We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Covid: The lessons must not vanish down the memory hole

I have been struck in my reading of the media, in conversations with people in the City and elsewhere, as to how the topic of COVID-19 has suddenly disappeared from regular conversation. It is true that the UK came out of lockdowns a bit earlier than some other countries. It is true that the embarrassments of the Boris Johnson Downing Street machine meant that Mr Johnson was afraid to reimpose any controls given that no-one would take him seriously. (One reason I am very sad about the passing of the late P J O’Rourke is the sport he would have had the expense of various governments over such hypocrisies). Even so, it is striking how fast Russia’s attack on Ukraine was able, in a flash, to take the bug away. Gone. Kaput. This is a virus that seems to know the news agenda. Amazing.

But we should not forget the past two years or more of lockdowns, of the pettiness, the bullying, the hysteria, the use of fear, the “what we can get away with”, the suspension of civil liberties, the North Korean-style worship of “Our NHS”, and indeed, we shouldn’t overlook the heroism of medical staff who dealt with the crisis particularly in the early months when the full nature of this bug was unknown. We should not forget China’s refusal to enable a clear analysis of what caused this shitshow, or its bullying of those who asked questions, of the biases of the World Health Organisation, the questionable actions and financial involvements of people such as Anthony Fauci in the US and the unease in asking if this bug came from a lab. We should not forget the shenanigans over PPE contracts in the UK, the frauds over loans to businesses, the cowardice and horribleness of the teaching unions and damage to education. We should not forget the stoicism of lorry drivers, supermarket workers, farmers, delivery drivers and logistics workers. We must not forget how parents could see what their children were learning online, and were shocked.

We must not forget these things.

A video on Ivermectin by Dr John Campbell

A friend directed me to this video. Dr John Campbell has been making YouTube videos on medical subjects since 2008. His stance on the various controversies related to the treatment and prevention of Covid-19 might be called “middle of the road”. He certainly has his critics, both mainstream and not, but his moderation and preference for screenshots of peer-reviewed papers over rhetoric has gained him many followers. This twenty-minute video has had nearly 900,000 views in the two days since it was published: “Ivermectin, more evidence”.

Samizdata quote of the day

As I set out in my book A State of Fear: How the UK government weaponised fear during the Covid-19 pandemic masks are a nudge, even described as a ‘signal’ by David Halpern, the director of the UK government’s Behavioural Insights Team. Similarly, Professor Neil Ferguson said that masks remind us ‘we’re not completely out of the woods yet’. They serve as a visible public reminder of the pandemic, turning us back into walking billboards pronouncing danger. My source concurred: ‘Masks are a behavioural psychology policy. We need to stop pretending that it’s about public health. Nudge is a big thing in government.’

Laura Dodsworth

Samizdata quote of the day

Beyond the fact that the vaccines are utterly ineffective, the mechanisms by which they are harming people is not a complicated as we think. The Danes have apparently reduced the risk 60% by enforcing the aspiration technique. One wonders what the other public health agencies have been doing since! Another CDC alert highlighted leaky blood vessels were a problem. Again admitting the risk caused by these product going intravenous. One wonders how anyone knowing that would continue to vaccinate billions? How can any of the authorities be certain these products won’t leak? They can’t. They never could. It was excusable to not understand the implication of transfection. It is not excusable to avoid looking at the reality in the face for over a year. And they will soon stand trial for that. I wouldn’t want to be their lawyers…

Marc Girardot

I am not as convinced as Marc Girardot that people will stand trial for this, given the widespread overlapping institutional self-interest in handwaving the reality away. My guess is all baleful ‘vaccine’ side effects will be blamed on the mythical long Covid or global warming or Trump or…

Samizdata quote of the day

“We find no evidence that lockdowns, school closures, border closures, and limiting gatherings have had a noticeable effect on COVID-19 mortality.”

Johns Hopkins University, in a recent overview of the impact of lockdowns in handling COVID-19. JH is not some sort of fringe group. Big cheese billionaires such as Michael Bloomberg give oodles of their money to the place. Its standing as a place for medical research is very high.

In the very early days of covid, when information was only starting to come out and when some of the figures looked horrible, lockdowns for a few weeks might have been defensible, much as how one reacts often swiftly to a threat and learns to dial down the reaction later as more data comes in. But that didn’t happen, and in part because of a dangerous inertia, a manipulation of sentiment, and even the idea in some minds that locking down whole populations for months on end might be a quite good thing in its own right. The trashing of the Swedish approach, the demonisation of the Great Barrington Declaration, are all part of this.

Apologies: Link now fixed.

Does aid to evil regimes cement them in power? Should we do it anyway?

When I was young I read many earnest articles saying that international aid should be directed towards eradicating the long term causes of famine and poverty rather than short term fixes for specific disasters. Back then I was convinced by such arguments, but later I reversed my opinion. Give generously in emergencies, yes, but most government-to-government foreign aid was well described by development economist Peter Bauer: “Aid is a phenomenon whereby poor people in rich countries are taxed to support the lifestyles of rich people in poor countries”. The money from the sky is not merely wasted but counterproductive:

Governments embarked on fanciful schemes. Private investors, lacking confidence in public policies or in the steadfastness of leaders, held back. Powerful rulers acted arbitrarily. Corruption became endemic. Development faltered, and poverty endured.

Yet it remains true that when catastrophe strikes it is often only governments who have the power – the credit, the personnel, the ships and aircraft – to render aid quickly. In most such cases I unhesitatingly say, do it. Yeah, it might be nicer if we were not forced to pay taxes for any cause at all but when people are dying by the thousands don’t wait for Libertopia to evolve before helping them.

However it is at least arguable that one situation where even emergency aid can end up doing net harm is when the regime in charge of the country stricken by famine or disaster is so bad that perpetuating it (as the aid will undoubtedly do) is an even worse catastrophe.

Is Afghanistan such a case? This Guardian article does a fair job of presenting both sides of the dilemma, albeit from a starting point far more in favour of international aid than mine.

The problem we are facing…

An excellent summary of an serious issue we are facing by commenter phwest:

Polio and smallpox are not the right comparison to Covid. Those are DNA viruses that are largely stable. The proper comparison to COVID is influenza, a similar RNA virus, which has had a vaccine (of sorts) out for decades of limited effectiveness that requires constant annual fiddling to have any impact at all. There are real medical arguments against the COVID vaccines, the most important of which runs as follows :

Vaccinations prime the body to respond to a highly mutating virus with a specific antibody response. Eventually the virus will mutate to a form that is close enough to the original that it provokes the vaccination response, but different enough that those antibodies will not be effective. Google “Original Antigenic Sin” for more details. Changing the vaccine won’t help, because it too will be close enough to the original to provoke the production of antibodies to the original vaccine, not the updated one.

Now this isn’t any different that natural immunity, which has the same issues. This can be seen with influenza. However natural immunity is generational in the population – that is, each generation acquires immunity to the strains of influenza that were prevalent in their youth, so that as influenza cycles through the various mutations that are available a certain portion of the population has acquired immunity to that strain. This provides a degree of herd immunity that limits the spread.

This is where the risks of a universal COVID vaccine become clear. We are immunizing the entire population against a single strain of COVID. Once the virus mutates its way past the vaccine, and it will, there will be no significant portion of the population that can even acquire natural immunity to the new strains, and new vaccines won’t work for the previously vaccinated. This in particular is why vaccinating children is such a disaster. Not only don’t they need it (children appear to clear the virus through a totally different immune response system in the body, and don’t generate antibodies at all), but now they have a primed immune response and it’s the wrong one.

This is essentially the argument against flu vaccines as well (the effectiveness seen in studies is not actually the effect of the vaccine at all, just the previously acquired immunity to the flu strain in question, which the studies do not control for). And the nastiest possibility is that the flu vaccines themselves are close enough to COVID that they are behind the sharp age response in serious outcomes, as these are the populations with the highest degree of vaccination for influenza (this would be an interesting study that will NEVER be funded for obvious reasons).

Now this is not my field by any stretch, so I am simply summarizing a number of presentations I’ve seen by several immunologists. This exposition makes sense to me, but I am not pretending that I am qualified to actually judge its veracity. It is obviously not a universally held position in that field (at least I hope not). But the public health drive for universal COVID vaccination has significant opposition in the medical community, including some prominent resignations in the US advisory committees over the decision to extend the vaccine to children.

The state is not your friend…

Truly… the state is not your friend.

What is it with Chicoms and killing people’s pets?

“Heartbreak as Hong Kong pet owners give up hamsters for Covid cull”, reports France-24:

Time was running out for Pudding.

The hamster, a new addition to the Hau family, was to be given up to Hong Kong authorities for culling after rodents in a pet shop tested positive for coronavirus — leaving Pudding’s 10-year-old owner wailing in grief.

“I don’t want to, I don’t want to,” the boy cried, his head buried in his hands as he crouched next to Pudding’s pink cage, according to a video shown to AFP by his father.

But the older Hau, who would only provide his last name, said he was worried about his elderly family members who live in the same household.

“I have no choice — the government made it sound so serious,” he told AFP, shortly before entering a government-run animal management centre to submit Pudding.

I am not certain, but I think the video of the little boy crying next to his hamster’s pink cage might be this one, which is being widely shared online.

Given that I am not a vegetarian, I suppose I cannot make too much of a fuss about animals being killed, but I had a hamster once of which I was fond. That little boy will remember his pet being taken away for the rest of his life. I could understand if there were any serious evidence that the cull would achieve anything for humans. None has been provided. Evidence is not really the point here: The People’s Republic of China has a Zero Covid policy. Nothing is to be allowed to stand in the way of progress towards this perfect state. In fact, now that the PRC has dropped the pretence of “One country, two systems” with regard to Hong Kong, it might even be desirable from China’s point of view that the people of Hong Kong should be made aware of what their new masters think of such Western-influenced bourgeois sentimentality. Let the children weep and know themselves powerless.

Of course Communist China has form on this. During the Cultural Revolution,

Even China’s feline population suffered as Red Guards tried to eliminate what they claimed was a symbol of “bourgeois decadence”. “Walking through the streets of the capital at the end of August [1966], people saw dead cats lying by the roadside with their front paws tied together,” writes Dikötter.

Nor was that the first of Mao’s grand animal-killing schemes. In the disastrous Four Pests campaign of 1958-62 he sought to kill all the sparrows in China.

Sparrows were suspected of consuming approximately four pounds of grain per sparrow per year. Sparrow nests were destroyed, eggs were broken, and chicks were killed. Millions of people organized into groups, and hit noisy pots and pans to prevent sparrows from resting in their nests, with the goal of causing them to drop dead from exhaustion.In addition to these tactics, citizens also simply shot the birds down from the sky. The campaign depleted the sparrow population, pushing it to near extinction.

The result was predictable: with the sparrows who ate the insects gone, the numbers of insects exploded. It was a contributing factor to the Great Chinese Famine. Warnings from ornithologists (or anyone else) that this might happen counted for little against a government that had mobilised the people to march towards a public health goal that could be defined in one sentence.

Unboostered Brits infected and dying at higher rates than unvaccinated

In fact, the UKHSA have given us a great gift, in that they finally provide separate case and severe outcome statistics for the triple-vaccinated and the double vaccinated, allowing us to compare rates across all three groups. They don’t do that themselves, of course, but no matter. We can use the raw numbers and rates from last week’s report to derive the total number of double and triple vaccinated, and the rates in this week’s report to derive the triple vaccinated population. A little subtraction then gives us a decent estimate of how many double but not triple vaccinated people there are in each age bracket.

Eugyppius

I strongly recommend reading the entire article.

The fatality myth

The COVID crisis has been utterly absurd from the start, and we – conspiracy theorists or Team Reality advocates (choose your point of view :-)) – have been on a wild goose chase all along, going down one rabbit hole after another… But the very justification of it all, a dubiously high lethality was never challenged as the narrative was overwhelmed by a constant flow of apocalyptic news.

Frankly, I haven’t been able to watch television peacefully ever since, sickened by the stream of idiotic fallacies.

Marc Girarot

I recommend the linked article to everyone.

Samizdata quote of the day

“It is not simply scandalous that civil servants and advisers had fun while none of us could; it is scandalous that they were the ones who imposed those rules on us and are yet to apologise for them.”

Marie Le Conte