Covid-19-84. Apologies to George Orwell.

Key Points

Key Evidence

If you only have time to look up one of the many credible and compelling links included here, please review this presentation (video & PDF of slides with references) from the Canadian Covid Care Alliance. A convincing case is made that the “Pfizer inoculations for Covid-19 do more harm than good” and “should be withdrawn immediately.”

My Approach

While I am no health scientist or professional, I have done a PhD so am familiar with the scientific process and peer review. My view is not set in stone but follows the evidence. The Covid virus itself is changing and of course the scientific knowledge about it is also developing. My thinking and response are correspondingly open to change.

I should also disclose how my values may influence (bias) my thinking. My environmental sustainability and spiritual values are such that I favour natural approaches to health and wellbeing over pharmaceutical intervention, wherever possible. This is as much based on values as it is on science. This does not mean that I never take a pharmaceutical intervention. In fact, my gut health in the last year has significantly improved largely thanks to a pharmaceutical intervention. In the area of Covid prevention and treatment, my existing beliefs and values draw me to natural and lifestyle approaches to health promotion. Already following a plant-based diet, I am heartened to know my risk reduction is 73% for moderate-to-severe Covid-19.

My Current Position

Notwithstanding my openness to learn and grow, I believe Australian and global public health policy settings are far removed from what would be expected from a society that prioritises values of health, safety and societal freedom (as has been understood and practised in Western democracies for much of the last couple of centuries).

Covid-19 comes nowhere near the level of lethality needed to justify what amounts to a huge inroad into the basic standards of a functioning liberal democracy.” – James Allan, Garrick Professor of Law, UQ

Why the Apparent Mismatch Between Public Policy and Scientific Evidence?

I trust our government and health professionals to be doing the best they can given:

There is a significant degree of institutionalisation (knowledge, values, rules) and path dependency that helps to explain how this interplay may not always lead to optimal public health outcomes. My PhD on institutionalisation and path dependency in another field provides me with some experiential basis to posit this explanation.

But Isn’t there a Scientific Consensus?

In many fields there develops over time a consensus of scientific enquiry such that new evidence tends to confirm core hypotheses and these are eventually firm enough to inform public policy. An example is anthropogenic global warming.

Fact checkers (such as, Politifact, etc) are usually useful points of reference for the non-expert public citizen. However, the science of Covid is novel compared to most other fields of enquiry, thus knowledge is rapidly growing. Often that necessitates changing basic assumptions and decisions about public health science and policy.

Is there a role for fact-checkers when scientific enquiry can often be more divergent than convergent at this early stage? Unfortunately, current fact-checking regarding Covid is at risk of being driven more by political and corporate interests defending existing or desired policy settings rather than being open to the truth gained through genuine and open scientific enquiry.

A case in point is when the highly prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) was “fact-checked” by Facebook/Meta such that BMJ felt compelled to publish a pointed open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, identifying the fact-checking as “inaccurate, incompetent and irresponsible”. The original story was the BMJ’s publication of a whistle-blower’s disclosure of concerns regarding Pfizer’s clinical trials.

The Logical Case Against Mandates

There is quite a compelling case against inoculation mandates from a health science and policy point of view. There is minimal to zero personal benefit, negligible societal benefit (in terms of transmission risk), and some level of personal health risk. While there are regulatory norms around safety and efficacy that arguably have not been satisfied for covid inoculations, whether the level of personal health risk is ultimately tolerable or not should be, in my opinion, left up to personal values and judgment. This is usually referred to as informed consent.

There are also undesirable societal impacts of inoculation mandates beyond epidemiological metrics. A perverse incentive is created by mandating en masse a pharmaceutical intervention which unavoidably carries some level of health risk (even if only perceived), is urgently fast-tracked in the context of a declared global pandemic, and from which pharmaceutical companies derive a significant profit. The perverse incentive is to cut corners on safety and efficacy trials, and to ‘sell’ a message of fear to the public to increase demand. There is also a perverse incentive to ignore and even demonise effective treatment options. (Early treatment has saved millions of lives in many developing countries, which have far better disease and death rates compared to Western countries.)

Do we really want there to be a gold-rush mentality among pharmaceutical companies the next time there is a chance of a global pandemic?

Mandates also promote anxiety, distrust and division in an already suffering society.

Thankfully Japan is modelling an approach based on informed consent as opposed to compulsion; though it is somewhat alarming that it is unique in this regard. In relation to Covid inoculation, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare clearly states: “Please do not force anyone in your workplace or those who around you… and do not discriminate.”

Isn’t it selfish to push back against inoculation?

If inoculation was safe and effective (including at preventing transmission), then yes, it could be argued to be selfish not to be inoculated. The preponderance of evidence undermines these requisite conditions, however.

There are a number of legitimate alternative perspectives that actually put the ‘selfishness’ shoe on the other foot:

Trying to influence the choices of another by applying labels of selfishness is itself an inherently self-serving act. Coercion is antithesis to selflessness, love and freedom. Protesting against illogical mandates at risk of losing one’s livelihood is hard to construe as selfish (although such construction has been attempted).

Follow-up Post (added 11 January)

See my follow-up post for:

  • What public health policy would I recommend?
  • Alternative views (‘fact check’) on the CCCA presentation
  • Where to find published scientific evidence on Covid prevention and treatments (in addition to the links below).

Further Reading

Risk reduction and early treatment:

Declarations & advocacy against mandates: