Science is not the same as Public Health – (and Dr Fauci does not ‘represent science’!)

The below is an extract from a Guardian article which is reporting on some remarks made by Dr Fauci to CBS. We can be fairly confident that he will not have been asked any challenging questions. Such as where did the virus come from.

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On CBS, Fauci was also asked about Republican attacks over federal research prior to the pandemic and his role in the Trump administration.

“Anybody who’s looking at this carefully realizes that there’s a distinct anti-science flavor to this,” he said. “They’re really criticizing science because I represent science. That’s dangerous. To me, that’s more dangerous than the slings and the arrows that get thrown at me.”

Asked if he thought attacks were meant to scapegoat him and deflect attention from Donald Trump’s failures, Fauci said: “You have to be asleep not to figure that one out.”

“I’m just going to do my job and I’m going to be saving lives and they’re going to be lying,” he said.

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Comments:

The coyly worded “federal research prior to the pandemic” is a (dishonest) journalistic cover for the funding of risky and controversial gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, an unsafe, according to other US officials, research facility that was playing with the same type of viruses as have caused the pandemic- just a few Km from the epicentre of the pandemic. Some of the funded projects have end dates in the future. So the “prior” is also a lie. How do these people (the journalists) live with themselves?

“I represent science”. An extraordinary remark. Was it challenged by CBS? It isn’t in the Guardian. Perhaps we should say “Fauci falsely claimed to represent science”? Of course; a) no single person “represents science” even if science was a homogenous whole it belongs to many people, b) most science and especially epidemiology cannot be reduced to a ‘single truth’ – most science is in fact contested (a healthy process) and so no one can ‘represent’ ‘it’. Even the best scientists will often disagree on certain points. What Fauci does represent is his own bureaucracy. He is confusing science and public policy. This is precisely the point that Senator Rand Paul has been making; these are different matters (both at a theoretical level and at a practical). For example; it seems that in the US previous exposure to Covid is not considered an alternative to vaccination. Since natural exposure offers comparable immunity to a vaccine this is an unscientific position. It may arguably make some kind of sense from a Public Health perspective; but even so this is not ‘science’. Many countries do accept that natural infection ‘counts’ as being ‘vaccinated’ for Covid pass purposes. There is nothing ‘anti-science’ about making this argument; this is not sour grapes from Trump-aligned Republicans. It is a scientifically literate questioning of public policy; Rand Paul is fulfilling his democratic mandate in asking the questions he does. What we see in these comments is a planned and careful lie being deployed by Fauci to discredit his critics.

Fauci’s rather blatant attempt to make his failures a political partisan issue is surprising given he is supposed to be a non-partisan public official. But then he did – according to Trump – sit through many meetings on Covid with Trump and never once mentioned the lab…..

“They are lying”. Well – Fauci certainly knows how to take the fight to the enemy. But anyone who watched his lies around “not gain-of-function” fall apart under Senator Rand Paul’s questioning will know who is lying. Most telling was the moment when he said “We did not fund gain-of-function research” only to be forced to clarify that he did not think that ‘gain-of-function’ work includes animal viruses. [1] In this moment his supposedly solid ‘defence’ was exposed as the semantic games it is.

Dr Fauci is a serial liar. He may have direct responsibility for the pandemic. He is certainly doing his best to cover himself against that possibility while at the same time trying to play down the idea of a lab leak. A very dishonest position.

Update 30/11/21

This is Rand Paul discussing these comments: https://rumble.com/vpzoft-dr.-rand-paul-addresses-president-bidens-covid-hypocrisy-november-29-2021.html

Paul makes the point better than me. What Fauci ‘represents’ is Public Health. Public Health is public policy informed by some science. It is not the same as science.

Paul also makes the interesting point that the only things which work against Sars-Cov-2 are vaccines and natural immunity. The lockdowns and mask-wearing and all the rest of it haven’t substantially affected the trajectory of the pandemic. This is probably true. Paul is a qualified physician and he seems to have a better grasp of the science of this than Fauci.

(I advocated for a lockdown in the UK right at the start and it is clear that had that been done it would have slowed the pandemic in the UK. At any event the point of my posts at that time was they were doing nothing and there were steps they certainly could have taken – in line with WHO guidance, including testing. In fact of course they did worse than nothing; they dumped lots of Covid-infected patients in care homes killing 20,000 people wholly unnecessarily).

Notes

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pnb2Yxri6eY 2.02

The media panic about Omicron (and then pi?)

Slightly amusing that they’ve (the WHO) has skipped over naming it Xi.

The reality of the situation with Covid was brought home to me by these figures. Germany has 22,000 ICU beds. Currently 4000 of these are occupied by Covid patients. The state bureaucracy is screaming “emergency” and officials are agitating for more lock-downs. [1] Hang on. 22,000 ICU beds and 4,000 occupied by Covid patients? That doesn’t sound like the disaster which is being portrayed in the media. The reality appears to be (in Europe) that the driver for lockdowns and Covid passes (not to mention shooting people in Holland) is the desire of the state health bureaucracy to keep their hospitals in a pristine, as-normal, state. They are offloading the problems from the disease onto the population.

In the background note the change in messaging from state officials across Europe; “your path to freedom is getting vaccinated” has mutated into “we will need lockdowns, masks and social distancing as well as vaccinations to control this”.

The media acts as usual in cahoots with the state bureaucracy, in this case spreading the carefully calibrated messages of panic. Enough to ensure compliance with any rules and orders but not too much to cause social disorder.

My personal thoughts on this. If the question is:- would you rather a) live a life of permanent restrictions, where you can’t go to a café (I’ve been vaccinated but have, no doubt like many people, paperwork problems), travel to another country, go to a concert etc. and as a result stand a better chance of not dying from Covid or b) accept the risk and live a normal life – I would choose b). Especially when I consider that under the age of 70 the risk if I catch Covid is comparable to the risk from flu. [2] And while it rises after that [3] it is still a risk I’m prepared to take; I keep fit and will take vaccines which will substantially reduce the risk to a level I can accept.

There is a false dichotomy presented in the media who simply amplify the pronouncements and worldview of state bureaucrats. The endlessly repeated message is that the choice is between do nothing or state mandated restrictions. This is entirely false. The third alternative is based on scientifically literate individuals assessing risk, including to others, and taking responsible decisions. This alternative is suppressed because it does not involve the state. It is a choice at the level of civil society.

A question; why despite all this state organised and media mediated panic do we never hear the simple medical advice; by keeping fit and within the recommended weight for your age and height you can very significantly reduce your risk from Covid? This is a medical fact. Using the Economist’s [3] calculator which is based on US CDC data we see that for a 70 year old male with no medical conditions (other than perhaps being overweight) the risk of hospitalisation from Covid is 24.4%. Add in obesity and the figure is 35.6%. The data claims that obesity will not lead to higher mortality – just higher hospitalisation. It is a fact then that obese people are placing the health system under significant strain; due to their obesity they need oxygen support. (I would assume that these figures would be comparable in the UK). Being obese is not an unavoidable condition. If people would lose weight they could very significantly reduce their risk from Covid. I have never heard or seen this mentioned once in the media since the start of the pandemic despite having read countless articles about Covid, including countless pronouncements from highly paid state health bureaucrats. Yet here is something free and easy which would made a huge difference to the trajectory of the pandemic. Strange.

In response to Omicron governments are rushing in lockdowns and quarantines. The UK once again is behaving like King Cnut and trying to keep Omicron out by introducing mandatory PCR tests and isolation for all new arrivals together with Test and Trace. This is some idea dreamed up on paper by a state bureaucrat somewhere – presented to Ministers who, spineless careerists that they are, will do whatever the bureaucrats tell them for fear of making a mistake. It might work in a single theoretical location with a population of 10. It won’t work in the UK with tens (or hundreds?) of thousands coming in each day. It didn’t work for Delta. The futility of such a scheme is confirmed by a scholar from the respected John Hopkins Centre: “Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said travel bans were not an appropriate response. ‘First of all, we know that travel restrictions do very little to stop the spread of COVID-19,’ Adalja told Al Jazeera.” [4] And border controls are indeed as the South African Health Minister says [4] contrary to WHO recommendations. [5] All this is utterly shameless – because it is so pointless. Why does it happen? I think the central reason is that democratic governments always need to be seen to be doing something to justify their existence. The health bureaucrats also need to be seen to be doing something to keep their jobs. The media reports this performance and plays the role of compare or host. (Not the role they should play – of questioning what is going on). It is all an elaborate theatre driven by careerist self-interest, presented as responsible governance, played out to a docile audience who have little choice but to comply. Thoroughly dystopian.

What concerns me about the current wave of lockdowns is this; the logic is that if we need lockdowns now, when vaccination rates in Europe are high (68% in Germany), then we will need them forever. The virus is unlikely to simply go away. It is highly likely it will continue to mutate. It is likely that it will play a role in society like flu; as a carrier-off of the old and frail. Vaccines will help but not save everyone. At some point society has to make a choice; permanent lockdowns and travel restrictions and social distancing or accept that there is a new way of dying – to add to all the existing ways. And then just live our lives!

Notes

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/26/germany-at-crossroads-as-covid-cases-surge-across-europe
  2. https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m3883/rr
  3. https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/covid-pandemic-mortality-risk-estimator
  4. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/11/26/who-designates-new-covid-strain-omicron-variant-of-concern
  5. https://www.reuters.com/world/who-cautions-against-imposing-travel-restrictions-due-new-variant-2021-11-26/ (I can’t find the source I want. Possibly a victim of Google censorship. But it is in fact part of WHO standing policy to caution against travel restrictions as a response to pandemics).

Propaganda is not a joke

Standard delusional fare from the Guardian on Russia.

I don’t know if this kind of garbage matters. It won’t have an effect on Russia. It is about media management for a domestic audience. Were war to break out they have primed the population to believe that it is all the fault of the evil enemy. The usual primitive stuff. Clearly possessing a University degree and/or journalistic training does not prevent you from engaging in this kind of magical-primitive thinking. (Unless the deployment of primitive types of their-tribe-bad / our-tribe-white-as-the-driven-snow is a tactic they’ve learnt from the intelligence services to manipulate the population and they know what they are doing – but I don’t think so).

Absent from the piece is any factual acknowledgement of the build-up of NATO forces in the area, or of the fact that the US has supplied significant new weapons to Ukraine or of the recent use of a drone by Kiev in violation of the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine. Nor is there the slightest mention of the agreed peace process – the Minsk accords – which Kiev has not even started to implement. Or, to be more accurate, some of these facts (the build-up of NATO forces) is alluded to by being presented as an “accusation” of Russia – as if it were either not true or mere opinion. This presenting of inconvenient objective facts as opinions voiced by the other side is a part of how this kind of propaganda is written; it allows them to be mentioned (for the appearance of balance) and discredited at the same time.

The quote which is supposed to show that Putin supports tension on Russia’s borders looks like a garbled translation (via an online translator?) and doesn’t make sense. As it stands is unintelligible. It is possible that Putin was referring to Russian forces in Russia near Ukraine and pointing out that these might have a deterrent effect on Kiev. (In which case Roth is using the garbled text to mischievously produce fake news).

Finally notice that “truth” for the journalist comes from the military of the regime in Kiev. That is probably unwise.

The Georgian 2008 war should in fact be a lesson. Georgia provoked a war in 2008 no doubt hoping that NATO would fly to its aid. Kiev is more than capable of trying the same gambit.

Analysis of Guardian/NATO agitprop against Russia

One of the Guardian’s chief agitprop writers on Russia shows the usual cynical imperialistic double-standards in this piece.

Putin this weekend complained of Ukraine’s use of Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone strikes in Donbass, saying that they violated a 2015 ceasefire agreement.

This is actually a standard narrative tactic they use quite a lot. Of course – Kiev’s attacking positions in Donbass with drones was a blatant violation of the ceasefire. But this is normal; if the militias in Donbass were doing it it would be reported as “a violation of the ceasefire”. But when their ally does it they bury that fact by saying that the ‘enemy’ (Putin in this case) has said it violates the ceasefire – thus turning an objective fact into subjective opinion.

In general of course the reporting is ludicrously one-sided. We hear so much about apparent Russian troop movements in these NATO propaganda outlets but radio silence on the build-up of US warships in the Black Sea or the supply by the West of lethal arms to Ukraine. This enables them to project what is probably a cautionary defensive move by Russia as ‘aggression’.

It is all so obvious.