of the members of the working group were associated with producers of molnupiravir, sotrovimab, remdesivir (Gilead Sciences),lopinavir/ritonavir (AbbVie), and investigational monoclonal antibodies (Bristol Myers Squibb Company).
However, NIH had speciﬁcally intended to involve the industry in its decision-making processes through the ACTIV public-private partnership . Whereas this organizational structure likely appeared beneﬁcialfrom the point of view of a swift development of investigational pharmaceuticals, with regard to repurposingit appeared to have included conﬂicts of interest by design.
For the pharmaceutical industry, incentives for unethical behavior may currently overpower those for ethical behavior. The current setting appeared designed for gambling , hardly the best method for optimizing public health, and it was diﬃcult to see why societies considered it appropriate.
The event descriptions did not delve into details of the experiences of Honduras and the Dominican Republic; readers are encouraged to acquaintance themselves with the original sources [217,106,107,311,312].
These countries used relatively little clinical trial evidence to implement their protocols. Similarly, no RCT evidence on FLCCC protocols exists, yet they have been successfully used. These parties seemed to embrace uncertainty instead of requiring an unattainable level of certainty; high-income countries were probably less accustomed to radical uncertainty than developing countries.
Cameron described critical care archetypes on a two-axis model, with the ﬁrst axis comparing interventionism(early, aggressive treatment) versus minimalism (’wait and see’) preferences, and the second axis measuring individualism versus collectivism . In this model, the FLCCC appeared high on interventionism and individualism. The ’mainstream’, for example the World Health Organization and national authorities, appeared high on minimalism and collectivism.
During the whole pandemic (and before it), little to no attention was paid to the optimization of innate immunity. If the immune system is dysfunctional or in a suboptimal state, attempts at medicating symptoms including symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection are unlikely to be very eﬀective, and the same likely applies to vaccines. While the role of zinc was acknowledged to some degree, the roles of, for example, copper, selenium and iodine were still mostly ignored. Conventionally, a long-term zinc supplementation without simultaneous copper supplementation is considered a risk for development of copper deﬁciency which would compromise immune function and host defence ; FLCCC recently lowered the dose of zinc supplementation. Astudy on European populations found a positive correlation between zinc suﬃciency status and COVID-19mortality and incidence, contrary to what would be expected if zinc suﬃciency was protective in COVID-19; however, the result might also indicate lack of zinc ionophores.
In addition to the methodological issues there were other types of challenges to overcome. Considering that the nature of communication between parties involved in the ivermectin controversy was predominantly ofa rather violent nature, a method for improving communications would be needed. A suitable method forthe purpose may be the rather well known but rarely applied ’non-violent communication’ (NVC) method developed by Marshall Rosenberg [395,396]. The method presupposes a willingness to a certain degree ofvulnerability in order to express one’s real needs and feelings, and a willingness to actually listen to others without judging.
The method consists of two parts: expressing oneself, and empathically acknowledging others. NVC deﬁnes empathy as ’a process of connecting with another by guessing their feelings and needs’ . Friesem describes the expressing part as a sequence of four steps: making observations (not evaluations) without blaming or criticizing, connecting feelings (bodily sensations instead of thoughts) to these observations, expressing the needs/values (not preferences) that caused the feelings, and making requests (concrete actions instead of vague wishes) without demanding . The listening part consists of the same steps but the expressions use the pronoun ’you’ instead of ’I’. The four components are thus expressed as ’when I/you see/hear. . . ’(observation), ’I/you feel. . . ’ (feeling), ’. . . because I/you need/value. . . ’ (need), and ’would you be willing to/would you like. . . ’ (request).
The content must be as free from interpretations as possible, instead expressed in a neutral ’observation anguage’. Feelings, which are functions of the states of satisfaction of various needs, must be identiﬁed, named, connected with, and expressed without interpretation. Needs must be distinguished from strategies(strategies include objects and parameters while needs do not). Requests are aimed at assessing how likelyone is to get cooperation for particular strategies for meeting one’s needs; requests should be concrete and speciﬁc. Pandemic-speciﬁc examples are left as an exercise for the reader. With regard to therapeutics research, it might be worth a try to organize a conference whose participants would be required to ﬁnd at least one detail they could agree on and then build on that foundation.
Considering that the communications at times appeared hopelessly dysfunctional, more potent methods are likely also needed. To a large extent, the damage associated with the pandemic was not caused by the virus itself but by a preexisting societal conditioning to ﬁxed beliefs and subconscious biases which eventually led to disorganized and dissociative behavior. This ’inﬂexible disorganization’ subsequently created a massive amount of additional anxiety, burnout and depression.
Psychedelic therapy, currently maybe the second most trendy research subject after COVID-19 itself, wouldlend itself well for resolving these issues [399,400,401,402,403,404]. Psychedelics are likely the most eﬀectivefacilitator of inspection of subconscious biases and ﬁxed beliefs, and as such a valuable tool especially forscientists. Smaller doses may be preferable; this practice is called psycholytic therapy. It diﬀers from the so-called ’microdosing’ in that doses are typically approximately a half or a third of a regular dose, and the eﬀects of the substance are clearly perceived but diﬀerent from those of high-dose psychedelic therapy.
Subconscious biases could be said to be a type of dissociative phenomena, in which a trigger related to a previous experience of overwhelming trauma triggers a slight dissociation, or a ’defence mechanism’. The mechanism of action of psychedelics in this case, in short, is to enable a person to relive the traumatic experience in order to neutralize the trigger. This must be done in an environment which provides thenecessary support so that the experience would not be experienced as overwhelming once again, as that would constitute a retraumatizing experience. Although various psychedelics produce slightly diﬀerent eﬀects, all of them would be useful for this kind of work. This includes also substances not always considered psychedelics,namely MDMA which is often called an ’empathogen’, and ketamine, often called a ’dissociative’.
Thus, an available pharmacological method would be oﬀ-label ketamine [405,406,407]. A trial by Federet al. compared treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder with either midazolam or ketamine (n=30)(NCT02397889) [408,409,410]. The mean score on the clinician-administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5(CAPS-5) was reduced from 40.1 to 33.2 in the midazolam group, and from 41.9 to 22.5 in the ketaminegroup. A similar reduction was observed for depressive symptoms.
A recent example of conﬂict resolution through altered states of consciousness, with promising results, was an attempt to alleviate the Israeli-Palestinian conﬂict by organizing ayahuasca group ceremonies .
The essence of psychedelic therapy, however, are not the molecules but the ’states of consciousness’, or states of mind, or emotional states, reached with the help of the molecules; change, progress or ’healing’ happens in or through these states. The same states may also be reached by other methods, although psychedelics provide a shortcut in situations in which there is a lack of time, skill or resources; the cost-eﬀectiveness of psychedelic therapy is typically superior to other methods.
Non-pharmaceutical methods capable of inducing altered states include holotropic breathwork developed by Stanislav and Christina Grof . Holotropic breathwork consists of continuous forceful circular breathing,combined with some bodywork and other techniques for guidance. The breathing technique leads to changes in oxygenation and typically to altered states of consciousness with the potential of resolving embodied traumatic experiences or opening new perspectives to overcome ﬁxed beliefs. Grof developed the method as an alternative to LSD therapy sessions and has described the states and results as similar. A gentler approach from Buddhist traditions, also applicable to trauma therapy, is the Ch¨od method based on visualization[413,414].
The Wim Hof method is applicable for innate immune system enhancement . In 2014, Kox et al.proved that sympathetic nervous system and immune system can be voluntarily inﬂuenced, and that itis possible to attenuate the innate immune response in humans [416,417]. Healthy volunteers practicing speciﬁc breathwork (hyperventilation), meditation and cold exposure techniques exhibited profound increases in the release of epinephrine, which in turn led to increased production of anti-inﬂammatory mediators and subsequent dampening of the proinﬂammatory cytokine response elicited by intravenous administration ofbacterial endotoxin. The Wim Hof method has numerous advantages: it is free, available to everyone,unlikely to produce adverse eﬀects, and unconnected to health care systems and clinicians.
Similarly to SARS-CoV-2 virus emerging as a possibly inexhaustible source of ever more infectious variants,the issue of COVID-19 treatments emerged as a possibly inexhaustible source of increasingly complex epistemological challenges. Current best practices of clinical trial result meta-analysis were found to be unsound;methodological changes were proposed. More broadly, the whole approach based on sole reliance on single agent clinical trials that no-one really wanted to fund appeared fundamentally unsound. The pandemic also revealed various severe problems with mindsets and subconscious biases; methods to overcome these issues were also proposed. The impression of the ivermectin controversy as a whole was that what is ideally understood by science will remain out of reach if scientists are riddled with subconscious biases, methodologies are fundamentally unsound, commercial interests dominate, and the behavior more closely resembles tribal warfare than a silent meditation retreat.
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Independent researcher, Helsinki, Finland. ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8575-9838
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Since COVID-19 emerged in Canada in March 2020, what physicians, scientists, public health
officials and citizens have understood about the virus and how to address it has changed drastically. The continually evolving information overload is understandably confusing and overwhelming, and the conflicts between information can be difficult to validate.
The following considerations may help you to more clearly consider these challenges:
|Public Perceptions||Evidence-Based Considerations|
|COVID-19 poses a serious threat to public health.||Risk varies with age and comorbidities. Children, adolescents and young adults have a very low risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19.|
|There is no available, effective, approved treatment for COVID-19.||There are known safe drug protocols that are effective in COVID-19 treatment and prevention.|
|Because healthy people are considered to transmit the virus, restrictions (including social distancing and lockdowns) are the best way to reduce transmission of COVID-19.||Numerous studies have found that healthy people do not significantly contribute to transmission of the virus. Research has shown that the majority of people who have recovered from COVID-19 have developed immunity and do not transmit the virus. Targeted early treatment and empowering people to build healthy, meaningful, socially connected lives is essential to personal well being and public health.|
|COVID-19 vaccines are necessary, safe, and effective (“the benefits outweigh the risks”), and the fastest and only way to get back to, and perpetually maintain normal life.||The methods used to justify rapid COVID-19 vaccine development and rollout do not adequately measure necessity, safety, and efficacy. There have been an unprecedented number of deaths and serious, lifealtering adverse reactions occurring shortly after COVID-19 vaccination. Contrary to initial scientific assumption, the lipid nanoparticles in the COVID-19 vaccines do not stay at the injection site but travel throughout the body, cross the blood-brain barrier, and have been shown to accumulate in sensitive tissues including bone marrow and ovaries. Much remains unknown about the extremely serious short and long term adverse effects and dangers of the COVID-19 vaccines. These risks need to be independently investigated immediately and resolved before continuing with mass vaccination.|
|All COVID-19 vaccines are fully approved.||COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for use “under interim order” and are therefore investigational. The current experimental phases are not due to be completed until 2023 or 2024.|
|“The Science” is settled; anything contrary to the official narrative is not science.||“The Science” is not settled; competing evidence about COVID-19 is growing from many highly-credentialed sources and challenges the official narrative. Compelling scientific evidence is being ignored or censored. In valuing principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion, we need to encourage multiple ways of knowing, and develop public health protocols that are evidence informed and responsive to the overall health and well being of our individuals and communities.|
Dialogue over these issues is difficult, divisive, and threatens to tear us apart. As we navigate this rapidly evolving situation, we believe some ethical and legal principles should remain constant in a free and democratic society:
- First and foremost, the right and responsibility of adults to make their own decisions about their health and to be accorded respect for questioning mandates that have farreaching social implications
- Free, voluntary and “informed consent”
- Human rights and responsibilities
- Fiduciary duties for all governing authorities and adherence to professional and institutional ethical codes of conduct
- Evidence, matters of conscience, and precaution as fundamental to medical decisionmaking
- Honest and open inquiry
As caring and responsible individuals, it is crucial that we remain open to listening to each other, continuing to ask questions, and recognizing that we are all doing the best we can to keep those we love safe. This is especially true regarding concerns about scientific and medical issues which have a huge impact on the health and welfare of our population. Our COVID-19 resources are offered as learning tools. Feel free to use the information, forms and FAQs as resources with which to engage your government, representatives, health care providers, family and friends.
The three monkeys at the Toshogu Shinto temple. They illustrate the precept of a Chinese sage: "Say nothing wrong, see nothing wrong, hear nothing wrong. They could also illustrate Western cowardice: "Say nothing of the Truth, see nothing of the Truth, hear nothing of the Truth.”
The celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 give rise to two absolutely contradictory narratives, depending on whether one refers to the written and audio-visual press or to the digital press. For some, Al Qaeda declared war on the West by plotting a high-profile crime, while for others the same crime masked a domestic coup d’état in the US.
Any debate is impossible between the supporters of these two versions. Not because both sides refuse it, but because the supporters of the official version -and only they- refuse it. They consider their opponents as "conspiracy theorists", that is to say, in their mind, at best fools, at worst evil people, accomplices -willing or not- of terrorists.
From now on, this disagreement applies to any major political event. And the worldview of the two camps keeps distancing itself from each other.
How could such a fracture between fellow citizens occur in societies that aspire to democracy? Especially since, not this fracture, but the reaction to this fracture makes any democracy impossible.
The continuous news channels privilege the speed of the retransmission of an event. They do not have the time to contextualize it and even less to analyze it; functions which are the proper of journalism. The viewer becomes a voyeur of things he does not understand.
A certain conception of journalism
We are assured today that the role of journalists is to report faithfully what they have seen. Yet when we are interviewed by a local media outlet about a story we know about and see how they have handled it, we are often disappointed. We feel that we have not been understood. Some of us lament that we have come across the wrong journalist and retain our trust in the mainstream media. Others feel that while a little distortion is possible on small issues, a lot more must be done on more complex ones.
In 1989, a crowd attending one of his speeches heard the Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu, accuse the fascists of having invented the Timișoara massacre attributed to his regime’s torturers. Revulsed by this denial, the crowd revolted, chanting "Ti-mi-șoa-ra! Ti-mi-șoa-ra!" and overthrew him. The local television station in Atlanta (USA), CNN, broadcast live the few days of this revolution. It thus became the first live news channel and turned into an international channel. However, we know today that this massacre never existed. It was only a staged event using corpses taken from a morgue. It was later learned that a propaganda unit of the US Army had an office adjacent to the CNN newsroom.
The Timișoara manipulation only worked because it was live. Viewers had no time to check or even think. Professionally, no journalist ever drew any conclusions from the event. On the contrary, CNN became the model for the live news channels that have sprung up everywhere.
During the Kosovo war, in 1999, I was producing a daily bulletin summarizing the information from NATO and the regional news agencies (Austria, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Albania, etc.) to which I had subscribed . From the beginning, what Nato was telling us in Brussels was not confirmed by the regional agencies. On the contrary, they described a completely different conflict. It was strange to see that the regional journalists, from all countries except Albania, formed a block, writing texts that were compatible with each other, but not with those of NATO. Week after week, the two versions were moving away from each other.
I n response to this situation, NATO put Jamie Shea in charge of its communications. He told a new story every day from the battlefield. The international press soon had eyes only for him. His story became the media story and the regional news agencies were no longer covered except by me. In my mind, both sides were lying and the truth had to be somewhere in between.
When the war was over, humanitarians, diplomats and UN soldiers rushed to Kosovo. To their surprise - and mine - they found that the local journalists had accurately reported the truth. Jamie Shea’s words had been nothing but war propaganda. They had been the only "reliable" source for the international media for three months.
Western journalists who went to Kosovo also found that they had trusted people who had lied to them with aplomb. Yet few of them changed their tune. And even fewer managed to convince their editors that NATO had deceived them. The narrative imposed by the Atlantic Alliance had become the Truth that the history books would repeat despite the facts.
We accept to be deceived when we think the Truth is too hard to admit.
Ancient Greece and the Modern West
In ancient Greece, plays caused strong emotions in the audience. Some feared that the gods would drag them into dark destinies. So gradually the chorus, which narrated the story, also began to explain that one must not be fooled by what one saw, but to understand that it was only a staged show.
This distancing from appearances, which is paralyzed by the myth of live information, is called in psychology the "symbolic function". Small children are incapable of this, they take everything seriously. However, at the "age of reason", at 7 years old, we can all make the difference between what is true and what is only a representation.
Reason here is opposed to rationality. To be rational is to believe only in things that are proven. To be reasonable is not to believe in impossible things. This is a very big difference. Because we don’t find the Truth with beliefs, but with facts.
When we see airplanes hitting the World Trade Center in New York and people jumping out of windows to escape the fire, we are all very moved. When the Towers collapse, we are ready to weep. But that should not stop us from thinking [(#nb2 "On the political significance of the September 11 attacks, read: "20th (...)")].
We can always be told that 19 hijackers hijacked four airplanes, but since these people were not on the airline’s lists of passengers on board, they could not hijack these planes.
One can always tell us that the fuel from the two burning planes slipped onto the pillars of the buildings and melted them, which would explain why the Twin Towers collapsed, but not on themselves, and not the collapse of the third tower. For a building to collapse, not on one side, but on itself, you have to blow up its foundations, then blow it up from top to bottom to destroy the floors on themselves.
One can always tell us that panic-stricken passengers phoned their relatives before dying, but since the telephone companies have no record of these calls, they did not exist.
One can always tell us that a Boeing destroyed the Pentagon, but it could not have entered through a porte cochere without damaging the doorframe.
The testimonies contradict each other. But only some are contradicted by the facts.
We accept to be deceived when we think the Truth is too hard to admit.
Why we accept to be deceived
There remains a big problem: why do we accept to be deceived? Usually because the Truth is harder for us to accept than the lie.
For example, when for years the son of the president of the National Political Science Foundation denounced the rapes he was subjected to by the president, everyone pitied the poor delusional boy and praised his father for enduring his madness without saying a word. When the victim’s sister published a book of testimonies, everyone realized who was telling the truth. The president was forced to resign. The rapist owes his escape from justice only to his status: former European deputy, president of the emblematic institution of the entire French political-media class and president of the Siècle, the most exclusive private club in France.
Why do we believe that Al Qaeda is responsible for the 9/11 attacks? Because the Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, came before the United Nations Security Council and swore it. It doesn’t matter that he lied years earlier when he validated the story of the incubators stolen from Kuwait by the Iraqis and the babies left to die. Or that he lied later about President Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. He is a Secretary of State and we must believe him.
On the contrary, if we question his word, we should not only ask why we invaded Afghanistan, then Iraq, and so on. But also and above all why he lied.
The irremovable Anthony Fauci has managed every major epidemic in the US. He does not work as a doctor, but as a senior civil servant. He does not care about the Hippocratic oath. He has not hesitated to embezzle public money to sponsor illegal and dangerous research in a distant country. Or to promote the compulsory confinement of healthy people.
The reaction to Covid-19: another 9/11
The enigma of 9/11 is not a question of the past. Our understanding of the last twenty years depends on how it is answered. As long as we do not have contradictory debates between the two versions, we will reproduce this fracture on all global issues.
We are currently experiencing another catastrophe, the Covid-19 pandemic. We have all seen a large laboratory, Gilead Science, bribe the editors of the medical journal The Lancet to denigrate a drug, hydroxychloroquine. Gilead Science is the company formerly headed by the 9/11 Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. It is also the company that produces a drug against Covid-19, Remdesivir. In any case, no one dared to look for drugs to treat Covid anymore. Everyone turned to the hope of vaccines.
Donald Rumsfeld had instructed his staff to develop protocols in case of a bioterrorist attack on US military bases abroad. Then he asked one of them, Dr. Richard Hachett, who was a member of the US National Security Council, to extend this protocol to an attack on the US civilian population. It was this man who proposed the compulsory confinement of healthy populations, provoking an outcry from American doctors, led by Professor Donald Henderson of John Hopkins University . For them, Rumsfeld, Hatchett and their advisor, the senior civil servant Anthony Fauci, were enemies of the Hippocratic oath and of humanity.
When the Covid-19 epidemic occurred, Dr. Richard Hatchett had become the director of CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations); an association created at the Davos Forum and funded by Bill Gates. It was Hatchett who first used the expression "We are at war", which was taken up by his friend President Emmanuel Macron. It was he who advised confining healthy populations as he had imagined 15 years earlier in the "war on terror." Anthony Fauci, on the other hand, was still at his post. He had embezzled federal money to finance illegal research in the United States. The research was conducted for him at the Chinese laboratory in Wuhan.
Normally, the medical professions would have risen up again against the compulsory confinement of healthy people. This did not happen. They overwhelmingly considered that the situation required violating the Hippocratic oath.
Today, the Western countries that followed Dr. Hatchett’s advice and believed Gilead Science’s lies have a terrifying record of this pandemic. The United States has 26 times more deaths per million people than China. And its economy is devastated.
This would deserve some debate and explanation, but no. We prefer to see our societies fractured again between supporters of Anthony Fauci or Professor Didier Raoult.
Instead of talking to each other, of confronting our arguments, we organize false debates between the supporters of the dominant doxa and those of the most grotesque opinions possible.
It is useless to aspire to live in a democracy, if we refuse to really discuss the most important subjects.
This is — without a doubt — the best articulation as to the ethical problem posed by mandatory vaccines or vaccine passports.
Dr. Julie Ponesse explains the dilemma in a persuasive manner.
Watch the whole 4 minute video, split across 3 segments in this thread
Pandemic Brooding: Can the Permaculture movement survive the first severe test of the energy descent future? - Holmgren Design
As the pandemic rolled into its second year, I became concerned that the psychosocial fallout of the pandemic, and especially the response at the global and local levels, could represent an existential threat to permaculture and kindred movements. At one level, this threat is the same as that to families, workplaces, networks and organisations more generally, where a sense of urgency to implement the official response, especially lockdowns and mass vaccination, is producing a huge gulf between an ever more certain majority and a smaller minority questioning or challenging the official response.
My aim in this essay is to focus on the critical importance of using all our physical, emotional and intellectual resources towards maintaining connections across what could be a widening gulf of frustration and distrust within our movement, reflecting society at large. I want to explore how permaculture ethics and design principles can help us empathetically bridge that gulf without needing to censor our truth or simply avoid the issues.
While the pandemic and the responses to it will pass in time, I believe the future will be characterised by similar issues that test our ability to tolerate uncertainty and diversity and to thus exercise solidarity within kin, collegiate and network communities of practise.
International Permaculture Day May 2013 Daylesford Community Garden
Future Scenarios and the Brown Tech future
The positive grounded thinking that characterises permaculture has always been informed by a dark view of the state of the world and long-term emerging threats. Future Scenarios is my 2008 exploration of four near-future ‘energy descent’ scenarios driven by the variable rates of oil and resource depletion on the one hand and rate of onset of serious climate change on the other. Six years later, I wrote the essay ‘Crash on Demand: Welcome to the Brown Tech Future’ where I ‘called’ Brown Tech as being the already emergent scenario.
In the longer version of this ‘Pandemic brooding’ essay, I review and reinterpret this work in light of the pandemic and responses to it.
Anyone involved in permaculture knows that permies can come to quite different conclusions about what is the most ethical and practical solution to the same problem. For example faced with marauding wildlife, some will go to considerable expense (and resource consumption) building elaborate fences, anti-aviaries and other deterrents to separate wildlife from food. Others will treat the wildlife as another abundance of the system to be harvested. Various permaculture principles, as well as the fundamental ethic of Care of Earth, might be invoked to support both approaches.
Likewise, many permies believe taxation is essential to redistribute resources from places of abundance to those of scarcity and as an expression of solidarity essential to any functioning, let alone ethical, society. Others see almost all the expenditure by governments of tax revenues as representing rape of Mother Earth’s abundance and theft from Indigenous peoples, and further as either downright evil or at best a bandaid covering festering wounds. An ethical response is to minimise taxpaying (by reducing income and consumption). Again, design principles and ethics can be invoked to support either position.
From my perspective, grappling with the ethical and systemic issue is more important than the notion that there might be a correct answer, and therefore a wrong answer, to the challenge. In the past, there have been heated debates, and agreements to disagree, but rarely would participants in permaculture design courses, convergences or networks see the answers of others as reasons to reject permaculture. Many celebrate personal actions as small-scale experiments with their good, bad and interesting outcomes informing other experiments, especially the next generation’s, as we muddle through energy descent to hopefully more benign, or at least less-bad, futures.
Pandemic flavoured Brown Tech
I believe the pandemic and the responses to it represent a major turning point in crystalising the Brown Tech future. It ticks so many boxes:
- a nature-driven crisis which has been long predicted, and to some extent, planned for
- rolling uncertainty that progressively breaks down past expectations
- a crisis which, like a war, requires the suspension of normal economic activity, personal rights and governance processes
- a demand for strong action by government for the common good informed by science
- a revival of Keynesian policies including a massive increase in government debt
- an enemy (the virus) that can be easily demonised without there being too many defenders to ignore or silence
- strong censorship of broadcast media and novel efforts to censor social media to sideline debate that could undermine the rapidly emergent and evolving program.
If the crisis is not solved, then demonisation progressively shifts to those resisting the plan.
This situation is creating the fork in the road where some permies will find themselves (perhaps surprisingly) following the program, while others will have become certain that they will at least quietly resist complying to some degree or other, right up to a radicalised public resistance, whether that be through resigning from work, street protest or satirical art.
We can learn and gain, individually and collectively, from these increasingly divergent paths – but the learnings could be painful. Let’s consider the benefits that might have led permies down one or another path, perhaps unwittingly, to increasingly polarised positions.
The mainstream plan
Although there are differences of emphasis and policies around the government responses to the pandemic, these debates are around the margins, even if they are at times heated. Most fundamentally, the mainstream plan, informed by the scientific and medical establishment, takes the following as self-evident:
- The virus is an existential threat to society that must be contained and disarmed if not eliminated before an establishment of some hoped-for, tolerable new normal.
- Social distancing, disinfectant cleaning, testing, contact tracing, masks and various levels of quarantine, border controls and lockdowns are the only mechanisms available to prevent collapse of the health system and deaths escalating to horrific levels in the short term.
- Novel vaccine technology is the only real hope for a tolerable new normal.
- To achieve effective herd immunity and minimise death, some great majority of the adult population and probably children need to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
- The adverse effects of these provisionally approved vaccines are minor and/or rare and much less than the risk of the disease.
- Preventative and early treatments are at best of marginal value, or more likely based on false hope and fraud.
- The suspension of normal civil liberties is a necessary, albeit temporary, measure to achieve the plan in a timely fashion and reduce the suffering both from the virus and the plan itself.
- People who actively resist the plan need stronger social, economic and, where necessary, legal sanctions to ensure their actions don’t prevent the plan from working for the common good.
- Apart from debate around the margins about how best to respond to these givens, debate and questioning at the level of science, logistics, economics, law, politics, media and social media is not just unnecessary, but an existential threat to the plan and society at large, so must be prevented by unprecedented means.
- It is the responsibility of every citizen to play a part in the plan, be bold in convincing those who are hesitant, and challenging those not following the plan, especially those actively resisting it.
Permies following the plan are likely to see themselves as being part of a society-wide collective effort to minimise pain and suffering in the aged, the disadvantaged and those in poor health; a choice in favour of collective and longer-term gain at the cost of individual and short-term sacrifice. For many of us, this is a perfect metaphor for what is needed to address the climate emergency. By accepting what appears to be a broad consensus of global, national and local medical and scientific experts, we avoid the protracted debate and lack of a technical consensus that has stymied governments in initiating strong action to address the climate emergency.
For permies in despair about the waste and dysfunction of the consumer economy, the closure, albeit temporary, of many discretionary services and businesses is a taste for how we might need to decide what is important; maximum consumer choice for the affluent versus the provision of basic needs for all. The personal sacrifice and adaptation to difficulties, including stay-at-home lockdown, have been opportunities to focus more on the important things in life and get a taste of what social solidarity feels like.
Reports of contrarian views seem to mostly come from sources contaminated by association with climate denial and other views we categorically reject. The resisters’ outrage looks to many like just more selfish, science denying and ignorant right-wing rednecks, trying to prevent collective wisdom and social solidarity from working. Familiar powerful bad players in global corporations or nation states have been replaced by much more immediate angry undesirables, who without much power or vision, could wreck the hard work of the collective to create a workable new normal.
The dissident view
It is more difficult to generalise about those who question or reject the program. A great diversity of views, explanations, feelings and actions flourish in an environment of unprecedented censorship. While there is great sensitivity about the term ‘censorship’, let alone ‘propaganda’ by those supporting the plan, for those on the other side, it is astonishing how rapidly the axe has fallen on enquiry, and debate, in the mainstream media, social media, workplaces and families, let alone in defence of what – until very recently – most of us took as our inalienable rights.
For many permies, the pandemic seems another example of hyped threat like the ‘war on weeds’, ‘war on drugs’, ‘war on terror’ used to manipulate the population to comply with some version of disaster capitalist1Disaster capitalism feeds off natural (climate change) and other disasters to provide recovery and reconstruction services funded by the public that typically benefit the corporate providers and contribute to ongoing dependencies. The term was used by Naomi Klein to describe the evolution of late stage capitalism over recent decades. solutions. Most sceptics acknowledge the virus as real, but not as dangerous as the cure in lockdowns and other draconian measures. The ‘war on the virus’ seems just as futile or misguided as all the other wars on nature, substances and concepts. So much for trying to have nuanced discussions about viruses as an essential and largely symbiotic mechanism for the exchange of genetic material and mediation of evolution!
While the closure and loss of cafés, gyms and hairdressers might not be a great loss, except to those directly affected, many of us have noticed that the official response to the pandemic tends to follow a pattern of support and strengthening of dominant corporations while leading to the weakening and likely collapse of small business and community self-organised activities.
During the first lockdown, ‘stay at home in your household’ was celebrated as a great plus for people getting the RetroSuburbia message. More recently, the messaging about the problem of shared and multi-generation households being suspect has been building, especially in the working-class western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne where many of essential and less well paid workers live. We have shifted from a joke about ‘which permie created the pandemic?’ to a gritted teeth recognition that the response to the pandemic is working to vacuum people into another level of dependence on techno-industrial systems.
Many permies have taken advantage of the shift online to network more effectively around the country and the world, but we are deeply troubled by our increasing dependence on mediated experiences and what seems like draconian regulation of informal engagement with people and nature. The concerns for what this is doing to children are far more serious than the loss of the regulated version of social interaction that children get at school.
For many of us, it is completely natural to be sceptical about one big fast answer provided by the giants of the pharma industry, while they have been granted legal immunity for the consequences of their novel products. Many have made the rational assessment that the very low risks of the virus (for most of us at least) seem better than the unknown of a novel technology approved and pushed on a frustrated and frightened population in record time. Some in this camp were sceptical about vaccines in general but most have been influenced by the largely censored views from some leading global experts, that these vaccines are in a totally different risk category to all previous vaccines.
While waiting and seeing what happens next may look selfish to the majority, the difficulty in getting access to data and unbiased interpretation drives many to rely on their gut feelings. One or more examples of spin and manipulation of data by officials, and especially the media, leads to a general collapse in trust about any, and even all, aspects of the official story. For instance:
- Many of us have seen evidence that existing low cost and low risk treatments are available and used effectively in some countries resisting the ‘no available treatment’ orthodoxy.
- Most understand that while the vaccines seemed to give some protection from more severe effects at least in the early stages, they do not appear to stop transmission, at least of the latest variant.
- Many wonder why the build-up of natural immunity from prior exposure to the virus is not considered as part of the solution that should at least be discussed before vaccine passports are implemented.
Concerns about more serious adverse effects of the vaccines, as predicted by some experts, have developed into alarm, anger and resistance as both the evidence increases and efforts at cover up and spin become worse. Extreme consequences that many of us dismissed early on as highly unlikely are now showing up in hard-to-read scientific papers, clinical reports and official records and databases.
A similar process has happened with the official responses. For example vaccine passports are now widely discussed and debated as part of the attempt to get as many people vaccinated as possible, as the efficacy of vaccines falls and concerns about adverse effects lock in resistance by a minority. At the start of the pandemic this possibility was decried as paranoid conspiracy theory.
France has been leading the charge to impose vaccine passports for many public and work spaces including hospitals. It’s hard to assess how large the resistance will be in different countries and circumstances but there are already signs that whole industries will lose a significant part of their workforce as some substantial minority of the population withdraw their work, consumption and investment in the system rather than getting the vaccine. Whether by design, policy stupidity or the unexplained viral power of censored scientists and vaccine doubters to overcome the largest public health education/public relations/propaganda effort in history, it is conceivable that the result could be economic contraction on a much larger scale than has occurred as a result of lockdowns so far.2 I can’t help but see what is unfolding as a bizarre version of my ‘Crash on Demand’ scenario
Economic contraction could mostly be in the discretionary economy, but how would the health system cope with a loss of staff, especially if some combination of ineffective vaccines against new strains and antibody-enhanced disease lead to medically informed people losing faith before the general public? Part of the solution might be doctors and nurses from overseas,3In the week since I wrote this sentence, doctors from overseas are now part of the plan for Australia or the adoption of treatment options for Covid currently being used with success in countries like Mexico and India.
Australia and New Zealand seem to be something of a test bed for the most authoritarian regulations in an attempt to keep Covid as close to zero as possible (and failing). Large numbers of people in other countries see us as a police state and wonder why there hasn’t been more resistance Down Under.
Some of us have noted plans promoted by the World Economic Forum for a Global Reset that will require a command economy to respond to the climate emergency, and that the pandemic is an opportunity to implement some of the structures and processes needed to create what some fear is a global new world order.
For many people, the trajectory from trust to mistrust often leads to either deep depression or an energised anger, mostly focused on the authorities but often expressed to friends and family at great cost to all concerned.
Although I have some of those thoughts and feelings, I mostly feel a great tension between a deep and somewhat detached fascination with the big picture and the sense of urgency I habitually feel in spring to get fully cranking with the seasonal garden and generally keeping our home at Melliodora shipshape. I feel like I finally have a box seat to watch the train of techno-industrial civilization hitting the Limits to Growth stone wall and breaking apart, all in slow motion.
The rapidly evolving situation and all its psychological, sociological and economic dimensions suggest an expanding field of possibilities. These could include:
- a cyber pandemic that crashes the global financial system,
- a short war between China and the USA4Part of my ‘A History from the Future’ story happening in 2022
- rapid reduction in consumption of oil and other critical resources and consequently greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the virus,
- plus of course accelerating climate disasters.
In different scenarios, concern about the virus and the ability to implement the plan could become ever more intense, or alternatively, be shunted offstage or metastasised into dealing with the next crisis. Consequently, the details of what worked, what didn’t, who takes the credit and who gets the blame, would probably all be lost in the swirling muddy waters of compounding crises.
A personal view of the pandemic
Up until this point, I have not indicated my personal interpretation of either the virus or the response because I wanted to focus on the bigger systemic drivers without getting muddied in the good/bad, right/wrong, us/them polarities. However we all have to face what life throws in our path with whatever internal and collective resources we have at hand. As is my lifelong habit, I have done my own ‘due diligence’ to understand and guide my personal decisions. In the past I have always been open about my conclusions and decisions, whether around the campfire or on the most public of forums. I have often joked about the comfort I feel in being a dissident about most things including being beaten up at primary school in the early days of the Vietnam war for being a ‘commie traitor’ to being ostracised in the 1990s for opposing the ‘war on weeds’ orthodoxy of the environmental mainstream. But today being a dissident is no joking matter. Unfortunately the psychosocial environment has now become so toxic that the pressures to self-censor have become much more complex and powerful. Much more is at stake than personal emotions, ego, reputation or opportunities and penalties.
Following my instinct for transparency, I will state my position, which has been evolving since I first started to consider whether the novel virus in Wuhan might lead to a repeat of the 1919 flu pandemic or even something on the scale of the Black Death. I can summarise my current position and beliefs as follows:
- The virus is real, novel and kills mostly aged, ill and obese people with symptoms both similar to and different from related corona viruses.
- It most likely is a result of ‘Gain of Function’ research at Wuhan Institute of Virology in China supported by funding from the US government.
- Escape rather than release was the more likely start of the pandemic.
- Vaccines in use in western world countries are based on novel technology developed over many years, but without resulting in effective or safe vaccines previously.
- The fear about the virus generated by the official response and media propaganda is out of proportion to the impact of the disease.
- Effective treatment protocols for Covid-19 exist and if those are implemented early in the disease, then hospitalisation and deaths can be greatly reduced, as achieved in some countries that faced severe impacts (especially Mexico and India).
- The socioeconomic and psychosocial impacts of the response will cause more deaths than the virus has so far, especially in poor countries.
- The efficacy of vaccines is falling while reported adverse effects are now much greater proportionally than for previous vaccines.
- The under-reporting of adverse events is also much higher than for previous vaccines, although this is still an open question.
- The possibility of antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) leading to higher morbidity and death in the future is a serious concern and could be unfolding already in countries such as Israel where early and high rates of vaccination have occurred.
Given the toxic nature of views already expressed about (and by) people I know and respect, I am not going to engage in an extensive collating of evidence, referencing who I think are reliable experts and intermediaries who can interpret the virus, the vaccine or any of the related parts of the puzzle. Outsourcing personal responsibility for due diligence to authorities is a risky strategy at the best of times; in times of challenge and rapid change the risks escalate. I do not want to convince anyone to not have the vaccine, but I do want to provide solidarity with those struggling (often alone and isolated) to find answers, so the following are two starting points that I think could be helpful:
- For those trying to understand the vaccines, their efficacy and risks, ‘This interview could save your life: a conversation with Dr Peter McCulloch’ provides a good overview with full reference to official data, scientific papers and clinical experience.
- For those focused on treatment options, the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCA) physicians are a good source on this rapidly emerging field of clinical practise.
As a healthy 66-year-old I am not personally afraid of the virus, but if greater virulence and death rate do emerge with new variants, I might consider the preventative regimen recommended by the FLCCA doctors. There is no way I will be getting any of the current vaccines in the foreseeable future, no matter what the sanctions and demonisation of my position on this matter.
At this point there may be readers who decide to ignore anything and everything I have written as obviously deluded. These are the costs of transparency.
Valuing the Marginal
Tolerance, let alone celebration of diversity, is not the easy permaculture principle many of us assume. Valuing the marginal can be even harder, especially if we study the darker periods of human history.
Over most of history, minority ethnicities and subcultures lived in ambiguous complementarity with dominant majorities. For hundreds, if not a thousand, years my Jewish ancestors made valuable contributions to European culture while managing to maintain their own culture to an extraordinary extent. They lived in ghettos not just for protection from the eruptions of intolerance in the dominant Christian communities but to ensure their language and culture wasn’t swamped by that of the majority. While the Jews carried the elitist belief that they were God’s Chosen People, they didn’t attempt to gain converts and were naturally respectful to the majority Christians. They survived through all but the worst of antisemitic pogroms by not antagonising the majority, largely accepting the restrictions placed on them by society. What else could they do?
Similar dynamics could emerge from the virus and the vaccine, where a subculture of home birth, home education, home food production and alternative health brings together people of previously diverse subcultures, including permies, who are excluded from society. That exclusion will seem self-inflicted to the majority, but for those excluded it will feel critical to both survival and identity.
Is it sensible to plead for tolerance in line with sensitivities to the rights of other minorities? Or is that just an invitation to be stoned to death, if not literally then virtually, on social media?
Unfortunately one of the weaknesses of western culture, which shows up in both Christian and Muslim traditions, is the idea that if a particular path is the correct one, then everyone should follow it. From the perspective of east Asian philosophy and many Indigenous traditions, harmonious balance is more important than the right way. The yin yang symbol showing each polarity containing the seed of its opposite encapsulates this critically important antidote to the recurring western theme about the triumph of good over evil. In The Patterning Instinct Jeremy Lent explores how these different world views have shaped history and that any emergent ecological world view will foreground the importance of harmonious balance.
The wisdom of the collective
I want to lead by example in trying to understand and articulate why it is good that the majority of the population appears to be strongly behind the official plan and that maybe it is even good that a majority of my permaculture colleagues might be lining up to get vaccinated, when I have no intention of doing so.
Firstly, I acknowledge the obvious reason that if the official story is right, the majority getting vaccinated will combine with naturally acquired immunity and control the worst effects of the virus without the need to get every last dissenter vaccinated.
Secondly, given the pressure to push the vaccination rate in every way possible, encouraging some extra hesitators to resist will only increase the pressure and possibly lead to harsher sanctions as well as more broken family relationships, reputations, pain and suffering, which could be worse than potential adverse effects of the virus, or the vaccine, on those people.
Thirdly, because so many people I respect as intelligent and ethical are following the plan, I won’t fall into the trap of losing respect for who they are, what they have done and what else they might do in the future. And if it turns out this is the start of a more permanent hard fascist command state, then we need people of good values on the inside to keep open whatever channels of communication remain possible.
As systems unravel, the stories that make sense of the world also fall apart and in the desperate search for mental lifeboats, different stories come to the fore. The mainstream story around the pandemic is one such mental lifeboat that allows people to maintain faith and function. Without the renewed source of faith and order from rational science guiding technological wizardry, the psychosocial shock from a pandemic could be enough to create social, economic and political chaos on a historically unprecedented scale, at least in long-affluent countries like Australia.
Whatever the nature of the next crisis, I think it will require citizens to by and large accept that the behaviours, rights and freedoms we took for granted are artifacts of a vanishing world. Further, it will provide a harsh reality check on how dependent most of us are on systems we have no control over, so most will find they have little choice but to accept the new state of affairs.
While I might resent what I see as unnecessary sanctions on those resisting, I accept than in the early stage of Brown Tech energy descent, harsh and by some perspectives, arbitrary, controls on behaviour will be part of our reality and are arguably necessary to maintain some sort of social order (even if short-sighted or not sustainable in the long run). My aim is to focus on how we ameliorate the adverse effects of a predicament that humanity cannot escape.
More philosophically, the virus and the response to it could be seen as a meditation practise showing us how no one is an island separated from the whole of life. To break down the toxic notion that we are free agents to do as we choose without consideration of consequences, especially for future generations and the wider community of life, is something permaculture teaching has tried to bring to daily life. How we do this in meaningful ways is a constant challenge.
Sympathy for the devil
Having at least had a go at seeing the good in the mainstream plan, I now want to articulate quite passionately why the majority should at least tolerate and not seek to further punish the minority for their resistance. To advocate for this within the permaculture movement, I appeal to our pluralism in celebrating the diversity of action. This is especially where permies take the risk of being the unvaccinated guinea pigs, who can at least be a control group in this grand experiment on the human family. Beyond that, I hope our colleagues inside the tent will see the need to express solidarity with our right to chart our own course and not feel they have to be silent for fear of being cast out of the tent.
While I respect the younger permaculture folk following the plan for the common good, I still believe the most creative deep adaptations to the Brown Tech world will be crafted at the geographic and conceptual fringes by younger risk takers coming together in new communities of hope. While the paths to the armoured centre and the feral fringes both have their risks, those on the inside, especially older people, should accept that the young risk takers on the fringes might create pathways though the evolutionary bottleneck of energy descent more effectively than the best resourced and rationally devised plans from within the system of thinking that has created the civilisation crises.
Whether or not the pandemic will lead to the flowering of creative light-footed models for adaptation, the larger energy descent crisis for which permaculture was originally designed (that most permies recognise as the ‘Climate Emergency’) needs these responses at the margins. If the permaculture movement cannot digest this basic truth and at least defend the right of people to craft their own pathways in response to collapse of all certainties, then our movement will have failed the first great test of its relevance in a world of energy descent.
Some permie dissidents will double down in their focus on preparation to survive and thrive in spite of the sanctions, while others will be energised by non-violent direct action to resist what they see as draconian and counterproductive collective punishment. In doing so they may draw on past experience, or inspiration, from the frontlines of anti-war, environmental defence and free communication resistance.
In the past, more apolitical permies trying to introduce permaculture to socially conservative punters could still acknowledge, at least privately, the element of truth in the quip ‘permaculture is revolution disguised as gardening’. In today’s climate, can permies inside the tent accept and appreciate their colleagues on the frontlines of a new resistance movement that might moderate the extremes of how society navigates the larger climate emergency? Or will they flip and decide permaculture was, after all, mostly hippy nonsense now further contaminated with toxic right wing conspiracy madness, so must be dumped as unfit for purpose in our new world?
In saying this, I’m not suggesting we should all follow suit, let alone belittle or demonise those who don’t take the walk on the wild side. That would also be a contradiction of permaculture ethics and design principles. As we have always taught, ethics and design principles are universal but rarely lead to clear and conclusive solutions. Strategies and techniques vary with the context; wonderful elegant design solutions for one context can be hopeless white elephants, or worse, in another. Context is everything and as colleague Dan Palmer has so effectively applied in his Living Design Process, the people context is as complex, subtle and diverse as that of the land and nature.
The sovereignty of persons to choose freely how they grapple with the tension between autonomy and the needs of the commonwealth is not just an ideal from western Enlightenment civilisation working out how to apply the gift of fossil fuel wealth. It is a fundamental expression of how the ecology of context is constantly shifting, and that all systems simultaneously express life through bottom-up autonomy of action and top-down guidance of collective wisdom.
In times of great stability, the distilled wisdom of the collective, embodied in institutions, carries human culture for the long run. Sometimes the sanctions on the individuals who rejected the rules of the collective were harsh and, according to modern thinking, arbitrary but over long periods of relative stability, those rules kept society working. In times of challenge and change it is, ironically, dissidents at the fringes who salvage and conserve some of the truths of the dying culture into the unknown future to craft new patterns of recombinant culture.
What we call ‘science’ had its origins in what Pythagoras salvaged, almost single handedly, from the decadent and corrupt theocracies of ancient Egypt of which he was an initiate, before he walked away from the centre to the margins of civilisation. Major failures in the application of so-called trusted science have been a feature of our lived experience. Tragically, science could be one of the casualties as humanity passes through the cultural evolution bottleneck of climate chaos and energy descent. Permaculture was one attempt to craft a holistic applied design science grounded in observation and interaction, taking personal responsibility and accepting (negative) feedback, designing from patterns to details, and creatively using and responding to change. I still believe that salvaged and retrofitted versions of practical science crafted at the margins will serve humanity better than rigid faith in the priests of arcane specialised knowledge maintained by an empire of extraction and exploitation. Can we be sure what the father of science and mathematics would do in this time of turmoil?
Whatever the historical significance of these times, maintaining connections across differences of understanding and action within permaculture and kindred networks will strengthen us all in dealing with the unfolding challenges and opportunities of the energy descent future.
Harvard Epidemiologist Says the Case for COVID Vaccine Passports Was Just Demolished - Foundation for Economic Education
A newly published medical study found that infection from COVID-19 confers considerably longer-lasting and stronger protection against the Delta variant of the virus than vaccines.
“The natural immune protection that develops after a SARS-CoV-2 infection offers considerably more of a shield against the Delta variant of the pandemic coronavirus than two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to a large Israeli study that some scientists wish came with a ‘Don’t try this at home’ label,” Science reported Thursday. “The newly released data show people who once had a SARS-CoV-2 infection were much less likely than vaccinated people to get Delta, develop symptoms from it, or become hospitalized with serious COVID-19.”
Put another way, vaccinated individuals were 27 times more likely to get a symptomatic COVID infection than those with natural immunity from COVID.
In Israel, vaccinated individuals had 27 times higher risk of symptomatic COVID infection compared to those with natural immunity from prior COVID disease [95%CI:13-57, adjusted for time of vaccine/disease]. No COVID deaths in either group.https://t.co/hopImCD1D0
— Martin Kulldorff (@MartinKulldorff) August 25, 2021
A Death Blow to Vaccine Passports?
The findings come as many governments around the world are demanding citizens acquire “vaccine passports” to travel. New York City, France, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and British Columbia are among those who have recently embraced vaccine passports.
Meanwhile, Australia has floated the idea of making higher vaccination rates a condition of lifting its lockdown in jurisdictions, while President Joe Biden is considering making interstate travel unlawful for people who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19.
Vaccine passports are morally dubious for many reasons, not the least of which is that freedom of movement is a basic human right. However, vaccine passports become even more senseless in light of the new findings out of Israel and revelations from the CDC, some say.
Harvard Medical School professor Martin Kulldorff said research showing that natural immunity offers exponentially more protection than vaccines means vaccine passports are both unscientific and discriminatory, since they disproportionately affect working class individuals.
“Prior COVID disease (many working class) provides better immunity than vaccines (many professionals), so vaccine mandates are not only scientific nonsense, they are also discriminatory and unethical,” Kulldorff, a biostatistician and epidemiologist, observed on Twitter.
Prior COVID disease (many working class) provides better immunity than vaccines (many professionals), so vaccine mandates are not only scientific nonsense, they are also discriminatory and unethical. https://t.co/d14kTPnCWk
— Martin Kulldorff (@MartinKulldorff) August 27, 2021
Nor is the study out of Israel a one-off. Media reports show that no fewer than 15 academic studies have found that natural immunity offers immense protection from COVID-19.
“Among the most fraudulent messages of the CDC's campaign of deceit is to force the vaccine on those with prior infection, who have a greater degree of protection against all versions of the virus than those with any of the vaccines.”
15 studies show…https://t.co/oXaI3L0Y3S
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) August 26, 2021
Moreover, CDC research shows that vaccinated individuals still get infected with COVID-19 and carry just as much of the virus in their throat and nasal passage as unvaccinated individuals
“High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus,” CDC Rochelle Director Walensky noted following a Cape Cod outbreak that included mostly vaccinated individuals.
These data suggest that vaccinated individuals are still spreading the virus much like unvaccinated individuals.
The Bottom Line
Vaccine passports would be immoral and a massive government overreach even in the absence of these findings. There is simply no historical parallel for governments attempting to restrict the movements of healthy people over a respiratory virus in this manner.
Yet the justification for vaccine passports becomes not just wrong but absurd in light of these new revelations.
People who have had COVID already have significantly more protection from the virus than people who’ve been vaccinated. Meanwhile, people who’ve not had COVID and choose to not get vaccinated may or may not be making an unwise decision. But if they are, they are principally putting only themselves at risk.
The World Economic Forum estimates that the Covid response has cost the globe $11 trillion thus far and counting and AIER’s seminal analysis of the costs (mental health costs, hunger and poverty costs, direct economic costs, unemployment costs, educational costs, healthcare costs, and crime costs etc.), places the Covid ‘emergency’ in a sobering light. It reveals the devastating and crushing collateral damage from the unnecessary lockdowns, school closures, and masking and mask mandates that will impact the rest of the 21st century by some estimates. These harms have damaged the poorer class among us in a perverse and brutal manner. They destroyed businesses, destroyed employees who were sent home, destroyed lives, and destroyed the lives of children who committed suicide.
Yet the elites are far removed from the ramifications of their nonsensical, illogical, specious policies and edicts. Dictates that do not apply to them or their families or friends. The ‘laptop’ affluent class could vacate, work remotely, walk their dogs and pets, catch up on reading their books, and do tasks they could not do had they been in the workplace daily. They could hire extra teachers for their children etc. Remote working was a boon. The actions of our governments however, devastated and long-term hurt the poor in societies and terribly and perversely so, and many could not hold on and committed suicide. AIER’s Ethan Yang’s analysis showed that deaths of despair skyrocketed. Poor children, especially in richer western nations such as the US and Canada, self-harmed and ended their lives, not due to the pandemic virus, but due to the lockdowns and school closures. Many children took their own lives out of despair, depression, and hopelessness due to the lockdowns and school closures.
Our core position since the start of the Covid-19 response in February 2020 (and which remains fixed for how the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Caribbean nations, European nations, and all other global nations must presently respond to the Delta variant/mutation) is that we do not lock the society down or close schools or impose mask mandates, etc. These policies did not apply to this emergency and certainly not after the first 3 to 4 weeks or so. This applies just as much for the initial Wuhan variant and now for the Covid-19 Delta variant or any other variant to come, if the variant is not one with an extremely high level of lethality, as was presumed erroneously for the initial Wuhan variant. In fact, even with respect to the initial variant it became clear very early on in the pandemic that it was probably no more lethal than annual influenza, yet we persisted with draconian devastating lockdown policies that only served to harm the people. These restrictive policies worked to ruin and kill (direct and indirect) more persons than SARS-CoV-2 itself.
It is why leading infectious diseases experts especially with regards to pandemics (such as Dr. Donald Henderson of Johns Hopkins) never supported the non-pharmacological measures noted above, as they knew that such policies would be catastrophic; even for more lethal pathogens (see AIER).
“As experience shows, there is no basis for recommending quarantine either of groups or individuals. The problems in implementing such measures are formidable, and secondary effects of absenteeism and community disruption as well as possible adverse consequences, such as loss of public trust in government and stigmatization of quarantined people and groups, are likely to be considerable.”
None of these restrictive policy measures such as lockdowns and school closures have worked in the past for Covid-19 and they will not work now with this media-driven hysteria over the Delta variant. If reimposed, they will once again cause crushing harms and deaths due to the collateral effects.
The leaders in public health and government spokespersons as well as the corrupted media are quickly progressing towards endorsing and implementing and registering of individuals under the guise of a public health emergency. That our Governments are even considering the issuance of what have become known as Covid-19 ‘vaccine passports’ is very troubling on many levels. The very idea is anathema to our democratic principles and rights that are enshrined in the US Constitution.
The vaccine passports are being considered and/or introduced by various government bodies which will constrain the rights of citizens under the questionable guise of safety. These passports are simply unjustifiable on any grounds, not the least of which is the fact that SARS-CoV-2 is no more deadly on a population level than influenza. Ostensibly, the passports are designed to allow individuals to partake in everyday commerce and “life” with freedom.
There is even talk of immunity passports also known as ‘antibody passports’ with the concept of antibodies as a “declaration of immunity” or “golden passport” so as to return to routine work and travel. Yet, it is well known that insofar as immunity passports are concerned, antibody levels in people who’ve either had Covid-19, or have been vaccinated, wane after weeks to months.
Hence even someone who should be completely eligible not only for a vaccine passport but in fact an ‘immunity’ passport would easily fail the tests required to obtain such a passport. We and others argue that such will drive the development of a heretofore unheard of (in the USA and Canada) caste system of the haves (have vaccine passports) and the have nots (don’t have vaccine passports). Liew stated “the introduction of immunity passports is beset with challenges, not least of which is the potential erosion of civil liberties, as travelers are stratified into the ‘immunoprivileged’ and the ‘immuno-deprived.’
Experts have argued that the introduction of vaccine and/or immunization (antibody) passports must entail extensive debate that considers all of the moral, ethical and constitutional issues, including “a comprehensive assessment of benefits and harms, and what would least restrict individual liberties without significantly heightening the threat of Covid-19.”
The ACLU has weighed in, sounding warnings that there are many harms that can arise with the introduction of vaccine passports, particularly the digitization of relevant information associated with the granting of those passports. The ACLU stated, “Given the enormous difficulty of creating a digital passport system, and the compromises and failures that are likely to happen along the way, we are wary about the side effects and long-term consequences it could have.”
Now our concerns look to the future for more variants that will most assuredly emerge more efficiently than the Delta variant. Refocusing on the lockdowns, these restrictions are options of last resort as mentioned above (see Henderson, 2006, Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza). This basic principle applied to the first variant of SARS-CoV-2 and even more so to the Delta variant which appears to be the weakest, most nonconsequential of all the variants as can be computed based on data obtained in the UK and Israel (and other data). The emergence of the Delta variant is quite simply not a new Covid-19, nor was the Alpha (original) variant and sadly as a consequence of the draconian measures we’ve discussed, societies were decimated needlessly. There is now evidence out of Israel that the booster shot (3rd shot) is also met with emergent infections.
We were fantastically misled by the media and experts who doled out misinformation related to Covid-19 and the lockdowns and we were driven into a life of fear. This really is and was a pandemic of fear, of ignorance, and of hysteria. It continues to be so, underpinned by a corrupted biased media. This is ‘panic porn’ driven by a craven inept media, and the corrupt public health officials who are using the Delta variant (soon another e.g. Lambda or Epsilon), to drive further fear. We wonder if it is pure incompetence or unabashed unbridled bias and corruption?
The fact is that we knew very early on that Covid-19 was amenable to risk stratification that predicted outcome, especially with regard to severity and mortality. We know that an age-risk ‘focused’ (Great Barrington Declaration) and ‘targeted’ approach was the critical and only meaningful approach that should have been used. Then and now.
We argue and hold that these lockdown strategies have devastated the most vulnerable among us – the poor – who are now worse off. Lockdowns have hit the African-American, Latino, and South Asian communities devastatingly and have decimated developing nations. Lockdowns have made poor persons even poorer. Lockdowns and especially the extended ones have been deeply destructive and there was absolutely no reason to ever quarantine those up to 70 years old. There was no reason to test or quarantine asymptomatic individuals. And in relation to the testing of ‘asymptomatic’ people we can point to the subtle nature of the creation of an environment of fear. The mere use of the word ‘asymptomatic’ implies that everyone being tested is sick! They are not! They are healthy people! Why would we ever do mass testing for viral or other pathogens in healthy people? Readily accessible data showed consistently that there was near 100% probability of survival from Covid for those 70 and under (99.95%). Therefore, we strongly secure and safeguard the elderly as our core approach, while the young and healthiest among us should be ‘allowed’ to live their lives without fear. This was and is our position as we argued and continue to argue for a ‘focused’ and ‘targeted’ approach based on risk. We continue to suggest a similar approach for the Delta variant, based on the UK and Israel data (and other emerging data) and all other nonlethal variants yet to emerge.
This is not heresy. It is classic biology and modern public health medicine! As mentioned, those in the low to no risk categories must live reasonably normal lives with sensible common-sense precautions (while providing strong safeguards to the high-risk persons and vulnerable elderly). With strong protections of the high-risk among us and the use of early treatment as needed (for those infected will be in a better position to clear the virus and be then ‘naturally immune post early treatment), we can close off this pandemic emergency.
So, what do we know about Delta?
The good news is that Delta is so far proving to be the mildest form of Covid-19 as the mutations have focused on the Spike protein and in and around the gain-of-function furin cleavage joint, which causes the virus to be less dangerous.
This is great news, as those who have natural immunity will be immune to Delta, though we are seeing some breakthrough cases in those vaccinated.
Unfortunately, across the last 17 to 18 months, we chose to ignore the signals from the pandemic and instead we chose to focus on the noise to address Covid-19. We instead harmed our societies and especially our children!
We knew early on and ignored it, that Covid-19 was amenable to risk stratification and that your baseline risk was prognostic on your subsequent outcome, e.g. mortality. We had strong early evidence that a focused approach based on age and risk stratification was more optimal but disregarded this. The fact remains that age and excess body weight/obesity, have accounted for almost 80 to 85% of the hospitalizations, intubations/ventilation, severe sequelae, and deaths in Covid-19. Many persons who have died in nations such as the US have been overweight with some level of obesity. The importance of educating the public on the risk factors and the need for such protective efforts can be enhanced by the people themselves. Had public health leaders used their platforms optimally, the geared messaging would have helped reduce the damage significantly. We could have cut deaths significantly had the options described above been used, especially early outpatient treatment.
Understanding Covid-19 must therefore not involve the traditional unidimensional, dogmatic orthodoxy whereby we simply wish to control the spread of the virus or eradicate it. It remains an impossibility to eradicate a viral pathogen, especially if it is highly mutable like the flu virus. We as humanity have learned to live with such viruses. It is likely that Covid-19 will become the 5th ‘common cold’ coronavirus (if it isn’t already) and be with us for decades, in a mild, mainly nonlethal form, and will exhibit a seasonal pattern. Indeed, we have almost zero concerns about the common cold, and yet, the common cold is responsible for many deaths in the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. We will learn to live with it as we have for other pathogens, e.g. common cold, seasonal influenza etc., and we argue that this latest Delta variant is the step toward this largely ‘benign’ relationship with humans. At the same time, whenever there is a pathogen that is causing some level of illness, there is usually a greater severity and adverse sequelae in the lower SES populations (socioeconomically disadvantaged populations). We must therefore look at this consequence and consider a more nuanced and finessed approach to pathology, as we address targeting the pathogen. We can learn from this public health debacle created through wilful ignorance and the near criminal merging politics with medicine and not repeat the mistakes.
Where did we go so wrong with these lockdowns and school closures? The stark reality is that the Covid-inspired forced lockdowns on business and school closures are and have been counterproductive, were not sustainable and were, quite frankly, meritless, unscientific and may have caused more harm through forcing individuals into enclosed spaces. These unparalleled public health actions were enacted for a virus with an infection mortality rate (IFR) roughly similar to seasonal influenza. Stanford’s John P.A. Ioannidis identified 36 studies (43 estimates) along with an additional 7 preliminary national estimates (50 pieces of data) and concluded that among people <70 years old across the world, infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.57% with a median of 0.05% across the different global locations (with a corrected median of 0.04%).
What is the conclusion after 17 to 18 months of Covid-19 (February 2020 to July 2021) in terms of the utility of societal lockdowns and school closures? What does the new evidence across the past year and a half add? What can we say based on the sum of the evidence to date? Have our positions changed on lockdowns and school closures as to the merits? We can state conclusively, after 17 months, that lockdowns and school closures were a catastrophic failure in every sense of the word! With careful examination of all available studies, reports, and documents that are judged of quality enough to inform this thesis, we can find not one instance, (not one!) across the entire globe whereby societal or setting lockdowns or school closures conferred any benefit in curbing the spread of Covid virus or reducing deaths. In fact, we find the contrary, whereby lockdowns and school closures were devastating and particularly on the poorer in society, benefitting the laptop ‘café latte’ class and decimating the underprivileged class.
What was incredible across the 17 months was that governments and their scientific advisors were not satisfied with the well-documented failures of lockdowns. None!
In terms of the evidence, what do we have to offer across 17 months now to support our argument against lockdowns, school closures, and masking (mask mandates)? Well, none of these measures have worked and will work. We offer:
i) in terms of lockdowns, based on our deep study, we found out about the catastrophic harms (consequences), threat, dehumanization, and failures of lockdowns and sheltering/shielding (including prolonged lockdowns) (references 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88).
As an example, a very recent study in Nature by Jani looked at the effectiveness of this sheltering/shielding (lockdown), by linking family practitioner, prescribing, laboratory, hospital and death records and comparing Covid-19 outcomes among shielded and unshielded individuals in the West of Scotland. Researchers reported that of the 1.3 million population, 27,747 (2.03%) were advised to shield, and 353,085 (26.85%) were classified a priori as moderate risk. They found that by using the reference group as the low-risk group and when compared to this group, “the shielded group had higher confirmed infections (RR 8.45, 95% 7.44–9.59), case-fatality (RR 5.62, 95% CI 4.47–7.07) and population mortality (RR 57.56, 95% 44.06–75.19). The moderate-risk had intermediate confirmed infections (RR 4.11, 95% CI 3.82–4.42) and population mortality (RR 25.41, 95% CI 20.36–31.71) but, due to their higher prevalence, made the largest contribution to deaths (PAF 75.30%). Age ≥ 70 years accounted for 49.55% of deaths. In conclusion, in spite of the shielding strategy, high risk individuals were at increased risk of death.”
We found how pronounced the devastation was on the poorer in society, shifting the burden onto them. The richer among us could even tend to their gardens and walk their pets and order in meals while setting up private tutors for their children and teaching pods, etc. The less affluent had to scramble to find sources of internet, laptops and webcams for their children.
Micheal Peterson puts a face to this picture and said it best when he discussed the low savings of such underdeveloped nations and particularly the populations “in general, high domestic savings rates tend to lead to higher economic growth rates. Unfortunately, since developing countries typically have lower domestic savings, it’s much harder for those countries to weather lockdowns because individuals are unable to draw upon savings to compensate for lost income. For many developed nations, domestic savings is higher, which means that these countries will fare relatively better when income is severely reduced or altogether nonexistent,” due to the lockdowns and as such, shuttered businesses and as such, lost jobs.
A revealing statistic emerges in a World Bank working paper in which it was estimated that “approximately 1 in 5 jobs can be performed remotely in the developed world. In developing countries, this figure stands at only 1 in 26.” Here exactly is where the divide resides and where we failed to look and take into consideration. It is here that many poorer nations and settings were further ‘hollowed out’ by the often unsound and unscientific and as we argue, crushing, costly, illogical, and needless lockdowns and school closures.
ii) in terms of school closures and also based on our deep study and update of the evidence since our last Op-ed, we continue to conclude that there was and is no sound justification for school closures given the exceedingly low (statistically zero) risk to children and very low risk to schoolteachers (references 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56). Children do not acquire the infection readily (including Delta variant), spread it, or take it home. More particularly, children are at a near statistically zero risk of getting severely ill from Covid or dying from it; again, this includes the Delta variant. We have found no data or evidence to suggest otherwise, despite the hysteria presently running 24/7 in the daily media and by the statements of the lead public health officials. We urge them to provide the nation and us the evidence that backs up anything they report on the Delta variant, for we can find none.
iii) We also know of the ineffectiveness of masks (references 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41). We know of the failure of mask mandates (references 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
More specifically on masking evidence, a particularly important seminal research study by the CDC published in Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) in May 2020 and looking at nonpharmaceutical measures for pandemic influenza in nonhealthcare settings (personal protective and environmental measures using 10 RCTs), found that use of masks did not reduce the rate of laboratory-proven infections with the respiratory influenza virus. “In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks”.
Similarly, a strong argument against the use of masks in the current Covid-19 pandemic gained traction when a recent CDC case-control study reported that well over 80% of cases always or often wore masks. This CDC study further called into question the utility of masks in the Covid-19 emergency. This CDC study showed that the majority of persons infected wore face masks, and still got infected.
Just look no further than the study out of Sweden by Jonas Ludvigsson on Covid transmission with no lockdowns or mask mandates in children. In terms of masking children which we are vehemently against (in school or out of school) Ludvigsson powerfully evidenced the low risk in children by publishing this seminal paper in the New England Journal of Medicine among children one to 16 years of age and their teachers in Sweden. From the nearly 2 million children that were followed in school in Sweden, it was reported that with no mask mandates, there were zero deaths from Covid and a few instances of transmission and minimal hospitalization.
What about the high-quality randomized controlled trial Danish Study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that sought to assess whether recommending surgical mask utilization outside of the home would help reduce the wearer’s risks of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 infection in a setting where masks were uncommon and not among recommended public health measures. This can be regarded as the highest quality study on the effectiveness of Covid masks. The sample included a total of 3,030 participants who were assigned randomly to wear masks, and 2,994 who were told to not wear masks (i.e. the control arm). The authors concluded that there was no statistically or clinically significant impact of mask use in regard to the rate of infection with SARS-CoV-2.
Perhaps one of the most seminal and rigorous studies (along with the Danish study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine) emerged from a United States Marine Corps study performed in an isolated location; Parris Island. As reported in a recent NEJM publication (CHARM study), researchers studied SARS-CoV-2 transmission among Marine recruits during quarantine. Marine recruits at Parris Island (n=1,848 of 3,143 eligible recruits) who volunteered underwent a 2-week quarantine at home that was followed by a 2nd 2-week quarantine in a closed college campus setting.
iv) we even know of the harms due to mask use (references 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32).
Overall, the research evidence alluded to here (including a summary by Ethan Yang) suggests that lockdowns and school closures do not (and definitely did not) lead to lower mortality or case numbers and have not worked as intended. Lockdowns have not slowed or stopped the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Some critics of our position will point to data that ostensibly shows that the implementation of lockdowns led to reduced rates of death. However, these conclusions are based on artifactual and superfluous assessments. We know that declines in death were taking place even before lockdowns came into effect. In fact, in Europe, it was shown that in most cases, mortality rates were already 50% lower than peak rates by the time lockdowns were instituted, thus making claims that lockdowns were effective in reducing mortality spurious at best. Of course, this also means that the presumptive positive effects of lockdowns were and have been exaggerated grossly. Evidence shows that nations and settings that apply less stringent social distancing measures and lockdowns experience the same evolution (e.g. deaths per million) of the epidemic as those that apply far more stringent regulations.
What does this all mean?
These misguided policies have eroded the public trust. These policies include: 1) a flawed PCR test with cycle count thresholds that only pick up noninfectious fragments of viral mRNA; a Ct of 40 means one is noninfectious and nonlethal. 2) Asymptomatic spread 3) Recurrent infection 4) Equal risk of severe outcome if infected 5) No preventative or therapeutics available 6) We were not already partially immune; maybe as high as 80% (some level of immunity against SARS 2) 7) Social distancing of 6 feet prevents spread. 8) Mass testing asymptomatic persons 9) Quarantine asymptomatic persons 10) Children spread the virus and at risk of severe illness 11) Masks are effective against viral illnesses 12) Natural immunity was inferior to vaccine-induced immunity and 13) Evolutionary pressure towards virulence is caused by unvaccinated people.
Future generations will bear the cost of these decisions. Our children and younger people are going to be burdened with the indirect but very real harms and costs of lockdowns for a generation to come. Lives are being ruined and lost and businesses are being destroyed forever. Lower-income Americans, Canadians, and other global citizens are much more likely to be compelled to work in unsafe conditions. These are employees with the least bargaining power, tending to be minority, female, and hourly paid employees. Moreover, Covid-19 has revealed itself as a disease of disparity and poverty. This means that black and minority communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic itself and they take a double hit, being additionally and disproportionately ravaged by the effects of the restrictive policies.
We do not need to drastically alter our society, the lives of our people, our economies, or our school systems to handle Covid and any variant that emerges. We are well capable of managing this with early treatment and properly securing the elderly and high-risk among us.
It is disheartening as to why governments, whose primary role is to protect their citizens, took these punitive actions despite the compelling evidence that these policies were misdirected and very harmful, causing palpable harm to human welfare on so many levels. It’s questionable what governments did (and now threaten to redo) to their populations with no scientific basis. None! In this, we lost our civil liberties and essential rights, all based on spurious ‘science’ or worse including, opinion, speculation, supposition, and whimsy. They just refused to listen, refused to read the data and science, and were blinded to it. Their ‘academically sloppy’ thinking and actions cost lives, and thousands of lives were cut short by their nonsensical and often irrational shutdown and closure policies.
We are hearing discussions now about renewed lockdowns and masking etc. due to the Delta variant which has emerged as one of the weakest in terms of lethality while being very transmissible. This greatly concerns us. We are horrified by this prospect and we have shown you the actual data as it relates to Delta, and not the contrived drivel and unscientific nonsense spouted by the mainstream media and the public health experts. There is absolutely no good reason to reenter lockdowns and school closures or masking in response to the Delta variant. We find no evidence that this variant warrants masks in children. We leave you with the words of Donald Henderson:
“Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted. Strong political and public health leadership to provide reassurance and to ensure that needed medical care services are provided are critical elements. If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe.”
- Paul E Alexander MSc PhD, McMaster University and GUIDE Research Methods Group, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada [email protected]
- Howard C. Tenenbaum DDS, Dip. Perio., PhD, FRCD(C) Centre for Advanced Dental Research and Care, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada [email protected]
- Dr. Parvez Dara, MD, MBA, [email protected]
- Liesel Marie Alexander, MBA
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Paul E. Alexander
Paul E. Alexander received his bachelor’s degree in epidemiology from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, a master’s degree from Oxford University, and a PhD from McMaster University’s Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact.
(Traduction en français disponible ici)
Following their “Open Letter to the Unvaccinated”, an expanding group of Canadian scholars has now written a letter addressing “the vaccinated”. The writers expose the divisiveness of vaccination status and denounce the resulting rift in society.
Giving up civil liberties in exchange for a false sense of safety is futile. We must not accept a descent into medical apartheid in Canada and around the world.
The letter appeals both to those who chose to take the vaccine and those who were coerced. It reflects on the broader implications of our actions in an effort to collaborate on a constructive path forward.
Open Letter to the Vaccinated
Prime Minister Trudeau recently warned that “there will be consequences” if federal employees do not comply with vaccine mandates. This is a voice of tyranny that has reverberated fear and heightened agitation across our country. It has launched our nation into deep division around mass vaccination and brought our collective recovery from this pandemic to a critical head. In fact, it forces us, as a country, to finally ask: indeed, what are those consequences?
What are the societal consequences of being divided along the lines of vaccination status? What are the consequences of mandating such an insufficiently tested medical intervention? How is this all supposed to end well?
The consequences will be dire, to be certain. And the consequences will affect all of us, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated alike.
Over the last six months, many of us made our decision to accept the vaccine in good faith – doing the right thing in order to work, travel and visit the people we love. Sadly, some of us have been pressured or coerced. And now, mounting evidence worldwide shows that these vaccines cannot stop the transmission of the virus and variants, yet vaccination mandates continue.
Meanwhile, the pharma corporations are earning billions of dollars of public money, and pushing to fast-track the vaccines towards full approval, without due process or public discussion. It is abundantly clear that when money and politics intertwine, science and ethics take a back seat.
Maybe you once resented those who hesitated to get the vaccine, as people who were not doing their part; but maybe it is time to consider that we have all become passengers on the same runaway train. The meaning of “fully vaccinated” is rapidly changing as leaders demand the next booster upgrade and threaten ousting us from public spaces if we don’t comply. So, if you are among the “fully vaccinated” today, by tomorrow you may become one of the “insufficiently vaccinated” and be coerced into taking another shot.
If history is any indication, this will not stop with barring admission to concerts or bars. When you can no longer buy food, access banking, vote in person or cross a provincial border, it will be crystal clear that the same discriminatory practices that you hope to abolish will be ever more firmly established. The real consequences await all of us.
Perhaps you’ve had your full round of doses and are now having doubts about whether to continue based on the alarming number of infections among the vaccinated. Or maybe you know someone who has been vaccine-injured or are concerned about the mounting death reports in conjunction with vaccinations.
We keep asking ourselves, “Why is the data not allowed to be scrutinized and why are independent experts being censored if they attempt to do just that?” It is incomprehensible, and decidedly un-Canadian, to see the silencing of highly regarded doctors and health scientists in our country and around the globe.
History has taught us that one-sided arguments and outlawed dissent are signs of totalitarianism lurking at the doorstep. Soon, asking questions will make you an enemy of the State. Mandating vaccines is a breaking point. “My body, my choice” has been one of the hallmarks of a free and democratic society, but this is changing. Canadians are being robbed of personal decision making.
With lockdowns already scheduled for the fall, and boosters at the ready, we are entering a watershed moment. Are we all willing to continue being injected indefinitely? In Canadian provinces and around the world vaccine passports are demonstrating our new, long-term relationship with medical coercion in exchange for basic freedoms. Thus far, each treatment has been promised to be the last, but it couldn’t be clearer that there is no end in sight.
And now they’re coming for our children.
With extremely low risk of becoming ill and practically no risk of dying from COVID-19, the mass vaccination of children and adolescents remains unwarranted. Lining up our healthy children for medical treatment was never part of the deal. Most disturbingly of all, we are being primed for mass vaccination campaigns in our schools that do not require parental consent. Does the government decide what is best for our children? Without question, the family ties that bind us are being undone. Justifiably, parents are appalled by this unprecedented overreach and are debating pulling their children out of schools.
Despite our best intentions, families are scarred, friends are divided, and partners are at odds with each other. We have been weakened by our division and manipulated through fear.
Just how far will we allow this to go? “All the way!” some of us declare. But “all the way” is a place we will never reach. We need to stop this medical catastrophe and face the truth: this isn’t about our health; it is about politics and it is about control.
The consequences of following Prime Minister Trudeau’s current orders are greater than his threatened consequences. We entered into this for one another, not for our politicians. We have done what we felt we had to do, and now we must say, ‘This is far enough, no more!’
Angela Durante, PhD
Denis Rancourt, PhD
Jan Vrbik, PhD
Laurent Leduc, PhD
Valentina Capurri, PhD
Amanda Euringer, Journalist
Claus Rinner, PhD
Maximilian C. Forte, PhD
Julie Ponesse, PhD
Michael Owen, PhD
Donald G. Welsh, PhD
OCLA researcher Dr. Denis Rancourt and several fellow Canadian academics penned an open letter to support those who have decided not to accept the COVID-19 vaccine.
The group emphasizes the voluntary nature of this medical treatment as well as the need for informed consent and individual risk-benefit assessment. They reject the pressure exerted by public health officials, the news and social media, and fellow citizens.
Control over our bodily integrity may well be the ultimate frontier of the fight to protect civil liberties. Read the letter below or as a PDF here.
Open Letter to the Unvaccinated
You are not alone! As of 28 July 2021, 29% of Canadians have not received a COVID-19 vaccine, and an additional 14% have received one shot. In the US and in the European Union, less than half the population is fully vaccinated, and even in Israel, the “world’s lab” according to Pfizer, one third of people remain completely unvaccinated. Politicians and the media have taken a uniform view, scapegoating the unvaccinated for the troubles that have ensued after eighteen months of fearmongering and lockdowns. It’s time to set the record straight.
It is entirely reasonable and legitimate to say ‘no’ to insufficiently tested vaccines for which there is no reliable science. You have a right to assert guardianship of your body and to refuse medical treatments if you see fit. You are right to say ‘no’ to a violation of your dignity, your integrity and your bodily autonomy. It is your body, and you have the right to choose. You are right to fight for your children against their mass vaccination in school.
You are right to question whether free and informed consent is at all possible under present circumstances. Long-term effects are unknown. Transgenerational effects are unknown. Vaccine-induced deregulation of natural immunity is unknown. Potential harm is unknown as the adverse event reporting is delayed, incomplete and inconsistent between jurisdictions.
You are being targeted by mainstream media, government social engineering campaigns, unjust rules and policies, collaborating employers, and the social-media mob. You are being told that you are now the problem and that the world cannot get back to normal unless you get vaccinated. You are being viciously scapegoated by propaganda and pressured by others around you. Remember; there is nothing wrong with you.
You are inaccurately accused of being a factory for new SARS-CoV-2 variants, when in fact, according to leading scientists, your natural immune system generates immunity to multiple components of the virus. This will promote your protection against a vast range of viral variants and abrogates further spread to anyone else.
You are justified in demanding independent peer-reviewed studies, not funded by multinational pharmaceutical companies. All the peer-reviewed studies of short-term safety and short-term efficacy have been funded, organized, coordinated, and supported by these for-profit corporations; and none of the study data have been made public or available to researchers who don’t work for these companies.
You are right to question the preliminary vaccine trial results. The claimed high values of relative efficacy rely on small numbers of tenuously determined “infections.” The studies were also not blind, where people giving the injections admittedly knew or could deduce whether they were injecting the experimental vaccine or the placebo. This is not acceptable scientific methodology for vaccine trials.
You are correct in your calls for a diversity of scientific opinions. Like in nature, we need a polyculture of information and its interpretations. And we don’t have that right now. Choosing not to take the vaccine is holding space for reason, transparency and accountability to emerge. You are right to ask, ‘What comes next when we give away authority over our own bodies?’
Do not be intimidated. You are showing resilience, integrity and grit. You are coming together in your communities, making plans to help one another and standing for scientific accountability and free speech, which are required for society to thrive. We are among many who stand with you.
Angela Durante, PhD
Denis Rancourt, PhD
Claus Rinner, PhD
Laurent Leduc, PhD
Donald Welsh, PhD
John Zwaagstra, PhD
Jan Vrbik, PhD
Valentina Capurri, PhD
Sentenced to 45 Months in Federal Prison, Former Air Force Intelligence Analyst Daniel Hale Explains Why He Leaked US Drone Secrets
Alexandria, VA — Daniel Everette Hale, a former Air Force intelligence analyst who pleaded guilty to sharing classified documents about US Military drone programs with a reporter was just sentenced to 45 months in Federal Prison. Ahead of his sentencing Hale’s lawyers submitted an 11-page letter handwritten by Daniel from his jail cell to US District Judge Liam O’Grady. Hale’s deeply personal letter paints a gruesome picture of the US Drone Program, and explains in detail how it was a crisis of conscience that led Hale to leak secrets about the program to a reporter.
Below is Daniel Everette Hale’s letter to Judge Liam O’Grady in its entirety:
Dear Judge O’Grady,
Former Air Force intelligence analyst Daniel Everette Hale, 2012
It is not a secret that I struggle to live with depression and post traumatic stress disorder. Both stem from my childhood experience growing up in a rural mountain community and were compounded by exposure to combat during military service. Depression is a constant. Though stress, particularly stress caused by war, can manifest itself at different times and in different ways. The tell-tale signs of a person afflicted by PTSD and depression can often be outwardly observed and are practically universally recognizable. Hard lines about the face and jaw. Eyes, once bright and wide, now deepset and fearful. And an inexplicably sudden loss of interest in things that used to spark joy. These are the noticeable changes in my demeanor marked by those who knew me before and after military service. To say that the period of my life spent serving in the United States Air Force had an impression on me would be an understatement. It is more accurate to say that it irreversibly transformed my identity as an American. Having forever altered the thread of my life’s story, weaved into the fabric of our nation’s history. To better appreciate the significance of how this came to pass, I would like to explain my experience deployed to Afghanistan as it was in 2012 and how it is I came to violate the Espionage Act, as a result.
In my capacity as a signals intelligence analyst stationed at Bagram Airbase, I was made to track down the geographic location of handset cellphone devices believed to be in the possession of so-called enemy combatants. To accomplish this mission required access to a complex chain of globe-spanning satellites capable of maintaining an unbroken connection with remotely piloted aircraft, commonly referred to as drones. Once a steady connection is made and a targeted cell phone device is acquired, an imagery analyst in the U.S., in coordination with a drone pilot and camera operator, would take over using information I provided to surveil everything that occurred within the drone’s field of vision. This was done, most often, to document the day-to-day lives of suspected militants. Sometimes, under the right conditions, an attempt at capture would be made. Other times, a decision to strike and kill them where they stood would be weighed.
Daniel Hale’s deeply personal letter paints a gruesome picture of the US Drone Program, and explains in detail how it was a crisis of conscience that led him to leak secrets about the program to a reporter.
The first time that I witnessed a drone strike came within days of my arrival to Afghanistan. Early that morning, before dawn, a group of men had gathered together in the mountain ranges of Patika provence around a campfire carrying weapons and brewing tea. That they carried weapons with them would not have been considered out of the ordinary in the place I grew up, muchless within the virtually lawless tribal territories outside the control of the Afghan authorities. Except that among them was a suspected member of the Taliban, given away by the targeted cell phone device in his pocket. As for the remaining individuals, to be armed, of military age, and sitting in the presence of an alleged enemy combatant was enough evidence to place them under suspicion as well. Despite having peacefully assembled, posing no threat, the fate of the now tea drinking men had all but been fulfilled. I could only look on as I sat by and watched through a computer monitor when a sudden, terrifying flurry of hellfire missiles came crashing down, splattering purple-colored crystal guts on the side of the morning mountain.
Since that time and to this day, I continue to recall several such scenes of graphic violence carried out from the cold comfort of a computer chair. Not a day goes by that I don’t question the justification for my actions. By the rules of engagement, it may have been permissible for me to have helped to kill those men—whose language I did not speak, customs I did not understand, and crimes I could not identify—in the gruesome manner that I did. Watch them die. But how could it be considered honorable of me to continuously have laid in wait for the next opportunity to kill unsuspecting persons, who, more often than not, are posing no danger to me or any other person at the time. Nevermind honorable, how could it be that any thinking person continued to believe that it was necessary for the protection of the United States of America to be in Afghanistan and killing people, not one of whom present was responsible for the September 11th attacks on our nation. Notwithstanding, in 2012, a full year after the demise of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, I was a part of killing misguided young men who were but mere children on the day of 9/11.
Nevertheless, in spite of my better instincts, I continued to follow orders and obey my command for fear of repercussion. Yet, all the while, becoming increasingly aware that the war had very little to do with preventing terror from coming into the United States and a lot more to do with protecting the profits of weapons manufacturers and so-called defense contractors. The evidence of this fact was laid bare all around me. In the longest or most technologically advanced war in American history, contract mercenaries outnumbered uniform wearing soldiers 2 to 1 and earned as much as 10 times their salary. Meanwhile, it did not matter whether it was, as I had seen, an Afghan farmer blown in half, yet miraculously conscious and pointlessly trying to scoop his insides off the ground, or whether it was an American flag-draped coffin lowered into Arlington National Cemetery to the sound of a 21-gun salute. Bang, bang, bang. Both served to justify the easy flow of capital at the cost of blood—theirs and ours. When I think about this I am grief-stricken and ashamed of myself for the things I’ve done to support it.
The most harrowing day of my life came months into my deployment to Afghanistan when a routine surveillance mission turned into disaster. For weeks we had been tracking the movements of a ring of car bomb manufacturers living around Jalalabad. Car bombs directed at US bases had become an increasingly frequent and deadly problem that summer, so much effort was put into stopping them. It was a windy and clouded afternoon when one of the suspects had been discovered headed eastbound, driving at a high rate of speed. This alarmed my superiors who believe he might be attempting to escape across the border into Pakistan.
A US drone strike on a civilian vehicle believed to be carrying a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
A drone strike was our only chance and already it began lining up to take the shot. But the less advanced predator drone found it difficult to see through clouds and compete against strong headwinds. The single payload MQ-1 failed to connect with its target, instead missing by a few meters. The vehicle, damaged, but still driveable, continued on ahead after narrowly avoiding destruction. Eventually, once the concern of another incoming missile subsided, the driver stopped, got out of the car, and checked himself as though he could not believe he was still alive. Out of the passenger side came a woman wearing an unmistakable burka. As astounding as it was to have just learned there had been a woman, possibly his wife, there with the man we intended to kill moments ago, I did not have the chance to see what happened next before the drone diverted its camera when she began frantically to pull out something from the back of the car.
A couple of days passed before I finally learned from a briefing by my commanding officer about what took place. There indeed had been the suspect’s wife with him in the car. And in the back were their two young daughters, ages 5 and 3 years old. A cadre of Afghan soldiers were sent to investigate where the car had stopped the following day. It was there they found them placed in the dumpster nearby. The eldest was found dead due to unspecified wounds caused by shrapnel that pierced her body. Her younger sister was alive but severely dehydrated. As my commanding officer relayed this information to us she seemed to express disgust, not for the fact that we had errantly fired on a man and his family, having killed one of his daughters; but for the suspected bomb maker having ordered his wife to dump the bodies of their daughters in the trash, so that the two of them could more quickly escape across the border. Now, whenever I encounter an individual who thinks that drone warfare is justified and reliably keeps America safe, I remember that time and ask myself how could I possibly continue to believe that I am a good person, deserving of my life and the right to pursue happiness.
One year later, at a farewell gathering for those of us who would soon be leaving military service, I sat alone, transfixed by the television, while others reminisced together. On television was breaking news of the president giving his first public remarks about the policy surrounding the use of drone technology in warfare. His remarks were made to reassure the public of reports scrutinizing the death of civilians in drone strikes and the targeting of American citizens. The president said that a high standard of “near certainty” needed to be met in order to ensure that no civilians were present. But from what I knew, of the instances where civilians plausibly could have been present, those killed were nearly always designated enemies killed in action unless proven otherwise. Nonetheless, I continued to heed his words as the president went on to explain how a drone could be used to eliminate someone who posed an “imminent threat” to the United States. Using the analogy of taking out a sniper, with his sights set on an unassuming crowd of people, the president likened the use of drones to prevent a would-be terrorist from carrying out his evil plot. But, as I understood it to be, the unassuming crowd had been those who lived in fear and the terror of drones in their skies and the sniper in this scenario had been me. I came to believe that the policy of drone assasiniation was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe, and when I finally left the military, still processing what I’d been a part of, I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong.
I dedicated myself to anti-war activism, and was asked to partake in a peace conference in Washington, DC late November, 2013. People had come together from around the world to share experiences about what it is like living in the age of drones. Fazil bin Ali Jaber had journeyed from Yemen to tell us of what happened to his brother Salem bin Ali Jaber and their cousin Waleed. Waleed had been a policeman and Salem was a well-respected firebrand Imam, known for giving sermons to young men about the path towards destruction should they choose to take up violent jihad.
A US drone strike on a civilian vehicle, similar to the harrowing incident described by Fazil
One day in August 2012, local members of Al Qaeda traveling through Fazil’s village in a car spotted Salem in the shade, pulled up towards him, and beckoned him to come over and speak to them. Not one to miss an opportunity to evangelize to the youth, Salem proceeded cautiously with Waleed by his side. Fazil and other villagers began looking on from afar. Farther still was an ever present reaper drone looking too.
As Fazil recounted what happened next, I felt myself transported back in time to where I had been on that day, 2012. Unbeknownst to Fazil and those of his village at the time was that they had not been the only watching Salem approach the jihadist in the car. From Afghanistan, I and everyone on duty paused their work to witness the carnage that was about to unfold. At the press of a button from thousands of miles away, two hellfire missiles screeched out of the sky, followed by two more. Showing no signs of remorse, I, and those around me, clapped and cheered triumphantly. In front of a speechless auditorium, Fazil wept.
About a week after the peace conference I received a lucrative job offer if I were to come back to work as a government contractor. I felt uneasy about the idea. Up to that point, my only plan post military separation had been to enroll in college to complete my degree. But the money I could make was by far more than I had ever made before; in fact, it was more than any of my college-educated friends were making. So, after giving it careful consideration, I delayed going to school for a semester and took the job.
For a long time I was uncomfortable with myself over the thought of taking advantage of my military background to land a cushy desk job. During that time I was still processing what I had been through and I was starting to wonder if I was contributing again to the problem of money and war by accepting to return as a defense contractor. Worse was my growing apprehension that everyone around me was also taking part in a collective delusion and denial that was used to justify our exorbitant salaries, for comparatively easy labor. The thing I feared most at the time was the temptation not to question it.
Then it came to be that one day after work I stuck around to socialize with a pair of co-workers whose talented work I had come to greatly admire. They made me feel welcomed, and I was happy to have earned their approval. But then, to my dismay, our brand-new friendship took an unexpectedly dark turn. They elected that we should take a moment and view together some archived footage of past drone strikes. Such bonding ceremonies around a computer to watch so-called “war porn” had not been new to me. I partook in them all the time while deployed to Afghanistan. But on that day, years after the fact, my new friends gaped and sneered, just as my old one’s had, at the sight of faceless men in the final moments of their lives. I sat by watching too; said nothing and felt my heart breaking into pieces.
Daniel Everette Hale and Leila, December 2020
Your Honor, the truest truism that I’ve come to understand about the nature of war is that war is trauma. I believe that any person either called-upon or coerced to participate in war against their fellow man is promised to be exposed to some form of trauma. In that way, no soldier blessed to have returned home from war does so uninjured. The crux of PTSD is that it is a moral conundrum that afflicts invisible wounds on the psyche of a person made to burden the weight of experience after surviving a traumatic event. How PTSD manifests depends on the circumstances of the event. So how is the drone operator to process this? The victorious rifleman, unquestioningly remorseful, at least keeps his honor intact by having faced off against his enemy on the battlefield. The determined fighter pilot has the luxury of not having to witness the gruesome aftermath. But what possibly could I have done to cope with the undeniable cruelties that I perpetuated?
My conscience, once held at bay, came roaring back to life. At first, I tried to ignore it. Wishing instead that someone, better placed than I, should come along to take this cup from me. But this too was folly. Left to decide whether to act, I only could do that which I ought to do before God and my own conscience. The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person.
So, I contacted an investigative reporter, with whom I had had an established prior relationship, and told him that I had something the American people needed to know.
We’ve been talking a lot lately at the Automatic Earth about programs to vaccinate children. It’s one more thing that people appear to blindly accept as necessary and beneficial to our societies. While the only consideration really should be how beneficial it is to the children themselves. Most people here, at least, seem to agree on that. But that’s just here.
The US, Germany, Canada, and soon France and Spain all have plans, some already have been rolled out, to carpet bomb the virus by going after their children, and there is no doubt many more countries will follow their example.
Since we know there is no medical reason to do so, we must ask what the ethical and legal aspects tell us. And I can’t find those. How and why can you justify injecting people against something that is no threat to them, with a substance that potentially is a much worse threat?
I dug up a graph again that I posted in April, which spells out the Covid risk for all age groups, including children:
If your chance of survival is 99.99996%, there is no risk. And you don’t need to be inoculated. That would -at best- be equivalent to keeping your kids home 24/7 because you are afraid of what might happen in traffic, or in social life with other kids, or some bogeyman. The risk is never zero, but close enough that we do not act on it, and call it common sense.
The arguments that are usually used are that 1) kids must be jabbed to protect others around them, and 2) that the vaccines have been tested and proven safe. Obviously, 1) is very curious, and never been used before, and 2) is simply a lie: vaccines need years of testing for side effects, not months, and certainly not weeks, as is now the case for the effects on children.
The “testing” is simply that if not too many people drop dead after 5 minutes, well, then it must be safe, as institutions like the European Medicines Agency solemnly declare. Completely ignoring potential long term effects, something that seems essential in mRNA “vaccines” because of their potential effects on fertility etc. We just don’t know, but we should before applying the substances. There’s a reason none of the vaccines have been approved.
As for that alleged safety, this is from the European version of the American VAERS system:
1,5 million adverse reactions, and those are just the ones that have been reported. Now, I don’t know how many people in Europe have been inoculated, but I bet you this is not a 99.99996% success story. The numbers of deaths are not, either.
So I was happy to see some actual common sense reported in a Dutch paper today (Google translated), where the Health Council in the Netherlands injects at least some nuance into the debate. For kids with underlying conditions, like severe obesity or lung- and heart problems, some protection might make sense. I still wouldn’t go with mRNA vaccines, I would use ivermectin instead, but I get the reasoning somewhat.
Health Council: Vaccinate Children From 12 Years Old With Medical Risk Against Corona
The Health Council advises the cabinet to vaccinate children from the age of 12 with a medical risk against the corona virus. Vaccinating all children in that age group, as is done in Germany, France and the US, for example, is not yet on the agenda. An opinion on this will follow in a few weeks. The current advice concerns children aged 12 to 17 who are annually invited for the flu shot and children with severe obesity. According to the Health Council, vaccination of these children provides significant health benefits, because they run a high risk of a serious course of Covid-19. According to chairman Bart-Jan Kullberg, that risk is twice as high as in healthy children.
The corona pandemic also indirectly has a major impact on children at medical risk. To avoid the risk of contamination, for example, they do not go to school or social activities. The Health Council also takes this ‘social-emotional impact’ into account. The council cannot estimate the number of children involved. “It concerns, for example, children with a heart or lung disease. There are also many small groups with a rare condition. General practitioners and paediatricians have a good picture of these groups,” says Kullberg.
An advice on vaccinating healthy children will only follow in a few weeks. The vast majority of children do not or hardly get sick after a corona infection. So far, almost 280,000 children in the Netherlands are known to have been infected. Usually they had only mild symptoms, such as a cold and cough. In the age group 0-12 years, 379 children were hospitalized. In the 13-17 age group, there have been 101 since September. A total of three children have died; all three had an underlying condition. Last month, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave the green light for the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children from 12 years of age. More and more countries are also vaccinating all healthy children over the age of 12 to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
Vaccinating children from the age of 12 against the coronavirus can make a significant contribution to curbing the pandemic, OMT chairman Jaap van Dissel already suggested last weekend. According to him, it reduces the reproductive value (R) of the virus in winter by as much as this. about 15 percent. “That can be important to keep the spread low during that period as well.” In Germany, for example, teenagers will be vaccinated from next Monday, in France from mid-June and in Spain from mid-August. The US and Canada have been at it for weeks.
Vaccinating healthy children, who themselves hardly run the risk of becoming seriously ill after a corona infection, requires a ‘broader medical, epidemiological, ethical and legal consideration’, according to the Health Council. “It also depends on the phase of the pandemic,” Kullberg said. Because the number of infections is currently falling sharply and more than a million adults are now vaccinated every week, there is no reason to make that decision hastily, he says.
Now, mind you, that is the same country that admitted depriving children of their freedom, their development, and normal lives, in order to manipulate their parents. Talk about ethics. As I said a few days ago, “Holland closed schools not to protect children, but to make parents stay home. Think about how crazy that is.”
The Netherlands Used Children As A Weapon In The Fight Against Corona
Due to the Dutch corona policy to close schools and thus keep parents at home, children have been used as a means to fight the epidemic. Our cabinet receives that hard slap on the fingers today in the annual worldwide children’s rights report, the KidsRights Index. According to the makers, the Netherlands has set a very bad example internationally, by not even trying to keep schools open safely. With all the consequences that entails for the mental health of our youth. The corona guidelines from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child have also been neglected. Youth has not been given any priority in Dutch policy, it sounds.
Statements by corona minister Hugo de Jonge, dated mid-December 2020, are presented as proof. Then De Jonge indeed mentioned on television as the reason why the cabinet decided to close the schools, that parents with children sitting at home will therefore start working from home more quickly. When parents take their children to school, that is another moment of contact, De Jonge explained at the time. “And we also learned from the first wave, when the schools were also closed, that the fact that primary education does not provide physical education also ensures that parents adhere better to another advice, namely: work from home as much as possible. ”, said the minister at the time.
“Children’s rights have been put in second place by the cabinet during corona time,” Marc Dullaert, founder of the international children’s rights organization KidsRights, now told this site. “They were the ankle bracelet for parents. These had to be kept at home in order to effectively fight the epidemic. At the expense of their mental health.” In the first phase, when everyone was looking for the right approach, this was understandable according to Dullaert. ,,But De Jonge’s statements came at a time when it was really no longer acceptable, in the second phase. And other countries – such as Belgium and Sweden – have done everything they can to keep the schools open, so there were alternatives on the table.”
Staying on topic, I liked this from the Conservative Woman site in Britain, with perhaps the best argument against child vaccination: “The sooner most of us are exposed to it, ideally in childhood, the sooner it will cease to be a major problem..”
Why Subject Our Children To The Risk Of Death From Vaccination?
All non-corrupted scientific commentators have known from the very start that this pandemic only ends one way: SARS-CoV-2 is going to become an endemic virus. It will always be with us. The sooner most of us are exposed to it, ideally in childhood, the sooner it will cease to be a major problem. High-risk individuals can choose to take a vaccine. Ivermectin and vitamin D can be used to prevent infection and treat confirmed cases. As we have seen, the argument that children must take vaccines so that we can achieve herd immunity is utterly false. Only those completely ignorant of virology and immunology would even attempt to make it. That brings us back to the original argument for vaccinating children against Covid: to protect them from the severe disease.
If this is the only reason to vaccinate children, there is only one calculation that parents should make: Is the risk from Covid greater than the risk from the vaccine? The present Covid vaccines being administered in the West are based on experimental technologies that are being used under emergency use authorisations (EUAs). Full safety studies will not be completed until 2023. The Covid vaccines were all created in the last year and we have no medium-term or long-term data on them. We don’t know if they will have an effect on children’s reproductive organs and fertility. We don’t know if they will produce auto-immune diseases. And we don’t know if they will lead to ADE (antibody-dependent enhancement) upon re-exposure to the virus (causing more severe illness).
We do know that the vaccines produce a range of cardiovascular and neurological events including strokes, myocarditis, pericarditis and paralysis in a significant number of people. In the small US state of Connecticut at least 18 children and young adults have come down with myocarditis, an extremely serious and sometimes fatal condition involving inflammation of the heart muscle (and they’ve only just started vaccinating children there). The Israel Ministry of Health has reported that the incidence of myocarditis for vaccine recipients is between 1 in 3,000 and 1 in 6,000 in young men.
In Canada (population 38 million) only 11 children have died from Covid since the start of the pandemic. In the UK (pop 68 million) 32 children have died. It is nearly certain that all of them had one or more severe comorbidities. The fact is, most children brush off Covid without even knowing they’ve had it. For all intents and purposes, Covid poses zero risk to healthy children.
And Michael Curzon:
Child Vaccination: Who’s Selfish Now?
A number of school leaders have swung into action following the approval of the vaccination of children against Covid (a disease which almost all children aren’t at risk from) using the Pfizer vaccine (trials of which only included 1,134 children). It wasn’t very long ago that the establishment line was: if you don’t get a Covid vaccine, you are selfish. Even the Queen (disappointingly) joined in with this line [..]. But now, adult advisers to the Government suggest that children should be vaccinated not to protect children but to protect…themselves. Professor Anthony Harnden, the Deputy Chairman of the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, says:
‘I think the vast majority of benefit won’t be to children, it will be an indirect benefit to adults in terms of preventing transmission and protecting adults who haven’t been immunised, for whatever reason haven’t responded to the vaccine and therefore that presents quite a lot of ethical dilemmas as to whether you should vaccinate children to protect adults.’ He notes that children themselves are ‘in the main’ not at risk from Covid. Over half of the adult population has been fully vaccinated (with seventy-five per cent having received at least one dose of a vaccine) and Covid deaths, while still exaggerated, have flattened. There is no reason to vaccinate most children and, given the potential side effects, many not to do so. If the Government bottles it on the vaccination of children, it is they who are being selfish.
The reactions to the virus are many times more dangerous than the virus itself. Because the reactions have been amplified by fear. Time to shake it off. But for that to happen, we need politics and media to change, because they’re doing the amplifying. Problem is, fear sells.
Almost every adult believes that he or she is rational, because he or she can easily cite many simple but important examples of personal rational behaviour in daily life. Selecting one from several packs of cereal in a store, for example, or making sure that a child is properly dressed and equipped to go to school. Any civilized society in the world rests on the foundation of uncountable such acts of rational behaviour.
But, as we well know, no system of reasoning can be built without underlying premises. The underlying premises in the two examples cited here are self-preservation and nurture, both perfectly valid premises in a civilised society. In a society at peace with itself, the underlying premises – “self-evident truths” – are understood, appreciated and not questioned.
In a time of crisis, of course, the premises of a civilised society begin to crack. Neglect, brutality, deception, mistrust and misery reign. An individual is no longer sure about what he or she should believe – and what strange thoughts the next individual may be carrying in his or her head. This leads to insecure individuals forming smaller clans or groups. Such paranoid clans and groups invariably fear and mistrust each other. Two overlapping groups – “politicians” and “scamsters” – are masters at exploiting mistrust, since “not adding to others’ misery” is not a basic premise in their version of rational behaviour.
[An even sicker, sociopathic group has as its premise “adding consciously to others’ misery”; the author prefers to skirt around the consequences of that sick premise!]
It seems clear that a person is defined by the premises – “self-evident truths” – that he or she lives by. A devoted mother, for example, lives by her self-evident truths of preservation and nurture of the family; similarly a soldier, a teacher … and so on. A scamster has no dictum other than “feeding the insatiable self”, although one does hear, at least in romantic fiction, about some who do care for other individuals.
Given that many different variants of “civilised society” exist around the world, a fascinating topic of interest for any reflective mind becomes the “self-evident truths” binding a society together – or, conversely, the absence of “self-evident truths” leading to disunity.
Let us consider an example.
A certain gentleman once said: “Suffering is a noble truth”. He meant thereby that this particular truth was existential; it holds in any human society. This truth was clearly “self-evident” to the gentleman himself at the time when he asserted it; but of course we must examine it afresh from our own special vantage point.
The name and other historical antecedents of the gentleman do not concern us at all here, since we are considering only this one utterance as a possible premise. Indeed his name and the antecedents may well throw our logical discussion off track.
That suffering is an existential reality should – one would humbly submit – be evident to all but children and the imbecile. If anything, the variants of suffering around the world have grown rather profusely over the last few centuries, as technology has produced almost incredible means to tamper with human life and the planetary ecosystems.
However, in the specific assertion cited, doubt does arise about the word “noble”. How can suffering be called a “noble” truth, given that we so desperately wish to be rid of it?
However, the very fact that we desperately wish to be rid of suffering should give us pause, since we know from experience that desperation leads to irrational behaviour. Desperation to shake off suffering – somehow, anyhow, find a way! – can therefore diminish one’s ability to remain rational and address the real issue.
We agree that, even in the most civilised of societies, one cannot teach philosophy to a hungry man. At least a simple snack, which should not be beyond reach in a civilised society, should be arranged before the philosophy lecture starts. Otherwise, pangs of hunger will interfere adversely in the rational and wholesome process of learning philosophy.
So then how can suffering of any kind – hunger, pain, stress, jealousy, depression … or whatever else! – be called “noble”? Surely that adjective is out of place here? Indeed, at first glance, suffering seems to be a rather “ignoble” aspect of existential reality. The gentleman who made that statement could have made a mistake, after all.
How do we solve this apparent riddle?
Let us agree that “suffering” is any aspect or element of existential reality that we find painful, or at least very unpleasant. A fundamental question then is this: With what attitude do we face and accept this painful or very unpleasant element of existential reality?
Surely a scowl or howl of disgust will not help us in any way. A calm mind might actually come up with a way to lessen the pain. Might “nobility” in this instance be construed to mean that the unpleasant or painful reality compels us to remain calm – to think of a way to deal with it, to alleviate it? “Nobility” in this case would lie in facing the challenge; and any serious challenge does demand a high degree of nobility in facing up to it.
Indeed, the idea of “paradise”, “promised land” or “shining city on the hill”, arises precisely when an individual fails to recognize and face up to this challenge. Such an individual may dream grandly of a “final victory” over suffering – for his or her clan or group, naturally! – and push ahead on that premise, blind to reality. One may even suggest that much of human history has been shaped by a mistaken understanding of the existential reality of suffering, against which there can be no “final victory”, but only a constant struggle.
If suffering is an existential reality, does it really matter whether or not we dub it as “noble”? Of course not! That word, after all, is only an adjective. Use of that word reflects not upon the reality itself but upon our response to it; adjectives are only in our mind.
Consider the worst crimes committed by humans against other humans. When we say suffering is “noble”, we do not imply that the crimes are not ugly, or that the criminals must not be punished. Of course criminals must be punished, and victims must be helped. But we do imply that the reflective person – the philosopher – must examine the whole scene with a clear eye, avoiding both “pie in the sky” non-solutions and political gimmicks.
We may therefore imagine a vantage point from which the question of suffering can be examined with a cool mind, which requires gaining at least some respite from suffering. A doctor must treat patients with a calm, focussed mind – not with pique or desperation.
A discussion about the premises underlying rational behaviour can be compared to two friends sparring at chess. Their aim is not to “win a big prize”, but to explore the various possibilities the game provides to them for creative, logical thinking. While no “prize” is at stake, both players will surely become better at chess as a result of the sparring.
Exactly in that spirit, one can explore the effects on people’s behaviour of the premises they live by – sometimes with happy results, and sometimes with tragic ones.
At present, the people and the so-called leaders of a certain “superpower” seem rather at a loss about their fundamental beliefs. Money, sense pleasures and fame seem high on their agenda – but these are the premises one admits to only in private. These must be disguised in fake verbosity, for them to have even a pretence of value. Therefore various self-serving concepts are being tried out, but only to worsen matters. Even those who see themselves as “enlightened” are chasing money, sense pleasures and fame. Insincerity and lack of clarity are running rampant; greed, prejudice and political exigencies are determining actions.
In my own country – a large and raucous democracy – debate is intense at present, essentially about which set of premises will determine our political processes in the coming years and decades. Our constitution provides very sound guidelines, but it also comes under the strain of fiercely competing premises. One hopes that our “core values” and democratic processes will eventually resolve matters – in spite of the many so-called “foreign elites” who come hawking their gobbledegook wares.
The key point seems to be this. The premises – “core values”, “self-evident truths” – that a society lives by, or fails to live by, determine its path going forward. Often these core values are bruised or buried by political chicanery and bombast, or by economic pressures; even then, however, the longer term evolution of a society is crucially dependent on them.
If there is truth in this conclusion, then another conclusion also follows. What goes by the fashionable name of “ideology” is only a “smoke and mirror” show of verbosity to disguise the true premises of a clever, vociferous, insistent and insatiable group.
We are a broad and diverse group of Canadian physicians from across Canada who are sending out this urgent declaration to the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons of our various Provinces and Territories and to the Public at large, whom we serve.
On April 30, 2021, Ontario’s physician licensing body, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), issued a statement forbidding physicians from questioning or debating any or all of the official measures imposed in response to COVID-19. 1
The CPSO then went on to threaten physicians with punishment – investigations and disciplinary action.
We regard this recent statement of the CPSO to be unethical, anti-science and deeply disturbing.
As physicians, our primary duty of care is not to the CPSO or any other authority, but to our patients.
When we became physicians, we pledged to put our patients first and that our ethical and professional duty is always first toward our patients. The CPSO statement orders us to violate our duty and pledge to our patients in the following ways:
1. Denial of the Scientific Method itself: The CPSO is ordering physicians to put aside the scientific method and to not debate the processes and conclusions of science.
We physicians know and continue to believe that throughout history, opposing views, vigorous debate and openness to new ideas have been the bedrock of scientific progress. Any major advance in science has been arrived at by practitioners vigorously questioning “official” narratives and following a different path in the pursuit of truth.
2. Violation of our Pledge to use Evidence-Based Medicine for our patients: By ordering us not to debate and not to question, the CPSO is also asking us to violate our pledge to our patients that we will always seek the best, evidence-based scientific methods for them and advocate vigorously on their behalf.
The CPSO statement orders physicians for example, not to discuss or communicate with the public about “lockdown” measures. Lockdown measures are the subject of lively debate by world-renown and widely respected experts and there are widely divergent views on this subject. The explicitly anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration (PDF ) was written by experts from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford Universities and more than 40,000 physicians from all over the world have signed this declaration. Several international experts including Martin Kuldorf (Harvard), David Katz (Yale), Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford) and Sunetra Gupta (Oxford) continue to strongly oppose lockdowns.
The CPSO is ordering physicians to express only pro-lockdown views, or else face investigation and discipline. This tyrannical, anti-science CPSO directive is regarded by thousands of Canadian physicians and scientists as unsupported by science and as violating the first duty of care to our patients.
3. Violation of Duty of Informed Consent: The CPSO is also ordering physicians to violate the sacred duty of informed consent – which is the process by which the patient/public is fully informed of the risks, benefits and any alternatives to the treatment or intervention, before consent is given.
The Nuremberg Code, drafted in the aftermath of the atrocities perpetrated within the Nazi concentration camps – where horrific medical experiments were performed on inmates without consent – expressly forbids the imposition of any kind of intervention without informed consent.
In the case of the lockdown intervention for example, physicians have a fiduciary duty to point out to the public that lockdowns impose their own costs on society, including in greatly increased depression and suicide rates, delayed investigation and treatment of cancer (including delayed surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy), ballooning surgical waiting lists (with attendant greatly increased patient suffering) and increased rates of child and domestic abuse.
We physicians believe that with the CPSO statement of 30 April 2021, a watershed moment in the assault on free speech and scientific inquiry has been reached.
By ordering physicians to be silent and follow only one narrative, or else face discipline and censure, the CPSO is asking us to violate our conscience, our professional ethics, the Nuremberg code and the scientific pursuit of truth.
We will never comply and will always put our patients first.
The CPSO must immediately withdraw and rescind its statement of 30 April 2021.
We also give notice to other Canadian and international licensing authorities for physicians and allied professions that the stifling of scientific inquiry and any order to violate our conscience and professional pledge to our patients, itself may constitute a crime against humanity.
1 College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario Statement on Public Health Misinformation (4/30/21).
The College is aware and concerned about the increase of misinformation circulating on social media and other platforms regarding physicians who are publicly contradicting public health orders and recommendations. Physicians hold a unique position of trust with the public and have a professional responsibility to not communicate anti-vaccine, anti-masking, anti-distancing and anti-lockdown statements and/or promoting unsupported, unproven treatments for COVID-19. Physicians must not make comments or provide advice that encourages the public to act contrary to public health orders and recommendations. Physicians who put the public at risk may face an investigation by the CPSO and disciplinary action, when warranted. When offering opinions, physicians must be guided by the law, regulatory standards, and the code of ethics and professional conduct. The information shared must not be misleading or deceptive and must be supported by available evidence and science.
Ours, to borrow the title of a book by writer Joseph Bottum, is an “anxious age.” COVID-19 certainly did no favors to Americans’ mental health, but the prevalence of mental illness in the United States was increasing well before the pandemic. Almost 10 percent of American youth have severe depression, while almost 20 percent of American adults have a mental illness. Anxiety disorders are the most common forms of mental illness in the country.
The costs of this crisis are not only social and economic, though those costs are significant. Lonely and depressed people need additional medical care, are typically less productive, and will contribute less to their communities and families (if they have them). The problem is also political, though to understand why, recourse to the great Roman statesman Cicero—whose writings so deeply influenced our Founding generation—is required. For it was Marcus Tullius Cicero, or “Tully,” as scholastics such as Thomas Aquinas called him, who labeled anxiety as one of the greatest obstacles to effective citizenship and statesmanship.
The theme of anxiety is central to Cicero’s De Officiis, or “On Obligations.” The attitude of the true statesman, he argues, is manifested in two qualities: “First, regarding as a good only what is honorable, and second, by being free of all mental disturbance.” By honor, Cicero has in mind a more expansive definition than our contemporary understanding of it, one that encompasses the objectively true, good, and beautiful. The practice of being free from mental disturbance is what helps enable us both to perceive and realize those honorable ends.
The relationship between freedom from anxiety and good citizenship is multifaceted. For example, the anxious person is vulnerable to every passing crisis. Threats both foreign and domestic, news that is either alarming or inconsequential, all of these unsettle the anxious citizen. One sees this today in the vast number of Americans who are relentlessly provoked by the constant churn of the news cycle on social media, cable television, and talk radio. Obsessively attentive to these sources, we are manipulated to endlessly shift our gaze from congressional votes on the January 6 riot to the U.S. departure from Afghanistan to mass-shootings to the most recent allegations of police brutality.
Many of these news stories, however important, often have little, if any, relevance to our actual daily experience. We are urged to worry about terrorists, white supremacists, or foreign totalitarian regimes, though, unlike many issues happening in our local communities, there is little we can practically do about any of these threats. This relates to another area of overlap between mental health and citizenship: how anxiety distracts us from our immediate religious, familial, and civic duties.
“Mental tranquility and freedom from anxiety… make for steadfastness of purpose and high dignity,” Cicero wrote. That purpose is to work for the good of our family members and the res publica (Cicero, as the ideal republican Roman, actually prioritized responsibility to the state over that of the family!). Men have both this-worldly and transcendent ends, securing happiness through virtuous activities that bless their families and their communities, and that orient them to the eternal, ultimately to God. The anxious citizen, however, is distracted from these concrete concerns, instead focusing on whatever media, corporations, and the fickle zeitgeist tell him he must care about.
The freneticism manifested in our contemporary culture points to another danger of anxiety: the heightening of the polemical and partisan temperature, so that one’s opponents are not fellow citizens with whom we charitably, if often vehemently, disagree, but rather enemies to be vilified and destroyed. Mental tranquility and freedom from anxiety, says Cicero, are required “to avoid the stresses and strains, and adopt a sober and unswerving course in life.” Yes, this is precisely what anxious citizenship engenders: an apprehensive apocalypticism that perceives everything as tending towards some totalitarian dystopia, be it white supremacist, Marxist, or whatever.
When we allow this to be the default for our political calculations, we become incapable of disinterested, reasonable evaluations of the social and political trends we witness. We become proverbial Chicken Littles. We fall into what Cicero describes as “fits of agitation and panic.” If one has seen videos or read stories of how students on our university and college campuses react to conservative speakers or organizations, one understands what is at stake for American civil society. A generation raised on dictums like “words are violence,” “safe spaces,” and “dismantling cisgender norms” is, to put it bluntly, incapable of assuming the responsibilities of republican citizenship.
Moreover, our addictions to technology—and the attendant anxieties they amplify—make us incapable of being alone and quiet (Blaise Pascal’s oft-quoted observation is relevant here). This is also important for civic responsibility, because the citizen capable of quiet contemplation and true leisure is better able to exhibit self-mastery and engage in disinterested reflection. Noble men, argues Cicero, must “be serene and clear of all mental disturbance, and this will ensure steadfastness and self-restraint will emerge in all their glory.”
The unanxious citizen in his moderation, self-possession, and attention to immediate civic duties is less vulnerable to the ideologue or opportunist. “The man who possesses one virtue possesses them all,” observes Cicero. In this, we can appreciate how Cicero’s vision of the ideal citizen is thoroughly conservative, a foreshadowing of Burke’s “little platoons,” the framers of the Constitution’s separation of powers and political decentralization, and the Catholic Church’s understanding of subsidiarity. All of these serve as necessary curbs against political schemers and extremists.
In sum, the very nature of conservative living and conservative politics acts as a deterrent to our anxious age. The conservative—in his trust in God and development of personal virtue; in his reliance on and commitment to his family and community; and in his disinterested, prudential evaluation of the world around him—is able to resist the disastrous spirals of mental instability. No crisis or sorrow, however terrible, can sway his heart and mind from the objective realities he believes in and to which he orients his life. He is able to prioritize the highest, most perfect goods (or in Cicero’s language, what is most honorable), over other, lesser goods. The conservative knows that to do otherwise is to flirt with disaster. Or, as old Tully asserts: “When men detach the useful from the honorable, they undermine the very foundations of nature.”
Casey Chalk covers religion and other issues for The American Conservative and is a contributing editor for _New Oxford Review_. He has degrees in history and teaching from the University of Virginia, and a master’s in theology from Christendom College.
Dr. Peter McCullough has been the world's most prominent and vocal advocate for early outpatient treatment of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Infection in order to prevent hospitalization and death. On May 19, 2021, I interviewed him about his efforts as a treating physician and researcher. From his unique vantage point, he has observed and documented a PROFOUNDLY DISTURBING POLICY RESPONSE to the pandemic -- a policy response that may prove to be the greatest malpractice and malfeasance in the history of medicine and public health.
Dr. McCullough is an internist, cardiologist, epidemiologist, and Professor of Medicine at Texas A & M College of Medicine, Dallas, TX USA. Since the outset of the pandemic, Dr. McCullough has been a leader in the medical response to the COVID-19 disaster and has published “Pathophysiological Basis and Rationale for Early Outpatient Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Infection” the first synthesis of sequenced multidrug treatment of ambulatory patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the American Journal of Medicine and subsequently updated in Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine. He has 40 peer-reviewed publications on the infection and has commented extensively on the medical response to the COVID-19 crisis in TheHill and on FOX NEWS Channel. On November 19, 2020, Dr. McCullough testified in the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and throughout 2021 in the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, Colorado General Assembly, and New Hampshire Senate concerning many aspects of the pandemic response.
Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH, FACP, FACC, FAHA, FCRSA, FCCP, FNKF, FNLA
Professor of Medicine, Texas A & M College of Medicine
Board Certified Internist and Cardiologist
President Cardiorenal Society of America
Editor-in-Chief, Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine
Editor-in-Chief, Cardiorenal Medicine
Senior Associate Editor, American Journal of Cardiology
For more information about Dr. McCullough, please visit: https://heartplace.com/dr-peter-a-mccullough
This article is a follow-up to :
"Understanding International Relations (1/2)", by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, August 18, 2020.
The Great Mosque of Damascus is the only place of worship in the world where every day for centuries Jews, Christians and Muslims have prayed to the same one God.
A historical region, artificially divided
Contrary to popular belief, no one really knows what the Levant, the Near East or the Middle East is. These terms have different meanings depending on the times and political situations.
However, today’s Egypt, Israel, the State of Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Gulf principalities have several millennia of common history. Yet their political division dates back to the First World War. It is due to the secret agreements negotiated in 1916 between Sir Mark Sykes (British Empire), François Georges-Picot (French Empire) and Sergei Sazonov (Russian Empire). This draft treaty had fixed the division of the world between the three great powers of the time for the post-war period. However, as the Tsar had been overthrown and the war did not go as hoped, the draft treaty was only applied in the Middle East by the British and French alone under the name of the "Sykes-Picot agreements". They were revealed by the Bolsheviks, who opposed the Tsarists, notably by challenging the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) and helping their Turkish ally (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk).
From all this, it emerges that the inhabitants of this region form a single population, composed of a multitude of different peoples, present everywhere and closely intermingled. Each current conflict is a continuation of past battles. It is impossible to understand current events without knowing the previous episodes.
For example, the Lebanese and the Syrians of the coast are Phoenicians. They commercially dominated the ancient Mediterranean and were overtaken by the people of Tyre (Lebanon) who created the greatest power of the time, Carthage (Tunisia). This was completely razed to the ground by Rome (Italy), then General Hannibal Barca took refuge in Tyre (Lebanon), and in Bithynia (Turkey). Even if one is not aware of it, the conflict between the gigantic self-proclaimed coalition of the "Friends of Syria" and Syria continues the destruction of Carthage by Rome and the conflict of the same so-called "Friends of Syria" against Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Resistance, continues the hunt for Hannibal during the fall of Carthage. In fact, it is absurd to limit oneself to a state reading of the events and to ignore the trans-state cleavages of the past.
Or again, by creating the Daesh jihadist army, the United States magnified the revolt against the Franco-British colonial order (The Sykes-Picot agreements). The "Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant" claims no more and no less than to decolonize the region. Before trying to disentangle the truth from the propaganda, one must accept to understand how the events are felt emotionally by those who live them.
Since the beginning of history, this region has been the scene of wars and invasions, sublime civilizations, massacres and more massacres of which almost all the peoples of the region have been victims each in turn. In this context, the first concern of each human group is to survive. That is why the only peace agreements that can last must take into account their consequences for other human groups.
For example, for seventy-two years it has been impossible to reach an agreement between the European settlers in Israel and the Palestinians because the price that other actors in the region would have to pay has been neglected. The only peace attempt that brought all the protagonists together was the Madrid conference convened by the USA (Bush senior) and the USSR (Gorbachev) in 1991. It could have been successful, but the Israeli delegation was still clinging to the British colonial project.
The peoples of the region have learned to protect themselves from this conflicting history by hiding their true leaders.
For example, when the French exfiltrated the Syrian "Prime Minister", Riad Hijab, in 2012, they thought they could rely on a big fish to overthrow the Republic. However, he was not constitutionally the "Prime Minister", but only the Syrian "President of the Council of Ministers". Like the White House chief of staff in the United States, he was just a senior government secretary, not a politician. His defection was of no consequence. Even today, Westerners still wonder who the men around President Bashar al-Assad are.
This system, indispensable for the country’s survival, is incompatible with a democratic regime. Major political options should not be discussed in public. The states of the region are therefore asserting themselves either as republics or as absolute monarchies. The President or Emir embodies the Nation. In the Republic, he is personally accountable to universal suffrage. The large posters of President Assad have nothing to do with the cult of personality that is observed in some authoritarian regimes, they illustrate his office.
All that lasts is slow
Westerners are used to announcing what they’re going to do. Orientals, on the contrary, declare their goals, but hide how they think they will achieve them.
Shaped by the streaming television news channels, Westerners imagine that every action has an immediate effect. They believe that wars can be declared overnight and situations resolved. On the contrary, Orientals know that wars are planned at least a decade in advance and that the only lasting changes are changes in mentality that take one or more generations.
Thus, the "Arab Springs" of 2011 are not spontaneous eruptions of anger to overthrow dictatorships. They are the implementation of a carefully crafted plan by the British Foreign Office in 2004, revealed at the time by a whistleblower, but went unnoticed. This plan was modelled on the "Great Arab Revolt" of 1916-18. The Arabs were convinced that it was an initiative of the Sheriff of Mecca, Hussein ben Ali, against the Ottoman occupation. It was actually a British plot, implemented by Lawrence of Arabia, to seize the oil wells on the Arabian Peninsula and put the Wahhabi sect in power. The Arabs never found freedom there, but the British yoke after the Ottomans. Identically, the "Arab Springs" did not aim to liberate anyone, but to overthrow governments to put the Muslim Brotherhood (secret political brotherhood organized on the model of the United Grand Lodge of England) in power throughout the region.
Religion is both the worst and the best
Religion is not only an attempt to link man to the transcendent, it is also a marker of identity. Religions therefore both produce exemplary men and structure societies.
In the Middle East, every human group identifies with a religion. There are an incredible number of sects in this region and creating a religion is often a political decision.
For example, the first followers of Christ were Jews in Jerusalem, but the first Christians - that is, the first disciples of Christ who did not consider themselves Jews - were in Damascus around St. Paul of Tarsus. Identically, the first disciples of Muhammad were in the Arabian Peninsula, they were considered Christians who had adopted a particular Bedouin rite. But the first disciples of Mohammed to differentiate themselves from Christians and to call themselves Muslims were in Damascus around the Umayyads. Alternatively, Muslims divided into Shiites and Sunnis depending on whether they followed the example of Muhammad or his teachings. But Iran did not become Shia until a Safavid emperor chose to distinguish Persians from Turks by converting them to this sect. Of course, today every religion ignores this aspect of its history.
Some states today, such as Lebanon and Iraq, are based on a distribution of posts according to quotas allocated to each religion. In the worst system, Lebanon, these quotas apply not only to the main functions of the State, but to all levels of the civil service down to the lowest civil servant. Religious leaders are more important than political leaders. As a result, each community places itself under the protection of a foreign power, the Shiites with Iran, the Sunnis with Saudi Arabia (and perhaps soon with Turkey), the Christians with Western powers. In fact, each one tries to protect itself from the others as it can.
"Other states like Syria are based on the idea that only the union of all communities can defend the Nation regardless of the aggressor and their links with any of the communities. Religion is a private matter. Everyone is responsible for the security of all".
The population of the Middle East is divided between secular and religious. But words have a special meaning here. It is not a question of believing or not believing in God, but of placing the religious domain in public or private life. Generally speaking, it is easier for Christians than for Jews and Muslims to see religion as a private matter, because Jesus was not a political leader while Moses and Mohammed were.
Mixing perceptions of God and group identity, religions can provoke irrational and extremely violent reactions, as political Islam has amply demonstrated.
The "Islamic State" (Daesh) is not a crazy fantasy, but is part of a political conception of religion. Its members are mostly normal people with the will to do good. It is a mistake to demonize them or to consider them as part of a sect. Rather, we should ask ourselves what blinds them to reality and makes them insensitive to their crimes.
Before making a judgement about a particular regional actor, it is necessary to know his or her history and trauma in order to understand his or her reactions to an event. Before judging the quality of a peace plan, one should ask not whether it benefits all those who signed it, but whether it will not harm other regional actors.
In this representation of the Battle of Poitiers (8th century), painted in the 19th century by Charles de Steuben, the Muslims are barbarians, both violent and lascivious.
In the course of the many e-mail exchanges, it has become clear that many things I take for granted are not for all my readers. So I would like to return to some ideas, some of which you will find generalities, but others of which will surprise you.
We are all human, but different
It is possible to travel to a faraway country and visit only hotels and sunny beaches. It is good for tanning, but it is humanly a missed opportunity. This country is inhabited by people like us, maybe different in appearance, maybe not, with whom we could have exchanged. Surely we would have befriended some of them.
Generally speaking, the traveller will always make sure that he or she has more resources than the locals he or she is visiting so that he or she can deal with any problems. Perhaps, in this comfortable situation, the traveller will then embark on a journey into the unknown and approach a few people. But who is going to speak freely and entrust his joys and anxieties to a rich traveller?
It is the same in international relations: it is always very difficult to really know what is happening abroad and to understand it.
International relations involve several actors who are foreign to us. That is to say, men who have traumas and ambitions that we don’t know and that we have to share before we can understand them. What is important to them is not necessarily what concerns us. There are good reasons for this that we need to find out if we want to move forward with them.
Each of us considers our values to be qualitatively superior to those of others until we understand why they think differently. The Greeks called foreigners "barbarians". All peoples, no matter how educated they may be, think the same. This has nothing to do with racism, but with ignorance.
It doesn’t mean that all cultures and civilizations are equal and that you would want to live anywhere. There are places where people look dull and there are places where they look bright.
The development of means of transportation has made it possible to get anywhere in a few hours. We are thrown from one moment to the next into another world and we continue to think and act as if we were at home. At best, we read a little bit about these strangers before we go to their homes. But until we meet them, we can’t know which authors understood them and which others missed the point.
To tell the truth, you don’t have to go to a country to understand its people. They too can travel. But we should not get the wrong people to talk to: those who claim to have run away from their relatives and speak badly of them are much more often liars than heroes. They are not necessarily bad people, they can also tell us what they imagine we would like to hear and, when we get to know them better, change their story. However, we must be very wary of political expatriates: do not confuse Ahmed Chalabi in London with Charles De Gaulle. The former had fled Iraq after a swindle and lied about everything; the latter had genuine popular support in France. The former opened the door of his country to the invaders, the latter delivered his country from the invaders.
People change with age. So do people, but they are much slower. What characterizes them is the centuries. Therefore, we must study their history at length to understand them, even if they are unaware of their past, like the Muslims who wrongly consider the periods prior to the revelation of their religion to be obscure. In any case, it is impossible to understand a people without knowing its history, not over the last decade, but over the millennia. You have to be very self-informed to believe that you understand a war by going to the scene without studying the history and motivations of the protagonists at length.
What is good for knowing people is also effective for dominating them. That’s why the British trained their most famous spies and diplomats at the British Museum.
The "bad guys"
What we don’t understand often frightens us.
When, in a human group, an elite, or even a single person, oppresses others, his peers, he can only do so with their own acquiescence. This is what we see in sects. If we want to help these oppressed people, the solution is not to take sanctions against their group or to eliminate their leader, but to give them fresh air, to help them realize that they can live differently.
Sectarian groups represent only a relative danger to the rest of the world because they refuse to communicate with it. Above all, they are a danger to themselves which can lead them to self-destruction.
There is no dictatorship against the will of the majority. It is simply impossible. That is, moreover, the origin of the democratic system: the approval of leaders by a majority prevents any form of dictatorship. The only regime that oppressed the majority of its population and that I have experienced is Gorbachev’s Soviet Union. Gorbachev had nothing to do with it and it was he himself who dissolved it.
This is the principle that the United States used to organize the "colour revolutions": no regime can survive if it refuses to obey it. It collapses instantly. It is therefore enough to manipulate the crowds for a short moment to change any regime. What happens next is obviously unpredictable when the crowd comes to its senses. These so-called revolutions only last a few days. They have nothing to do with a change in society that takes years or even a generation.
In any case, it is always easy to describe a faraway country as an abominable dictatorship and thus justify coming to the rescue of the oppressed population.
All men are reasonable. However, they can fall into madness when they neglect their Reason in the name of an Ideology or a Religion. This has nothing to do with the project of that ideology or with the faith of that religion. The Nazis hoped to build a better world than the Treaty of Versailles, but they were not aware of their crimes. They disappeared and their achievements were forgotten (except for the VolksWagen and the conquest of space by Wernher von Braun). Islamists (I am talking about the political movement, not the Muslim religion) think they are serving the divine will, but they are not aware of their crimes. They will disappear without realizing anything. These two groups have in common their blindness. They could be easily manipulated, the first against the Soviets, the second by the United Kingdom.
No religion is immune whatever its message. In India, Yogi Adityanath (a close associate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi) called on the mob to destroy the Ayodhya Mosque in 1992, and ten years later his followers massacred Muslims in Gujarat whom they falsely accused of seeking revenge. Or in Myanmar, the Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu (who has no connection with the Burmese army and even less with Aung San Suu Kyi) preaches to kill Muslims.
There is no limit to human violence when we disregard our Reason. Those who practice it are artists: they have a style and imagine spectacular ways. Group cruelty is not a solitary sadistic pleasure, but a collective ritual. It frightens us and forces us to submit.
Daesh staged its crimes and filmed them, not hesitating to use special effects to frighten even more.
It is unlikely that the Nazis intended to kill their prisoners by the millions, but rather that they intended to exploit their labour force without regard for their lives, for they committed their crimes in secret, making their victims disappear in "night and fog".
On the contrary, during the war against the white armies, the Bolsheviks decided to wipe out the social classes favorable to tsarism. This probably had nothing to do with their ideology, but with the civil war. So they just shot them.
(To be continued...)