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 Enemies Of Rational Values: How the organized Left got Covid wrong, learned to love lockdowns and lost its mind: an autopsy

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Enemies Of Rational Values: How the organized Left got Covid wrong, learned to love lockdowns and lost its mind: an autopsy Vide
PostSubject: Enemies Of Rational Values: How the organized Left got Covid wrong, learned to love lockdowns and lost its mind: an autopsy   Enemies Of Rational Values: How the organized Left got Covid wrong, learned to love lockdowns and lost its mind: an autopsy Icon_minitimeFri Apr 01, 2022 9:52 pm

It is hard to destroy your own cause and feel righteous while doing so, yet the American left has done it. After more than two centuries at the vanguard of the struggle for freedom, the American left, broadly defined, executed a volte face and embraced anti-working-class policies marketed as purely technical public health measures.

Enemies Of Rational Values: How the organized Left got Covid wrong, learned to love lockdowns and lost its mind: an autopsy Pro-vax

For two years the left has championed policies of surveillance and exclusion in the form of: punitive vaccine mandates, invasive vaccine passports, socially destructive lockdowns, and radically unaccountable censorship by large media and technology corporations. For the entire pandemic, leftists and liberals – call them the Lockdown Left – cheered on unprecedented levels of repression aimed primarily at the working class – those who could not afford private schools and could not comfortably telecommute from second homes.

Almost the entire left intelligentsia has remained psychically stuck in March 2020. Its members have applauded the new biosecurity repression and calumniated as liars, grifters, and fascists any and all who dissented. Typically, they did so without even engaging evidence and while shirking public debate. Among the most visible in this has been Noam Chomsky, the self-described anarcho-syndicalist who called for the unvaccinated to “remove themselves from society,” and suggested that they should be allowed to go hungry if they refuse to submit. [1]

In Jacobin, a magazine claiming to support the working class in all its struggles, Branko Marcetic demanded the unvaccinated be barred from public transportation: “one obvious course of action is for Biden to make vaccines a requirement for mass transport.” [2] Journalist Doug Henwood has scolded the unvaccinated with: “Get over your own bloated sense of self-importance.” [3] But Henwood has championed shutting down all of society in the name of safety, while refusing to engage counter-arguments – a combination that suggests a bloated sense of self-importance of his own.

Other left intellectuals, like Benjamin Bratton, author of a Verso book on the pandemic called Return of the Real, are notable for hiding amidst academic blather: “the book’s argument is on behalf [of] a ‘positive biopolitics’ that may form the basis of viable social self-organization, but this is less a statement on behalf of ‘the political’ in some metaphysical sense than on behalf of a governmentality through which an inevitably planetary society can deliberately compose itself.” [4] This is, as the late Alex Cockburn once said, “what dumb people think smart people sound like.”

Even the American Civil Liberties Union – long a bastion of objective thinking and civil liberties absolutism – has supported the mandates, lockdowns, and censorship. David Cole, the group’s legal director, debased himself in the New York Times with a tortured op-ed explaining how everything the ACLU stood for over the last 100 years suddenly did not apply during the season of freakout and overreach. [5]

When activist left influencers did stray from the official line, it was to occasionally harumph about how school closure would be ok if we just had “free childcare for all.” That argument is so flimsy one wants to respond with: “Yes, and let’s call these new socialist childcare centers: public schools!”

All of this unmasks the Lockdown Left’s blue-city provincialism. Its adherents drink high-quality coffee and enjoy bike lanes, but have revealed themselves to be as narrow-minded, clannish, mean-spirited and faith-based as any group of small-town “deplorables” might be. If you don’t agree with the consensus in Cambridge, Brooklyn, Bethesda, or Berkeley, then you are very obviously insane. End of story. For this set, Covid vaccines have become a fetish, a talisman to wave against the specter of “contagion”; while lockdowns and censorship are treated as purely technical, apolitical interventions. Prominent left intellectuals have embraced the weaponization of solidarity and made it into a lifestyle via their obsessive masking, scolding, and hiding. They pretend to care for society while actually applauding deeply anti-social and scientifically ungrounded policies like the indefinite shuttering of schools.

All of this is contingent upon the status of Lockdown Leftists as relatively privileged laptop workers who can operate from the comfort of home, dependent on anonymous “frontline workers” ferrying food and Amazon packages to their doorstep. Prior to the pandemic quarantines, many left intellectuals already lived as if they were on lockdown. I know this because I am part of that class.

Never mind that we are in the tightest labor market in 40 years and should be encouraging workers to unite and fight the bosses for better conditions. Instead, most of the left – including some trade unions – has supported measures that divide, distract, and intimidate the working class. It is a tragic and disturbing spectacle.

The socialist left, which wants to use state power to discipline capital has instead accepted the negative image of its goal: state power used to bully, harass, and discipline workers. The left’s embrace of Covid hysteria makes a mockery of the left’s goals of planning, industrial policy, economic redistribution, worker empowerment, and environmental sustainability. This leftwing self-harm will have deleterious consequences for years to come. Indeed, the situation is worse than a mere political fumble. The left is now actively helping its own enemies. In its unwavering support for mandates, passports, punitive lockdowns, and censorship, the organized left has sided with technocratic elites, the one percent, and the repressive state apparatus everywhere.

Even as politicians climb down from two years of pandemic overreach, the left continues to demand more covid repression and does nothing to oppose punitive vaccine mandates that have driven many thousands of workers out of their jobs – almost 3,000 public workers in NYC alone. For example, my union – the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) representing faculty and staff at the City University of New York (CUNY) and run by a self-consciously “left” clique – continues to demand that all CUNY workers submit to vaccination even as the administration had long ago settled into a workable “vax or test” system.

Worse yet, the PSC seems not to realize that its crusade may invite lawsuits that could fatally undermine the ironclad protections of academic tenure. If the union were to prevail against dissident members in court, their victory would, in effect, reduce tenure to merely another form of routinely breakable contract. University administrators across the country, eager to degrade and casualize academic labor, know this and will be watching with anticipation.

At John Jay College, where I work, the PSC demands vaccination policies – take the jab or be fired – even as a staggering 44% of the non-teaching staff remained unvaccinated as of late February 2022. [6] And the union remains obtusely fixated on vaccines despite the fact that not even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains that vaccines stop or reduce Covid transmission. Director Rochelle Walensky volunteered this fact during an August 5, 2021 interview with Wolf Blitzer. [7] These days, the Lockdown Left still clings to the vaccine myth.

Covid repression portrays itself as apolitical and purely “scientific.” Sadly, most leftists accept this canard. But class war from above is always masked as “merely technical.” Proponents of the War on Drugs never described their open-ended campaign of domestic repression and surveillance as a war on workers and the poor. Likewise, proponents of the War on Terror never described their campaign of forever wars as a permanent assault on the Global South and a war to maintain American hegemony. The left saw through those concoctions. We opposed drug testing not because we were in favor of sharing the road with stoned truck drivers, but rather because we saw the political utility and inherent value in workers having autonomy from coercion by bosses. Alas, the War on Covid, has (at least temporarily) erased our side’s analytic capacities. For large parts of the left it is still March 2020.

Arguing reason against Covid hysteria is like attempting to put out a magnesium fire using water. But I will try anyway.
Theory of the crime

Here is my theory of the crime: a reckless smash and grab operation by Big Pharma, assisted by our totally captured public health agencies, has been allowed to run unchecked, like a cytokine storm of bad policy, because of the unique political dynamics of the 2020 presidential election in which mass Trump Derangement Syndrome short-circuited the critical faculties of almost the entire journalistic class and Democratic Party ecosystem, including the so-called movement left – that milieu of nonprofits, trade unions, pressure groups, and alternative media personalities.

Dating back to the Swine Flu fiasco of 1976, a corrupt symbiosis between industry and the regulators has fueled a dynamic of pandemic-hyping moral panic. [8] In the pre-Trump era these would-be moral panics had limited traction because the critical capacities of journalists and politicians were intact enough to thwart the worst excesses of the pharmaceutical-public health “pandemic industrial complex.” [9] But the fear created by Trump destroyed that capacity for correction.

While it is the mainstream media and the Democratic Party that drive Covid hysteria and the ensuing biosecurity state of emergency, the activist left bears responsibility for not opposing the repression, and even for cheering it on. It is also worth noting that Republican opposition to the Covid lockdowns was relatively ineffective because a dysfunctional Trump administration was incapable of controlling its own Covid Taskforce, and thus enabled technocratic administrators like Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx to hijack White House policy. [10]

Below, I address: agency capture, disease severity, vaccine efficacy, the damage of lockdowns in the Global North and South, freedom as a political goal, and finally how Trump Derangement Syndrome allowed the pandemic industrial complex to run out of control.
Captured Agencies

Large segments of the left are afflicted with an astounding case of political amnesia. The central fact forgotten is that Big Pharma has thoroughly captured our public health agencies.

All US Government public health agency budgets are heavily dependent on fee-for-service research work contracted directly by the pharmaceutical industry in exchange for “user fees.” The FDA website, as if mimicking the satirical film Idiocracy (in which the FDA is purchased by a sports drink “Brawndo – the thirst mutilator”) states that, “About 54 percent, or $3.3 billion, of FDA’s budget is provided by federal budget authorization. The remaining 46 percent, or $2.8 billion, is paid for by industry user fees.”11 Meanwhile, the FDA’s drug approval testing program has 75 percent of its budget paid for directly by pharmaceutical companies. [12]

In addition, government scientists are allowed to own patents derived from the research they do for private corporations. Government scientists can receive royalties of up to $150,000 per patent on top of their salaries. [13] For example, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Chief Medical Advisor to the President, co-owns six HIV related patents. [14] This sort of direct financial entanglement constitutes a very dangerous conflict of interest.

Before Covid, the left led the critique of captured agencies, but now even the likes of Chomsky take the official pronouncements at face value; even as those pronouncements change to the point of self-contradiction, as in: Do not wear masks, do wear masks. The vaccines stop the disease, no the vaccines merely blunt its lethal edge. Asked by Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman why people should trust large pharmaceutical companies like Moderna and Pfizer, Chomsky waved away the issue with, “If the information came from Pfizer and Moderna, there would be no reason to trust it.” [15] But of course much of the most important information does come directly from these companies. More on that later on.
Severity of the disease

The basic error of mainstream media hype is to conflate the “case fatality rate” (CFR) with the “death rate.” The number of known Covid “cases” is a function of testing; more testing means more cases are found. Thus, the denominator in the CFR depends on political, scientific, and economic choices. Up to 40 percent of Covid cases are totally asymptomatic[16] and another 30 percent have only mild symptoms that can be confused with the common cold.17 Many of these asymptomatic and mild cases do not get recognized as Covid.

Thus, the real measure of lethality is not the CFR but the “infection fatality rate” or IFR. That ratio must be estimated from large scale, statistically controlled, randomized testing. We now know that the IFR for Covid is basically low for anyone under 70, but it is rather high for those over 70. A total of 75 percent of Covid deaths have occurred among people over age 65; and 51 percent of the deaths occurred among people over age 75. [18] In early 2021, The Bulletin of the World Health Organization published a Stanford-based epidemiologist’s overview study of 64 studies that used randomized serology sampling for antibodies; it found an infection fatality rate ranging from 0.00% to 1.54%. This study, found that, “In people younger than 70 years, infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.31%…”

Among those over age 85, (the average US life expectancy is about 78 years) the infection fatality rate was very high. [19] One study considered by the author found an IFR of 15% among over 85-year-olds, but most of the studies found much lower rates and thus the mean average was lower. [20] Translation: the young have very little to fear from this disease, while the very old face very real risks. Policy should have reflected these facts, but it has not.

The author of that study, John Ioannidis, MD, MPH, Physician and Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Stanford University, has been attacked and censored simply for doing antibody research that suggested an IFR lower than that assumed in most headlines. As Politico explained: “YouTube has been especially aggressive about pulling down speech that questions various coronavirus prevention measures. For instance, the company took down a March 2020 interview with John Ioannidis — a Stanford physician long known for skewering bad science — in which he questioned the quality of the data about COVID-19 death rates and called for more targeted responses to the pandemic.” [21]

The real IFR demonstrated by Ioannidis suggest that the approach called “focused protection” put forward in the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) – a statement drafted by several prominent epidemiologists that promoted an alternative strategy which sought to protect the most vulnerable, for example the elderly with pre-existing health problems, while minimizing the social harm of overly broad lockdowns – would have been the most effective public health strategy. But the left, like the liberal mainstream, immediately attacked “focused protection” not on the merits of the argument but with guilt by association – because the GBD was associated with a libertarian think tank. [22]

The real IFR was becoming apparent by March of 2020 and it offered an opportunity for a policy course correction. [23] But the pandemic was already hostage to the party politics of an extraordinarily weird election struggle.
Inflated Death Count?

The Western left justifies its embrace of mandates, lockdowns, and censorship by invoking the dead. The US has the highest reported death rate per hundred thousand of any developed economy. [24] As a friend protested “but, the deaths are real!” Indeed, but how many are actually due to Covid?

The CDC reports that less than 6 percent of Covid deaths had COVID-19 as “the only cause mentioned on the death certificate.” The other 94 percent of deaths occurred “with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19” and, on average, had “4.0 additional conditions or causes per death.”[25] The death of 84-year-old Colin Powell, who was afflicted with multiple myeloma and Parkinson’s, but whose death was reported as “from” Covid, comes to mind.

It is worth noting that the Covid death count in the US is the highest in the developed world. As the New York Times put it, the “American death toll has set the country apart — and by wider margins than has been broadly recognized.” In fact, the US death toll from the coronavirus “is at least 63 percent higher than in any… other large, wealthy nations.” [26]

In other words, many of these US deaths were people who died with Covid, not of Covid. Any inflation of Covid severity helped stoke the public’s fear. Exactly what portion of the nominal Covid dead are misclassified? I would not venture to say. But during the Omicron wave of 2022 even Rochelle Walensky and a reluctant Anthony Fauci acknowledged that many people who were in hospital and Covid positive were not in the hospital for Covid but with Covid. [27]

Despite the definitive nature of death (you’re either dead or you’re not) its causes are not always so clear. The pathways to mortality from disease are often multiple, overlapping, vague, and open to interpretation. As one coroner told me: “In many deaths from diseases, where you have multiple comorbidities, ten different coroners or physicians could possibly give you 10 different versions of the ‘immediate’ and ‘due to’ causes of death.” [28]

There is a sizable academic literature on the difficulties of determining cause of mortality and the problem of death certificate accuracy. For over a century the problem has remained the same: physicians do not always agree on the cause of death. Papers exploring this topic often attempt to, you might say, “fact check” death certificates. Typically, the methodology involves a panel of physicians reviewing autopsy findings and sometimes the medical charts of deceased patients and from that determining a cause of death. The panel’s findings are then compared to the already existing death certificates. The rate of agreement between the two interpretations is viewed as a measure of accuracy or inaccuracy of the initial determination of cause of death. Very often agreement is as low as 50 percent.[29]

One study from 2016 published in the Journal of Epidemiology found “the concordance rate was relatively high for cancer (81%) but low for heart disease (55%) and pneumonia (9%). The overall concordance rate was 48%.” [30] In other words, determining cause of death is as yet still an interpretive art as much as it is a cut-and-dry empirical science. [31]

A chaotic jumble of interacting but uncoordinated government policy and messaging – coming from the White House, federal agencies, Congress, and state governors – have driven an over-classification of deaths as being Covid caused. Directives from the public health establishment compelled state governors to halt elective medical procedures, this created a financial crisis for hospitals. [32] Then, Congress responding to that crisis offered an economic lifeline to healthcare providers in the form of generous economic subsidies and bonus payments for any case that could be classified as Covid.

The timeline runs as follows:

On March 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an “Interim Guidance for Healthcare Facilities: Preparing for Community Transmission of COVID-19 in the United States,” which recommended that “inpatient facilities reschedule elective surgeries as necessary and shift elective urgent inpatient diagnostic and surgical procedures to outpatient settings.” [33] With this guidance, governors using their state level emergency powers began ordering the suspension of elective procedures.

Then, on March 18, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced “that all elective surgeries, non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures be delayed during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.” Furthermore, CMS recommended that “healthcare providers should encourage patients to remain home, unless there is an emergency.” [34] During early March, almost every governor declared a state of emergency. This meant closing schools, daycares, parks and beaches; mandatory masking; restrictions on out of state travel; restrictions on private gatherings; mandatory 14-day quarantines; full or partial closure of restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues; stay at home or shelter in place orders, and suspension of all elective medical procedures. [35] Thus screening for breast, colorectal, and cervical cancers dropped by 80 percent to 90 percent during March and April of 2020 compared to the same months in 2019.[ 36] According to one industry analyst, the average hospital lost 40 to 45 percent of their normal operating income. [37]

By the end of April 2020, as a result of these policies, a staggering 1.4 million American healthcare workers had lost their jobs. [38]

The economic crisis ravaging the healthcare system would have been much worse if not for passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020. Among other things, CARES set aside $100 billion for the Provider Relief Fund (PRF), a program designed to support ailing healthcare providers. [39] Money from other bills brought the PRF’s total funding to $178 billion. [40]

Very importantly, the PRF pays 120 percent of costs for any Medicare, Medicaid, or uninsured patients classified as COVID-19 cases. [41] Given the disproportionately older age of those most at risk from Covid, this top-up subsidy covered a large proportion of the cases treated. [42]

At first, this federal Covid money was awarded only for cases confirmed by laboratory-analyzed tests. But CDC guidelines published April 1, 2020, explained that “‘confirmation’ does not require documentation of the type of test performed; the provider’s documentation that the individual has COVID-19 is sufficient.” [43]

The Provider Relief Fund’s FAQ page explains how the money is available “for individuals with possible or actual cases of COVID-19. HHS broadly views every patient as a possible case of COVID-19.” And 35 pages later the same document explains that: “A presumptive case of COVID-19 is a case where a patient’s medical record documentation supports a diagnosis of COVID-19, even if the patient does not have a positive in vitro diagnostic test result in his or her medical record.” [44] As then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar explained: “Our goal… is to get the money from the Provider Relief Fund out the door as quickly as possible… We will continue using every regulatory and payment flexibility we have to help providers continue doing their vital work.” [45]

On April 13, 2020, the CDC updated its website to say explicitly that “cases where the infection was not confirmed by a test may now be counted.” [46] The CDC page from April 14, 2020, explained that its death counts “include both confirmed and presumptive positive cases…” [47] As the Washington Post reported, “when New York City authorities began reporting the deaths of people who were suspected of having covid-19 but never tested…” the city’s “tally soared past 10,000 as the change added more than 3,700 fatalities.” [48]

Thus, by April CDC guidance and the Provider Relief Fund’s rules allowed financial coverage for cases that were not tested but were merely diagnosed or even “presumed” to be Covid.

FEMA even offers financial assistance for Covid-related funeral arrangements. To qualify the death certificate must “attribute the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19” or “be accompanied by a signed statement from the original certifier of the death certificate or the local medical examiner or coroner from the jurisdiction in which the death occurred listing COVID-19 as a cause or contributing cause of death.” For deaths occurring “on or after May 17, 2020, the death certificate must attribute the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19.” The FAQ section of the same webpage says “you may receive at a maximum of $9,000 per deceased individual.” [49]

In other words, the government forced an economic crisis upon the healthcare system with one hand, while simultaneously offering an economic lifeline, in the form of Covid specific reimbursement, with the other. [50]

I am not charging conspiracy or mass fraud, although there have been a number of indictments. [51] Rather, I am suggesting that the policies described above – arrived at in an uncoordinated and ad hoc fashion by different branches of government during a confusing moment of emergency – created significant economic and bureaucratic incentives for medical examiners and coroners to be expansive in their interpretation of which deaths qualify as Covid deaths.
Lockdowns Also Kill

Death, or “all-cause mortality” increased during the pandemic but not all of it was caused by Covid. This fact is often overlooked. A study out of the UK published in January 2022, found that non-Covid deaths due to delayed medical care quadrupled during the Covid pandemic. [52] This sort of dangerous unintended consequence from lockdown was predicted during the pandemic’s first year. A study published in late 2020 estimated that over-zealous Covid restrictions would lead to 18,000 extra cancer deaths in the UK that year. [53]

Most left intellectuals however, following in lockstep with the Democrats, refused to acknowledge that lockdowns also kill. They could not do so for a very simple reason: Trump had done it first, when he called for the economy to reopen. “Permanent lockdown is not a viable path forward…Ultimately [it would] inflict more harm than it would prevent,” Trump said during an April 3, 2020 White House briefing. “Lockdowns do not prevent infection in the future. They just don’t. It comes back many times, it comes back,” Trump said. [54]

Trump’s concerns about the risks of lockdown were immediately excoriated and mocked in the press. But we now know he was right – lockdowns also kill. The pandemic has seen record surges in fatal drug overdoses and homicide. The CDC found a 28 percent increase in drug overdose deaths from April 2020 to April 2021. [55] While the homicide rate increased by 30 percent. [56] Bizarrely, traffic deaths went up by 7 percent in 2020, even as the total number of miles driven declined by 13 percent. [57]

Early on, the New York Times briefly acknowledged the health risks from lockdowns. An op-ed by two physicians turned healthcare executives noted that: “The toll from deaths caused by lockdown related impacts may have killed as many as the disease.” As the authors explained: “Government orders to shelter in place and health care leaders’ decisions to defer nonessential care successfully prevented the spread of the virus. But these policies — complicated by the loss of employer-provided health insurance as people lost their jobs — have had the unintended effect of delaying care for some of our sickest patients.” [58] The authors reported, “sizable decreases in new cancer diagnoses (45 percent) and reports of heart attacks (38 percent) and strokes (30 percent). Visits to hospital emergency departments are down by as much as 40 percent, but measures of how sick emergency department patients are have risen by 20 percent, according to a Mayo Clinic study, suggesting how harmful the delay [in receiving healthcare] can be.

Meanwhile, non-Covid-19 out-of-hospital deaths have increased, while in-hospital mortality has declined…. In the case of cancer alone, our calculations show we can expect a quarter of a million additional preventable deaths annually if normal care does not resume. Outcomes will be similar for those who forgo treatment for heart attacks and strokes.” [59] Unfortunately, this argument seemed to have no impact on policymakers when it counted, nor on the organized left today, which still ignores copious evidence that lockdowns had wreaked massive destruction on the most vulnerable. [60]

   FAUCI: “I don’t think we’re ever going to be able to determine” if covid lockdowns were worth it.

   — Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 29, 2022

Vaccine efficacy and adverse effects

The organized left still endorses a vaccine centric policy with religious fervor. Some of its members do so still assuming that vaccines prevent Covid transmission and can thus end the pandemic. They thus follow the discredited pronouncements of Anthony Fauci, who explained in the early months of the vaccine roll out, for those vaccinated “the risk is extremely low of getting infected, of getting sick, or of transmitting it to anybody else, full stop.” [61] This was about when progressives started purchasing votive candles bearing Fauci’s likeness.

In reality, these are very “leaky” “non-sterilizing” vaccines; they do not block transmission. [62] Furthermore, as CDC Director Rochelle Walensky admitted in an August 6th 2021 interview with Wolf Blitzer the vaccines do not stop or reduce transmission. [63] Thus, we cannot vaccinate our way out of this crisis.

The vaccines do however lower the probability of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, but if overused, they might not even do that. And it should be noted that, as of this publication, the CDC still refuses to release – as a February 20th 2022 New York Times headline put it – “Large Portions of the Covid Data It Collects” on hospitalization rate by vaccination status for fear the data could be misinterpreted. Leaving that aside, because the vaccines do not function perfectly and are not without risks, the logic of their use differs according to one’s demographic profile. Thus, when my mother who is in her mid-80s got the vaccine, I felt a sense of relief. But when younger women in my extended family did not want the vaccine because its effects on the menstrual cycle had not been studied, that also made perfect sense. [64] In the eyes of the panicked and stampeding herd that is the left-wing consensus, this would make me an anti-vaxxer. Amidst this pandemic it has become clear that the left is not only incapable of intellectual nuance, it is openly hostile to it and rallies vigilante-style to stamp it out.

   There was a huge thread on here last year with tons of women talking about this, but that’s all I’ve seen. My period was CRAZY after my second Moderna shot

   — Melissa Stetten (@MelissaStetten) March 26, 2022

After pitching the mRNA vaccine as capable of stopping the Covid-19 virus in its tracks, by November 2020 pundits had already started talking up the need for boosters.[65] Most studies indicate that vaccine efficacy against Covid, as measured by antibody levels in the blood, drops by about 50% within six months. The Lancet found “vaccine effectiveness against infections of the delta variant… declined to 53%… after 4 months.” [66] An Israeli study from July 2021 found that the Pfizer vaccine dropped to a mere 39% efficacy within six months. [67] Now Israel is demanding boosters at three months;[68] and exploring a fourth booster even as some government science advisors warn “that the plan could backfire, because too many shots might cause a sort of immune system fatigue, compromising the body’s ability to fight the coronavirus.” [69] European Union regulators have also warned that “frequent Covid-19 booster shots could adversely affect the immune response.” [70]

The left, however, has categorically dismissed skepticism about vaccine safety and in so doing alienated people who held valid concerns, or who experienced real and debilitating injuries as a result of the Covid shot. That includes large elements of the working class – that class the left purports to champion. Even if the vaccines do not cause injuries or adverse effects most cases, they – like almost any medical intervention, even aspirin [71] – can also involve some risk. Thus, four Scandinavian countries have prohibited use of the Moderna shot for men under the age of 25 because the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis is higher from the vaccine than from the disease. [72] The growing list of warnings about blood clots, menstrual disruption, heart problems, that accompany the vaccines show that even when helpful, the vaccines can involve risks. [73]

For most of the vaccination campaign these vaccines had not undergone the typical process of review before hitting the market. Instead, they have had “emergency use authorization” under authority of the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREPA). This law gives the manufacturers total legal protection against liability for any harm their vaccines might cause. [74]

Though you would never learn it from most press outlets, one of the main stumbling blocks to providing the Global South with vaccines is that pharmaceutical companies have insisted on total protection from vaccine related lawsuits. As The Financial Times explained: “Before deals could be agreed, Pfizer demanded countries change national laws to protect vaccine makers from lawsuits, which many western jurisdictions already had. From Lebanon to the Philippines, national governments changed laws to guarantee their supply of vaccines.” In South Africa Pfizer insisted “on indemnity against civil claims and required the government to provide finance for an indemnity fund.” [75]

Why have left-wing pundits not noted this? Because it suggests that there is a genuine cost-benefit analysis involved in the use of vaccines. It suggests that vaccines involve risks even as they provide benefits. Alas, that sort of intellectual nuance is beyond the capacity of progressive Pfizer fetishists.

Until 2022, only Pfizer’s “legally distinct” and rarely available Comirnaty vaccine was not covered by PREPA invoked Emergency Use Authorization indemnification. In February Moderna’s Spikevax was also approved, and it is also “legally distinct” from Moderna’s more available, legally indemnified, EUA vaccine.

Comirnaty went through a secrecy-shrouded, expedited approval process in which a test group of 22,000 people got the vaccine and 22,000 people in the control group received a placebo. Pfizer refuses to release the raw data from the study, though the company did publish a 90-page report on it, while the FDA published a few other tables and comments.

Unable to access the approval data, a group of more than 30 professors and scientists “from universities including Yale, Harvard, UCLA and Brown” sued the federal government to force it to share its licensing data for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. In response, the FDA requested a delay of 55 years. [76] The Plaintiffs suggested 108-days to process the document release— the amount of time it took the FDA to review the same documents “for the far more intricate task of licensing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.” [77] When a Judge ordered the FDA to accelerate its release of the documents, Pfizer entered the lawsuit arguing that it wanted to help the FDA avoid releasing “confidential business and trade secret information of Pfizer, such as its proprietary manufacturing processes.” [78]

Professor Peter Doshi, a senior editor at the BMJ (formally known as the British Medical Journal) and an associate professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland, has analyzed all available data from the Pfizer approval study. Doshi concludes that “on preventing death from Covid-19, there are too few data to draw conclusions— a total of three Covid-19 related deaths (one on vaccine, two on placebo). There were 29 total deaths during blinded follow-up (15 in the vaccine arm; 14 in placebo).” [79] Note that the trial group had a slightly higher overall mortality rate than the placebo group.

These very small numbers become more concerning when we learn of, as Doshi put it, “an unexplained detail found in a table of FDA’s review of Pfizer’s vaccine: 371 individuals excluded from the efficacy analysis for ‘important protocol deviations on or prior to 7 days after Dose 2.’ What is concerning is the imbalance between randomized groups in the number of these excluded individuals: 311 from the vaccine group vs 60 on placebo.” [80]

Most outrageous of all, Doshi found that in gross violation of normal protocol after about two months, Pfizer unblinded its study. “Pfizer allowed all trial participants to be formally unblinded, and placebo recipients to get vaccinated.” [81] The trial started on July 27, 2020, and by November 13, 2020 the vast majority of the placebo arm of the study had received the experimental vaccine. [82] It would seem that the real blinded trial lasted at most about two months.

Pfizer still refuses to release the raw data. In the meantime, the US government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) – a global surveillance system mandated by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, a law that also indemnifies pharmaceutical companies against all legal liability for the children’s vaccines they produce – captures only a tiny fraction of documented adverse events from vaccination, yet it has reported over 20,000 deaths from COVID-19 vaccinations. [83] Keep in mind, some 5 billion vaccine shots have been administered globally.

To be fair, these are just reports, only a fraction of them have been investigated, and the population with the highest rate of vaccine uptake skews towards older people. So discount the VAERS data as you see fit. But a 2010 government-commissioned study on the effectiveness of VAERS at capturing adverse events found the following:

“Adverse events from drugs and vaccines are common, but underreported. Although 25% of ambulatory patients experience an adverse drug event, less than 0.3% of all adverse drug events and 1-13% of serious events are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Likewise, fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported.” [84]

The point is that VAERS, despite its limits, sends signals that are deserving of further investigation rather than immediate and pejorative dismissal.

If the idea of a viral infection being hyped and exaggerated by profiteering pharmaceutical corporations and captured government agencies seems far-fetched, consider the story of the 1976 Swine Flu. Fully 20 percent of the US public including President Ford had been vaccinated before it became clear that the Swine Flu was actually not very dangerous.

In fact, as Mike Wallace reported in a ...


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Enemies Of Rational Values: How the organized Left got Covid wrong, learned to love lockdowns and lost its mind: an autopsy

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