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Vaccines Are Complicated

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | September 30, 2020

Eager as we are for a COVID vaccine, we need to be realistic about possible harms – and about a plausible timeline.

There’s a phrase being tossed around with abandon these days. Everywhere we turn, there’s talk of a “safe and effective” COVID-19 vaccine.

USA Today quotes infectious disease chief Anthony Fauci: “We feel cautiously optimistic that we will be able to have a safe and effective vaccine.”

Two days ago, former US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioners, Scott Gottlieb and Mark McClellan, used the phrase safe and effective three times in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece about vaccine development.

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, similarly declared recently: “Canadians must have access to a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19…”

Let us now turn to Vaccines: Truth, Lies and Controversy, a book written by Peter Gotzsche, a Danish physician who has spent decades evaluating the quality of published medical research. 27 years ago, he was among those who founded the Cochrane Collaboration, an organization that systematically assesses healthcare interventions.

In the context of discussing Japanese encephalitis, Gotzsche writes:

according to the WHO “safe and effective vaccines are available.” You should never believe such reassuring statements, which is [drug] industry jargon. Nothing is both safe and effective; effectiveness always comes with a price.

He continues:

In healthcare, people rarely use the term harms. They talk about side effects, which is a euphemism for the inevitable – some people will be harmed and in rare cases even die after having received a vaccine.

Generally speaking, Gotzsche considers vaccines “the most valuable interventions and the best buy for money we can offer.” But the overriding message of his book is that every vaccine must be judged on its own merits. In his view, some vaccines promoted by health authorities are “marginal at best.”

He’s skeptical, for example, of annual flu vaccines, to the point of accusing the website of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of promulgating a “massive amount of misinformation” on this topic. When discussing whether medical personnel and others should be forced to get an annual flu shot, he says:

No vaccine is entirely harmless, and in the worst case, the healthcare worker might die, e.g. because of an anaphylactic shock caused by the vaccine, or fainting with head trauma after the injection, or development of the Guillain-Barre syndrome…

… A common argument for mandatory flu shots is that they prevent transmission of the virus to other people. However, there is no evidence that the vaccine does this…

… Many people will think that their chance of benefitting from the vaccination exceeds 50%, but it is less than 2%…Furthermore, the vaccine does not reduce admission to hospital or days off work…

… It has never been shown in reliable research that flu shots reduce deaths.

Which brings us to COVID-19. The fact that 160 different teams are currently working on a vaccine is immensely encouraging. Surely one of them will hit the target. On the other hand, we must be sensible.

In a July interview, Kenneth Frazier, the CEO of Merck pharmaceutical company, had some words of caution:

What worries me the most is that the public is so hungry, so desperate to go back to normalcy, that they are pushing us to move things faster and faster. But ultimately, if you’re going to use a vaccine in billions of people, you better know what that vaccine does.

… There are a lot of examples of vaccines in the past that have stimulated the immune system, but ultimately didn’t confer protection. And unfortunately, there are some cases where it stimulated the immune system and…actually helped the virus invade the cell…

… I think when people tell the public that there’s going to be a vaccine by the end of 2020, for example, I think they do a grave disservice to the public. I think at the end of the day, we don’t want to rush the vaccine before we’ve done rigorous science. We’ve seen in the past, for example, with the swine flu, that that vaccine did more harm than good. We don’t have a great history of introducing vaccines quickly in the middle of a pandemic. 

September 30, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Question ‘The Science’? Go To Gulag!

By Dr Ron Paul | September 28, 2020

In the Soviet Union it was forbidden to dispute the wisdom of the “party line.” That’s because Marxian communism was viewed as the scientifically inevitable progression of mankind. For Marx and Lenin, the “science was settled.” Therefore anyone speaking out against “the science” of the Soviet system must be acting with malice; must actually want destruction; must want people to die.

Anyone voicing opposition to the “settled science” of Marxism-Leninism soon found their voice silenced. Oftentimes permanently.

Ironically, just 30 years after the “science” of Marxism-Leninism imploded for all the world to see, we are witnessing a resurgence here in the US of the idea that to question “the science” is not to seek truth or refine understanding of what appears to be conflicting evidence. No, it is to actually wish harm on one’s fellow Americans.

And while we who question “the science” are not being physically carried off to the gulags for disputing the wisdom of our “betters” in the CDC or the World Health Organization, for example, we are finding that the outcome is the same. We are being silenced and accused of malicious intent. The Soviet Communists called dissidents like us “wreckers.”

Last week on my daily news broadcast, the Ron Paul Liberty Report, we reported on two whistleblowers from inside the CDC and Big Pharma who raised serious and legitimate questions about the prevailing coronavirus narrative. The former Chief Science Officer for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Dr. Mike Yeadon, has stated that from his experience he believes that nearly 90 percent of positive results from the current tests for Covid are false positives. That means that this massive expansion in “cases,” used to justify continued attacks on our civil liberties, is simply phony.

As Dr. Yeadon said in a recent interview about the Orwellian UK coronavirus lockdown, “we are basing a government policy, an economic policy, a civil liberties policy, in terms of limiting people to six people in a meeting… all based on, what may well be, completely fake data on this coronavirus?”

Is Dr. Yeadon correct in claiming that based on his scientific observation there is no “second wave”? We don’t know. But we do know that his claims that the massive increase in “cases” in Europe used to justify new lockdowns are not in any way being matched with a similar increase in deaths. The EU’s own charts prove this. Deaths remain a flat line near zero while “cases” skyrocket to match the massive increase in testing.

Yet when we reported on Dr. Yeadon’s findings on the Liberty Report last week we found that for the first time ever, our program was removed by YouTube.

YouTube, owned by Google, which is firmly embedded into the deep state, was vague in explaining just where we violated their “community standards” by simply reporting on qualified scientists who happen to disagree with the mainstream coronavirus narrative.

But they did offer this shocking explanation in an email sent to us at the Ron Paul Liberty Report: “YouTube does not allow content that explicitly disputes the efficacy of the World Health Organization.”

Incredible!

It’s not the science that is settled. What appears to be “settled is the impulse to silence anyone who asks “why”?

Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute.

September 28, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Canada Wildfires At Lowest Level In Years

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | September 27, 2020

According to the Met Office, global warming is leading to record breaking fires in North America.

Canada, of course, is a large part of North America, so surely fires should be getting worse there too.

In fact wildfires this year are running at just 8% of the 10-year average:


https://cwfis.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/report

All provinces are well below average:

This suggests that meteorological conditions have been responsible for both the glut of fires in the US west and the dearth in Canada.

More significant though is the long term trend in Canada:

http://nfdp.ccfm.org/en/data/fires.php

1994, 1995 and 1998 recorded the biggest wildfire acreages. But over the full period, there is no obvious trend at all.

Which all rather makes of a nonsense of the Met Office’s claim that hot dry weather conditions promoting wildfires are becoming more severe and widespread due to climate change.

September 27, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

How to understand scientific studies (in health and medicine)

By Sebastian Rushworth, M.D. | September 25, 2020

Considering how much misinformation is currently floating around in the area of health and medicine, I thought it might be useful to write an article about how to read and understand scientific studies, so that you can feel comfortable looking at first hand data yourselves and making your own minds up.

Ethical principles

Anyone can carry out a study. There is no legal or formal requirement that you have a specific degree or educational background in order to perform a study. All the earliest scientists were hobbyists, who engaged in science in their spare time. Nowadays most studies are carried out by people with some formal training in scientific method. In the area of health and medicine, most studies are carried out by people who are MD’s and/or PhD’s, or people who are in the process of getting these qualifications.

If you want to perform a study on patients, you generally have to get approval from an ethical review board. Additionally, there is an ethical code of conduct that researchers are expected to stick to, known as the Helsinki declaration, which was developed in the 1970’s after it became clear that a lot of medical research that had been done up to that point was not very ethical (to put it mildly). The code isn’t legally binding, but if you don’t follow it, you will generally have trouble getting your research published in a serious medical journal.

The most important part of the Helsinki declaration is the requirement that participants be fully informed about the purpose of the study, and given an informed choice as to whether to take part or not. Additionally, participants have to be clearly informed that it is their right to drop out of a study at any point, without having to provide any reason for doing so.

Publication bias

The bigger and higher quality a scientific study is, the more expensive it is. This means that most big, high quality studies are carried out by pharmaceutical companies. Obviously, this is a problem, because the companies have a vested interest in making their products look good. And when companies carry out studies that don’t show their drugs in the best light, they will usually try to bury the data. When they carry out studies that show good results, however, they will try to maximize the attention paid to them.

This contributes to a problem known as publication bias. What publication bias means is that studies which show good effect are much more likely to get published than studies which show no effect. This is both because the people who did the study are more likely to push for it to be published, and because journals are more likely to accept studies that show benefit (because those studies get much more attention than studies that don’t show benefit).

So, one thing to be aware of before you start searching for scientific studies in a field is that the studies you can find on a topic often aren’t all the studies. You are most likely to find the studies that show the strongest effect. The effect of an intervention in the published literature is pretty much always bigger than the effect subsequently seen in the real world. This is one reason why I am skeptical to drugs, like statins, that show an extremely small benefit even in the studies produced by the drug companies themselves.

There have been efforts in recent years to mitigate this problem. One such effort is the site clinicaltrials.gov. Researchers are expected to post details of their planned study on clinicaltrials.gov in advance of beginning recruitment of participants. This makes it harder to bury studies that subsequently don’t show the wanted results.

Most serious journals have now committed to only publish studies that have been listed on clinicaltrials.gov prior to starting recruitment of participants, which gives the pharmaceutical companies a strong incentive to post their studies there. This is a hugely positive development, since it makes it a little bit harder for the pharmaceutical companies to hide studies that didn’t go as planned.

Peer review

Once a study is finished, the researchers will usually try to get it published in a peer-reviewed journal. The first scientists, back when modern science was being invented in the 1600’s, mostly wrote books in which they described what they had done and what results they had achieved. Then, after a while, scientific societies started to pop up, and started to produce journals. Gradually science moved from books to journal articles. In the 1700’s the journals started to incorporate the concept of peer-review as a means to ensure quality.

As you can see, journals are an artifact of history. There is actually no technical reason why studies still need to be published in journals in a time when most reading is done on digital devices. It is possible that the journals will disappear with time, to be replaced by on-line science databases.

In recent years, there has been an explosion in the popularity of “pre-print servers”, where scientists can post their studies while waiting to get them in to journals. When it comes to medicine, the most popular such server is medRxiv. The main problem with journals is that they charge money for access, and I think most people will agree that scientific knowledge should not be owned by the journals, it should be the public property of humankind.

Peer-review provides a sort of stamp of approval, although it is questionable how much that stamp is worth. Basically, peer-review means that someone who is considered an expert on the subject of the article (but who wasn’t personally involved with it in any way) reads through the article and determines if it is sensible and worth publishing.

Generally the position of peer-reviewer is an unpaid position, and the person engaging in peer-review does it in his or her spare time. He or she might spend an hour or so going through the article before deciding whether it deserves to be published or not. Clearly, this is not a very high bar. Even the most respected journals have published plenty of bad studies containing manipulated and fake data because they didn’t put much effort in to making sure the data was correct. As an example, the early part of the covid pandemic saw a ton of bad studies which had to be retracted just a few weeks or months after publication because the data wasn’t properly fact checked before publication.

If the peer reviewer at one journal says no to a scientific study, the researchers will generally move on to another, less prestigious journal, and will keep going like that until they can get the study published. There are so many journals that everything gets published somewhere in the end, no matter of how poor quality.

The whole system of peer-review builds on trust. The guiding principle is the idea that bad studies will be caught out over the long term, because when other people try to replicate the results, they won’t be able to.

There are two big problems with this line of thinking. The first is that scientific studies are expensive, so they often don’t get replicated, especially if they are big studies of drugs. For the most part, no-one but the drug company itself has the cash resources to do a follow-up study to make sure that the results are reliable. And if the drug company has done one study which shows a good effect, it won’t want to risk doing a second study that might show a weaker effect.

The second problem is that follow-up studies aren’t exciting. Being first is cool, and generates lots of media attention. Being second is boring. No-one cares about the people who re-did a study and determined that the results actually held up to scrutiny.

Different types of evidence

In medical science, there are a number of “tiers” of data. The higher tier generally trumps the lower tier, because it is by its nature of higher quality. This means that one good quality randomized controlled trial trumps a hundred observational studies.

The lowest quality type of evidence is anecdote. In medicine this often takes the form of “case reports”, which detail a single interesting case, or “case series”, which detail a few interesting cases. An example could be a case report of someone who developed a rare complication, say baldness, after taking a certain drug.

Anecdotal evidence can generate hypotheses for further research, but it can never say anything about causation. If you take a drug and you lose all your hair a few days later, that could have been caused by the drug, but it could also have been caused by a number of other things. It might well just be coincidence.

After anecdote, we have observational studies. These are studies which take a population and follow it to see what happens to it over time. Usually, this type of study is referred to as a “cohort study”, and often, there will be two cohorts that differ in some significant way.

For example, an observational study might be carried out to figure out the long term effects of smoking. Ideally, you want a group that doesn’t smoke to compare with. So you find 5,000 smokers and 5,000 non-smokers. Since you want to know what the effect of smoking is specifically, you try to make sure that the two cohorts are as similar as possible in all other respects. You do this by making sure that both populations are around the same age, weigh as much, exercise as much, and have similar dietary habits. The purpose of this is to decrease confounding effects.

Confounding is when something that you’re not studying interferes with the thing that you are studying. So, for example, people who smoke might also be less likely to exercise. If you then find that smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer, is it because of the smoking or the lack of exercise? If the two groups vary in some way with regards to exercise, it’s impossible to say for certain. This is why observational studies can never answer the question of causation. They can only ever show a correlation.

This is extremely important to be aware of, because observational studies are constantly being touted in the media as showing that this causes that. For example a tabloid article might claim that a vegetarian diet causes you to live longer, based on an observational study. But observational studies can never answer questions of causation. Observational studies can and should do their best to minimize confounding effects, but they can never get rid of them completely.

The highest tier of evidence is the Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT). In a RCT, you take a group of people, and you randomly select who goes in the intervention group, and who goes in the control group.

The people in the control group should ideally get a placebo that is indistinguishable from the intervention. The reason this is important is that the placebo effect is strong. It isn’t uncommon for the placebo effect to contribute more to a drug’s perceived effect than the real effect caused by the drug. Without a control group that gets a placebo it’s impossible to know how much of the perceived benefit from a drug that actually comes from the drug itself.

In order for an RCT to get full marks for quality, it needs to be double-blind. This means that neither the participants nor the members of the research team who interact with the participants know who is in which group. This is as important as having a placebo, because if people know they are getting the real intervention, they will behave differently compared to if they know they are getting the placebo. Also, the researchers performing the study might act differently towards the intervention group and the control group in ways that influence the results, if they know who is in which group. If a study isn’t blinded, it is known as an “open label” study.

So, why does anyone bother with observational studies at all? Why not always just do RCT’s? For three reasons. Firstly, RCT’s take a lot of work to organize. Secondly, RCT’s are expensive to run. Thirdly, people aren’t willing to be randomized to a lot of interventions. For example, few people would be willing to be randomized to smoking or not smoking.

There are those who would say that there is another, higher quality form of evidence, above the randomized controlled trial, and that is the systematic review and meta-analysis. This statement is both true, and not true. The systematic review is a review of all studies that have been carried out on a topic. As the name suggests, the review is “systematic”, i.e. a clearly defined method is used to search for studies. This is important, because it allows others to replicate the search strategy, to see if the reviewers have consciously left out certain studies they didn’t like, in order to influence the results in some direction.

The meta-analysis is a systematic review that has gone a step further, and tried to combine the results of several studies in to a single “meta”-study, in order to get a higher amount of statistical power.

The reason I say it’s both true and not true that this final tier is higher quality than the RCT is that the quality of systematic reviews and meta-analyses depends entirely on the quality of the studies that are included. I would rather take one large high quality RCT than a meta-analysis done of a hundred observational studies. An adage to remember when it comes to meta-analyses is “garbage in, garbage out” – a meta-analysis is only as good as the studies it includes.

There is one thing I haven’t mentioned so far, and that is animal studies. Generally, animal studies will take the form of RCT’s. There are a few advantages to animal studies. You can do things to animals that you would never be allowed to do to humans, and an RCT with animals is much cheaper than an RCT with humans.

When it comes to drugs, there is in most countries a legal requirement that they be tested on animals before being tested on humans. The main problem with animal studies is several million years of evolution. Most animal studies are done in rats and mice, which are separated from us by over fifty million years of evolution, but even our closest relatives, chimps, are about six million years away from us evolutionarily. It is very common for studies to show one thing in animals, and something completely different when done in humans. For example, studies of fever lowering drugs done in animals find a seriously increased risk of dying of infection, but studies in humans don’t find any increased risk. Animal studies always need to be taken with a big grain of salt.

Statistical significance

One very important concept when analyzing studies is the idea of statistical significance. In medicine, a result is considered “statistically significant” if the ”p-value” is less than 0,05 (p stands for probability).

This gets a little bit complicated, but please bear with me. To put it as simply as possible, the p-value is the probability that a certain result was seen even though the null hypothesis is true. (The null hypothesis is the alternative to the hypothesis that is being tested. In medicine the null hypothesis is usually the hypothesis that an intervention doesn’t work, for example that statins don’t decrease mortality).

So a p-value of 0,05 means that there is a 5% or lower chance that a result was seen even though the null hypothesis is true.

One thing to understand is that 5% is an entirely arbitrary cut-off. The number was chosen in the early twentieth century, and it has stuck. And it leads to a lot of crazy interpretations. If a p-value is 0,049 the researchers who have carried out a study will frequently rejoice, because the result is statistically significant. If the p-value is on the other hand 0,051, then the result will be considered a failure. Anyone can see that this is ridiculous, because there is actually only a 0,002 (0,2%) difference between the two results, and one is really no more statistically significant than the other.

Personally, I think a p-value of 0,05 is a bit too generous. I would much have preferred if the standard cut-off had been set at 0,01, and I am sceptical of results that show a p-value greater than 0,01. What gets me really excited is when I see a p-value of less than 0,001.

It is especially important to be sceptical of p-values that are higher than 0,01 considering the other things we know about medical science. Firstly, that there is a strong publication bias, which causes studies that don’t show statistical significance to “disappear” at a higher rate than studies that do show statistical significance. Secondly, that studies are often carried out by people with a vested interest in the result, who will do what they can to get the result they want. And thirdly, because the 0,05 cut-off is used inappropriately all the time, for a reason we will now discuss.

The 0,05 limit is only really supposed to apply when you’re looking at a single relationship. If you look at twenty different relationships at the same time, then just by pure chance one of those relationships will show statistical significance. Is that relationship real? Almost certainly not.

The more variables you look at, the more strictly you should set the limit for statistical significance. But very few studies in medicine do this. They happily report statistical significance with a p-value of 0,05, and act like they’ve shown some meaningful result, even when they look at a hundred different variables. That is bad science, but even big studies, published in prestigious journals, do this.

That is why researchers are supposed to decide on a “primary end-point” and ideally post that primary end-point on clinicaltrials.gov before they start their study. The primary end-point is the question that the researchers are mainly trying to answer (for example, do statins decrease overall mortality?). Then they can use the 0,05 cut-off for the primary endpoint without cheating. They will usually report any other results as if the 0,05 cut-off applies to them too, but it doesn’t.

The reason researchers are supposed to post the primary endpoint at clinicaltrials.gov before starting a trial is that they can otherwise choose the endpoint that ends up being most statistically significant just by chance, after they have all the results, and make that the primary endpoint. That is of course a form of statistical cheating. But it has happened, many times. Which is why clinicaltrials.gov is so important.

One thing to be aware of is that a large share of studies can not be successfully replicated. Some studies have found that more than 50% of research cannot be replicated. That is in spite of a cut-off which is supposed to cause this to only happen 5% of the time. How can that be?

I think the three main reasons are publication bias, vested interests that do what they can to manipulate studies, and inappropriate use of the 5% p-value cut-off. That is why we should never put too much trust in a result that has not been replicated.

Absolute risk vs relative risk

We’ve discussed statistical significance a lot now, but that isn’t really what matters to patients. What patients care about is “clinical significance”, i.e. if they take a drug, will it have a meaningful impact for them. Clinical significance is closely tied to the concepts of absolute risk and relative risk.

Let’s say we have a drug that decreases your five year risk of having a heart attack from 0,2% to 0,1% . We’ll invent a random name for the drug, say, “spatin”. Now, the absolute risk reduction when you take a spatin is 0,1% over five years (0,2 – 0,1 = 0,1). Not very impressive, right? Would you think it was worth taking that drug? Probably not.

What if I told you that spatins actually decreased your risk of heart attack by 50%? Now you’d definitely want to take the drug, right?

How can a spatin only decrease risk by 0,1% and yet at the same time decrease risk by 50%? Because the risk reduction depends on if we are looking at absolute risk or relative risk. Although spatins only cause a 0,1% reduction in absolute risk, they cause a 50% reduction in relative risk (0,1 / 0,2 = 50%).

So, you get the absolute risk reduction by taking the risk without the drug and subtracting the risk with the drug. You get the relative risk reduction by dividing the risk with the drug from the risk without the drug. Drug companies will generally focus on relative risk, because it sound much more impressive. But the clinical significance of a drug that decreases risk from 0,2% to 0,1% is, I would argue, so small that it’s not worth taking the drug, especially if the drug has side effects which might be more common than the probability of seeing a benefit.

When you look at an advertisement for a drug, always look at the fine print. Are they talking about absolute risk or relative risk?

How a journal article is organized

In the last few decades, a standardized format has developed for how scientific articles are supposed to be written. Articles are generally divided in to four sections.

The first section is the “Introduction”. In this section, the researchers are supposed to discuss the wider literature around the topic of their study, and how their study fits in with that wider literature. This section is mostly fluff, and you can usually skip through it.

The second section is the “Method”. This is an important section and you should always read it carefully. It describes what the researchers did and how they did it. Pay careful attention to what the study groups were, what the intervention was, what the control was. Was the study blinded or not? And if it was, how did they ensure that the blinding was maintained? Generally, the higher quality a scientific study, the more specific the researchers will be about exactly what they’ve done and how. If they’re not being specific, what are they trying to hide? Try to see if they’ve done anything that doesn’t make sense, and ask yourself why. If any manipulation is happening to make you think you’re seeing one thing when you’re actually seeing something else, it usually happens in the method section.

There are a few methodological tricks that are very common in scientific studies. One is choosing surrogate end points and another is choosing combined end points. I will use statins to exemplify each, since there has been so much methodological trickery in the statin research.

Surrogate end points are alternate endpoints that “stand in” for the thing that actually matters to patients. An example of a surrogate end point is looking at whether a drug lowers LDL cholesterol instead of looking at the thing that actually matters, overall mortality. The use of the surrogate end point in this case is motivated by the cholesterol hypothesis, i.e. the idea that cholesterol lowering drugs lower LDL, which results in a decrease in cardiovascular disease, which results in increased longevity.

By using a surrogate end point, researchers can claim that the drug is successful when they have in fact shown no such thing. As we’ve discussed previously, the cholesterol hypothesis is nonsense, so showing that a drug lowers LDL cholesterol does not say anything about whether it does anything clinically useful.

Another example of a surrogate endpoint is looking at cardiovascular mortality instead of overall mortality. People don’t usually care about which cause of death is listed on their death certificate. What they care about is whether they are alive or dead. It is perfectly possible for a drug to decrease cardiovascular mortality while at the same time increasing overall mortality, so overall mortality is the only thing that matters (at least if the purpose of a drug is to make you live longer).

An example of a combined end point is looking at the combination of overall mortality and frequency of cardiac stenting. Basically, when you have a combined end point, you add two or more end points together to get a bigger total amount of events.

Now, cardiac stenting is a decision made by a doctor. It is not a hard patient oriented outcome. A study might show that there is a statistically significant decrease in the combined end point of overall mortality and cardiac stenting, which most people will interpret as a decrease in mortality, without ever looking more closely to see if the decrease was actually in mortality, or stenting, or a combination of both. In fact, it’s perfectly possible for overall mortality to increase and still have a combined endpoint that shows a decrease.

Another trick is choosing which specific adverse events to follow, or not following any adverse events at all. Adverse events is just another word for side effects. Obviously, if you don’t look for side effects, you won’t find them.

Yet another trick is doing a “per-protocol analysis”. When you do a per-protocol analysis, you only include the results from the people who followed the study through to the end. This means that anyone who dropped out of the study because the treatment wasn’t having any effect or because they had side effects, doesn’t get included in the results. Obviously, this will make a treatment look better and safer than it really is.

The alternative to a per-protocol analysis is an “intention to treat” analysis. In this analysis, everyone who started the study is included in the final results, regardless of whether they dropped out or not. This gives a much more accurate understanding of what results can be expected when a patient starts a treatment, and should be standard for all scientific studies in health and medicine. Unfortunately per-protocol analyses are still common, so always be vigilant as to whether the results are being presented in a per-protocol or intention to treat manner.

The third section of a scientific article is the results section, and this is the section that everyone cares most about. This is just a pure tabulation of what results were achieved, and as such it is the least open to manipulation, assuming the researchers haven’t faked the numbers. Faking results has happened, and it’s something to be aware of and watch out for. But in general we have to assume that researchers are being honest. Otherwise the whole basis for evidence based medicine cracks and we might as well give up and go home.

To be fair, I think most researchers are honest. And I think even pharmaceutical companies will in general represent the results honestly (because it would be too destructive for their reputations if they were caught outright inventing data). Pharmaceutical companies engage in lots of trickery when it comes to the method and in the interpretation of the results, but I think it’s uncommon for them to engage in outright lying when it comes to the hard data presented in the results tables.

There is however one blatant manipulation of the results that happens frequently. I am talking about cherry picking of the time point at which a scientific study is ended. This can happen when researchers are allowed to check the results of their study while it is still ongoing. If the results are promising, they will often choose to stop the study at that point, and claim that the results were “so good that it would have been unethical to go on”. The problem is that the results become garbage from a statistical standpoint. Why?

Because of a statistical phenomenon known as “regression to the mean”. Basically, the longer a scientific study goes on for and the more data points that end up being gathered, the closer the result of the study is to the real result. Early on in a study, the results will often swing wildly just due to statistical chance. So studies will tend to show bigger effects early on, and smaller effects towards the end.

This problem is compounded by the fact that if a study at an early point shows a negative result, or a neutral result, or even a result that is positive but not “positive enough”, the researchers will usually continue the study in hopes of getting a better result. But the moment the result goes above a certain point, they stop the study and claim excellent benefit from their treatment.

That is how the time point at which a study is stopped ends up being cherry picked. Which is why the planned length of a study should always be posted in advance on clinicaltrials.gov, and why researchers should always stick to the planned length, and never look at the results until the study has gone on for the planned length. If a study is stopped early at a time point of the researchers’ choosing, the results are not statistically sound no matter what the p-values may show. Never trust the results of a study that stopped early.

The fourth section of a scientific article is the discussion section, and like the introduction section it can mostly be skipped through. Considering how competitive the scientific research field is, and how much money is often at stake, researchers will use the discussion section to try to sell the importance of their research, and if they are selling a drug, to make the drug sound as good as possible.

At the bottom of an article, there will generally be a small section (in smaller print than the rest of the study) that details who funded the study, and what conflicts of interest there are. In my opinion, this information should be provided in large, bright orange text at the top of the article, because the rest of the article should always be read in light of who did the study and what motives they had for doing it.

In conclusion, focus on the method section and the results section. The introduction section and the discussion section can for the most part be ignored.

Final words

My main take-home is that you should always be skeptical. Never trust a result just because it comes from a scientific study. Most scientific studies are low quality and contribute nothing to the advancement of human knowledge. Always look at the method used. Always look at who funded the study and what conflicts of interest there were.

I hope this article is useful to you. Please let me know if there are more things in terms of scientific methodology that you have been wondering about. I will try to make this article a living document that grows over time.

You might also be interested in my article about whether statins save lives, or my article about whether the cholesterol hypothesis is dead.


Sebastian Rushworth, M.D. is a practicing physician in Stockholm, Sweden. I studied medicine at Karolinska Institutet (home of the Nobel prize in medicine).

September 27, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

I’ve lost all trust in medical research – the financial muscle of Big Pharma has been busy distorting science during the pandemic

By Malcolm Kendrick | RT | July 4, 2020

Evidence that a cheap, over-the-counter anti-malarial drug costing £7 combats Covid-19 gets trashed. Why? Because the pharmaceutical giants want to sell you a treatment costing nearly £2,000. It’s criminal.

A few years ago, I wrote a book called ‘Doctoring Data’. This was an attempt to help people understand the background to the tidal wave of medical information that crashes over us each and every day. Information that is often completely contradictory, viz ‘Coffee is good for you… no, wait it’s bad for you… no, wait, it’s good for you again,’ repeated ad nauseam.

I also pointed out some of the tricks, games and manipulations that are used to make medications seem far more effective than they truly are, or vice versa. This, I have to say, can be a very dispiriting world to enter. When I give talks on this subject, I often start with a few quotes.

For example, here is Dr Marcia Angell, who edited the New England Journal of Medicine for over 20 years, writing in 2009:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as editor.”

Have things got better? No, I believe they’ve got worse – if that were, indeed, possible. I was recently sent the following email about a closed-door, no-recording-allowed discussion, held in May of this year under no-disclosure Chatham House rules:

“A secretly recorded meeting between the editors-in-chief of The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine reveal both men bemoaning the ‘criminal’ influence big pharma has on scientific research. According to Philippe Douste-Blazy, France’s former health minister and 2017 candidate for WHO director, the leaked 2020 Chatham House closed-door discussion was between the [editor-in-chiefs], whose publications both retracted papers favorable to big pharma over fraudulent data.

The email continued with a quote from that recording: ‘Now we are not going to be able to … publish any more clinical research data because the pharmaceutical companies are so financially powerful today, and are able to use such methodologies, as to have us accept papers which are apparently methodologically perfect, but which, in reality, manage to conclude what they want them to conclude,’ said The Lancet’s editor-in-chief, Richard Horton.”

A YouTube video where this issue is discussed can be found here. It’s in French, but there are English subtitles.

The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet are the two most influential, most highly resourced medical journals in the world. If they no longer have the ability to detect what is essentially fraudulent research, then… Then what? Then what, indeed?

In fact, things have generally taken a sharp turn for the worse since the Covid-19 pandemic struck. New studies, new data, new information is arriving at breakneck speed, often with little or no effective review. What can you believe? Who can you believe? Almost nothing would be the safest course of action.

One issue has played out over the past few months, stripping away any remaining vestiges of my trust in medical research. It concerns the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. You may well be aware that Donald Trump endorsed it – which presents a whole series of problems for many people.

However, before the pandemic hit, I was recommending to my local NHS trust that we should look to stock up on hydroxychloroquine. There had been a great deal of research over the years strongly suggesting it could inhibit the entry of viruses into cells, and that it also interfered with viral replication once inside the cell.

This mechanism of action explains why it can help stop the malaria parasite from gaining entry into red blood cells. The science is complex, but many researchers felt there was good reason for thinking hydroxychloroquine may have some real, if not earth-shattering, benefits in Covid-19.

This idea was further reinforced by the knowledge that it has some effects on reducing the so-called ‘cytokine storm’ that is considered deadly with Covid-19. It’s prescribed in rheumatoid arthritis to reduce the immune attack on joints.

The other reason for recommending hydroxychloroquine is that it’s extremely safe. It is, for example, the most widely prescribed drug in India. Billions upon billions of doses have been prescribed. It is available over the counter in most countries. So, I felt pretty comfortable in recommending that it could be tried. At worst, no harm would be done.

Then hydroxychloroquine became the center of a worldwide storm. On one side, wearing the white hats, were the researchers who’d used it early on, where it seemed to show some significant benefits. For example, Professor Didier Raoult, of the Institut Hospitalo-universitaire Méditerranée Infection, in France:

“A renowned research professor in France has reported successful results from a new treatment for Covid-19, with early tests suggesting it can stop the virus from being contagious in just six days.”

Then came this research from a Moroccan scientist at the University of Lille:

“Jaouad Zemmouri … believes that 78 percent of Europe’s Covid-19 deaths could have been prevented if Europe had used hydroxychloroquine… Morocco, with a population of 36 million [roughly one tenth that of the US], has only 10,079 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and only 214 deaths.

“Professor Zemmouri believes that Morocco’s use of hydroxychloroquine has resulted in an 82.5 percent recovery rate from Covid-19 and only a 2.1 percent fatality rate, in those admitted to hospital.”

Just prior to this, on May 22, a study was published in The Lancet, stating that hydroxychloroquine actually increased deaths. It then turned out that the data used could not be verified and was most likely made up. The authors had major conflicts of interest with pharmaceutical companies making anti-viral drugs. In early June, the entire article was retracted by Horton.

Then a UK study came out suggesting that hydroxychloroquine did not work at all. Discussing the results, Professor Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who is co-leading the Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial, stated:

“This is not a treatment for Covid-19. It doesn’t work. This result should change medical practice worldwide. We can now stop using a drug that is useless.”

The study has since been heavily criticized by other researchers, who state that the dose of hydroxychloroquine used was potentially toxic. It was also given far too late to have any positive effect. Many of the patients were already on ventilators.

This week, I was sent a pre-proof copy of an article about a study that will be published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. Its author has found that hydroxychloroquine “significantly” decreased the death rate of patients involved in the analysis. The study analyzed 2,541 patients hospitalized in six hospitals between March 10 and May 2 2020, and found 13 percent of those treated with hydroxychloroquine died and 26 percent of those who did not receive the drug died.

When things get this messed up, I tend to look for the potential conflicts of interest. By which I mean, who stands to make money from slamming the use of hydroxychloroquine, which is a generic drug that’s been around since 1934 and costs about £7 for a bottle of 60 tablets?

In this case, first, it’s those companies who make the hugely expensive antiviral drugs such as Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir, which, in the US, costs $2,340 for a typical five-day course. Second, it’s the companies that are striving to get a vaccine to market. There are billions and billions of dollars at stake here.

In this world, cheap drugs such as hydroxychloroquine don’t stand much chance. Neither do cheap vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin D. Do they have benefits for Covid-19 sufferers? I’m sure they do. Will such benefits be dismissed in studies that have been carefully manipulated to ensure they don’t work? Of course. Remember these words: “Pharmaceutical companies are so financially powerful today, and are able to use such methodologies, as to have us accept papers which are apparently methodologically perfect, but which, in reality, manage to conclude what they want them to conclude.” 

Unless and until governments and medical bodies act decisively to permanently sever the financial ties between researchers and Big Pharma, these distortions and manipulations in the pursuit of Big Profit will continue. Just please  don’t hold your breath in anticipation.

Malcolm Kendrick is a doctor and author who works as a GP in the National Health Service in England. His blog can be read here and his book, ‘Doctoring Data – How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense,’ is available here.

September 26, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Corruption, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Open letter from medical doctors and health professionals to all Belgian authorities and media

Dr Malcomb Kendrick | September 19, 2020

In order to make you aware that there are a growing number of doctors in Europe who feel that Lockdown has been an unmitigated disaster, I have downloaded an open Letter from doctors in Belgium. It can be seen here.

Doctors in other countries e.g. Germany have done much the same thing. I am putting this on my blog so that as many people as possible read it.

Open letter from medical doctors and health professionals to all Belgian authorities and all Belgian media.

We, Belgian doctors and health professionals, wish to express our serious concern about the evolution of the situation in the recent months surrounding the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We call on politicians to be independently and critically informed in the decision-making process and in the compulsory implementation of corona-measures. We ask for an open debate, where all experts are represented without any form of censorship. After the initial panic surrounding covid-19, the objective facts now show a completely different picture – there is no medical justification for any emergency policy anymore.

The current crisis management has become totally disproportionate and causes more damage than it does any good.

We call for an end to all measures and ask for an immediate restoration of our normal democratic governance and legal structures and of all our civil liberties.

‘A cure must not be worse than the problem’ is a thesis that is more relevant than ever in the current situation. We note, however, that the collateral damage now being caused to the population will have a greater impact in the short and long term on all sections of the population than the number of people now being safeguarded from corona.

In our opinion, the current corona measures and the strict penalties for non-compliance with them are contrary to the values formulated by the Belgian Supreme Health Council, which, until recently, as the health authority, has always ensured quality medicine in our country: “Science – Expertise – Quality – Impartiality – Independence – Transparency”. 1

We believe that the policy has introduced mandatory measures that are not sufficiently scientifically based, unilaterally directed, and that there is not enough space in the media for an open debate in which different views and opinions are heard. In addition, each municipality and province now has the authorisation to add its own measures, whether well-founded or not.

Moreover, the strict repressive policy on corona strongly contrasts with the government’s minimal policy when it comes to disease prevention, strengthening our own immune system through a healthy lifestyle, optimal care with attention for the individual and investment in care personnel.2

The concept of health

In 1948, the WHO defined health as follows: ‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or other physical impairment’.3

Health, therefore, is a broad concept that goes beyond the physical and also relates to the emotional and social well-being of the individual. Belgium also has a duty, from the point of view of subscribing to fundamental human rights, to include these human rights in its decision-making when it comes to measures taken in the context of public health. 4

The current global measures taken to combat SARS-CoV-2 violate to a large extent this view of health and human rights. Measures include compulsory wearing of a mask (also in open air and during sporting activities, and in some municipalities even when there are no other people in the vicinity), physical distancing, social isolation, compulsory quarantine for some groups and hygiene measures.

The predicted pandemic with millions of deaths

At the beginning of the pandemic, the measures were understandable and widely supported, even if there were differences in implementation in the countries around us. The WHO originally predicted a pandemic that would claim 3.4% victims, in other words millions of deaths, and a highly contagious virus for which no treatment or vaccine was available.  This would put unprecedented pressure on the intensive care units (ICUs) of our hospitals.

This led to a global alarm situation, never seen in the history of mankind: “flatten the curve” was represented by a lockdown that shut down the entire society and economy and quarantined healthy people. Social distancing became the new normal in anticipation of a rescue vaccine.

The facts about covid-19

Gradually, the alarm bell was sounded from many sources: the objective facts showed a completely different reality. 5 6

The course of covid-19 followed the course of a normal wave of infection similar to a flu season. As every year, we see a mix of flu viruses following the curve: first the rhinoviruses, then the influenza A and B viruses, followed by the coronaviruses. There is nothing different from what we normally see.

The use of the non-specific PCR test, which produces many false positives, showed an exponential picture. This test was rushed through with an emergency procedure and was never seriously self-tested. The creator expressly warned that this test was intended for research and not for diagnostics.7

The PCR test works with cycles of amplification of genetic material – a piece of genome is amplified each time. Any contamination (e.g. other viruses, debris from old virus genomes) can possibly result in false positives.8

The test does not measure how many viruses are present in the sample. A real viral infection means a massive presence of viruses, the so-called virus load. If someone tests positive, this does not mean that that person is actually clinically infected, is ill or is going to become ill. Koch’s postulate was not fulfilled (“The pure agent found in a patient with complaints can provoke the same complaints in a healthy person”).

Since a positive PCR test does not automatically indicate active infection or infectivity, this does not justify the social measures taken, which are based solely on these tests. 9 10

Lockdown.

If we compare the waves of infection in countries with strict lockdown policies to countries that did not impose lockdowns (Sweden, Iceland …), we see similar curves.  So there is no link between the imposed lockdown and the course of the infection. Lockdown has not led to a lower mortality rate.

If we look at the date of application of the imposed lockdowns we see that the lockdowns were set after the peak was already over and the number of cases decreasing. The drop was therefore not the result of the taken measures. 11

As every year, it seems that climatic conditions (weather, temperature and humidity) and growing immunity are more likely to reduce the wave of infection.

Our immune system

For thousands of years, the human body has been exposed daily to moisture and droplets containing infectious microorganisms (viruses, bacteria and fungi).

The penetration of these microorganisms is prevented by an advanced defence mechanism – the immune system. A strong immune system relies on normal daily exposure to these microbial influences. Overly hygienic measures have a detrimental effect on our immunity. 12 13 Only people with a weak or faulty immune system should be protected by extensive hygiene or social distancing.

Influenza will re-emerge in the autumn (in combination with covid-19) and a possible decrease in natural resilience may lead to further casualties.

Our immune system consists of two parts: a congenital, non-specific immune system and an adaptive immune system.

The non-specific immune system forms a first barrier: skin, saliva, gastric juice, intestinal mucus, vibratory hair cells, commensal flora, … and prevents the attachment of micro-organisms to tissue.

If they do attach, macrophages can cause the microorganisms to be encapsulated and destroyed.

The adaptive immune system consists of mucosal immunity (IgA antibodies, mainly produced by cells in the intestines and lung epithelium), cellular immunity (T-cell activation), which can be generated in contact with foreign substances or microorganisms, and humoral immunity (IgM and IgG antibodies produced by the B cells).

Recent research shows that both systems are highly entangled.

It appears that most people already have a congenital or general immunity to e.g. influenza and other viruses. This is confirmed by the findings on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, which was quarantined because of a few passengers who died of Covid-19. Most of the passengers were elderly and were in an ideal situation of transmission on the ship. However, 75% did not appear to be infected. So even in this high-risk group, the majority are resistant to the virus.

A study in the journal Cell shows that most people neutralise the coronavirus by mucosal (IgA) and cellular immunity (T-cells), while experiencing few or no symptoms 14.

Researchers found up to 60% SARS-Cov-2 reactivity with CD4+T cells in a non-infected population, suggesting cross-reactivity with other cold (corona) viruses.15 Most people therefore already have a congenital or cross-immunity because they were already in contact with variants of the same virus.

The antibody formation (IgM and IgG) by B-cells only occupies a relatively small part of our immune system. This may explain why, with an antibody percentage of 5-10%, there may be a group immunity anyway. The efficacy of vaccines is assessed precisely on the basis of whether or not we have these antibodies. This is a misrepresentation.

Most people who test positive (PCR) have no complaints. Their immune system is strong enough. Strengthening natural immunity is a much more logical approach. Prevention is an important, insufficiently highlighted pillar: healthy, full-fledged nutrition, exercise in fresh air, without a mask, stress reduction and nourishing emotional and social contacts.

Consequences of social isolation on physical and mental health

Social isolation and economic damage led to an increase in depression, anxiety, suicides, intra-family violence and child abuse.16

Studies have shown that the more social and emotional commitments people have, the more resistant they are to viruses. It is much more likely that isolation and quarantine have fatal consequences. 17

The isolation measures have also led to physical inactivity in many older people due to their being forced to stay indoors. However, sufficient exercise has a positive effect on cognitive functioning, reducing depressive complaints and anxiety and improving physical health, energy levels, well-being and, in general, quality of life.18

Fear, persistent stress and loneliness induced by social distancing have a proven negative influence on psychological and general health. 19

A highly contagious virus with millions of deaths without any treatment?

Mortality turned out to be many times lower than expected and close to that of a normal seasonal flu (0.2%). 20

The number of registered corona deaths therefore still seems to be overestimated.

There is a difference between death by corona and death with corona. Humans are often carriers of multiple viruses and potentially pathogenic bacteria at the same time. Taking into account the fact that most people who developed serious symptoms suffered from additional pathology, one cannot simply conclude that the corona-infection was the cause of death. This was mostly not taken into account in the statistics.

The most vulnerable groups can be clearly identified. The vast majority of deceased patients were 80 years of age or older. The majority (70%) of the deceased, younger than 70 years, had an underlying disorder, such as cardiovascular suffering, diabetes mellitus, chronic lung disease or obesity. The vast majority of infected persons (>98%) did not or hardly became ill or recovered spontaneously.

Meanwhile, there is an affordable, safe and efficient therapy available for those who do show severe symptoms of disease in the form of HCQ (hydroxychloroquine), zinc and AZT (azithromycin). Rapidly applied this therapy leads to recovery and often prevents hospitalisation. Hardly anyone has to die now.

This effective therapy has been confirmed by the clinical experience of colleagues in the field with impressive results. This contrasts sharply with the theoretical criticism (insufficient substantiation by double-blind studies) which in some countries (e.g. the Netherlands) has even led to a ban on this therapy. A meta-analysis in The Lancet, which could not demonstrate an effect of HCQ, was withdrawn. The primary data sources used proved to be unreliable and 2 out of 3 authors were in conflict of interest. However, most of the guidelines based on this study remained unchanged … 48 49

We have serious questions about this state of affairs.

In the US, a group of doctors in the field, who see patients on a daily basis, united in “America’s Frontline Doctors” and gave a press conference which has been watched millions of times.21 51

French Prof Didier Raoult of the Institut d’Infectiologie de Marseille (IHU) also presented this promising combination therapy as early as April. Dutch GP Rob Elens, who cured many patients in his practice with HCQ and zinc, called on colleagues in a petition for freedom of therapy.22

The definitive evidence comes from the epidemiological follow-up in Switzerland: mortality rates compared with and without this therapy.23

From the distressing media images of ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) where people were suffocating and given artificial respiration in agony, we now know that this was caused by an exaggerated immune response with intravascular coagulation in the pulmonary blood vessels. The administration of blood thinners and dexamethasone and the avoidance of artificial ventilation, which was found to cause additional damage to lung tissue, means that this dreaded complication, too, is virtually not fatal anymore. 47

It is therefore not a killer virus, but a well-treatable condition.

Propagation

Spreading occurs by drip infection (only for patients who cough or sneeze) and aerosols in closed, unventilated rooms. Contamination is therefore not possible in the open air. Contact tracing and epidemiological studies show that healthy people (or positively tested asymptomatic carriers) are virtually unable to transmit the virus. Healthy people therefore do not put each other at risk. 24 25

Transfer via objects (e.g. money, shopping or shopping trolleys) has not been scientifically proven.26 27 28

All this seriously calls into question the whole policy of social distancing and compulsory mouth masks for healthy people – there is no scientific basis for this.

Masks

Oral masks belong in contexts where contacts with proven at-risk groups or people with upper respiratory complaints take place, and in a medical context/hospital-retirement home setting. They reduce the risk of droplet infection by sneezing or coughing. Oral masks in healthy individuals are ineffective against the spread of viral infections. 29 30 31

Wearing a mask is not without side effects. 32 33 Oxygen deficiency (headache, nausea, fatigue, loss of concentration) occurs fairly quickly, an effect similar to altitude sickness. Every day we now see patients complaining of headaches, sinus problems, respiratory problems and hyperventilation due to wearing masks. In addition, the accumulated CO2 leads to a toxic acidification of the organism which affects our immunity. Some experts even warn of an increased transmission of the virus in case of inappropriate use of the mask.34

Our Labour Code (Codex 6) refers to a CO2 content (ventilation in workplaces) of 900 ppm, maximum 1200 ppm in special circumstances. After wearing a mask for one minute, this toxic limit is considerably exceeded to values that are three to four times higher than these maximum values. Anyone who wears a mask is therefore in an extreme poorly ventilated room. 35

Inappropriate use of masks without a comprehensive medical cardio-pulmonary test file is therefore not recommended by recognised safety specialists for workers.

Hospitals have a sterile environment in their operating rooms where staff wear masks and there is precise regulation of humidity / temperature with appropriately monitored oxygen flow to compensate for this, thus meeting strict safety standards. 36

A second corona wave?

A second wave is now being discussed in Belgium, with a further tightening of the measures as a result. However, closer examination of Sciensano’s figures (latest report of 3 September 2020)37 shows that, although there has been an increase in the number of infections since mid-July, there was no increase in hospital admissions or deaths at that time. It is therefore not a second wave of corona, but a so-called “case chemistry” due to an increased number of tests. 50

The number of hospital admissions or deaths showed a shortlasting minimal increase in recent weeks, but in interpreting it, we must take into account the recent heatwave. In addition, the vast majority of the victims are still in the population group >75 years.

This indicates that the proportion of the measures taken in relation to the working population and young people is disproportionate to the intended objectives.

The vast majority of the positively tested “infected” persons are in the age group of the active population, which does not develop any or merely limited symptoms, due to a well-functioning immune system.

So nothing has changed – the peak is over.

Strengthening a prevention policy

The corona measures form a striking contrast to the minimal policy pursued by the government until now, when it comes to well-founded measures with proven health benefits such as the sugar tax, the ban on (e-)cigarettes and making healthy food, exercise and social support networks financially attractive and widely accessible. It is a missed opportunity for a better prevention policy that could have brought about a change in mentality in all sections of the population with clear results in terms of public health. At present, only 3% of the health care budget goes to prevention. 2

The Hippocratic Oath

As a doctor, we took the Hippocratic Oath:

“I will above all care for my patients, promote their health and alleviate their suffering”.

“I will inform my patients correctly.”

“Even under pressure, I will not use my medical knowledge for practices that are against humanity.”

The current measures force us to act against this oath.

Other health professionals have a similar code.

The ‘primum non nocere’, which every doctor and health professional assumes, is also undermined by the current measures and by the prospect of the possible introduction of a generalised vaccine, which is not subject to extensive prior testing.

Vaccine

Survey studies on influenza vaccinations show that in 10 years we have only succeeded three times in developing a vaccine with an efficiency rate of more than 50%. Vaccinating our elderly appears to be inefficient. Over 75 years of age, the efficacy is almost non-existent.38

Due to the continuous natural mutation of viruses, as we also see every year in the case of the influenza virus, a vaccine is at most a temporary solution, which requires new vaccines each time afterwards. An untested vaccine, which is implemented by emergency procedure and for which the manufacturers have already obtained legal immunity from possible harm, raises serious questions. 39 40 We do not wish to use our patients as guinea pigs.

On a global scale, 700 000 cases of damage or death are expected as a result of the vaccine.41 If 95% of people experience Covid-19 virtually symptom-free, the risk of exposure to an untested vaccine is irresponsible.

The role of the media and the official communication plan

Over the past few months, newspaper, radio and TV makers seemed to stand almost uncritically behind the panel of experts and the government, there, where it is precisely the press that should be critical and prevent one-sided governmental communication. This has led to a public communication in our news media, that was more like propaganda than objective reporting.

In our opinion, it is the task of journalism to bring news as objectively and neutrally as possible, aimed at finding the truth and critically controlling power, with dissenting experts also being given a forum in which to express themselves.

This view is supported by the journalistic codes of ethics.42

The official story that a lockdown was necessary, that this was the only possible solution, and that everyone stood behind this lockdown, made it difficult for people with a different view, as well as experts, to express a different opinion.

Alternative opinions were ignored or ridiculed. We have not seen open debates in the media, where different views could be expressed.

We were also surprised by the many videos and articles by many scientific experts and authorities, which were and are still being removed from social media. We feel that this does not fit in with a free, democratic constitutional state, all the more so as it leads to tunnel vision. This policy also has a paralysing effect and feeds fear and concern in society. In this context, we reject the intention of censorship of dissidents in the European Union! 43

The way in which Covid-19 has been portrayed by politicians and the media has not done the situation any good either. War terms were popular and warlike language was not lacking. There has often been mention of a ‘war’ with an ‘invisible enemy’ who has to be ‘defeated’. The use in the media of phrases such as ‘care heroes in the front line’ and ‘corona victims’ has further fuelled fear, as has the idea that we are globally dealing with a ‘killer virus’.

The relentless bombardment with figures, that were unleashed on the population day after day, hour after hour, without interpreting those figures, without comparing them to flu deaths in other years, without comparing them to deaths from other causes, has induced a real psychosis of fear in the population. This is not information, this is manipulation.

We deplore the role of the WHO in this, which has called for the infodemic (i.e. all divergent opinions from the official discourse, including by experts with different views) to be silenced by an unprecedented media censorship.43 44

We urgently call on the media to take their responsibilities here!

We demand an open debate in which all experts are heard.

Emergency law versus Human Rights

The general principle of good governance calls for the proportionality of government decisions to be weighed up in the light of the Higher Legal Standards: any interference by government must comply with the fundamental rights as protected in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Interference by public authorities is only permitted in crisis situations. In other words, discretionary decisions must be proportionate to an absolute necessity.

The measures currently taken concern interference in the exercise of, among other things, the right to respect of private and family life, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association, the right to education, etc., and must therefore comply with fundamental rights as protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

For example, in accordance with Article 8(2) of the ECHR, interference with the right to private and family life is permissible only if the measures are necessary in the interests of national security, public safety, the economic well-being of the country, the protection of public order and the prevention of criminal offences, the protection of health or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, the regulatory text on which the interference is based must be sufficiently clear, foreseeable and proportionate to the objectives pursued.45

The predicted pandemic of millions of deaths seemed to respond to these crisis conditions, leading to the establishment of an emergency government. Now that the objective facts show something completely different, the condition of inability to act otherwise (no time to evaluate thoroughly if there is an emergency) is no longer in place. Covid-19 is not a cold virus, but a well treatable condition with a mortality rate comparable to the seasonal flu. In other words, there is no longer an insurmountable obstacle to public health.

There is no state of emergency.

Immense damage caused by the current policies

An open discussion on corona measures means that, in addition to the years of life gained by corona patients, we must also take into account other factors affecting the health of the entire population. These include damage in the psychosocial domain (increase in depression, anxiety, suicides, intra-family violence and child abuse)16 and economic damage.

If we take this collateral damage into account, the current policy is out of all proportion, the proverbial use of a sledgehammer to crack a nut.We find it shocking that the government is invoking health as a reason for the emergency law.

As doctors and health professionals, in the face of a virus which, in terms of its harmfulness, mortality and transmissibility, approaches the seasonal influenza, we can only reject these extremely disproportionate measures.

We therefore demand an immediate end to all measures.

We are questioning the legitimacy of the current advisory experts, who meet behind closed doors.

Following on from ACU 2020 46 https://acu2020.org/nederlandse-versie/ we call for an in-depth examination of the role of the WHO and the possible influence of conflicts of interest in this organisation. It was also at the heart of the fight against the “infodemic”, i.e. the systematic censorship of all dissenting opinions in the media. This is unacceptable for a democratic state governed by the rule of law.43

Distribution of this letter

We would like to make a public appeal to our professional associations and fellow carers to give their opinion on the current measures.

We draw attention to and call for an open discussion in which carers can and dare to speak out.

With this open letter, we send out the signal that progress on the same footing does more harm than good, and call on politicians to inform themselves independently and critically about the available evidence – including that from experts with different views, as long as it is based on sound science – when rolling out a policy, with the aim of promoting optimum health.

With concern, hope and in a personal capacity.

 

1: https://www.health.belgium.be/nl/wie-zijn-we#Missie standaard.be/preventie

2: https://www.who.int/about/who-we-are/constitution

3: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/human-rights-and-health

4: https://swprs.org/feiten-over-covid19/

5: https://the-iceberg.net/

6: https://www.creative-diagnostics.com/sars-cov-2-coronavirus-multiplex-rt-qpcr-kit-277854-457.htm

7: President John Magufuli of Tanzania: “Even Papaya and Goats are Corona positive” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=207HuOxltvI

8: Open letter by biochemist Drs Mario Ortiz Martinez to the Dutch chamber https://www.gentechvrij.nl/2020/08/15/foute-interpretatie/

9: Interview with Drs Mario Ortiz Martinez https://troo.tube/videos/watch/6ed900eb-7459-4a1b-93fd-b393069f4fcd?fbclid=IwAR1XrullC2qopJjgFxEgbSTBvh-4ZCuJa1VxkHTXEtYMEyGG3DsNwUdaatY

10: https://infekt.ch/2020/04/sind-wir-tatsaechlich-im-blindflug/

11: Lambrecht, B., Hammad, H. The immunology of the allergy epidemic and the hygiene hypothesis. Nat Immunol 18, 1076–1083 (2017). https://www.nature.com/articles/ni.3829

12: Sharvan Sehrawat, Barry T. Rouse, Does the hygiene hypothesis apply to COVID-19 susceptibility?, Microbes and Infection, 2020, ISSN 1286-4579, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.micinf.2020.07.002

13: https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(20)30610-3?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0092867420306103%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

14: https://www.hpdetijd.nl/2020-08-11/9-manieren-om-corona-te-voorkomen/

15: Feys, F., Brokken, S., & De Peuter, S. (2020, May 22). Risk-benefit and cost-utility analysis for COVID-19 lockdown in Belgium: the impact on mental health and wellbeing. https://psyarxiv.com/xczb3/

16: Kompanje, 2020

17: Conn, Hafdahl en Brown, 2009; Martinsen 2008; Yau, 2008

18: https://brandbriefggz.nl/

19: https://swprs.org/studies-on-covid-19-lethality/#overall-mortality

20: https://www.xandernieuws.net/algemeen/groep-artsen-vs-komt-in-verzet-facebook-bant-hun-17-miljoen-keer-bekeken-video/

21: https://www.petities.com/einde_corona_crises_overheid_sta_behandeling_van_covid-19_met_hcq_en_zink_toe

22: https://zelfzorgcovid19.nl/statistieken-zwitserland-met-hcq-zonder-hcq-met-hcq-leveren-het-bewijs/

23: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/08/asymptomatic-coronavirus-patients-arent-spreading-new-infections-who-says.html

24: http://www.emro.who.int/health-topics/corona-virus/transmission-of-covid-19-by-asymptomatic-cases.html

25: WHO https://www.marketwatch.com/story/who-we-did-not-say-that-cash-was-transmitting-coronavirus-2020-03-06

26: https://www.nordkurier.de/ratgeber/es-gibt-keine-gefahr-jemandem-beim-einkaufen-zu-infizieren-0238940804.html

27: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-germany-banknotes/banknotes-carry-no-particular-coronavirus-risk-german-disease-expert-idUSKBN20Y2ZT

  1. Contradictory statements by our virologists https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6K9xfmkMsvM

30: https://www.hpdetijd.nl/2020-07-05/stop-met-anderhalve-meter-afstand-en-het-verplicht-dragen-van-mondkapjes/

31: Security expert Tammy K. Herrema Clark https://youtu.be/TgDm_maAglM

32: https://theplantstrongclub.org/2020/07/04/healthy-people-should-not-wear-face-masks-by-jim-meehan-md/

33: https://www.technocracy.news/blaylock-face-masks-pose-serious-risks-to-the-healthy/

34: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200315/Reusing-masks-may-increase-your-risk-of-coronavirus-infection-expert-says.aspx

35: https://werk.belgie.be/nl/nieuws/nieuwe-regels-voor-de-kwaliteit-van-de-binnenlucht-werklokalen

36: https://kavlaanderen.blogspot.com/2020/07/als-maskers-niet-werken-waarom-dragen.html

37: https://covid-19.sciensano.be/sites/default/files/Covid19/Meest%20recente%20update.pdf

38: Haralambieva, I.H. et al., 2015. The impact of immunosenescence on humoral immune response variation after influenza A/H1N1 vaccination in older subjects. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26044074/

39: Global vaccine safety summit WHO 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJXXDLGKmPg

40: No liability manufacturers vaccines https://m.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20200804_95956456?fbclid=IwAR0IgiA-6sNVQvE8rMC6O5Gq5xhOulbcN1BhdI7Rw-7eq_pRtJDCxde6SQI

41: https://www.newsbreak.com/news/1572921830018/bill-gates-admits-700000-people-will-be-harmed-or-killed-by-his-covid-19-solution

42: Journalistic code https://www.rvdj.be/node/63

43: Disinformation related to COVID-19 approaches European Commission EurLex, juni 2020 (this file will not damage your computer)

44: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30461-X/fulltext

45: http://www.raadvst-consetat.be/dbx/adviezen/67142.pdf#search=67.142

46: https://acu2020.org/

47: https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0049384820303297?token=9718E5413AACDE0D14A3A0A56A89A3EF744B5A201097F4459AE565EA5EDB222803FF46D7C6CD3419652A215FDD2C874F

48: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31180-6/fulltext

49 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31324-6/fulltext

There is no revival of the pandemic, but a so-called casedemic due to more testing.

50: https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/crucial-viewing-understanding-covid-19-casedemic1

51: https://docs4opendebate.be/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/white-paper-on-hcq-from-AFD.pdf

September 24, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

The Pandemic is a Test Run – #PropagandaWatch

Corbett • 09/23/2020

Watch on Archive / BitChute / LBRY / Minds / YouTube

The death cult that wants to suppress humanity has issued their warning: the lockdown of the world in the name of the global scamdemic is not the end of this madness. It is only the beginning. Join James for this week’s edition of #PropagandaWatch as he dissects the latest attempt to leverage the climate scam on the back of the COVID scam, and how both of these distractions are being used to indoctrinate the public into the death cult.

SHOW NOTES:
Coronavirus and Climate Change – #PropagandaWatch

What would happen if the world reacted to climate change like it’s reacting to the coronavirus? (May Boeve and others)

Coronavirus can trigger a new industrial revolution

The pandemic didn’t solve climate change. This week’s disasters are proof

Weather Is Not Climate!

Innovating to zero! | Bill Gates

CNN: “The pandemic didn’t solve climate change. This week’s disasters are proof” (Eric Worrall)

September 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

FAUCI TOUTS VITAMINS FOR COVID?!

 

Click here for video

September 22, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | Leave a comment

Lies, Damned Lies and Health Statistics – the Deadly Danger of False Positives

By Dr Michael Yeadon | Lockdown Sceptics | September 20, 2020

I never expected to be writing something like this. I am an ordinary person, recently semi-retired from a career in the pharmaceutical industry and biotech, where I spent over 30 years trying to solve problems of disease understanding and seek new treatments for allergic and inflammatory disorders of lung and skin. I’ve always been interested in problem solving, so when anything biological comes along, my attention is drawn to it. Come 2020, came SARS-CoV-2. I’ve written about the pandemic as objectively as I could. The scientific method never leaves a person who trained and worked as a professional scientist. Please do read that piece. My co-authors & I will submit it to the normal rigours of peer review, but that process is slow and many pieces of new science this year have come to attention through pre-print servers and other less conventional outlets.

While paying close attention to data, we all initially focused on the sad matter of deaths. I found it remarkable that, in discussing the COVID-19 related deaths, most people I spoke to had no idea of large numbers. Asked approximately how many people a year die in the UK in the ordinary course of events, each a personal tragedy, they usually didn’t know. I had to inform them it is around 620,000, sometimes less if we had a mild winter, sometimes quite a bit higher if we had a severe ’flu season. I mention this number because we know that around 42,000 people have died with or of COVID-19. While it’s a huge number of people, its ‘only’ 0.06% of the UK population. Its not a coincidence that this is almost the same proportion who have died with or of COVID-19 in each of the heavily infected European countries – for example, Sweden. The annual all-causes mortality of 620,000 amounts to 1,700 per day, lower in summer and higher in winter. That has always been the lot of humans in the temperate zones. So for context, 42,000 is about ~24 days worth of normal mortality. Please know I am not minimising it, just trying to get some perspective on it. Deaths of this magnitude are not uncommon, and can occur in the more severe flu seasons. Flu vaccines help a little, but on only three occasions in the last decade did vaccination reach 50% effectiveness. They’re good, but they’ve never been magic bullets for respiratory viruses. Instead, we have learned to live with such viruses, ranging from numerous common colds all the way to pneumonias which can kill. Medicines and human caring do their best.

So, to this article. Its about the testing we do with something called PCR, an amplification technique, better known to biologists as a research tool used in our labs, when trying to unpick mechanisms of disease. I was frankly astonished to realise they’re sometimes used in population screening for diseases – astonished because it is a very exacting technique, prone to invisible errors and it’s quite a tall order to get reliable information out of it, especially because of the prodigious amounts of amplification involved in attempting to pick up a strand of viral genetic code. The test cannot distinguish between a living virus and a short strand of RNA from a virus which broke into pieces weeks or months ago.

I believe I have identified a serious, really a fatal flaw in the PCR test used in what is called by the UK Government the Pillar 2 screening – that is, testing many people out in their communities. I’m going to go through this with care and in detail because I’m a scientist and dislike where this investigation takes me. I’m not particularly political and my preference is for competent, honest administration over the actual policies chosen. We’re a reasonable lot in UK and not much given to extremes. What I’m particularly reluctant about is that, by following the evidence, I have no choice but to show that the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, misled the House of Commons and also made misleading statements in a radio interview. Those are serious accusations. I know that. I’m not a ruthless person. But I’m writing this anyway, because what I have uncovered is of monumental importance to the health and wellbeing of all the people living in the nation I have always called home.

Back to the story, and then to the evidence. When the first (and I think, only) wave of COVID-19 hit the UK, I was with almost everyone else in being very afraid. I’m 60 and in reasonable health, but on learning that I had about a 1% additional risk of perishing if I caught the virus, I discovered I was far from ready to go. So, I wasn’t surprised or angry when the first lockdown arrived. It must have been a very difficult thing to decide. However, before the first three-week period was over, I’d begun to develop an understanding of what was happening. The rate of infection, which has been calculated to have infected well over 100,000 new people every day around the peak, began to fall, and was declining before lockdown. Infection continued to spread out, at an ever-reducing rate and we saw this in the turning point of daily deaths, at a grim press conference each afternoon. We now know that lockdown made no difference at all to the spread of the virus. We can tell this because the interval between catching the virus and, in those who don’t make it, their death is longer than the interval between lockdown and peak daily deaths. There isn’t any controversy about this fact, which is easily demonstrated, but I’m aware some people like to pretend it was lockdown that turned the pandemic, perhaps to justify the extraordinary price we have all paid to do it. That price wasn’t just economic. It involved avoidable deaths from diseases other than COVID-19, as medical services were restricted, in order to focus on the virus. Some say that lockdown, directly and indirectly, killed as many as the virus. I don’t know. Its not something I’ve sought to learn. But I mention because interventions in all our lives should not be made lightly. Its not only inconvenience, but real suffering, loss of livelihoods, friendships, anchors of huge importance to us all, that are severed by such acts. We need to be certain that the prize is worth the price. While it is uncertain it was, even for the first lockdown, I too supported it, because we did not know what we faced, and frankly, almost everyone else did it, except Sweden. I am now resolutely against further interventions in what I have become convinced is a fruitless attempt to ‘control the virus’. We are, in my opinion – shared by others, some of whom are well placed to assess the situation – closer to the end of the pandemic in terms of deaths, than we are to its middle. I believe we should provide the best protection we can for any vulnerable people, and otherwise cautiously get on with our lives. I think we are all going to get a little more Swedish over time.

In recent weeks, though, it cannot have escaped anyone’s attention that there has been a drum beat which feels for all the world like a prelude to yet more fruitless and damaging restrictions. Think back to mid-summer. We were newly out of lockdown and despite concerns for crowded beaches, large demonstrations, opening of shops and pubs, the main item on the news in relation to COVID-19 was the reassuring and relentless fall in daily deaths. I noticed that, as compared to the slopes of the declining death tolls in many nearby countries, that our slope was too flat. I even mentioned to scientist friends that inferred the presence of some fixed signal that was being mixed up with genuine COVID-19 deaths. Imagine how gratifying it was when the definition of a COVID-19 death was changed to line up with that in other countries and in a heartbeat our declining death toll line became matched with that elsewhere. I was sure it would: what we have experienced and witnessed is a terrible kind of equilibrium. A virus that kills few, then leaves survivors who are almost certainly immune – a virus to which perhaps 30-50% were already immune because it has relatives and some of us have already encountered them – accounts for the whole terrible but also fascinating biological process. There was a very interesting piece in the BMJ in recent days that offers potential support for this contention.

Now we have learned some of the unusual characteristics of the new virus, better treatments (anti-inflammatory steroids, anti-coagulants and in particular, oxygen masks and not ventilators in the main) the ‘case fatality rate’ even for the most hard-hit individuals is far lower now than it was six months ago.

As there is no foundational, medical or scientific literature which tells us to expect a ‘second wave’, I began to pay more attention to the phrase as it appeared on TV, radio and print media – all on the same day – and has been relentlessly repeated ever since. I was interviewed recently by Julia Hartley-Brewer on her talkRADIO show and on that occasion I called on the Government to disclose to us the evidence upon which they were relying to predict this second wave. Surely they have some evidence? I don’t think they do. I searched and am very qualified to do so, drawing on academic friends, and we were all surprised to find that there is nothing at all. The last two novel coronaviruses, Sar (2003) and MERS (2012), were of one wave each. Even the WW1 flu ‘waves’ were almost certainly a series of single waves involving more than one virus. I believe any second wave talk is pure speculation. Or perhaps it is in a model somewhere, disconnected from the world of evidence to me? It would be reasonable to expect some limited ‘resurgence’ of a virus given we don’t mix like cordial in a glass of water, but in a more lumpy, human fashion. You’re most in contact with family, friends and workmates and they are the people with whom you generally exchange colds.

A long period of imposed restrictions, in addition to those of our ordinary lives did prevent the final few percent of virus mixing with the population. With the movements of holidays, new jobs, visiting distant relatives, starting new terms at universities and schools, that final mixing is under way. It should not be a terrifying process. It happens with every new virus, flu included. It’s just that we’ve never before in our history chased it around the countryside with a technique more suited to the biology lab than to a supermarket car park.

A very long prelude, but necessary. Part of the ‘project fear’ that is rather too obvious, involving second waves, has been the daily count of ‘cases’. Its important to understand that, according to the infectious disease specialists I’ve spoken to, the word ‘case’ has to mean more than merely the presence of some foreign organism. It must present signs (things medics notice) and symptoms (things you notice). And in most so-called cases, those testing positive had no signs or symptoms of illness at all. There was much talk of asymptomatic spreading, and as a biologist this surprised me. In almost every case, a person is symptomatic because they have a high viral load and either it is attacking their body or their immune system is fighting it, generally a mix. I don’t doubt there have been some cases of asymptomatic transmission, but I’m confident it is not important.

That all said, Government decided to call a person a ‘case’ if their swab sample was positive for viral RNA, which is what is measured in PCR. A person’s sample can be positive if they have the virus, and so it should. They can also be positive if they’ve had the virus some weeks or months ago and recovered. It’s faintly possible that high loads of related, but different coronaviruses, which can cause some of the common colds we get, might also react in the PCR test, though it’s unclear to me if it does.

But there’s a final setting in which a person can be positive and that’s a random process. This may have multiple causes, such as the amplification technique not being perfect and so amplifying the ‘bait’ sequences placed in with the sample, with the aim of marrying up with related SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA. There will be many other contributions to such positives. These are what are called false positives.

Think of any diagnostic test a doctor might use on you. The ideal diagnostic test correctly confirms all who have the disease and never wrongly indicates that healthy people have the disease. There is no such test. All tests have some degree of weakness in generating false positives. The important thing is to know how often this happens, and this is called the false positive rate. If 1 in 100 disease-free samples are wrongly coming up positive, the disease is not present, we call that a 1% false positive rate. The actual or operational false positive rate differs, sometimes substantially, under different settings, technical operators, detection methods and equipment. I’m focusing solely on the false positive rate in Pillar 2, because most people do not have the virus (recently around 1 in 1000 people and earlier in summer it was around 1 in 2000 people). It is when the amount of disease, its so-called prevalence, is low that any amount of a false positive rate can be a major problem. This problem can be so severe that unless changes are made, the test is hopelessly unsuitable to the job asked of it. In this case, the test in Pillar 2 was and remains charged with the job of identifying people with the virus, yet as I will show, it is unable to do so.

Because of the high false positive rate and the low prevalence, almost every positive test, a so-called case, identified by Pillar 2 since May of this year has been a FALSE POSITIVE. Not just a few percent. Not a quarter or even a half of the positives are FALSE, but around 90% of them. Put simply, the number of people Mr Hancock sombrely tells us about is an overestimate by a factor of about ten-fold. Earlier in the summer, it was an overestimate by about 20-fold.

Let me take you through this, though if you’re able to read Prof Carl Heneghan’s clearly written piece first, I’m more confident that I’ll be successful in explaining this dramatic conclusion to you. (Here is a link to the record of numbers of tests, combining Pillar 1 (hospital) and Pillar 2 (community).)

Imagine 10,000 people getting tested using those swabs you see on TV. We have a good estimate of the general prevalence of the virus from the ONS, who are wholly independent (from Pillar 2 testing) and are testing only a few people a day, around one per cent of the numbers recently tested in Pillar 2. It is reasonable to assume that most of the time, those being tested do not have symptoms. People were asked to only seek a test if they have symptoms. However, we know from TV news and stories on social media from sampling staff, from stern guidance from the Health Minister and the surprising fact that in numerous locations around the country, the local council is leafleting people’s houses, street by street to come and get tested.

The bottom line is that it is reasonable to expect the prevalence of the virus to be close to the number found by ONS, because they sample randomly, and would pick up symptomatic and asymptomatic people in proportion to their presence in the community. As of the most recent ONS survey, to a first approximation, the virus was found in 1 in every 1000 people. This can also be written as 0.1%. So when all these 10,000 people are tested in Pillar 2, you’d expect 10 true positives to be found (false negatives can be an issue when the virus is very common, but in this community setting, it is statistically unimportant and so I have chosen to ignore it, better to focus only on false positives).

So, what is the false positive rate of testing in Pillar 2? For months, this has been a concern. It appears that it isn’t known, even though as I’ve mentioned, you absolutely need to know it in order to work out whether the diagnostic test has any value! What do we know about the false positive rate? Well, we do know that the Government’s own scientists were very concerned about it, and a report on this problem was sent to SAGE dated June 3rd 2020. I quote: “Unless we understand the operational false positive rate of the UK’s RT-PCR testing system, we risk over-estimating the COVID-19 incidence, the demand on track and trace and the extent of asymptomatic infection”. In that same report, the authors helpfully listed the lowest to highest false positive rate of dozens of tests using the same technology. The lowest value for false positive rate was 0.8%.

Allow me to explain the impact of a false positive rate of 0.8% on Pillar 2. We return to our 10,000 people who’ve volunteered to get tested, and the expected ten with virus (0.1% prevalence or 1:1000) have been identified by the PCR test. But now we’ve to calculate how many false positives are accompanying them. The shocking answer is 80. 80 is 0.8% of 10,000. That’s how many false positives you’d get every time you were to use a Pillar 2 test on a group of that size.

The effect of this is, in this example, where 10,000 people have been tested in Pillar 2, could be summarised in a headline like this: “90 new cases were identified today” (10 real positive cases and 80 false positives). But we know this is wildly incorrect. Unknown to the poor technician, there were in this example, only 10 real cases. 80 did not even have a piece of viral RNA in their sample. They are really false positives.

I’m going to explain how bad this is another way, back to diagnostics. If you’d submitted to a test and it was positive, you’d expect the doctor to tell you that you had a disease, whatever it was testing for. Usually, though, they’ll answer a slightly different question: “If the patient is positive in this test, what is the probability they have the disease?” Typically, for a good diagnostic test, the doctor will be able to say something like 95% and you and they can live with that. You might take a different, confirmatory test, if the result was very serious, like cancer. But in our Pillar 2 example, what is the probability a person testing positive in Pillar 2 actually has COVID-19? The awful answer is 11% (10 divided by 80 + 10). The test exaggerates the number of covid-19 cases by almost ten-fold (90 divided by 10). Scared yet? That daily picture they show you, with the ‘cases’ climbing up on the right-hand side? Its horribly exaggerated. Its not a mistake, as I shall show.

Earlier in the summer, the ONS showed the virus prevalence was a little lower, 1 in 2000 or 0.05%. That doesn’t sound much of a difference, but it is. Now the Pillar 2 test will find half as many real cases from our notional 10,000 volunteers, so 5 real cases. But the flaw in the test means it will still find 80 false positives (0.8% of 10,000). So its even worse. The headline would be “85 new cases identified today”. But now the probability a person testing positive has the virus is an absurdly low 6% (5 divided by 80 + 5). Earlier in the summer, this same test exaggerated the number of COVID-19 cases by 17-fold (85 divided by 5). Its so easy to generate an apparently large epidemic this way. Just ignore the problem of false positives. Pretend its zero. But it is never zero.

This test is fatally flawed and MUST immediately be withdrawn and never used again in this setting unless shown to be fixed. The examples I gave are very close to what is actually happening every day as you read this.

I’m bound to ask, did Mr Hancock know of this fatal flaw? Did he know of the effect it would inevitably have, and is still having, not only on the reported case load, but the nation’s state of anxiety. I’d love to believe it is all an innocent mistake. If it was, though, he’d have to resign over sheer incompetence. But is it? We know that internal scientists wrote to SAGE, in terms, and, surely, this short but shocking warning document would have been drawn to the Health Secretary’s attention? If that was the only bit of evidence, you might be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. But the evidence grows more damning.

Recently, I published with my co-authors a short Position Paper. I don’t think by then, a month ago or so, the penny had quite dropped with me. And I’m an experienced biomedical research scientist, used to dealing with complex datasets and probabilities.

On September 11th 2020, I was a guest on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s talkRADIO show. Among other things, I called upon Mr Hancock to release the evidence underscoring his confidence in and planning for ‘the second wave’. This evidence has not yet been shown to the public by anyone. I also demanded he disclose the operational false positive rate in Pillar 2 testing.

On September 16th, I was back on Julia’s show and this time focused on the false positive rate issue (1m 45s – 2min 30s). I had read Carl Heneghan’s analysis showing that even if the false positive rate was as low as 0.1%, 8 times lower than any similar test, it still yields a majority of false positives. So, my critique doesn’t fall if the actual false positive rate is lower than my assumed 0.8%.

On September 18th, Mr Hancock again appeared, as often he does, on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s show. Julia asked him directly (1min 50s – on) what the false positive rate in Pillar 2 is. Mr Hancock said “It’s under 1%”. Julia again asked him exactly what it was, and did he even know it? He didn’t answer that, but then said “it means that, for all the positive cases, the likelihood of one being a false positive is very small”.

That is a seriously misleading statement as it is incorrect. The likelihood of an apparently positive case being a false positive is between 89-94%, or near-certainty. Of note, even when ONS was recording its lowest-ever prevalence, the positive rate in Pillar 2 testing never fell below 0.8%.

It gets worse for the Health Secretary. On September the 17th, I believe, Mr Hancock took a question from Sir Desmond Swayne about false positives. It is clear that Sir Desmond is asking about Pillar 2.

Mr Hancock replied: “I like my right honourable friend very much and I wish it were true. The reason we have surveillance testing, done by ONS, is to ensure that we’re constantly looking at a nationally representative sample at what the case rate is. The latest ONS survey, published on Friday, does show a rise consummate (sic) with the increased number of tests that have come back positive.”

He did not answer Sir Desmond’s question, but instead answered a question of his choosing. Did the Health Secretary knowingly mislead the House? By referring only to ONS and not even mentioning the false positive rate of the test in Pillar 2 he was, as it were, stealing the garb of ONS’s more careful work which has a lower false positive rate, in order to smuggle through the hidden and very much higher, false positive rate in Pillar 2. The reader will have to decide for themselves.

Pillar 2 testing has been ongoing since May but it’s only in recent weeks that it has reached several hundreds of thousands of tests per day. The effect of the day by day climb in the number of people that are being described as ‘cases’ cannot be overstated. I know it is inducing fear, anxiety and concern for the possibility of new and unjustified restrictions, including lockdowns. I have no idea what Mr Hancock’s motivations are. But he has and continues to use the hugely inflated output from a fatally flawed Pillar 2 test and appears often on media, gravely intoning the need for additional interventions (none of which, I repeat, are proven to be effective).

You will be very familiar with the cases plot which is shown on most TV broadcasts at the moment. It purports to show the numbers of cases which rose then fell in the spring, and the recent rise in cases. This graph is always accompanied by the headline that “so many thousands of new cases were detected in the last 24 hours”.

You should know that there are two major deceptions, in that picture, which combined are very likely both to mislead and to induce anxiety. Its ubiquity indicates that it is a deliberate choice.

Firstly, it is very misleading in relation to the spring peak of cases. This is because we had no community screening capacity at that time. A colleague has adjusted the plot to show the number of cases we would have detected, had there been a well-behaved community test capability available. The effect is to greatly increase the size of the spring cases peak, because there are very many cases for each hospitalisation and many hospitalisations for every death.

Secondly, as I hope I have shown and persuaded you, the cases in summer and at present, generated by seriously flawed Pillar 2 tests, should be corrected downwards by around ten-fold.

I do believe genuine cases are rising somewhat. This is, however, also true for flu, which we neither measure daily nor report on every news bulletin. If we did, you would appreciate that, going forward, it is quite likely that flu is a greater risk to public health than COVID-19. The corrected cases plot (above) does, I believe, put the recent rises in incidence of COVID-19 in a much more reasonable context. I thought you should see that difference before arriving at your own verdict on this sorry tale.

There are very serious consequences arising from grotesque over-estimation of so-called cases in Pillar 2 community testing, which I believe was put in place knowingly. Perhaps Mr Hancock believes his own copy about the level of risk now faced by the general public? Its not for me to deduce. What this huge over-estimation has done is to have slowed the normalisation of the NHS. We are all aware that access to medical services is, to varying degrees, restricted. Many specialities were greatly curtailed in spring and after some recovery, some are still between a third and a half below their normal capacities. This has led both to continuing delays and growth of waiting lists for numerous operations and treatments. I am not qualified to assess the damage to the nation’s and individuals’ health as a direct consequence of this extended wait for a second wave. Going into winter with this configuration will, on top of the already restricted access for six months, lead inevitably to a large number of avoidable, non-Covid deaths. That is already a serious enough charge. Less obvious but, in aggregate, additional impacts arise from fear of the virus, inappropriately heightened in my view, which include: damage to or even destruction of large numbers of businesses, especially small businesses, with attendant loss of livelihoods, loss of educational opportunities, strains on family relationships, eating disorders, increasing alcoholism and domestic abuse and even suicides, to name but a few.

In closing, I wish to note that in the last 40 years alone the UK has had seven official epidemics/pandemics; AIDS, Swine flu, CJD, SARS, MERS, Bird flu as well as annual, seasonal flu. All were very worrying but schools remained open and the NHS treated everybody and most of the population were unaffected. The country would rarely have been open if it had been shut down every time.

I have explained how a hopelessly-performing diagnostic test has been, and continues to be used, not for diagnosis of disease but, it seems, solely to create fear.

This misuse of power must cease. All the above costs are on the ledger, too, when weighing up the residual risks to society from COVID-19 and the appropriate actions to take, if any. Whatever else happens, the test used in Pillar 2 must be immediately withdrawn as it provides no useful information. In the absence of vastly inflated case numbers arising from this test, the pandemic would be seen and felt to be almost over.

Dr Mike Yeadon is the former CSO and VP, Allergy and Respiratory Research Head with Pfizer Global R&D and co-Founder of Ziarco Pharma Ltd.

September 21, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

US-based ‘creator of Novichok’ apologizes to Navalny, but Russian scientists say he wasn’t even involved in poison’s development

By Jonny Tickle | RT | September 21, 2020

US-based chemist and independence campaigner for Tatarstan Vil Mirzayanov has ‘apologized’ to Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, saying he considers himself indirectly responsible for his high-profile alleged poisoning.

Mirzayanov, who left Russia in the mid-1990s, has frequently claimed that he was one of the developers of Novichok. This has been rejected by other scientists known to have been on the team which created the lethal substance. In 1992, Mirzayanov leaked the structure of the poison, which resulted in Russian authorities charging him with treason, in a case that later collapsed.

Speaking to TV Rain, Mirzayanov said that he was part of the group behind the military-grade poison, which Germany claims has been found in the activist’s body. He also asserted that Navalny’s symptoms are typical of those experienced by people who have experienced exposure to Novichok.

“All the symptoms are similar,” Mirzayanov said. “Navalny will have to be patient. But in the end, he should recover.”

As none of Navalny’s associates were infected, the former scientist believes that the poison must have entered his body through his digestive tract.

However, according to Leonid Rink, a man commonly referred to in Russian media as the creator of Novichok, Mirzayanov was not involved in the development of the poison and is not an expert on its symptoms.

“He has nothing to do with biochemistry, nothing. He is an ordinary chromatographer,” Rink told Moscow news agency RIA Novosti. “He’s had nothing to do with the creation of Novichok.”

According to Rink, Navalny would not be alive if he was genuinely poisoned by Novichok.

Rink was backed up by Vladimir Uglev, another scientist known to have been on the poison’s development team, who claimed that Mirzayanov “never took part in field tests.”

Navalny, a well-known opposition figure and investigative journalist, fell ill on August 20, on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Following an emergency landing, he was immediately hospitalized in the Siberian city of Omsk. Two days later, after a request from his family and associates, Navalny was flown to Germany for treatment at Berlin’s Charité clinic. Over a week later, Berlin announced that the opposition figure was poisoned with a nerve agent from the ‘Novichok’ group. Contrary to German experts’ diagnoses, medical professionals in Omsk deny that any poison was found in his body.

On Saturday, a post on Navalny’s Instagram account explained that he is slowly recovering and is expected to get back to normal.

Mirzayanov has long been a vocal Kremlin opponent and Tatar activist. A member of the Presidium of the Milli Mejlis of the Tartar People in exile, he has prominently advocated for Tatarstan, a majority Muslim republic, to separate from Moscow. Back in 2008, he was declared “Prime Minister” of the region’s “government in exile”

September 21, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | Leave a comment

Top UK scientists urge govt to protect most vulnerable from Covid-19 instead of carpet-bombing virus

RT | September 21, 2020

The UK should focus on helping the most vulnerable – including residents in care homes worst affected by Covid-19 – instead of pursuing an “unfeasible” goal of suppressing the virus until a vaccine arrives, top scientists urged.

British scholars penned an open letter to PM Boris Johnson, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, as well as health chiefs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, asking them to urgently reconsider the current epidemic strategy.

Authored by Oxford professors Sunetra Gupta and Carl Heneghan, as well as Karol Sikora of the University of Buckingham and Sam Williams of the Economic Insight consultancy, the letter says the “existing policy path is inconsistent with the known risk-profile of Covid-19.” The appeal has been signed by dozens of academics from the UK’s leading educational institutions.

“The unstated objective currently appears to be one of suppression of the virus, until such a time that a vaccine can be deployed. This objective is increasingly unfeasible… and is leading to significant harm across all age groups, which likely offsets all benefits.”

The letter comes days after Health Secretary Matt Hancock pledged “to do what it takes” in order to fight Covid-19. After the UK recorded close to 4,000 confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, the government is considering a “circuit-breaking” period of tightened measures which could be announced later this week, UK media revealed.

Such a move could reportedly involve bringing back restrictions in public spaces for a few weeks, most of which were relaxed throughout May and June. Pubs and restaurants could be mandated to close earlier across the country, but schools and most workplaces would be kept open. Closing some parts of the hospitality industry is also one of the options.

According to the authors of the open letter, blanket measures aren’t the way to go. “Instead, more targeted measures that protect the most vulnerable from Covid, whilst not adversely impacting those not at risk, are more supportable,” they wrote.

“Given the high proportion of Covid-19 deaths in care homes, these should be a priority,” the scientists pointed out. The pandemic hit the UK’s nursing facilities exceptionally hard, claiming 19,394 lives between March and June, which accounted for 29.3 percent of all deaths in care homes during that time, according to government figures.

Last month, it emerged that care home staff were allegedly pressured by the NHS to admit coronavirus-positive or untested patients at the height of the crisis this spring. Nurses were reportedly instructed to change the status of all residents to “do not resuscitate.”

However, the government seems to have learned its lesson. Care facilities will receive £546 million ($702.5 million) to upgrade, reduce all but essential movements of staff between nursing homes to prevent the spread of the virus, and allow for the distribution of free PPE – masks and gloves – to the elderly and workers.

The UK has reported more than 394,000 coronavirus cases since the start of the epidemic, claiming close to 42,000 lives.

September 21, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment