A Big Picture Look at the Disastrous Public Health Response to COVID-19
An underlying principle of public health is, or was, to provide the public with accurate information so that they can make good health choices for themselves and their community.
The past 3 years have seen this paradigm turned on its head, with the public’s money being used to deceive and coerce them, forcing them to follow public health dictates. The public has funded their own incarceration and impoverishment through their taxes, with public funds driving the unprecedented nonpharmaceutical, and then pharmaceutical, response to a virus that kills mainly old sick people near the end of their lives.
Children have had their education downgraded, and economies have been mangled, ensuring future generations will also pay. So, what did the public actually pay for?
COVID-19 was not novel, but a variation on previous respiratory disease.
Most healthy people infected with SARS-CoV-2 recover without any intervention, gaining natural immunity which, in the absence of vaccination, generates a more robust and long-lasting protection with less risk for reinfections as compared to individuals protected by vaccination alone. Globally, the infection fatality rate (IFR) of SARS-CoV-2 is about 0.15% and comparable to seasonal influenza (IFR 0,1 %). The IFR of those under twenty years was only 0.0013 %, and highest for those beyond 70 years. The IFR of COVID-19 among community-dwelling elderly is lower than previously reported in elderly overall.
A higher IFR was found in countries with many long-term care facilities, perhaps because exposure tends to occur through other immune-suppressed elderly, rather than immune competent children with lower viral loads. An aging population goes through the process of immunosenescence and increased incidence and severity of infectious diseases is expected.
Severe COVID-19, or COVID-19 Associated ARDS, is a syndrome within the known ARDS spectrum. Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and associated cytokine storm has been recognized for more than 50 years. It occurs when a diverse array of triggers causes acute, bilateral pulmonary inflammation and increased capillary permeability leading to acute hypoxemic respiratory failure.
Although supportive care improved the prognosis, mortality and disabling complications in survivors in intensive care are still high, and have remained relatively unchanged in the last 20 years. In 2013 an estimated 2.65 million deaths worldwide were attributed to Acute Respiratory Tract Infection.
As with other ARDS etiologies, people suffering from (COVID-19) ARDS are mostly elderly people with comorbidities including being overweight, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, often using multiple medications. Other restrictions on the immune system, such as vitamin D deficiency, put people at increased risk.
As of July 2022, WHO reported over 601 million confirmed cases and over 6.4 million deaths associated with COVID-19 globally. More than half (3.5 million) died after the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, though 67.7 % of the world population has received at least one vaccination. The WHO estimates a total of 14.9 million excess deaths in 2020-2021 associated with COVID-19 directly due to the disease or indirectly due to the impact of the public health response on health systems and society.
Footing the bill for the disposal of orthodox public health
Since COVID-19 was recognized in Western countries in early 2020, expenditures on public health in many of them have more than doubled, imposing over $500 billion in monthly costs on the global economy. Some trillions more have been spent on compensation and stimulus packages for those left without income due to the public health response, whilst economies, and therefore future employment opportunities, have been heavily damaged. This is nearly all funded by taxpayers, or borrowed to be funded with interest by the taxpayers of the future.
Politicians and various experts have claimed that the coercive COVID-19 public health policies are the only way to curb COVID-19, though such measures were advised against by the WHO in its pandemic influenza guidelines of 2019. They would increase poverty and inequality, whilst having (still) unproven efficacy.
Citizens have paid the bill via taxes for novel nonpharmaceutical interventions (lockdowns, mask mandates and frequent testing) and repeated vaccinations of immune people with rapidly waning vaccines, whilst seeing their own incomes reduced. The increase in the money supply to cover relief for forced unemployment has driven inflation, contributing to increased food, water, energy, health and insurance costs. These responses have disproportionately harmed low income families.
Governments take over medical management
Early in the pandemic it became clear that intubating a COVID-19 patient could increase long-term harm and mortality. Unfortunately, many hospitals continued a low threshold for the use of ventilators for the fear that other methods of oxygenation would spread the virus. In 2020 the US spent billions of dollars stockpiling unused ventilators.
In many countries a relatively new antiviral drug, remdesivir, developed with State funding, became the first choice of treatment for hospitalized people with COVID-19. The safety and toxicity of the expensive remdesivir was widely disputed. Yet even after the first results of the WHO’s Solidarity study found little or no effect on reducing hospital stay or Covid deaths, the EU continued a €1.2 billion agreement with Gilead for 500,000 treatments and it continued to be prioritized for use in the United States.
Final results of the Solidarity study confirmed the finding of little or no effect. In contrast, the use of cheaper drugs with antiviral activity, like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, was suppressed. Although ivermectin is now included in lists of the US National Institutes of Health in August 2022, governments are silent on its use, preferring to transfer funds to Pharma for newer on-patent drugs.
Expanding lockdowns from prisons to society
Lockdowns may prove to be one of the gravest governmental failures of modern times. A cost-benefit analysis of the response to COVID-19 found lockdowns to be far more harmful to public health (at least 5-10 times) in terms of well-being than COVID-19. Significant collateral damage is not unexpected, as mass business closures and restricted movement have affected billions of people globally through poverty, food insecurity, loneliness, unemployment, educational interruption, and interrupted healthcare. What did not make media headlines is the more than 3 million children who have died from malnutrition in the first year of the pandemic. Together with increasing malnutrition, the world is facing rising burdens of child marriage and child labor, developmental and mental problems, poverty, suicide and chronic disease.
Reviews of the effects of lockdowns on COVID-19 mortality concluded there is no broad-based evidence of noticeable COVID-19 benefit. Pandemic models that guided poverty not only overestimated COVID-19 impact but failed to take into account the collateral damage of lockdowns. The sense of fear, anxiety and helplessness brought to families and 2.2 billion children around the globe with removal of future earning capacity and limited access to healthcare will impact lives in an unprecedented manner for generations.
A recent study analyzing the 50 states of the US, with 10 states that had no lockdown impositions, strongly support the hypothesis that lockdowns place a sudden and severe stress burden on vulnerable demographics and were associated with significant increases in death in those states that used lockdowns as a disease control measure.
Mental health problems, noncommunicable inflammatory diseases, cancer and sudden deaths have increased in people across all age groups, indicating millions of people may now have more compromised immune systems. The links between stress/anxiety, ill-health and early death have long been recognized.
Within Western countries, the most deprived people and neighborhoods have higher risks for severe COVID-19, and higher mortality rates. The underprivileged in society are disproportionately affected by infectious diseases due to poverty, malnutrition, chronic stress, depression and anxiety, a deprived immune system and poor access to health-care. Rather than enhancing the resilience of these populations, the public health response has compounded their poverty, removed education opportunities, and so increased their vulnerability to this and future pandemics.
Testing for sake of testing
State investments were made for COVID-19 diagnostics: PCR tests and point-of-care tests including rapid antigen tests. While billions of tests have been used, they are poor in distinguishing infectiousness and inaccuracy provides a false sense of security, with positive results unnecessary driving fear and sick leave.
The WHO had previously, sensibly, advised against contact tracing once extensive community spread is present – people will be infected eventually, and gain immunity. Spending resources to find a small proportion, not possibly sufficient to stop transmission, is epidemiologically pointless. No reason was provided for reversing this orthodox and logical advice.
Hiding faces to pollute the environment
While there is no sound scientific support for the effectiveness of face mask mandates in the community, including children, state governments invested in the availability of free face masks for all citizens. The two published randomized controlled trials of face masks during COVID-19 showed minimal or no impact, while meta-analyses of previous studiesshow no significant efficacy. Yet in the first half of 2020 importation of face masks in the EU grew 1,800 % to €14 billion, while the industry in 2021 was worth $4.58 billion globally. Face masks with microplastics and nanoparticles are now polluting the environment, and potentially increasing the risk of impaired immune systems.
Getting an awkward technology past the regulators
Despite severe COVID-19 being highly concentrated in elderly people since early 2020, with significant comorbidities and strong evidence of effectiveness of post–infection immunity, the WHO stated in early 2021 that vaccinating the global population against COVID-19 is the only long-term strategy to contain the coronavirus crisis; “No one is safe until everyone is safe”. Rising vaccination rates were said to be necessary to improve healthcare, job prospects and future educational plans.
Unfortunately, the peak efficiency of 97% and 96% respectively claimed for the Moderna and Pizer COVID-19 vaccines against COVID hospitalization waned rapidly after vaccination. The 6-month follow-up reports showed no reduction in all-cause mortality. The COVID-19 adenovector vaccines from Astra-Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson showed better protection against mortality but aren’t used for booster vaccinations in most countries due to the risk of vaccine-related side effects.
A recent peer-reviewed article by Fraiman et al. noted excess risk of serious adverse events analyzing the trial data of both mRNA vaccines that points to the need for formal harm-benefit analyses, particularly those that are stratified according to risk of serious COVID-19 outcomes. The authors request the public release of participant level datasets from the sponsoring drug companies, which is still not openly available.
Moreover, the vice president of Pfizer, answered the question of Rob Roos, a Dutch Europarlementarier during the European Commission on October 11, 2022, concerning whether the mRNA vaccine of Pfizer had been tested for prevention of transmission of the virus before the release of the vaccine in 2021. She said no, thus indicating the vaccine promotion and coercion was based on false arguments.
For authorization to use medical interventions the benefits need to outweigh the risks. These mRNA vaccines don’t clearly meet this bar for people under 70 years of age. A recent study by nine health experts from major universities found that per COVID-19 hospitalization prevented in previously uninfected young adults, between 18 and 98 serious adverse events were observed. In Scandinavian countries the use of the Moderna mRNA vaccine has been restricted for the potential risk of heart inflammation in adolescents
Although official reports on the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines by Public Health Institutes have been limited, there is growing data on myocarditis, menstrual irregularities or the excess of all cause mortality and severe outcomes in vaccinated groups. The recent leakage of Israeli safety data and release of US CDC V safe Data show serious safety problems with COVID-19 vaccines that deliberately need further investigations.
Countries with the highest vaccination rates and strongest coercive measures have experienced high numbers of hospitalization and deaths, while some with a low vaccination rate, including many sub-Saharan countries maintained low Covid-19 mortality. Antibody responses are shown to be lower in elderly people while decreased responses or higher infection rates have occurred after repeated vaccinations. The CDC disclosed just how fast mRNA boosters can fail.
This calls into question the mass all-population vaccination and boosting strategy. Pascal Soriot, the CEO of Astra-Zeneca, has suggested that “booster jabs for healthy people on a yearly basis are a waste of tax money.
A temporary reprieve
On August 11, 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that the virus now poses significantly lower risk due to high levels of immunity from vaccines and infections. On August 19, it changed its recommendations to reflect this, no longer differentiating between vaccine status or post-infection immunity. President Biden declared in September 2022 “The pandemic is over,” though it remains unclear what this means with ‘emergency’ measures remaining in place.
While the global economy has suffered, this is only clear from a specific standpoint. In contrast to the mass of the population, private companies are involved in the response, particularly in the pharmaceutical, biotech and web-based sectors. These companies have increased their wealth by hundreds of billions of dollars in 2020 and 2021, as did high-net-worth individuals, many of whom were advocating for the response that ensured this.
The beguiling vision of fleecing taxpayers to benefit the private sector
The current COVID-19 response has wiped out the gains from decades of global progress in health and income, especiallyfor women and has exacerbated persistent inequities. Unfortunately, a world that is facing the most serious health crisis in a century and the most serious economic and social crises since the second World War is now also on the hook to fund those who would repeat this.
Together with the WHO, world leaders have now called for a global pandemic preparedness treaty to make this state of affairs more readily repeatable. They justify this call for further diversion of public funds through the harms, financial and other, accrued during the COVID-19 outbreak.
This is driven by a vision that health is a political choice based on solidarity and ‘equity’ to be established in a centralized global response delivered via international organizations including the WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, (a global Vaccine Alliance) and the public-private partnership Coalition for Economic Preparedness Information (CEPI), launched in 2017 at the WEF by Bill Gates, the Wellcome Trust, Norwegian Government and others. Finance institutions, including the World Bank, have now stepped in to accelerate the growth of this burgeoning pandemic industry. A new World Bank-hosted Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response was installed at the G20 Health Ministerial Meeting in June 2022.
A real concern is growing that the new vision of drug and vaccine approval by the FDA and EMA will expand a commercialized market driven by drug manufacturers at the expense of rigorous independent scientific and regulatory review. This risks irreparable harm for many people while boosting the profits of pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Prescribed medications are already estimated to be the third most common contributor to death globally after heart disease and cancer.
Despite their stated intent, the investments in COVID-19 vaccinations and nonpharmaceutical interventions of the past three years have not improved human capital, economic and societal performance. Moreover illnesses, disabilities and mortality show steep rises in the working age group (25-64 years) as observed by insurance companies. Predictions by consultancy firms of the support Covid-19 vaccinations would provide to the economy have been unrealistic. Countries are now facing shortages of healthcare workers in part due to vaccine mandates, reducing healthcare access to people with ill-health who have paid insurance and tax money for healthcare. It might even result in bankruptcy of hospitals.
Good Health, the most precious asset of life
The CEO of CEPI stated in an interview with McKinsey that “The emergent issue of waning immunity and the threat posed by the evolution of the virus tell us that we need to produce broader and more enduring immune responses.” Mass surveillance, lockdowns, wearing face masks and poorly effective COVID-19 vaccines have contributed to chronic stress, fear and anxiety that reduce the resilience of immunity. Unfortunately, when the immune system (immunosenescence) is weakened vaccinations are also less able to generate effective protection.
More state investments in frequent vaccinations, mass distribution of vaccines, developing new vaccines within 100 days, development of simulating models, and more clinical trials will be poor alternatives to strengthen the underlying immune systems through a life in freedom with high social capital, a healthy diet, education, sports, play, social interactions, equity in decision-making and fair earnings.
Health is key for resilient economies worldwide. The relationship between health and the economy is bidirectional, whereby economic growth enables funding in investments that improve health; and a healthy population contributes to and enhances an economy. Therefore, public and private investments in health for all needs to transform from maximizing value for money to positive cumulative impacts on people’s lives.
Optimizing health is the ultimate goal and a human right. The global response to the coronavirus pandemic has revealed an ethical crisis in public health, in which the pre-pandemic norms of public health ethics have been cast aside.
This has wrecked health, human rights and economies, whilst the people public health was supposed to serve it had to pay for its implementation, and will pay for its harms. It will be a long way back, and recovery will require public health to return to its servant nature, and leave the limelight where it caused such disaster.
The Best Life Lesson for a Teen Is a Job
From the Brownstone Institute
During the Covid debacle, kids were locked out of school or otherwise condemned to an inferior Zoom education for up to two years. What were the alternatives? Unfortunately, since the New Deal, the federal government has severely restricted teenagers’ opportunities for gainful employment. But new evidence proves that keeping kids out of work doesn’t keep them out of mental health trouble.
Yet suggesting that kids take a job has become controversial in recent years. It is easy to find expert lists on the dangers of teenage employment. Evolve Treatment Center, a California therapy chain for teenagers, recently listed the possible “cons” of work:
- Jobs can add stress to a child’s life.
- Jobs can expose kids to people and situations they might not be ready for.
- A teen working a job might feel like childhood is ending too soon.
But stress is a natural part of life. Dealing with strange characters or ornery bosses can speedily teach kids far more than they learn from a droning public school teacher. And the sooner childhood ends, the sooner young adults can experience independence – one of the great propellants of personal growth.
When I came of age in the 1970s, nothing was more natural than seeking to earn a few bucks after school or during the summer. I was terminally bored in high school and jobs provided one of the few legal stimulants I found in those years.
Thanks to federal labor law, I was effectively banned from non-agricultural work before I turned 16. For two summers, I worked at a peach orchard five days a week, almost ten hours a day, pocketing $1.40 an hour and all the peach fuzz I took home on my neck and arms. Plus, there was no entertainment surcharge for the snakes I encountered in trees while a heavy metal bucket of peaches swung from my neck.
Actually, that gig was good preparation for my journalism career since I was always being cussed by the foreman. He was a retired 20-year Army drill sergeant who was always snarling, always smoking, and always coughing. The foreman never explained how to do a task since he preferred vehemently cussing you afterwards for doing it wrong. “What-da-hell’s-wrong-with-you-Red?” quickly became his standard refrain.
No one who worked in that orchard was ever voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” But one co-worker provided me with a lifetime of philosophical inspiration, more or less. Albert, a lean 35-year-old who always greased his black hair straight back, had survived plenty of whiskey-induced crashes on life’s roller coaster.
Back in those days, young folks were browbeaten to think positively about institutions that domineered their lives (such as military conscription). Albert was a novelty in my experience: a good-natured person who perpetually scoffed. Albert’s reaction to almost everything in life consisted of two phrases: “That really burns my ass!” or “No Shit!”
After I turned 16, I worked one summer with the Virginia Highway Department. As a flag man, I held up traffic while highway employees idled away the hours. On hot days in the back part of the county, drivers sometimes tossed me a cold beer as they passed by. Nowadays, such acts of mercy might spark an indictment. The best part of the job was wielding a chainsaw—another experience that came in handy for my future career.
I did “roadkill ride-alongs” with Bud, an amiable, jelly-bellied truck driver who was always chewing the cheapest, nastiest ceegar ever made—Swisher Sweets. The cigars I smoked cost a nickel more than Bud’s, but I tried not to put on airs around him.
We were supposed to dig a hole to bury any dead animal along the road. This could take half an hour or longer. Bud’s approach was more efficient. We would get our shovels firmly under the animal—wait until no cars were passing by—and then heave the carcass into the bushes. It was important not to let the job crowd the time available for smoking.
I was assigned to a crew that might have been the biggest slackers south of the Potomac and east of the Alleghenies. Working slowly to slipshod standards was their code of honor. Anyone who worked harder was viewed as a nuisance, if not a menace.
The most important thing I learned from that crew was how not to shovel. Any Yuk-a-Puk can grunt and heave material from Spot A to Spot B. It takes practice and savvy to turn a mule-like activity into an art.
To not shovel right, the shovel handle should rest above the belt buckle while one leans slightly forward. It’s important not to have both hands in your pockets while leaning, since that could prevent onlookers from recognizing “Work-in-Progress.” The key is to appear to be studiously calculating where your next burst of effort will provide maximum returns for the task.
One of this crew’s tasks that summer was to build a new road. The assistant crew foreman was indignant: “Why does the state government have us do this? Private businesses could build the road much more efficiently, and cheaper, too.” I was puzzled by his comment, but by the end of the summer I heartily agreed. The Highway Department could not competently organize anything more complex than painting stripes in the middle of a road. Even the placement of highway direction signs was routinely botched.
While I easily acclimated to government work lethargy, I was pure hustle on Friday nights unloading trucks full of boxes of old books at a local bindery. That gig paid a flat rate, in cash, that usually worked out to double or triple the Highway Department wage.
The goal with the Highway Department was to conserve energy, while the goal at the book bindery was to conserve time—to finish as quickly as possible and move on to weekend mischief. With government work, time routinely acquired a negative value—something to be killed.
The key thing kids must learn from their first jobs is to produce enough value that someone will voluntarily pay them a wage. I worked plenty of jobs in my teen years – baling hay, cutting lawns, and hustling on construction sites. I knew I’d need to pay my own way in life and those jobs got me in the habit of saving early and often.
But according to today’s conventional wisdom, teenagers should not be put at risk in any situation where they might harm themselves. The enemies of teenage employment rarely admit how the government’s “fixes” routinely do more harm than good. My experience with the highway department helped me quickly recognize the perils of government employment and training programs.
Those programs have been spectacularly failing for more than half a century. In 1969, the General Accounting Office (GAO) condemned federal summer jobs programs because youth “regressed in their conception of what should reasonably be required in return for wages paid.”
In 1979, GAO reported that the vast majority of urban teens in the program “were exposed to a worksite where good work habits were not learned or reinforced, or realistic ideas on expectations in the real world of work were not fostered.” In 1980, Vice President Mondale’s Task Force on Youth Unemployment reported, “Private employment experience is deemed far more attractive to prospective employers than public work” because of the bad habits and attitudes spurred by government programs.
“Make work” and “fake work” are a grave disservice to young people. But the same problems permeated programs in the Obama era. In Boston, federally-subsidized summer job workers donned puppets to greet visitors to an aquarium. In Laurel, Maryland, “Mayor’s Summer Jobs” participants put in time serving as a “building escort.” In Washington, D.C., kids were paid to diddle with “schoolyard butterfly habitats” and littered the streets with leaflets about the Green Summer Job Corps. In Florida, subsidized summer job participants “practiced firm handshakes to ensure that employers quickly understand their serious intent to work,” the Orlando Sentinel reported. And folks wonder why so many young people cannot comprehend the meaning of “work.”
Cosseting kids has been a jobs program for social workers but a disaster for the supposed beneficiaries. Teen labor force participation (for ages 16 to 19) declined from 58 percent in 1979 to 42 percent in 2004 and roughly 35 percent in 2018. It’s not like, instead of finding a job, kids stay home and read Shakespeare, master Algebra, or learn to code.
As teens became less engaged in society via work, mental health problems became far more prevalent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in “the 10 years leading up to the pandemic, feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness—as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors—increased by about 40 percent among young people.”
The troubled teen years are producing dark harvests on campus. Between 2008 and 2019, the number of undergraduate students diagnosed with anxiety increased by 134 percent, 106 percent for depression, 57 percent for bipolar disorder, 72 percent for ADHD, 67 percent for schizophrenia, and 100 percent for anorexia, according to the National College Health Assessment.
Those rates are much worse post-pandemic. As psychiatrist Thomas Szasz observed, “The greatest analgesic, soporific, stimulant, tranquilizer, narcotic, and to some extent even antibiotic – in short, the closest thing to a genuine panacea – known to medical science is work.”
Those who fret about the dangers that teens face on the job need to recognize the “opportunity cost” of young adults perpetuating their childhood and their dependence. Sure, there are perils in the workplace. But as Thoreau wisely observed, “A man sits as many risks as he runs.”
How Major Media Suppressed My COVID Journalism
From the Brownstone Institute
The COVID-19 emergency has at last come to an end as even the most restrictive countries — the United States, most recently — have lifted draconian Covid mandates. Freedom has been restored, but the pandemic has left an indelible mark on the bedrock institutions of our society. The corruption of the FDA, CDC, the White House, and Big Pharma has been undeniably exposed — a topic I have exhaustively covered for over a year.
Notably, journalism — the filter through which ordinary people living busy lives come to understand the complex matrix of power, money, and influence — has also been exposed for its bizarre servility to public health decrees and pharmaceutical companies. Writing for the most prominent journalistic outlets since 2020, I saw the decay from the inside. Though I have been hesitant to share my experiences of colliding with the inner machinery of media — for my reputational and financial security — I now feel galvanized to lay it on the table after starting a new Substack with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya.
One of the reasons I unexpectedly found myself in the journalism industry was the real possibility of speaking truth to power, presenting radically novel perspectives, and challenging institutional orthodoxy.
My first major forays into the industry were on topics such as how my experiences with racism from childhood inform my view of race relations, how white guilt and identity politics corrupts our discourse, and how 2020 Black Lives Matter riots wreaked havoc in poor, minority communities.
Pieces that I’m perhaps most proud of are the explosion of inner-city violence in Minneapolis in the aftermath of George Floyd and the new phenomenon of Asian women out-earning white men in the US.
My heterodoxy and unwavering commitment to the truth — whether that made me look right-wing, left-wing, or just an artsy weirdo (at times) — didn’t land me a weekly New York Times column, but it did grant me spots in a number of top liberal and conservative-leaning outlets, such as the New York Post, the Globe and Mail, Foreign Policy Magazine, the Grammys (yes, the music awards — their online vertical), and others.
Until it didn’t.
Having taken the heretical line on race, gender, policing, I thought I was immunized from editorial censorship. But, as the pandemic became increasingly politicized through 2021 and 2022 with the rollout of vaccines and public mandates, our society seemed to plunge into further collective psychosis, as spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle has persipaciously observed.
For the first year-and-a-half of the pandemic, I didn’t take any public stance on what was a complex epidemiological issue requiring legitimate expertise to navigate. Besides, I was regularly writing about race, BLM, and policing in the summer of 2020. Then, in the summer of 2021 Justin Trudeau and provincial leaders announced vaccine mandates across the country. Suddenly, going to the gym, restaurants, and large gatherings was conditional on taking a novel mRNA vaccine for a virus that posed less than a 0.003 percent mortality risk for people my age.
I started to examine whether this was the right medical decision for my health. Upon close scrutiny of the best available data, I came away thinking it was not. I didn’t think the Covid vaccine would be an instant death sentence for me, but I didn’t see clear evidence of benefit for healthy people in their 20s. It also just happened to be the case that I fell in the very demographic that was most at-risk of developing a serious vaccine side effect — myocarditis or pericarditis (cardiac inflammation).
Among the most rigorous, comprehensive data we have on vaccine myocarditis is from Dr. Katie Sharff who analyzed a database from Kaiser Permanente. She found a 1/1,862 rate of myocarditis after the second dose in young men ages 18 – 24. For boys ages 12 – 17, the rate was 1/2,650. Active surveillance monitoring in Hong Kong shows virtually identical figures.
Confused and looking for clarity, I reached out to Dr. Jay Bhattacharya — who was among the most sensible public health policy advocates throughout the pandemic — and he validated my serious concerns of vaccine safety and draconian public health policy more broadly.
Frustrated by the government coercing me into taking a medical procedure that was not in my best interest, I resolved to write about this injustice in the several outlets which had previously published my work.
Right away, I faced tremendous resistance of the kind that I never expected. The rejection I experienced when pitching a wide variety of pieces on Covid mandates — reported, opinionated, based on the views of credentialed scientific experts etc.— was unprecedented. Even editors who I deemed as allies — publishing polarizing pieces such as the “fallacies of white privilege” or why Robin DiAngelo’s last popular racism guidebook promotes a “dehumanizing form of condescension towards racial minorities” — were averse to my work questioning scientifically dubious vaccine mandate policies on the grounds of bodily autonomy and medical freedom.
Many editors explicitly stated their outlets were “pro-vaccine” and didn’t want to run anything that may promote an iota of “vaccine hesitancy” — even in young, healthy groups for which we still have no data on reduction in severe disease or death. One editor responded to my pitch on the lack of epidemiological basis for vaccine mandates with the following:
This paper has been encouraging Covid vaccination for everyone. We don’t want to promote vaccine hesitancy that will get people seriously ill and killed.
Journalists need to be responsible in not sowing distrust in public health guidelines that are meant to keep us safe.
Another editor made it painfully clear after a handful of unsuccessful pitches that the publication as a whole was not keen on publishing anything that deviated from the CDC and FDA’s universal vaccine advisory (vigorously critiqued by the likes of Vinay Prasad and Tracy Beth Høeg MD, PhD.).
I’m going to pass.
As I’ve said many times before, we are a pro-vaccination newspaper, and personally I just wish everyone would get vaccinated already. While I respect your decision not to do so (and I agree jail time for those who don’t is overkill), I’m not keen on op-eds that even appear like they’re arguing against vaccination for Covid or anything else.
Trying to figure out a way to capitalize on a hot news story — as every freelancer learns how to do — I started sending pitches on viral stories of athletes being barred from competition due to their personal choice not to get vaccinated. In response to my proposal on tennis star Novak Djokovic’s debacle, one editor expressed his utter contempt for Djokovic:
In no way do I want a piece supporting people who refuse to get vaccinated. In my opinion, people such as Djokovic, who refuse to get vaxxed, make their own beds and should lie in it.
They are not heroes.
On my pitch about NBA star Kyrie Irving, who had to sit out several games for the Brooklyn Nets because of some undefined risk he posed to society as an unvaccinated player, an editor I was very close with made her profound disagreement undoubtedly clear:
Sorry Rav, but I vehemently disagree with you on this issue. Feel free to pitch elsewhere.
Kyrie Irving refused to help the public get out of the pandemic and now he’s suffering the consequences. It’s on him.
On a couple of occasions, I attempted to cover the perpetually escalating Joe Rogan Covid controversy. In my several pitches, I took various angles such as how many credentialed scientific experts — such as Bhattacharya, Makary, Prasad, and others — were more in line with Rogan’s anti-mandate views than the government and public health agencies were. Here are two editor responses I received when pitching a story on the bizarre controversy of Rogan’s comments that young people in their 20s didn’t need to take the Covid vaccine (May 2021):
Rav, we are not interested in running stories like this.
I think Rogan is actively endangering the lives of children and young adults with his anti-vaccine propaganda — and you need to be more responsible in your coverage as a journalist.
I’m not interested in the Rogan story. It could too easily be construed as anti-vaccine and we want to steer well clear of that.
I don’t want any ambiguity on the issue.
One publication, whose whole mission has been from the start to expose and dismantle institutional orthodoxy, uncritically took the mainstream view on vaccine recommendations as gospel. This editor, who had “platformed” my work explaining the oft-justifiability of police shootings of highly violent, threatening suspects — which, again, was in line with their anti-mainstream view —opposed any view critical of vaccine mandates. In response to one of my pitches on the downplayed risk of vaccine-induced myocarditis in young men, he responded:
Rav, sorry but we’re not going to run any anti-vaccine pieces.
I think the risk is totally overblown and amplified by right-wing pundits who have no concern for public health. These are the safest vaccines we’ve ever had and virtually everyone seeks to benefit.
None of this was based on rigorous scientific analysis — it was all premised on a naive trust in public health authorities and pharmaceutical companies.
As it turns out, the mRNA vaccines are, by all current accounts, the most dangerous government-promoted pharmaceutical products in history. Fraiman and colleagues’ independent analysis of Pfizer and Moderna’s safety data in the medical journal Vaccine shows that mRNA covid vaccines are associated with a 1 in 800 adverse event rate — substantially higher than other vaccines on the market (typically in the range of 1 in a million adverse event rates).
[Note: this study does not negate the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines in reducing death and severe disease in elderly populations (for which we have good data). I personally recommended my grandparents to get vaccinated and was happy they followed through.]
Due to the increasing censorship I faced, I ended up self-publishing my vaccine-myocarditis investigations, including one story on how a 38-year-old law enforcement member in my area almost died from acute vaccine-induced myocarditis after he was forced to get double-jabbed against his will.
At a time when government officials and public health bureaucrats are actively misleading the public, it is the media’s crucial responsibility to hold them accountable. Unchecked power — when unrecognized by the masses — metastasizes and devolves into tyrannical control. This is how you get the FDA approving and recommending the new “bivalent” booster shot to all Americans — as young as 6 months old — based on lab-testing in eight mice (with the White House recklessly advertising on their behalf).
When the media fails, civilization begins to unwind. The powerful get away with more corruption and media homogeneity solidifies, congeals, and becomes increasingly treacherous to question.
This has been my experience over the past two years.
An industry already compromised in the age of Trump and wokeism completely fell apart during a global pandemic. My collisions with this inner machinery are not merely a story of left-wing media bias (a given fact for decades), but — as I alluded to several times — people working in even alternative and right-leaning media spaces refusing to air any form of refutation of authoritarian public health mandates.
This is why traditional left-versus-right paradigms are obsolete. Many “conservatives” bought the public health propaganda wholesale while a number of traditionally progressive thinkers — such as Russell Brand, Matt Taibbi, Jimmy Dore, and Glenn Greenwald (regardless of their personal medical decisions) — vigorously objected to Covid mandates on the basis of foundational, societal principles.
I have largely abstained from sharing my visceral feelings on the demoralizing rejection (and financial loss) I faced for two years as a previously welcomed journalist in major outlets, but suffice it to say I felt incredibly trapped, helpless, vexed, and lost. Some of the aforementioned editors recommended I stick to stories on “cancel culture,” “identity politics,” “race,” and the rest. While all those issues remain deeply concerning, the proposition of being pigeonholed in one specific topic while being censored in another that is far more alarming on a societal level (“Take the jab, or lose your job”) was repugnant to me.
I refuse to be censored.
I won’t perpetually write stories about wokeism spiralling out of control in liberal sectors of society in order to gain clicks and a steady paycheck on conservative websites who want to feed their readers only one narrative.
Today, I am no longer indignant and hopeless, waiting for one of my previous editors to offer me an opportunity again. I have now started my new, independent venture on this platform — The Illusion of Consensus — and am looking forward to bringing new, exciting content to my readers.
Thank you to those who helped share and amplify the several stories I independently wrote on my personal Substack (with a small audience and minimal financial gain) such as Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, and Glenn Greenwald.
As I progress in my ever-evolving journalistic path to expose the truth, I hope you will continue to support my work.
Republished from the author’s Substack
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