Policy dictates science, actually

We’ve got used to governments and their political scientific appointees claiming to be the sole custodians of The Science which they are so assiduously following in all kinds of strange directions. Dr Fauci infamously said that to disagree with him is to disagree with Science. And we’ve also come to understand that there is widespread opposition to this official views from highly accredited scientists and doctors, who have been comprehensively censored, ridiculed and penalised in ways that do no credit to the “mainstream view.” The intellectual basis of this polarisation is largely explained in this article. But the last week has taken a more remarkable turn, in the sidelining of official committees themselves.

First there was the JCVI in Britain, the advisory body on vaccinations that came out firmly against vaccinating children, but was clearly under extreme political pressure since it left the door ajar for “wider societal considerations,” as if apologising for doing its job properly. That door was immediately barged open by Ministers and Dr Whitty, who ignored their own experts by pushing ahead with vaccination of school-children anyway, despite dropping case numbers and the total absence of a surge following the start of the new school term. A member of JCVI subsequently wrote a somewhat coded rebuttal, saying that “Covid vaccines for children would not be approved before full investigation in normal times” (see here: the full Times article is behind a paywall). He fails to spell out in what sense these times are “not normal,” but the impression is that he speaks of political, rather than epidemiological, abnormality. There is hardly a viral annihilation of schoolchildren, or anyone else, at the moment, after all.

Then we had the two senior vaccine experts of America’s FDA – Marion Gruber, the director of the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, and Phil Krause, deputy director – resigning before publishing a letter in The Lancet strongly advising against booster vaccines (a position also taken by the WHO, one might add). Once again the facts suggest, and the rumours assert, that their resignation – a most unusual event – came because of undue political pressure to approve boosters.

Despite this, or maybe because of it, the FDA too came out 16:2 against such boosters. It is said that this slide helped them in their decision:

Nevertheless, Dr Fauci gave an exclusive interview to The Telegraph over the weekend announcing the third dose, which is already being rolled out in America, and also in England – no doubt I’ll get an invitation from my doctor in a week or two (which I shall politely decline). And it’s well on its way in Israel, of course, who started it off. The UK government didn’t even, it seems, bother to consult JCVI on this. But I gather the mathematician Neil Ferguson, who has never treated a patient in his life, deems it necessary to prevent, again, hundreds of thousands of deaths which his lockdowns prevented last year, according to his models, but which remain (according to him) totally susceptible to a now-endemic virus with a 0.1% IFR.

And so we see that we must no longer rely on official experts who actually are the relevant experts, but we must have the treatment of our bodies governed by, in America, the guy who funded the research that led to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (and even the Lancet, despite its Chinese funding, is now forced to admit there is no evidence for the alternative, natural, explanation, and a lab leap is plausible, now that the NIH funding for Wuhan has been demonstrated). In Britain we are expected to defer to similarly political scientists in the same close circle as Fauci and Daszak, with the same links to the WHO, Big Pharma and The Gates Foundation via GAVI. In both countries, of course, the actual enforcement of these policies comes from politicians of no fixed morality.

Because it’s vaguely on the same theme of wise advice being ignored, I will close by pointing to the reproduction of a paper by the late Donald Henderson, who was more than anyone else responsible for the successful eradication of smallpox, as instigator and director of the WHO campaign for ten years.

It seems that the first spawning of the “Lock ’em down” approach that flew in the face of even the 2019 WHO pandemic guidelines, but quickly prevailed in COVID, occurred in 2006 at the behest of the Bush administration, involving computer modellers and “a small group of public health officials.” Dr Fauci, even then running the NIAID, was no doubt involved.

Henderson dismantles the new approach to pandemics comprehensively, in a way that predicts many of the woes we have seen because his warning was not remembered in 2020. Admittedly his approval of antivirals, in particular, has not aged well given the debacle over Tamiflu not long afterwards, and his approval of vaccination (whilst pointing out that the delay in development would severely limit its usefulness) is based on the assumption that the pandemic would involve a new strain of influenza, with well-established methods of conventional vaccine development.

Otherwise, though, he debunks the utility and practicability of hand sanitisation (other than as a routine precaution), widespread quarantine and self-isolation, travel restrictions, major disruption of social activities, school closures, social distancing and the use of masks. Unlike our governments, he draws attention to the hugely damaging effects of many of these on society, proving that cost-benefit analysis was not only possible, but elementary. Henderson actually finishes thus:

An overriding principle. Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted. Strong political and public health leadership to provide reassurance and to ensure that needed medical care services are provided are critical elements. If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe.

No prizes for guessing how he would have responded to using behavioural psychology to increase fear in lieu of increasing infectious disease hospital capacity, which Henderson notes to have been badly run-down even in 2006.

The most sobering part of his analysis, to me, is in the section on the suppression of social interaction. He writes:

Implementing such measures would have seriously disruptive consequences for a community if extended through the 8-week period of an epidemic in a municipal area, let alone if it were to be extended through the nation’s experience with a pandemic (perhaps 8 months).

He was clearly being over-optimistic in taking it for granted that the measures he rejects would allow a new pathogen to follow its natural course over weeks or, at most, months. Our rulers have managed to keep COVID as the major obsession not for an unthinkable eight months in America, but for 19 months (or 22 months from the probable date of the lab leak), and counting, all around the world.

Well done, chaps, if disruption was the intention.

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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