Thursday, September 22, 2022

A Covid stocktake: Where are we up to on lockdowns, mandates and vaccines?

In an article in the Epoch Times on 9 September, Julie Ponesse tells Canada’s students that Covid control measures by university administrations ‘will stop as soon as you say “no”’. Moments we should all have said no were when our communities were put under house arrest, citizens were banned from the bedside of dying family members and the healing rituals of funerals (remember a masked Queen sitting all alone at her husband’s service?), police prevented us enjoying health-sustaining access to beaches and parks and governments and corporations mandated facemasks, QR codes and digital vaccine certificates: all self-harms done supposedly for the greater good.

The lockdown and vaccine narratives are falling apart at the seams. Canada’s new opposition leader Pierre Poilievre is staunchly libertarian, anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination mandates who supported the truckers’ Freedom Convoy. My jaw is still on the floor after hearing Jacinda Ardern say ‘we all just need to respect people’s individual decisions’. In the UK, former chancellor Rishi Sunak’s break from official policy led Liz Truss to rule out future lockdowns. On 11 August, the CDC’s revised guidance returned much of the responsibility for risk reduction from institutions to individuals and shifted from sweeping population-wide precautions to targeted advice for vulnerable groups. ‘The effects of lockdown may now be killing more people than are dying of Covid’, says the UK Telegraph, including a rise in the rate of prostate cancer deaths from 7 to 26 per cent. The mainstream Financial Times reports the US decision to roll out new booster shots without clinical testing on humans – already dubbed the mouse vaccine by some – could undermine public trust and deepen vaccine hesitancy.

In Australia the push to end all special Covid measures is led by NSW Premier Dominic Perrotet against stiff resistance from some states and experts who insist there’s ‘no scientific basis’ to end them. What scientific basis was there to introduce them, pray tell? Last year, UK ‘experts’ warned Boris Johnson of catastrophe unless he cancelled his planned ending of restrictions and Anthony Fauci warned of disasters in states that rejected his recommended restrictions. Both were proven dead wrong.

In a press briefing on 6 September, White House Covid response coordinator Dr Ashish Jha explained people can get their flu and Covid booster vaccines in one visit: ‘I really believe this is why God gave us two arms – one for the flu shot and the other one for the Covid shot’. Was this a Freudian slip revealing the religious dogma that lies behind Covid policy? Used in ancient and medieval times, mass closures were discredited in Western epidemiology in the last century and replaced by the concept of herd immunity built through naturally-acquired and vaccine-induced infections. An analysis by Michael Senger concludes that, based on bioterrorism fears in the national security community after 9/11, the CDC had insinuated China’s lockdown measures during the Sars epidemic as US federal policy by January 2004. They called it ‘social distancing’ to disguise its origins.

Debbie Lerman has distilled a lockdown blueprint centred on a relentless fear campaign reinforced by stressing uniqueness, worst-case scenarios, not knowing what to expect and ‘we’re all equally at risk’, on the one hand; and the abandonment of all previous policies in favour of universal mandates to isolate, test, trace, mask up, vaccinate and so on on the other. Based mostly in junk science, they terrified the people into demanding draconian ‘health’ measures whose primary, intended purpose was to cynically exploit emotional distress to ensure compliance with unprecedented, untested, ineffective and destructive policy interventions. They succeeded.

Covid poses such miniscule risk to children that vaccinating them is ‘all risk, no benefit’. Denmark banned vaccines for healthy under-18s from 1 July. Yet on 19 July, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) granted provisional approval for administering Spikevax vaccines to children aged 0.5–5 years. NSW Health data show 99.9 per cent of Covid-related deaths in the last six months were among adults despite over 95 per cent being vaccinated and 68 per cent being boosted.

An article in the British Medical Journal shows 12 to 15-year-old healthy boys are four times more at risk of myocarditis after a second Pfizer vaccine than of hospital admission for Covid. A new study in preprint estimates that to prevent just one Covid hospitalisation in 18-29 year olds (university age), 22,000-30,00 previously uninfected must be boosted. But for every one hospitalisation prevented, there are 18 to 98 serious adverse events. A complementary peer-reviewed article in Vaccine seems to suggest, albeit tentatively, that added risks of serious adverse events are 2.4 and 4.4 times higher than the reduced risk of hospitalisation for Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Some experts point to a worrying trend of rising excess mortality among under-14s in 28 European countries. A study of almost 900,000 5 to 11-year-old children in North Carolina (New England Journal of Medicine) adds to concerns that vaccines don’t just lose their effectiveness within months; they also destroy natural immunity.

The global drug industry has a particularly scandal-ridden history. In an Australian class action case in 2009, court documents revealed Merck had prepared a ‘hit list’ of doctors who criticised Vioxx for its deadly cardiovascular side-effects. On 4 February, 2021, Merck – which makes patent-free low profit ivermectin and has been selling it for years – publicly questioned its safety. How often does a drug company badmouth its own product? The British Medical Journal documented a compromising 96 per cent of the TGA’s 2020–21 budget came from industry sources, raising serious questions about regulatory capture. Last year the TGA banned the use of ivermectin for Covid treatment.

A month later Merck announced the development of a new antiviral drug for which it sought emergency use authorisation from the Federal Drug Administration. This cannot be granted if an existing treatment is available. Banning ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine was essential to grant emergency use authorisation for high-profit Covid vaccines and drugs. Yet a major large-scale study from Brazil published on 31 August found that, compared to regular users, non-use of ivermectin increased the risk of Covid-related mortality by 12.5 times and dying from Covid by seven times.

The Therapeutic Goods Regulation (1990) restricts provisional approvals to medicines for ‘the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of a life-threatening or seriously debilitating condition’. This would appear to rule out provisional vaccine approval for children below five. On this basis, a group of lawyers is aiming to file a crowd-funded case in the High Court against the TGA’s decision. On past form, don’t hold your breath for the courts to uphold citizens’ autonomy over the health bureaucracy’s infinite if inscrutable wisdom.


Simple steps to treat that distressing loss of smell

As many as 1.2 million people in the UK are estimated to have persistent smell disorders due to infection with Covid-19.

The problem typically lasts at least six months and, for some, their sense of smell will never fully return, according to a report in the BMJ in July.

Initially, it may be due to the infection causing inflammation in nasal tissue. But chronic cases may arise from nerve damage.

Covid can interfere with the sensitivity of our olfactory receptors, proteins on the surface of nerve cells in our noses that detect molecules associated with odours, reported researchers at Columbia University in the U.S. in the journal Cell in February.

The problems Covid can cause range from smelling things that are not there (phantosmia) to a complete loss of smell (anosmia).

Our sense of smell often diminishes naturally with age, with an estimated third of over-80s affected, but thanks to Covid there is an impetus to find ways to cure it.

Scientists are vying to produce the first ‘robot nose’ — an implant that picks up smell signals and transmits them into the brain.

As many as 1.2 million people in the UK are estimated to have persistent smell disorders due to infection with Covid-19
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As many as 1.2 million people in the UK are estimated to have persistent smell disorders due to infection with Covid-19

At Virginia Commonwealth University in the U.S., surgeon Daniel Coelho is developing a device to bypass our normal smell system, in which sensory nerve cells at the top of our nose detect odour molecules and send signals via the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb, the area in the brain that processes smell.

The new device aims to detect chemical odours from the air via a sensor that’s worn on spectacles and sends the information to the olfactory bulb (at the bottom of the brain, near the back of the nose).

Carl Philpott, a professor of rhinology and olfactology at the University of East Anglia, is working on a simpler approach, involving vitamin A (retinoic acid) nose drops.

The hope is the vitamin will encourage natural repair in the smelling cells in the lining of the nose.

A study of 170 patients suffering loss of smell, published in the journal European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology in 2017, showed that 37 per cent treated with the vitamin drops could identify more smells correctly, compared with 23 per cent of patients given a placebo. For his new study, 38 patients will receive a 12-week course of daily nasal vitamin A drops. He hopes to have results early next year.

Meanwhile, stem cells are being suggested as a future therapy, says Graham Wynne, a chemist who is on the scientific advisory board of Fifth Sense, a charity dedicated to smell and taste disorders.

‘A healthy human olfactory system has an efficient and well-known repair system, where the tissues lining the nose replace themselves every few weeks,’ he says.

The repair mechanism can break down, however, due to viral attack or age-related wear and tear. It’s hoped that stem cells may kickstart the repair mechanism.

Marianna Obrist, a professor of multisensory interfaces at University College London, is the co-founder of a company pioneering a high-tech smell-training therapy.

Smell training involves sniffing and identifying four scents — usually rose, eucalyptus, lemon, and clove — for 15 seconds, twice a day, over several months. This trains people to use their remaining smell sense more accurately and hopefully strengthen it.

You can do smell training at home, by spending 20 seconds sniffing four strong scents.

Professor Obrist’s OWidgets system, currently being trialled, consists of a computer-controlled smell-delivery box (which can emit up to six scents) and a smartphone app that controls the device and reminds you to do the next session.




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