Covid conspiracy theories

Here is one Covid conspiracy theory; side-affects from the vaccines are very rare and should not stop you taking the vaccine. This particular conspiracy is promulgated by Britain’s NHS.

Any side effects are usually mild and should not last longer than a week, such as [then the page lists things like a sore arm]

More serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or blood clotting, are very rare. [1]

If and only if you follow a link on the above page will you find information about blood-clotting. This is what we have:

The MHRA is carrying out a detailed review of reports of an extremely rare blood clotting problem affecting a small number of people who had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19.

For people aged 40 or over and those with other health conditions, the benefits of being vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh any risk of clotting problems. For people under 40 without other health conditions, it’s preferable for you to have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine instead of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. [2]

The above is the current information at 27 July 2021. It tries to present the blood-clotting problem with AstraZeneca as something which is being studied. In fact the truth is it is already firmly established that AstraZeneca carries a risk of causing serious blood-clotting events. I have had to search very hard indeed to find this information on the Internet. I cannot prove it but it looks to me like Google may be suppressing it. (For example the search autocomplete feature which is usually very responsive did not help at all; and most of the pages returned were out of date). However the fact is that AstraZeneca causes blood-clotting events in 1 in 100,000 people over 50. For those under 50 the rate is 2 per 100,000. 17% to 20% of these events are fatal. It also seems that a study has concluded that giving AstraZeneca to people in the age group 18-39 would cause more deaths than lives saved. We can extrapolate from this to say that in children the risks from the AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh the risks. This information comes from an Irish newspaper [3] which is reporting a study by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and information from the Irish HSE. These are the facts as they pertain to AstraZeneca.

I would not say that a 1 in 100,000 chance of a serious blood clotting event (in those aged over 50) which carries a 17% – 20% of being fatal – is so rare that it can simply be discounted. Taking myself as an example; I am aged 55 and in good physical condition with no existing health conditions. I am not overweight. The chances of my dying from Covid-19 are remote. It is therefore a rational decision for me not to get a vaccine in the UK – in particular since I cannot specify that I don’t receive AstraZeneca. (In the UK only people under 40 are being automatically offered Pfizer or Moderna). The information offered by the NHS that “the benefits of being vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh any risk of clotting problems” is probably not true in my case. It is simply misinformation. (“blood-clotting problems” is further misinformation since the fact is that 17%-20% of these will be fatal; not just a ‘problem’). At any event surely it is up to the patient to make the risk-decision assessment herself? Isn’t there some principle of “informed consent” which has simply been abandoned here?

Another lie told by the NHS is this one: “The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19.” This pretends there is a single vaccine. In fact there are multiple vaccines which use a range of different technologies and which carry different risk profiles. Again; surely it is the job of the NHS to present accurate information about treatments and allow patients to make their own choices? AstraZeneca has a risk of blood-clotting. Pfizer carries a risk of heart inflammation – especially in younger men. [4] These risks appear to be of a very small percentage and rarely fatal; less serious than the AstraZeneca blood-clotting problem.

We are supposed to live in free democratic and scientifically literate society. This is why millions of young people who are destined to become builders and hospital porters and florists are nonetheless forced each year to take exams in biology and chemistry and physics. So they can participate in a modern rational and scientifically aware society. But instead of offering actual information which enables people to make up their own minds the health bureaucracy feeds them untruths and tries to make up their minds for them. It is mind-bogglingly irresponsible.

Meanwhile the police are investigating a woman who made a speech at a public event in London in which she apparently compared doctors and nurses promoting vaccination to Nazi war criminals and referred to the Nuremberg trials. [5] This is obviously going too far and is extremely idiotic. But amidst the idiotic analogy she may have a point; there is a push to vaccinate and a sustained effort to supress information about the risks. Most outlets are not even reporting the rest of her speech. The BBC is rare in saying that “Speaking about the vaccine, she encouraged the crowd to challenge vaccinators about its safety.”[6] So – the NHS can publish what is manifestly false information about the risks from the vaccines but someone who calls for this narrative to be questioned is subject to police investigation. This really is rather Orwellian.

The state health bureaucrats wonder why there are so many conspiracy theories. Such as RNA vaccines will alter your DNA. But one reason is that people can tell when they are being lied to. This is what creates the ground in which conspiracy theories flourish. The public health bureaucracy has decided on a campaign of mass vaccination and they are not going to let scientific fact or the principle of informed consent get in their way. The conspiracy theories are the inevitable blow-back.

Notes

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/safety-and-side-effects/
  3. https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40328123.html
  4. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-57781637
  5. https://ca.movies.yahoo.com/met-police-investigate-anti-vaxxer-125232384.html
  6. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-57962675

Lab leak theory – resistance continues

The push-back against the lab leak theory continues even as the theory “gains traction” (in the amusing words of AP/Guardian). This piece by AP in the Guardian reports on the extraordinary statement by WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that “I was a lab technician myself, I’m an immunologist, and I have worked in the lab, and lab accidents happen. It’s common.” He would not be saying this if he was not seriously considering the lab leak theory.

But even as they (have to) report the changing discourse on the lab leak theory the liberal press continues to resist it tooth and claw. In this AP/Guardian piece readers are told: “It typically takes decades to narrow down the natural source of an animal virus like Ebola or Sars”. The point of this piece of misinformation is to deal with the awkward fact, for the zoonotic theory, that nearly two years after the first signs of Sars-Cov-2 in Wuhan (ok 19 months if we go by the official Chinese version) the supposed intermediary animal has not been found. In fact the intermediary animal for Sars-Cov-1 was found within a few months. [1] Not decades. The WHO says it took “more than a year” to find the source for MERS-Cov. [2] Again; not decades. And there is an extensive search going on for the necessary intermediary animal for the zoonotic theory. [2] They may yet find it. But the longer the search goes on and this species is not found the less likely the zoonotic theory will look. (It is also interesting to note how enthusiastically the theory that pangolins were the intermediary animal was promoted early on in the pandemic based at least in part on studies from China [3] – though it now seem that the pangolin is not a candidate).

We can expect more of this. Even as the media report (they have to) on developments which at least make it clear that the lab leak theory is a credible theory they will insert caveats and indeed misinformation to try to disarm it. The liberal establishment is dead set on the lab leak theory never being established. I think there are several reasons for this. The economic consequences are too dreadful. (A punitive sanctions war with China would plunge the world into a massive economic depression). But another factor is cultural; Chinese scientists are well embedded in academia in the West; in part the push-back is a case of protecting their Chinese colleagues. And, not to be underestimated perhaps, is a cultural affinity between the totalitarian-liberal trends in the West with the one-party totalitarianism in China. A love of social order and prescribed behaviours over free intellectual life is something which both modern liberals and the Chinese State have in common.

Notes

  1. Wade gives 4 months. But the source may be contested. Let’s take a more conservative estimate: WHO was reporting the link to civets in January 2004. And Sars-Cov-1 started in February 2003 – so on this timeline about 11 months. So far for Sars-Cov-2 at least 15 months and no animal source identified.
  2. https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/how-who-is-working-to-track-down-the-animal-reservoir-of-the-sars-cov-2-virus
  3. https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdfExtended/S0960-9822%2820%2930360-2

The backlash against ‘Freedom day’ – how valid is it?

Only Boris Johnson could come up with a cheap slogan like “Freedom Day” in the middle of a deadly pandemic. (This is reminiscent of his joke in the early stages of the pandemic about “operation last gasp”).

Idiotic remarks aside is it indeed crazy and irresponsible to remove all remaining Covid restrictions (laws and that ambiguous middle-ground of “government guidance”) now as this widely backed letter in the Lancet argues?

The authors of this letter – who could be said to be from the pro-lockdown side of academia – make 5 arguments. Let’s consider them. Before we do that let’s just remind ourselves of the context. Currently 50% of the UK population has been offered both doses of a vaccine (spaced apart by more than the manufacturer’s recommendations in the case of Pfizer of course). This includes all the especially vulnerable groups. By some point in September all over 18 year olds will have been offered 2 doses. Vaccinations in children has not yet been decided. Lifting all restrictions now will lead to more infections than if they were maintained until, say, September when all adults will have been offered a vaccination. This delay is what the authors of this letter in the Lancet want.

Continue reading “The backlash against ‘Freedom day’ – how valid is it?”

And so to the cover-up

This is a report on Dominic Cummin’s fascinating revelations about how the government worked (didn’t) during the early days of the epidemic.

It makes juicy reading. Especially when you consider how many died. The description of the Prime Minister responding to being asked difficult questions in meetings by saying “let’s take it offline” and then rushing out of the meeting shouting “forward to victory” sounds both plausible and terrifying. Cummins claims that lockdown was not considered until the 14 of March. This is my post from 11 March 20 reporting on the Director of WHO bemoaning the lack of action by governments. The Cummins revelations confirm what we already know – that for the first few crucial weeks of the epidemic there was a total failure at the heart of government not just in No. 10, but at the senior levels in PHE and the DHSC, to respond to the crisis. (This is another of my posts from the early stages when I point out what Cummins is now saying; that the government was rudderless and its response was completely inadequate).

A lot of the revelations concern Matt Hancock. He is depicted as incompetent and a liar. I read recently an anonymous account of a backbench Tory MP who said that Hancock has a tendency to report as true-fact-now things which are in fact just at the planning stage. This interpretation syncs with Cummins’s account. For example; it would explain how Hancock could have told the PM that patients were being tested in Care Homes when what he meant was that they were working on it.

Continue reading “And so to the cover-up”