Aletho News


GP with the courage to say No to vaccines

By Sally Beck | The Conservative Woman | June 28, 2021

A GP who resigned his ‘job for life’ as a partner with a Hampshire practice because of his doubts about Covid-19 vaccines has been suspended by NHS England for questioning coronavirus protocol.

Dr Sam White received a letter on Friday informing him that he was suspended with immediate effect, which stops him practising as a doctor within the NHS. On Saturday he was telephoned by a senior clinical adviser to NHS England, who condescendingly called him ‘poppet’.

In a soothing manner, she told him she was concerned for his welfare. ‘I’m worried about whether you’re well,’ she said, the undercurrent of the conversation being the suggestion that Dr White is suffering mental health issues.

In fact, Dr White has never felt saner even though he has pressed the nuclear button on his professional life. The two main reasons for detonation involved the Covid-19 vaccine roll out, an initiative that he fundamentally disagrees with because vaccines are not needed if there’s an effective treatment; and the mandatory wearing of masks, a theme introduced by psychologists not scientists, which Stanford University research shows is nothing more than theatre.

He said: ‘It’s hard to go against the grain like this, but when I found out they were going to start testing the vaccine on children, I couldn’t sleep. I knew it didn’t matter what the results of the trials were, negative or positive, they would begin injecting children regardless. A healthy child is more likely to be struck by lightning than die of Covid. They don’t need an experimental vaccine that has no proven benefit.

‘The risks from the vaccine are completely unknown because it’s barely been tested. But reactions are beginning to come to light. Adolescent boys seem to be developing myocarditis – heart inflammation – which can permanently damage the heart. The risks could be potentially devastating compared with them contracting Covid and surviving it.

‘I began waking up in a cold sweat. I was so anxious that I ended up calling in sick. That was back in March, and I never went back.’ He now fears this anxiety will be used to question his mental health.

The second dig in his ribs came when someone in the Twitter community posted in the wake of apocalyptic stories about the vaccine-injured: ‘What are all the doctors doing about this crime against humanity?’ It struck a chord, and it was then he knew he had to reveal how he’d taken a stand.

Dr White explained in a heartfelt resignation video that went viral after he posted it to Twitter on Friday June 4. ‘I had to go because of all the lies. They’re so vast it’s been impossible to stomach.

‘I became a doctor because I wanted to help people and make a difference.

‘Since the pandemic was announced, I’ve had my hands tied behind my back. There are safe treatments that I have researched and there is good science behind them, proven treatments, but we’re not allowed to use them.’

During our interview, Dr White explained that the ‘vaccine cure’ was worse than the ‘disease’. He said: ‘After the vaccine programme began, I started to see more people with vaccine damage than with Covid.

‘I effectively left my practice three months after the rollout but before I left, I saw eight vaccine injured patients, they felt feverish and short of breath post-vaccination, and one was hospitalised in his 50s. He’d had Covid-19 so he didn’t need the vaccine, but no one had checked his medical notes. When I got his discharge letter back from A&E, it just said Covid-19, not that he’d had a reaction to the injection.’

The lack of information available about the vaccine worried him, as did his contract to be complicit in potentially causing harm. He said: ‘A lot of doctors don’t know that this is not a vaccine, but genetic manipulation.

‘When you sign up to become a GP you sign a contract with the NHS who tell you what to do. Essentially you can’t refuse to do what you’re told. I was hoping in December that the General Practitioners’ Committee (GPC), our governing body, would say, “Hang on, we haven’t got enough data here, we need to hold off doing this”, but that didn’t happen.’

Now, he wonders how many of his elderly Covid patients would not have died if he’d been allowed to prescribe ivermectin, the medication recommended by Dr Tess Lawrie from British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD), a group of health researchers who say research shows it can cure and prevent Covid.

On Wednesday afternoon last week, Dr White had a call from a woman claiming to be a doctor from NHS England who expressed concerns that he’d discussed drugs such as the malaria prevention medicine hydroxychloroquine which research says could increase Covid survival rates by 200 per cent. She also did not want him to mention the steroid inhaler budesonide, talked about by a doctor in the US.

A clean getaway was too much to hope for, especially as he’d made his feelings known so publicly. Since that video flew around the world it’s had close to a million views, and Dr White has paid dearly for his outspoken departure. His bank account has been hacked and a five-figure sum removed. He has no idea if it’s connected but according to the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) it’s a ‘thing’: thieving people’s identities and stealing their money is a tactic used to intimidate the outspoken.

It has affected his personal relationships and is a divisive subject within his family, who all have their roots in healthcare.

As painful as the response from his family has been, the outpouring of support from strangers on social media has been phenomenal. He said: ‘Before I posted the video, I had 100 followers on Instagram which increased to 37.5k after my video. I had 11 followers on Twitter and now I have over 8k, but Instagram are taking down my posts. I put up a list of vitamins I take for boosting immunity. I didn’t even mention Covid, and they labelled it: “Covid-19 misinformation. False treatments. WARNING”.’

Dr White, 41, is not a naïve rookie. He qualified in 2004, worked as a GP for 11 years and was invited to become a partner in the Hampshire practice where he’d worked as a popular locum in February 2020. He’s worked in A&E, and he helped to run a palliative care unit for a while.

Initially, he turned down their offer of a partnership because he said: ‘Being a GP is a mill, you’re seeing 40 patients a day, a third of your day is spent doing paperwork, a lot of it is meaningless. It’s what we call tick-box medicine. What I felt was that I was, if I can be frank with you, a bitch for Big Pharma.

‘If you take someone coming in with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, the agenda is to get them on a drug for the diabetes, get them on a different drug for their blood pressure, it’s not about reversing type 2 diabetes which you can do by changing their diet.

Since he walked away from general practice, he feels lighter and is excited for the future. Dr White is now focusing on functional medicine, from which he is not suspended – a biology-based approach to healthcare that identifies and addresses the root cause of disease, for example poor diet and lifestyle.

He wants to cure people, not just control their symptoms with drugs with side effects that can potentially harm.

The vaccines, and the Armageddon he, and many other doctors and scientists, fear they could cause, are never far from his thoughts though. He has this advice for people undecided about whether to have a Covid vaccination or not: ‘Please don’t have this because you think they will let you go on holiday. Your ability to travel should not be impeded for a virus with a survival rate of 99.7 per cent. It makes no sense.’

June 27, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

Conflict of Interest in WHO Recommendation Against Ivermectin

By Andrew Bannister | Trial Site News | June 27, 2021

All dangerous diseases are best treated early. A major failure of the global COVID-19 strategy has been to wait a week for the disease to become dangerous, when breathing becomes a problem. Early treatment of COVID, even for those with mild symptoms, prevents later hospitalization. There are several early treatment drugs showing promise but ivermectin leads the pack regarding safety, effectiveness and price. Unfortunately, the biggest players in Western mainstream media are members of the Trusted News Initiative (TNI). The TNI is a story for another day but it’s remarkable that big media companies barely report that they have agreed to promote global vaccination and to make sure any “disinformation myths are stopped in their tracks”[i]. Unfortunately, as a result early treatment seems to be seen as a disinformation myth and is not mentioned. Early treatment is vital in treating serious diseases and COVID-19 is no exception.

Considering the human and economic cost, the avoidance of early treatment with a very safe, effective and off-patent drug is a criminal tragedy of immense proportions and a winning lottery ticket for some pharmaceutical companies that are designing and selling novel patented drugs that could not compete with ivermectin in a free market. Mercks’ molnupiravir, for instance, is seeking an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA and “Merck will receive approximately $1.2 billion to supply approximately 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir to the United States government.”[ii]

Ivermectin doesn’t need an EUA because it passed trials in 1986. It just needs to be recommended to treat COVID-19. However, if ivermectin was officially recognized as an effective treatment, it would legally prevent molnupiravir’s EUA until it passes trials and thus delay or endanger the $1.2 billion deal. An aggravating factor is the fact that molnupiravir (EIDD-2801) could cause harmful genetic mutations. [iii]

In the face of a public health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, government authorities and international organizations have traditionally looked to the World Health Organization (WHO) for guidance – trusting that the WHO is free of commercial interests. Originally funded entirely by member states, the organization now receives less than 20% of its budget from these states and the rest from donors[iv] with their own financial and strategic agendas. Margret Chan, the previous Director General of the WHO, said in 2015: “I have to take my hat and go around the world to beg for money and when they give us the money [it is] highly linked to their preferences, what they like. It may not be the priority of the WHO, so if we do not solve this, we are not going to be as great as we were”. [v]

Veteran journalist Robert Parsons explains that “the Smallpox eradication program was funded entirely by donors. That may have led to the problem that for special projects it [the WHO] has to raise the funding. But the private sector is unlikely to get involved unless it shows profit … Consequently, there is little independent public health research”.[vi]  Since then, the undue financial influence of private stakeholders has further grown at the WHO. Donations come with caveats so that the organization is compromised on a number of issues that involve the interests of its donors.

In 2010, for instance, after the H1N1 flu pandemic, an investigative inquiry by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that “key scientists advising the World Health Organization on planning for an influenza pandemic had done paid work for pharmaceutical firms that stood to gain from the guidance they were preparing. These conflicts of interest have never been publicly disclosed by WHO, and WHO has dismissed inquiries into its handling of the A/H1N1 pandemic as ‘conspiracy theories’.” [vii] These advisors managed to convince the UK government to spend more than $7 billion on a vaccine that was never needed.[viii]

As of 2021, conflicts of interest such as these continue to be a problem – the undue influence of private stakeholders being a prime example. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is the second largest funder of the WHO after the USA. Gates, however, also founded and funds The Vaccine Alliance (GAVI). In the period 2018–19, their combined voluntary contribution to the WHO was 27%[ix] greater than the US voluntary contribution, making Gates’ influence pervasive. As funds by the Gates conglomerate are earmarked for specific projects, the WHO doesn’t decide how the respective money is spent, Gates does.

In addition to the undue financial influence exerted by the BMGF, there is also an overlap of personnel between the WHO and Gates’ endeavors. Tedros Adhanom, the current WHO Director General, has previously served on the board of GAVI and as the chair of the Gates funded Global Fund.[x] Arguably, he is still influenced by his previous employer’s ideology and financial power.

Gates’ priorities have become the WHO’s. The main priority of Gates is global COVID-19 vaccination, not public health systems providing early treatment. He has been pushing vaccination onto the global agenda since 2012. The power of Gates Foundation funding has dictated a drive towards vaccinations and away from other essential public health measures, a move which has been criticized for years by international NGOs involved in the health and development field.

Generally, Gates also believes that capitalism is more efficient than public health agencies when it comes to reaching his goals in the area of global health.[xi] Capitalism is usually more efficient than government but it values profits above people. Accordingly, Gates as well as the pharmaceutical companies his foundation is invested in and whose products he is pushing globally are making billions from their endeavors. Morgan Stanley believes that Pfizer, for example, could earn $100 billion from vaccines developed with public tax money from the US, Germany and other places in the next five years.[xii] Pfizer is partnered with BioNTech. The Gates Foundation has investments in both companies, putting $55 million into BioNTech alone in September 2019. The Gates Foundation also owns shares in Merck which is positioning the drug molnupiravir on the market hoping to make billions from it.

When it comes to ivermectin – in its off-patent form, Gates is funding work on a patentable, injectable form.[xiii] Organizations tied to Gates have taken an antagonistic stance thus far. Notably, GAVI has been going all out by running paid google ads against the use of ivermectin in COVID-19.[xiv]

Given the significant financial and ideological conflict of interest of its main donor, the WHO recommendation on early treatment with an off-patent, highly efficient, safe and cheap drug such as ivermectin needs to be critically examined. In the WHO ivermectin guideline, despite showing a reduction of deaths by 80%,[xv] the organization puzzlingly recommends against ivermectin’s use.

The WHO’s guideline document is “based on a living systematic review and network meta-analysis from investigators at McMaster University”.[xvi] McMaster University (including any of its direct affiliates) should have excused itself from conducting the guideline, given it has several objective conflicts of interest when it comes to ivermectin. For one, McMaster itself is designing and producing second generation COVID-19 vaccines.[xvii] It intends to produce hundreds of thousands of doses. It is likely that these experimental products would receive greater scrutiny if there is a viable safe prophylactic and treatment option for COVID-19. Secondly, McMaster University, like the WHO itself, receives millions in funding from the Gates Foundation. Additionally, McMaster, again like the WHO, shares personnel with the Gates Foundation.

Edward Mills, for example, is both a McMaster associate professor and the clinical trial advisor for the Gates Foundation. In addition he has recently been appointed as the principal investigator of the Gates-funded Together Trial that is currently evaluating repurposed drugs such as ivermectin for their use in COVID-19[xviii]. Asked for comment, Mills denied that the Gates Foundation was having any “say on the conduct of the trial” even though he himself is it’s principal investigator and employed by the Gates Foundation. As past experiences show, no product should ever be tested in a trial funded by those gaining or losing financially or ideologically from it. Thus, ivermectin trials are best not done by anyone with a financial and ideological investment in competing drugs and vaccines. No reputable organization or government agency should be basing their opinion of ivermectin on trials conducted by the Gates Foundation or any other party with a conflict of interest.

The recently announced Oxford University trial of Ivermectin shares a similar conflict as Oxford is profiting from the sales of the AstraZeneca vaccine and questions have been raised about the proposed trial possibly sabotaging the result by admitting elderly people already sick for 14 days but limiting the Ivermectin dose to three treatments.

Unsurprisingly, in a recent interview, Edward Mills seemed to be downplaying the effect of ivermectin. “The evidence on prophylaxis use of ivermectin is not very convincing”, Mills doubts, even though ivermectin is not being evaluated as a prophylactic in his own trial. Data from different clinical trials clearly shows that ivermectin is exceptionally effective, specifically as a prophylactic. Bryant et al. (2021) who analyzed the existing data from clinical trials according to conservative Cochrane meta-analysis standards – a gold-standard in science – found that “ivermectin prophylaxis reduced covid-19 infection by an average 86%” with the best-dosed study reaching an effectiveness of 91%.[xviv] There have been several studies that show that the regularity of the prophylactic dose is important with a weekly dose being more effective than bimonthly. Edward Mills curiously doesn’t find the prophylactic data interesting. The big money is not in running generic repurposed drug trials but in pharmaceutical company trials fighting for market share.

Mills also suggests ivermectin might be efficient as a treatment but emphasizes the need for other drug interventions. “I am very optimistic that it will – it will just be one component of the interventions that we need.“[xix] While other components can be useful additions, downplaying the effect of ivermectin is not warranted. An expert meta-analysis by Karale et al. (2021) including researchers from the renowned Mayo Clinic comes to the conclusion that when given early in mild or moderate COVID-19, ivermectin reduces mortality by 90%.[xx] The findings further corroborate the results of the scientific review conducted by Kory et al. (2021) that has been published in the American Journal of Therapeutics and shows ivermectin to be significantly effective in the treatment of COVID-19.[xxi]

Given the conflicts of interest of McMaster University as well as the dubious interrelations between McMaster personnel and private stakeholders such as the Gates Foundation and other industry-related companies, the WHO should not have accepted McMaster’s involvement in the guidelines on ivermectin. Further, the WHO should ensure that no undue influence is exerted by its own donors – a task it has not yet been able to achieve.

Questions sent to the WHO Ethics Office, asking for clarity about its recommendation against the use of ivermectin, were answered. However the organization refused to supply minutes of the meeting on ivermectin. It further declares that no interview will be granted. It does “not consider an assessment of ivermectin for prophylactic use in COVID-19 to be warranted”. It also does not consider trials by drug companies to be “biased per se” even though major pharmaceutical corporations have been repeatedly convicted of substantial fraud, manipulation and concealment of evidence and paying billions of dollars in fines. There was also an intimidatory confidentially clause in the WHO correspondence despite the author stating that they are writing about ivermectin.

The WHO needs to prove that it followed a scientific and ethical process in its recommendation against the use of ivermectin. Public trust is crucial to beat the pandemic. We cannot continue to have the Gates foundation determining the WHO decisions on Ivermectin given the large conflict of interest. The minutes of the meeting in which the recommendation against ivermectin was taken need to be made public. The public needs to be told and shown invoices with regards to who paid for the steps that informed the WHO ivermectin guideline. The conflicts of interest of major WHO donors and the employer (McMaster University) of the scientists that are responsible for the guideline need to be made transparent. Without this, the recommendation against the use of ivermectin, remains mired in suspicion of corporate overreach.

Few incidences make the general problem more apparent than the following: The WHO’s Chief Scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, was on Twitter recently warning Indian nationals in the midst of a deadly COVID-19 wave not to take ivermectin citing Merck marketing material.[xxii] As a reminder, the pharmaceutical giant Merck is hoping to make billions with its potentially mutagenic molnupiravir which won’t happen if off-patent ivermectin is a standard of care. Swaminathan’s statement went against the official Indian recommendation in favor of ivermectin issued by the most highly regarded health association in India after the country had been confronted with a new COVID-19 variant and regions were seeing improvement with early Ivermectin treatment. In the aftermath, the Indian Bar Association served Swaminathan a legal notice for spreading dangerous disinformation and causing a significant number of deaths by discouraging the use of a life-saving drug.[xxiii] Swaminathan’s tweet has since been deleted. The legal notice for aggravated offences against humanity concerning ivermectin has by now been extended to the WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom.[xxiv]

The once noble idea of a global public health system working for mankind’s best interests has been replaced by an organization largely driven by the financial and ideological interests of private stakeholders. This is not a new phenomenon. International groups have long called for a reform of the WHO. In a global pandemic, the disastrous consequences of these pervasive organizational issues become even more apparent.

Distinguished scientists and frontline physicians from all over the world without conflicts of interest have called for the immediate use of ivermectin against COVID-19. Numerous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and expert meta-analyses performed according to the highest standards of science have proven ivermectin’s effectiveness and reaffirmed its safety. Yet, a front of organizations including a significantly compromised WHO as well as wealthy private stakeholders with financial and ideological conflicts of interest have blocked the usage of this life-saving medication. Some observers have called this a crime against humanity which should be subjected to public scrutiny and an official criminal investigation. Ivermectin, meanwhile, should be used immediately to save lives as it has already been done successfully in a number of places worldwide.







[vii] ]









[xvi] WHO Therapeutics and COVID-19 Living Guideline. 31.3.2021.



[xviv] (peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in the American Journal of Therapeutics)







June 27, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

China and the Supply Chain: A Comment on the June 2021 White House Review

By James K. Galbraith – Institute for New Economic Thinking – June 23, 2021

In January 2013, the Obama White House released a White Paper on “National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security: Implementation Update.” It was a short document, only 22 pages, almost wholly focused on the security of transport – of ships, air freight, the mails – against terrorism and other threats. What traveled through the supply chain, and from where, does not appear to have been a major concern.

In June 2021, the Biden White House published a “100-day review” entitled “Building Resilient Supply Chains, Revitalizing American Manufacturing and Fostering Broad-based Growth.” It is focused on a very different concept of what the “supply chain” is; the term now encompasses the entire spectrum of upstream production. The Biden review takes these up in four areas: semiconductors, high-capacity batteries, critical minerals, and pharmaceuticals.

One might ask, why these four areas and not others? There is no clear answer, and it may be that choice was mainly bureaucratic. The review was compiled from separate reports by four cabinet departments: Commerce, Energy, Defense, and Health and Human Services. Had the Department of Agriculture been asked, or the Department of Transportation, one might have gotten different choices. Petroleum comes to mind. Or natural rubber – the linchpin of World War II in the Pacific.

If there is an Ariadne’s thread to these four areas, it is the trading and competitive relationship with China. The reports do not focus solely on China and give what is largely a fair-minded and wide-ranging assessment of vulnerabilities in each sector. For the reader not previously immersed in the structures of semiconductor production or the technology of electrical storage, this document, at 250 pages, is a mine of information. But China lurks in each section, sometimes looming large, in other places only in the background.

The global semiconductor industry is here described in fascinating detail. It is a paragon of extreme specialization, relentless technological improvement, economies of scale, and global division of labor. US firms dominate in semiconductor design and integrated production; Japan produces the wafers; Taiwan and (to a much smaller degree) South Korea do high-end fabrication in “contract foundries,” while China handles a substantial share of low-end chips and of “packaging” – a term that covers the placing of chips into circuit boards including, of course, the assembly of smartphones. American-based production is only 12 percent of the world’s capacity, roughly a third of what it was in the 1990s.

To characterize broadly, the semiconductor supply chain is a network of unique nodes, in which a given firm has one upstream supplier for many major components and perhaps just one downstream customer, creating a web of bilateral monopolies operating in extreme interdependence. Thus a breakdown anywhere along the line can disrupt the entire system. This is, by the way, very much the classic problem of Soviet-style industrial structure, designed to maximize efficiency at each node (in the Soviet case, a matter of scale), but fragile as events in the early 1990s showed.

The review calls attention to several specific events that have led to recent and ongoing shortages in semiconductor supply. These include a fire in March at a facility in Japan and the freeze in February in Texas which took a trio of Austin facilities off-line for up to a month. But the most important was not itself a natural event but rather the reaction to one. As Covid-19 took hold, key figures in the industry shifted capacity to household applications. They failed to anticipate how quickly demand for vehicles would recover as the pandemic waned.

The problem is that chip production takes a lot of time; it is characterized to an extreme degree by what economists of the Austrian school call “roundaboutness.” The multiple steps (etching, doping, and so forth) are repeated “hundreds of times”; producing a single chip “can take up to 26 weeks.” So once locked into a program, the industry has the margin of maneuver, roughly, of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, the automakers who have designed a hundred or more distinct chips into their new cars must sit and wait. This accounts, no doubt, in part for the surging prices of used vehicles and the current scarcity of rental cars.

What then is the “China threat” to the semiconductor supply chain? The most important one is stated very plainly. China is the world’s largest semiconductor market, both for home use and for incorporation into products sold elsewhere. The single biggest risk from China is not some nefarious disruption of components or materials. It is rather, a possible fall in the final demand. The review is clear and unambiguous on this point:

US semiconductor companies… thus have the potential to be significantly impacted by trade restrictions between the United States and China, with major portions of their revenue at risk of long-term disruption. Based on the Chinese government’s ambitions in regard to the semiconductor industry, these revenue sources may be at risk regardless, but given that their ability to reinvest is immediately dependent on sales to China, their long-term viability is immediately affected by actions that decrease sales. (p. 57.)

The review goes on to note that since much of the industry operates on the two banks of the Taiwan Strait, “Even a minor conflict or embargo could have immediate major disruptions to the United States and long-term implications for US supply chain resilience” (p. 57). In a White House document, at this moment of heated China-bashing, this is a welcome realism.

With large-capacity batteries, the principal supply-chain issue is not so much a science-driven matter of design and engineering as it is access to key materials, most notably nickel, graphite, cobalt, and lithium. With these materials, it appears reserves are not particularly scarce, although in the case of cobalt they are concentrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where mining conditions are tactfully described as being “outside of international practice.” The review notes that China’s advantage in materials supply results, mainly, from having invested in finding reserves on its own territory.

But, it turns out, industrial dominance in this area does not rest on the supply side. It lies rather in the development of the industry itself, driven by demand for electrical storage, which is overwhelmingly in the automotive sector. China is the low-cost producer because it is the world’s largest user, consuming 40 percent of global large-capacity battery output. Europe accounts for another 40 percent, and the United States for just 13 percent. Consider this: there are 425,000 electrically-powered buses in the world today. Of these, 300 are in the United States; 421,000 are in China. Perhaps oddly for a report on the supply chain, but not unreasonably under the circumstances, the recommendations in this section are relentless: the United States should work to bolster demand.

In the report on critical materials, prepared by the Pentagon, thirty-eight minerals are listed for which US direct import dependence is above 75 percent. Of these, China is a top supplier in eighteen cases. And why is that? Largely, as the report states, because the growth in China’s own demand for these materials has made it profitable for China to invest in the supply chain, hence to become the high-volume, low-cost producer, to whom the world turns.

The Defense Department is naturally concerned with the possible consequences of conflict, and so with the possibility that access to materials might be lost, especially where there is only one source of supply. This is particularly true in the case of “rare earths” – a grab-bag of exotic minerals – where China had 85 percent of the global market as of 2014 – even though the entire Chinese workforce in the mining of rare earths consists of only 4,000 souls, with an additional 40,000 in smelting. Perhaps understandably, not even the Pentagon has a good answer to this problem, apart from conservation, recycling, stockpiling, and being prepared to divert from routine to essential uses in an emergency. The review laments the decline of mining expertise emerging from US university systems, where educational programs have folded as mines have disappeared. But it is hard to see why students would pursue degrees, or universities provide them, in fields for which jobs no longer exist.

With pharmaceuticals, the problem is not of scarcity but of basic economics. The supply chain moved to India because costs are low as befits the low-price, low-margin, high-volume business of generic drug manufacture. Supply chain resilience would thus be a matter of maintaining a “virtual” stockpile, consisting of manufacturing equipment and precursor chemicals, to be held in reserve in case of emergencies. It is important to note that to be useful, the reserve capacity would have to be kept idle – otherwise it adds no layer of safety in the event of a disruption. The review is realistic about the prospects for this: the scale and complexity of the sector, together with the unpredictability of future biological threats, makes it impractical to maintain large reserves in all areas. In an open global market economy, drugs will be bought from where they are cheapest to produce.

In each area, the Review is critical of Chinese practices, which are said to consist of large-scale, “top-down,” “market-distorting,” public investments, subsidies to Chinese companies, state-sponsored industrial rationalization, and in the case of electric vehicles, large subsidies to consumers to spur demand. Thus we read: “The Chinese Government has focused on capturing discrete strategic and critical material markets as a matter of state policy.” (p. 174). Examples given are that in 2002 China “prohibited foreign investors from establishing rare earth mining enterprises in China” and in 2014 consolidated the business in the hands of a “handful of national champions.” Also, back in 1985, China had established a VAT rebate for rare-earth exports, “which contributed to the erosion and the elimination of US production in the global market.

In this and other instances throughout the Review, the deplorable practices of state planning and national development strategies undertaken by China are, within a few pages, pretty much exactly what the authors recommend for the United States. (The DoD recommendations on critical materials are an exception here, addressing among other things recycling, human rights issues, and environmental concerns, even though these are perhaps somewhat tangential to supply-chain issues per se.) Thus on lithium-ion batteries, we read: “As part of the American Jobs Plan, President Joe Biden has called for transformative investments to spur this demand, including $100 billion in incentives to encourage US consumers to transition to EVs” (p. 134). Similarly on semiconductors: “Consistent with the American Jobs Plan proposals, federal incentives to build or expand semiconductor facilities are necessary to counter the significant subsidies provided by foreign allies and competitors.” (p. 76). How an “incentive” differs from the Chinese practice of “subsidies” is not clearly explained. Nor does the review admit that export rebates on VAT are standard practice everywhere.

Still, from a broad reading and fair appraisal of this genuinely excellent document, two major conclusions may be drawn. The first is that the Chinese advantage – which is by no means absolute in all areas – stems from a pragmatic program of economic development, including infrastructure and human resources, in a vast country able to take advantage of a scale of production and internal market impossible anywhere else. This leads to lower costs across a wide range of industrial and engineering capacities, bolstered by being embedded (as the Review does not point out) in a system oriented toward social stability and steady growth rather than short-term profitability and financial contracts. The Chinese edge – similar to India’s in pharmaceuticals but much more broadly based – is the product of the success of China’s development approach, especially in the post-Mao era, but with roots that go back to the 1949 revolution, to the creation of the People’s Republic and to the restoration of a unitary Chinese state with full control over the nation’s land and resources. This is a fact of life and not an artifact of ruses or dirty dealing.

The second key conclusion is that in critical sectors, in the world we inhabit and from which we cannot escape, US-China interdependence is indefeasible. Rare earths are a minor example, barring new discoveries in other places. Semiconductors are a major one: without the Chinese market, the American firms that presently dominate the high-end design processes would collapse. Bringing manufacturing back to the US, we learn, would come primarily at the expense of allies, including Japan and South Korea as well as, especially, Taiwan. It is hard to see why even the most aggressive China hawk would favor stripping Taiwan of its chip foundries – but even doing that would hardly lessen the dependence of the semiconductor ecosystem on the Chinese market.

So we come to a truly remarkable third conclusion, no less powerful for having been left unstated. It builds on the fact that the integration of the global economy cannot be undone. The division of labor – hence productivity, living standards, and the advance of technologies – is limited by the extent of the market, as Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations back in 1776. China is a now-developed country with about twenty percent of the human population; its advantages are stability and scale, almost exactly as was true in the 18th century. These advantages cannot now be taken away without destroying the world as it is.

To be sure, the Chinese still, in many important advanced areas, draw from and depend on the United States. Certainly, the US can slow the inroads of Chinese firms in some cases, and certainly the US can foster, as this report recommends, its own advantages in new sectors by maintaining and expanding its research and development base. Certainly, there are many things to be done in the United States to meet urgent environmental, public health, and critical social goals.

But the US position, as an economy with only one-fourth the population, equally now depends on the Chinese market, and on downstream Chinese firms supplying applications to the world. While precautions against natural disasters and pandemics can be taken – up to a point – the central unstated message of this 100-day Review is that the greatest risk to the supply chain, in each of the four areas, is disruption of normal trade relations with China. In short, as an objective economic matter, we learn here, the United States has an overwhelming interest in peace.

June 27, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Anti-war US Senator Mike Gravel passes at 91

Former US Democratic presidential candidate and Alaska Senator Mike Gravel (AP file photo)
Press TV – June 27, 2021

Former US Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), an anti-war campaigner and a regular Press TV contributor, has died at the age of 91.

The Associated Press reported on Sunday that Gravel, who served in the Senate from 1968 until 1981, died in Seaside, California this weekend. He was suffering with poor health.

Gravel ran two unsuccessful campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and 2016.

He was excluded from Democratic debates during his 2008 campaign in 2007, prompting him to run as a Libertarian candidate, according to the Associated Press.

Gravel was known for his anti-war efforts in the 1970s. He spearheaded a one-man filibuster in opposition to the Vietnam-era draft, and read 4,100 pages of the 7,000-page document, known as the Pentagon Papers, into the Congressional Record, according to the AP.

The Pentagon Papers were the US military’s history of Washington’s early involvement in the Vietnam War.

Gravel was ‘voice for peace, sanity and demilitarization’

“Mike Gravel, bucked the Pentagon, the CIA and the military-industrial complex by reading the Pentagon Papers into the Senate record, thereby providing legal cover for their mass publication,” journalist Don DeBar told Press TV.

“For decades after his time in the Senate ended, he was a voice for peace, sanity and demilitarization,” added DeBar.

“If we could replace Schumer and McConnell with a pair of Mike Gravel’s, it would have a major positive impact on the entire human race. This, unfortunately, indicates how big a loss we suffer with his passing,” he stated.

Gravel was also a regular contributor to Press TV.

On the eve of the 2020 US election, Gravel told Press TV that the foundation of the election system in the United States is based on bribery.

Gravel said that “politicians are corrupt and they’re basically cowards because we have a system that is set up where you give me money to help me get elected and when I’m elected, I will vote for your economic interest, that is bribery, and that’s the foundation of our system in this country.”

June 27, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

Russian foreign ministry mocks ‘discovery’ of docs linked to UK navy’s Crimea incursion

RT | June 27, 2021

Sunday’s emergence of “highly-classified” documents linked to British warship’s incursion into Russian waters near Crimea, days after it occurred, amounts to a “bunch of lies” to cover it up, Russia’s foreign ministry has said.

The 50-page dossier related to the Black Sea cruise of the HMS Defender is said to have been found by a passer-by in a heap of trash behind a bus stop in Kent on Tuesday morning. The discovery, supposedly made right before the Wednesday incident when the UK destroyer sailed into Russian waters near Crimea, was publicized by London’s state broadcaster BBC, on Sunday.

The miraculous find, however, was deemed rather hard-to-believe by Russian officials. Russian FM spokeswoman Maria Zakharova took to Telegram to mock the whole affair, suggesting the sudden emergence of the documents looked like a clumsy cover-up attempt.

“In reality, London has demonstrated yet another provocative action followed by a bunch of lies to cover it up. 007 agents are not what they used to be.”

Apparently, the goldmine bus stops with highly-sensitive documents laying around should be the target for the persistent paranoia exhibited by many in the UK, instead of elusive, omnipotent ‘Russian hackers,’ Zakharova suggested.

“Now, here’s a question to the British Parliament: who needs ‘Russian hackers’ if there are British bus stops?” she asked.

The haul of documents, which supposedly emerged from the office of a senior Ministry of Defence official, reportedly described the mission of the destroyer as an “innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters.” The military strategists insisted they had a “strong, legitimate narrative” for the whole stunt, while reporters aboard the ship would have provided “independent verification” for it. Some officials, however, raised concerns about a possible “welcome party” to be thrown by Russia, the documents show. Avoiding the waters around Crimea, however, would be deemed to be too weak, as it would presumably give Moscow an opportunity to say the UK ship had run away.

The HMS Defender invaded Russian territorial waters off Crimea on Wednesday, triggering a response from the country’s military, which dispatched two patrol ships and warplanes to warn it off. The ship ultimately had to leave after warning shots were fired at it. The UK military was quick to deny the shooting, claiming it was a part of a planned exercise, while the destroyer merely conducted the aforementioned “innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.”

The damage-control attempts left the UK military red-faced again, as a video showing Russian vessels repeatedly warning and then firing warning shots at the direction of the destroyer emerged shortly after.

June 27, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

Fauci and the Biden Admin are purposely deceiving us about the ‘Delta variant’ threat

By Jordan Schachtel | June 24, 2021

Prominent actors within the U.S. government have been lying to the American people about COVID-19 for 18 months and counting, and their latest behavior shows that the individuals in charge of U.S. Government Science have no intention of stopping the charade anytime soon. Over time, their lies have evolved to become so common and so reckless to the point that someone with even the most rudimentary understanding of viruses can instantly debunk the lies. The latest “Delta variant” paranoia peddling has put their incompetence, deliberate spreading of falsehoods, and perpetual gaslighting of their own citizens on display for the world to see.

The Biden Administration, through lifelong government bureaucrat Anthony Fauci, is making a hard push to fear monger about the supposed dangers posed by the “Delta variant” of the virus that causes COVID-19.

A video posted from the White House account made the rounds Thursday morning, stating:

“Here’s the deal: The Delta variant is more contagious, it’s deadlier, and it’s spreading quickly around the world – leaving young, unvaccinated people more vulnerable than ever. Please, get vaccinated if you haven’t already. Let’s head off this strain before it’s too late.”

Fauci has been on a media tear this week hyping up the threat of the Delta variant.

Sometimes it’s easy to reflexively dismiss these warnings of doom and gloom as total nonsense, especially when they are in fact total, bald-faced nonsense.

(Check out this video from Ivor Cummins breaking down how the Delta variant, previously referred to as the Indian variant, is nothing more than a “political scariant.”)

First of all, it goes against all understanding of 101 concepts for a virus to mutate to become both more contagious and more deadly. If a virus becomes more contagious, it spreads faster but does not kill off its host. If a virus becomes more deadly, it doesn’t spread as fast because it has taken out its host. In fact, the best evidence we have on the Delta variant shows that it is probably less deadly than previous mutations. And it’s always good to remember that we’re talking about a disease that sports an original recovery rate well over 99%.

Second, the idea that human intervention can “head off” a strain is an idea straight out of the “COVID Zero” (the idea that you can eliminate the virus from this earth) pseudoscience playbook. Fauci and the gang are by no means brilliant minds, but they are well aware that they cannot eliminate a virus from circulation. This makes it obvious that there are several ulterior motives in play, none of which have anything to do with our health.

Outside of academic models (we all know how well those held up in the past with lockdowns, masks, etc), there is no hard evidence anywhere in the world that this Delta variant is any more or less dangerous than any other mutation of the virus. In fact, the statistics on this variant shows no particular reason for alarm. Yet the government is — let me know if this sounds familiar — baselessly making stuff up about a virus based on absolutely zero real world data.

Since the beginning of COVID Mania, the government has never been on the side of science, evidence, and data. From the infamous Gates-funded panic models and fraudulent Chinese government “science” that encouraged the world to lock down indefinitely, to the absurd mannequin “studies” about the efficacy of masks, this latest Delta variant scaremongering has once again put their lies on display for the world to see. Given the almost two years of immunity building related to the virus, the threat posed by COVID-19 at this point in time is virtually nonexistent. There never was a legitimate reason for a single restriction on our liberties, and today, the “delta variant” argument to curb our rights and transform our society is more baseless than ever before.

June 27, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

Re-Evaluating Mask Mandates – Part I: Science Gives Way to the “Talisman”

By Masha Krylova | C2C Journal | June 13, 2021

The health of my patient will be my first consideration; I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat.

World Medical Association: Declaration of Geneva, 2006

Where all men think alike, no one thinks very much.

Walter Lippmann, 1937

We all remember when it was natural to strike up a conversation with a stranger on a street, in a mall or in a café. Sharing a smile would often start the enjoyable process from which mutual trust and understanding could flow. Seeing other people’s open faces and hearing them laugh felt contagious and energizing. A spontaneous encounter had a chance to turn into something long-lasting and meaningful.

Those times were pre-Covid-19; the pandemic has brought great upheaval to social norms. Rarely do many of us talk to strangers in public places. Communication is largely transactional – aiming a few words at a clerk behind a plexiglass shield and straining to hear the muffled reply. Laughter has become a rarity. And even if others smile at us, we hardly can tell – or know when to smile back. All we see are faces largely hidden behind masks and staring, shifting or downcast eyes.

Happily, that is beginning to change. Mask mandates are dropping left and right across the United States. As of June 8, 35 U.S. states had removed these requirements in indoor or outdoor public settings. A few U.S. governors have even prohibited local governments and school boards from countermanding such state policy. At the same time, the exposure of Anthony Fauci’s serial contradictions has loosened his grip on the American psyche – weakening the entire pro-mask side. Gathering limits are disappearing as well; the recent Indy 500 was packed with mostly unmasked auto race enthusiasts and fans are once again jamming stadiums for pro sports.

In Canada, a number of provinces are also reopening – led in speed by Alberta, where all provincial restrictions will be dropped within two weeks of 70 percent of the population receiving one dose of vaccine. That pointedly includes the mask mandate. If this occurs, and much of the rest of Canada follows suit, the summer of 2021 could end up being, if not exactly the “best summer ever” in the previous hopeful words of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, then at least one to rekindle normal life and, perhaps, look back upon as the time when the Covid-19 pandemic was put in its grave.

These lovely sentiments – surely shared by millions of Canadians – could be dashed, however. Reopening is threatened by a number of political leaders, urged on by an entrenched medical/scientific faction, who appear almost terrified of normality’s return and whose default position is to lock down, prohibit and prevent. Ontario, for example, only re-authorized camping last Friday and recently extended its state of emergency until December. Premier Doug Ford, wrote Matthew Lau in the Financial Post, “has turned the presumption of liberty completely on its head. In Ontario there is now a presumption of government control.”

Even in Alberta, big-city mayors are suggesting they might defy the province’s mask mandate lifting. They are egged on by vocal medical experts who have formally demanded that masks remain in place until 70 percent of the population has had two vaccine doses. This may amount to something like “forever,” since vaccination curves in other countries to date have gone nearly flat at approximately 55-65 percent with even one dose. Alberta, it was reported last week, is having trouble achieving the last several percentage points leading to 70 percent with one dose.

In short, if some have their way, it could be masks for a long time. Should further new Covid-19 variants or new infectious diseases come along in the meantime, it might be masks forever.

If Canada is to enter a major political struggle over the possibility of long-term masking, then surely it is worth revisiting the basic question of whether masks actually work. And, even if masks are shown to be useful in slowing the transmission of Covid-19, the public has a right to understand whether habitual mask-wearing carries negative health effects, in order to weigh the costs against the benefits of such an intrusive long-term policy.

With those questions in mind, C2C Journal brings you this exclusive, carefully researched two-part analysis. In Part I, we review the recent history of mask requirements and discuss the initial evidence around widespread mask-wearing.

When it Began: The WHO Mask Guidance

On April 6, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued Interim Guidance on the use of facemasks against Covid-19. The organization advised only health professionals to wear medical masks or respirators and to avoid non-medical masks because the effectiveness of the latter, it stated, was not established.

Significantly for the wider population – or seemingly so – it also cautioned that “the wide use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not supported by current evidence and carries uncertainties and critical risks.” Among these were potential self-contamination by frequent touching and re-wearing of single-use masks, breathing difficulties and a “false sense of security, leading to potentially less adherence to other preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene.”

The WHO’s April guidance was consistent with the statements of numerous public health officials worldwide. It was, for example, preceded by the official statement by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam who suggested that “putting a mask on an asymptomatic person is not beneficial, obviously if you’re not infected.”

The official advice should have been unsurprising, even though by this time millions of individuals were rushing to scour store shelves for any and all mask varieties, while others rigged up bizarre contraptions out of old diving helmets or even fish bowls, and a few were seen shuffling down aisles in full hazmat suits (real or home-fashioned). But the official advice was consistent with decades of established international guidance for the management of disease outbreaks, in which masks are recommended for those who are sick – to protect the healthy – but not ubiquitously (see, for example, the WHO’s guide of 2018, or Public Health England Principles of 2015, or the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada Primer on Population Health).

Physician Margaret Harris, a member of the WHO’s coronavirus response team, was quoted saying that “the mask is almost like a talisman,” making “people feel more secure and protected.” An official scientist appeared to say that mask-wearing was no longer about science, but about sorcery and emotion.

Regardless of how sound these recommendations are, they soon were thrown overboard as fears spread of “asymptomatic spreaders,” many doctors and scientists started asserting benefits to the public wearing almost any sort of mask, and governments and international organizations sought to reassure jittery populations they were taking “crucial steps” to “save lives” – which now included requiring people to wear masks in a variety of settings.

The WHO subsequently updated its mask guidance, with the most recent document issued on December 1, 2020. Citing a number of studies, this one advised the general public to wear either medical or three-layer fabric facemasks in indoor and outdoor settings where ventilation is inadequate and physical distancing is less than 1 metre. It asserted several pandemic control benefits to such practice, including reduced spread of viral respiratory droplets and reduced stigmatization towards mask-wearers (a transient phenomenon early in the pandemic). Further stated benefits included making people feel that “they can play a role in contributing to stopping spread of the virus,” encouraging proper hygiene and, finally, reducing transmission of other respiratory illnesses such as tuberculosis and influenza.

Caution to the wind: The WHO’s explicit list of negative effects from ubiquitous mask wearing was ignored by all.

The WHO’s list of disadvantages, however, had grown significantly and now also included potential headaches, facial skin problems, difficulties communicating, discomfort, improper mask disposal, poor compliance among young children and difficulties for people with developmental challenges, with chronic respiratory problems or those living in hot and humid conditions. Nor should this have been surprising either, for as we shall see it too was consistent with longstanding scientific understanding. None of these mask-associated risks, however, received a thorough airing in news and social media.

On the contrary, many governments imposed even more stringent and often duplicative requirements, like requiring masks and distancing even outdoors where ventilation was good, or masks and plexiglass barriers, or masks, face shields and distancing. Masks, meanwhile, took on novel roles as political statements or articles of faith employed by political leaders, organizations, public health figures and much of the population. People were even seen swimming with paper masks. Physician Margaret Harris, a member of the WHO’s coronavirus response team, was quoted in an NPR column saying that “the mask is almost like a talisman,” making “people feel more secure and protected.” An official scientist appeared to say that mask-wearing was no longer about science, but about sorcery and emotion.

Meanwhile, no one in the public sphere seemed willing to peruse the WHO’s December 2020 guideline in detail. Had they done so, they might have noticed two statements eerie in their juxtaposition. First, the WHO clearly recognized the serious limitations of the studies it cited about the efficacy of masking to reduce viral spread: “[The] studies differed in setting, data sources and statistical methods and have important limitations to consider notably the lack of information about actual exposure risk among individuals, adherence to mask wearing and the enforcement of other preventive measures.” Second, the WHO nonetheless insisted on universal mask usage: “Despite the limited evidence of protective efficacy of mask wearing in community settings, in addition to all other recommended preventive measures, the [guidelines development group] advised mask wearing.”

The WHO’s categorical recommendation, then, rested on admittedly shaky foundations. Over half a year has passed. One would expect there to be an ever-growing number of studies dedicated to Covid-19 and related issues, including masking. And so there has been.

Current Evidence on Mask Effectiveness

More than 300 scientific papers have been published specifically on masking during the pandemic. The best way to evaluate such a vast body of research without losing the forest for the trees is to focus primarily on literature reviews and systematic reviews (special types of scientific analysis that summarize up-to-date knowledge on a particular issue). This narrows the search to some 20 review studies (as of May 2021). Six of these provide support for universal mask wearing using epidemiological data (12345 and 6). Six others offer mechanical evidence by describing material and filtration properties of masks. Two reviews are inconclusive (this and this), while the rest are less relevant (comparing medical masks to N95 masks in a healthcare setting, for example, this).

The most recent and comprehensive review is by researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, published in April 2021. This interdisciplinary report outlines the “state-of-the-art understanding of mask usage against Covid-19” by covering the most important epidemiological data, face mask filtration mechanisms and mask recontamination and reuse.

In their epidemiological evidence the researchers cite eight publications that report a positive association between mask wearing and a reduced risk of Covid-19 infection. These studies were conducted in China, Thailand, the U.S., Germany and Canada. The Canadian evidence notably encompassed both provincial data from Ontario and nationwide data analyzing the effect of mask wearing on Covid-19 case numbers over the course of eight months. “In the first few weeks after their introduction, mask mandates are associated with an average reduction of 25 to 31% in the weekly number of newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases in Ontario,” the study concluded. It also speculated that had indoor masking been mandated by early July, there would have been 25-45 percent fewer weekly cases across the country than actually occurred.

The other studies were different in methodology and reported varying strengths of the association between mask wearing and risk reduction, ranging from 15 percent to 80 percent. The University of Hawaii team’s conclusion appears decisive: “All available epidemiologic evidence suggests that community-wide mask-wearing results in reduced rates of COVID-19 infections.”

Not All Science Is Created Equal: RCTs vs. Observational Studies

The take-home message from the above research appears unequivocal: masks work. The factual conclusion provides scientific support for the political decision to impose a public mask mandate. But for one fact: nearly all Covid-19-related epidemiological studies are either observational analyses (such as this or this), simulation studies (such as this), or a combination thereof (like the Canadian study described above). Almost none involved randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

Why does that matter?

The distinction between study types is imperative for it speaks of the quality and not simply the quantity of the available scientific evidence. Setting aside simulation studies that are hypothetical and therefore of lesser empirical value, it is important to understand the differences between RCTs and observational studies (case-control and cohort studies are two types).

The RCT facilitates an objective comparison between various types of intervention, or between treatment and non-treatment. The RCT achieves this by using the process of randomization, assigning participants randomly either to experimental or control groups. The goal of such studies is to prevent manipulation of the results and to draw, as accurately as possible, a causal relationship between an intervention, or a behaviour, and the subsequent outcome.

The link of causality cannot be achieved in observational research, which involves analyzing data gathered in natural conditions without researchers’ intervention. Although observational studies are illuminating and useful in various scenarios, they are inevitably biased. The bias occurs because such studies do not allow for direct control over confounding variables that may have an impact on the study results. For example, for one to say that “A causes B” requires ensuring that the effects of all other important variables on B have been removed or cancelled through randomization.

Through the process of randomization, RCTs are able to establish a causal link between a treatment or behaviour and an outcome. Observational studies are limited to showing correlation, or association – and thereby can be misunderstood.

This is impossible in observational studies, always leaving a chance that the observed outcome B might have been caused by a variable, or variables, other than A. Thus, observational studies, even those employing advanced statistical analyses, cannot reach conclusions stronger than establishing temporal associations between one thing and another. But association, or correlation, does not demonstrate causation. (The Canadian study cited above, for example, notes that mask mandates are “associated” with a reduction in the rate of Covid-19 infection; it does not assert a causal relationship.)

The Odd Reluctance to Conduct RCTs in Regard to Public Health Matters

Which brings us back to the 300-odd mask-related studies conducted in the Covid-19 era. Many, indeed, found associations or correlations between widespread adoption of masks and a reduction in Covid-19 case counts, or a slowing of acceleration in case counts. In an observational study like this one, however, it is reasonable to ask whether the detected reduction in Covid-19 transmission was caused by mask wearing. Could it not have been due to other preventative health measures adopted around the same time, such as improved hand hygiene, limited social interaction, physical distancing in public settings or even individuals’ general health regimen? And what about the impact of other variables such as age or race on the risk of catching the virus? Finally, could there be other, as-yet overlooked confounders that affect virus spread? Randomization is required to negate the effects of the confounding variables, known or unknown.

Correlation does not show causation: Masks may be associated with a reduced rate of Covid-19 infection, as frequently documented in observational studies, but a host of other factors could also be at work.

Because of these known limitations of observational studies, the RCT is recognized as the gold standard of clinical research practice, a rigorous tool of cause-and-effect analysis. One of the world’s leading experts in medical standards and statistics, Dr. Janus Christian Jakobsen, who is frequently cited for her systematic reviews of meta analyses, authoritatively stated:

“Clinical experience or observational studies should never be used as the sole basis for assessment of intervention effects – randomized clinical trials are always needed…Observational studies should primarily be used for quality control after treatments are included in clinical practice.” (Emphasis added.)

It is thus clear that in health-related contexts, researchers should rely on RCTs whenever possible and use observational studies to gather supplementary evidence.

The most common arguments against RCTs are that they are expensive, time-consuming and impractical for population-wide interventions. There are also understandable ethical objections against exposing healthy control groups to contagious and potentially fatal infections, in this instance attempting to determine whether unmasked people are more likely to catch Covid-19. In fact, some have asserted, in reference to the WHO, that “we should not generally expect to be able to find controlled trials” in the context of population health measures.

Maximum strength of evidence, minimum degree of bias: Not for nothing is the randomized controlled trial considered the “gold standard” of clinical practice.
Maximum strength of evidence, minimum degree of bias: Not for nothing is the randomized controlled trial considered the “gold standard” of clinical practice. (Graphic by Masha Krylova/ C2C Journal)

Unethical and impractical? It is claimed that RCTs should not be used to study the effects of health measures on Covid-19 infection – yet numerous RCTs have examined influenza on a community-wide scale.

Still, it has been over a year since mask mandates were first imposed in many countries. Given the prodigious effort poured into seemingly anything to do with Covid-19, this should be ample time for researchers to gather resources and test mask effectiveness in a controlled experimental setting. Nor was it unheard-of prior to the pandemic to perform RCTs in healthcare and wider-population settings to evaluate the effect of mask wearing on the transmission of respiratory illnesses such as influenza (see this review of 2010) and influenza-like illness (also see this scoping review of 2020). These studies clearly overcame objections related to practicality and ethics. Why should Covid-19 be different?

The cited reviews present intriguing details: with respect to influenza, five out of six RCTs conducted in healthcare settings found no significant difference between mask-wearing and control groups. Even more important from the standpoint of the current pandemic, none of four RCTs performed in broader community settings found a significant difference between masking and remaining bare-faced. For influenza-like illnesses, the pooled data from five other RCTs as well showed a non-significant protective effect of mask wearing for avoiding either primary or secondary infection. These results appear substantial and would seem of some relevance to the current pandemic. But there is more.

End of Part I.

Coming next in Part II: Should you care whether masks are more like a sieve or a filter? Is there really no RCT-generated “gold standard” evidence regarding whether wearing masks reduces the spread of Covid-19? And is there any basis to concerns of ill effects from wearing masks?

Maria (Masha) V. Krylova is a Social Psychologist and writer based in Calgary, Alberta who has a particular interest in the role of psychological factors affecting the socio-political climate in Russia and Western countries.

June 27, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 2 Comments


Dr. Sam Bailey | June 22, 2021

The NZ medical authorities and mainstream media push their vaccine propaganda and continue to cry “misinformation” when serious concerns about the vaccine are raised.
Some groups have declared the vaccine unfit for use in humans, but the authorities refuse to change their script…

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June 27, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment