Friday, June 09, 2023

Another brief hiatus

Once again my social life has taken up a lot of time and energy today so I will not be posting anything on my blogs. Friday postings will probably also be rare in future

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Risk Factors Associated With Post−COVID-19 Condition
A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

TINY benefit from vaccination -- OR 0.57. Long Covid was
basically just as common in vaccinated and unvaccinated people

Vasiliki Tsampasian et al.

Question Which individuals are at risk of developing post−COVID-19 condition (PCC)?

Findings This systematic review and meta-analysis of 41 studies including 860 783 patients found that female sex, older age, higher body mass index, smoking, preexisting comorbidities, and previous hospitalization or ICU admission were risk factors significantly associated with developing PCC, and that SARS-CoV-2 vaccination with 2 doses was associated with lower risk of PCC.

Meanings The findings of this systematic review and meta-analysis provide a profile of the characteristics associated with increased risk of developing PCC and suggest that vaccination may be protective against PCC.


Importance Post−COVID-19 condition (PCC) is a complex heterogeneous disorder that has affected the lives of millions of people globally. Identification of potential risk factors to better understand who is at risk of developing PCC is important because it would allow for early and appropriate clinical support.

Objective To evaluate the demographic characteristics and comorbidities that have been found to be associated with an increased risk of developing PCC.

Data sources Medline and Embase databases were systematically searched from inception to December 5, 2022.

Study Selection The meta-analysis included all published studies that investigated the risk factors and/or predictors of PCC in adult (≥18 years) patients.

Data Extraction and Synthesis Odds ratios (ORs) for each risk factor were pooled from the selected studies. For each potential risk factor, the random-effects model was used to compare the risk of developing PCC between individuals with and without the risk factor. Data analyses were performed from December 5, 2022, to February 10, 2023.

Main Outcomes and Measures The risk factors for PCC included patient age; sex; body mass index, calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared; smoking status; comorbidities, including anxiety and/or depression, asthma, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, immunosuppression, and ischemic heart disease; previous hospitalization or ICU (intensive care unit) admission with COVID-19; and previous vaccination against COVID-19.

Results The initial search yielded 5334 records of which 255 articles underwent full-text evaluation, which identified 41 articles and a total of 860 783 patients that were included. The findings of the meta-analysis showed that female sex (OR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.41-1.73), age (OR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.11-1.33), high BMI (OR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.08-1.23), and smoking (OR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.07-1.13) were associated with an increased risk of developing PCC. In addition, the presence of comorbidities and previous hospitalization or ICU admission were found to be associated with high risk of PCC (OR, 2.48; 95% CI, 1.97-3.13 and OR, 2.37; 95% CI, 2.18-2.56, respectively). Patients who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 with 2 doses had a significantly lower risk of developing PCC compared with patients who were not vaccinated (OR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.43-0.76).

Conclusions and Relevance This systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrated that certain demographic characteristics (eg, age and sex), comorbidities, and severe COVID-19 were associated with an increased risk of PCC, whereas vaccination had a protective role against developing PCC sequelae. These findings may enable a better understanding of who may develop PCC and provide additional evidence for the benefits of vaccination.


Some Sudden Deaths Caused by COVID-19 Vaccines, Autopsies Confirm

Some sudden deaths were caused by COVID-19 vaccines, autopsies have confirmed.

Eight people who died suddenly after receiving a messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccine died due to a type of vaccine-induced heart inflammation called myocarditis, South Korean authorities said after reviewing the autopsies.

“Vaccine-related myocarditis was the only possible cause of death,” Dr. Kye Hun Kim of the Chonnam National University Hospital and other South Korean researchers said.

All of the sudden cardiac deaths (SCD) occurred in people aged 45 or younger, including a 33-year-old man who died just one day after receiving a second dose of Moderna’s vaccine and a 30-year-old woman who died three days after receiving a first dose of Pfizer’s shot.

Myocarditis wasn’t suspected as a clinical diagnosis or cause of death before the autopsies, researchers said.

Thirteen other deaths were recorded among those who experienced myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination but no autopsy results were detailed. Some of those who died had received AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The results show the need for “careful monitoring or warning of SCD as a potentially fatal complication of COVID-19 vaccination, especially in individuals who are ages under 45 years with mRNA vaccination,” according to the researchers, who reported the findings in a study published by the European Heart Journal on June 2.

The study was funded by the South Korean government.

Dr. Andrew Bostom, a retired professor of medicine in the United States who wasn’t involved in the research, said the results emphasize why mandating and promoting vaccines for younger people was wrong.

“These are people who ostensibly did not need the vaccine,” Bostom told The Epoch Times after reviewing the paper. “That’s what adds insult to injury.”

The overall occurrence of myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination was rare, according to the study, though one of its limitations is that the true number could be higher.

Out of 44.2 million people who received at least one dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, or AstraZeneca vaccines between Feb. 26, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021, 1,533 cases of suspected myocarditis were reported to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Out of those, an expert adjudication committee confirmed 480 cases of vaccine-induced myocarditis.

The cases primarily happened in males and people under 40. All but 18 were caused by an mRNA vaccine.

The overall rate was one case per 100,000 vaccinated persons. The highest rates were in 12- to 17-year-olds, with 3.7 cases per 100,000 and 5.2 cases per 100,000 males.

The numbers weren’t broken down by vaccine type and age, meaning the rates were diluted because they included non-mRNA vaccine recipients. Excluding non-mRNA shots has led to the estimation of higher rates in other places, such as 75.9 cases per one million second Pfizer doses in 16- and 17-year-old American males.

Both those numbers and the Korean figures are prone to underreporting. In Korea, authorities automatically excluded any cases involving myocarditis developed 43 days or more after vaccination as well as any cases that included a positive COVID-19 test, despite some experts asserting there’s stronger evidence for vaccine-caused myocarditis than COVID-19-induced heart inflammation.

“We have kids showing up, young adults showing up with chest pain, and most of them end up in the hospital for 24, 48, 72 hours and they go home. But are we missing people that are dying before they get to the hospital?” Dr. Anish Koka, an American cardiologist, told The Epoch Times after reviewing the study.

“Now, just because we live in the real world and we’re not seeing avalanches of kids dying, we know that it’s a rare signal, but how rare is it? Is it happening?” he added. “The new study clearly shows that it’s happening. No doubt we’ve had deaths happen in the U.S. post-vaccine that have just not been attributed correctly.”

Myocarditis is a known side effect of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and can cause death, according to previous research and medical examiners. Symptoms included chest pain, trouble sleeping, and fever. While many people who experience myocarditis after vaccination are discharged from the hospital within a day or two, they can still suffer from long-term problems.

The new study classified 1 in 5 vaccine-induced myocarditis cases as severe. Those cases involved one or more of the following: intensive care unit admission, fulminant myocarditis, usage of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, heart transplantation, and death.

“A fifth of the cases were determined to be serious,” Bostom said. “It’s disturbing.”

Reporting System

South Korea’s government established a reporting system for all adverse events following vaccination before COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out, tying it to a national compensation system that pays for medical expenses related to the adverse events.

The system even provides compensation to people who cannot establish causality to a vaccine but provide evidence such as temporal association, or the event happening soon after vaccination. Authorities also grant money to people who suffer mild effects.

More than 20,000 people were compensated through the program as of August 2022.

In contrast, the system in the United States has compensated just four people as of May 1, and rejected a number whose doctors diagnosed them with vaccine injuries.

Both countries require health care workers to report certain events after vaccination, such as myocarditis, though not all cases have been reported, at least in the United States.

U.S. officials have reviewed autopsies done on people who died after receiving COVID-19 vaccines but have refused to release them. In an update in February, officials said they would provide some information from the autopsy reports but to date have not done so.




Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Why do, even now, so few accept that lockdown was like burning down your home to destroy a wasp's nest?


We will never know exactly how foolish it was to close down the country in the spring of 2020.

It is beginning to dawn on some people that it might actually have been an error. But will it ever be broadly agreed that it was so?

A report published yesterday — hundreds of pages of devastating detail from experts at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. and Lund University in Sweden — concluded the supposed benefits of lockdown were 'a drop in the bucket' when compared to the costs. Or, as I would put it, they were like burning down your house to get rid of a wasps' nest.

This report (in fact a revised version of an earlier document first issued in May 2022) will shock many Lockdown enthusiasts by saying that closing the country saved as few as 1,700 lives in England and Wales in spring 2020.

It ought to weigh heavily on the anti-panic side of the scales. I hope it will. But will it resolve anything? I have my doubts.

I still meet plenty of people who insist that our only national mistake was not to lock down harder and sooner than we did. This is why I am quite sure many of those who supported these moves will never abandon their position.

Those of us who, like me, took the other view, are unlikely to shift either. Why is this?

I have come to the conclusion that it is really about whether people like being bossed about for their own good, or whether they do not. A surprising number of us turn out to love Big Brother. Not only could these illiberal types not get enough of doom-packed propaganda, decrees urging them to stay at home, keep their distance and wear masks, but they were sorry when it ended.

Those who think that statistics and reason will resolve this are likely to be disappointed.

Here are some riddles that I doubt will ever be solved. What did we mean by a 'Covid death'? Someone who died solely of Covid, somebody who died partly of something else but had Covid at the time, or someone who died almost wholly of something else but had Covid at the time?

I do not think it was ever clear then and so it cannot be clear now. Then there is the cost. Is there any accurate, precise way of counting how many cancer patients died because Covid restrictions postponed urgent treatment?

How will we ever measure precisely how many people had their schooling or university courses wrecked?

Will the price of closing the economy, in inflation, taxes, destroyed businesses and lost jobs, ever be computed?

And what about the old people whose health was damaged by being forced to stay at home and abandon their active existences?

You might as well try to weigh a thunderstorm.

The facts are incredibly difficult to set out precisely and always will be. Behind them all lies an unverifiable claim that doing little or nothing would have killed thousands more.

I would say the example of Sweden shows this is not true. Sweden got by well without closing down. But they will be met by others who say its more restrictive Nordic neighbours did better, and it was saved by its position far from the main travel routes of the world.

Even what seems to me to be clear evidence that masks were futile is disputed by others who insist they were effective. So those who wish to believe this was a good idea are difficult to persuade otherwise.

While I have my own opinions, and am very glad I expressed them, my heart sinks at the prospect of years of reports and counter-reports. Everything in this debate moves just out of our reach, like a mirage, as you try to grab it.

Though my own view is pretty much the same as that of the report, will it persuade you? And will Lady Hallett's official Covid Inquiry solve the problem? I rather doubt it.

There is one good thing, which yesterday's document confirms. Debate was justified.

It was reasonable for me to raise objections at the time. It is increasingly respectable to suspect something went badly wrong, that at least we might have gone too far, that smart scientific and medical voices such as Sunetra Gupta and Carl Heneghan were justified and responsible when they raised doubts; and that Jonathan Sumption, the retired Supreme Court judge, was also acting responsibly when he protested against the suppression of liberty by ill-made and excessive laws.

After all, common sense should have warned us that the spring 2020 restrictions were an astonishing departure from normal practice.

An average of about 11,000 people a week die in England and Wales in normal circumstances. I remember producing such figures on the average deaths per week or per day to try to calm things down as the shutdown frenzy gathered pace.

People die all the time. It is very sad, and often avoidable, but it was not — at the scale we were experiencing — a reason to close society and the economy.

It was fascinating how little effect it had. Almost everyone I knew actively preferred to be terrified, as if they longed for Big Brother to enfold them in his strong and loving arms.

Terrifying accounts of overloaded Covid wards circulated. And then there were the TV reports from northern Italy. I would love to see those reports calmly re-analysed now. But the impression they gave was, on the face of it, horrifying. Pictures of great piles of coffins — something everyone involved would once have striven to keep off the air because it was so macabre — probably clinched it.

Lockdown's godfather, British epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson, has since explained how the spectacle of a health crisis in Italy persuaded British authorities to follow the Chinese model instead. He described how Sage, the Government's scientific advisory group, had watched as China's despots embarked on an unheard-of form of disease control by shutting down an entire province.

'They claimed to have flattened the curve. I was sceptical at first. I thought it was a massive cover-up by the Chinese. But as the data accrued it became clear it was an effective policy.

'Then, as infections seeded across the world, springing up like angry boils on the map, Sage debated whether, nevertheless, it would be effective here. 'It's a Communist one-party state,' we said. 'We couldn't get away with it in Europe,' we thought. In February one of those boils raged just below the Alps.

'And then Italy did it. And we realised we could.'

What he meant by 'get away with it', I am not quite sure.

'Effective' still seems to me to be an unjustified claim. Why would anyone see such things in these terms? But an internal Government document from around the same time spoke openly of fanning fear, advising officials: 'A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened . . . The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging.'

In my view it was this, the acceptance of Chinese totalitarian methods as normal, the use of fear to isolate and crush opposition, that were plainly wrong and should never ever be allowed to happen again.

There should have been free, two-sided debate. Whatever you think about the effectiveness of lockdowns, we must not allow ourselves to be frightened into the strong arms of Big Brother. Next time, he may be more reluctant to let us go free again.


COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Degrades to 9% After Nine Months

Researchers affiliated with Northern Italian academic medical centers in Tento and Milan analyzed 40 studies in a systematic meta-analysis chronicling vaccination status and subsequent COVID-19 infection confirmed by standard testing. Covering periods during circulation of both the Delta and Omicron variants, the study was published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network Open.

On average vaccine effectiveness after 30 days was 53%.when it comes to protection against symptomatic COVID-19. This was regardless of COVID-19 vaccine, whether the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) or other COVID-19 jabs from AstraZeneca or Sinovac. The researchers represented by corresponding author Piero Poletti, PhD, Bruno Kessler Foundation reports that the investigators did detect variances among different vaccines. For example, on the higher end of performance, Moderna’s mRNA jab averaged 62% effective against symptomatic disease 30 days after vaccination; that performance waned considerably when looking at the Sinovac vaccine performance (32%) after 30 days.

After six months vaccine performance is abhorrent, equaling 14% on average for all the vaccines, dropping further to 9% after nine months. Not surprisingly, the durability of the vaccines worsened during the Omicron stage versus the time when Delta was predominantly in circulation. While as with other studies, this meta-analysis revealed that administration of a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine surge protection again to primary vaccination levels (60% at 30 days), unfortunately, and not surprisingly, this protection degraded rapidly (13% at nine months).

This study included numerous limitations. For example, the study team didn’t look into levels of protection associated with severe disease, hospitalization and death associated with COVID-19. TrialSite has reviewed numerous studies and the COVID-19 vaccines tend to perform somewhat better for longer periods of time against more serious, severe cases, but their performance does wane as well.


The authors report that vaccine effectiveness differences across age groups were only partially assessed. Original vaccine effectiveness estimates against Omicron symptomatic disease and laboratory-confirmed infection associated to sublineages BA.1 and BA.2. Although a similar waning of vaccine immunity was found between these 2 sublineages, uncertainty remains on the effect of booster doses against more recent sublineages and the temporal patterns of VE associated with bivalent vaccines. The authors report that estimates of vaccine effectiveness against laboratory-confirmed infection must be cautiously interpreted. Several other limitations are delineated.


The Italian led team evaluated the duration of vaccine-induced protection against symptomatic and laboratory-confirmed infection against the Delta and Omicron variants. The authors report:

“The estimates provided in this study can be instrumental to evaluate the susceptibility profile of populations with different levels of vaccinations, uptake by age, and vaccine products. This work could foster discussion on appropriate targets and timing for future vaccination programs.”

Importantly all of the COVID-19 vaccines waned in effectiveness, evidencing “a marked immune escape is associated with Omicron infection and symptomatic disease, with similar waning rates after the primary vaccination cycle and the booster dose.”

While a booster dose can be immune-inducing, and thus a “restoration of the vaccine protection against symptomatic disease to levels comparable to those estimated soon after completion of the primary cycle” these rates decline fast as well. Although primary series and boosters based on other studies do offer a more robust durability against severe disease, hospitalization and death. But it’s not quantifiably clear how robust this protection is either.




Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Vaccine Critic Banned by Major Social Media Site, Campaign Pages Blocked

Twitter owner Elon Musk invited Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for a discussion on his Twitter Spaces after Kennedy said his campaign was suspended by Meta-owned Instagram.

“Interesting… when we use our TeamKennedy email address to set up @instagram accounts we get an automatic 180-day ban. Can anyone guess why that’s happening?” he wrote on Twitter. An accompanying image shows that Instagram said it “suspended” his “Team Kennedy” account and that there “are 180 days remaining to disagree” with the company’s decision.

In response to his post, Musk wrote: “Would you like to do a Spaces discussion with me next week?” Kennedy agreed, saying he would do it Monday at 2 p.m. ET.

Hours later, Kennedy wrote that Instagram “still hasn’t reinstated my account, which was banned years ago with more than 900k followers.” He argued that “to silence a major political candidate is profoundly undemocratic.”

“Social media is the modern equivalent of the town square,” the candidate, who is the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, wrote. “How can democracy function if only some candidates have access to it?”

It’s not the first time that either Facebook or Instagram has taken action against Kennedy. In 2021, Instagram banned him from posting claims about vaccine safety and COVID-19.

After he was banned by the platform, Kennedy said that his Instagram posts raised legitimate concerns about vaccines and were backed by research. His account was banned just days after Facebook and Instagram announced they would block the spread of what they described as misinformation about vaccines, including research saying the shots cause autism, are dangerous, or are ineffective.

“This kind of censorship is counterproductive if our objective is a safe and effective vaccine supply,” he said at the time.

Kennedy, the son of former presidential candidate and Sen. Robert Kennedy, has for years helped to popularize the assertion that vaccines are liked to autism. Kennedy’s Children’s Health Defense, before it was also banned on Facebook and Instagram in 2022, claimed that tetanus vaccines can cause infertility and that polio vaccines are actually responsible for a rise in polio cases worldwide.

However, critics of Big Tech monopolies have said social media companies should not be the arbiters of what can and cannot be posted, saying that some content moderation policies around “misinformation” is tantamount to censorship.

That criticism reached a boiling point in early 2021 after former President Donald Trump was banned on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other Big Tech sites before his accounts were mostly reinstated. A number of other prominent conservatives and individuals who questioned mainstream narratives were also banned in 2021 and 2022.

Because of the widespread bans that were handed down, some alternative social media websites like Trump’s Truth Social, video platform Rumble, Gettr, and others were created. When Musk bought Twitter late last year, he moved to reinstate a number of prominent conservative accounts, including Trump’s page, although the former president hasn’t yet used it and currently posts on Truth Social.

Censored for ’18 Years’

During his 2024 presidential announcement, Kennedy said that he’s been censored “for 18 years,” likely due to his claims about vaccines. “They shouldn’t have shut me up that long,” he said, adding that he’s “really” going to “let loose on them for the next 18 months.”

In an interview with CNN days later, Kennedy was asked about who censored him and why. He responded by saying that at least a dozen Democrat attorney generals recently had contacted social media sites to “censor me” and said that there is now “clear evidence” via the Twitter Files reporting that White House officials colluded with Big Tech to suppress his accounts.


Low COVID-19 Pediatric Vax Rates: Parents Concerned about Long-Term Effects of mRNA Vaccines & Responsibility

A recent study conducted by the Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) at the University of Southern California (USC) Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences investigates why COVID-19 rates among children are so low. The study led by research scientist Ying Liu and colleagues finds that parents worry about long-term risks associated with the COVID-19 vaccines, not to mention the responsibility of being at fault should their children become ill after the inoculation procedure.

Recently published in Pediatrics, the USC Dornsife team surveyed parents in the Understanding America Study during the Omicron variant’s surge between February and March 2022, when pediatric COVID-19 cases peaked. The Southern California-led team covers the topic of lower COVID-19 vaccine rates across the pediatric population.

For example, while 92% of adults have received COVID-19 vaccination, only 39% of children 5 to 11 and 68% of persons 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated.

The study results reveal that 45% of parents believed the vaccine’s long-term risks to their child outweighed the risks of not being vaccinated. 18% of the surveyed parents articulated that they would feel responsible if their child became sick post-vaccination.

According to study lead, Liu, “Parents’ hesitancy may be partly driven by apprehension about the vaccine, stemming from its rapid development and the use of newer techniques.”

"People often exhibit a more cautious approach when making medical decisions for others, including their own children, than for themselves,” Liu said. “Some tend to do nothing rather than vaccinate their child, even though such inaction could result in negative consequences.”

The study authors appear substantially focused on the driving goal of increasing the COVID-19 vaccination rate of young people, less a deeper look into parental concerns.

Parental concerns about the prospect of the COVID-19 vaccine's long-term effects aren’t irrational. The COVID-19 vaccines (the current commercial investigational products) have not been studied long-term. True, mRNA-based vaccines and therapies have been under investigation for a few decades, but actual commercial products are just a few years old. TrialSite has reported before on Moderna in its investor disclosure reports in 2019 and 2020, indicating the totally novel nature of the mRNA vaccine products.

In fact, the current bivalent COVID-19 vaccines now in circulation remain investigational and under emergency use authorization. The versions of the vaccine that were licensed/approved (monovalent primary series of both Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna) have been scrapped by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in favor of the investigational bivalent products.

While some studies suggest the risks of myocarditis/pericarditis associated with mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines are substantially less than the risk associated with COVID-19 itself, other studies reveal a disturbingly high incidence of cardiovascular-related adverse events associated with the vaccines.

The FDA has authorized the bivalent COVID-19 (original strain and BA.4/BA.5) vaccine now as the only product available for children aged 6 months and up. The overall vaccination rate associated with experimental (investigational) released in September 2022 hovers at about 20% for all eligible Americans. Clearly, some concerns accumulate across society about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Concerns about myocarditis for example should be discussed openly—not discounted while other COVID-19 pediatric risk-benefit factors such as state and severity of the virus, variant, infection rate and natural immunity from previous infection all need to be understood as part of an unfolding pediatric-based` risk-benefit analyses.


The European left’s fascism fantasy

France, Sweden, Italy, Finland and now Spain. The demise of the left in western Europe continues apace and yet their only solution is to seethe about fascists in a make believe world of their own.

Nine months after Giorgia Meloni was elected Prime Minister – remember the hysterical warnings about her being Mussolini in heels – the only horror the Italian left has experienced is electoral wipeout. At last weekend’s local elections, Meloni’s conservative Brothers of Italy party romped to victory in many towns that were once staunchly Socialist. As a jubilant Meloni crowed: ‘Strongholds [of the left] no longer exist.’

Nine months after Giorgia Meloni was elected Prime Minister, the only horror the Italian left has experienced is electoral wipeout

At the same time Italians were endorsing Meloni, Spanish voters showed what they thought of the ruling Socialist Workers’ party in their local and religion elections. Not much. The big winners were the Popular party and Vox, prompting a rattled Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to call a snap general election. According to El Pais his Socialist party needs ‘a miracle to halt the conservative wave that has already swept through several European countries’.

Vox have in the past been compared to the Nazi party, though these days the left sees Hitler and Mussolini on every street corner. Querying the wisdom of mass immigration is one short goosestep from fascism, as is sticking up for the traditional family structure or simply waving your country’s flag.

When Meloni was elected Prime Minister of Italy in September the news wasn’t well received by her French counterpart. One might have expected Elisabeth Borne – a Socialist by breeding before she jumped ship to Macron’s centrist party – to be the first on the phone to celebrate Girl Power. Instead Borne gave a masterclass in pomposity, declaring that Meloni better adhere to European ‘values’, or else.

Borne was on her high horse again on Sunday, using an interview to describe Marine Le Pen’s National Rally as the ‘heir to Pétain’, and warning against any ‘normalisation’ of the party.

Borne’s reference to Marshal Philippe Pétain’s wartime Vichy government has infuriated Le Pen’s party, and even irritated Emmanuel Macron. During a Council of Ministers on Tuesday the president upbraided his Prime Minister by stating that ‘you won’t be able to make millions of French people who voted for the far right believe that they are fascists.’

Such tactics might have worked in the 1990s, added the president, ‘but the fight against the far right no longer involves moral arguments.’

Macron is correct. Had Borne, the daughter of a holocaust survivor, made her comments three decades earlier she would have been on firmer ground. When Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, founded the National Front in 1972 it contained some very unpleasant individuals, including the vice-president, who served in the Milice, Vichy’s paramilitary wing, and the treasurer, who fought for the French Charlemagne Division in the Waffen SS.

Then again, the Socialist party of the 1970s also contained some dubious characters, such as its leader, Francois Mitterrand. He worked for the Vichy regime in the early years of the war and, during his 14 years as president, he steadfastly refused to apologise for the complicity of France in deporting 74,100 Jews to concentration camps. The Vichy police chief who organised the deportation, Rene Bousquet, was a friend of Mitterrand after the war.

The Vichy period was a complex one for the Republic. As Julian Jackson wrote in France: The Dark Years 1940-1944: ‘The collaborationist world was not homogeneous – it contained pacifists and fascists, Socialists and Catholics… collaborationist politics was a vipers’ nest of hatreds.’

More to the point, that period is in in the past and it is best left alone by 21st century politicians. The same is true in Italy; it’s the present that matters and Meloni’s popularity tells its own story.

So does Le Pen’s, whose party is widely acknowledged to have emerged from the pension reform saga in the best shape. Recent opinion polls indicate that she is enjoying unprecedented levels of approval among the electorate.

The National Rally are also benefiting from the rampant lawlessness engulfing France and the lack of any coherent government strategy to tackle the growing immigration crisis.

These issues explain the recent successes of socially conservative parties throughout most of continental Europe. In truth, however, their popularity has as much to do with voters’ rejection of radical progressivism, the aggressive and divisive dogma that has so intoxicated the left this century.

Politicians like Elisabeth Borne should stop wasting words demonising the opposition and focus their energy on how they can normalise the left.

Too many on the European left have turned their backs on their traditional bases. They have courted middle-class students and urban elites, pandering to their esoteric social justice obsessions while sneering at the working-class respect for faith, flag and family. Nor do they seem particularly bothered about the crises in health, education and social housing.

That is why Meloni is Prime Minister and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally have 88 MPs in the National Assembly; not because they are fascists but because they have replaced the left.




Monday, June 05, 2023

French Research Establishment Intensifies Attack Against Hydroxychloroquine Proponents during COVID-19

A controversial French physician-investigator and hydroxychloroquine proponent continues to find trouble, as it’s now reported in French media that top researchers in an op-ed in a popular media seek to punish Didier Raoult and colleagues given that they designed and conducted the large study investigating the use of hydroxychloroquine targeting COVID-19, what the opponents tout as being described as “the largest ‘unauthorized’ clinical trial ever seen.”

Why the ongoing, continued attacks, given French society has moved beyond the COVID-19 emergency? Just about nothing was more controversial than the use of repurposed drugs targeting COVID-19.

Of course, this news represents the continued controversy of the repurposed generic drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Much of the medical establishment has written off this drug, yet the studies have trickled in suggesting some promise regardless of the naysayers. But whom to believe? This is the challenge.

The medical establishment, defined for purposes herein represents the leading opinions emanating from the predominant health care systems, hospitals and clinics, medical research universities and government health agencies from regulators to public health of a nation, region or even worldwide. In the intensive controversy and conflict over key topics during the COVID-19 pandemic, TrialSite observed that nothing can become more politicized than the topic of medicine and broader healthcare. It’s a $1+ trillion economy in America and a lot of smart people with a lot of evidence-backed options, at times on both sides of a polar oppositional equation. But the world can be a complex place, as can be science, and an open mind, with an objective stance is required, along with the wherewithal to continuously scan unfolding data from around the world.

Controversy & politicization

Perhaps, no drug was more politicized than hydroxychloroquine (of course unless its ivermectin), as early on in the pandemic as under the Trump presidency. The Food and Drug Administration in March 2020 reluctantly issued an emergency use authorization for the drug. This action was seen as the Trump administration trying to force a solution on the regulatory agencies, leading to mounting tension, and according to TrialSite accounts, outright information war between different factions of power. Ultimately, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), FDA and a majority consensus of the medical and research establishment, the drug was to be avoided for any use involving COVID-19. See the ongoing FDA recommendation to not prescribe the drug.

Similar tensions broke out in other countries, such as Brazil, where their conservative president Jair Bolsonaro also openly supported use of the drug in response to the pandemic. Along the way, strange and even shady situations emerged such as Surgisphere, a Chicago-based analytics company that came under scrutiny by May 2020. The company purportedly provided large datasets of COVID-19 patients, publishing the data in The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine by May 2020. TrialSite openly questioned the credibility of the studies based on the highly questionable access to pervasive health data around the world.

TrialSite engaged with the company to elicit questions while the prestigious journals that strangely published the Surgisphere material ultimately retracted those articles.

But why did such prestigious journals publish such questionable material so fast? Was it the urgency of the moment—those early days in the pandemic? Or were more nefarious elements involved? The data suggested a “significantly higher risk of death” associated with hydroxychloroquine. An anti-hydroxychloroquine fervor intensified and even the World Health Organization dropped its clinical trials testing the drug.

The NIH backed off on any positive finding, only to recommend the drug if for a clinical trial. Several studies showed promising results as reported in TrialSite, such as an observational study conducted at Henry Ford Health System.

The situation became so ridiculous in America that at one point during the pandemic if someone raised the topic of hydroxychloroquine, they were immediately labeled a right wing, Trump-loving, MAGA supporter, or loon from the mainstream. And dare to challenge its efficacy to the drug’s proponents, and you were a bought off shill for Big Pharma. The pandemic revealed the worst of our character.

On the one side was an all-encompassing, uniform response that the drug just didn’t work against SARS-CoV-2—ignoring any positive data that may have been generated; while a vocal minority, backed at first by Trump and MAGA, swore the drug could do miracles. Both sides were incorrect.

The French study

TrialSite reported on some of the research led by Dr. Raoult, who used to head the IHU Mediterranee research hospital, and his colleagues who were, especially before the introduction of the COVID vaccines, open to the use of repurposed drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin during the height of the pandemic. The medical establishment in France is outraged that this cohort of physician-scientists continued their stance during vaccination.

In a recent France24 entry the French media highlights the influence of Dr. Raoult in his effort to “push” the anti-malaria drug “into public consciousness in the early days” of COVID-19.

In March, Raoult and colleagues published the results of a study involving more than 30,000 COVID-19 patients via the preprint server, meaning the results have yet to be peer reviewed.

By March 2022, TrialSite reported that the French Medicines Agency was investigating Raoult due to the claim that their research lacked ethics committee review.

TrialSite reported, “An infectious disease medical research center and hospital run by the controversial microbiologist Didier Raoult is in serious trouble in France. Criminal charges will be filed by the French Medicines Agency (ANSM) with the Marseilles public prosecution unit against hospital-university institute (IHU). Raoult was an outspoken proponent of using hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.”

But the research ensued, and as TrialSite reported just in April that while still in preprint, “A large group of French researchers conducted a real-world retrospective study of monocentric cohorts comparing patients who were exposed or not exposed to antiviral regimen using a standard of care in a hospital setting in France from March 2, 2020, to December 31, 2021.

All of this real-world patient data was obtained from the electronic health record and reported to the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) standard. The patients were cared for at the Institut Hospital Méditerranée Infection Center in Marseille, France. Note, one of the lead authors has been a controversial figure during the pandemic and proponent of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ).”

During the same month (April), ANSM, the French medication regulatory emphasized that the repurposed drug “exposes patients to potential side effects that can be serious.” Also, just last week, French media including France24 reported that French medical bodies reminded all providers that they should take “measures appropriate to the infractions” for the sake of patient safety as well as “the credibility of French medical research.”

The French media reports that so far none of the physicians have been charged in the Marseille-based investigation opened up in 2022, as reported by TrialSite. But the media is repeating the claim that the IHU Mediterranee clinical trials were both fraudulent and unwarranted—strong claims that need backing with evidence and a court trial assuming any criminal allegations.

The pressure mounts, however, as a group of 16 research bodies in France wrote an op-ed article in Le Monde alleging that Raoult engaged in “systematic prescription of medications as varied as hydroxychloroquine, zinc, ivermectin and azithromycin to patients suffering from Covid-19... without a solid pharmacological basis and lacking any proof of their effectiveness.” The authors argue that despite the drugs being shown to be absolutely ineffective the Marseille group continued to use them for care and research.

Ongoing investigations

An interesting observation, 17 clinical trials continue to investigate the use of hydroxychloroquine as a regimen for COVID-19 based on a search of for active studies. TrialSite does note, however, that at least some of them are all but terminated.

What a difference an interpretation makes

A website tracking the study of repurposed drugs like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine provides an interesting vantage point. While the site is controversial because the owners of the website don’t reveal themselves (likely for fear of losing their scientific and/or medical-based jobs), it reports 480 hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 studies, 388 peer reviewed, 393 comparing treatment and control groups.

Late treatment and high dosages may be harmful, the aggregate of study interpretation points out, while early treatment consistently shows positive results. Negative evaluations typically ignore treatment delay. Some In Vitro evidence suggested therapeutic levels would not be reached, however, that was incorrect, according to Ruiz. TrialSite reminds all that medical establishments have written any of these positive outcomes off to any number of reasons—badly designed study, etc.

U.S. medical & research establishment: rejects use for COVID-19

So, what’s the answer to the hydroxychloroquine question? Well, that depends on a number of factors, including point of view and paradigm, place of employment and sources.

Check the National Institutes of Health and its clear the apex research institute, along with the rest of the American medical establishment, along with the French and all of the West rejects the use of the anti-malarial drug for COVID-19, both in hospital and non-hospital settings.

The NIH points out, “The safety and efficacy of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine with or without azithromycin and azithromycin alone have been evaluated in randomized clinical trials, observational studies, and/or single-arm studies.”


Is the UK’s Drug Regulatory Agency Covering Up COVID-19 Vax Death Data? Two Oxford Professors Believe So

Concern for coverups involving deaths associated with the COVID-19 vaccines now stirs the UK tabloid news. Two University of Oxford professors, experts in the field of drug development, have come out and disclosed that despite a 2-million-pound investment in an AI system to improve the Yellow Card safety reporting system at the UK medical regulatory called the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), it was a complete mess.

Professor Carl Henheghan and Dr. Tom Jefferson made the allegations recently according to DailyMail and other UK media. Is the very watchdog charged with transparency and reporting of adverse events associated with the COVID-19 vaccines involved with obfuscating the details involving AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine-related deaths?

To date, the reporting system included 2,743 logged deaths, but these by no means represent all deaths. Much like the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), these systems typically underreport safety events.

While the Oxford professors report a firm called Genpact was retained to improve the system with AI, there is no evidence that such technology advancements have been used at all. Moreover, the pair report in their own blog that “We can’t find a single analysis or publication from the AI-based system involvement.”

They also note that the MHRA’s expert advisory group tracking clinical trials produced minutes on vaccine safety since 2020, but none of those minutes have been released due to confidentiality until and only when a “final decision has been made.”

They note, “Contradictions galore and the absence of a gizmo to identify deaths. Yes, deaths, not arcane events.” TrialSite asks, "What's going on with the MHRA? Does human life not matter?" A similar pattern appears to be a concern with U.S. agencies. The MHRA alleges that there are inaccuracies in the blog.

Meanwhile, lawsuits mount against AstraZeneca in the UK.