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The Brownstone Institute: Promoting antivaccine misinformation in Africa

The signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration and its “spiritual child” the Brownstone Institute, swear up and down that they are not anttivaccine. If that’s so, why are Brownstone-affiliated academics spreading antivaccine misinformation in Uganda (and everywhere else)?

I’ve been meaning to revisit the Great Barrington Declaration, its authors, and the new right wing “institute” promoting it. I originally likened it to “magnified minority”-style disinformation with more than a dash of eugenics in the form of the Declaration’s call about the virus, in essence, to “let ‘er rip” while somehow using “focused protection” to prevent mass death among those vulnerable to severe disease and death from COVID-19. The reason is that, increasingly, Great Barrington Declaration-associated groups and scientists have been letting their antivaccine freak flag fly high.

Given the obvious libertarianism and right wing politics rather than science behind this Declaration, what “focused protection” would actually mean in public health practice and how it would protect the vulnerable were never really described in sufficient detail to determine if this was a viable strategy. (Hint: It wasn’t, and, despite more recent claims by Great Barrington signatories, still isn’t.) Basically, when I first encountered the Great Barrington Declaration, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that the whole thing had a very strong “Screw the elderly and sick!” vibe to it that reeked of eugenics. Amusingly, when criticized, AIER portrayed itself and the advocates of the Great Barrington Declaration as the “new abolitionists,” parroting a common antimask and antivaccine theme that likens public health interventions against COVID-19 to “slavery“.

In any event, the idea behind the Great Barrington Declaration, such as it was, was that letting as many of the “low risk” and “healthy population” become infected with the virus would produce “natural herd immunity” and hasten the end of the pandemic. As I and a number of other have long pointed out, it’s not possible to protect the vulnerable if a contagious respiratory virus is spreading unchecked through the rest of the “healthy” population, and the cost of achieving “natural herd immunity” is widespread infection and far more death and suffering. More recently, the rise of the Delta and Omicron variants, the latter of which can easily reinfect many with “natural immunity” from prior infection, shows how foolish such a strategy would have been then and is now, given the existence of effective vaccines that can, at the very minimum, vastly decrease the risk of severe disease.

A lot has happened in the last 15 months. In October 2020 I did not view the Great Barrington Declaration signatories Dr. Sunetra Gupta (University of Oxford), Dr. Martin Kulldorff (then at Harvard University), and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford University) as antivaccine. However, it must be remembered that the Declaration was first published two months before the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was distributed to the public under an emergency use authorization (EUA), and events have moved in a direction that leads me to doubt my previous characterization. The most recent revelation comes in the form of a recent report by Alice McCool and Khatondi Soita Wepukhulu, US conservatives spreading anti-vax misinformation to unvaccinated Uganda. Its tagline? “Revealed: US Christian legal organisation and a Texas-based think tank are among those promoting anti-lockdown and vaccine hesitancy messages in Uganda”.

Why is the fact that the think tank behind spreading these messages is based in Texas? Here’s why. The think tank spreading misinformation about “lockdowns,” vaccines, and masks is the Brownstone Institute. I’ll start by revisiting the Great Barrington Declaration and the birth of the Brownstone Institute, which I’ve discussed before. (Longtime readers who remember past posts on these topics can skip sections that are repetitive, but I like making it easy for new readers not to have to click on a lot of links.) I hope that my narrative leads you to see that it wasn’t a matter if the Great Barrington Declaration signatories and the think tanks behind them would start drifting into standard antivaccine territory, but when.

The influence of the Great Barrington Declaration thus far

The Great Barrington Declaration was the product of a long weekend retreat held in early October 2020 in Great Barrington, MA at the headquarters of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), the free market right wing/libertarian think tank from which the Brownstone Institute spun off. It’s worth recounting first just how influential the Great Barrington Declaration has been and how this conference came about, because both of these bits of history help illustrate how the Great Barrington Declaration is astroturf.

First, this is how influential the Declaration has been (full disclosure, I was co-author of this article):

The GBD influenced covid-19 policy on both sides of the Atlantic. According to the Sunday Times, in September 2020, Gupta, along with Oxford University’s Carl Heneghan and Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, advised UK prime minister Boris Johnson not to institute a national “circuit breaker” lockdown to forestall a predicted second wave, persuading him to delay. Details of this meeting, and of the opposition to a circuit breaker by Gupta and Heneghan, were described by Dominic Cummings in his testimony to members of parliament on 26 May 2021. However, Gupta and Heneghan dispute Cummings’s recollection of the meeting and have provided written evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee detailing their version of events. They deny Cummings’ claim that they said that there was already herd immunity in the population and that there would be no second wave. Their written evidence suggests that they discussed the need for a strategy to control covid, while minimising societal disruption. Johnson’s “delay in imposing national restrictions,” argues Alan McNally, professor of microbial genomics at the University of Birmingham, “resulted in an estimated 1.3 million extra covid infections.” Gupta also kept Georg von Opel apprised of her efforts: in April 2020, after a television appearance on a Channel 4 debate called “Can Science beat the Virus?”, she wrote an email to von Opel obtained by Open Democracy under Freedom of Information legislation, “I tried to make the point even more strongly that we cannot just consider the question of lifting lockdown in the single dimension of what it will do to the pandemic, but they [Channel 4 news] have cut it down dramatically.”

In October 2020, Gupta, Kulldorff, and Bhattacharya met with two of US President Donald Trump’s senior health officials, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Scott Atlas. Atlas was at the time on leave from his fellowship at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank affiliated with Stanford University. The meeting reportedly led the administration to eagerly embrace the GBD. Nor did the GBD authors limit their efforts to national governments. For example, in March 2021 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hosted a video roundtable with Atlas, Gupta, Kulldorff, and Bhattacharya, where they expressedopposition to masks, testing and tracing, physical distancing, and mass vaccination. YouTube removed the video “because it included content that contradicts the consensus of local and global health authorities regarding the efficacy of masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19.” GBD authors, predictably, cried, “Censorship!” Bhattacharya continues to advise Governor DeSantis on Florida’s covid-19 policies, including providing legal testimony in support of DeSantis’s ban on mask mandates in public schools.

More recently, physicians supportive of the Great Barrington Declaration have achieved positions of influence that would allow them to implement their policies. For example, a few months ago, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Dr. Joseph Ladapo, a member of the COVID-19 minimizing, ivermectin-promoting America’s Frontline Doctors, as Florida’s Surgeon General and head of the state’s Department of Health. Predictably, Dr. Ladapo immediately began dismantling the puny remains of Florida’s pandemic response by implementing policies based on “natural herd immunity“.

Even more recently, recently elected Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin appointed Dr. Marty Makary to chair his medical advisory team. Regular readers will recall that Dr. Makary is a surgical oncologist at Johns Hopkins who first came to my notice six years ago for his innumerate and poorly supported claim that medical errors are the “third leading cause of death” in the US. More recently, he has been using similarly incorrect numbers to prematurely declare the pandemic “over” and referring to the masking of children as “abusive”, while making the false claim that masks are “vectors for pathogens“. He used these sorts of arguments to promote a “herd immunity” approach to the pandemic, even after having made the risible claim (even then) nearly a year ago that we would have “herd immunity by April“. It was a prediction that Makary used to as a basis to propose very Great Barrington Declaration-like policies involving the loosening COVID-19 restrictions. (Eleven months later, how’d that prediction work out? Maybe Dr. Makary really meant April 2022. Oh, wait…) Now he’s in charge of the advisory committee guiding Virginia’s COVID-19 response. This will not end well.

Before I move on to the current activities of Great Barrington Declaration-associated scientists and groups, let’s first discuss how the Declaration came about.

The birth of the Great Barrington Declaration

The conference that led to the drafting of the Great Barrington Declaration, it turns out, was a spur-of-the-moment affair. It came about through a combination of behind-the-scenes recruitment by AIER leaders combined with a fortuitous (for AIER) discovery of a scientist who enthusiastically agreed with them. I first looked into the origins of the Great Barrington Declaration after seeing its authors complain about the article I cited above:

That was Dr. Jay Bhattacharya sharing a Spectator article by Martin Kulldorff (who, spoiler alert, was AIER’s first recruit of the three signatories). In the article, Kulldorff tries to deny being the tool of a right wing think tank and even invokes the Galileo gambit and fantasy of future vindication. Let’s start, though, by looking at what AIER itself said about the conference that resulted in the Great Barrington Declaration:

First, though, let’s look at what AIER itself said:

From October 1-4, 2020, the American Institute for Economic Research hosted a remarkable meeting of top epidemiologists, economists, and journalists, to discuss the global emergency created by the unprecedented use of state compulsion in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic. The result is The Great Barrington Declaration, which urges a “Focused Protection” strategy.

As I like to say, sure, they were there just for “media interviews”. From the AIER description, it sure sounds as though it was more than just that. One might speculate that the Great Barrington Declaration was a hoped-for outcome of the meeting, its protestations otherwise notwithstanding:

The AIER staff did not even know about the Declaration until the day before it was signed, and the AIER president and board did not know about it until after publication.

Unfortunately for Kulldorff, Jeffrey Tucker, “founder of the Brownstone Institute and an independent editorial consultant who served as Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research”, was, as the famous song from the Broadway musical Hamilton goes, in the “room where it happened,” as he stated at around 5:15 in this episode of the official podcast of the John Locke Foundation posted to YouTube only a week after the confab at the AIER headquarters that led to the Great Barrington Declaration:

There you have it! Jeffrey Tucker was in the “room where it happened.”

I can’t resist transcribing what Tucker said about the Great Barrington Declaration soon after it had been issued and his role in its drafting, given that it’s contemporaneous and before all the mythology AIER built up around it:

I was there while it [the Great Barrington Declaration] was being drafted. I was very moved. I made a couple of suggestions here and there.

Remember, in 2020 Tucker the editorial director of AIER. He was in charge of its entire messaging apparatus. Earlier in the video, he also characterized the process of writing the Great Barrington Declaration this way:

Scientists—most scientists—are not political people. They’re in science and epidemiology and public health because they want to help people and minimize the social damage of infectious diseases and pathogens. They’re scientific people, not political people. Unfortunately, because of lockdowns, suddenly infectious disease became highly political. It never should have happened, but it happened, and they found themselves in awkward positions.

So after months and months some of them began to speak out. I noticed in particular Martin Kulldorff, and then also I noticed Sunetra Gupta, who’s a godlike figure in epidemiology, and also Jay Bhattacharya, who’s similarly a highly credentialed MD/PhD at Stanford. Sunetra is over at Oxford and Kulldorff is at Harvard. I noticed that they started to speak out a little bit. I began to feel bad for Martin because I thought that it must be a lonely life over at Harvard being against lockdowns, and he was taking a risk to his career speaking out this way. I quickly dropped him a Twitter notice, “We’ve got a nice place, why don’t you come and visit here?” We’re a few hours away. We’ll feed you well and relax a bit, and he wrote me back, “OK.”

So when I realized that Kulldorff was coming, I dropped a note to an attorney in New Jersey, Stacey Rudin, and then another one in New York who had become anti-lockdown…and said, “Listen, Martin Kulldorff is coming. Why don’t you join?” So they all came here. We had no agenda whatsoever. We went out to the cider mills, enjoyed each other’s company, got to know each other, because he had lost all of his old friends, you know….So we just had a really lovely weekend.

Besides having written a number of articles for AIER, Rudin is the one who likened lockdowns to “slavery” and the AIER and other “anti-lockdown” activists to “abolitionists.” Check out her Twitter feed if you want to get an idea of the crankery she regularly displays, although this should give you an idea. I found these on Saturday, their having been Tweeted out earlier in the day:
Because “Freeeeeeedumb!” Amirite, folks?
Referring to science-based interventions as “cult-like” and doctors and scientists as a cult is classic antiscience crankery.
I would point out to Ms. Rudin that measles is a highly transmissible respiratory virus, and it was almost eliminated before Andrew Wakefield. In fact, it had been basically eliminated in many countries. How was that done? Vaccines, of course! Then there was smallpox, which was also transmitted by respiratory droplets and actually eliminated…by vaccines!

Brownstone flack Rudin aside, after Kulldorff went back home to Boston, having spent a weekend hanging out with Tucker, Rudin, and other AIER luminaries and hangers-on, he emailed Tucker, as Tucker describes:

Well, within about ten days, he wrote me back and said: I have an idea. Let’s bring some high end journalists from around the country. We can meet at your place, and then I’ll get Jay Bhattacharya flown in from Stanford and then I’ll get Sunetra Gupta from Oxford. Well, I was nonplussed, thinking, “That sounds…interesting. When do you propose to do this, because we can’t do it until the 31st of October?”

He said, “No, we’re going to do it this weekend.” He said, “We can’t wait until the 31st, the crisis is too bad.”

So the next thing you know, we had all these people here, and we scrambled to get the recordings right. We didn’t have a big agenda, but we held a question-answer session. We taped a few interviews and that sort of thing, and they wrote the declaration and released it. We built and released the website in 18 hours (something like that), and it was all kind of crazy and wonderful.

This account explains this observation:

“Ruh-roh, Shaggy!”

Let me remind you again what Jeffrey Tucker’s job was at AIER at the time, as described by AIER President Edward Stringham himself:

Jeffrey will join me and colleagues to expand the influence of AIER, an illustrious institution founded in 1933 by MIT professor E.C. Harwood (1900–1980). AIER became the first market-oriented research institution in the world, inspiring the creation of many more and giving the liberal movement the boost it needed. An early contributor to what is now referred to as the Austrian theory of the business cycle, Harwood warned about the coming stock market crash that came in 1929, and the ill-effects of monetary expansion and devaluation on human wellbeing. He was friends with Henry Hazlitt and F.A. Hayek and his work helped shape the free-market thinking in the United States.

With the hiring of Jeffrey, I feel confident that AIER will take that necessary next steps in expanding our impact to help promoting economic knowledge in America and beyond. Thanks to his joining our team, we are honored and very excited for the future.

There’s no doubt that, through his role in facilitating and publicizing the Great Barrington declaration, Tucker succeeded beyond Stringham’s wildest expectations in expanding the impact of the AIER and its influence among governments with similar political alignments.

Mythologizing of the Great Barrington Declaration aside, the story that I perceived was that Kulldorff, at least, was an enthusiastic participant, if not the instigator of the Great Barrington Declaration. If Tucker’s contemporaneous account is to be believed, AIER reached out to Kulldorff and invited him for a weekend at AIER to be wined and dined while hanging out with like-minded anti-lockdown activists. Kulldorff, perceiving that he’d finally found his people, signed on enthusiastically to AIER’s mission and then brought on board Bhattacharya and Gupta to help him and the AIER promote its anti-lockdown message, crafting, with Tucker’s help, a very effective propaganda tool.

That propaganda tool was the Great Barrington Declaration.

The birth of the Brownstone Institute

Two months ago, it was announced that Kulldorff had resigned his tenured faculty position as professor at Harvard University in order to join an institute formed last year called the Brownstone Institute as Senior Scientific Director:

The Brownstone Institute is pleased to announce that Dr. Martin Kulldorff is joining our institute as Senior Scientific Director. Having served as a professor at Harvard Medical School for the past ten years, he will guide the scientific activities of the Institute, particularly as it relates to the pandemic and the needed public health recovery and reform so that no country will repeat the terrible errors of 2020-21. 

Professor Kulldorff’s position at Brownstone begins on November 1, 2021.

“We cannot overstate the excitement we feel about Kulldorff’s deep involvement with our work,” says Brownstone Institute founder and president Jeffrey Tucker. “He brings rigor, focus, and true brilliance, and his position portends great things for us as an institution.” 

The Brownstone Institute was founded in 2021 to respond to this crisis with research, publishing, education, and other programs intended as a guiding light out of the crisis.

But what is the Brownstone Institute? In brief, it was founded by the aforementioned Jeffery Tucker last May. Unsurprisingly, Tucker strenuously denies that AIER had any involvement in the founding of the new institute, claiming that AIER “in no way sponsored or backed Brownstone,” but rather Brownstone really is “the child of [his] own obsession” and that Brownstone aims to publish content that represents all political backgrounds, perspectives, and ideologies. Amusingly, though, if you search the mailing address for Brownstone, it resolves to Scan Mailboxes, in Austin, TX. The Brownstone Institute, as yet it appears, has no physical address other than a mail drop.

Consistent with its founder’s politics, the website describes the Brownstone Institute as the “spiritual child” of the Great Barrington Declaration:

The mission of the Brownstone Institute – which is, in many ways, the spiritual child of the Great Barrington Declaration – is constructively to come to terms with what happened, understand why, discover and explain alternative paths, and prevent such events from happening again. Lockdowns have set a precedent in the modern world and without accountability, social and economic institutions will be shattered once again. Brownstone Institute is essential in preventing the recurrence of lockdowns by holding decision makers intellectually to account. In addition, the Brownstone Institute hopes to shed light on a path to recovery from the devastating collateral damage, while providing a vision for a different way to think about freedom, security, and public life.

Brownstone Institute looks to influence a post-lockdown world by generating new ideas in public health, scientific discourse, economics, and social theory. It hopes to enlighten and mobilize public life to defend and promote the liberty that is critical for an enlightened society from which everyone benefits. The purpose is to point the way toward a better understanding of essential freedoms – including intellectual freedom and free speech – and the proper means to preserve essential rights even in times of crisis.

You can see from this that the Brownstone Institute is primarily a political and, indeed, mostly aligned with the right, its denials notwithstanding:

Our content is neither left nor right, though our contributors have their own views. As an institution, Brownstone celebrates democratic institutions, freedom as the path to scientific progress, a trustworthy system of public health, a vibrant culture, and economic prosperity. We also share a concern for all members of society, including the poor and the working class. In accordance with these ideals, we publish a wide variety of perspectives and viewpoints, including contradictory views by different authors.

Let’s just say that I’ve long perused the Brownstone Institute’s list of articles, and they are depressingly similar in their message, be it promoting disproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine (the promotion of which first brought America’s Frontline Doctors to prominence in 2020) and ivermectin, deceptive promotion of “natural immunity” as a way out of the pandemic, more false descriptions of masking children as “abusive“, a hilariously and dramatically overblown article by Stacey Rudin titled “The Monumental Sacrifice of Novak Djokovic” (the tennis player barred from Australia for being unvaccinated), articles credulously touting the “lab leak” conspiracy theory, and articles arguing that COVID-19 vaccines aren’t working and against vaccinating children. There’s even an article that compared vaccine mandates to the sort of “othering” of minority populations that led to the crimes of the Soviet gulag, the Holocaust, Jim Crow, Rwanda. This, of course, is a common blatantly antivaccine narrative going back, well, as long as I’ve been paying attention to the antivaccine movement.

More recently, Drs. Bhattacharya and Kulldorff are promoting COVID-19 misinformation claiming that “natural immunity” undercuts the case for vaccine mandates; vaccine mandates for healthcare workers harm patients; vaccine mandates are destroying labor markets and hospitals; Fauci was wrong about school closures; and Fauci oversold masks and undersold better ventilation. These claims are all at best deceptive and at worst false. Unsurprisingly, in addition to Kulldorff, the other two signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration, Jay Bhattacharya and Sunetra Gupta, are regular contributors to the Brownstone Institute, along with some of the doctors who spoke at the Defeat the Mandates rally in Washington, DC a week ago (the one where Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. compared vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany and Anne Frank’s persecution), such as Aaron KheriatyPaul Alexander (he of “we want them infected” fame), and Pierre Kory. Indeed, yesterday, Brownstone Institute flacks were posting glowing articles praising the protesters as the “rise of the resistance,” with Jeffrey Tucker himself beside himself likening vaccine mandates as “segregation” as he begged for donations, and Clayton Fox gushing about a “coalition of medical doctors and PhD’s all heavily credentialed in their fields” that included Peter McCullough, Pierre Kory, Paul Marik, and Robert Malone, while marveling at Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. while (sort of) conceding that some of the speakers were antivaccine.

Also, no surprise, Vinay Prasad and Peter Doshi have contributed, as well. One wonders how long it will be before Brownstone commissions an article by RFK Jr. himself, you know, in order to show that they are accepting of voices from the “left” (RFK Jr. isn’t really “left wing” any more) as well, as long as those voices agree with the right-wing, anti-lockdown, anti-(vaccine)mandate voices that make up 100% of Brownstone’s output.

Given this history, the activities of the Brownstone Institute in Uganda should come as no surprise.

Promoting anti-public health misinformation in poor countries: A common antivax theme

So what is the Brownstone Institute up to in Uganda? According to Alice McCool and Khatondi Soita Wepukhulu, it’s behind a campaign called End Lockdown Now:

US Christian legal organisation Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Texas-based libertarian think tank the Brownstone Institute are among the organisations backing Uganda’s ‘End Lockdown Now’ campaign.


End Lockdown Now has platformed anti-vax, anti-mask, anti-lockdown and pandemic-denying arguments, with journalists and scientists from Europe and Australia among those spreading misinformation to Ugandans at the group’s online events. One such event was hosted by ADF.


Just 5% of Uganda’s population is fully vaccinated, with the country on the cusp of reopening after one of the world’s longest and toughest lockdowns. Last week the virus was the number two cause of death in the country.

End Lockdown Now was launched in June by Ugandan lawyer and preacher Simon Ssenyonga, It has platformed arguments for the use of ivermectin, an unproven treatment for the virus, and a recent Facebook post shared by the campaign claims that PCR testing is not a valid way to detect COVID. Ssenyonga insists his organisation is “not a misinformation campaign” and says it does not “propagate” the use of ivermectin.

Brownstone Institute founder Jeffrey Tucker, who made the “natural immunity” claim, also stated falsely at the same event that COVID-19 vaccines were “a technology that’s not been proven as safe and effective”.

But wait! I thought that Tucker and Brownstone were “provaccine”! He even says so when contacted by the journalists:

Asked for comment, Tucker said: “Though neither scientist nor doctor, I am a fan of vaccines for those who will benefit from them and the Brownstone Institute has published articles favouring vaccination against COVID. Lockdowns are the worst assault on the poor, working-class communities and small businesses all over the world.”

I searched the Brownstone Institute for such articles in all its articles tagged with “vaccines“. I can’t help but wonder if Tucker meant articles like the one about the “monumental sacrifice of Novak Djokovic,” the one lamenting the “defenstration of Dr. Robert Malone” (who, recall, has gone full antivax lately and was a headliner at a recent antivax confab), the one portraying the “denial” of “natural immunity” as “psychological cruelty” (by Tucker himself!), or the one touting “146 studies” that prove “natural immunity” is better than vaccine-induced immunity (they don’t). Maybe he meant Vaccines Save Lives, which, despite its title, is chock full of antivax omissions, factual errors, and flaws in logic, as recounted by Jonathan Howard, or maybe the concession in an article about COVID-19 that it “would appear that vaccination is protective of severe disease” that attributed strokes and cardiac deaths to the vaccine while arguing that masks don’t work.

Unsurprisingly, Ssenyonga is very much antivaccine, as a quick search of his Twitter feed showed me:

While referring to vaccine mandates as “medical tyranny”:

So it’s unsurprising that Brownstone-affiliated academics are a favorite of End Lockdown Now events:

Writers attached to Tucker’s Brownstone Institute have been a common thread through many of the online events for End Lockdown Now. At one event, Netherlands-based immunologist Carla Peeters said she believed COIVID-19 had already entered its “endemic” stagemeaning it was no longer a pandemic. She also claimed masks do not prevent transmission and that the virus is “not that dangerous for younger people”.

Gigi Foster, another Brownstone author and professor with the School of Economics at the University of New South Wales, Australia, claimed at another event that lockdowns are “the wrong thing for public health” and said politicians around the world are “facing personal incentives to keep the narrative going”.

Nothing like a variation on the “pharma shill gambit” to convince me that this isn’t a conspiracy theory! Pray, continue, though:

A number of key players at the Brownstone Institute, including Tucker himself, were involved in writing the Great Barrington Declaration – an online statement promoting ‘herd immunity‘ through mass infection approach to the pandemic, a strategy criticised as “unethical” by the World Health Organization.

Leading to:

“We thought that the Barrington Declaration offered something which was reasonable, something which was based on science,” said Ssenyonga, adding that the authors’ credentials made him “even more critical” of government COVID-19 mandates.

Add to that the natural suspicion people of color and people in less wealthy countries have of European countries and the US based on their historical experience with imperialism, and it’s no wonder that the Brownstone Institute found a receptive audience in Uganda.

Brownstone Institute: Same as it ever was

Antivaxxers have a long and horrible history of trying to export their message to minorities and poor nations, populations where antivaccine messaging can do the most harm. I first started discussing this unfortunate tactic many years ago, when antivaxxers targeted the Somalian immigrant community in Minnesota with Andrew Wakefield’s message that the MMR vaccine causes autism (with Wakefield himself appearing there at least once), resulting in years and years of intermittent measles outbreaks. In 2019, mere months before the pandemic hit, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and other antivaxxers targeted Samoa, which at the time was in the middle of one of the worst measles outbreaks imaginable, with dozens of deaths. The misinformation about MMR and measles spread by RFK Jr. and his acolytes (including a letter by RFK Jr. himself to the Samoan Prime Minister mere weeks before the outbreak of a novel coronavirus disease in Wuhan, China started making the news) hampered vaccination campaigns for months.

Here in the US, these efforts take the form of targeting minorities, particularly communities of color, to spread conspiracy theories about vaccines, using examples of medical atrocities from history like the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, to stoke the fear and mistrust that lead to vaccine hesitancy in these communities. How is what Brownstone Institute-associated people are doing in Uganda by appearing at local events virtually any different than these previous efforts to stoke vaccine hesitancy? It isn’t, other than being virtual appearances, rather than the in-person appearances that antivaxxers made in, for example, Minnesota.

Deny it as much as Jeffrey Tucker might, the Brownstone Institute has tilted decisively in the direction of spreading antivaccine misinformation. If there was ever any doubt, seeing Suntra Gupta herself argue two months ago that the way out of the pandemic was “natural herd immunity” through “repeated infection” with different strains of COVID-19 and “our long history of previous exposure to seasonal coronaviruses may well have protected many of us from severe Covid-19”. (Ironically, she didn’t mention Omicron, which at the time was preparing to take off in the US and globally, thanks to its increased transmissibility compared to Delta and its ability to evade previous immunity, both vaccine-induced and “natural.”) I knew, even fifteen months ago, that the Great Barrington Declaration signatories and everyone associated with that misbegotten piece of astroturf were going to go this way.

Sadly, given how influential this dangerous advocacy of eugenics has been, it’s hard not to conclude that the Great Barrington Declaration signatories and think tanks have won. Oddly enough, though, they refuse to take credit for millions of infected children and young adults that resulted from their influence in the US and Europe and are trying to export their “success” to poor African countries. Ideology is a powerful drug.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

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82 replies on “The Brownstone Institute: Promoting antivaccine misinformation in Africa”

“One wonders how long it will be before Brownstone commissions an article by RFK Jr. himself”

Junior’s website has multiple articles copied from Brownstone, with affiliation. Surreal to have a Kennedy in collusion with the Koch Brothers. That’s how far he has sunk.

“Surreal to have a Kennedy in collusion with the Koch Brothers”

What’s more surreal is that at the same time, RFK Jr. is allying himself with the Nation of Islam, in particular Tony Muhammed, a Nation of Islam leader who co-produced RFK Jr.’s antivax movie “Medical Racism: The New Apartheid”.

Wonder if Muhammed is at all uneasy about his buddy RFK Jr. being a headliner at the anti-vaccine mandate rally attended by members of the Proud Boys, who promote anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Very strange bedfellows.

I’m sure that Great Barington was not chosen because the name would sound impressive on the “Declaration”. After all, they had neighbouring towns such as Blandford, Chester or Silvernails to choose from.

Actually, if they had moved a little further north (to Newfoundland), they could have chosen such wonderful names as Heart’s Delight, Goobies, Leading Tickles and, most appropriately, Loon Bay.

If Gupta hadn’t been able to leave the Oxford environs they could have flown over and held their meeting in Oxfordshire instead. Then they would have had the choice of place names like Duns Tew, Nettlebed and, most fittingly, Gallowstree Common.

This is not quite Shaw and friends (false) “tetanus vaccine will sterilize you, so don’t protect your vulnerable newborn from dying horribly from neonatal tetanus” but it’s bad enough. It’s not quite as bad because it does seem in part local driven, and the focus on fighting lockdowns seems at least partly sincere. It’s still going to kill people and still comes, as you showed, with a hefty dose of antivaccine misinformation.

You could make a reasonable argument against a severe lockdown. I don’t know enough to know if the Ugandan government went too far. But these people aren’t that. These people don’t want any mitigation, as you showed, and are literally argue for more disease, harms and deaths.

We also share a concern for all members of society, including the poor and the working class.

How kind of these libertarians to grant the “working class” inclusion in their “concern”. The only people who don’t work are those living off investment income or the very poorest who have to get by on what passes for disability “income” and often have mostly untreated mental health issues as well.

About the “sacrifice ” of Novak Djokovic. Well, he did it himself.
He and two other two players were tied with 20 Grand Slam wins each, the record. ND had won the most recent Australian Opens. When he declined vaccination, Nadal commented about following the rules. ND’s other competitor for the record, Federer, was out due to injury so Nadal WON.

Science brought it on itself, I have said this for over a year on this site. but I was labeled an anti vaxxer. This one person had 91 papers retracted, with hundreds of citations from other papers.
How many other published papers are being used/cited that are just as bad or worse.

“We all pay the price when the institutions that are supposed to protect the integrity of the scientific process fall asleep at the wheel.
“The erosion of public trust in science gives rise to movements such as anti-vaccination and climate scepticism,” they said.
“On the other hand, people who do rely on science may be basing crucial private and public decisions on incorrect information. The long-term impacts of a compromised scientific process may be catastrophic,” the whistleblower said.
History shows dodgy research often festers in the public domain and can be cited, republished and accepted as fact for decades before it’s eventually debunked.
It took 12 years for an erroneous study falsely linking autism to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine by disgraced scientist Andrew Wakefield to be formally retracted by The Lancet.”

Orac what could you have done with the 1 million dollar grant this person got?

Yes, they are a bad cases of academic malpractice and I’m not expecting that the authors will get much sympathy from anyone. But how many of the retracted papers were about COVID or its vaccines?

Also, there wasn’t a million-dollar grant: it was multiple grants adding up to that.

Well that does it, Clint. Because out of the 8.8 million scientists around the world a small number of dodgy. That means you can’t believe any science at all and can pick and choose your own facts.

Yeah, right, bro.

Unlike astrology or divination, for instance? /s

The good thing about science is that it includes extensive critiquing and attempts to replicate research as an integral part of its methods.

And it’s a collective process with a lot of people participating.

That gives it a systematic method to weed out and either retract or just ignore the publications that are badly done, just mistakes, or actually bogus. And then it can go on to build on the solid stuff.

Well I guess science ……

Overall, we conclude that lock downs are not an effective way of reducing mortality rates during a pandemic, at least not during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results are in line with the World Health Organization Writing Group (2006), who state influenza pandemic indicate that social-distancing measures did not stop or appear to
Reports from the 1918 influenza pandemic indicate that social-distancing measures did not stop or appear dramatically reduce transmission […] In Edmonton, Canada, isolation and quarantine were instituted; public meetings were banned; schools, churches, colleges, theaters, and other public gathering places were closed; and business hours were restricted without obvious impact on the epidemic.
Our findings are also in line with Allen’s (2021) conclusion: “The most recent research has shown that lock downs have had, at best, a marginal effect on the number of Covid- 19 deaths.”Poeschl and Larsen (2021) conclude that “interventions are generally effective in
influenza pandemic indicate that social-distancing measures did not stop or appear to mitigating COVID-19 spread”. But, 9 of the 43 (21%) results they review find “no or uncertain association” between lock downs and the spread of COVID-19, suggesting that evidence from that own study contradicts their conclusion.

But this is research from John Hopkins a known anti vax, anti mask, anti lock down organization, full of right wing people.

Overall, we conclude that lock downs are not an effective way of reducing mortality rates during a pandemic
I am sure China would agree with you /s

Surely Kay knows the difference between a paper that features one author affiliated with Johns Hopkins’ Institute of Applied Economics and an anti-lockdown endorsement by Johns Hopkins University.

Or maybe she doesn’t. It’s a common mistake by the woo crowd. “Harvard said so’!” Um, no it didn’t.

Kay surely is aware that many studies credit lockdowns with saving lives. But cherry-picking an outlier that supports one’s beliefs and ignoring the rest is another cherished woo tactic.

As for the guy who’s in charge of producing this series of economics articles, Steve Hanke, he’s been active on Twitter, including this recent gem:

“Italy continues to crack the fascist whip harder. Already barred from restaurants, gyms, local transportation, and more, unvaccinated Italians 50 years of age or over will begin facing €100 fines starting Feb. 15. Yes, the Fascists are back.”

Steve sounds just a wee bit overwrought on the subject.

I’ll bet he has lots of other interesting insights on Covid-19 vaccination and pandemic disease control.

“Jonas Herby ([email protected]) is special advisor at Center for Political Studies in Copenhagen, Denmark.”

“Lars Jonung ([email protected]) is professor emeritus in economics at Lund University, Sweden.”

“Steve H. Hanke is a Professor of Applied Economics and Founder & Co-Director of The Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.”

The large amount of epidemiology expertise present among these authors is?

They are wrong.

Lockdowns did reduce mortality during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic where they were effectively employed. Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia.

Even a comparison of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland showed many more deaths in Sweden than the neighbouring countries. The difference is that Norway, Denmark and Finland employed varying levels of restrictions on movement. Sweden relied instead on people voluntarily social distancing.

There are those who describe economics as science (mainly economists)… Do you also read economic papers written by epidemiologists?

First Johns Hopkins iuniversity does not publish anything, its researches do.Try to get this one. at least.
Leffler CT, Ing E, Lykins JD, Hogan MC, McKeown CA, Grzybowski A. Association of Country-wide Coronavirus Mortality with Demographics, Testing, Lockdowns, and Public Wearing of Masks. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2020 Dec;103(6):2400-2411. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.20-1015. Epub 2020 Oct 26. PMID: 33124541; PMCID: PMC7695060.
In countries with cultural norms or government policies supporting public mask-wearing, per-capita coronavirus mortality increased on average by just 16.2% each week, as compared with 61.9% each week in remaining countries.
Of course, if public do not wear mask, government mask policy is useless

BTW, This is not a peer-reviewed paper, so the issues that people have raised about the methodology (reason for excluding some papers etc.) may have been dealt with.
It’s a shame that this ‘paper’ is being used as proof that lockdowns don’t work. Conformation bias anyone?

Apparently it was published in December.
So that means it is not just a preprint, it has gone through peer review.

That being said, its findings must be interpreted in the context of other relevant research and other documented transmission incidents. For example, there was the salon where 2 infected workers cared for about 70 customers. Everyone wore masks and none of the customers were infected. Or the school teacher who took off her mask for story time and the front half of her class got infected.

I’d really like to see a good study based on the experience in Kansas last fall. The state blocked a statewide mask requirement. So individual counties either did or did not impose their own mask requirements. Counties like Wyandotte where the KU Medical School is located that did require masks had only a modest increase in cases. Whereas counties with no mask requirements showed a 100% or more increase. But that is semi-anecdotal. I haven’t found a good detailed writeup.

The ‘review’ by Herby et al. was not peer reviewed, but listed under ‘working papers’ on the institute website (strange, as they write ‘we consider peer-reviewed studies generally being of higher quality than working papers’).
Interesting that the series, published by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and Study of Business Enterprise, is under the general direction of Hanke (Co-Director of the Institute).

So we’ve essentially been following their advice. Shelter at home mandates (which are not lockdowns) were mocked, ignored, and struck down in the courts. People who consider themselves vulnerable have voluntarily gotten vaccinated, and some people did shelter at home. Of course those orders are long gone.

So if their theory is correct, we should be doing awesome. The vaccinated have immunity, everyone else will have disease induced immunity, and life is back to normal.

And of course countries that have high vaccination rates and which enforced isolation rules will be in the middle of an economic disaster, not doing just fine and not not grinding health care workers to death.

From no less than the New York Times

“No wonder most Americans have grown frustrated, including with Biden. People’s living standards and even physical well-being are suffering. A disproportionate toll is falling on low-income families and children.”

“In a Monmouth University poll released yesterday, 70 percent of Americans said they agreed with the statement, “It’s time we accept that Covid is here to stay, and we just need to get on with our lives.” A growing number of governors, from both parties, seem to agree, The Times reports. “The emergency is over,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, has said.”

And today several countries in Europe have lifted most covid restriction , passport, mandate vaccines, mask……

I think it’s too soon to declare victory when over 2500 people are dying every day. But the Omicron/winter wave is clearly receding and hospitalizations are slowly declining even as the death toll rises.

On the plus side, the Omicron wave combined with slowly advancing vaccinations is reducing the number of people with no immunity to a relatively small percentage. My guesstimate is about 8-20%. A big chunk of those is 0-4 age children who are ineligible for vaccination. But Pfizer seems to be planning an EUA request for its vaccine for that age group while it continues to research adding a third dose.

When the vast majority of the population are protected and hospitalizations and deaths remain low, we can phase out these restrictions.

Most states have different protection levels based on case numbers and the level of virus that is circulating.

But I expect that a lot of people will continue wearing masks to protect themselves (a little) as well as others (a larger effect). I know I will. Why not do a little to avoid influenza and Moro virus and perhaps other cold coronaviruses?

Those quotes don’t reflect the opinion of the New York Times.

They’re from a column by David Leonhardt in the Times, in which Covid-19 is mentioned only in passing, in a discussion of Americans’ ire over inflation.

Kay West needs to have a fact and deception-checker assigned to her online postings.

@ Dangerous Bacon

As a non-religious Jew, you are favorite Kosher pork. I think you, I and several others have continuously shown Kay West her ignorant, intellectually dishonest, even delusional cherry-picking extremist black and white bias to no avail.

However, as I’ve written in past, I really am not focusing on Kay West; but more just venting my anger and frustration in a world that has many good, decent, open-minded people; but also many like Kay West and on rare occasions one of them may actually realize the error of their ways; but so far only on rare occasions. I doubt, but can’t be certain, that anything will change Kay West’s opinions, even if pandemic, current or future, leads to far more deaths and/or our already damaged world from climate change reaches a crescendo.

But, still, always nice hearing from you.

In regard to your postings responding to KW, I’m reminded of a story about Dorothy Parker. A younger woman (starlet?) once held a door open for her, brightly commenting, “Age before beauty.” Parker swept past her, saying “Not at all. Pearls before swine!”.

@ Kay West

So, again you found one paper that confirms your cherry-picking bias: Jonas Herby, Lars Jonung, and Steve H. Hanke (2022 Jan). A Literature Review and MEta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality. I skimmed the paper and checked the reference list. It did NOT include several peer-reviewed papers that clearly found that during the 1918-1919 flu pandemic that cities that implemented mitigation measures literally had half the deaths of those that didn’t or did too late. So much for an honest literature review. If I found those articles how come they couldn’t? Also the head author Jonas Herby works at the American Institute for Economic Research, which was behind the Great Barrington Declaration, which Orac and others have torn to shreds. AIER has promoted sweatshops, basically denied climate change, etc. The third author, Steve H Hanke works at the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank. And NONE of the authors indicate any understanding of viruses, pandemics, public health, etc and just skimming the paper shows them using the grossly undercounted death statistics. So, congratulations as you continue to show you cherry-picking rigid unscientific ideological bias.
NOTE. I am preparing a reference list of papers clearly showing the gross undercounting of covid deaths in the world, not just a few papers. As opposed to you, besides understanding immunology, microbiology, public health, and epidemiology, I read and continue to read tons of books and articles on epidemics and pandemics and have read and own almost dozen books just on the 1918-19 flu pandemic and 100s of papers.

And in our previous exchange you accused me of posting several things, even claimed you gave date and URL, NOPE! You are so incredibly DISHONEST and STUPID

Reference list of articles Authors:

Dana Drugmand (2020 Oct 26). A Right-Wing Think Tank Is Behind the Controversial Great Barrington Declaration Calling for COVID-19 Herd Immunity. DeSmog

Jonas Herby – AIER

Wikipedia. American Institute for Economic Research.

Wikipedia. Steve Hanke

Reference list of articles on Historical pandemic mitigations:

Zarla Gorvett (2021 Jan 8). The 432-year-old manual on social distancing. BBC Future.

Richard J. Hatchett, Carter E. Mecher, and Marc Lipsitch (2007 May). Public health interventions and epidemic intensity during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science; 104(18): 7582–7587.

Charlotte Jackson et al. (2013). School closures and influenza: systematic review of epidemiological studies. BMJ Open.

Howard Markel et al. (2004 Aug). Nonpharmaceutical Interventions Implemented by US Cities During the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic. JAMA; 298(6): 644-654.

Kristen Rogers (2021 Jun 30). Life after the 1918 flu has lessons for our post-pandemic world. CNN.

@ Kay West

You write: “And today several countries in Europe have lifted most covid restriction , passport, mandate vaccines, mask”

And we will see what the outcome will be? If hospitalizations and deaths do not increase, then the correct move; but if they do increase then the wrong move. As usual you look at what is being done; but without any basis of whether a smart move or not.

As I’ve written several times, we could have handled the covid epidemic much better which would have resulted in more limited lockdowns, targeted lockdowns, other mitigation measures, etc. and far fewer deaths; but we didn’t. I have read a half dozen books on what went wrong during the pandemic and many more papers, each giving overlapping actions; but each with different perspectives and additional information. I would suggest to start with Scott Gottlieb’s “Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic”

According to him, among other things, we have grossly underfunded public health for decades except brief periods in response to epidemic and/or pandemic, most of our Personal Protective Equipment is purchased from abroad and in pandemic those countries keep it, many of our medicines also produced abroad, mainly India and China, no clear map of who is responsible for what, so turf wars within NIH, CDC, FDA, etc. and we aren’t a nation. Viruses don’t recognize borders; but we are Federal, State, County, Municipal, with sometimes little to no cooperation or coordination. But his book also makes clear that testing, tracing, isolation, some school lockdowns while improving ventilation, staggering school days so smaller classes, easier to physical distancing, some closing of bars, etc, temporary closing of some businesses, wearing masks (he gives strong evidence they work), etc. would have done a much better job; but no where does he reject that the aforementioned measures were needed.

And we are a nation with many good decent people who are open-minded and part of communities and unfortunately biased closed minded INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST STUPID PEOPLE LIKE YOU. So we are a polarized nation; not because of two valid positions; but one based on science and one on IDIOTS like you.

I guess with “several countries in Europe” she actually means Denmark, UK and Portugal (the first is doing this against all advices, the second because the 4th wave is “shifted” and the latter has the highest vaccinated population in the EU). Italy and Austria did actually increase some restricting (Italy by limiting the circulation of non vaccinated people and introducing over-50 compulsory vaccinations, Austria by indroducing it for over-18). France introduced COVID passes a few days ago.

Leanna Wen’s column in the WaPo today is “More variants may emerge. So we should lift restrictions now.” Yup, it sure reads like WTF to me, not all the way up I95 from Baltimore to Great Barrington, but at least somewhere around the Tappan Zee. I’m hardly an expert in epidemiology, so I hope some real medical experts will comment on her argument, but it strikes me she’s making the same sort of category mistake as a lot of COVID-“libertarians” — that mitigation strategies like masks are about protecting you, the individual, not the population as a whole. She also seems to have a very unrealistic view of the percentage of the population will ever be willing to get vaccinated. The part of her argument that has nothing to do with medicine is that dropping restrictions now will give the public a “hot vax spring” giving “weary Americans much-needed respite while also preserving public-health authority for when it’s needed again.” Right, as if dropping restrictions, thinking it’s likely to be necessary to institute them again, will increase the likelihood of acceptance and compliance at that future point. That sure strikes me as a naive take on public opinion in general, and oblivious to the type of anti-government, anti-science rhetoric coming from Fox, social media, the podcastoverse, etc.: any and every change in policy is taken as proof of either incompetence or malfeasance, and the howls that would come if restrictions were lifted then reinstated a few months later would absolutely be deafening.

The comments under Wen’s column are mostly negative, and seem pretty well taken to me. But perhaps she’s secured a guest spot with Joe Rogan as part of his new “I’ll cover both sides” promise…


Note. the following contains both peer-reviewed articles, respected think tank papers, and, of course newspaper articles, which refer to research papers, etc. I have pdfs of all the below and have read them. Note clear evidence that COVID-19 is much more serious than many would like to believe.

Undercounting of COVID-19 Deaths and Long Covid
Reference List


Branswell, Helen (2021 May 6). New analysis finds global Covid death toll is double official estimates. STAT news

Cassella, Carly (2020 Nov 19). Actual COVID-19 Cases Could Be 6 Times Greater Than Official Figures. Science Alert

Giattino, Charlie et al. (2022 Jan 26). Excess mortality during the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Our World in Data.

Karlinsky, Ariel & Kobak, Dmitry (2021 Jun 30). Tracking excess mortality across countries during the COVID-19 pandemic with the World Mortality Dataset. eLife

Steinbuch, Yaron (2021 Jan 18). 1 in 8 recovered COVID-19 patients die within 5 months. study [UK study]. New York Post

The Economist (2022 Jan 28). Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries.

University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2021 May 6). News Release: COVID-19 has caused 6.9 million deaths globally, more than double what official reports show.

University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2021 May 13). Estimation of total mortality due to COVID-19.

Wang (2021 Oct 15). Estimation of total and excess mortality due to COVID-19. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. University of Washington.

Whittaker, Charles et al.. (2021 Oct 12). Under-reporting of deaths limits our understanding of true burden of covid-19. BMJ.

Wikipedia. Undercounting of COVID-19 pandemic deaths by country.


Africa Defense Forum (2021 Oct 26). Studies Suggest Africa is Undercounting COVID-19 Death Toll.

Business Insider SA (2021 Aug 11). [South Africa] SA estimates 220,000 excess deaths during the pandemic: ranked among the world’s worst.

Fallah (2021 Jul 29). Remember Ebola: stop mass death in Africa. Nature; 595: 627.

Johnson, Tian et al. (2021 Oct 22). ANALYSIS: The pandemic didn’t miss Africa — and the numbers back this up. News24.

Kaneda, Toshiko & Ashford, Lori S (2021 May 12). COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa Appear Vastly Undercounted. Population Reference Bureau.

Maclean, Ruth (2021 Feb 26). A Continent Where the Dead Are Not Counted. The New York Times.

Maruf, Harun (2021 Oct 19). Somalia Covid Deaths Vastly Undercounted, Study Finds.

Mwananyanda, Lawrence (2021 Feb 17). Covid-19 deaths in Africa: prospective systematic postmortem surveillance study. BMJ; 372(334).

Okonji, Emeka Francis et al. (2021 Jul). Understanding varying COVID-19 mortality rates reported in Africa compared to Europe, Americas and Asia. Tropical Medicine and International Health: 26(7): 716-719.

Pilling, David (2021 Jan 31). Covid deaths in Africa higher than official count, Zambia study suggests: Research from Lusaka morgue points to routine undercounting of fatalities. Financial Times.

Ventures, Surge (2020 Aug 12). Three ways to estimate COVID-19’s real toll in Africa: The true case count may be 10M, not the 1M reported. Medium.

Wild, Sarah (2021 Mar 25). Hidden Toll of COVID in Africa Threatens Global Pandemic Progress: Undercounting or ignoring cases of the disease on the continent could lead to new variants that might derail efforts to end the pandemic. Scientific American.


Al Jazeera (2021 Dec 14). India’s Gujarat admits to more COVID deaths than official tally. Coronavirus pandemic News

Anand, Abhishek et al. (2021 Jul). Three New Estimates of India’s All-Cause Excess Mortality during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Center for Global Development

Banaji, Murad (2021 May 7). Estimating Covid-19 Fatalities in India. The India Forum

Cohen, Jon (2022 Jan 6). COVID-19 may have killed nearly 3 million in India, far more than official counts show. Science

Jha, Prabhat et al. (2022 Jan 6). COVID mortality in India: National survey data and health facility deaths. Science.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (2022 Jan 7). Study: India Has Vastly Undercounted COVID-19 Deaths. Global Health NOW

Leffler, Christopher T. et al (2021 Sep 26 medRxiv). Preliminary Analysis of Excess Mortality in India During the Covid-19 Pandemic (Update September 26, 2021).

Rukmini (2021 Jun 25). The Challenge Of Saying How Many Excess Deaths Could Be Due To Covid-19: Five states saw over 460,000 excess deaths in the first five months of 2021, but the official Covid-19 toll in these states in this period accounts for only 6% of these excess deaths. IndiaSpend

United States:

Bergin, Dillon et al. (2021 Dec 9). The US is undercounting COVID deaths, researchers say. Now they have a tool to figure out why. USA Today.

Brown, Emma & Reinhard, Beth (2020 Apr 6). Official counts underestimate death toll: Health experts believe virus killing more than reported. San Diego Union-Tribune.

Brown, Emma et al. (2020 Apr 27). U.S. coronavirus deaths in early weeks of pandemic exceeded official number: An analysis of federal data for the first time estimates excess deaths — the number beyond what would normally be expected — during that period. The Washington Post.

Hogan, Bernadette et al. (2021 Feb 11). Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa admits they hid nursing home data from feds. New York Post

Horton, Alex (2020 May 19). VA reports more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths: Toll does not include hundreds more in state-run facilities. San Diego Union-Tribune

Katz, Joseph & Lu, Denise (2020 Apr 30). Virus death toll believed far higher than reported – Latest CDC data suggest significant U.S. undercount. San Diego Union-Tribune

Lolo, Sabrina & Portal, Lizandra (2020 May 18). Woman who designed Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard has been removed from her position. WPEC.

McArdle, Megan (2021 Apr 8). Evaluating all of it [COVID pandemic].San Diego Union-Tribune

McGrory, Kathleen (2020 May 20). Coronavirus may have caused hundreds of additional deaths in Florida. Tampa Bay News

Mitchell, Russ (2020 Jun 16). Number of COVID cases at Tesla plant is concealed: Company opened factory early in defiance of orders; county cites health law as critics urge disclosure. San Diego Union-Tribune

Mustian, Jim (2020 May 13). True virus toll in New York likely higher: Thousands not part of tallies for city, CDC analysis says. San Diego Union-Tribune

Perkins, T. Alex et al. (2020 Aug 21). Estimating unobserved SARS-CoV-2 infections in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Petersen, Melody (2020 Nov 3). Virus brings new focus to death certificates. San Diego Union-Tribune

The Washington Post (2020 Apr 28). U.S. deaths soared early in pandemic: Indicates toll from COVID-19 higher than reported. San Diego Union-Tribune

Long Covid:

Agence France-Presse (2020 Sep 18). Over Half of COVID-19 Patients in a New Study Are Suffering Long-Term Fatigue.

Belluck, Pam (2020 Dec 5). Experts raise alarm on COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’. San Diego Union-Tribune

Bendix, Aria (2020 Oct 27). Scientists Identify The 5 Symptoms That May Predict a Long-Term Case of Coronavirus.

Bryant, Vanessa et al (2021 Jun 7). There’s a Mystery Affecting Up to 30% of COVID Patients. Here’s What We Know So Far. Science Alert

CBS News (2021 Jan 18). Post-COVID lungs worse than the worst smokers’ lungs, surgeon says.

CDC (2021 Apr 8). Post-COVID Conditions.

Cooney, Elizabeth (2020 Dec 29). Explanations for ‘long Covid’ remain elusive. Believing patients helps. STAT

Cooney, Elizabeth (2021 Jan 8). Most hospitalized for Covid still affected 6 months later, China study finds. STAT

Cox, Tracy (2021 Oct 13). How many people get ‘long COVID?’ More than half, researchers find: Half of COVID survivors experience lingering symptoms six months after recovery. Penn State University.

Crist, Carolyn (2021 Nov 18). More Than 100 Million People Worldwide Have or Had Long COVID: Study. WebMD

Daunter, Alecia K et al. (2021 Apr 30 Article Accepted). Functional Decline in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19 in the Early Months of the Pandemic. Presentation: James Rae Day, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan Health System, 9/11/2020.

Davis, Hannah e. (2021 Jul 15). Characterizing long COVID in an international cohort: 7 months of symptoms and their impact. E Clinical Medicine; 38.

Healy, Melissa (2020 Apr 10). What are long term coronavirus effects? Los Angeles Times.

Huang, Chaolin et al. (2021 Jan 8). 6-month consequences of COVID-19 in patients discharged from hospital: a cohort study. The Lancet.

Iacobucci, Gareth (2020 Nov 17). Long covid – Damage to multiple organs presents in young, low risk patients. BMJ.

Lapid, Nancy (2020 Oct 19). Long-term problems in younger low-risk COVID-19 patients; flu shot may offer some protection. Reuters.

Lavery, Amy M et al. (2020 Nov 9). Characteristics of Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients Discharged and Experiencing Same-Hospital Readmission — United States, March–August 2020. MMWR.

Mahase, Elisabeth (2020 Oct 15). Long covid could be four different syndromes, review suggests. BMJ.

Maxwell, Elaine (2020 Sep 30). Living with Covid: A dynamic review of the evidence around ongoing Covid19 symptoms (often called Long Covid). [UK] National Institute for Health Research.

McArdle, Megan (2020 Aug 16). Study the Survivors. San Diego Union-Tribune

McNamara, Kelly (2021 Jan 11). 6 Months After Infection, 76% of COVID-19 Patients Are Still Suffering Symptoms. Science Alert.

Nabavi, Nikki (2020 Sep 7). Long covid – How to define it and how to manage it. BMJ.

Novella, Steven (2021 May 26). COVID Morbidity. Science-Based Medicine.

Radin, Jennifer M et al. (2021 Jul 7). Assessment of Prolonged Physiological and Behavioral Changes Associated With COVID-19 Infection. JAMA Network Open.

Rimmer, Abi (2020 Aug 13). Covid-19: Impact of long term symptoms will be profound, warns BMA [British Medical Association]. BMJ.

Rubin (2020 Sep 23). As Their Numbers Grow, COVID-19 “Long Haulers” Stump Experts. JAMA; 324(14): 1381-1383.

Shah (2021 May 25). Measuring the impact of COVID-19 on the quality of life of the survivors, partners and family members: a cross- sectional international online survey. BMJ Open.

Sisson, Paul (2021 Apr 5). Scripps clinic to treat patients with COVID-19 ‘long haul’ symptoms. San Diego Union-Tribune

Skarf, Shayna (2021 Jan 28). Denied treatment, some Covid long-haulers could become lifelong-haulers. STAT.

Sudre, Carole H (2021 Apr). Attributes and predictors of long COVID. Nature Medicine; 27: 626–631.

Taquet, Maxime et al. (2021 Sep 28). Incidence, co-occurrence, and evolution of long-COVID features: A 6-month retrospective cohort study of 273,618 survivors of COVID-19. PLOS Medicine

Tenforde, Mark W. et al. (2020 Jul 24). Symptom Duration and Risk Factors for Delayed Return to Usual Health Among Outpatients with COVID-19 in a Multistate Health Care Systems Network — United States, March–June 2020. MMWR.

Tuller, David (2020 Sep 11). Seeking causes of post-Covid symptoms, researchers dust off data on college students with mononucleosis. STAT.

UK Office for National Statistics (2022 Jan 6). Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK.


Yong, Ed (2020 Aug 19). Long-Haulers Are Redefining COVID-19. The Atlantic.

Yong, Ed (2020 Jun 4). COVID-19 Can Last for Several Months. The Atlantic.

Youn, Too (2021 Feb 7). Among COVID long-haulers, Far more women report symptoms. San Diego Union-Tribune

Yuko, Elizabeth (2022 Jan 14). What the Long Covid Numbers Aren’t Telling Us. Rolling Stone.

Did you find the source of Lucas’s claimed study of “Covid deaths in a 10 mln control group worldwide” that he “know[s] is trustworthy”, but that he can’t reveal either the source or methodology of?

I never did work out what his big deal was about that because the numbers he was giving weren’t hugely larger than what was in The Economist’s “Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries.”

@ Sadmar

With more and more Americans getting vaccinated and/or infected with COVID, especially now the highly transmissible Omicron variant, we may reach Herd Immunity. Herd Immunity doesn’t mean no more cases. If someone who is infected, even asymptomatically, infects someone else, someone either not vaccinated or vaccine didn’t confer enough protection (no vaccine is perfect) then we could still have a few cases; but they won’t spread. So, the current pandemic may end soon, within a few months. However, if COVID-19 mutates, it could mutate to both as transmissible as Omicron and as dangerous as Delta. So, if we end mitigation measures because finally Herd Immunity, great and we should; but we should be prepared to act rapidly again if a dangerous mutant that is so different from Alpha, Delta, and Omicron, that our immune systems, whether through vaccinations or infections, may not protect us. While I hope such a mutant won’t evolve and we end current mitigation measures, my fear is that if a serious dangerous mutant evolves, many people will refuse, despite a clear and present danger, to accept any mitigation and/or booster vaccines.

An excellent book that explains all the mistakes we have made and how to be much better prepared for next pandemic: Scott Gottlieb (2021). Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic.

“Dana Drugmand (2020 Oct 26). A Right-Wing Think Tank Is Behind the Controversial Great Barrington Declaration Calling for COVID-19 Herd Immunity. DeSmog”

You actually posted something from the DeSmog blog.

the desmog blog was started by a public relation person by the name of Jim Hoggan who owned the PR firm of Hoggan & Associates in 2006. (of course this information has been removed from its website) in addition as a Canadian PR firm they are not required to list their funding sources. if you were to even do a quick search you would find that:

It employs no scientist

It employs no PhD’s.

It employs only (Aarno get ready for it) JOURNALIST.

As for its many things that it does.

It is anti GMO and is in favor of ‘Natural Farming” (as opposed to un-natural farming ?)

And you want to speak about science and use them as a source.

Oh come on, you guys!
Whilst all of you quote figures about Covid infection / death , Mike Adams enlightens us ( NN broadcast today) that the real reason insurance companies in the RSA. US and the Netherlands are paying out greatly increased death benefits ( 258% more) is because the vaccines killed them. It wasn’t the illness , it was the vaccine!
— also ( especially for Orac’s amusement), Apple is run by demonic forces. The tipoff? They include a pregnant man emoji ..
Hershey’s is demonic as well.

My recent fave NN story was about how the Evil F.D.A. had withdrawn authorization for a (type of) monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid-19* in order to push vaccines.

Mike Adams and his clones forgot to mention that monoclonal antibodies are a creation spawned in Pharma laboratories, unlike the usual run of “natural” cures NN promotes, such as broccoli sprouts. Are they now on the Pharma payroll?

*the NN article unaccountably left out the fact that the F.D.A. withdrew authorization for certain monoclonal antibody therapy because it was not demonstrated effective against the Omicron variant, which is now responsible for the vast majority of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. Another monoclonal antibody treatment that does have some effectiveness can still be used.

I had a patient in the hospital the other day lecturing me on how all of this would be over if only the evil powers that be would just release the monoclonal antibody miracle drugs. I was too exhausted to engage…

Fact checking doesn’t mean what you think it means.

“The fact-checkers who flagged Paul Thacker’s British Medical Journal article about a Pfizer subcontractor for Facebook admitted they police narrative, not fact”

“The growing bureaucracy of “fact-checking” sites that help platforms like Facebook decide what to flag is now taking into account issues like: the political beliefs of your sources, the presence of people of ill repute among your readers, and the tendency of audiences to draw unwanted inferences from the reported facts.”

Fact checking is a perfectly legitimate exercise of free speech.
It is also a normal response to any claim that seems implausible or in conflict with our general body of acquired information, at least for those of a skeptical mindset.

And half the articles posted on this blog are, in essence, a type of fact check in a different format.

The sites that post fact checks provide a service to the general reader by saving them hours of research. They don’t preclude further research, but they help people find islands of truth in the flood of internet rumors and unsupported claims.

@ Kay West

So, again you ignore almost everything I write and focus on one article as if I based my overall comments on it. Yep, if I post 10 peer-reviewed articles and one by journalists, well, that is what you will focus on, ignoring all the others. I looked up the authors of the article you posted, looked at their reference list based on their claiming to being doing a review; but they left out many articles on mitigation and I also pointed out that they ignored that official stats on covid deaths terribly undercounted and I posted a huge reference list with articles that document the undercounting, some, yep, newspaper articles, but other peer-reviewed journal articles and papers from respected think tanks, and I included list, long list of long covid which many suffer from, including asymptomatic. Also, as usual you ignore that you were wrong about my not getting job at CDC, etc. YOU ARE INCREDIBLY DISHONEST, IGNORING THE AFOREMENTIONED AND MORE.

You are TOO STUPID TO KNOW YOU ARE STUPID, DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT and, in psychology, the more mentally disturbed someone is the less they are aware of it, so you are TOO MENTALLY DISTURBED TO KNOW YOU ARE MENTALLY DISTURBED.


While you continue to make a FOOL OF YOURSELF, I will continue editing colleague next edition of undergraduate Microbiology textbook, which is just one more example that I understand microbes, which, MORON, are what cause pandemics. And this coming Sunday I will once more donate a unit of plasma and unit of platelets. At 75, my current two contributions to others. Besides making a fool of yourself on this blog, do you actually do anything positive???

@ Kay West

Once more:

Reference list of info on authors: Herby et al. (2022 Jan). A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality.pdf

Dana Drugmand (2020 Oct 26). A Right-Wing Think Tank Is Behind the Controversial Great Barrington Declaration Calling for COVID-19 Herd Immunity. DeSmog

Jonas Herby – AIER

Wikipedia. American Institute for Economic Research.

Wikipedia. Steve Hanke

From Wikipedia. Great Barrington Declaration: “The Great Barrington Declaration is a statement advocating an alternative approach to the COVID-19 pandemic which involves “Focused Protection” of those most at risk and seeks to avoid or minimize the societal harm of COVID-19 lockdowns.[1][2] Authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, it was drafted at the American Institute for Economic Research in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and signed there on 4 October 2020.

So, the American Institute for Economic Research, a right-wing think tank was behind the Great Barrington Declaration, and one of authors of article you linked to is major player there, etc. etc.

So, the journalists got it right and journalist often do get things right; but I always check, do my own search, when read something written by journalist.

So, you ignored the reference list and focused on the one article. And I remind you once more that Orac has torn to shred the Great Barrington Declaration.


@ Anthony

Perhaps you missed Orac’s articles on Paul Thacker’s BMJ article on Pfizer. If you have an honest open-mind, check it out: Orac (2021 Nov 15). WTF happened to The BMJ? and another article: Orac (2021 Apr 16). Paul Thacker amplifies antivaccine messaging by attacking science communicators

@ Kay West

So, journalists who wrote AIER responsible for Great Barrington Declaration can’t be trusted. Well, this is from article on American Institute for Economic Research’s website: “From October 1-4, 2020, the American Institute for Economic Research hosted a remarkable meeting of top epidemiologists, economists, and journalists, to discuss the global emergency created by the unprecedented use of state compulsion in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic. The result is The Great Barrington Declaration.” [AIER Staff (2020 Oct 5). AIER Hosts Top Epidemiologists Authors of the Great Barrington Declaration] And there are lots more articles at AIER on The Great Barrington Declaration.

And while I show the flaws in papers you refer to together sometimes with who authors affiliated with, you just attack. Even if some website/news source supports something you don’t agree with, doesn’t mean they are always wrong. By the way, there are several problems with GMOs. Nope. on the whole safe to eat. 1. Monocrops: since GMOs usually result in just one species of corn, wheat, etc. historically if some insect or microbe succeeds in destroying the crop, results in disaster. This has happened in history. While probability low, not impossible and we could lose substantial percentage of one of world’s major crops. 2. MONSANTO, one huge greedy basically unaccountable corporation controls a number of the world’s GMOs crops. Do you really want one or, perhaps, a few corporations to control significant proportions of world’s food? Same corporations who also through funding control many members of government.

And no comment on my extensive reference list documenting that deaths from COVID significantly undercounted. Please just focus on newspaper articles and ignore peer-reviewed journal articles and papers from respected think tanks. Your modus operandi. And how about my reference list on Long Covid, affecting significant proportion of those infected, even asymptomatics and children. Any comment?

“MONSANTO, one huge greedy basically unaccountable corporation controls a number of the world’s GMOs crops”

Wow, Monsanto had a net income of about 2.7 Billion dollars, supply seeds for farmers to grow crops to keep 4-5 billion people well fed.

Pfizer on the other had is going to make 25 times that net income (over 50 Billion) on sales of 80 billion of just one product it vaccine, who just filed amicus curiae briefs with the court to stop the release of the FDA approval documents, for a product they can’t be held liable for (except for gross misconduct) for a vaccine that supplies some protection from a virus that is only fatal in 1% of the people who get it

And you have not responded to the 1 million kids who dropped out of schools because of your lock downs or the over 1 million college kids who didn’t register for college because of lock downs or the 15,000 who quit their graduate studies because of lock downs all to keep rich old white people safe.

After reading you use of Desmog PR blog as your source I would have to believe that the rest of your sources are just as flawed and politically orientated.

“ After reading you use of Desmog PR blog as your source I would have to believe that the rest of your sources are just as flawed and politically orientated.”

That’s rich. I assume you believe you are above such, yourself. Recent evidence says otherwise…

“Only fatal in 1% of the people who get it.”

Or, to put it another way, if we let it run through the US population freely, it would kill more than three million people, completely discounting any long-term disability it may cause…

Yep. It’s amazing how these “COVID only kills 1%” people don’t realize how fast even small fractions become very large absolute numbers when dealing with hundreds of millions of people.

Perhaps they do know these small percentages can add up to a large amount of people. As long as they aren’t part of it, it doesn’t matter. Besides mankind will not really suffer from it. In a way it’s the same kind of reasoning people use, to argue mankind has survived for centuries without vaccines.

@ Kay West

Did you know that Monsanto sued small farmers, claiming their GMO seeds had blown over into their properties and they were using them. Small farmers hired people who cleaned seeds for reusing. The small farmers usually went bankrupt and signed sealed agreements? Did you know that Monsanto doesn’t allow farmers in poor countries to reuse their seeds, so they have to purchase new every year? Did you know that studies have found that using a variety of species of each crop; e.g., wheat, etc. do as well or better over the long run than Monsanto’s GMO seeds? Did you know Monsanto was responsible for Agent Orange which caused horrible birth defects in Vietnames children; but then, when it was clear such occurred, they sprayed Agent Orange over forests in U.S. Northwest and horrendous birth defects occurred? One last point, GMOs for adding vitamins, changing time to ripening, on the whole quite safe; but, for instance, GMOs where they added gene for an insect toxin, Bacillus thurengiensis, do kill the plant eating insects. Unfortunately, they have been shown to mutate and within a few generations, Bt doesn’t affect; but it also kills valuable insects and, perhaps, birds, so in the long run it does more harm than good. I don’t see GMOs as good or bad, too broad a category. I see them as good beneficial in many uses and bad in others.

The question isn’t comparing the profits; but what the profits were based on. Despite your IMMENSE STUPIDITY, the Pfizer vaccine has saved literally millions of lives, prevented many hospitalizations, etc. And, again, there is good data that farmers around the world could do as well or better not using Monsanto GMO seeds. And as I’ve written time and time again, profits say absolutely nothing about whether a product is beneficial, harmful or . . . Just one more example of your IMMENSE DISHONESTY. If you have a friend or loved one with Type 1 diabetes do you advice them to not use insulin, after all the manufacturers make a profit. How about albuterol for asthmatics? How about monoclonal antibodies for cancer patients? One can, of course, criticize how much profit; but NOT profits.

By the way, you wrote that Western European nations were ending mitigation programs. From an article in today’s newspaper: “Two years into the pandemic, the coronavirus is killing Americans at far higher rates than people in other wealthy nations, a sobering distinction to bear as the country charts a course through the next stages of the pandemic. The ballooning death toll has defied the hopes of many Americans that the less severe Omicron variant would spare the United States the pain of past waves. Deaths have now surpassed the worst days of the autumn surge of the Delta variant, and are more than two-thirds as high as the record tolls of last winter, when vaccines were largely unavailable. . . Some of the reasons for America’s difficulties are well known. Despite having one of the world’s most powerful arsenals of vaccines, the country has failed to vaccinate as many people as other large, wealthy nations. Crucially, vaccination rates in older people also lag behind certain European nations. The United States has fallen even further behind in administering booster shots, leaving large numbers of vulnerable people with fading protection as Omicron sweeps across the country.” [Benjamin Mueller & Eleanor Lutz (2022 Feb 2). COVID Death rates set U.S. apart: Country’s vaccine effort lags behind several other large wealthy nations, San Diego Union-Tribune ]

So, with extremely high vaccination rates, Western European nations are easing up on mitigation. However, while vaccines protect quite well against severe disease, etc. they may still see smaller surges because of eliminating mitigation or, maybe not; but, in any case, they are doing it and the stats show U.S with much much higher hospitalizations and deaths because of much much lower vaccination rates. Just one more topic you are DEAD WRONG ABOUT.

And again, you criticized one article I referred to because it came from the DeSmog blog. Have you ever read any of their papers, some actually interview well-respected scientists. And, typical, I proved that what they wrote in article was absolutely true and no response from you, nor any response to my large reference list that gives overwhelming evidence that COVID is killing far more people and causing Long COVID in many more.

You write: “And you have not responded to the 1 million kids who dropped out of schools because of your lock downs or the over 1 million college kids who didn’t register for college because of lock downs or the 15,000 who quit their graduate studies because of lock downs all to keep rich old white people safe.”

I have numerous times. I explained that it isn’t extremes of black and white. If this country had handled the pandemic better, we could have targeted short-term school closures where large number of cases, spent funds to improve ventilation, stagger school hours to allow for smaller classes, thus physical distancing, and required masks (which we didn’t manufacture many in this nation, etc). And for kids getting meals at school, we could and should have had extensive effective programs to get food to them. So, not black and white and I did several times deal with it. I also suggested an excellent book that explains ALL the mistakes this nation did and how we should have handled pandemic: Scott Gottlieb’s “Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic” So, one more example of just how INCREDIBLY DISHONEST YOU ARE.


“”Did you know that Monsanto sued small farmers, claiming their GMO seeds had blown over into their properties and they were using them. “”

Monsanto isn’t perfect, but the story of them suing everyone in sight is far from correct.

Re — the “could mutate to kill birds”

Source? The studies I’ve read posit possible issues with birds because the crops kill insects and weeds that birds will feed on but do not link direct injury to birds.

@ Kay West

You write: “After reading you use of Desmog PR blog as your source I would have to believe that the rest of your sources are just as flawed and politically orientated.”

First, I have literally torn apart many of your sources; but you ignore the huge reference list that I gave above of papers/reports that I have and have read. YOU ARE A DISHONEST DELUSIONAL MORON. Yep, you don’t like one of my sources, so, despite your even being wrong about the accuracy of their paper, you ignore everything else, include my reference list.

No comment on how badly you got my job history??? Of course not; but you literally can’t actually defend your positions, just post them.


@ Kay West

Let’s look at Pfizer’s profit from COVID vaccine. By all studies, probably has saved million of lives and/or prevented hospitalizations and long covid. Currently around 60,000 women in U.S die from breast cancer every year and many more suffer through chemotherapy, radiation therapy, mastectomies, etc. If a pharmaceutical company developed some type of drug that literally cured, say, 90% of women, with almost no side-effects, even women with Stage 3a and 3b breast cancer and made around the same profit as Pfizer did for saving millions of lives, would you condemn the profits of the company marketing the successful treatment of breast cancer? Or how about a new antibiotic that works on almost all current antibiotic resistant infections, with almost no side effects? Currently, this would save probably 100,000 lives, reduce hospitalizations, etc.

And I’m sure you disagree with my claim of millions of lives saved by vaccine; but ignore that the actual deaths and long covid have been grossly undercounted.

@ Kay West

One more thing. Yep, Pfizer will make a good profit for its vaccine; but as the pandemic winds down, sales will also; but Monsanto, as I explained has a monopoly of a number of GMO seeds and requires farmers to purchase every year. Will sue them if they attempt to clean and reuse. And, once again, profit says absolute NOTHING about the value of a product. Something I’ve explained umpteen times and you, in your IMMENSE DISHONESTY, ignore.


As to your job/non-job at CDC, did you or did you not claim that Reagan’s hiring freeze is the reason you didn’t get your job.

Joel your speculation on the number of lives saved is just that speculation, not falsifiable, therefore not scientific. You could make that claim about any number of acts and claims why people got or did not get covid or any number of other things.

You litany of reading materials on the vaccines/mask/lockdowns are proof that Marshal McLuhan has changed journalism, maybe for ever, “The medium IS the message.” He promoted the belief that journalism was not a source of the truth, that it had been before the 60-70’s, but it is an instrument to help groups get their way

@ Kay West

First, you continue to call it a job, when it was a graduate course, which I have explained several times. As I remember it, Reagan did, upon entering office, implement a hiring freeze; but doing more research the hiring freeze for NIOSH job was not Reagan. So what? The point is that I didn’t get accepted in a graduate course that at the time took one or two PhDs, the rest, around 70 or 80 MDs and, though there was an outside chance given my credentials, they would take me though overage and filling out the application didn’t take much time or effort, I tried. And what I said about the NIOSH job is absolutely true. By the way, Reagan began the shrinking of the Middle Class, stagnation of working class wages, etc. He got a major tax lowering on corporations and the super wealthy. When it greatly increased budge deficits, polls went down, then he did something clever. Social Security up to then was pay-as-you-go; but he got FICA tax increased; but not Social Security payments. So what happened to them? They were put with general revenues and spent; and Treasury Bonds were issues, same as those included in National Debt, except when monies are loaned between government agencies, not counted as loans, a strange Federal accounting rule. So the Social Security Trust Fund is just part of our National Debt, thus our National Debt is much higher than most people realize and it didn’t benefit most of us, just corporations and super wealthy. Jimmy Carter warned about climate change and put solar panels of White House, paid for by tax monies and would have saved tax monies. Reagan tore them off. And Carter implemented program to reduce CO2, including upping car mileage. Reagan put SUVs in truck category, thus not included in car mileage, so SUV sales took off, and Reagan actually contributed to increase in CO2. Finally, he ignored the AIDS epidemic for several years. Had he acted sooner we might have prevented the loss of so many lives. Yep, speculation; but based on having from the gitgo followed the AIDS epidemic and what measures were and weren’t taken. I’m sure you are a Reagan fan??? He did have charisma and STUPID people like you react more to such than actually investigating further, of course, one can always find a few papers that support whatever any politician says.

You write: “Joel your speculation on the number of lives saved is just that speculation, not falsifiable, therefore not scientific. You could make that claim about any number of acts and claims why people got or did not get covid or any number of other things.”

NOPE. International studies, numerous, have found overwhelming majority of those hospitalized and dying were unvaccinated. And the actual clinical trials of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines found almost all those hospitalized were in placebo groups and only those who died were in placebo groups. And, especially given the majority of those getting vaccinated were most at risk; e.g,, age, comorbidities, just more evidence. Can I say with 100% certainty, NOPE; but with a high degree of confidence. I have advanced coursework and training in epidemiology, infectious diseases, public health, etc. Yet, according to you, you understand these things better than me. As I’ve written YOU SUFFER FROM STUPIDITY AND DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR.


You write: “You litany of reading materials on the vaccines/mask/lockdowns are proof that Marshal McLuhan has changed journalism, maybe for ever, “The medium IS the message.” He promoted the belief that journalism was not a source of the truth, that it had been before the 60-70’s, but it is an instrument to help groups get their way”

First, as I wrote and you ignore, when I read an article in newspaper if topic of interest, I do further search; but, also journalist, many, have written prize-winning stories that were extremely accurate. As for quoting McLuhan, I actually read him when in college, still have his book; but, it is one man’s opinion. And you lying lowlife, you quote articles and papers from right-wing think tanks, some newspaper articles, etc. and I tear them apart with science and logic, and add sometimes who the authors are, so you just continue being a DISHONEST HYPOCRITICAL LIAR. Yep, quote McLuhan. And: “During his lifetime and afterward, McLuhan heavily influenced cultural critics, thinkers, and media theorists , , ,as well as political leaders”

Yep, culture, politics, etc; but either journalist get the science right or they don’t. As I’ve written umpteen times, science is NOT the same, not even close to other human endeavors. So, not only do you misunderstand what McLuhan was focusing on; but you assume by quoting one person your point has any validity. So, when journalist write about reports on vaccinated vs unvaccinated deaths, studies on effects of masks, etc. it is reporting science, MORON. And I showed an paper you referenced claiming to being a systematic review of lockdowns left out a number of peer-reviewed papers, relied on current death stats which I overwhelmingly, reference list I gave (including prestigious institutions such at University of Washington and other nations, including Africa, and then pointed out one of authors major player at right-wing think tank that sponsored Great Barrington Declaration. You, in your INFINITE STUPIDITY, because it was a journalist from a website you don’t like, attacked, so I proved by even quoting American Institute for Economic Research. Not once have you admitted you were wrong.


@ Kay West

Typical that you ignore all the significant points and wonder if I remembered who actually implemented the hiring freeze over 30 years ago. And as I wrote, Reagan did implement one hiring freeze and did so many horrible things that his name popped into my head. So, typical of you to focus on something totally unimportant, rather than the keys issues.

And as I’ve written, even at 75 I go to blood center every four weeks, which puts me at slightly increased risk, that is, in a room with dozen others and afterwards with less plasma, fewer antibodies, also at slightly increased risk, still go shopping on Monday mornings at Costco. And you absolutely STUPIDLY asked what would happen if I called people names at Blood Center. Well, at Blood Center people are alway super friendly and welcoming and I assure you ALL have been vaccinated and all wear masks, etc. So why would I call them names? In fact, I have been going to this Center for over 20 years and some who work there have been there quite some time, so when I am in waiting area, they come out from behind counter and talk to me. They don’t do this for most donors. And I am devoting an hour a day to editing colleagues next edition of undergraduate Microbiology text, not getting paid for it; but just want to improve an already high quality book to make learning better and easier for students.

So, what have you done during pandemic to help others, especially total strangers???????????????

@ Kay West

Once more, you write: “As to your job/non-job at CDC, did you or did you not claim that Reagan’s hiring freeze is the reason you didn’t get your job.”

I forgot what a friggin dishonest person you are, so just responded; but now I think about it I highly doubt I mentioned Reagan, just said a Federal hiring freeze. Prove me wrong. Give the actual data and URL to where I said Reagan. Otherwise just one more example of what a STUPID LYING DELUSIONAL LOW LIFE YOU ARE.

“Jimmy Carter warned about climate change and put solar panels of White House, paid for by tax monies and would have saved tax monies. Reagan tore them off. And Carter implemented program to reduce CO2, including upping car mileage. Reagan put SUVs in truck category, thus not included in car mileage, so SUV sales took off, and Reagan actually contributed to increase in CO2.”

That is just the tip of the iceberg of your untruths.

Jimmy Carter put up water heaters on the white house not solar panels, they were in fact thermal panels (they supplied the hot water) Reagan left them up thru his first term but Reagan took them down because they leaked causing 50,000 of dollars in damage.

As to your claim that Reagan changed the CAFA standards, they were changed in 1975 and the designation of SUV was changed in 1979 under Carter.

The truth of the matter appears distant from what Kay is claiming.

Carter did have solar panels installed on the White House, to signal dedication to renewable energy, not “thermal panels” (whatever is meant by that). As to the actual reason for them being taken down during the Reagan Administration, it doesn’t seem due to them leaking.

No doubt Kay, in her zeal to uncover factual errors by other posters, will acknowledge her own in this case.

Apparently from reading your source, they were solar water heating panels, not photovoltaic panels as are being widely deployed in this century.

I had a couple similar panels installed on my home in the 80’s but removed them later when I got leaks in the roof. I don’t know how much hot water the White House uses, but they certainly would have helped with the gas bill.

@ Kay West

You write: “Jimmy Carter put up water heaters on the white house not solar panels, they were in fact thermal panels (they supplied the hot water) Reagan left them up thru his first term but Reagan took them down because they leaked causing 50,000 of dollars in damage.”

“On a June day in 1979, Jimmy Carter unveiled 32 thermal solar panels
perched atop the roof of the West Wing of the White House . . .
President Ronald Reagan removes Carter’s solar panels . . . The Reagan administration also let Carter’s financial solar incentives expire as his solar panels gathered dust in Virginia.” [Roger Kuznia (2019 Dec 23). The Journey of Jimmy Carter’s White House Solar Panels. POWERHOME.

“The first solar panels were placed on the White House more than 30 years
earlier by Jimmy Carter (and removed by the very next administration.) . . . President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, and the solar panels were removed during his administration . . . The panels were removed in 1986 when work was being done on the White House roof below the panels. Though some claims were made that the only reason the panels were not reinstalled was because of cost concerns, the Reagan administration’s opposition to renewable energy was clear: It had drastically cut the Energy
Department’s funding for research and development in that area, and Reagan had called out Carter on the issue during presidential debates.”
[Tom Murse (2021 Aug 3). A Brief History of White House Solar Panels. ThoughtCo]

You write: “As to your claim that Reagan changed the CAFA standards, they were changed in 1975 and the designation of SUV was changed in 1979 under Carter.”

“Former President Carter also spoke at this same 2009 hearing, describing how, when he came to office in 1977, the average car got 12 miles per gallon (mpg), and was mandated to be 27.5 mpg within eight years. “But President Reagan and others didn’t think that was important,” said Carter . . . In 1986, Ronald Reagan rolled back CAFE standards causing America, in that year, to double oil imports from the Persian Gulf nations and to burn more oil than is in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Across all classes of vehicles, from cars to large trucks, miles per gallon went from 11.9 mpg in 1973 to 16.9 mpg in 1991 and then barely rose for 22 years to 17.6 mpg in 2013, with light trucks improving the least, from 17 mpg in 1991 to
only 17.2 in 2013 (Sivak et al. 2015). Worse yet, light trucks and SUVs were exempted from gas mileage goals,” [Alice J. Friedman (2016). When Trucks Stop Running Energy and the Future of Transportation. Springer]

“In response to the oil price shocks of the early 1970s, Congress passed the nation’s first Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in 1975. The law called for a doubling of passenger-vehicle efficiency—to 27.5 miles per gallon (mpg)—within 10 years. . . In the mid-1980s, however, Ford and General Motors lobbied the Reagan administration to lower the standard. NHTSA complied.” [The Pew Environment Group (2011 Apr). History of Fuel Economy]

So, you lied about my discussing COVID cards with Diane Walters. You lied about my saying it was Ronald Reagan who was responsible for hiring freeze. I asked you to give dates of my comments and URL, you didn’t. And now you lie about two more things. You display your IMMENSE STUPIDITY by confusing solar panels being used to heat water with water heaters being placed on roof. And it was Reagan Administration who rolled back CAFE and I was right on with SUVs: “Worse yet, light trucks and SUVs were exempted from gas mileage goals.”


And as I’ve explained, I could care less about you; but over the years my anger and frustration at a world destroying itself, ruining the future for coming generations, voting against own best interests by heeding lies of corporations and superwealthy, among lies racism, divide and conquer when both whites and blacks victims should be uniting, etc. so your comments just represent a huge swatch of Americans, those who can’t reason, can’t enter into civil dialogues, those who don’t necessarily have to agree with me; but at least indicate an openness to considering what I write and what many others have written. So, thanks to your latest comment, though took time from other things, allowed me to confirm that my memory is still quite good and one more example of YOUR STUPIDITY AND DISHONESTY.

And as I also wrote, Reagan’s refusal to recognize AIDS crisis led to delays that could have slowed progression and saved lives. And the shrinking of the Middle Class, stagnation of incomes for working class people, basically began. Check out on Amazon Prime: Thomas Piketty “Capital in the 21st Century” Documentary or, better, read the book. And as Governor of California, Reagan damaged our state universities, among other things. But, given your stupidity, I doubt you attended university???

@ Kay West

I gave references. You just continue lie after lie after lie.


@ Kay West

FOR ONCE YOU WERE RIGHT. AS I’VE WRITTEN, EVEN A BROKEN CLOCK GETS THE TIME RIGHT TWICE DAILY. My original search of Jimmy Carter’s solar panels all simply said he installed 32. So, I just devoted more time and energy to the search and found: “Roughly three meters long, one meter wide and just 10 centimeters deep, the blue-black panels absorb sunlight to heat water piped through their innards.” [David Biello (2010 Aug 6). Where Did the Carter White House’s Solar Panels Go? Scientific American]

However, same articles “By 1986, the Reagan administration had gutted the research and development budgets for renewable energy at the then-fledgling U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and eliminated tax breaks for the deployment of wind turbines and solar technologies—recommitting the nation to reliance on cheap but polluting fossil fuels, often from foreign suppliers. . . . And in 1986 the Reagan administration quietly dismantled the White House solar panel installation while resurfacing the roof. “Hey! That system is working. Why don’t you keep it?” recalls mechanical engineer Fred Morse, now of Abengoa Solar, who helped install the original solar panels as director of the solar energy program during the Carter years and then watched as they were dismantled during his tenure in the same job under Reagan” [Ibid] NOTE. even though found half dozen more articles, none mention removed because of leakage. And nowadays solar water heating panels are quite popular.

And numerous articles I found and make it clear that from the gitgo, including Reagan/Carter debates, Reagan was strongly against renewables. And now solar water heaters are manufactured in China and imported into this country. So, not only did Reagan sabotage any effort to slow climate change; but prolonged our dependence on foreign oil and turned over to China manufacturing of solar panels, not just for heating water; but now finally there are American companies that manufacture them.

And you are totally wrong about SUVs and mileage. I already cut and pasted several citations and won’t bother with more because you will never admit you are wrong; but, not the first time, I admit I was wrong about the solar panels heating water; but not about Reagan’s position from the gitgo against renewable energies. Besides understanding science, etc. which you don’t, a major difference between us is my willingness to admit when I am wrong; but then: YOU ARE JUST A VERY SICK INDIVIDUAL

So the EPA was lying when they printed this, listing SUV’s as light trucks in 1979 ? (Reagan didn’t take office until 1980).

As to your water solar panels, most are use to heat water for swimming pools.

The New York Magazine

In 1986, while Ronald Reagan was president, the solar panels were “removed … to repair a roof leak and were never reinstalled,”

I’ve never seen anything documenting a White House roof leak occurred because of the solar panels, rather that they were removed during a roof project and never re-installed, possibly because the Reagan administration disapproved of renewable energy projects.

“…in 1986 the Reagan administration quietly dismantled the White House solar panel installation while resurfacing the roof. “Hey! That system is working. Why don’t you keep it?” recalls mechanical engineer Fred Morse, now of Abengoa Solar, who helped install the original solar panels as director of the solar energy program during the Carter years and then watched as they were dismantled during his tenure in the same job under Reagan.”

Not sure why you have a bat in your belfry on this subject, or what it has to do with the Brownstone Institute.

[…] In conclusion, there’s no doubt that both Mr. Tucker and Drs. Bhattacharya and Kulldorff, should they see this post, will strenuously deny that they want to execute scientists or that their statements in any way echo a “Nuremberg 2.0” narrative, and I’m not saying that I do. Moreover, I have little doubt that they believe themselves to be provaccine (not to mention oh-so-reasonable) and will automatically view construing anything they say as in any way echoing old antivaccine talking points as intellectually dishonest “guilt by association.” However, this not my first rodeo, as they say, and I’ve seen all this before. However much Mr. Tucker and Drs. Bhattacharya and Kulldorff might delude themselves otherwise, they are parroting old antivaccine narratives, and their call for “accountability” is not the first time they’ve done this. […]

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