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Washington rejected Moscow’s offer of complete reset in Russia-US relations shortly after inauguration of Biden: Lavrov

By Jonny Tickle | RT | April 28, 2021

The Kremlin proposed a complete reset in the strained relationship between Moscow and Washington after the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, but it was turned down by the White House, Russia’s chief diplomat said on Tuesday.

Speaking to journalist Dmitry Kiselyov, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained that Russia wants to get back on a sound footing in its relationship with the US.

“If it only depended on us, we would return to normal relations,” Lavrov explained, noting that the first step would be to cancel the expulsions of Russian diplomats from Washington, and US diplomats from Moscow.

“We offered this to President Biden’s Administration as soon as he took all the necessary oaths and assumed power,” he continued. “I mentioned this to Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken.”

According to Lavrov, the crisis began when former President Barack Obama took measures against Russia prior to his leaving office. After the election of Donald Trump, Moscow remained patient and waited for the new administration to reverse the “excesses” of the outgoing president, but it never happened.

“I very much hope that Washington, as we do, recognizes their responsibility for stability in the world,” Lavrov continued. “There are not only problems between Russia and the US that complicate the lives of our citizens… but also disagreements that put international security at serious risk, in the broadest sense of the word.”

In recent weeks, relations between Moscow and Washington have become even more strained.

On April 15, Biden signed an executive order imposing further sanctions against Russia. Targeting more than 30 individuals and organizations, the measures are said to be punishment for alleged interference in the US presidential election, as well as the infamous SolarWinds cyber-espionage case, which Washington says was ordered by the Russian government. Biden also announced the expulsion of 10 people from the Russian diplomatic mission.

In response, Moscow sent 10 US diplomats back home.

April 28, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

All of liquified natural gas from Russia’s Arctic for next 20 years sold in advance

RT | April 28, 2021

Russia’s energy giant Novatek said on Wednesday it has inked 20-year agreements with the shareholders of its Arctic LNG 2 project on the sale and purchase of the entire volume of liquified natural gas.

The LNG sales from the plant’s first liquefaction train are planned to commence in 2023, according to the company.

The agreements “provide for LNG supplies from Arctic LNG 2 on FOB Murmansk and FOB Kamchatka basis with pricing formulas linked to international oil and gas benchmarks. The LNG offtake volumes are set in proportion to the respective participants’ ownership stakes in the project,” Novatek said.

The company’s chairman of the management board, Leonid Mikhelson, said that “The long-term offtake agreements between Arctic LNG 2 and its participants ensure the future revenue stream from LNG sales and de-risks the project. This represents one of the most important milestones in attracting the project’s external financing that will be completed in 2021.”

Mikhelson said earlier that the Arctic LNG 2 plant is 39% complete and will be launched as planned.

Arctic LNG 2 envisages constructing three LNG liquefaction trains of 6.6 million tons per annum each, as well as cumulative gas condensate production capacity of 1.6 million tons per annum. The total LNG capacity of the three liquefaction trains will be 19.8 million tons. The first train of Arctic LNG 2 is 53% ready and is scheduled to start operations in two years.

Novatek owns the majority stake (60%) in the project, with minority stakes held by foreign companies. The list of foreign investors includes French oil and gas company Total (10%), Chinese firms CNPC (10%) and CNOOC (10%), and the Japanese consortium of Mitsui and JOGMEC (10%).

April 28, 2021 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Obama administration scientist says climate ‘emergency’ is based on fallacy

By Dr. Steven E. Koonin | New York Post | April 24, 2021

The Science,” we’re told, is settled. How many times have you heard it?

Humans have broken the earth’s climate. Temperatures are rising, sea level is surging, ice is disappearing, and heat waves, storms, droughts, floods, and wildfires are an ever-worsening scourge on the world. Greenhouse gas emissions are causing all of this. And unless they’re eliminated promptly by radical changes to society and its energy systems, “The Science” says Earth is doomed.

Yes, it’s true that the globe is warming, and that humans are exerting a warming influence upon it. But beyond that — to paraphrase the classic movie “The Princess Bride” — “I do not think ‘The Science’ says what you think it says.”

For example, both research literature and government reports state clearly that heat waves in the US are now no more common than they were in 1900, and that the warmest temperatures in the US have not risen in the past fifty years. When I tell people this, most are incredulous. Some gasp. And some get downright hostile.

These are almost certainly not the only climate facts you haven’t heard. Here are three more that might surprise you, drawn from recent published research or assessments of climate science published by the US government and the UN:

    • Humans have had no detectable impact on hurricanes over the past century.
    • Greenland’s ice sheet isn’t shrinking any more rapidly today than it was 80 years ago.
    • The global area burned by wildfires has declined more than 25 percent since 2003 and 2020 was one of the lowest years on record.

Why haven’t you heard these facts before?

Most of the disconnect comes from the long game of telephone that starts with the research literature and runs through the assessment reports to the summaries of the assessment reports and on to the media coverage. There are abundant opportunities to get things wrong — both accidentally and on purpose — as the information goes through filter after filter to be packaged for various audiences. The public gets their climate information almost exclusively from the media; very few people actually read the assessment summaries, let alone the reports and research papers themselves. That’s perfectly understandable — the data and analyses are nearly impenetrable for non-experts, and the writing is not exactly gripping. As a result, most people don’t get the whole story.

Policymakers, too, have to rely on information that’s been put through several different wringers by the time it gets to them. Because most government officials are not themselves scientists, it’s up to scientists to make sure that those who make key policy decisions get an accurate, complete and transparent picture of what’s known (and unknown) about the changing climate, one undistorted by “agenda” or “narrative.” Unfortunately, getting that story straight isn’t as easy as it sounds.

I should know. That used to be my job.

I’m a scientist — I work to understand the world through measurements and observations, and then to communicate clearly both the excitement and the implications of that understanding. Early in my career, I had great fun doing this for esoteric phenomena in the realm of atoms and nuclei using high-performance computer modeling (which is also an important tool for much of climate science). But beginning in 2004, I spent about a decade turning those same methods to the subject of climate and its implications for energy technologies. I did this first as chief scientist for the oil company BP, where I focused on advancing renewable energy, and then as undersecretary for science in the Obama administration’s Department of Energy, where I helped guide the government’s investments in energy technologies and climate science. I found great satisfaction in these roles, helping to define and catalyze actions that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the agreed-upon imperative that would “save the planet.”

But doubts began in late 2013 when I was asked by the American Physical Society to lead an update of its public statement on climate. As part of that effort, in January 2014 I convened a workshop with a specific objective: to “stress test” the state of climate science.

I came away from the APS workshop not only surprised, but shaken by the realization that climate science was far less mature than I had supposed. Here’s what I discovered:

Humans exert a growing, but physically small, warming influence on the climate. The results from many different climate models disagree with, or even contradict, each other and many kinds of observations. In short, the science is insufficient to make useful predictions about how the climate will change over the coming decades, much less what effect our actions will have on it.

In the seven years since that workshop, I watched with dismay as the public discussions of climate and energy became increasingly distant from the science. Phrases like “climate emergency,” “climate crisis” and “climate disaster” are now routinely bandied about to support sweeping policy proposals to “fight climate change” with government interventions and subsidies. Not surprisingly, the Biden administration has made climate and energy a major priority infused throughout the government, with the appointment of John Kerry as climate envoy and proposed spending of almost $2 trillion dollars to fight this “existential threat to humanity.”

Trillion-dollar decisions about reducing human influences on the climate should be informed by an accurate understanding of scientific certainties and uncertainties. My late Nobel-prizewinning Caltech colleague Richard Feynman was one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. At the 1974 Caltech commencement, he gave a now famous address titled “Cargo Cult Science” about the rigor scientists must adopt to avoid fooling not only themselves. “Give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another,” he implored.

Much of the public portrayal of climate science ignores the great late physicist’s advice. It is an effort to persuade rather than inform, and the information presented withholds either essential context or what doesn’t “fit.” Scientists write and too-casually review the reports, reporters uncritically repeat them, editors allow that to happen, activists and their organizations fan the fires of alarm, and experts endorse the deception by keeping silent.

As a result, the constant repetition of these and many other climate fallacies are turned into accepted truths known as “The Science.”

This article is an adapted excerpt from Dr. Koonin’s book, “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters” (BenBella Books), out May 4.

April 28, 2021 Posted by | Book Review, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Facemask Wearing Runner Collapses After Winning 800 Metre Race

By Richie Allen | April 28, 2021

Track runner Maggie Williams, a student in Bend, Oregon, broke a school record in an 800 metre race last week. Williams won the race, but fainted as she crossed the line. She had run the race while wearing a facemask.

When she recovered enough to speak, the junior athlete said that she felt unable to breathe during the race. State guidelines mean competitors must wear a face covering during competition.

“In the past, this has never happened,” Williams said. “Then this race I was wearing a mask and it did happen, which I don’t think is a coincidence.”

Her coach Dave Turnbull agrees with her. He said:

“It was a different response than I’ve seen for kids that have collapsed to the track just because they were exhausted. She wasn’t sure where she was.”

Oregon’s health authority (OHA) released a statement yesterday. It said:

“The Oregon Health Authority regularly reviews COVID-19 guidance based on medical evidence and evolving science. We are revising the current guidance on the use of masks outdoors during competition. The guidance will allow people to take off face coverings when competing in non-contact sports outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others and the other virus protective protocols.

* The exception will not apply while training and conditioning for these sports or for competitions.
* The exception will not apply before and after competing.”

There is no evidence that facemasks protect the wearer or anyone they come into contact with. There is an abundance of evidence that facemasks are harmful.

Wearing one while running can kill you.

Don’t wear one, ever.

April 28, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 1 Comment

The Growing Plague of Mandatory Testing in UK Workplaces

Lockdown Sceptics – April 28, 2021

Lockdown Sceptics reader has written to tell us about mandatory testing that’s happening at his workplace.

Regarding the story on Durham University today and lateral flow tests, you’ll probably be aware that there’s a growing problem of mandatory testing in workplaces.

I work in an office in London and we were told this week that twice-weekly tests are mandatory to come into the office. We currently have about 10 people coming in out of a possible 200+.

To make it worse, we were originally told these tests were advisory, but now apparently they are mandatory – something to do with the firm’s “duty of care to those with hidden underlying health conditions”. The people being tested are the same people who’ve been vaccinated of course, which shows the senselessness of the whole thing. And arguably makes the testing permanent, given that having been vaccinated doesn’t absolve you of the need to get tested twice a week.

People who hadn’t taken the test this week were sent home halfway through the day, despite having reasonable objections, including having recently had the virus (and so having the antibodies that meant they could neither catch it nor pass it on), and others not being prepared to risk having to self-isolate, given individual circumstances that make that impossible. Of course, companies can do as they please – but this is all so self-defeating and driven by all the wrong instincts.

Those of us grateful to still have a job and income have to pick and choose our battles. But why is there not more of an outcry over mandatory testing? Will mandatory vaccinations be next? You could make a case for all this (I personally wouldn’t) in a care home, but not in a normal office. Many people will say it’s the price we have to pay for getting back to normal, but it’s a high price.

My own circumstances are even worse but probably not unique. I refuse to comply with any of this because my partner had a miscarriage a few months ago, caused, we believe, by having to carry something heavy in her workplace which colleagues wouldn’t help with “due to the social distancing rules”. This is the true hidden horrific cost of lockdown and the other measures. She was then made to suffer alone in hospital on multiple occasions (family not allowed in), and even the paramedics were reluctant to come to the house – for a critical emergency – without ascertaining her Covid status. The cruelty of lockdown and the restrictions is my biggest bugbear, quite aside from its efficacy.

If other readers have stories about mandatory testing in their workplace, do email them to us here (saying whether you’re happy for us to publish your name).

April 28, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

One year of Covid-19: Facts and analyses

By Manfred Horst – Achgut.com 06.04.2021

THE world has been in a continuous state of emergency for more than a year. Many of us are engaged in heated debate about its justification and objectives.

In the following article, I have compiled and analysed the essential medico-epidemiological data.

The facts are undisputed and indisputable. The analyses are open for discussion.

1. Clinical symptoms

Facts:

The symptoms caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus are similar to those caused by other pathogens of human respiratory infections, i.e. they are non-specific (see below).

The majority of people infected with the virus either develop no symptoms at all, or only mild ones from which they fully recover.

Severe and potentially fatal forms mainly affect older individuals with pre-existing conditions.

According to the World Health Organisation, www.who.int

the most common symptoms of Covid-19 are :

·         Fever

·         Dry cough

·         Fatigue

Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include:

·         loss of taste or smell,

·         nasal congestion,

·         conjunctivitis (also known as red eyes),

·         sore throat,

·         headache,

·         muscle or joint pain,

·         different types of skin rash,

·         nausea or vomiting,

·         diarrhoea,

·         chills or dizziness.

Symptoms of severe Covid‐19 disease include:

·         shortness of breath,

·         loss of appetite,

·         confusion,

·         persistent pain or pressure in the chest,

·         high temperature (above 38 °c).

Analysis:

Human beings have had to deal with a large number of continuously mutating respiratory viruses since time immemorial; the best known and most common types include rhino-, adeno-, corona-, influenza and parainfluenza viruses. As toddlers with permanently runny noses, we develop a basic immunity which is often put to the test in adulthood, especially during the common cold season. It undergoes further ‘training’ when it is exposed to newly mutated forms of these viruses.

Severe disease progressions – generally viral pneumonias – have been described for virtually all known types of viruses; they mainly affect older people who have pre-existing health conditions and a weakened immune system. In such patients – especially when they are bedridden – pneumonia is also very common.

What, then, makes SARS-CoV-2 so peculiar?

It may well be that this virus causes severe forms of the disease considerably more frequently than its previously known counterparts. For most types of respiratory viruses, we have never tried specifically to determine this frequency; it is therefore difficult to examine this hypothesis. However, in terms of patient characteristics (especially age and pre-existing conditions), severe Covid-19 is no different from the severe disease progressions caused by other respiratory viruses; this would tend to suggest that it is yet another, unexceptional representative of that same category. For the one type where we do have reasonable numbers, the influenza virus, recent scientific analysis indicates that Covid-19 is certainly not dissimilar.

It may well be that severe Covid-19 is a specific, previously unknown clinical syndrome; this is claimed by some doctors and clinicians. Even they do not establish the diagnosis on clinical grounds (symptoms) only, as confirmation (or refutation) by laboratory testing is always carried out. Similar symptoms and X-ray or CT images had previously been described for other respiratory viruses too; in everyday clinical practice, however, the specific causative agent of a viral pneumonia had hardly ever been determined.

It may well be that some people suffer from the disease caused by this particular virus for extended periods, or are left with specific sequelae (‘Long Covid’). However, late effects have been described for other respiratory viruses as well, the influenza viruses in particular. Furthermore, many a former Covid-19 patient who does not feel fully recovered or who falls victim to some other disease will now conceivably be tempted to blame this on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It may also be possible that the mere knowledge of having had Covid-19 – or simply having tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 – can make some people feel unwell. Be that as it may, there is as yet no scientifically valid study which would demonstrate any specific long-term consequences of infection with this virus.

It may well be that this virus is particularly ‘contagious’, due to some particular biochemical and/or physiological properties. Here, too, we lack meaningful comparative data; respiratory infection chains are generally difficult to trace. Family members living in close quarters with sick individuals can remain asymptomatic and test-negative, however, and infections in an open-air environment are rare. Thus, we seem rather to be dealing with the typical infection dynamic of a common cold virus, and not with an epidemic which spreads like wildfire.

It may well be that this coronavirus has mutated so far away from the viruses already known to our immune system that we are, so to speak, entirely at its mercy. If this were true, however, the high occurrence of asymptomatic infections could simply not be explained. This proves that many people already have basic immunity (or cross-immunity with other coronaviruses), just as most of us have some basic immunity to most of those constantly mutating respiratory viruses.

It may well be, though, that the only truly distinctive characteristic of this virus is the fact that mankind is chasing it with specific tests, declaring everyone who tests positive as an ‘infected person’ or a ‘case’. It may well be that a number of disturbing images and media reports have sent most of us – including nursing staff, doctors and scientists, politicians and leaders – into an entirely irrational panic and hysteria. It may well be that we can theoretically repeat the same procedure every year (every winter – we are dealing with common cold viruses, after all), and with almost any freshly mutated rhinovirus, adenovirus, coronavirus, influenza or parainfluenza virus – if we care to trace one of them with specific testing.

2. Mortality

Facts:

The age distribution of ‘corona deaths’ (people who have died ‘of or with Covid-19’) is similar to that of the general population; in all European countries, the average age of death is 80 and over.

In 2020, some countries saw relative undermortality of up to 5 per cent, as compared to the mean of the previous five years, while others experienced a relative excess mortality of between 1 per cent and slightly over 10 per cent.

Analysis:

The fact that the age distribution of those who died ‘of and with’ corona closely follows that of all-cause mortality in the general population raises the hypothesis that this particular cohort (group of people) is part of that normal, inevitable population mortality.

We all have to die, and on average we die at our average age of death. No government in the world can prevent this from happening.

Most of us would like to avoid factors which can shorten our lives; we therefore need to try to find out what these factors are. That regular tobacco consumption falls into this category is something which we can now be certain of, for example. Wearing red socks seems a highly unlikely factor at first sight, but perhaps it’s something we should check, just to make sure. In order to determine whether wearing red socks is more dangerous than wearing socks of a different colour, we would have to look at the age distribution in the cohort of those who died while wearing red socks. If we find a difference from the general population – if, in particular, the average is lower than that of those who were wearing socks of a different colour – we would establish the hypothesis that it is better to avoid wearing red socks (a hypothesis which would certainly require further investigation). If – as we would expect – the age distribution were the same, and if we could repeat this result in numerous cohorts – in different countries, for example – we would conclude that wearing red socks has no influence on mortality, in other words that it is a so-called random variable.

This retrospective method is generally the first step which epidemiologists use in order to examine certain variables, such as living habits and conditions, pathogens and medical diagnoses, and to determine their potential impact on population mortality.

Now, it is of course true that having reached a certain age, one has a remaining life expectancy which is higher than at birth: in Germany, for example, you may expect to live 16 more years at the age of 70, 9 more at 80, 4 more at 90, and 2 more at 100. Life insurance companies base their premiums on this kind of calculation. In a number of recently published academic articles, this remaining life expectancy of the living has simply been transferred to those who had died ‘of and with corona’, the resulting claim being that these people had lost around 12 years of their lives. In other words, they would have lived, on average, to well over 90 years if they had not been struck down by the virus. This claim is not really plausible in itself. Moreover, following this line of reasoning, we could just as well demonstrate that red socks (or whichever random variable you care to choose) were life-threatening, and demand that the government mobilise all possible means in order to prevent people from wearing them.

On the basis of their age distribution and their multimorbidity (the virtually universal presence of other serious diseases), we can assume that the cohort of people who died with a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 is part of the normal and inevitable mortality of the general population and cannot significantly alter the total amount of that mortality.

The fact that a certain excess mortality is now being reported for some – though not all – countries for the year 2020 deserves closer analysis; it cannot unquestioningly be attributed to the coronavirus. A comparison with the average of previous years may already be misleading in countries with an increasing population and/or progressive ageing, such as the USA, since such factors inevitably lead to a continuous rise in the number of deaths.

For most countries, serious statistical analyses do not demonstrate a significant increase in the number of deaths for the year 2020. In any case, any factually demonstrated local excess mortality might just as well have been the result of general fear and panic among the population (for example by discouraging those with serious conditions from seeking timely medical advice) as well as of failures and disorganisation in the healthcare system and in the treatment of other diseases – at the very least, this hypothesis would have to be examined.

3.  Diagnosis – the ‘tests’

Facts:

The available PCR and antigen tests follow different and variable laboratory protocols. National or international standards do not exist.

The tests detect the presence of virus fragments. A positive test does not prove infection with reproducing viruses.

All laboratory tests have certain inherent error rates (sensitivity, specificity). These error rates, defined under ideal conditions, necessarily increase with improper and/or mass application.

For the first time in medical history, we are tracking a specific respiratory infection pathogen with mass testing in the general population.

Analysis:

Everything hinges on the tests. Given the non-specific clinical and epidemiological characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 infection, we might not have noticed much of a ‘pandemic’ without these laboratory diagnostics, even if we had continued to live our lives normally.

A multitude of viruses constantly scurry across the mucous membranes of our respiratory tract; most of the time our immune system deals with them invisibly, not allowing them to multiply any further. A temporary weakening of our immune defences (e.g. when we catch a ‘cold’) or a particularly high exposure (intake of a high viral load) may lead to an inflammatory body reaction which translates into a running nose, a cough, hoarseness, fever and/or a general feeling of being unwell. Which specific virus (or viruses – so-called co-infections, e.g. with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses at the same time, are not uncommon) is responsible for these symptoms had so far never been investigated in clinical practice, as any such knowledge would not have had any practical therapeutic consequences.

For more than a year now, we have been tracking the presence of fragments of one specific respiratory virus with mass laboratory testing, not only in sick people but also (and now primarily) in healthy individuals, declaring them to be ‘infected’ as soon as any one of these tests, following any one of many different lab protocols, detects or purports to detect any viral debris on their mucous membranes. Given the known seasonality of respiratory viruses, it is not surprising that we are seeing more ‘infected’ cases, hospitalisations and deaths in the cold season than in the summer; this would be no different for any other representative of these pathogens if we cared to test for them.

Perfectly healthy people are being quarantined because of their test results, under the assumption that they could infect and endanger others. Leaving aside the question of whether such an ‘asymptomatic infection’ with the virus really exists at all (though it should be noted here that all coercive government measures are based on this unproven assumption) the virus is now endemic anyway, that is to say it is constantly circulating – and mutating – in the population. This at least the mass testing has demonstrated for certain. Neither the isolation of clinically healthy people, nor any other government orders, can alter this fact.

Every hospitalisation, for whatever reason, is accompanied by one or (usually) several SARS-CoV-2 tests, and the patient is declared a ‘corona case’ as soon as the result is positive – sometimes even without such a positive test. After all, there are, in many countries, financial and other incentives for the admission and treatment of ‘corona patients’. Ultimately, all this quite naturally leads to a considerable number of ‘corona’ death certificates.

In severe cases of respiratory tract infections, the identification of a specific pathogen – using validated methods! – may sometimes be therapeutically relevant. Otherwise, the mass testing as it is currently being practised is medically pointless. It only creates fear and anxiety in the population, while necessarily leading to the neglect of other, more important concerns in the healthcare system.

4. Therapy

Facts:

The medical therapy of a symptomatic Covid-19 infection is in principle identical to that of any other viral respiratory disease; the specific efficacy of pharmaceuticals recommended by some experts (hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, immunoglobulins) is controversial.

Severe forms of infection leading to respiratory failure may necessitate oxygen therapy, as with all pneumonias.

The decision of governments to counter this newly mutated coronavirus not only medically, but socially and politically, was originally based on the desire to grant hospitals and intensive care units a few weeks to prepare for the expected epidemic rush of patients – to ‘flatten the curve’.

As a point of reference for their preventive measures, policy-makers and their scientific advisers have over the past year used various and shifting parameters (R-number, positivity rate, mortality, hospital and intensive care bed occupancy, case incidence, etc.) as well as various and shifting levels of these parameters.

Analysis:

Medical therapy of a symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection is precisely that – symptomatic. The pathogen cannot be eliminated pharmaceutically; antiviral therapies have – at least as yet – not been able to clearly prove efficacy. Ultimately, the human body has to come to grips with the virus by itself, and in the vast majority of cases it does. All we can do is to alleviate the signs of inflammation caused by this fight; this is as true of SARS-CoV-2 as it is of any other respiratory virus.

In the panic caused by the images and reports from Wuhan, we probably overshot the mark in treating severely ill and fragile people with intensive medical interventions such as artificial ventilation – regrettably violating one of the fundamental precepts of medicine, namely primum non nocere (first, do no harm).

Under the impact of the images and news from Wuhan (and subsequently from Bergamo), fuelled by a number of frightening epidemiological models, the political leaders of our societies opted for preventive measures to contain the spread of this particular respiratory virus to mitigate an expected onslaught on our hospitals.

For a whole year, our healthcare systems have largely been switched into transmission prevention mode. Everywhere, one encounters protective suits, Covid corridors, disinfectants, testing stations, quarantine rooms, etc. Yet in spite of the substantial additional administrative and organisational burden caused by all this, the overall charge on doctors, emergency rooms, hospitals and intensive care units has not significantly increased – in fact, the very opposite has been shown to be the case in a number of countries and regions.

One might, one should ask which parameters – and under what circumstances – are to be used to decide on the unconditional withdrawal of all these preventive, temporary emergency measures? The SARS CoV-2 virus and its mutated and constantly mutating descendants have been endemic for a while now. There will always be mutated respiratory viruses, new ones every year, posing variable levels of risks – risks however which in all likelihood will fundamentally remain controllable by medical means alone. Shall we accept this as a sufficient reason to declare a permanent state of societal emergency?

5.  Governmental, non-pharmaceutical measures

Facts:

The measures adopted by Western democracies to combat SARS-CoV-2 follow the initial example of the Chinese dictatorship – not their own pandemic plans or the original recommendations of the World Health Organisation.

To date, no government has presented a documented cost/benefit analysis of its measures, let alone been guided by such an analysis in its decision-making.

A clear, scientifically accepted proof of the effectiveness of any of the governmental measures does not exist.

It is indisputable that these measures cause human and economic harm.

Analysis:

Let us consider the panoply of coercive measures imposed on the population in the course of last year’s pandemic, such as house arrests, bans on work, contact, sports and movement, masking requirements, etc. If these were medicines that required marketing authorisation, they would have to prove therapeutic efficacy and safety, or at least acceptable side-effect profiles, in relation to proven benefits.

Since practically all these measures were applied, for the first time in world history, to the healthy general population, they have been and continue to be enforced politically, without prior proof of efficacy, based on the dogma that interpersonal contact and therefore the potential exchange of viruses should be avoided or reduced to a minimum.

It should by now be obvious to everybody that neither the evolution over time in individual countries, nor any comparison between countries where different measures had been applied, show any effect whatsoever of government intervention on the course of the epidemic, especially on the most important parameter, mortality. If, as claimed, hundreds of thousands more people were to fall victim to the virus in the absence of tough restrictions, we would have had to see this happen in Europe last summer, and we would have had to see this happen over the course of the whole year in Sweden, in Belarus, in South Korea, in Japan and in Florida, as well as in a number of other US states.

In fact, the very opposite seems to be true: Countries (and periods) with hard lockdowns have shown and continue to show the highest mortality rates. The virus spreads according to its own laws, according to a clear seasonal rhythm in the temperate European climate zones – it is a common cold virus which doesn’t care about government guidelines. Nor will Australia or New Zealand be able to cut themselves off from it – and from the rest of the world – in the long run. What would be the point anyway?

On the other hand, the enormous damage caused by the governments’ coercive measures is becoming increasingly clear, even if the majority of the Western population has yet to start feeling it personally.

World economic growth is being slowed down on a gigantic scale and put into reverse gear. Initially, it is mainly the poorer countries which suffer: here, misery and hunger are now on the rise again, after being in steady decline over recent years and decades. Part of the additional trillions of euros or dollars that the world could have generated last year without government restrictions could and would have been spent on saving millions of lives. The polarising debate about the dichotomy between saving lives or saving the economy is completely out of touch with reality: prosperity and economic activity are fundamental prerequisites for effective healthcare. The rich West could have used last year’s lost tax revenues to build numerous hospitals and hire additional nursing staff. In developing countries, our lockdowns and the ensuing diminished economic activity and trade lead to mass misery and starvation, especially among children.

Slowly but surely, investigations are getting under way to examine the direct and indirect consequences of government fear propaganda and media scaremongering, of forced house arrests, of social isolation and bans on work and sports, of curfews, school absences, anxiety-driven education, compulsory face coverings and other hygiene constraints. It seems highly unlikely that the side-effect profile of all these coercive measures will historically be deemed acceptable.

6. Vaccines

Facts:

The SARS-CoV-2 vaccines were developed in record time, with many of the steps normally required by the regulatory authorities being omitted.

The pivotal clinical trials demonstrate a preventive efficacy against common cold symptoms with a positive SARS CoV-2 test and show a trend – albeit not a statistically significant one – towards a reduction in severe cases with a positive test for SARS CoV-2.

No preventive effect against mortality (death) has been demonstrated, nor are there apparently any plans to do so.

Analysis:

Vaccination of the whole of humanity is being described by many of our experts and politicians as the only possible way for a return to normal life. The (conditional) approval of vaccines developed in less than a year was carried out under high political pressure. Given the lack of the normally required safety studies (for example, animal toxicology) and given the extremely brief period of clinical observation, we can only hope that these products will not cause too many serious side-effects. Even though it is never possible to rule those out entirely for any new drug, the development steps normally required by regulatory authorities are based on medico-historical experience and have a well-reasoned purpose.

The ‘emergency approval’ of a new medical intervention may perhaps sometimes be justified by its clearly proven efficacy and the severity of the disease to be treated. Neither one of these factors applies to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, however.

The highly publicised efficacy of the products approved to date is a statistically significant reduction in common cold symptoms with a positive test compared with placebo (or, in the case of the AstraZeneca vaccine, oddly enough, also compared with a meningitis vaccination).

The fact that these vaccines succeed in clearly reducing the detectability of SARS-CoV-2 in individuals suffering from fever, cough or hoarseness is certainly an interesting biological result. From the patient’s point of view, this is irrelevant: he or she simply wants to have less fever, cough and hoarseness, no matter what is causing them. That is precisely what has not been shown in the clinical trials. The articles published in the world’s leading and, under normal circumstances, best medical journals (New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet) do not specify the absolute numbers of symptoms that occurred in the comparative groups. However, since most of these common cold symptoms are also listed as side-effects after vaccination, and occurred much more frequently in the respective vaccination groups than under placebo, as well as occurring much more frequently than the symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections chosen as the clinical endpoint, the conclusion surely has to be that people in the vaccination group became ill significantly more frequently than those in the placebo group.

None of the clinical trials was able to demonstrate a statistically significant effect on the occurrence of severe forms of respiratory disease, as they happened too rarely. In any case, the reasoning with respect to the clinical endpoint ‘with a positive test for SARS-CoV-2’ would apply again: patients do not care whether their shortness of breath, their hospitalisation or their death is associated with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test or not; they just do not want any of this.

In fact, a truly relevant proof of efficacy of all these vaccines could be provided only through rigorously conducted mortality studies (i.e. the comparison of the absolute death rate between the vaccination and the placebo groups), or, at the very least, through a so-called combined endpoint trial (for example, hospitalisation and/or death). If this is a deadly virus, if the situation is truly urgent, this is what we would have (had) to ask the pharmaceutical companies to carry out, and this is what we would have (had) to ask the regulatory authorities to demand from them.

This is not even planned, however – in all likelihood for very good reasons. In the clinical vaccine studies published to date, a total of well over 100,000 subjects were included, but to date not a single Covid-19 death has apparently been recorded; in the not yet published trial of the J&J vaccine, a few ‘Covid-related’ deaths (single digit number) seem to have occurred.

The disease is quite clearly not serious enough for well-designed clinical trials conclusively to demonstrate any effect on severe forms or death.

The vaccines have now largely been rolled out, and claims of efficacy abound, based on observational data. They seem in fact to be doing what they demonstrated in the randomised clinical trials – reducing the number of positively tested individuals (corona ‘cases’).

Their side-effect profiles are being established as we go along. Whether these vaccines will have any significant positive effect on population morbidity and above all mortality remains to be seen. It might be asking a little too much of them to prevent normal population mortality, but perhaps there will yield a welcome psychological result, allowing our societies to re-open (assuming that this is what governments and the governed people want).

7. Freedom and human rights

Fact:

As of now (April 2021), elementary freedoms and human rights are restricted or suspended for an unlimited period in almost all countries of the world.

Analysis:

Elected and non-elected representatives of the people are currently conducting a – in some cases openly declared – ‘war’ against a common cold virus, forcing their infantilised populations into a permanent state of emergency. How and with what kind of outcome this war is to be won remains fundamentally open, even if some protagonists are planning and propagating a new, totalitarian normality after a ‘great reset’.

The measures taken by governments to protect a certain ‘at-risk group’ (ostensibly, at least) are impacting enormously on other groups, indeed on the entire population. The modern constitutional state is, in principle, barred from taking such action; it must not actively harm innocent people in an attempt to protect others. Even if we were dealing with a truly severe epidemic, with the plague itself: fundamental human rights are not to be bent, even if democratic majorities were to agree to their suspension or abolition.

We are indeed engaged in a struggle – a struggle for freedom and for human dignity. Let us hope that the battle can still be won with facts and rational argument.

Translation of this article was done with permission by the Conservaive Woman website.

April 28, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

Influenza Vaccination Linked to Higher COVID Death Rates

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | April 26, 2021

A question that has lingered since the 2009 mass vaccination campaign against pandemic H1N1 swine flu is whether seasonal influenza vaccination might make pandemic infections worse or more prevalent.1

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Michael Murray, naturopath and author, confirmed what Judy Mikovits, Ph.D., told me in her second interview with me, namely that seasonal influenza vaccinations may have contributed to the dramatically elevated COVID-19 mortality seen in Italy. In a blog post, he pointed out that Italy had introduced a new, more potent type of flu vaccine, called VIQCC, in September 2019:2

“Most available influenza vaccines are produced in embryonated chicken eggs. VIQCC, however, is produced from cultured animal cells rather than eggs and has more of a ‘boost’ to the immune system as a result.

VIQCC also contains four types of viruses — 2 type A viruses (H1N1 and H3N2) and 2 type B viruses.3 It looks like this ‘super’ vaccine impacted the immune system in such a way to increase coronavirus infection through virus interference …”

Vaccines and Virus Interference

The kind of virus interference Murray was referring to had been shown to be at play during the 2009 pandemic swine flu. A 2010 review4,5 in PLOS Medicine, led by Dr. Danuta Skowronski, a Canadian influenza expert with the Centre for Disease Control in British Columbia, found the seasonal flu vaccine increased people’s risk of getting sick with pandemic H1N1 swine flu and resulted in more serious bouts of illness.

People who received the trivalent influenza vaccine during the 2008-2009 flu season were between 1.4 and 2.5 times more likely to get infected with pandemic H1N1 in the spring and summer of 2009 than those who did not get the seasonal flu vaccine.

To double-check the findings, Skowronski and other researchers conducted a follow-up study on ferrets. Their findings were presented at the 2012 Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. At the time, Skowronski commented on her team’s findings, telling MedPage Today:6

“There may be a direct vaccine effect in which the seasonal vaccine induced some cross-reactive antibodies that recognized pandemic H1N1 virus, but those antibodies were at low levels and were not effective at neutralizing the virus. Instead of killing the new virus it actually may facilitate its entry into the cells.”

In all, five observational studies conducted across several Canadian provinces found identical results. These findings also confirmed preliminary data from Canada and Hong Kong. As Australian infectious disease expert professor Peter Collignon told ABC News:7

“Some interesting data has become available which suggests that if you get immunized with the seasonal vaccine, you get less broad protection than if you get a natural infection …

We may be perversely setting ourselves up that if something really new and nasty comes along, that people who have been vaccinated may in fact be more susceptible compared to getting this natural infection.”

Flu Vaccination Raises Unspecified Coronavirus Infection

A study8,9 published in the January 10, 2020, issue of the journal Vaccine also found people were more likely to get some form of coronavirus infection if they had been vaccinated against influenza. As noted in this study, titled “Influenza Vaccination and Respiratory Virus Interference Among Department of Defense Personnel During the 2017-2018 Influenza Season:”

“Receiving influenza vaccination may increase the risk of other respiratory viruses, a phenomenon known as virus interference … This study aimed to investigate virus interference by comparing respiratory virus status among Department of Defense personnel based on their influenza vaccination status.”

While seasonal influenza vaccination did not raise the risk of all respiratory infections, it was in fact “significantly associated with unspecified coronavirus” (meaning it did not specifically mention SARS-CoV-2, which was still unknown at the time this study was conducted) and human metapneumovirus (hMPV10).

Remember, SARS-CoV-2 is one of seven different coronaviruses known to cause respiratory illness in humans.11 Four of them — 229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1 — cause symptoms associated with the common cold.

OC43 and HKU112 are also known to cause bronchitis, acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia in all age groups.13 The other three human coronaviruses — which are capable of causing more serious respiratory illness — are SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2.

Service members who had received a seasonal flu shot during the 2017-2018 flu season were 36% more likely to contract coronavirus infection and 51% more likely to contract hMPV infection than unvaccinated individuals.14,15

Influenza Vaccination Linked to Higher COVID Death Rates

October 1, 2020, professor Christian Wehenkel, an academic editor for PeerJ, published a data analysis16 in that same journal, in which he reports finding a “positive association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination rates in elderly people worldwide.”

In other words, areas with the highest vaccination rates among elderly people also had the highest COVID-19 death rates. To be fair, the publisher’s note points out that correlation does not necessary equal causation:

“What does that mean? By way of example, in some cities increased ice cream sales correlate with increased murder rates. But that doesn’t mean that if more ice creams are sold, then murder rates will increase. There is some other factor at play — the weather temperature.

Similarly, this article should not be taken to suggest that receiving the influenza vaccination results in an increased risk of death for an individual with COVID-19 as there may be many confounding factors at play (including, for example, socioeconomic factors).

That said, one of the reasons for the analysis was to double-check whether the data would support reports claiming that seasonal influenza vaccination was negatively correlated with COVID-19 mortality — including one that found regions in Italy with higher vaccination rates among elders had lower COVID-19 death rates.17 “A negative association was expected,” Wehenkel writes in PeerJ. But that’s not what he found:

“Contrary to expectations, the present worldwide analysis and European sub-analysis do not support the previously reported negative association between COVID-19 deaths (DPMI) [COVID-19 deaths per million inhabitants] and IVR [influenza vaccination rate] in elderly people, observed in studies in Brazil and Italy,” the author noted.18

“To determine the association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination, available data sets from countries with more than 0.5 million inhabitants were analyzed (in total 39 countries).

To accurately estimate the influence of IVR on COVID-19 deaths and mitigate effects of confounding variables, a sophisticated ranking of the importance of different variables was performed, including as predictor variables IVR and some potentially important geographical and socioeconomic variables as well as variables related to non-pharmaceutical intervention.

The associations were measured by non-parametric Spearman rank correlation coefficients and random forest functions.

The results showed a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and IVR of people ≥65 years-old. There is a significant increase in COVID-19 deaths from eastern to western regions in the world. Further exploration is needed to explain these findings, and additional work on this line of research may lead to prevention of deaths associated with COVID-19.”

What Might Account for Vaccination-Mortality Link?

In the discussion section of the paper, Wehenkel points out that previous explanations for how flu vaccination might reduce COVID-19 deaths are not supported by the data he collected.

For example, he cites research attributing the beneficial effect of flu vaccination to improved prevention of influenza and SARS-CoV-2 coinfections, and another that suggested the flu vaccine might improve SARS-CoV-2 clearance.

These arguments “cannot explain the positive, direct or indirect relationship between influenza vaccination rates and both COVID-19 deaths per million inhabitants and case fatality ratio found in this study, which was confirmed by an unbiased ranking variable importance using Random Forest models,” Wehenkel says.19 (Random Forest refers to a preferred classification algorithm used in data science to model predictions.20) Instead, he offers the following hypotheses:21

“The influenza vaccine may increase influenza immunity at the expense of reduced immunity to SARS-CoV-2 by some unknown biological mechanism, as suggested by Cowling et al. (2012)22 for non-influenza respiratory virus.

Alternatively, weaker temporary, non-specific immunity after influenza viral infection could cause this positive association due to stimulation of the innate immune response during and for a short time after infection.23,24

People who had received the influenza vaccination would have been protected against influenza but not against other viral infections, due to reduced non-specific immunity in the following weeks,25 probably caused by virus interference.26,27,28

Although existing human vaccine adjuvants have a high level of safety, specific adjuvants in influenza vaccines should also be tested for adverse reactions, such as additionally increased inflammation indicators29 in COVID-19 patients with already strongly increased inflammation.”30

The Flu Vaccine Paradox

Since Wehenkel’s analysis focuses on the flu vaccine’s impact on COVID-19 mortality among the elderly, it can be useful to take a look at information presented at a World Health Organization workshop in 2012. On page 6 of the workshop presentation31 in question, the presenter discusses “a paradox from trends studies” showing that “influenza-related mortality increased in U.S. elderly while vaccine coverage rose from 15% to 65%.”

On page 7, he further notes that while a decline in mortality of 35% would be expected with that increase in vaccine uptake, assuming the vaccine is 60% to 70% effective, the mortality rate has risen instead, although not exactly in tandem with vaccination coverage.

On page 10, another paradox is noted. While observational studies claim the flu vaccine reduces winter mortality risk from any cause by 50% among the elderly, and vaccine coverage among the elderly rose from 15% to 65%, no mortality decline has been seen among the elderly during winter months.32,33

Seeing how the elderly are the most likely to die due to influenza, and the flu accounts for 5% to 10% of all winter deaths, a “50% mortality savings [is] just not possible,” the presenter states. He then goes on to highlight studies showing evidence of bias in studies that estimate influenza vaccine effectiveness in the elderly. When that bias is adjusted for, vaccine effectiveness among seniors is discouraging.

Interestingly, the document points out that immunologists have long known that vaccine effectiveness in the elderly would be low, thanks to senescent immune response, i.e., the natural decline in immune function that occurs with age. This is why influenza “remains a significant problem in elderly despite widespread influenza vaccination programs,” the presenter notes.

Report All COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

My belief is that current COVID-19 “vaccines,” which use mRNA gene therapy technology, are likely to do more harm than good in most people. There are many reports of elderly in nursing homes dying within hours or days of getting the vaccine. This is likely due to an overwhelming inflammatory response.

If you’re elderly and frail, or have a family member who is elderly and thinking of getting the vaccine, I would urge you to take a deeper dive into the available research, and to review the side effect statistics before making your decision.

Last but not least, if you or someone you love have received a COVID-19 vaccine and are experiencing side effects, be sure to report it:34

  1. If you live in the U.S., file a report on VAERS
  2. Report the injury on VaxxTracker.com, which is a nongovernmental adverse event tracker (you can file anonymously if you like)
  3. Report the injury on the CHD website

Sources and References

April 28, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

A Message To Everyone Reliant On Thier Family Doctor | Dr. Scott Jensen

Banned Youtube Videos | April 12, 2021

Dr Scott Jensen’s tweet :

“For the THIRD time in under a year someone has tried to take away the my medical license and use the board as a weapon, but they failed again. The sad part is we’ll never get to know who is behind these targeted attacks.

Pay attention, because they are coming after YOU!”

April 28, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

Why Can’t the Government be More Transparent About the Data Guiding its Decisions?

By Professor Anthony A. Fryer | Lockdown Sceptics | April 27, 2021

When I look back over the last year or so of the pandemic, I can forgive the first couple of months. We were all finding our feet with a largely unknown entity. However, as a clinical scientist with over 30 years in NHS laboratories and as an academic researcher with over 200 peer-reviewed clinical research articles in scientific and medical journals (including over 130 involving use of the polymerase chain reaction [PCR]), I found my views increasingly divergent from those of the Government and its advisors. Those who know me will know that it takes a lot to get me annoyed, but I could not sit by and do nothing when I could see the immense damage being done to countless lives and businesses in the name of supposedly protecting us from SARS-CoV-2.

But let me say at the start; I am not one to deny the damage that COVID-19 can do. (And I deliberately use that term, rather than SARS-CoV-2. It’s the disease that causes the problems – most people manage the virus without much difficulty.) COVID-19 can be very nasty and my heart goes out to all those affected. But the way in which the Government handled the pandemic has, in my view, been shocking. It’s felt like it has focused blindly on the virus (and not very well at that either – just think about PPE in care homes for a start) and ignored the massive implications on every other level.

So I wrote. I wrote letters to the local paper, emailed the Chief Medical Officer, submitted evidence to a Parliamentary Inquiry, signed the Great Barrington Declaration, published scientific papers on the ineffectiveness of face coverings and on the non-Covid harms to people with diabetes, and wrote to my MP. Several times. I also joined UsforThem and the Health Advisory and Recovery Team (HART).

Back in October 2020, I wrote one of my letters to my MP, Fiona Bruce, raising a number of concerns about the Government’s handling of the pandemic, and requesting that she raise these concerns with the powers that be on my behalf. While the letter was written as a member of the public, I felt that my expertise and experience put me in a position to comment in a way that perhaps others couldn’t.

In the letter, I highlighted three main concerns:

1. Evidence. That measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 were introduced without evidence to support them.

2. Context. That such measures were generating more harms than those caused by the virus itself, and this was not being reflected in a balanced way in the press briefings, including in the figures presented, thereby creating an atmosphere of fear.

3. Testing. That the way in which testing data has been presented had been misleading to the public and media. This area was of particular concern to me, given my clinical and research experience in the field.

In respect of the above three areas, I requested the following of my MP:

1. Please could you lobby that scientific evidence underpinning decisions is provided with all future communications.

2. I would ask that you raise this with the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health as a matter of urgency to ensure that contextual information is co-presented at press briefings for comparison.

3. I would be grateful if you could impress upon the Secretary of State for Health, the Chief Medical Officers and the Chief Scientific Officer to present adjusted data in a more balanced way to reflect the major difference in rates of cases now with those in April.

… and…

I would request that you (i) ask the Secretary of State for Health to ensure that all positive tests are repeated before labelling an individual as positive, and (ii) that the estimated one third of deaths attributed to COVID-19 because of a SARS-CoV-2 positive test, but where the cause of death was not COVID-19, be removed from the figures.

On April 13th 2021, some six months later, the reply arrived, along with a letter from Lord Bethell (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care), dated April 7th.

The response, which you can read here, was both enlightening and disheartening, if not unexpected.

Here is my commentary on the response from Lord Bethell, passed on by my MP:

Evidence
Lord Bethell referred to the release of papers and minutes from SAGE, presumably to exemplify the evidence underpinning the decisions to implement mitigation measures. The complete lack of credibility of anything coming from SAGE notwithstanding, this is hardly an independent assessment of the evidence underpinning the Government’s decisions.

To me, anyone with any scientific nous could present a fairly long list of actions that the Government has taken without first presenting clear evidence to indicate their effectiveness and an evidence-based risk-assessment of potential non-Covid harms. The “Rule of Six”, the 10pm curfew, face coverings (anywhere, let alone in schools), lockdowns (in any of its many guises, including Tiers), etc, etc, etc. Where is the assessment of non-Covid physical and mental health harms, economic impact, or the effect on our children’s education and wellbeing? Or even evidence on reducing transmission of the virus itself, for that matter?

All we have seem to have seen is exaggerated figures predicting doomsday scenarios, mostly based on modelling rather than actual data, none of which have come to pass. These seem only aimed at scaring the public into following their non-evidence-based guidelines (an approach which, to me, could itself have a potentially significant negative mental health impact).

Context
In terms of presenting COVID-19 data in a wider context, Lord Bethell’s response seemed silent on this one. I am still waiting to hear a press conference which presents the non-Covid harms that we are hearing about all the time in the scientific literature, from the mental health sector, from education, from the business world and from thousands of individual stories.

We are instead presented with advertising campaigns which tell us to “act like you have it”. Not only is that completely illogical – if we all took that literally, society would stop. All of it. No hospitals, no supermarkets, no police, nothing. We’d all be at home self-isolating. But it verging on emotional blackmail. Please give the public some respect and allow them to make responsible decisions.

Testing
The third area covered three distinct points:

  1. Comparing like with like. A request to not compare figures in October with those in April when testing levels were at a much lower level.
  2. False positives. A request to define positive ‘cases’ accurately by correctly addressing the issue of false positives.
  3. ‘With’, not ‘from’. A request to exclude deaths where COVID-19 was not the cause of death from the figures for COVID-associated deaths.

a. Comparing like with like. On the first of these, it’s hard to identify whether Lord Bethell had anything to say on this. He didn’t address it directly. My point focused on the unbalanced way figures were presented back in October which, in my view, presented to the public another doomsday, worst-case scenario to frighten them into compliance with Government wishes. Models presenting huge potential death tolls, all of which were subsequently shown to be out by orders of magnitude.

b. False positives. On the second point, Lord Bethell’s response went into some detail, the content of which itself seemed to either miss the point, or indeed add fuel to my initial concern.

On the positive side, there were some admissions about the PCR test. For example, his response stated: “We are also aware that when PCR test detects viral material it does not indicate that the virus is intact and infectious.” So a positive test doesn’t equate to infectiousness, or even having the virus at all. That’s obvious. It’s just a pity this isn’t mentioned in any of the press briefings along with an evidence-based assessment of its impact on the figures. “Positive tests”, “infections” and “cases” are used interchangeably.

Regarding the PCR test cycle threshold (Ct), he also acknowledged that “…values obtained in this way are semi-quantitative, meaning they do not measure the precise quantity of the virus…” He focuses on the small number of samples with a cycle threshold of over 37. I would be interested in what proportion are above 27, as there is increasing evidence that test samples above this level are significantly less likely to be infectious (and have a much higher false positive risk). Indeed, some data published by the Oxford Group based on the UK’s COVID-19 Infection Survey illustrated that the vast majority of ‘positive’ PCR tests have a Ct value of >27 (Pritchard et al. Impact of vaccination on SARS-CoV-2 cases in the community: a population-based study using the UK’s COVID-19 Infection Survey). So most of the positive tests contain low levels of virus (if any) and the risk of transmission is small.

But even taking Lord Bethell’s Ct cut-off, his comments on test specificity are particularly revealing. He acknowledges that, “Like any diagnostic test, there is a possibility of a false negative or false positive result”, but goes on to say, “but this is very small”. He states that: “Independent, confirmatory testing of positive samples indicates a test specificity that exceeds 99.3%, meaning the false positive rate is less than 1%.”

My HART colleague Dr Claire Craig did some sums on this. At a false positive rate of 0.7%, there would have been 8,700 false positives and 6,200 true positives for the week beginning April 12th on PCR. In other words, 58% of the positives would have been false. If we include the Lateral Flow Tests, then 70% of the cases would have been false positive that week.

My real question is, why are the ‘case’ figures not revised downwards accordingly, or at least the impact of false positives explained at the briefings?

c. “With”, not “from”. On the third point, Lord Bethell made some valid points, though their interpretation was a little off kilter.  My concern related to the definition of the figures used to define Covid-associated deaths in official figures. In my mind there were three ways these could be derived; (i) those where the cause of death was primarily COVID-19 (“from” Covid), (ii) those where the person had a SARS-CoV-2, or even COVID-19, but where this was not the cause of death (“with” Covid), and (iii) those who had a false positive test for SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., did not actually have the virus or COVID-19 when they died).

My view was that these latter two would over-estimate the figures for Covid-associated deaths and should be excluded (though I acknowledge that separating the first two from each other can sometimes be difficult in clinical practice). Lord Bethell rightly pointed out three other possible scenarios that could theoretically cause an under-estimate of the figures. Firstly, those who “had COVID-19 but had not been tested”, secondly, those who had “tested positive only via a non-NHS or PHE laboratory” so their positive result was not recorded on their death certificate, and thirdly, those who “had tested negative and subsequently caught the virus and died”. He also acknowledged that it is possible that my options (ii) and (iii) above are plausible scenarios: “It is true that people who have tested positive for COVID 19 could, in a few cases, have died from something else.” (His phrasing is interesting here – I wonder if he realises that PCR is not a test for the disease, COVID-19, but for the virus, SARS-CoV-2?) It is saddening that he feels the need to qualify the option that overestimates death with the phrase “in a few cases”, but not his three scenarios that might lead to under-counting, despite the likelihood that these have much less impact on the figures.

Have we moved on since October?
My feeling is that we have moved on in some areas. Now we have the vast majority of susceptible individuals vaccinated (one of the few success stories), a huge number of people who are resistant or immune, herd immunity, and a whole range of effective treatments (and that’s excluding the two magic pills we are promised by autumn). This should mean that we are completely back to normal – no masks, no distancing, no sanitisers – and focusing on how we can help those in other countries to get to the same place, and recovering from the damage caused by the mitigation measures.

But sadly we still don’t get anything high profile (e.g. in Government briefings) on my areas of concern. Nothing on the evidence underpinning the Government’s decisions, nothing on non-Covid harms, nothing on the impact of false positives on “cases” and Covid-associated deaths. And still, millions of people in the UK suffer needlessly. An apology would be nice.

In the first paragraph of his response, Lord Bethell states that “we are committed to open sharing of the scientific advice that guides our response to COVID-19 where possible”. I am yet to be convinced.

Dr Anthony Fryer is Professor of Clinical Biochemistry at the Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine at Keele University and member of HART and is writing in a personal capacity.

April 28, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment