Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Politics

Brownstone flack Gabrielle Bauer admits that the Great Barrington Declaration was wrong

Gabrielle Bauer of the Brownstone Institute tacitly admits that the central premise of the Great Barrington Declaration was badly wrong, but brushes it off a just “details.”

From the vantage point of three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, at times October 2020 seems like ancient history, although I do still remember it well. The pandemic was building as the first deadly winter approached, and it was not clear when (or if) there would be safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19. There was hope, of course, because the reports coming out about the clinical trials of the mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna sounded promising, but even the most optimistic wouldn’t have predicted that the vaccine would receive emergency use authorization (EUA) and start rolling out to high risk frontline workers a mere two months later and then to the high risk general public not long after that. The 2020 Presidential election was in full swing, as much as it could be given the pandemic-driven restrictions on large gatherings. It was truly a bizarre election.

As far as that month goes, from a public health standpoint arguably the most pernicious development came early in the month, on October 4, when a document known as the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) was announced, to great fanfare. I and others at my not-so-secret other blog have spilled considerable digital ink on the topic of the GBD, starting from the very beginning, when I first noted that its authors had followed a disinformation path laid down long ago by deniers of evolutionary theory, climate science, and that HIV causes AIDS in which a “statement” is proffered and signed by many people in order to give it the appearance of a scientifically respectable “alternative” position to the current scientific consensus on a topic. Never mind that the vast majority of signatories (and often the writers) of such “statements” don’t have the relevant expertise to pontificate so confidently on the scientific topic being addressed, and never mind that Gabrielle Bauer, the person whose defense of the GBD this post will address, similarly has no scientific expertise. That’s unimportant to the promoters of such “statements,” which are propaganda based on a technique known as “magnified minority,” not scientific statements:

I myself like to refer to it as “scientific astroturfing,” in which “astroturfing” is a term to describe how corporations and ideological propagandists try to produce the illusion of “grass roots” support for their position by producing the appearance of popular support for it behind the scenes, hence the term “astroturf,” which is, of course, fake grass. It was also true then that, when it was published at least, the Great Barrington Declaration was a little different (but only a little different) in that COVID-19 was a new disease and the scientific consensus regarding it wasn’t nearly as solid as the consensus was in the case of evolution, climate science, and vaccines. That didn’t mean that there weren’t wrong answers, though, and the GBD was very, very wrong about a great many things. Recall that its signatories advocated a “let ‘er rip” approach to the pandemic in which the virus should be allowed to spread through the “healthy” population, the better to reach “natural herd immunity” within 3-6 months, all while using “focused protection” to keep safe those at highest risk of severe disease and death, such as the elderly and those with chronic health conditions that predispose to severe disease and death. Notably, how, exactly, to implement “focused protection” was never really well explained, leading to GBD advocates to retrofit strategies that never would have worked anyway because it’s impossible to fully protect those most vulnerable to bad outcomes when a virus is spreading unchecked through the rest of the population. More on that later. Let’s just say that the GBD is a profoundly eugenicist document that basically falsely claims to protect the vulnerable while leaving them at the mercy of a deadly virus.

Unfortunately, as Gavin Yamey and I documented a year and a half ago, the GBD was immensely influential among certain government leaders anxious to end pandemic restrictions and get back to normal life, such as President Donald Trump in the US and Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the UK. Indeed, despite their claims of having been “silenced”, GBD authors had met with President Trump in the summer leading up to publication of the GBD and had been meeting regularly with Trump administration officials.

So why write about the GBD yet again, given that my colleague and friend Dr. Howard correctly asked in June if anything about it was even remotely relevant and correctly answered the question with a resounding “No!” The reason is the increasingly desperate and bizarre efforts of the Brownstone Institute to promote a revisionist history in which the GBD was right and everyone else in public health was wrong. It’s an effort that has been ongoing for several months now, but it was crystallized in an article that I saw on the Brownstone Institute website last week by one of its authors (Gabrielle Bauer) titled “Focused Protection: Jay Bhattacharya, Sunetra Gupta, and Martin Kulldorff“. You will recall that these are the now disgraced trio of scientists who originally published the GBD: Jay Bhattacharya, an MD/PhD (the PhD is in economics) and Professor of Health Policy in health economics at Stanford University whose publications tended to be about health economics and policy before the pandemic; Prof. Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at Oxford University; and Martin Kulldorff, who at the time was a Professor of Medicine at Harvard University, where his primary work was in biostatistics.

Bauer’s article seems to be the latest in a series of articles based on a recently published book that she edited featuring essays by the usual Brownstone Institute suspects titled, Blindsight is 2020: Reflections on Covid Policies from Dissident Scientists, Philosophers, Artists, and More. Unsurprisingly, it is published by the Brownstone Institute, which was founded by Jeffrey Tucker in 2021 as the “spiritual child of the GBD”. Interestingly, its “About” page no longer describes Brownstone’s as being “in many ways, spiritual child of the GBD,” although the almighty Wayback Machine reveals all.

Here’s the thing, though. Bauer admits in her essay that the GBD “didn’t get every detail right”. That is most assuredly true, but in reality details matter, and the “detail” that the GBD didn’t get right happens to be the core concept behind the entire declaration, namely the claim that the pandemic could be ended by “natural herd immunity.” Let’s dig into that “detail” and some of the other revisionist history about the pandemic and the GBD that Bauer posits.

The Brownstone Institute admits error without admitting error

It’s important to fast-forward to what is the most relevant passage in Bauer’s essay, because to me it represents an admission of the glaring error at the heart of the GBD that its signatories never, ever concede. Of course, Bauer does her best to minimize this admission and make it sound as though it wasn’t really an error but a minor miscalculation that didn’t invalidate the GBD at all, all while leaving it until the second from last paragraph that mentions it almost as an aside. The error? It has to do with reaching herd immunity rapidly by letting the virus rip through the “low risk” population while using “focused protection” to keep “high risk” people safe.

Given this admission late in the essay, it’s important to read and not forget the part near the beginning of her article, where Bauer cites the part of the GBD about “Focused Protection,” which tellingly is capitalized to make it seem as though it is some sort of big deal concept:

This confluence of circumstances made it impossible not to consider the question: Might we give low-risk groups back their freedom while protecting more vulnerable people? That’s exactly what the GBD proposed. I’ve reproduced it here in abbreviated form:

Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.

The most compassionate approach is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

Also notice that, back then, GBD signatories were not (yet) rabidly antivaccine (that came later), although, as you can see, they did pointedly take pains in the GBD to minimize the importance of developing an effective vaccine to control the pandemic, citing “natural herd immunity” as the most important factor that would end the pandemic, a strategy that was doomed from the start for a number of reasons pointed out by the John Snow Memorandum (JSM), published by public health scientists alarmed at the blithe “let ‘er rip” message of the GBD. First of all, even if “natural herd immunity” were rapidly achievable as outlined in the GBD, it would require massive suffering and death to reach, if it could be reached at all. The JSM signatories labeled the GBD a “dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence” while pointing out that uncontrolled transmission “in younger people risks significant morbidity and mortality across the whole population” and, in addition to “the human cost, this would impact the workforce as a whole and overwhelm the ability of healthcare systems to provide acute and routine care.” Second, “natural herd immunity” requires that immunity after infection be lifelong, or at least very long-lived. We now know definitively that such is not the case, but even in 2020 the JSM pointed out that there was “no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection,” a point that today could be argued that there is considerable evidence that protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 wanes within several months to a year and that the virus is quite capable of evolving new variants that can largely evade preexisting immunity after prior infection with preceding variants. This is not even a controversial observation any more, although Martin Kulldorff, who has since left Harvard to become the Senior Scientific Director for the Brownstone Institute, has repeatedly echoed an antivax talking point portraying “natural immunity” as far superior to immunity from a vaccine.

This brings me to another passage from Bauer’s article, in which she seems to walk back some of the GBD’s definitiveness in its claims right before her conclusions, almost as an aside:

The GBD didn’t get every detail right, of course. Nobody could have anticipated, back in the fall of 2020, all the surprises the virus had in store for us. While reasonable at the time, the Declaration’s confidence in herd immunity proved overambitious. We now know that neither infection nor vaccination provides durable immunity against Covid, leaving people vulnerable to second (and fifth) infections. And for all their effect on disease severity, the vaccines don’t stop transmission, pushing herd immunity still further from reach.

For the moment. I’ll ignore the exaggerated claims about the vaccines not stopping transmission at all, which is an antivax talking point in which black-and-white thinking is used to transform the much lesser effectiveness of the vaccine at stopping transmission compared to its much greater effectiveness in preventing severe disease and death into a narrative claiming that the vaccine does “not prevent transmission at all.” Citing the lack of durable postinfection immunity after SARS-CoV-2 infection as nothing more than a mere “detail” that the GBD didn’t quite get entirely right takes major cojones, too, given that very concept on which the GBD was based was that allowing the virus to infect those deemed at low risk of complications and death while using “Focused Protection” to keep those at high risk safe would rapidly build up “natural herd immunity” that would protect those at high risk as well as the general population. Oopsy-daisy! Bauer seems to be saying. We got that little part wrong. Oh, well, our trio of GBD authors were still correct because, well, just because!

It’s also not true that “nobody could have anticipated” this outcome either. The JSM anticipated exactly this outcome shortly after the GBD was published. Let me cite the part of the JSM addressing this issue more liberally, taking an version from October 15, 2020, so that no one can claim that I’m citing a more recently updated version:

Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed. Uncontrolled transmission in younger people risks significant morbidity(3) and mortality across the whole population. In addition to the human cost, this would impact the workforce as a whole and overwhelm the ability of healthcare systems to provide acute and routine care. Furthermore, there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection(4) and the endemic transmission that would be the consequence of waning immunity would present a risk to vulnerable populations for the indefinite future. Such a strategy would not end the COVID-19 pandemic but result in recurrent epidemics, as was the case with numerous infectious diseases before the advent of vaccination. It would also place an unacceptable burden on the economy and healthcare workers, many of whom have died from COVID-19 or experienced trauma as a result of having to practise disaster medicine. Additionally, we still do not understand who might suffer from long COVID(3). Defining who is vulnerable is complex, but even if we consider those at risk of severe illness, the proportion of vulnerable people constitute as much as 30% of the population in some regions(8). Prolonged isolation of large swathes of the population is practically impossible and highly unethical. Empirical evidence from many countries shows that it is not feasible to restrict uncontrolled outbreaks to particular sections of society. Such an approach also risks further exacerbating the socioeconomic inequities and structural discriminations already laid bare by the pandemic. Special efforts to protect the most vulnerable are essential but must go hand-in-hand with multi-pronged population-level strategies.

Yes, the JSM called it, no matter how much GBD apologists and flacks have tried to claim otherwise. That’s because it didn’t take a heck of a lot of knowledge about virology, immunology, infectious disease, and epidemiology to recognize the twin flaws at the heart of the rationale behind GBD: that it was unlikely that postinfection immunity would be durable and that it’s impossible to keep the virus confined to the “low risk” population, not to mention that it is impractical even to try, meaning that any herd immunity approach would result in many more deaths than necessary.

If we accept for the moment Bauer’s ridiculous view of the GBD signatories as some sort of heroes of freedom, we can for rhetorical purposes cast the GBD as Abraham Lincoln and the JSM as John Wilkes Booth. (Wait for it.) If we then cast Bauer as Mary Todd Lincoln, it’s difficult not to ask her a question about the pandemic, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” Deluded ideologue and hack that she is, her answer appears to continue to be, “Just great!” Of course, in reality it is not the JSM signatories who were the villains and the GBD signatories the heroes. Quite the opposite! I merely use this old chestnut to show how far Bauer goes to spin her revisionist history. Bauer tried to bury this concession in a single brief paragraph added almost as an afterthought near the end of a much longer piece in order to seem “reasonable,” but it upon which the GBD was based was not only anticipated to be probably incorrect back in October 2020 but demonstrated conclusively to be incorrect over the subsequent two and a half years.

Truly, at the Brownstone Institute, the GBD reminds me of a certain fictional character from a 1970s movie meeting reality.

Reality vs. Bauer’s conception of the GBD

I was tempted to end this post here, after having pointed out that Bauer had basically admitted—while trying to minimize the admission as merely “not getting all the details right” and “who could have anticipated what would happen?”—but Bauer’s portrayal of the GBD signatories as some sort of brave soothsayers who suffered for telling the “Truth” is hard to resist at least briefly looking at. This passage stands out to me in particular, in which Bauer portrays the public and public health establishment as “frightened” and not yet “ready” to accept the “Truth” of the GBD. I will cite it at more length than I usually quote because I want you to experience it in all its “glory”:

In the early months of the pandemic, scientists concerned about lockdowns feared “coming out” in public. The GBD partners took one for the B team and did the dirty work. They paid a heavy price for it, including the loss of some personal friendships, but they held their ground. In print, on air, and on social media, Bhattacharya continues to describe lockdowns as “the single worst public health mistake in the last 100 years,” with catastrophic health and psychological harms that will play out for a generation. It’s no longer unfashionable to agree with them. A National Post article written by four prominent Canadian doctors in late 2022 maintains that the “draconian Covid measures were a mistake.” A retrospective analysis in The Guardian suggests that, instead of going full bore on the lockdown strategy, we “should have put far more effort into protecting the vulnerable.” Even the sober Nature admits that lockdowns “exacerbate inequalities that already exist in society. Those already living in poverty and insecurity are hit hardest”—exactly the key takeaway from the Australian Fault Lines report released in October 2022. Kulldorff captures this sea change in one of his tweets: “In 2020 I was a lonely voice in the Twitter wilderness, opposing lockdowns with a few scattered friends. [Now] I am preaching to the choir; a choir with a wonderful, beautiful voice.” The landscape has also become more hospitable for Bhattacharya, who in September 2022 received Loyola Marymount University’s Doshi Bridgebuilder Award, awarded annually to individuals or organizations dedicated to fostering understanding between cultures and disciplines. Perhaps the concept of focused protection simply arrived too early for a frightened public to metabolize it. But the idea never died down completely, and after the paroxysms of moral indignation ran their course, it slowly grew a second skin. By September 2022, the tally of GBD co-signatories had surpassed 932,000, with over 60,000 of them from doctors and medical/public health experts. Not bad for a dangerous document by a trio of fringe epidemiologists. And would it be churlish to point out that the John Snow Memorandum maxed out at around 7,000 expert signatures?1

I note that this is the passage immediately before the bit about the GBD not getting “every detail right”. Note the narrative, in which the GBD signatories “took one for the B team” and were willing to do “the dirty work.” In truth, that last part about “dirty work” is accurate, just not in the way that Drs. Kuldorff, Bhattacharya, and Gupta” conceive it. From my perspective, they were useful idiots who did indeed to the “dirty work,” just dirty work for the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), a right wing think tank, brought together at its Great Barrington, MA headquarters by its then-Editorial Director, Jeffrey Tucker, along with a number of sympathetic journalists and PR flacks, with Tucker later bragging about how he had been “in the room where it happened” as the GBD was drafted.

If you doubt the far right wing nature of AIER and now the Brownstone Institute, which Tucker later founded and is now rife with other ideologues, COVID-19 pandemic minimizers, antimaskers, anti-lockdowners, and antivaxxers, consider that Tucker is a former Ron Paul acolyte and neo-Confederate. Let’s just say that the GBD signatories did indeed do some seriously “dirty work” for some seriously dirty people who can’t make up their minds whether to label public health fascist or Communist. I guess it’s both, depending on what Tucker and the Brownstone Institute need.

As for Dr. Bhattacharya winning the Doshi Bridgebuilder Award (Navin Doshi, not that Doshi), one has to wonder what Loyola Marymount University was smoking to think that he had in any way “fostered understanding” between cultures. The award happens to be jointly sponsored by Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, the Department of Theological Studies, and the Navin and Pratima Doshi Professorship of Indic and Comparative Theology; so maybe that explains it. For example, past recipients include luminaries such as Rupert Sheldrake and Deepak Chopra (who was the award’s very first recipient in 2006).

According to the revisionist history of people like Bauer and many other Brownstone Institute flacks and GBD supporters, Kulldorff, Bhattacharya, and Sunetra have all been totally “vindicated”—never mind not getting all the “details” right, such as the central premise of what the GBD proposed—and now everyone’s getting on board, as evidenced by the GBD having so many more signatories than the JSM. It’s just that everyone was too “frightened” and deluded in October 2020 to see how correct the GBD would be proven to be! I have a phrase to describe this characteristics of cranks and propagandists: The fallacy of future vindication.

Perusing the Brownstone Institute’s website, I also found a bit more revisionist history, or at least oddities. For one thing, Martin Kulldorff is no longer listed as the Senior Scientific Director of Brownstone, but rather as this, in addition to a GBD co-author:

Martin Kulldorff is an epidemiologist and biostatistician. He is Professor of Medicine at Harvard University (on leave) and a Fellow at the Academy of Science and Freedom.

“On leave” from Harvard is also new. It’s been well over a year since it was announced that he would be taking on the role of Senior Scientific Director at the Brownstone Institute, and in that announcement there was nothing about him being “on leave” from Harvard, and Bauer’s article states that he had “ended an 18-year run as a Harvard University professor in 2021” and his bio described him as, “Most recently, he was professor at the Harvard Medical School for ten years.” A perusal of his Brownstone Institute entry using the Wayback Machine at reveals that it was sometime between late June of last year and September 8, 2022 when his entry changed from his having been at Harvard for 10 years to his being “on leave.” For some reason the Wayback Machine did not crawl his bio page between June 28 and September 8, 2022. A similar tedious search led me to discover that sometime between March 18, 2022 and April 24, 2022, Kuldorff’s bio changed from describing him as “Senior Scientific Director of Brownstone Institute” to “Senior Scholar of Brownstone Institute.” So who is running the pseudoscience clown car at Brownstone these days? Dr. Kulldorff isn’t even listed any more on the “about” page of Brownstone. (I was too tired to plod through successive crawls to see when his name disappeared.)

Maybe Kulldorff decided to become full time faculty at the Hillsdale College, a conservative college that has become a font of COVID-19 misinformation even after having managed to get its employees vaccinated ahead of schedule by February 2021, before front-line health workers (and senior citizens and K-12 teachers in Hillsdale County). He was, after all, one of the first three fellows named to Hillsdale’s Academy for Science and Freedom, along with Jay Bhattacharya and Scott Atlas. Whatever happened, it’s interesting to me that Brownstone brought Martin Kulldorff on with such fanfare in November 2021, only for him to cease to be listed as Senior Scientific Director less than six months later, and for this all to happen with few, if any, outsiders noticing, even ones who have paid a lot of attention to the Brownstone Institute.

One wonders what sort of behind-the-scenes movement among the various players at Brownstone is occurring and who is in charge of messaging, other than Jeffrey Tucker. The answer, likely, is probably: No one. He is in charge of messaging, because Brownstone Institute is very much an astroturf fake “think tank” designed to promote an ideological message, its scientists being there to provide a patina of seeming scientific respectability.

None of this stops Bauer from concluding:

Be that as it may, the GBD creators wrote a crucial chapter in the pandemic story. They planted seeds of doubt in a locked-in narrative. After all the insults were thrown, the seeds took root in our collective consciousness and may well have shaped policy indirectly. And as research continues to document the dubious benefits and profound harms of the maximum-suppression strategy, yesterday’s shamers and mockers are inching back toward the question: Could we have done it another way? Might focused protection have worked just as well, or better, and with considerably less damage?

Sadly, we already know the answer to Bauer’s question, and it is a resounding “no.” That answer notwithstanding, the Brownstone Institute continues to promote a narrative in which the GBD authors are brave mavericks who spoke “Truth” even though they were supposedly “silenced” (they weren’t), while promoting a counterfactual narrative in which those who tried to promote sound public health interventions somehow “inverted the heroic archetype“, as though it is somehow “heroic” to let oneself catch a disease that can result in severe disease and even death, as well as long term debilitating symptoms for many survivors. It’s not, and the GBD authors are not heroes who were vindicated. They served as useful idiots for ideologues who have done serious harm to public health.

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.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

82 replies on “Brownstone flack Gabrielle Bauer admits that the Great Barrington Declaration was wrong”

Some here may remember Project Steve, which I think started at The Panda’s Thumb. The intelligent design creationists had an anti-evolution statement, and were asking people with a Ph.D. (in some science?) to sign. The response was to have everyone with a Ph.D. named Steve (or Stephen, Stephanie, etc.) to sign a competing pro-evolution statement. Named in honor of Stephen J. Gould, and to point out that science is not a popularity contest. Ironically, evolutionists pointed out that they WOULD sign the IDC statement because it was poorly worded (it portrayed evolution as being ONLY mutation and natural selection).

Recently the BMJ ran an article exclaiming that immunity from prior covid infection is as good as vaccination. Brownstone picked it up as a ‘gotcha, we were right’ mantra. So does that mean the vaccine works, does that mean Brownstain also admits vaccines work. Which brings me to the next question. Which method of gaining that immunity is the safest route…… I mean deliberately getting infected is a bigger gamble than the jab is it not.

The whole thing with claiming that the vaccine worked better than natural immunity is that for many of us it worked to discredit all the claims being made by mainstream medical. That proposition is violative of the whole principle that gave rise to vaccines and just lands as authoritarian.

Not so sure the extent to which it ‘works’ (mostly against former strains if at all) is worth its risks. But that’s not what this is about here. This is about not being able to believe those representations because of the other false representations.

@john labarge Many viruses modulate immune system (making it less effective). SARS CoV 2 is one of them. It is not all obvious that you have a better immunity OVID.

Fuuuck. You could really stick to something you have a talent for.

“is violative of” = “violates”. See, simple language. Of course it’s not as high-falutin-sounding, but it works good and doesn’t immediately signal “I am trying to sound SMRT!”

I’m trying to sound smart inasmuch as I’m using 7th great logic. I guess. But I’ll take the edit.

‘Fuuuck. You could really stick to something you have a talent for.’ hence why I use the description ‘authoritarian’. It’s up to the pushers to prove it works better than natural immunity. Otherwise it’s authoritarianism.

Actually, disease pushers should prove that natural immunity prevents disease.

And trust that psychopathic criminal corporations have our best interests at heart? Nah.

Because it was a slow day, I decided to try to see what Kulldorff has been up to in the last couple years besides producing thinkology for the Brownstone Institute.

The one thing I found that was Covid-19 related was 10.1016/j.jbior.2022.100916. In that paper, he, Bhattacharya and Philip Magness try to understand why “East Asian countries have reported fewer infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 disease than most countries in Europe and the Americas”.
Figure 1 in that paper shows cumulative death rates for Hong Kong, Mongolia, South Korea, Japan, Africa, Taiwan and China. The numbers stay very low throughout 2020 until mid 2021 when a lot of people had been vaccinated and things started to open up.

They looked at 5 different factors and came up with ambiguous results.

Our goal in this paper is to generate and evaluate hypothesis that may explain these striking facts. We consider five non-mutually exclusive explanations for East Asian COVID-19 exceptionalism in 2020:
• •
The differential mortality risk conditional on infection faced by the young and the old and the age distribution of East Asian populations;
• •
The adoption of lockdowns and other non-pharmaceutical interventions aimed at restricting human contact and interactions to slow disease spread;
• •
The protection against COVID-19 infection and severe outcomes conferred by unidentified genetic differences between East Asian and non-Asian populations;
• •
The effect of seasonality and climate on the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as a factor in East Asian exceptional outcomes;
• •
The protection conferred by immunological differences between East Asian and non-Asian populations.

I focused on the lockdown and NPIs section because that is mainly what the GBD is opposed to. They note that

By contrast, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have consistently imposed limited lockdown measures, milder than most European and American countries.

And then graph the Oxford Stringency Index and Retail and Recreational Mobility based on Google cell phone data. However, they do not mention case numbers or even mention the word “morbidity” in the report!

They basically come up with the null hypothesis.

The macro-level data on COVID-19 cases and associated mortality from East Asia similarly do not justify a conclusion that lockdowns are a primary reason why countries there had relatively low COVID-19 mortality in 2020.6 While we cannot rule out by this analysis alone that lockdowns may have played some role in delaying the onset of infections, by the same token, we cannot rule out that lockdowns played no role whatsoever in the ultimate experience of East Asian countries with COVID-19.

At the end they conclude

Of the explanations we have considered, lockdowns, genetics, seasonality, and climate are less likely to solve the puzzle.

a differential presence of pre-existing protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection – perhaps from prior human coronavirus or SARS 1 infection – is the most likely answer, but questions remain regarding the specific mechanism.

Though we do not provide a complete answer to this puzzle, the prima facie evidence that age, lockdowns, genetics, and seasonality are unlikely to be a key part of the story is an essential lesson for COVID-19 policy in East Asia and beyond.

So I decided to take a look at what measures Taiwan, S Korea and Japan implemented and how those affected the case numbers. Taiwan barred foreign nationals from entering and quarantined everyone entering the country which essentially allowed them to produce a Zero Covid-19 situation with few internal restrictions until April 2021 when an outbreak among airline crew members spread to the general population.

Japan initially closed schools, implemented emergency measures and may have benefited from “a milder strain of the virus, cultural habits such as bowing etiquette and wearing face masks, hand washing with sanitizing equipment, a protective genetic trait, and a relative immunity conferred by the mandatory BCG tuberculosis vaccine.”.

South Korea implemented a massive program of testing, tracing and isolation or quarantine.

I did a survey check of case and death numbers for those three countries as well as the U.S. and Germany for Jul 2020, Aug-Jan 2021, and Feb-Jul 2021.
The CFR numbers were comparable.

U.S. 3.17, 1.37, 2.12%
Germany 4.38, 2.38, 2.24
Japan 2.92, 1.32, 1.81
S Korea 2.10, 1.75, 0.55
Taiwan 1.50, 0.23, 5.28
So there doesn’t seem to be a substantial affect from some hidden intrinsic protection factor.

But case and death numbers were vastly different. Japan with 50% more people than Germany had ¼ the cases and 1/6 the deaths. S Korea with about 60% the population had only 5% of the cases and 2% of the deaths. Taiwan with ¼ the population had less than 1000 cases and only 8 deaths by Jan 2021 and 0.4% of the cases and 0.8% of the deaths.
So to me the message is clear. Effective NPIs can be difficult to implement in open societies like the U.S. or Germany. But they keep people from getting sick and save lives.

Interesting about the BCG vaccine, which I had as a chile long ago. But more recently Ihad non-muscle invasive bladder cancer and a course of intravesicular BCG, during the panedemic, and I wonder if that might have contributed (a bit) to my so-far-so-good-knock-on-wood avoidance of COVID infection (along with gettting every immunization that was offered.) Unlikely, I suppose, since invtervesicular is not the same as systemic, or at least it better not be …

Pardon my topos … the response box shows up in about 2-point type in my browser, and I am what Wonkette refers to as “An Old.”

For East Asia, lockdowns and face masks were the secret sauce for their success during the early part of the pandemic.

Not all lockdowns are equal. Lockdowns instituted when COVID-19 first appeared in the community could be short. Waiting for hundreds or thousands of cases required a much longer lockdown, as seen in Europe. One the omicron variant arrived, it was too infective for lockdowns to be effective – see China. By the time a lockdown is Instituted too many people have been infected.

I am struck by how openly the authors of the article you are addressing did not address this.

As a side issue, I would add that implementing top-down measure is never going to be the entire story: implementing and compliance matter, too. In some countries, mask rates may be high and people may be taking more precautions without government action, and in some countries, government action may be ignored or resisted.

Also, interesting that people who want to set themselves up as COVID-19 experts have one scientific paper on the topic out in this time.

They definitely had a certain focus in how they laid out the problem when planning their analysis.

But it’s especially striking about Kulldorff. He touts himself as the inventor of this great statistical method. And we have this huge ongoing opportunity for him to use it in real life to show how useful it is.

And he seemingly does nothing with it !?!?!?

I’ve been using my mediocre statistical analysis skills for over 2 years now to try to look at what is going on and test the plausibility of various claims that people make from time to time.

Even Ioannidis has published several papers of some interest although a couple of them looked like exercises in self-justification.

I know a couple folks who went on there and signed it with clever ‘nyms I won’t disclose because they may not have been discovered. They hardly came up with this, themselves, as this joke was all over Twitter at the time. I wonder how many fugazi names are still “Signatories?”

The pandemic disappointed many people!

The “natural immunity” is not as strong as hoped.

The “vaccine immunity” is even worse.

The virus, a carefully designed chimera of HIV gene sequences glued onto an optimized SARS coronavirus backbone, is the winner, still making predictable “waves” of infection, reinfecting people every few months and mutating as needed.

Excess mortality is continuing in highly vaccinated countries, baffling doctors and puzzling authorities. They are “sure it is not the vaccine”, but not really trying to investigate anything.

Germany had 36% excess mortality last December. Nobody cares and the press ignores it.

I hope someone here realizes that it can turn to the worse, and not to the better. I personally loath such a possibility, as I hope to be comfortably retired one day, a hope that will not pass is mortality will worsen significantly. Plus I am worried for my loved ones and the future of humanity.

Igor, have you been a serial liar your entire life or only since you might be able to make money supporting the imaginary evils of science in general and the covid vaccine in particular?

With all those vague and unsupported claims, there’s little point in trying to figure out what specifically you are claiming, much less decipher whether it might be true. And you have not established a reputation here for knowing what you are talking about.
Germany had a rough month last December, but apparently France had a similar trend.
But Germany only suffered about 4000 Covid-19 deaths that December compared with 10,000 the year before when Omicron was sweeping around. So it would seem that the combination of infection-acquired and vaccination-acquired immunity is helping reduce those numbers.

I’ll leave it to the public health authorities in German to sort out what is causing the rest.

@squirrelelite, you are absolutely correct that excess mortality was NOT confined to Germany last December. Pretty much all highly vaccinated countries of Europe had very high excess mortality in December, including Sweden.

The exceptions are barely-vaccinated Romania and Bulgaria.

You all are talking about it like excess mortality is an obscure statistical oddity or an abstract political talking point. I would like you to realize that excess mortality is death, coming from random directions and impacting YOUR life expectancy and that of your loved ones. You, yes you, are at a higher risk of dying, because of poorly understood “excess mortality”. (myself and my loved ones also)

As you pointed out, excess deaths are “not because of Covid”.

Then please tell me, what are these deaths from, if they are not from Covid?

So it is time to start worrying. I am very worried. If you are not worried, you are making a mistake. The mortality we are seeing is extremely unusual.

By the way, the US also has excess mortality, but the data coming from the CDC is not as good and timely as European data.

As I said, I’ll leave it up to the government health authorities in those countries to assess what is happening to their people. It is likely to be a complex mix of factors including other respiratory diseases like influenza which I got and survived in December.

If you suspect a specific cause, you are welcome to gather data to support it and present them here. You can look at my longer comment about Kulldorff above for an example of how I did exactly that.

I do worry about dying and have done what I can to protect myself including getting flu and Covid-19 booster shots last fall, losing some weight and getting regular aerobic exercise.

But I don’t devote extra effort to worrying about vague, unspecified threats. There are plenty of real ones to worry about including pending state and Federal legislation.

@ squirrelelite:

I wonder why Igor isn’t more afraid of Covid itself rather than vaccines?
I’m afraid of Covid- I’m not THAT old, have no health conditions, am not over weight, have hardly ever been really sick etc, etc- BUT it is a respiratory virus.
As a student in a demanding course of study, I developed bronchitis. I know the exact dates because I got sick on New Year’s Eve and remained so nearly until my birthday ( end of March). The meds the doctor gave me made me sicker and the replacements did little to help. I coughed miserably and had trouble eating and sleeping for THREE months as I studied and worked on projects.

Covid might be as bad or worse. Some people have lung damage and/ or are sick for months. Vaccines can prevent that.

Anti-vaxxers attempt scaring people about vaccines minimising the dangers of illnesses. I would do whatever I can to avoid another respiratory infection. Poor outcomes from a virus are not only deaths but serious illness, disruption of daily life, exhaustion, discomfort, loss of work, money and time.

Excess mortality is continuing in highly vaccinated countries, baffling doctors and puzzling authorities.


Excess deaths in Australia, a highly vaccinated country.

More than 70% of the adult population of Australia had 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine during the period February to October 2021 before Australia reduced restrictions. There were no excess deaths during that period. Excess deaths from the beginning of 2022 are associated with waves of COVID-19 infections

There is no mystery to be solved.

Chris, are you saying that if “excess deaths are from Covid”, then we should not worry about them?

If so, I respectfully disagree with you. Let me explain. (This reply will intentionally contain no anti-vax talking points to ease your understanding.)

We are responding, in this thread, to Orac’s blog post that is dedicated to the idea that Covid immunity is short-lived. Many people are reinfected with Covid repeatedly. Each time they are infected, they have a heightened risk of death following even mild infections. A VA study showed that risk of delayed adverse events following reinfections is greater than that following first infections. (I have links if you want)

If so, where are we? We are beset with Covid waves coming randomly every few months. Reinfections are rampant. The waves do seem to bring about waves of excess mortality. Many people acquire no effective immunity.

How will this come to an end? What is a plausible mechanism where waves of Covid would stop and mortality would return to pre-pandemic level, if there is no immunity?

I cannot see such a mechanism and this is why I am concerned about excess mortality.

It is not yet clear what exactly causes excess mortality, and whether there is something besides “Covid”. It is not even quite clear why exactly people drop dead suddenly a few weeks after mild Covid.

So, even if all excess mortality was caused only by Covid, we should all be worried.

Instead of turning to the better, the course of the pandemic can worsen. For example, conceivably people could get worn down by repeat reinfections, the frequency of infections could increase, and their health may greatly deteriorate.

We are possibly already seeing this exact scenario.

We also possibly misunderstand the risks of “Covid death”, if we only count deaths happening due to acute Covid illnesses, but not “sudden deaths” a month after a mild illness.

Excess mortality during this pandemic is a poorly understood subject in general and the authorities are reluctant to investigate it. Meanwhile, excess deaths continue to mount.

We should absolutely be concerned about excess mortality, but misattributing the cause will cause us to take actions that increase it.

And as it’s clearly Covid-related and correlates strongly to the unvaccinated and the easiest way to address it is to get more people vaccinated.

We should do other things to reduce the spread – masking, etc, but that’s all separate.

And, yes, we should study why people are dying post-covid and come up with better treatments and/or diagnostics, too. It turns out that more than one thing can be done at a time… but while people like you are trying to stop the easy thing that is clearly necessary, people end up fighting over that.

(And as a public policy matter, “improve treatment” is not a public policy – we don’t know what a better treatment would be.)

For example, conceivably people could get worn down by repeat reinfections, the frequency of infections could increase, and their health may greatly deteriorate.

Uh-oh, time to “strengthen the immune system.” 🙄

“It is not yet clear what exactly causes excess mortality, and whether there is something besides “Covid”.”

It remains unclear why “Igor” places “scare quotes” around words like “Covid” and “vaccines”, unless it is to reinforce the impression that he is a “Igor”ant jerk.

Chris, are you saying that if “excess deaths are from Covid”, then we should not worry about them?

No. You should read my words. “There is no mystery to be solved.”

Excess mortality during this pandemic is a poorly understood subject in general and the authorities are reluctant to investigate it. Meanwhile, excess deaths continue to mount.

It is only poorly understood by those who refuse to accept reality and who continue to claim, untruthfully, that vaccines are causing deaths.

As for the rest of your argument, where do I start? It is untrue that we don’t develop immunity to COVID-19. We do. However, the immunity is not sterilizing as we can still get infected. This is coupled with the virus evolving to avoid immunity.
While the vaccines (and indeed previous infection) protect against serious illness and death, they do not do so perfectly and the protection is dependent on age and co-mobilities.
Some Australian data from during the first Omicron wave (where over 80% of people over 16 had been vaccinated) shows this. For people aged 90+ there was 1 death for every 15 COVID-19 cases. Prior to Australia opening its borders (mostly the original strain with some delta) the frequency was 1 death for every 3 cases. So vaccination offered a 5-times reduction in mortality. For those aged 70-79, there was 1 death for every 13 cases prior to vaccination and 1 death for every 145 cases after – giving an 11-fold reduction. For those aged 20-29 there was 1 death for every 4465 cases prior to vaccination and 1 death for every 90,000 cases afterwards – giving a 20-fold reduction. There was no difference in deaths per case for those aged 0-9 between the two time periods.
Every time there is a wave of COVID-19 cases in the community, there will be an increase in deaths, because vaccination and previous infection do not protect the old as well as they do the young. This will be exacerbated in countries that have low vaccination rates. This is because less of the population will have some immunity to COVID-19.

I is again a short sequence similarity with HIV. Check BLAST for other genes with other genes with similarities.
ONS again published data on non-COVID deaths among vaccinated people. Analyse i1.

@ Igor:

At RI, experts- physicians, scientists, other educated people- including Orac himself!– carefully explain details BUT you don’t seem to assimilate them at all. You question motives, imagine conspiracies and present alternatives. I imagine that you identify more with bold mavericks and contrarians than with Orac et al. So maybe it’s a personality/ social thing, not about the issues at all.

Do you really think that a shadowy cabal secretly engineered a virus using hiv** deliberately to harm people and NO ONE else discovered this? No one stopped them? Physicians and scientists just accepted that? All over the world? Universities just glossed over that? The same people who have struggled to combat hiv/ aids?

Here may be a simple test;
do your ideas in general sound more like those of Orac et al or like alties/ anti-vaxxers such as the people I survey ( described luridly recently)?
If it is the latter group, WAKE UP!

The group I described by and large have no relevant education but continuously stir up fear, uncertainty and doubt amongst followers. They make money selling products, running charities and developing their brand.
All of them work against SBM research. Other conspiracy purveyors may be physicians ( Mercola, Malone, Kory et al) but they depart from consensus AND also SELL STUFF! Their programming sounds much like Adams, Null, Kennedy, Bigtree despite their background.

The only way the latter group can be acceptable to anyone is by DENYING the work of SBM, consensus, research and university education in general over the past half century.

** as if that would work

Denice, thanks for replying. I am not sure if my reply would be approved, so I will keep it short.

Origins of Sars-Cov-2 are murky and nobody knows exactly what transpired, and what exact sequence of events led to its release and how it was developed.

I am far from the first person to suspect that the pandemic is not a result of an accidental “lab leak” of a random virological experiment, but was instead a culmination of intentional development of a pandemic pathogen. It is possible that the pathogen was accidentally released, but it was intentionally developed.

I find it to be extremely difficult to believe that Sars-Cov-2 is a product of sinister intentions. Such a conclusion contradicts my entire past system of beliefs. I am, to date, experiencing strong cognitive dissonance because the evidence contradicts my past beliefs, but suggests a sinister element in the SC2 history.

Now the tunes are changing.

There seems to be a campaign in the media to “blame China”. Even the director of the FBI Chris Wray joined this campaign.

China is likely not blameless (the coverup is the proof), but it was also not acting alone.

Regarding trusting “physicians and scientists” on the issue of origin of Sars-Cov-2…

Virologists just spent 3 years trying to convince us that SC2 was not created by virologists. Their story is falling apart, of course. Why should I trust them at all? Would it be even wise to “trust virologists” on this question?

I own a business and I encounter liars and crooks all the time. It is totally normal to me that people lie, pretend etc. It is a part of life.

I would blame the US before I’d blame China. I don’t agree with the China hate of late. China is competitive sure, but I don’t think we have the full picture in the US, given that our media is completely propagandized. Propaganda works to discredit all narratives, not just the (US)-left-leaning ones.

You mean that media does not agree with you. Perhaps tha is because you canno convince anybody..

“our media is completely propagandized.”

Says someone who ignores easily verifiable facts while eagerly slurping up propaganda from wackoid denialist sources.

I should be surprised to see a libertarian, such as yourself, defending the authoritarian Chinese government, but I guess people are capable of convincing themselves of anything…

@David-I’ve been seeing more and more China butt-sniffing and Putin-apologizing in my acquaintances who used to be “normal” Reagan Republicans.

When I read his comment, I immediately thought the same thing you did. His positions are completely incoherent and seem to be nothing more than: “Whatever most people are for, I’m against. I’m right. This makes me special.”

This seems to be his entire identity. The media could say there was a pretty Aurora the other night and labarge would come on here and say that the media is part of the “gay agenda” because there was a rainbow of color in the Aurora, etc.

Two days later he would make a pseudo scientific argument about how there really was no Aurora and how he and his select few are the only people who really know about the lies “Big Aurora” is feeding us.

I’m more convinced than ever that some of these people come here to try to perfect their rhetoric on a more sophisticated audience before going wide with it on the rubes.

@ Igor:

There are liars and crooks everywhere. I follow alt med/ anti-vax.

I’ll comment about how media is handling the “leak”. Some reports seem to omit important parts of the story, cut a video short, leave out very relevant information – these were usually decent news outlets.

I’m not a virologist so I will bow to more expert opinion:
Orac ( various places), Prof Peter Hotez ( Twitter), Dr Fauci ( new video interview) and Dr Steve Novello ( SBM website, yesterday). I haven’t yet found anything recent by Vincent Racaniello but he would be worthwhile to read.
Anything is possible BUT…..

@Igor Chudov FBI would not tell us why they think it is probably that COVID started with lab leak because data is classified. This data cannot be scientific because scientific data would be public. Any case I notice that you do trust government when it agrees with you.
Not all virologists work on gain of function research. They woul have noticed if a mad is on the run. Like noticing a reporter gene needed for splicing.

Origins of Covid is not a “scientific matter”. It is a “forensic matter”, involving science, virology, and much more.

Something happened that unleashed a pathogen in Wuhan that killed millions. It should be investigated like a crime scene.

Investigators should look for scientific evidence, but also for receipts, intercepted communications, suspicious acts, coverup etc.

I have no idea what documents does the FBI have. I do not even trust the FBI or Chris Wray particularly. My opinion that Covid is a lab-designed pathogen was formed around Feb-March of 2020.

The documents that the FBI might possibly have is intercepted communications regarding design, financial transactions, confidential tips, intelligence reports, etc.

Allowing “virologists” to investigate that event without supervision and believing the conclusion of virologists that the virologists are not to blame, is the epitome of gullibility.

No investigator would “trust” objects of his investigation. This applies to investigating a potential virology-related incidents with a pandemic pathogen. “Trusting” virologists on this is wholly inappropriate.

I hope that this message will allow you to see the error of your thinking.

Again, a concerted effort seems to be underway to blame China for the virus. This effort may be due to worsening US-China relations.

While China likely was involved, it was far from alone.

It is a “forensic matter”, involving science, virology, and much more.


Allowing “virologists” to investigate that event without supervision and believing the conclusion of virologists that the virologists are not to blame, is the epitome of gullibility.

What’s the over/under on frank virus denialism?

I found a very good article with pictures(!) from NPR. It discusses a leaked report from the Chinese CDC which has additional information beyond what the WHO investigation found.

We analyzed a leaked report from the Chinese CDC detailing the results of this environmental sampling. Virtually all of the findings in the report matched what was in the World Health Organization’s report. But there was some extra information in the leaked report. For example, there was information not just on which stalls had virus in them — or had samples positive for SARS-CoV-2 — but also how many samples in a given stall yielded positive results.

We found out that one stall actually had five positive samples — five surfaces in that stall had virus on them. And even better, in that particular stall, the samples were very animal-y. For example, scientists found virus on a feather/hair remover, a cart of the sort that we see in photographs that are used for transporting cages and, best of all, a metal cage in a back room.

So now we know that when the national public health authorities shut down the market and then sampled the surfaces there, one of the surfaces positive for SARS-CoV-2 was a metal cage in a back room.

What’s even weirder — it turns out that one of the co-authors of the study, Eddie Holmes, had been taken to the Huanan market several years before the pandemic and shown raccoon dogs in one of the stalls. He was told, “This is the kind of place that has the ingredients for cross-species transmission of dangerous pathogens.”

So he clicks photos of the raccoon dogs. In one photo, the raccoon dogs are in a cage stacked on top of a cage with some birds in it.

And at the end of our sleuth work, we checked the GPS coordinates on his camera, and we find that he took the photo at the same stall, where five samples tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

So we connected all sorts of bizarre kinds of data. Together the data are telling a strong story.

That’s about as close as we’re likely to get to a smoking gun for zoonotic transfer.

And we still have no evidence for the existence of the virus in the WIV prior to the outbreak.
Also, I haven’t heard a good explanation for the two different lineages in the original cases based on a lab accident.

But none of that will stop the news flacks. I just watched a press conference snippet where Peter Doocy was taking Wray’s FBI assessment as proof positive that the Chinese were responsible and wondering why President Biden was afraid to pressure the Chinese for compensation for all the people who have died from this virus.

Do you have an actually evidence to support any part of your statements? Or do you expect people to just ‘trust’ you?

Neither HIV nor the COVID virus are a good choice as a bio weapon.

Don’t forget those who are not profiteering, but are susceptible to anti-SBM propaganda because their political and/or religious ideologies predispose them. These people are, of course, marks for those who peddle snake oil.

Of course. That’s what I mean by ‘personality and social factors’: they identify with particular personae and/ or ideological/ religious groups.
An iconoclast, a freedom fighter, patriot, Christian fundamentalist, a clean living vegan, a back-to-nature purist, a scientific reformer, a new Galileo, conservatives, libertarians, whatever.
I’ve heard alties pitch to all of them.

Contrarians reject standard sources such as governmental agencies,
recognised experts in their respective fields, universities and media reports BUT
whom do they accept as reliable sources?

They have their own ‘experts’. Psychologists found that anti-vaxxers / CT believers do not believe in a hierarchy of expertise, regarding themselves/ other contrarians as being equal or superior to SB experts. So an anti-vax mother or a newbie podcaster can trump professionals who have studied the discipline for decades.

Besides themselves, they may select their “thought” leaders because they have similar political leanings, backgrounds or personality qualities. Gurus stress their ‘down home’ lifestyles, humble beginnings and HARD WORK over nerdy, elitist, atheist snobs like doctors and scientists. Some do farm work, animal care and charity EVERY DAY. They profess support for particular causes/ talking points amenable to conservatives/ libertarians. Rather than data, they focus upon personal characteristics they find attractive.

OBVIOUSLY they reject sources like Wikipedia which is based on verifiable external material. Many alties’ bios read like PR/ advert copy. BECAUSE THEY ARE.
If you lack data, you need good press.. even if you write it yourself.

To sum up:
anti-vaxxers implicitly need conspiracies in order to explain why their ‘brilliant’ theories are not being accepted by SBM as state of the art: it’s because someone is actively suppressing them. Their work, their qualifications and their entire backgrounds are all smeared by the same people who benefit ( pharma, government, etc)

Amongst those I survey, it’s very common for them to fire back at SB critics, calling them compromised financially, unscientific or just plain criminal. Also without data. Adams infamously targeted someone we know with a barrage of fictional accusations; others tried to get him fired and sullied his patient based ratings. Other alties attack Wikipedia itself as “fake”. Because, like sceptics/ RI, it tells the truth about their activities/ qualifications.

“Igor” is a carefully designed chimera of antivax dodo grafted onto a framework of Covid conspiracy theorist.

Plus I am worried for my loved ones and the future of humanity.

Bullshit. You are worried that if you stop pushing lies about the covid vaccines and its unsupported “dangers” you’ll lose traffic to your substack and your “reputation” as a maverick.

Don’t try to pretend for a second that you [or labarge, or the others who come and post crap about thing you and they don’t understand and are too lazy to study] care about anyone but yourself [yourselves] and your reputations as “brave mavericks.”

I just looked through a scientific paper that compared the governmental policies and outcomes within the Nordic European countries during the first year of the pandemic. Sweden had a very relaxed approach that quite resembles the Brownstone ideas, some light-touch voluntary measures to not harm the economy while basically trying to quickly achieve herd immunity. Outcome: Same economic performance than the other Nordic countries while having by far more hospitalizations and deaths than their peer countries.

Has any disease in the general population been controlled by non-vaccination herd immunity? What makes the GBD guys think Covid-19 was different?

There were diseases that are now extinct, so probably. Of course we know very little about them.

I thought you all might get a laugh out of this…

I’ve been dealing with a scabies outbreak that occurred in a secure mental health unit we cover. Our health department wouldn’t touch it so I got the honors. This happens in there once or twice a year but it’s usually bedbugs. Patient zero had the crusted variety so he got a bunch of ivermectin. No problem. The close contacts in his room all should have received two doses 14 days apart; easy peasy, low risk, no more outbreak…

Sadly, the payment for every one of these was declined even though it was made clear that these were scabies contact PPx. The reason? That’s one of the bullshit ICD codes these assholes have been putting on the scripts for covid to try to get insurers to pay for them. Can you believe this? It’s not bad enough they’re scamming people; now they are writing full-on fraudulent scripts to try to get them paid for by insurers. Four of these patients can’t use the permethrin cream for various reasons. I had to do five peer-to-peers yesterday and this morning to convince them this isn’t a scam. Thanks Kory.

I couldn’t let it go so I inquired further of one of them…The guy from Kaiser said he knew this one must be legit when I demanded the call since they have been denying them all outright and I’m only the second person to argue. He didn’t know how many bogus scripts they have been getting for ivermectin but he thinks it might be hundreds since they had some kind of internal meeting about it. UGH.

I have one more this afternoon with another insurance ghoul, if he/she has other interesting musings on this situation I will report back.

How unfortunate. I understand that you cannot go this route, being bound by medical rules, but I bought Ivermectin from India for $1.80 per 12mg pill.

IVM is about $4 a box at vets I saw once. Buying drugs from overseas isn’t the best idea. Are you sure they are gen, or some baked paste, or worse still actually dangerous. It seems your trust for the medical profession is shot to pieces, now THAT is something you need to be concerned about.


Of course it might not be real ivermectin. I bet there’s plenty of fake stuff doing the rounds for desperate Americans. Maybe you should get some analysed?

However, if it is real, at least you’ll be parasite free.

john if you continue to ignore the fact that ivermectin is completely worthless for dealing with covid and instead continue to imply the only reason it is not readily available is because ” our FDA and regulators are captured.” (whatever is meant by that stupidly phrased bit of English) your attempts at being taken seriously outside the batshit crazy conspiracy world, sisyphus is more likely to get his rock up that hill than you are to succeed.

(whatever is meant by that stupidly phrased bit of English)

Invoking regulatory capture has been popular in the antivaccine chattering class for some time.

Ivermectin is extremely cheap wholesale, so there is no point in selling fake pills not containing it. Resellers buy it at about 20-30 cents per pill and sell for $1.80, there is no point running pill making machines and blister pack filling machines just to save the wholesale cost of it.

Bollocks. Chalk dust and ground up bone is cheaper. Floor sweepings and sugar are cheaper. Your argument is shite. Even if the likelihood of your stuff being fake is low, your argument is shite.

Counterfeit and poor quality ivermectin has been sold to credulous ninnies like Igor.

Add the possibility of contamination/adulteration by manufacturers in countries like India, and customers are playing Russian roulette with their health for no conceivable benefit.

What might be the long term effects of consuming bad/contaminated ivermectin, Igor?

Over on sorryantivaxer dot com, there is a story of a covid sufferer (who later died) contacting some online prescription scam site (front line docs, kind of quacks this whole site is about) who sold him Ivors mucking at $500. But he still died.

Yeah I think I posted last year about a patient who spent thousands of dollars she couldn’t afford to lose on some ivermectin “cocktail” for her and her church group. She was the one I mentioned who died in the ICU two days after I saw her in the ER who had the printout of the Kory group’s dosing instructions in her things with the little vacuum packed bags of pills. Her daughter had to pay something like six months of back rent to get access to her things.

Considering how (in)effective Ivermectin is for treating Covid-19, I wonder if it matters how much active compound there actually is…

In other news…
someone we know is featured in The New Republic; @hh_matt

@Denice Walters:

==> As a student in a demanding course of study, I developed bronchitis. I know the exact dates because I got sick on New Year’s Eve and remained so nearly until my birthday ( end of March). The meds the doctor gave me made me sicker and the replacements did little to help. I coughed miserably and had trouble eating and sleeping for THREE months as I studied and worked on projects.

I am sorry and get well soon please.

My dear relative, also a college student, had the same thing happen to him a year and a half ago. A bronchitis that would not go away, meds did not help until I finally got him to a doctor who cared enough to pay attention, and prescribed the right meds. That was a year of endless illness for him, a covid-like illness in summer 2021 with negative covid tests but an ER visit, then cold becoming bronchitis n the fall, then Covid in January 22, long Covid with heart problems until May, an influenza like illness (not covid) in April when he was hospitalized, then another Covid in August. Lots of disease.

With literally all of his illnesses except for January covid, he was with us, and none of us (rest of family unvaxed) caught even one of them from him.

I blame the Pfizer vaccine he had in May 2021. He was previously healthy. He is obviously not taking any more Covid vaccines.

This unfortunate series of events cemented my anti-Covid-vaxx views. Not sure of your vaccination status, but it likely contributed. Get well please and do not get any more Covid vaccines.

As for Covid, I never minimized it and it is definitely a bad illness. Much worse than colds or the flu.

Be well

@ Igor:

I thank you for your kind wishes but please read more carefully: this happened a LONG time ago. I’m fine. The point of my story was that respiratory infections can be long lasting and dangerous. I had three different Covid vaccines and avoided getting sick entirely.

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