Monday, September 20, 2021

Now the Lancet U-turns over Covid lab leak theory and publishes 'alternative view' calling for a 'transparent debate' on the origins of the virus

The Lancet medical journal has bowed to pressure over its heavily-criticised coverage of the disputed origins of the Covid pandemic by publishing an 'alternative view' from 16 scientists – calling for an 'objective, open and transparent debate' about whether the virus leaked from a Chinese laboratory.

It was revealed earlier this year that Peter Daszak – a British scientist with long-standing links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology – had secretly orchestrated a landmark statement in The Lancet in February 2020 which attacked 'conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin'.

The now-infamous letter, signed by 27 leading public health experts, said they stood together to 'strongly condemn' the theories which they said 'do nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice'.

They also lavished praise on Chinese scientists who they said had 'worked diligently and effectively to rapidly identify the pathogen behind this outbreak… and share their results transparently with the global health community'.

Now, The Lancet has agreed to publish an alternative commentary which discusses the possibility that laboratory research might have played a role in the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

It also directly confronts the efforts of science journals to stifle debate by labelling such theories as 'misinformation'.

In the article, the authors argue that 'there is no direct support for the natural origin of SARS-CoV-2, and a laboratory-related accident is plausible'.

They add that the February 2020 statement 'imparted a silencing effect on the wider scientific debate'.

And they say scientists, 'need to evaluate all hypotheses on a rational basis, and to weigh their likelihood based on facts and evidence, devoid of speculation concerning possible political impacts'.

Science itself, they go on, should 'embrace alternative hypotheses, contradictory arguments, verification, refutability, and controversy' and rather than congratulating China on its supposed 'transparency', they call on the secretive superpower to open up.

China fiercely resisted a full and unrestricted probe into the origins of the outbreak by the World Health Organisation, resulting in what is widely considered to be a neutered investigation.

The subsequent report, published in March, concluded the SARS-CoV-2 virus probably passed to humans from a bat via another unidentified species.

It all but dismissed the theories that the virus was engineered in a laboratory, or was a natural virus that escaped from a lab.

But the report was criticised by 14 nations including the UK, US and Australia, while even the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, admitted it was 'not extensive enough'.

The Mail on Sunday has repeatedly drawn attention to The Lancet's role in obscuring the origins of the virus and its early spread.

The new commentary, published in The Lancet on Friday, said: 'The world will remain mired in dispute without the full engagement of China, including open access to primary data, documents, and relevant stored material to enable a thorough, transparent and objective search for all relevant evidence.'

One of the signatories, Professor Nikolai Petrovsky of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, told The Mail on Sunday: 'It might seem small, but after 18 months of complete denial, the very act of [The] Lancet agreeing to publish this letter acknowledging the origins of Covid-19 remains an open verdict, is a very big deal.

'For a leading medical journal like Lancet to agree to finally open its doors to a letter from scientists highlighting the ongoing uncertain origins of Covid-19, indicates how far we have come in 18 months in requesting an open scientific debate on the topic, but also indicates just how far we still have to go'.


The economic consequences of working from home that no one is talking about

The work from home revolution is in full swing and there are some big benefits available to anyone able to tune in to their job remotely - including saving money. But there are also some underappreciated economic consequences of widespread working from home we need to consider.

Each week worked from home during lockdown this year has saved me more than $60 in both travel and food expenses. I also gain more than two hours a day in time that would normally have been spent commuting. If this was a permanent arrangement, I would be saving perhaps $3000 a year and getting about 100 hours of extra time back in my schedule. So what would happen if I continue to make those savings, every year, and so did many other office workers across the country?

PwC Australia future of work lead Ben Hamer said the firm’s research into the shift to remote work found three-quarters of Australians want a hybrid of home and office working post-pandemic. Only one in 10 wanted to return to working five days a week in an office environment.

“Between 40 to 50 per cent of the labour market are looking to leave their employer in the next 12 months and, with 100,000 more jobs in Australia than pre-COVID alongside record high vacancies and historically low unemployment, we are on the precipice of The Great Resignation,” Hamer said. “We are about to see a massive exodus of workers ... And there is no going back to the way things were.”

Some employers will also benefit from making working from home an ongoing proposition, as they are able to reduce their office floor space and all the associated costs that come with renting or owning premises, widen their available talent pool and, presumably, have a more attractive working environment for staff wanting a work-life balance.

This all sounds like a major win. But there are some serious consequences for the economy if we give up our office space for good, and individually realise all these savings.

Working from home is set to be a permanent shift for much of Australia, but while workers at some of the biggest companies are happily leaving the city behind - there are downsides to consider.

The Productivity Commission last week released a report into the working from home phenomenon and, while acknowledging its potential, raised some concerns. This included diminished physical activity and potentially more loneliness for those not in an office environment, as well as the potential loss of opportunities for collaboration and connection.

The commission also warned about rising inequality between those able to work from home, who are more likely to be well paid and highly educated, and those who are in jobs requiring face-to-fact contact or who do not have the space, resources or ability to work remotely. It’s possible a shift to working from home could segregate society and make life even more unfair. On the other hand, the report said remote work would better open up opportunities for those less able to leave their home to work, such as carers and parents, and those living in regional areas.

However, one issue not getting enough attention is what happens to the businesses that have previously benefited from all the office-related spending from staff packed into high rises and central business districts.

The commission says the shift to working from home might see “some businesses that require high foot-traffic in order to be viable — such as cafes and hairdressers — [choosing] to locate in suburbs rather than in city centres”.

This is plausible. But what if some people never return to their old spending habits again?

Here is where the “paradox of thrift” may kick in. Economists generally agree that an individual’s decision to increase their personal savings may benefit them upfront, but this would be detrimental for the economy as a whole due to decreased activity (particularly if lots of people chose to save more than usual). This is then bad for that individual and everyone overall.

Ultimately, the extra savings many are benefiting from during the lockdown is money that usually would have been spent back into the economy at cafes, restaurants and dry cleaners. This is money those businesses no longer receive and are no longer able to use to pay staff.

It’s possible some people will choose to spend their money with as much abandon as they used to but now in their local area instead. As the commission theorises, some businesses will benefit from relocating from the city to the suburbs and perhaps serve morning coffee to workers in those locales.

But it’s also possible some of this spending will change for good. Some people will be fine making their coffees for themselves in the morning if the convenience of having a coffee made by someone else requires the inconvenience of needing to leave the house when you otherwise do not need to.

There are also fewer barriers to making your lunch, rather than ordering it, when your pantry and fridge are right in front of you. The wider ramifications of this on a more permanent basis could extend to sustained drop in demand for a range of other goods and services, such as corporate attire, catering, dry cleaning and transport, that will not find enough customers even if they move location.

This may mean more saving and debt reduction on an individual level, and it could also mean the shrinking of major industries that have served as the lifeblood of business parks and CBDs across the country. It might also lead to the creation of new industries and new businesses to take advantage of this extra cash no longer being spent on things like lattes and takeout.

The office exodus might just spark a spending renaissance too.



John Durham indicts Democrat lawyer Michael Sussmann for false statement (National Review)

Judge rejects DOJ move to block Texas pro-life law (Fox News)

Federal judge blocks Biden administration from expelling migrants under COVID public health order (National Review)

Americans still trapped at Mazar-i-Sharif Airport in Afghanistan, and — surprise! — the Taliban is not cooperating (Daily Wire)

“Angry and bitter”: France snubs Biden over defense agreement with Australia, cancels gala celebrating U.S.-French relationship (Daily Wire)

Virginia governor’s debate gets heated as Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin trade swipes (Washington Examiner)

Arizona 2020 election audit report due for public release September 24 (Washington Examiner)

Minnesota Supreme Court allows anti-cop ballot question concerning Minneapolis police (NPR)

Italy mandates COVID passports for all workers (Washington Examiner)

France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay (Axios)

Combo shot for COVID and flu vaccines under development (HealthDay News)

Who’d a thunk it? Obesity in children accelerated during the pandemic (Axios)

Small business group announces lawsuit against Biden administration over vaccine mandate (Just the News)

New congressional plan would push top tax rate to an astounding 60% in four states (FEE)

The global food price crisis isn’t going away (Axios)

Big Brother: Treasury Department seeks to track financial transactions of personal bank accounts over $600 (FEE)

Here’s Anthony Fauci pre-pandemic laughing at the “paranoid” idea that masking is effective against infectious disease (Not the Bee)




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