Friday, July 29, 2022

How the CDC Coordinated With Big Tech To Censor Americans

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coordinated with social media companies and Google to censor users who expressed skepticism or criticism of COVID-19 vaccines, according to a trove of internal communications obtained by America First Legal and shared exclusively with the Washington Free Beacon.

Over the course of at least six months, starting in December 2020, CDC officials regularly communicated with personnel at Twitter, Facebook, and Google over "vaccine misinformation." At various times, CDC officials would flag specific posts by users on social media platforms such as Twitter as "example posts."

In one email to a CDC staffer, a Twitter employee said he is "looking forward to setting up regular chats" with the agency. Other emails show the scheduling of meetings with the CDC over how to best police alleged misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

Although many of the posts flagged by the CDC contained false information about the COVID-19 vaccines, the efforts to police misinformation also resulted in mistaken acts of censorship. An April 2021 email from a CDC staffer to Facebook states that the "algorithms that Facebook and other social media networks are apparently using to screen out posting by sources of vaccine misinformation are also apparently screening out valid public health messaging, including [Wyoming] Health communications."

The communications reveal a high level of coordination between the government and tech industry during the pandemic and raise questions about the extent to which other private companies are working with the federal government to censor the public. The Biden administration has faced criticism for engaging in what some have called "Orwellian" practices, such as the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security Disinformation Governance Board. The Free Beacon reported that the now-shuttered disinformation board arranged a meeting with a Twitter executive who blocked users from sharing stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

The CDC’s effort to police alleged disinformation expanded to other federal agencies as well. An internal March 2021 email from a senior CDC staffer states "we are working on [sic] project with Census to leverage their infrastructure to identify and monitor social media for vaccine misinformation."

One email shows a senior CDC official appeared at Google's 2020 "Trusted Media Summit." The conference, according to its website, was "for journalists, fact-checkers, educators, researchers and others who work in the area of fact-checking, verification, media literacy, and otherwise fighting misinformation."

One of the organizers of the conference asked the senior CDC official for permission to post her remarks on YouTube. That official declined, saying she was not authorized to speak publicly.

In the same email chain with a senior CDC official, a Google staffer offers to promote an initiative from the World Health Organization about "addressing the COVID-19 infodemic and strengthen community resilience against misinformation." That same Google staffer offers to introduce the CDC official to a Google colleague who is "working on programs to counter immunization misinfo."

Facebook also awarded the CDC with $15 million in ad credits for the company’s platforms in April 2021, according to several emails.

"This gift will be used by CDC's COVID-19 response to support the agency's messages on Facebook, and extend the reach of COVID-19-related Facebook content, including messages on vaccines, social distancing, travel, and other priority communication messages," an internal CDC memo reads.

A Facebook official says the platform has been transparent about its work with public health organizations "to address health misinformation." The platform also says it has asked its internal oversight board to assess whether its "current COVID-19 misinformation policy is still appropriate now that the pandemic has evolved."

Tensions between the CDC’s powers and protecting the public’s civil liberties have arisen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci called a judge overruling the CDC’s mask mandate "disturbing."

Concerns about the CDC’s judgment has also led the Democratic-controlled cities of New York and San Francisco to ignore the agency’s guidance on monkeypox vaccinations.


Smoking Linked to ‘Severe’ COVID-19 Complications

Individuals who reported smoking or vaping tobacco prior to COVID-19 hospitalization had a far likely higher chance of suffering severe complications as compared with nonsmokers, a recent study has found.

Researchers, who published their peer-reviewed findings in PLOS One, said they examined data on adults aged 18 and older who were hospitalized with COVID-19 in 107 hospitals across the United States from January 2020 to March 2021. Those who were identified as smokers reported their status to the hospital, and people were categorized as smokers if they smoked cigarettes or vaped with e-cigarettes.

Records were found for 4,086 people who smoked and for 1,362 people who didn’t smoke, researchers said. They noted that there was no information about the duration of smoking or former smoking status.

“The study findings indicate smoking or vaping are associated with more severe COVID-19 independent of age, sex, race or medical history,” said a news release on a study published on Tuesday.

Smokers were 45 percent more likely to die of COVID-19 and 39 percent more likely to be placed on a mechanical ventilator than those who didn’t smoke, according to the study.

“Although the excessive risk due to smoking was independent of medical history and medication use,” the news release said, “smoking was a stronger risk factor for death in people between 18-59 years of age and those who were white or had obesity.”

Furthermore, smoking was associated with a greater risk factor for death in individuals aged 18 to 59 and among those who were white or obese, the study found.

“In general, people who smoke or vape tend to have a higher prevalence of other health conditions and risk factors that could play a role in how they are impacted by COVID-19,” said the study’s senior author, Aruni Bhatnagar with the University of Louisville.


Democrats Want You To Suffer

Our friends at CNS News have another must-read article on a recent House hearing featuring the insufferable Pete Buttigieg, Biden's Secretary of Transportation.

As Craig Bannister reported, Buttigieg testified that one of the "benefits" of high gas prices was to drive Americans to buy electric cars, “The more pain we are all experiencing from the high price of gas, the more benefit there is for those who can access electric vehicles,” Transportation Secretary testified at a House hearing on Tuesday.

As MRCTV notes, indifference to the hardship that higher prices inflict on average Americans is nothing new to Biden’s administration:

“Pete Buttigieg, the brilliant mastermind who brought us the gas tax and the notion that everyone who can’t afford gas should just buy a $60,000 electric car, is the latest in the Biden administration to brush off the crippling prices Americans are paying at the pump, saying that the more pain we all feel while fueling up our cars, the more ‘benefit’ all those Prius owners will have.

“When he isn’t taking months off to recover from his surrogate baby-mama's childbirth, Buttigieg is offering up nuggets of wisdom like this one, blurted Tuesday during a congressional hearing on high gas prices.”

Senator Ted Cruz was quick to tweet a response, saying "The cruelty is the point."

Jesse Kelly, host of the Jesse Kelly Show put it this way in a tweet from his must-follow Twitter feed:

They’re not going to solve the problems because in their minds, they aren’t problems. To them, the only problem is you. Your love of freedom. Your car. Your food. Your different political beliefs.

All our leaders think the problem is YOU.

However, the Democrats’ glee in the suffering of non-Tesla driving Americans is about to come back to bite them on Election Day.

NBC News reports, from moms in Pennsylvania to Black voters in Georgia, key groups of voters crucial to Democratic victories in 2020 are getting hit the hardest by record levels of inflation.

Inflation has been cited as a top concern by voters across the board, but economists and pollsters say it isn’t affecting all Americans in the same way. Those with lower incomes, Blacks and Hispanics, and those under 40, are being hit particularly hard given they tend to spend a greater share of their income on food, fuel and housing — areas that have seen some of the biggest price increases over the past year, surveys and polls show.

For Democrats, those demographic groups are the ones they need the most to turn out in November to hang on to power in Washington, or if nothing else, stem their losses. In 2020, it was Black voters in areas like Atlanta, white working class voters in Pennsylvania and young voters in college towns in Michigan and Wisconsin that helped tip crucial swing states in President Joe Biden’s favor.

Yet much of that coalition falls into the categories economists and pollsters say are getting hit the hardest.

In an NBC News poll in May, 79% of people who described themselves as poor or working class said they were falling behind financially, while 60% of those who described themselves as middle class and 46% of higher income earners said they were struggling to keep up financially.

Another group especially concerned with inflation were voters with children and those younger than 50. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, 49% listed cost of living as a top concern compared with 21% of seniors.

“What’s been the through-line is economic concerns, and the Democrats have tried to address these concerns, but what voters are saying is that so far it isn’t good enough,” said Jeff Horwitt, a Democratic pollster with Hart Research who worked on the NBC poll. “Particularly for voters that are critical to Democrats doing well in November — younger voters, African Americans, Hispanics — these are voters who are feeling more pain than other voters, and they’re looking for real solutions.”

Horwitt said that in one recent survey of union members, 20% said they drive more than 100 miles roundtrip to work, making them especially susceptible to the impact of high gas prices… and we might add, unlikely to buy a Tesla or other electric vehicle with a limited range and problematic refueling requirements.

We think Ted Cruz had it right when he tweeted "The cruelty is the point," because cruelty has always been the first choice of totalitarians when they are faced with a people management problem. Stalin chose to starve the Kulaks in Ukraine and Mao chose to starve millions during the Great Leap Forward, rather than admit they were wrong. From the same perspective, even if it is their blue collar supporters who are getting hit the hardest, it is much better for Biden and Buttigieg to bankrupt America’s working families than to admit they are wrong and get American energy flowing, American agricultural products to market and inflation under control.




Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Covid Virus Keeps Evolving. Why Haven't Vaccines?

ON MARCH 16, 2020, the first volunteer received a shot of Moderna’s then-experimental Covid-19 vaccine, just 63 days after the company had generated a genetic blueprint of the new virus. But Moderna’s rival beat it to the marketplace:

Pfizer’s Covid vaccine would be authorized for use in the United States less than a year later, a record-breaking achievement. Previously, the fastest a vaccine had ever been developed was for mumps—which took about four years.

The speed at which both companies were able to deliver their vaccines can be credited to mRNA technology. Instead of using the virus itself to spur an immune response, as older vaccines do, scientists instead spur it using a programmable piece of genetic code called mRNA. The mRNA tells the body to make a version of the coronavirus’s distinct spike protein, so it can make antibodies to neutralize that spike. The mRNA is quickly broken down, but the memory of the spike protein lingers in the immune system, so it’s ready to launch an attack if it encounters it again.

The promise of mRNA technology was its adaptability. Vaccine makers touted its plug-and-play nature. If the virus mutated to evade current vaccines, scientists could simply swap in a new piece of mRNA to match the new version of the virus. But today, despite waves of variants including Delta, Omicron, and the latest threats—Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5—the Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots still target the original virus that was identified in late 2019. Why haven’t variant-specific boosters arrived sooner?

“You’re working with a virus that is rapidly mutating. Each of these variants is around for a few months and then is replaced by a new variant,” says infectious disease specialist Archana Chatterjee, dean of the Chicago Medical School. “This is a race that we are continually behind on.”

And BA.4 and BA.5 are the fastest movers yet. “This virus has, over the period of these two years, become more and more contagious,” continues Chatterjee, who is also a member of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), an independent panel of experts that advises the US Food and Drug Administration.

While the currently available vaccines have greatly reduced death and hospitalization due to Covid-19, “their effectiveness does appear to wane with time,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, during a June 28 VRBPAC meeting. Initial booster shots helped restore some protection against severe disease, but their effectiveness also seems to fade.

In June, all of these factors led VRBPAC to recommend that vaccine manufacturers update Covid booster shots for fall and winter 2022, tailoring them to the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

Chatterjee says the committee made the recommendation based on evidence that these subvariants seem to be driving a new wave of hospitalizations across the US and the UK. The US government intends to buy millions of variant-specific doses for a fall booster campaign.

Jacqueline Miller, senior vice president of infectious diseases at Moderna, says the company recognized early on that they’d have to race to catch up with the virus. The first variants of concern—Alpha and Beta—were identified in late 2020, just as the vaccines were being rolled out. While the original vaccines held up against the Alpha variant, they were slightly less effective against Beta. “That was really what prompted us to go down this road of investigating variant vaccines,” she says.

Miller says it takes Moderna about four to six weeks from the time of generating a new variant’s genome sequence to producing enough vaccine doses to begin human testing. Pfizer’s process is similarly fast.

“The design time to the actual production of the vaccine is still remarkably faster than other vaccines that we're talking about,” says Michael Diamond, a viral immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis who has studied mRNA vaccines. “The variants are just coming faster than we anticipated.”

The late-2020 Beta variant was quickly supplanted by Delta, which took hold in summer 2021 and caused another surge of infections around the world. Both Moderna and Pfizer rushed to test updated shots aimed at the Delta variant. But the companies' original vaccine formulas proved effective against Delta because its spike protein wasn’t all that different from the ancestral version of the virus.

When Omicron emerged in November, it had dozens of mutations in its spike protein that allowed it to more easily escape the vaccine. It caused an explosion in Covid cases over the following months.

While the process of updating an mRNA booster goes rather quickly, testing and manufacturing it at scale takes longer. Variant-specific vaccines still need to go through animal and human testing to make sure they’re safe and generate an immune response. The FDA has said that vaccine makers can bypass large trials for updated Covid vaccines and instead test them in smaller groups of volunteers, similar to what’s done for the annual flu vaccine.

Then, companies need to study volunteers’ blood to compare the immune response generated by the modified booster to the one generated by the original vaccine. The whole process from start to finish takes Moderna about six months, says Miller.

And that’s not counting the time it takes for FDA authorization, to make the new formula, or to get it to pharmacies and doctor's offices. Miller says she hopes the timeline will get shorter once the first variant-specific booster is out of the gate.


Pair of new studies point to natural Covid-19 origin

An animal market in China’s Wuhan really was the epicentre of the Covid pandemic, according to a pair of new studies in the journal Science published overnight Tuesday that claimed to have tipped the balance in the debate about the virus’ origins.

Answering the question of whether the disease spilled over naturally from animals to humans, or was the result of a lab accident, is viewed as vital to averting the next pandemic and saving millions of lives.

The first paper analysed the geographic pattern of Covid cases in the outbreak’s first month, December 2019, showing the first cases were tightly clustered around the Huanan Market. The second examined genomic data from the earliest cases to study the virus’ early evolution, concluding it was unlikely the coronavirus circulated widely in humans prior to November 2019. Both were previously posted as “preprints” but have now been vetted by scientific peer review and appear in a journal.

Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona, who co-authored both papers, had previously called on the scientific community in a letter to be more open to the idea that the virus was the result of a lab leak. But the findings moved him “to the point where now I also think it’s just not plausible that this virus was introduced any other way than through the wildlife trade at the Wuhan market,” he said on a call about the findings.

Though past investigation had centred on the live animal market, researchers wanted more evidence to determine it was really the progenitor of the outbreak, as opposed to an amplifier. This required neighbourhood-level study within Wuhan to be more certain the virus was “zoonotic” – that it jumped from animals to people.

The first study’s team used mapping tools to determine the location of most of the first 174 cases identified by the World Health Organisation, finding 155 of them were in Wuhan.

Further, these cases clustered tightly around the market – and some early patients with no recent history of visiting the market lived very close to it. Mammals now known to be infectable with the virus – including red foxes, hog badgers and raccoon dogs, were all sold live in the market, the team showed. The study authors also tied positive samples from patients in early 2020 to the western portion of the market, which sold live or freshly butchered animals in late 2019.

The tightly confined early cases contrasted with how it radiated throughout the rest of the city by January and February, which the researchers confirmed by drilling into social media check-in data from the Weibo app. “This tells us the virus was not circulating cryptically,” Professor Worobey said. “It really originated at that market and spread out from there.”

The second study focused on resolving an apparent discrepancy in the virus’ early evolution. Two lineages, A and B, marked the early pandemic. But while A was closer to the virus found in bats, suggesting the coronavirus in humans came from this source and that A gave rise to B, it was B that was found to be far more present around the market.

The researchers used a technique called “molecular clock analysis,” which relies on the rate at which genetic mutations occur over time to reconstruct a timeline of evolution – and found it unlikely that A gave rise to B. “Otherwise, lineage A would have had to have been evolving in slow motion compared to the lineage B virus, which just doesn’t make biological sense,” Professor Worobey said.

Instead, the probable scenario was that both jumped from animals at the market to humans on separate occasions, in November and December 2019. The researchers concluded it was unlikely that there was human circulation prior to November 2019. Under this scenario, there were probably other animal-to-human transmissions at the market that failed to manifest as Covid cases.

“Have we disproven the lab leak theory? No, we have not. Will we ever be able to know? No,” said co-author Kristian Anderson of The Scripps Research Institute. “But I think what’s really important here is that there are possible scenarios and they’re plausible scenarios and it’s really important to understand that possible does not mean equally likely.”




Wednesday, July 27, 2022

COVID authoritarianism

In New Zealand it is writ large -- but other jurisdictions come close

‘Unless you hear it from us, it is not the truth,’ declared New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in a chilling speech related to Covid health advice.

The 2020 clip was dug up by The Daily Wire yesterday, reminding the world what the crucible of government overreach looked like from the sober reality of 2022.

And it is not a pretty sight.

The hubris, delusional self-importance, and elevation of government to a position of ‘absolute unquestioned truth’ is a sign that New Zealand’s leadership has gone beyond its charter and waded into a China-style system of absolutism.

They were not alone in this behaviour.

There is no clearer indication of an authoritarian sickness taking hold than comments like this from the Prime Minister.

‘You can trust us as a source of that information. You can also trust the Director General of Health and the Ministry of Health. For that information, do feel free to visit – at any time – to clarify any rumour you may hear.

‘Otherwise, dismiss anything else. We will continue to be your single source of truth.

‘We will provide information frequently. We will share everything we can. Everything else you see – a grain of salt. And so I really ask people to focus.’

We will continue to be your single source of truth? At no point, for any reason, should a government in a civilised nation declare itself the final word on ‘truth’. It is why the video clip of Ardern grinning her way through this fit of egotism has gone viral.

Government is a service. An administrator. A protector (but not a parent). And a law-maker – although it spends far too much time doing this.

Since the pandemic, ministers have grown to crave the spotlight while the bureaucratic underbelly has found a power-niche latched to the public interest by fear. It is not a good combination.

It is easy enough to point out the obvious flaw in Ardern’s reasoning. Health advice coming out of governments around the world – including New Zealand – has been wrong. Repeatedly. And it is never corrected or the state-issued fines returned with an apology.

That is without considering the undemocratic nastiness that the government’s position led to where epidemiologists were quoted as saying horrific things like ‘with no jab, no job, no fun’ or inaccurate alarmist predictions like ‘if 95 per cent of the population is vaccinated, there will be death, disease, and hospitalisations for the last five per cent’. This is not being reflected in figures.

The last two years have revealed the weakness, not strength, of centralised expert opinion.

Those nations that chose to diverge from World Health Organisation advice provide us with a rare insight into better options, such as Sweden who respected the individual sovereignty of its citizens. Without disobedient nations, we would never know that this approach worked.

For the majority of nations, the population has been treated to the silencing of dissenting medical voices, threats to de-register practitioners who did not believe it was in the best interests of their patients to expose them to unnecessary risk, and the sacking of thousands of health workers – all of whom with more knowledge in the industry than Prime Ministers or Presidents – that did not agree with the government decree.

Ardern’s statement in particular undermines the founding principle of science – which is that science is an evolving system of knowledge whose expansion and advancement relies on diversity of thought, competing ideas, fresh data, and open challenges.

The suggestion that a government has some sort of special ordained knowledge on the subject, as though the Moses of Wuhan dragged a few plastic tablets down and laid out the divine law to Ardern’s advisers, is a nonsense.

Is mask-wearing a good idea? We don’t know. The government insists that it is essential to safeguarding the population but wide studies on the topic have repeatedly failed to produce the physical evidence necessary to justify mandates while incidental evidence pouring in from mask-wearing nations shows no clear indication it has any impact at all.

Were lockdowns the right approach? They were ordered by the government, and yet there is an increasingly opinion that they did more harm than good and should never be attempted again.

What about the Ardern pursuit of a Covid Zero New Zealand? How many press conferences were given insisting that New Zealand had conquered the virus and that government measures would protect New Zealand forever? These policies are now being labelled as ‘absurd’ and ‘damaging’. Most disagreed with the government advice at the time and warned that they were living in a fantasy bubble, prolonging and even worsening an inevitable outbreak – which is exactly what New Zealand is experiencing now with one of the fastest growing outbreaks in the world.

And as for vaccines – that house of cards is crumbling, globally, where adverse reactions and the deaths of young, healthy people pile up around leaders who mandated compliance against every social norm.

You could say that these were mistakes, but a government with absolute truth does not make mistakes. The presence of these grave errors prove exactly why the earlier statements should not be made.

There’s a reason governments are desperate to become the central source of information and truth – fending off opposing thought requires evidence and robust debate. Ministers do not want health policy challenged on merit because it would lose. It signals political weakness.

Hopefully, more of these clips will resurface so that those who promoted vile segregation, outrageous infringements on civil liberty, and general cruelty toward their fellow human beings can be remembered. Revisiting what happened in 2020 is the only way to stop it happening in the next pandemic.

Hearing the near deification of government should send a warning signal to every citizen that their democracy is heading in the direction of authoritarianism under the guise of ‘safety’ and public health.

The government can declare itself the source of all truth, but that does not make it true.



COVID Jabs Impact Both Male and Female Fertility

Expert warns that there is credible evidence that the COVID shots may cross-react with syncytin and reproductive genes in sperm, ova and placenta in ways that might impair reproductive outcomes. ‘We could potentially be sterilizing an entire generation.’


* The first COVID shots rolled out in December 2020, and it didn’t take long before doctors and scientists started warning of possible reproductive effects, as the jab may cross-react with syncytin and reproductive genes in sperm, ova and placenta in ways that might impair reproduction

* According to one recent investigation, 42% of women with regular menstrual cycles said they bled more heavily than usual after vaccination; 39% of those on gender-affirming hormone treatments reported breakthrough bleeding, as did 71% of women on long-acting contraceptives and 66% of postmenopausal women

* Other recent research has found the Pfizer COVID jab impairs semen concentration and motile count in men for about three months

* Miscarriages, fetal deaths and stillbirths have also risen after the rollout of the COVID shots. In November 2021, Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), delivered 13 stillborn babies in a 24-hour period, and all of the mothers had received the COVID jab

* Many countries are now reporting sudden declines in live birth rates, including Germany, the U.K., Taiwan, Hungary and Sweden. In the five countries with the highest COVID jab uptake, fertility has dropped by an average of 15.2%, whereas the five countries with the lowest COVID jab uptake have seen an average decline of just 4.66%

The first COVID shots rolled out in December 2020, and it didn’t take long before doctors and scientists started warning of possible reproductive effects.

Among them were Janci Chunn Lindsay, Ph.D., director of toxicology and molecular biology for Toxicology Support Services LLC, who in April 2021 submitted a public comment1 to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), highlighting the high potential for adverse effects on fertility.

I previously interviewed Lindsay in 2021. That article is not updated with the new information, but the interview (above) is a good primer for the information she shares below. In many ways, she predicted what we are now observing.

She stressed there’s credible evidence that the COVID shots may cross-react with syncytin and reproductive genes in sperm, ova and placenta in ways that might impair reproductive outcomes. “We could potentially be sterilizing an entire generation,” she warned.

Lindsay also pointed out that reports of significant menstrual irregularities and vaginal hemorrhaging in women who received the injections by then already numbered in the thousands, and that this too was a safety signal that should not be ignored.

More here:




Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Could Genetics Be the Key to Never Getting the Coronavirus?

I may be talking too soon but I have a hunch that I might be one of those who do not catch Covid. I have had no version of it so far and I do have an unusually good immune system. With a bit of help it even defeated a bout of stomach cancer

Last Christmas, as the Omicron variant was ricocheting around the United States, Mary Carrington unknowingly found herself at a superspreader event—an indoor party, packed with more than 20 people, at least one of whom ended up transmitting the virus to most of the gathering’s guests.

After two years of avoiding the coronavirus, Carrington felt sure that her time had come: She’d been holding her great-niece, who tested positive soon after, “and she was giving me kisses,” Carrington told me. But she never caught the bug. “And I just thought, Wow, I might really be resistant here.” She wasn’t thinking about immunity, which she had thanks to multiple doses of a COVID vaccine. Rather, perhaps via some inborn genetic quirk, her cells had found a way to naturally repel the pathogen’s assaults instead.

Carrington, of all people, understood what that would mean. An expert in immunogenetics at the National Cancer Institute, she was one of several scientists who, beginning in the 1990s, helped uncover a mutation that makes it impossible for most strains of HIV to enter human cells, rendering certain people essentially impervious to the pathogen’s effects. Maybe something analogous could be safeguarding some rare individuals from SARS-CoV-2 as well.

The idea of coronaviral resistance is beguiling enough that scientists around the world are now scouring people’s genomes for any hint that it exists. If it does, they could use that knowledge to understand whom the virus most affects, or leverage it to develop better COVID-taming drugs. For individuals who have yet to catch the contagion—a fast-dwindling proportion of the population—resistance dangles “like a superpower” that people can’t help but think they must have, says Paula Cannon, a geneticist and virologist at the University of Southern California.

Like any superpower, though, bona fide resistance to SARS-CoV-2 infection would likely “be very rare,” says Helen Su, an immunologist at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Carrington’s original hunch, for one, eventually proved wrong: She recently returned from a trip to Switzerland and found herself entwined with the virus at last. Like most people who remained unscathed until recently, Carrington had done so for two and a half years through a probable combination of vaccination, cautious behavior, socioeconomic privilege, and luck. It’s entirely possible that inborn coronavirus resistance may not even exist—or that it may come with such enormous costs that it’s not worth the protection it theoretically affords.

Of the 1,400 or so viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi known to cause disease in humans, Jean-Laurent Casanova, a geneticist and an immunologist at Rockefeller University, is certain of only three that can be shut out by bodies with one-off genetic tweaks: HIV, norovirus, and a malaria parasite.

The HIV-blocking mutation is maybe the most famous. About three decades ago, researchers, Carrington among them, began looking into a small number of people who “we felt almost certainly had been exposed to the virus multiple times, and almost certainly should have been infected,” and yet had not, she told me. Their superpower was simple: They lacked functional copies of a gene called CCR5, which builds a cell-surface protein that HIV needs in order to hack its way into T cells, the virus’s preferred human prey. Just 1 percent of people of European descent harbor this mutation, called CCR5-Δ32, in two copies; in other populations, the trait is rarer still. Even so, researchers have leveraged its discovery to cook up a powerful class of antiretroviral drugs, and purged the virus from two people with the help of Δ32-based bone-marrow transplants—the closest that medicine has come to developing a functional HIV cure.

The stories with those two other pathogens are similar. Genetic errors in a gene called FUT2, which pastes sugars onto the outsides of gut cells, can render people resistant to norovirus; a genomic tweak erases a protein called Duffy from the walls of red blood cells, stopping Plasmodium vivax, one of several parasites that causes malaria, from wresting its way inside. The Duffy mutation, which affects a gene called DARC/ACKR1, is so common in parts of sub-Saharan Africa that those regions have driven rates of P. vivax infection way down.

In recent years, as genetic technologies have advanced, researchers have begun to investigate a handful of other infection-resistance mutations against other pathogens, among them hepatitis B virus and rotavirus. But the links are tough to definitively nail down, thanks to the number of people these sorts of studies must enroll, and to the thorniness of defining and detecting infection at all; the case with SARS-CoV-2 will likely be the same. For months, Casanova and a global team of collaborators have been in contact with thousands of people from around the world who believe they harbor resistance to the coronavirus in their genes. The best candidates have had intense exposures to the virus—say, via a symptomatic person in their home—and continuously tested negative for both the pathogen and immune responses to it. But respiratory transmission is often muddied by pure chance; the coronavirus can infiltrate people silently, and doesn’t always leave antibodies behind. (The team will be testing for less fickle T-cell responses as well.) People without clear-cut symptoms may not test at all, or may not test properly. And all on its own, the immune system can guard people against infection, especially in the period shortly after vaccination or illness. With HIV, a virus that causes chronic infections, lacks a vaccine, and spreads through clear-cut routes in concentrated social networks, “it was easier to identify those individuals” whom the virus had visited but not put down permanent roots within, says Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge. SARS-CoV-2 won’t afford science the same ease of study.

A full analogue to the HIV, malaria, and norovirus stories may not be possible. Genuine resistance can manifest in only so many ways, and tends to be born out of mutations that block a pathogen’s ability to force its way inside a cell, or xerox itself once it’s inside. CCR5, Duffy, and the sugars dropped by FUT2, for instance, all act as microbial landing pads; mutations rob the bugs of those perches. If an equivalent mutation exists to counteract SARS-CoV-2, it might logically be found in, say, ACE2, the receptor that the coronavirus needs in order to break into cells, or TMPRSS2, a scissors-like protein that, for at least some variants, speeds the invasive process along. Already, researchers have found that certain genetic variations can dial down ACE2’s presence on cells, or pump out junkier versions of TMPRSS2—hints that there could be tweaks that further strip away the molecules. But “ACE2 is very important” to blood-pressure regulation and the maintenance of lung-tissue health, said Su, of NIAID, who’s one of many scientists collaborating with Casanova to find SARS-CoV-2 resistance genes. A mutation that keeps the coronavirus out might very well “muck around with other aspects of a person’s physiology.” That could make the genetic tweak vanishingly rare, debilitating, or even, as Gupta put it, “not compatible with life.” People with the CCR5-Δ32 mutation, which halts HIV, “are basically completely normal,” Cannon told me, which means “HIV kind of messed up in ‘choosing’ CCR5.” The coronavirus, by contrast, has figured out how to exploit something vital to its host—an ingenious invasive move.

The superpowers of genetic resistance can have other forms of kryptonite. A few strains of HIV have figured out a way to skirt around CCR5, and glom on to another molecule, called CXCR4; against this version of the virus, even people with the Δ32 mutation are not safe. A similar situation has arisen with Plasmodium vivax, which “we do see in some Duffy-negative individuals,” suggesting that the parasite has found a back door, says Dyann Wirth, a malaria researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health. Evolution is a powerful strategy—and with SARS-CoV-2 spewing out variants at such a blistering clip, “I wouldn’t necessarily expect resistance to be a checkmate move,” Cannon told me. BA.1, for instance, conjured mutations that made it less dependent on TMPRSS2 than Delta was.


Time to question Australia's pandemic response

Tell me how this ends? This question was posed in 2003 by General David Petraeus during America’s invasion of Iraq, and it cut to the dead heart of that catastrophic campaign.

It’s a handy mental tool for probing almost any public policy so let’s apply it to the latest spike in cases of COVID-19.

Unsurprisingly, it has prompted another epidemic of “expert” demands for yet more overweening government intervention in the lives of the vast majority who have nothing to fear from this disease. And, given the mob has now worked that out, the only argument for mask mandates is to protect the hospital system.

Cast your mind back to 2020 when the first lockdowns were imposed, expressly for the purpose of preparing the hospital system for the pressure that was bound to come. Then, we were assured, intensive care capacity would be buttressed, so it could be surged to more than 7000 beds.

And yet, 18 months into the pandemic, it emerged that hospitals in states such as Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia could not cope with even routine demand. Maybe that’s because the number of acute care beds in Australia has more than halved in the last 28 years.

That is a reason to change negligent governments, not licence for politicians and health bureaucrats to impose restrictions on populations to mask their breathtaking decades-long incompetence.

Exactly a year ago, this column said that, soon enough, the great lie at the heart of Australia’s COVID-19 elimination strategy would be revealed because “the disease can’t be eliminated”. It was the only rational conclusion and yet, at the time, a parade of luminaries were still clinging to the intellectual corpse of COVID-zero and those arguing against it were vilified.

In August 2021, the best minds in New Zealand’s health system decided the COVID elimination strategy could be continued indefinitely and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared it “a careful approach that says, there won’t be zero cases, but when there is one in the community, we crush it”.

Pause for a moment and consider the staggering stupidity of that statement in hindsight. But the point here is, the “expert” advice was self-evidently ridiculous at the time. Just three months later, after Ardern crushed her people and not the disease in a seven-week lockdown, she accepted the bleeding obvious: that not even a plucky island nation at the end of the world could live in isolation forever.

The Chinese Communist Party has soldiered on with COVID-zero and the despotic lockdown regime it exported along with the disease. Predictably, China’s economy has tanked and the misery the party has inflicted on its people is beyond measure. Perhaps the best result of that is it has prompted even the CCP cheer squad at the World Health Organisation to question its wisdom.

In May, Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies director, made the startling observation that the effect of a “zero COVID” policy on human rights needed to be taken into consideration alongside its economic effect.

Parts of the city went into lockdown from March 28 before city-wide restrictions were indefinitely extended on April 5 in response to the number of COVID cases.

“We need to balance the control measures against the impact on society, the impact they have on the economy, and that’s not always an easy calibration,” he said.

Some have argued that those considerations had to be at the heart of the response from the outset and that the cure imposed risked doing more damage than the disease. Too often the Australian solution punished the many for the few. It preferred the very old over the young, reversing the risk equation most societies wager is the best way to protect their future.

So, the answer to the Petraeus question on coronavirus is clear and has been for more than a year. This only ends with Australian governments lifting all restrictions and actually learning to live with COVID-19 as just one more risk in a dangerous world. It is a decision other nations, such as Sweden and Norway, have already taken.

This is not, as eejits [idiots] would have it, “letting the virus rip”. To claim that is to wilfully ignore that we have endured more than two years of their miserable prescriptions racking up a taxpayer-funded bill probably somewhere north of $500 billion to keep the economy on life support and hit a vaccination rate of more than 95 per cent, precisely to prevent the virus from ripping through the community.

So now it is past time to ask another question: Where is the royal commission into the pandemic? This was a once-in-a-century moment that left no one unaffected, so there is no argument against holding the most rigorous test of how this nation fared.

It demands a panel of the best minds we can assemble to look dispassionately at what happened, how we responded, how we succeeded and where we failed. All Australian governments should participate and offer every assistance.

They have nothing to fear but the truth.




Monday, July 25, 2022

Republican Party Attracting More Diverse Candidates Than Ever

While the GOP has often been labeled by opponents as a fraternity of “old white men,” a new cohort of minorities, first-generation immigrants, and moms are bringing a fresh wave of diversity, youth, and a whole new perspective to the Republican Party.

A recent report (pdf) by the Congressional Research Service showed that as of June 22, the average age of U.S. House members was 58.4 years. The average age for U.S. Senators was 64.3 years. The average age of Congressional Democrats was slightly higher than that of Republicans at 60 over 58, respectively.

But that landscape is shifting as young, tech-savvy people who gained success outside of the political arena prepare to bring a new perspective to Washington.

Another study (pdf) of the 2020 election cycle shows that while white men make up about 30 percent of the nation’s population, they make up 62 percent of America’s political officeholders, dominating both chambers of Congress and 42 state legislatures, as well as controlling a multitude of other statewide positions like governor, mayor, sheriff, and school superintendent.

By contrast, while women and minorities constitute 51 percent and 40 percent of the American population respectively, only 31 percent of women and 13 percent of minorities hold elected offices, and incumbents usually win their primary elections.

Among the 2020 Republican primary candidates, 72.3 percent were white men and 20.2 percent were white women. Only five percent were minority men and even fewer, 2.6 percent, were minority women. By comparison, 38.4 percent of the Democrat 2020 primary candidates were white men and 30.1 percent were white women.

The Democrat Party had more candidates who were minority men and minority women, 17.6 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

All of that is beginning to change.

According to Axios, a record number of Republican Hispanics, 18 in all, are running for state House seats in New Mexico. In Texas, Hispanic women are set to dominate the Republican ballot.

The National Republican Congressional Committee reported that 81 black Republican candidates are running in 72 congressional districts in 2022. That’s more than double the number of black Republican candidates who ran for office during the 2020 election cycle.

The New York State Republican Party has a diverse lineup of young, political newcomers running for state offices as well as the U.S. Senate.

In an article for Newsweek, Jeff Charles—host of “A Fresh Perspective” podcast, co-host of the “Red + Black Show,” and contributor to Red State and Liberty Nation—wrote that “in the post-Trump era, it appears the GOP is beginning to embrace a new strategy, one that includes supporting minority and female candidates to appeal to a broader swath of voters.”

Charles told The Epoch Times that, considering the history of the Republican Party, he was a little skeptical when he first noticed the GOP’s campaign to reach out to black voters, citing how the effort has been “a little abysmal since the 60s.”

“But what we’re seeing now is more of a fresh and concerted effort to reach out to black voters and Latino voters as well,” he said. “The fact that we have a record number of black candidates running shows that the party just might be moving in the right direction. So I am cautiously optimistic about what we’re seeing. My only concern is that this might not be an ongoing concerted effort. One thing I always say when it comes to reaching black voters is, ‘It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.’ But if the Republican Party realizes that, they are going to see more gains over time.”

Charles also noted the record number of Hispanic Republican candidates, particularly in Texas where the population is predominantly Hispanic, saying “the way they are getting the votes is a sea change.”

“In this era, I think the Republican Party does seem serious about reaching out to minority voters, which is very encouraging,” Charles said, adding that adjusting to demographic change is necessary in order for the GOP to “stay relevant.”

According to Charles, now is the perfect opportunity for Republicans to take advantage of the current mood among black and Hispanic voters.

Recent reports show that, because of the extreme shift toward a communist and socialist-style of governance, Democrats are rapidly losing support among Hispanic and black voters.

“Hispanics and blacks are becoming disappointed and disillusioned with the Democrat Party,” Charles noted. “The Democrats have had their votes for decades and have done little to affect meaningful change. So I think this is also prompting a lot of what we’re seeing here.”

With the GOP poised to retake the House and possibly the Senate, Charles believes there will be a lot more black and Hispanic Republican lawmakers, at least within the House. This, he said, will begin to alter the very makeup of Congress, which has mostly seen Democrats with the larger number of minority members.

“If things go the way it seems like they’re going,” Charles predicted, “we’re going to see even more change over the next decade.”

The New Era of Republican Candidates

Daniel Foganholi is a first-generation American. His parents immigrated to America from Brazil with a dream of making a better life for their children. Foganholi is running for a seat as a city commissioner in Coral Springs, Florida, where he lives with his wife and 3-year-old son. They are expecting a daughter in October.

On April 29, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Foganholi to the Broward County school board to fill a seat vacated by state Sen. Rosalind Osgood, who left the board after being elected on March 8, 2022. His appointment to the Broward County school board not only made Foganholi the only male on the board, but also the only known Republican.

In a June 14 special election, Republican Mayra Flores flipped the majority-Hispanic 34th Congressional District in a historically blue region of South Texas by defeating leading Democrat candidate Dan Sanchez. Flores, who pulled 51 percent of the vote compared to Sanchez’s 43 percent, will be the first Mexican-born congresswoman and the first Republican to represent the district since 1870.

Willie Montague, an entrepreneur, author, and ordained pastor, is running to represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District. He is a pro-life black conservative who supports Second Amendment rights and legal immigration.

“Our nation is being set upside down by this current administration,” Montague told The Epoch Times, adding that the only hope of rectifying the problems is for a new generation of conservative leaders who are “for the people and come from the people” to step forward.

“They’re not career politicians or people that come in with hundreds of thousands of billions of dollars,” Montague clarified, explaining that Americans are looking for “everyday people” who have attended school board meetings and commissioner meetings.

Simi Bird was born to a single mother of seven children in “the ghetto” of East Oakland, California, prior to the passing of the Civil Rights Act.

But his circumstances did not define his future. Bird graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Columbia Southern University and he has a master’s degree in human resource development from Villanova University. He’s a highly decorated former Green Beret—Army Special Forces Intelligence and Operations, and Special Forces Engineer—and currently serves as the first black member of the school board for the Richland School District in Washington.

According to Bird’s profile on the website for America First P.A.C.T. (Protecting America’s Constitution and Traditions)—a new conservative coalition he defined as a nascent “anti-squad”—victim behavior was “not tolerated” in his mother’s household “because Mrs. Bird wanted her children to become strong and resilient members of society.”

“What makes America great is our values, our diversity,” Bird told The Epoch Times. “To me, America is representative of all races, all nationalities, and all religions. Diversity gives us a different lens. It’s about unity.”


Biden’s poll numbers prove it — a Democratic apocalypse is drawing near

A new poll conducted by SSRS and released yesterday by CNN puts Joe Biden’s approval rating at a dismal 38 per cent. To put that in perspective, the president’s numbers are worse than every other president since the second half of the 20th century, even clocking in one point lower than Donald Trump around July 2018.

Even more devastatingly, the survey showed that nearly 7 in 10 people say that Biden hasn’t paid enough attention to the nation’s biggest problems; only 30 per cent approve of how he’s handling the economy, and only 25 per cent of how he’s handling inflation. This comes after the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed last week that inflation jumped a stunning 9.1 per cent, a 40-year high.

Some polling shows that Democrats hold an advantage in the generic ballot, which shows whether voters would prefer Democrats or Republicans to lead Congress, and Democrats have generally started to hold an advantage since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson decision overturned the right to abortion. But the nation’s overall sentiments do not reflect how individual districts, let alone swing districts, are leaning. Many voters in hotly contested races might feel compelled to make a change and let the GOP take the reins in Congress.

For now, Biden’s dismal performance is a sign that Democrats should probably prepare themselves for a catastrophe in the midterm elections this November — one that could make the Blue Wave of 2018 and the Republican “Shellacking” of 2010 look like, well, a Tea Party.

All of this indicates why some are saying that Biden should step aside in 2024 for the good of the party. But that only raises the question of who should replace him at the top of the ticket.

Vice President Kamala Harris, the logical choice by virtue of her position, often faces even worse headwinds than the president himself. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg lacks statewide experience, while swing-state governors like Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan need to actually win reelection before they even consider a White House run (the same goes for Senators like Raphael Warnock).

Southern state governors like Roy Cooper of North Carolina might be too moderate for the party, while blue state governors like Illinois’ JB Pritzker and California’s Gavin Newsom might be too liberal. More than that, many voters may want to get behind a woman or a person of color after nominating an old, white, Catholic man last time around.

Democrats may find comfort in the fact that so many GOP Senate candidates are proving to be total duds this year, but they must resist the allure of a false sense of security. If Donald Trump or a Republican with crossover appeal like Glenn Youngkin of Virginia or Ron DeSantis of Florida decides to run in 2024, Democrats risk something that some might have thought unthinkable: a complete lockout of power for almost a decade.

Democratic data scientist David Shor warned about this last year, but if anything, he was downplaying the threat. Even if Democrats miraculously hold all their Senate seats in 2022, come 2024, if Biden is as unpopular as he is now, Democrats could lose not just the White House, but as many as eight seats.

Think of it this way: As things stand, 2024 will see three Senate Democrats – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio – fighting re-election campaigns in states that Trump won twice. As ticket-splitting declines, it will be harder for them to outperform a Republican at the top of the ticket.

Next, take the three Democrats representing Rust Belt states that Trump won in 2016 but lost in 2020: Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. If voters are still upset with the Democrats, those seats could all too easily fall to the Republicans.

Lastly, if you take the two Democrats who won swing state seats in 2018 – Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona and Jacky Rosen in Nevada – and assume they are gone too, Democrats wind up with only 42 Senate seats. And that’s if they somehow hold all their seats in 2022.

That outcome would be cataclysmic for Democrats, not to mention a boon to a Republican president with a conservative wish list. In the aftermath, the next few elections would simply mean playing defense with little room to grow. Even if Democrats somehow wind up flipping seats in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin this year, they still would risk being at only 45 seats come 2025.

Of course, these results are not prophecy. Democrats could certainly turn the ship around; the worst of inflation could be behind the US, or Republicans might field wholly unqualified candidates. But for Democrats to simply skate by, an enormous amount needs to happen first.

For now, the apocalypse looks imminent. And with respect to Idris Elba, there seems little chance it will be canceled.




Sunday, July 24, 2022

The CDC is deceiving us again — this time covering up for unsafe hospitals

If you have to go to the hospital, you don’t want to end up in a dangerous one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knows which hospitals are riskiest, but it’s hiding that information from you — your safety be damned. The feds seem to think they work for the hospital industry, not for you.

Whenever a hospital has a superbug outbreak, the CDC conceals its identity, referring only to “Hospital A.” A lot of good that does patients looking for safe care, especially patients with compromised immune systems, cancer or HIV.

It’s no joke to find out, after you’re already in the hospital, that a superbug is raging room to room or has invaded the nursery where your newborn will be placed. That’s what happens when the CDC hides outbreaks.

Now the CDC is playing statistical tricks to hide how many people have caught COVID in hospitals and to block the public from seeing which hospitals have had the biggest problems — “partly on fears of embarrassing hospitals,” Politico reports.

The stakes are high; 21% of patients who catch COVID in the hospital never make it out, Kaiser Health News found — triple the death rate for patients who don’t catch COVID.

Though the pandemic may be fading, vulnerable patients need to know which hospitals proved proficient at preventing the spread of COVID inside their walls. It’s a safety measure.

Over the course of the pandemic, tens of thousands of patients went into the hospital for other reasons — such as hip surgery, kidney disease or a heart attack — and got infected with COVID.

The CDC is rigging the definition of hospital-acquired COVID to hide this problem.

The agency says only patients who test positive after being hospitalized at least 14 days are considered infected by the hospital. That eliminates almost everyone. The average patient stays only 4.6 days.

The CDC definition also excludes any patient who left the hospital and then developed symptoms or picked up the virus in the emergency room.

It’s a coverup. The United Kingdom and many European countries count COVID infections diagnosed seven or eight days after patients enter as hospital-acquired.

At some hospitals, more than 5% of patients caught COVID there, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of state data and Medicare billing data. The CDC refuses to name these hospitals, defying Freedom of Information Act requests from the media.

When a plane crashes, the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t conceal the identity of the airline. Why does the CDC cover up for a hospital?

To be fair, the pandemic hit some regions and some hospitals harder than others. But it’s also true that some hospitals took precautions to stop the virus from spreading and succeeded in providing safer care than others.

Some hospitals tested all incoming patients for the virus and retested days later to be sure. Testing proved critical, because most patients who contracted COVID in the hospitals got it from another patient. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, eight out of nine patients who became infected caught COVID from the patient sharing their room, per the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Why didn’t all hospitals test? Blame the CDC, which left it to the “discretion of the facility.”

New Yorkers should demand to see the data the CDC is hiding. Hospital-acquired COVID is a problem here.

In January, during the Omicron surge, rates of hospital-acquired COVID were higher in New York than the national average, though lower than in Washington, DC, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of unpublished federal data. Trouble is, citywide averages don’t tell you what you need to know — the adequacy of infection prevention in your hospital.

It’s time to end the CDC’s secrecy in the service of hospitals. The CDC’s ploy to hide hospital-acquired COVID is a red flag.

Call the CDC the Centers for Deception and Coverups. The nation should be demanding a health agency that deals honestly with the public. If you have health problems, your life could depend on it.


Crushing scientific dissenters, as Fauci urges, would kill medical progress

Beware of totalitarian control of scientific and medical thought here in America. Prominent academic publications, medical organizations and even some state legislatures are trying to silence scientific disagreements about COVID-19. That will kill medical progress.

On Friday, Anthony Fauci, the face of the federal government’s COVID response, urged graduates at Roger Williams College in Rhode Island to stand up against disinformation and “the normalization of untruths” about COVID-19. Let’s hope graduates were too busy tossing their mortarboards skyward to heed Fauci’s dangerous advice.

Dangerous because there is no such thing as scientific certainty about COVID-19 or any other disease. Challenging scientific consensus is not “disinformation.” It’s how scientific breakthroughs, including medical ones, happen.

Today’s unorthodox treatment might become tomorrow’s lifesaving standard of care. Crushing scientific dissenters is a sure way to halt medical progress in its tracks.

Fauci claimed recently on national TV that those who criticize him “are really criticizing science because I represent science.” His egotism is enormous, but the problem is bigger than just Fauci.

The American Medical Association voted in November to target health-care professionals who “peddled untested treatments and cures and flouted public health efforts such as masking and vaccinations.” Warning about “disinformation,” the AMA called on state medical boards to suspend or revoke the offenders’ licenses.

A Nature Medicine review article decreed in March: “The spread of misinformation poses a considerable threat to public health and the successful management of a global pandemic.”


Scientific progress has always been a struggle between the status quo and those who challenge it and seek new knowledge.

When Galileo advanced Copernicus’ idea that the Earth revolves around the sun, he was labeled a heretic by the astronomical establishment and the Catholic Church and put under house arrest.

When Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis observed that women were dying in childbirth because physicians in obstetric hospitals weren’t washing their hands, physicians took offense and committed him to an asylum in 1865. He died there, a victim of the establishment’s censorship. His research showed that hand washing with chlorinated lime could reduce deaths to below 1%, but its importance was not understood at the time.

Later, these heretics became recognized as heroes.

Fast-forward to the 1980s, when the AIDS virus began to spread rapidly in America. Physicians devised strategies at bedside like adjunctive corticosteroids and aerosol pentamidine to help their desperate patients. It was the beginning of an explosion of new treatments.

Yet two years ago, when COVID-19 struck — a disease as unfamiliar as AIDS was in the ’80s — the impulse among government health officials was to suppress experimentation and debate.

Democratic lawmakers in California are pushing to require the state medical board to penalize doctors for spreading “misinformation,” defined as disagreeing with government bodies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or “contemporary scientific consensus.”

As The Wall Street Journal’s Allysia Finley points out, that would mean legal penalties against doctors who prescribe drugs like the antidepressant fluvoxamine, which has shown strong results in clinical trials even though it is not yet FDA approved for use expressly against COVID-19.

The standard of care to save COVID-19 patients has evolved rapidly, explains Finley. At the outset, doctors put severely ill patients on ventilators, on which as many as 90% died. Soon some doctors tried oxygenating patients with high-flow nasal tubes instead, and that succeeded. Should those doctors have been penalized for trying an alternative?

In October 2020, three distinguished scientists from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford published the Great Barrington Declaration, arguing that economically devastating lockdowns being imposed across the United States and Europe would save fewer lives than precautions targeted at the elderly and medically fragile only.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, immediately called for stigmatizing and silencing these dissenters. He viciously tarred them as “fringe epidemiologists who really did not have the credentials.” Yet they were right.

Nothing, not even a virus, is as dangerous to our future health as this silencing of medical debate. All of us, of every political persuasion, must denounce it for our own sakes.


Australia: Queensland records 5804 new Covid cases, hospitalisations climb to record 1078

So Omicron is no different from other strains. It's still the elderly at risk

Almost all Covid deaths in the past two weeks in Queensland have been older people who did not have their booster shots, acting chief health officer Dr Peter Aitken revealed on Sunday.

Queensland recorded 5804 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours while hospitalisations have climbed to a record 1078.

Nineteen people are in intensive care, with 12 on ventilators.

There have also been 110 new flu cases, taking the total active cases to 904, while there are 36 people in hospital due to the flu, three of those in intensive care.

It comes after 7644 new cases and eight deaths on Saturday.

Dr Aitken said 97 per cent of Covid deaths in the past two weeks were people aged over 65, and two-thirds of those didn’t have their booster doses.