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COVID-19

COVID Is Over — But Did We Learn Anything From It?

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7 minute read

From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By PETER ROFF

 

The lockdowns instituted during the COVID pandemic were only supposed to last a few days. Remember “14 days to flatten the curve” was all that was needed to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients infected with the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus.

Two weeks turned into three, then months. Schools were closedBusinesses were shut down. Commercial activity in the world’s most powerful nation ground almost to a halt, but the virus kept killing, mutating and spreading.

States like California and Kentucky enforced the lockdowns with ruthless efficiency. The free exercise of worship and assembly was crushed on the altar of public health and safety.

Was it worth it? The Committee to Unleash Prosperity’s report, “COVID Lessons Learned: A Retrospective After Four Years,” says no. Its authors, who include the Hoover Institution’s Dr. Scott Atlas (who served as an adviser to the White House Coronavirus Task Force), Johns Hopkins University economist Steve Hanke and the University of Chicago’s Casey Mulligan conclude, by using publicly available data and peer-reviewed studies, that the lockdowns cost more lives than they saved.

Atlas, Hanke, Mulligan and Phil Kerpen, president of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity (CTUP) and the fourth and final co-author, conclude: “The ordered shutdown of our schools, churches, and businesses brought little health benefits while imposing multi-trillions of dollars of long-term societal costs.”

“We did not focus on theories or models. We looked at cold, hard facts,” Kerpen says. “The evidence is overwhelming. Lockdowns, school closures, and societal panic/disruption resulted in a staggering number of excess non-COVID deaths in the United States versus zero in non-lockdown Sweden.”

Kerpen estimates that the policies implemented during the lockdowns saved approximately 16,000 lives while causing about 400,000 extra deaths and imposing staggering economic costs, including the loss of 49 million jobs.

Other adverse consequences stemming from the lockdowns cited in the report include a $6 trillion increase in government debt, hundreds of thousands of business bankruptcies and hundreds of thousands of excess deaths from loneliness, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse and delayed hospital care in part due to the forced social isolation.

In the U.S., catastrophes like COVID are usually followed by the appointment of bi-partisan, blue-ribbon commissions to study everything and issue recommendations we’re told will prevent something similar from happening again.

That hasn’t been done this time, which reinforces the suspicion in some minds that COVID-era policymakers who are still in a position to influence the conversation are hiding something. Having made a hash of things, they just as soon allow it all to slide down the memory hole.

Even in China, where popular opinion doesn’t matter, the investigation into the origins of the virus hit a stonewall thanks to what news reports have called “bureaucratic infighting.”

Too many people think the lockdowns worked. They’re ignoring the data. The CTUP report shows them to be wrong. It’s a call for a further probe that searches for the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it might be. Without it, how can we be sure the public’s health and safety will be protected the next time, not to mention our civil liberties?

The CTUP report offers a few “lessons learned” that should inform policymakers’ decision-making in the next crisis. One is that “Leaders should calm public fears, not stoke them.”

“Conventional wisdom pre-COVID was that communities respond best to pandemics when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted,” the authors conclude. During the pandemic, responsible officials in the public eye “intentionally stoked and amplified fear, which overlaid enormous economic, social, educational, and health harms on top of the harms of the virus itself.”

As hard as it is to argue against that, it’s easy to suggest the crisis was used as a political club. What of it? Suppose public health officials, the media, and other policymakers deliberately ignored sound science and proven pandemic countermeasures to inflict political damage on a president they wished to see booted from office. Does that matter? The answer is yes, it does.

There’s more to be learned because there’s more to be studied. None of the nations that used lockdowns to prevent COVID from spreading can report that they worked as intended.

“The best-performing major country in the world was Sweden,” Kerpen says, “which did not employ mandatory lockdowns. Yet, to the extent that official and unofficial commissions in many countries have issued reports, they say the principal lesson to be learned from the pandemic is to lockdown harder and faster. The evidence doesn’t support that. It tells us that the lockdown policies must never be imposed again.”

If Kerpen is correct, and the evidence suggests he is, then policymakers are drawing the wrong conclusions. Lockdowns were a failure, not a success.

Other ways must be found to prevent a future outbreak from turning into a pandemic, hopefully, before the next crisis presents itself.

A former U.S. News & World Report columnist and United Press International senior political writer, Peter Roff is an acknowledged expert on U.S. politics and the policy process. His take on politics and policy appears frequently in print and on U.S. and international broadcasting outlets. Email him at RoffColumns AT gmail.com. Follow him on social media AT TheRoffDraft.

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COVID-19

Dr. Fauci’s Lieutenant on the Hot Seat

Published on

From the Brownstone Institute

BY Justin HartJUSTIN HART  

In a moment of rare bipartisan denunciation, Democrat Representative Kweisi Mfume (D-MD) confronted Dr. David Morens, longtime advisor to Dr. Fauci: “Sir, I think you’re going to be haunted by your testimony today.”

Dr. Morens, a senior scientific advisor at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has been embroiled in controversy following revelations of his attempts to seemingly conceal embarrassing information about his personal friend and NIH grant recipient, Dr. Peter Daszak, President of EcoHealth Alliance. Morens’s attempts to evade Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests laid bare yesterday in front of the Select Committee on Covid-19 were eye-opening and disturbing.

Dr. Morens frequently used his personal email to conduct official business, explicitly to avoid FOIA scrutiny. He emailed a colleague in May 2020: “So you and Peter and others should be able to email me on gmail only.”

In other uncovered correspondence, Dr. Morens openly discussed methods to delete federal records to prevent their release under FOIA: “I learned from our FOIA lady here how to make emails disappear after I am FOIAed, but before the search starts, so I think we are all safe. Plus I deleted most of those earlier emails after sending them to Gmail.”

In one particularly shocking email, Dr. Morens asked Dr. Peter Daszak for monetary reimbursement—specifically a “kickback”—for his assistance in editing EcoHealth Alliance’s grant compliance efforts. Although this allegation has yet to be confirmed, the email reads: “…do I get a kickback???? Too much fooking money!”

Under testimony, Dr. Morens claimed that this was simply “black humor” and “joking” with his friend  Peter Daszak—who is now under disbarment from NIH grants following serious mismanagement of grants to his company EcoHealth Alliance.

In addition to Dr. Morens’s FOIA endrun revelations, the emails also contained unprofessional and misogynistic comments. He seemingly disparaged CDC Director Rochelle Walensky attributing her appointment to her sex: “Well, she does wear a skirt…”

Representative Mary Miller-Meeks (R-IO) confronted Dr. Morens on these issues: “You’re trusted with one of the highest positions in government to combat public health crises. And instead of doing your job, you’re too busy worried about avoiding FOIAs and challenging someone’s position because they happen to wear a skirt.”

Morens apologized but seemed to downplay the significance of his comments: “…it was the same snarky, joking stuff.” But Rep. Miller-Meeks was having none of it. She interrupted: “That’s not a snarky joke. That is an underlying behavior that indicates how you approach women and how you think of women, and it’s disgusting.”

At the heart of the matter is what Dr. Morens was doing to hide information to protect Peter Daszak and even Dr. Fauci from embarrassing revelations of their actions during the Covid-19 pandemic. In emails, Morens discussed back-channeling information to Dr. Fauci to avoid FOIA requests: “I can either send stuff to Tony on his private gmail, or hand it to him…” Confronted by these emails, Morens dismissed them: “There are some elements of this that I don’t think are being understood.”

Additional emails further reveal Fauci’s involvement in offline communications, potentially undermining US government operations by assisting Dr. Morens’s efforts to share internal NIH information with Dr. Peter Daszak.

For instance, Dr. Morens shared confidential information marked (For Official Use Only) with Daszak: “Please feel free to share any docs that I’ve sent to you, with Tony. Hopefully, you can do that in a way that avoids FOIA, and if not possible, just show him stuff on screen share on Zoom.”

Dr. Morens and Dr. Fauci have collaborated and co-authored numerous papers and articles over the years but Morens seemed to downplay his relationship with Dr. Fauci: “I never gone out with him to have a beer.”

Representative Michael Cloud (R-TX) read the email regarding the “FOIA lady” instructing him on how to avoid the information requests. Morens objected: “She gave me [no info] about avoiding FOIA.” Cloud pushed back: “So you were lying then but you’re telling us the truth now?” Morens dug deeper: “I was making a joke with Peter, I said something like ‘I have a way to make it go away’ but that was just a euphemism.”

These past few weeks have been busy for the Select Committee of Covid-19, headed by Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R_OH). They have long requested the disbarment of EcoHealth Alliance and Peter Daszak from the NIH, and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has initiated formal proceedings. The May 15, 2024 memorandum from HHS underscores the severity of EcoHealth’s compliance failures, emphasizing the need for exacting oversight in public health research.

As background to all of this, the ideological framework that Fauci and Morens have consistently promoted over two decades of co-authorship gives some color commentary on where the stringent pandemic policies originated. Their collaboration began with largely technical papers on infectious diseases, yet over time, their recommendations expanded significantly in ambition.

Their earliest publications together (which started in 2004) seemed to show cautious optimism for tackling infectious diseases without breaching individual rights or governance norms. By 2007, their tone had noticeably shifted. In an article on the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, they warned against complacency and hinted at the necessity for heightened vigilance.

In their 2012 work, “The Perpetual Challenge of Infectious Diseases,” they moved even further, declaring eradication—rather than just mitigation—as the new goal, emphasizing a radical new approach to managing infectious diseases.

Their evolution was cemented in a 2016 article on the Zika Virus. In it, they posited that human behaviors and modern societal structures were significant contributors to the emergence of diseases.

…in our human-dominated world, urban crowding, constant international travel, and other human behaviors combined with human-caused microperturbations in ecologic balance can cause innumerable slumbering infectious agents to emerge unexpectedly. In response, we clearly need to up our game…

The implications of crowds spreading sickness are not new, but the corollary here is that human actions need strict regulation to prevent future outbreaks, a policy evolution that would have significant impacts just four years down the line.

The culmination of these ideas appeared starkly in their widely-cited 2020 “Cell Magazine” article in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Here, Fauci and Morens argued for transformative changes in human behavior and infrastructure to live “in greater harmony with nature.” They contended that human behaviors fundamentally disrupt the “human-microbial status quo,” leading to disease outbreaks.

This article was a watershed, revealing their vision of a restructured society to prevent pandemics—an ideological stance that has drawn criticism for its potentially authoritarian overtones.

Fauci and Morens’s advocacy for “rebuilding the infrastructures of human existence” was more than a scientific proposal; it was a call for a societal overhaul.

They seem to pine for yesteryear without all the hustling and bustling: “Since we cannot return to ancient times, can we at least use lessons from those times to bend modernity in a safer direction?”

Nothing epitomizes the US Government’s response to the pandemic like the loaded phrase: “bend modernity in a safer direction.”

Now, with Dr. Morens’s skirting FOIA requests and promoting ways to “[make] it all go away” – the hubris is laid bare for all to see.

The deceitful actions of Drs. Morens, Daszak, and Fauci, their evasion of FOIAs, and their backroom dealings have severely undermined public trust. As these revelations come to light, it is crucial for us to demand greater transparency and integrity from our public health officials. Only then can we restore faith in our health institutions and ensure they truly serve the public good.

Republished from the author’s Substack

Author

  • Justin Hart

    Justin Hart is an executive consultant with over 25 years experience creating data-driven solutions for Fortune 500 companies and Presidential campaigns alike. Mr. Hart is the Chief Data Analyst and founder of RationalGround.com which helps companies, public policy officials, and even parents gauge the impact of COVID-19 across the country. The team at RationalGround.com offers alternative solutions on how to move forward during this challenging pandemic.

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COVID-19

Wenstrup Releases Francis Collins’ House Testimony

Published on

From the Brownstone Institute

BY Robert MaloneROBERT MALONE 

Wenstrup Releases Former NIH Director Francis Collins’ Transcript, Highlights Key Takeaways in New Memo

WASHINGTON — Today, Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) released the transcript from Dr. Francis Collins’ transcribed interview. Dr. Collins helped lead the government’s Covid-19 pandemic response as the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) until his resignation at the end of 2021. In conjunction with the transcript, the Select Subcommittee also released a new staff memo that highlights the key takeaways from Dr. Collins’ transcribed interview. The memo can be found here.

The full transcript can be found here. Below are important exchanges from Dr. Collins’ transcribed interview:

The hypothesis that the Covid-19 pandemic was the result of a lab leak or lab-related accident is not a conspiracy theory. Despite previously disagreeing with the lab-leak theory — both in public and in private — Dr. Collins testified that the lab-leak hypothesis is indeed not a conspiracy theory.

Majority Counsel: “All it’s calling for is a “yes” or “no.” Is the possibility of a lab leak a conspiracy theory?”

Dr. Collins: “You have to define what you mean by a lab leak.”

Majority Counsel: “Putting aside de novo, the possibility of a laboratory or research-related accident, a researcher doing something in a lab, getting infected with a virus, and then sparking the pandemic. Is that scenario a conspiracy theory”?

Dr. Collins: “Not at this point.”


Majority Counsel: “We have talked about this an awful lot, I think I know the answer to the question, but I want to ask it. Is the origin of Covid-19 still unsettled science?”

Dr. Collins: “Yes.”

The “6-feet apart” social distancing guidance that federal public health officials endorsed was likely not based on any science or data. Dr. Collins agreed with Dr. Fauci that he has not seen any evidence to support the “6-feet apart” directive — which was promoted by public health officials and caused widespread economic and social damage to Americans.

Majority Counsel: “Moving on to social distancing and the various regulations surrounding that. On March 22, 2020, the CDC issued guidance describing social distancing to include remaining out congregant settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining a distance of approximately six feet from others when possible. We asked Dr. Fauci where the six feet came from and he said it kind of just appeared, is the quote. Do you recall science or evidence that supported the six-feet distance?”

Dr. Collins: “I do not.”

Majority Counsel: “Is that I do not recall or I do not see any evidence supporting six feet?”

Dr. Collins: “I did not see evidence, but I’m not sure I would have been shown evidence at that point.”

Majority Counsel: “Since then, it has been an awfully large topic. Have you seen any evidence since then supporting six feet?”

Dr. Collins: “No.”

NIH often lacks the necessary subject matter expertise to ensure US taxpayer funds are spent safely. Concerningly, Dr. Collins was unaware of any NIH policy that ensures foreign laboratories comply with US standards and are not at odds with U.S. national interests.

Majority Counsel: “Thank you. We’ve asked a number of people regarding the vetting or certifying process of foreign labs that receive U.S. dollars. Do you know what that process is?”

Dr. Collins: “I do not.”

Majority Counsel: “To your knowledge, does NIH certify foreign labs that receive U.S. dollars?”

Dr. Collins: “I don’t know that.”


Majority Counsel: “Again, what we’re trying to figure out is if, like, you get a proposal that has a foreign lab on it, if the NIH would do all the work themselves, or if they would call the State Department, or if they would call some other department to try to determine if that foreign lab is reputable.”

Dr. Collins: “I don’t know.”

The Trump Administration led the charge to rightfully terminate and later suspend EcoHealth Alliance, Inc.’s grant in April 2020. Dr. Collins testified that he supported every enforcement action suggested by the Trump administration and executed by the NIH.

Majority Counsel: “Moving into 2020. Before we start with individual letters, we asked Dr. Lauer and he testified that he would not sign or send a letter that he disagreed with. Do you have any reason to doubt that assertion?”

Dr. Collins: “No.”

Majority Counsel: “Do you agree with every enforcement action the NIH took against EcoHealth?”

Dr. Collins: “Yes.”

Dr. Collins claims that Dr. Fauci invited him to participate in the infamous February 1, 2020 phone call that allegedly “prompted” the public narrative that Covid-19 originated from nature and that vilified the lab-leak hypothesis.

This testimony directly contradicts earlier statements made by Dr. Fauci.

Majority Counsel: “How were you made aware of this call?”

Dr. Collins: “I was, I think – again, it’s four years ago – initially informed by Dr. Fauci that the call was happening. And then, I think I got this email forwarded about what the agenda was going to be from Dr. Farrar, who was clearly the person organizing the call.”

Majority Counsel: “Did Dr. Fauci ask you to join the call?”

Dr. Collins: “Yes.”


There we have it. Ex-director NIH Francis Collins had NO data and has not seen any data to support the social distancing edicts from HHS.


The transcript itself documents that Director Collins had evidence that masking would harm children.

From the transcript:

Q: In the realm of masking, obviously masks became this big to-do during the pandemic. One of the specific aspects that we are interested in is the science and data that supported it for children. So the WHO recommended against masking children less than five because masks are, I’m quoting, not in the overall interest of the child, and against children 6 to 11 from wearing masks because of again, quoting, the potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychological development. The United States recommended masking kids as young as two, so directly contradicted the WHO’s recommendation on that. 

Do you recall what science or data backed up that recommendation?

Collins: I have no knowledge of that. 

Q: Okay. There are now studies coming out regarding learning loss from both school closures and childhood mask wearing — for masks specifically, kids not being able to see adults form words and things like that and it’s causing speech issues. Are you aware of those issues? 

Collins: In a general way, yes. 

Q: Do you agree that there’s learning loss and other unintended consequences of mask-wearing? 

Collins: I have to depend on the experts who assess those things who have evidence, they say, that that’s the case.


This is all the evidence required to conclusively demonstrate that the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) needs a complete overhaul.

Republished from the author’s Substack

Author

  • Robert Malone

    Robert W. Malone is a physician and biochemist. His work focuses on mRNA technology, pharmaceuticals, and drug repurposing research. You can find him at Substack and Gettr

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