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Study: Sweden Has Schools Open, Millions Of Kids, No Masks, No Lockdown & No Deaths

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Study: Sweden Has Schools Open, Millions of Kids, No Masks, No Lockdown & No Deaths
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution

What Happened:  A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Open Schools, Covid-19, and Child and Teacher Morbidity in Sweden” has found that “Despite Sweden’s having kept schools and preschools open, we found a low incidence of severe Covid-19 among schoolchildren and children of preschool age during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic…No child with Covid-19 died…Among the 1,951,905 million children who were 1 to 16 years of age, 15 children had Covid-19, MIS-C, or both conditions and were admitted to an ICU, which is equal to 1 child in 130,000.”

Sweden was one of the few countries that decided to keep schools open. The study points out that the number of deaths from any cause among the 1,951,905 children in Sweden (as of December 31, 2019) who were 1 to 16 years of age was 65 during the pre-Covid-19 period of November 2019 through February of 2020 was 65, and 69 during 4 months of exposure to Covid-19 between March and June of 2020. The data shows that there was no significant difference here.

When it comes to teachers, the study showed that  “fewer than 10 preschool teachers and 20 schoolteachers in Sweden received intensive care for Covid-19 up until June 30, 2020 (20 per 103,596 schoolteachers, which is equal to 19 per 100,000). As compared with other occupations (excluding health care workers), this corresponded to sex- and age-adjusted relative risks of 1.10 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.49 to 2.49) among preschool teachers and 0.43 (95% CI, 0.28 to 0.68) among schoolteachers (see the Supplementary Appendix).

The point is, children are not being admitted to the ICU in Sweden for Covid-19, and children are not dying from Covid-19. Severe Covid-19 among children seems to be rare, and also has a 100% recovery rate. Given the fact that many infections are also asymptomatic, it really has no impact on their life. So, while we continue to hear that cases are soaring, it’s important to ask if this is really a big deal? And why is it that other viruses prior to this one that infect hundreds of millions and kill tens of millions a year were not subjected to the same scrutiny?

This data also echoes what many doctors and scientists have been expressing regarding the severity of the virus, not just for children but for everybody. For example, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, MD, PhD, from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California recently appeared on a JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) Network conversation alongside Mark Lipsitch, DPhil and Dr. Howard Bauchner, who interviews leading researchers and thinkers in health care about their JAMA articles.

During the conversation, Dr. Bhattacharya said that the survival rate from COVID-19, based on approximately 50 studies that’ve been published providing seroprevalence data, for people over 70 years of age is 95%. For people under the age of 70, the survival rate of COVID-19 is 99.95%. He went on to state that the flu is more dangerous than COVID-19 for children, and that we’ve (America) had more flu deaths in children this year than Covid deaths.

Bhattacharya is one of the initiators of The Great Barrington Declaration. The declaration has an impressive list of renowned scientists who have come on board as co-signers, and has now been signed by more than 50,000 doctors and scientists. It’s an initiative that strongly opposes lockdown measures.

Why This Is Important: This information is important because lockdown measures, according to many, aren’t really doing anything to stop the spread of the virus and may be delaying “herd immunity.” Furthermore we are taking all of these measures based on case counts, and a virus that has an extremely low mortality rate. Respiratory viruses prior to Covid already infected hundreds of millions and killed tens of millions a year. What’s even more concerning is the fact that medical professionals and scientists who share information that opposes the measures being taken by multiple governments are being subjected to extreme amounts of censorship. Scientific discussion is being shut down and we are seeing one opinion and side receive all of the attention.

Over the last few months, I have seen academic articles and op-eds by professors retracted or labelled “fake news” by social media platforms. Often, no explanation is provided. I am concerned about this heavy-handedness and, at times, outright censorship. – Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH (source)

Below is a tweet from Martin Kulldorff, a Harvard Professor of Medicine. I agree with him.

Lockdowns are also based on “cases” as PCR testing. That’s an entirely separate issue that many scientists and doctors are also raising concerns about. If one is asymptomatic and tests positive, or even slightly symptomatic and tests positive, this does not mean one has Covid. You can read more about that in an article I published last month titled “22 Scientists Publish Paper Claiming The PCR Test Is “Useless” For Detecting COVID-19 Cases,” the article goes into much more detail.

I also recently published an article titled “Ontario (Canada) Admits Labelling Deaths As COVID When They’re Not As A Result of COVID. Deaths being attributed to Covid but not as a result of Covid have also raised many concerns. There are more details and examples provided within that specific article.

As far as lockdowns go,

The media have paid scant attention to the enormous medical and psychological harms from the lockdowns in use to slow the pandemic. Despite the enormous collateral damage lockdowns have caused, England, France, Germany, Spain and other European countries are all intensifying their lockdowns once again….Internationally, the lockdowns have placed 130 million people on the brink of starvation, 80 million children at risk for diphtheria, measles and polio, and 1.8 million patients at risk of death from tuberculosis. The lockdowns in developed countries have devastated the poor in poor countries. The World Economic Forum estimates that the lockdowns will cause an additional 150 million people to fall into extreme poverty, 125 times as many people as have died from COVID. – Dr. Bhattacharya

Criticism of lockdowns has been a common theme. Early on during the first wave of the pandemic, a report published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ titled Covid-19: “Staggering number” of extra deaths in community is not explained by covid-19″  has suggested that quarantine measures in the United Kingdom as a result of the new coronavirus may have already killed more UK seniors than the coronavirus has during the months of April and May .

response by Professor David Paton, Professor of Economics at the University of Nottingham and Professor Ellen Townsend, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Nottingham School of Medicine, to an article  published in the BMJ in November titled “Screening the healthy population for covid-19 is of unknown value, but is being introduced worldwide” states,

Taken together, the data are clear both that national lockdowns are not a necessary condition for Covid-19 infections to decrease and that the Prime Minister was incorrect to suggest to MPs that infections were increasing rapidly in England prior to lockdown and that without national measures, the NHS would be overwhelmed…Lockdowns have never previously been used in response to a pandemic. They have significant and serious consequences for health (including mental health), livelihoods and the economy. Around 21,000 excess deaths during the first UK lockdown were not Covid-19 deaths. These are people who would have lived had there not been a lockdown.

It is well established that the first lockdown had an enormously negative effect on mental health in young people as compared to adults. The more we lockdown, the more we risk the mental health of young people, the greater the likelihood the economy will be destroyed, the greater the ultimate impact on our future health and mental health. Sadly, we know that global economic recession is associated with increased poor mental health and suicide rates.

According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, lockdown and social distancing measures are strongly correlated with an increase in suicidal thoughts, attempts and behaviour.

According to Dr. John Lee, a former Professor of Pathology and NHS consultant pathologist,

Lockdowns cannot eradicate the disease or protect the public…They lead to only economic meltdown, social despair and direct harms to health from other causes…Scientifically, medically and morally lockdowns have no justification in dealing with Covid.

The risks, harms and consequences of lockdowns are well known, and above are simply a few of many examples. Is all of this really about the virus? Or is this, among many other events, simply being used to justify measures such as “The Great Reset?

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, when we examine information we really need to keep our emotions in check. These days’ people are getting upset and mad at each other as we continue to see so many people polarized in their beliefs. What’s more important is to respect each other and everybody’s viewpoints, even if they disagree with your own. A good exercise, I find, is to take on the viewpoint of another who disagrees with you and try to understand why they feel the way they do.

Why do we fail to have conversations about controversial, or what are made out to be controversial viewpoints? Why can’t we get along with each other? Why can’t we have proper discussions about these controversial topics in the open and why does mainstream media always seem to be-little and call everything a “conspiracy theory” if it goes against the grain, no matter how much evidence there is behind it?

Do we really want to live in a world where we give such a small group of people and governments the authority to drastically change our lives, at will, even if these decisions do not represent the will of a large chunk of people? Is it time to re-examine the way we live here, why we live the way we do, and why we simply listen to those who appear to not have our best interests at heart?

Should people not be free to live how they live? Especially when things are not so black and white as they are made out to be? Something to think about.

This article (Study: Sweden Has Schools Open, Millions of Kids, No Masks, No Lockdown & No Deaths) was originally created for Collective Evolution and is published here under Creative Commons.

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How Effective Is The Covid-19 Vaccine?

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How Effective is The Covid-19 Vaccine?
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution

Madhava Setty, MD, Contributing Writer

Are you going to decline the Covid-19 vaccine if it is offered to you? Why or why not? No matter how certain you are in your reasoning there will no doubt be someone else who feels exactly the opposite to you and will be just as certain of their position. We trust different sources of information, we have had different experiences with vaccines and we have different impressions of the threat of SARS-COV2 to us and our species.

I would suggest that those in the “vaccine cautionary” community would decline the vaccine based on their ideas around its potential risks. On the other hand, supporters of the vaccine are more likely to focus on its potential benefits. The debate has largely been centred around the disagreement people have about the risks. In this essay I will consider the uncertainty I and others have about its benefits.

Is the Medical Community biased about the Vaccine?

As a contributor to Collective Spark I am well aware of the “cautionary” perspective on vaccinations and CDC directives. As a physician, I have a reasonable understanding of how those in the medical community regard the “best of what modern science has to offer”. I am part of a Physician group on social media where doctors can seek advice from each other around all matters Covid-19, from interesting cases to rare side effects to how to address special concerns raised by patients. It has been alarming to realize how unilateral the support of vaccination is in this community. 

I mean no disrespect to my medical colleagues. Many of those in this community have seen their patients die from this very real virus. They have had to struggle with the divergent directives coming from the CDC. They have had to work through many weeks where Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was in short supply as their hospital wards rapidly reached capacity and overflowed. Now that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have met minimum requirements for efficacy under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), they are faced with yet another impediment to getting themselves and their patients through this pandemic: growing scepticism around the vaccine coming from the very same people they are endeavouring to help. Their frustration around the situation is understandable, but is it biasing them?

Before consenting to any intervention it is important to understand its relative risks and benefits. As I mentioned earlier, there has been much concern in the “vaccine cautionary” sphere about side-effects and deaths. Here I will take a closer look at what we know about the benefits of the vaccine based on Pfizer-Biontech’s  briefing document to the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. How confident can we be in the efficacy of the vaccine? Has the manufacturer done its due diligence in its analysis and in being transparent? These are the central questions that need to be answered.

Understanding False Positives and Negatives

There has been a lot of discussion about the rate of “false-positives” with regard to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for confirming infection with SARS-COV2. The PCR test can return a positive result even if only trace fragments of the virus are present. Fragments of the virus on a nasal swab is not necessarily representative of an active infection or transmissibility. Moreover the sensitivity of this test is dependent on the number of amplification cycles, or the cycle threshold (Ct), used. The Ct is not standardized. It is not unreasonable to say that there will be a percentage of people who test positive that do not have the disease. Nevertheless, without a better test we as the public must treat all positive PCR tests as an indication of an infection. We must assume the test is right. The rate of false positives, whatever it is, is directly proportional to the overestimation of the prevalence of the disease. 

Here I would like to discuss the significance of “false-negatives”. These are people who get a negative PCR result but may still be infected. The rate of false negatives is directly proportional to the underestimation of disease prevalence. This aspect of the inaccuracy of our primary diagnostic test gets relatively little attention for practical reasons. If you are suffering symptoms consistent with Covid-19 but have a negative PCR test we assume that you have Covid-19 anyway. In other words, if someone is symptomatic we assume that the test is wrong, i.e. that it is a false-negative, and necessary measures are taken. We quarantine and isolate until we feel healthy again whether we have Covid-19 or not. 

Because we are in the midst of a pandemic we have no choice but to make these assumptions. We are responding appropriately given the limitations of the test. Because of the assumptions we are forced to make, we are exaggerating the prevalence of the disease and our response to it to some extent. It is the nature of the situation we are in.

How do we know that the Vaccine is 95% effective?

With this in mind I would like to discuss a post in the opinion blog of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that appeared earlier this month. The author, Peter Doshi (PhD and Associate Editor at the BMJ), takes a rigorous look at the results reported by Pfizer regarding the efficacy of their mRNA vaccine. The success of their vaccine has been widely publicized to be 95%. Where exactly does this figure come from?

During the four weeks of observation (three weeks between 1st and 2nd dose followed by 7 days), 162 participants who received the placebo expressed symptoms of Covid-19 and tested positive by PCR. Compare that with only 8 in the group that received their experimental vaccine. The chance of getting Covid 19 after receiving the vaccine was about 20 times lower than if you got the placebo. This is the basis of the claim that their vaccine was 95% effective, well over the 50% threshold required for Emergency Use Authorization that allows their product to be deployed despite the fact that the two-year Phase III trial is still 20 months from completion.

How did Pfizer handle study participants in the “Suspected Covid-19” group?

It is less commonly known that of the nearly 38,000 participants in the Pfizer study, 3,410 fell into a group labelled “suspected Covid-19”. These are people who developed symptoms consistent with disease but tested negative by PCR. 1,594 of those in this group received the vaccine and 1,816 received the placebo. It should be quite clear that how we regard this much bigger group of symptomatic participants will have an enormous impact on the true efficacy of the vaccine. In other words, if we assume that the PCR test was accurate in all of these people and that they didn’t have Covid-19 and developed symptoms from another virus, the flu for example, then the vaccine would in fact be 95% effective as reported. On the other hand, if the PCR test was wrong every time and they all in fact had Covid-19, the efficacy of the vaccine would be much different: 1602 (1594 + 8) in the vaccine wing vs. 1978 (1816 + 162) in the placebo wing results in a vaccine efficacy of only 19%. 

The PCR test (like any test) can be wrong some of the time and right some of the time. The true efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine can only be calculated if we know how many symptomatic people in each wing had Covid-19 despite testing negative. It is likely that the percentage of false negatives are different in each arm. As the FDA briefing document on the Pfizer study and the BMJ piece correctly note, there should be fewer false negatives in the vaccine group. Why? It is because there is a greater chance of developing Covid-19 symptoms after receiving the vaccine compared to getting a placebo. Reactogenicity, or the acute response of the body to the vaccine, is common. Most of the acute inflammatory reaction to the vaccine occurs in the first seven days after receiving the vaccine. Looking more closely at the data, 409 patients in the vaccine group developed symptoms in the first seven days after inoculation. Compare this to 287 in the placebo group. If we assume that any participant who expressed symptoms in the first seven days must be suffering from the side effects of the vaccine or the placebo and not a new Covid-19 infection, the efficacy of the vaccine is still only 29%.

How important is this matter of the 3,412 “suspected Covid-19” participants? Let us say hypothetically that we as a nation decide to vaccinate our entire population with the Pfizer vaccine assuming that it has a 95% efficacy in preventing the disease. We can predict that within a month about 6.3% people will develop Covid-like symptoms from something other than vaccine reactogenicity or the disease itself. This is based on the number of participants who became symptomatic (from something other than reactogenicity) despite getting the vaccine and tested negative (1,185) divided by the total number who got the vaccine (18,801) = 0.063. With a population of 300 million we would expect roughly 19 million people to develop symptoms of Covid from something other than SARS-COV2 within a month. We can agree that we must be extremely confident in our assumptions about whether these 19 million people have the disease or not. Why would we assume they all don’t have Covid-19 when the vaccine trial itself considered them to be “suspected” of having it?

There is another extreme possibility. If all of the vaccinated participants who were suspected of Covid-19 truly did not have the disease and all of the unvaccinated (placebo) participants who were suspect did have the disease we would have a true miracle vaccine. Why? It would mean that only 8 people got the disease in the vaccinated group compared to 1978 in the placebo group. This would mean that the vaccine was approximately 99.6% effective.

Pfizer either did not do or report additional testing that would have helped

The real issue here is that we shouldn’t be guessing about such important numbers. What do you suppose Pfizer did, knowing that this larger pool of symptomatic participants could have an enormous impact on the estimation of their vaccine’s efficacy? In my opinion, they should have tested everyone who developed symptoms for antibody titers to help quantify the percentage of false negative PCR tests. If a participant felt like they were coming down with Covid-19 but had a negative PCR test, it seems clear that performing an antibody test would have offered a great deal of clarity. This was either not done or not reported.

We must be careful when interpreting the power of a vaccine safety and efficacy study. Although tens of thousands of people were enrolled in the study, the only meaningful numbers have to do with those that contracted the disease during the period of observation. This is the only way to assess the efficacy of the vaccine. When Pfizer only considers participants that became symptomatic and tested positive we only have a group of 170 cases to cross compare.

The 3,410 people who became symptomatic but tested negative during the four weeks of observation would represent a much larger set of cohorts and would amplify the power of the study 20 fold if infection could be confirmed or ruled out through additional testing. In other words, the 3,410 symptomatic people should be the ones that Pfizer were hoping would emerge when they enrolled 37,000+ individuals in their study. I find this lapse in diligence suspicious and at the very least inexplicable, especially in light of the latitude they are granted under the EUA. The fact of the matter is that we do not know if this was done. Pfizer, per their own protocol, will not make this data available until the trial is completed 20 months from now. 

Why didn’t Pfizer look harder?

This forces us to ask some sobering questions. If Pfizer is required (or has agreed) to make all data available in two years, would they have conducted antibody tests on the “suspected Covid” group? If those results told a different story it would be quite damning, if not now, eventually. Their product would not be permitted for use under the EUA if a 50% efficacy requirement could not be met. On the other hand, if antibody tests were conducted and the results confirmed the impressive efficacy of the vaccine, why wouldn’t they have made the data available right now?

It should be clear that if Pfizer’s primary goal was to obtain approval under the EUA they would have had little incentive to do further testing to confirm their product’s efficacy. Why would they take the risk of seeking more information on 3,400 participants that could potentially overturn their results that were based on only 170 outcomes? This is where we must be very careful in our assessment of the situation. If you believe Pfizer and vaccine manufacturers are only out for profits it would be easy to conclude that they are being manipulative. If you believe that these corporations are seeking to improve public health and safety you may grant them a lot of latitude here. To be truly objective we must ask if they have been scientific in their approach.

At the very least I feel that they have not been diligent, and their position hints at disingenuousness: Pfizer didn’t mention this group of participants in their 92 page report or in their publication in the New England Journal of Medicine. This group was only mentioned in two paragraphs of a 53 page briefing to the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) of the FDA submitted December 10, 2020. The FDA, an agency of the department of Health and Human Services that ostensibly serves to protect the public by ensuring the safety of drugs, biological products and medical devices, continues to remain silent around this issue.

The Takeaway

The 95% efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine is widely touted by the media and the medical establishment. Why didn’t Pfizer test or report the testing of an enormously important group of participants in their trial? We can predict that without these additional tests deploying the vaccine will not change our behavior nor our attitude to this pandemic.

About the Author

Although I am an Electrical Engineer and a practicing Anesthesiologist, I consider myself to be primarily an Epistemologist. In other words, I am most interested in how we, as individuals, know what we know. It doesn’t require much inquiry to see that most of us adopt narratives largely from what we have been told. Conscious Media, or the dissemination of information devoid of bias so that it may be considered openly and objectively is therefore vitally important to any society that is interested in the compassionate pursuit of truth. I offer my perspective as a physician and engineer in the hope that it potentiates Collective Spark’s mission to responsibly explore relevant topics and events in a manner that encourages curiosity and engagement.

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Norway Investigates 29 Deaths In Elderly Patients After Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccination

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Norway Investigates 29 Deaths in Elderly Patients After Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccination
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution

What Happened: 29 patients who were quite old and frail have died following their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination. As a result, Norwegian officials have since adjusted their advice on who should get the COVID-19 vaccine.

This doesn’t come as a surprise to many given the fact that the clinical trials were conducted with people who are healthy. Older and sick people with co-morbidities were not used in the trials, and people with severe allergies and other diseases that can make one more susceptible to vaccine injury were not used either. It can be confusing given the fact that vaccination is being encouraged for the elderly in nursing homes and those who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA), told the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that “There is no certain connection between these deaths and the vaccine.”

On the 15th of January it was 23 deaths, Bloomberg is now reporting that a total of 29 deaths among people over the age of 75 who’ve had their first COVID-19 shot. They point out that “Until Friday, Pfizer/BioNTech was the only vaccine available in Norway”, stating that the Norwegian Medicines Agency told them that as a result “ all deaths are thus linked to this vaccine.”

“There are 13 deaths that have been assessed, and we are aware of another 16 deaths that are currently being assessed,” the agency said. All the reported deaths related to “elderly people with serious basic disorders,” it said. “Most people have experienced the expected side effects of the vaccine, such as nausea and vomiting, fever, local reactions at the injection site, and worsening of their underlying condition.”

Madsen also told the BMJ that,

There is a possibility that these common adverse reactions, that are not dangerous in fitter, younger patients and are not unusual with vaccines, may aggravate underlying disease in the elderly. We are not alarmed or worried about this, because these are very rare occurrences and they occurred in very frail patients with very serious disease. We are not asking for doctors to continue with vaccination, but to carry out extra evaluation of very sick people whose underlying condition might be aggravated by it. This evaluation includes discussing the risks and benefits of vaccination with the patient and their families to decide whether or not vaccination is the best course.

The BMJ article goes on to point out that the Paul Ehrlich Institute in Germany is also investigating 10 deaths shortly after COVID-19 vaccination, and closes with the following information:

In a statement, Pfizer said, “Pfizer and BioNTech are aware of reported deaths following administration of BNT162b2. We are working with NOMA to gather all the relevant information.

“Norwegian authorities have prioritised the immunisation of residents in nursing homes, most of whom are very elderly with underlying medical conditions and some of whom are terminally ill. NOMA confirm the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations. All reported deaths will be thoroughly evaluated by NOMA to determine if these incidents are related to the vaccine. The Norwegian government will also consider adjusting their vaccination instructions to take the patients’ health into more consideration.

“Our immediate thoughts are with the bereaved families.”

Vaccine Hesitancy is Growing Among Healthcare Workers: Vaccine hesitancy is growing all over the globe, one of the latest examples comes from Riverside County, California. It has a population of approximately 2.4 million, and about 50% of healthcare workers in the county are refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine despite the fact that they have top priority and access to it.  At Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, one in five frontline nurses and doctors have declined the shot. Roughly 20% to 40% of L.A. County’s frontline workers who were offered the vaccine did the same, according to county public health officials. You can read more about that story here.

Vaccine hesitancy among physicians and academics is nothing new. To illustrate this I often point to a conference held at the end of 2019 put on by the World Health Organization (WHO). At the conference, Dr. Heidi Larson a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project Emphasized this point, having  stated,

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers. We have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen…still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider.

A study published in the journal EbioMedicine  as far back as 2013 outlines this point, among many others.

Pfizer’s Questionable History

Losing faith in “big pharma” does not come without good reason. For example, in 2010 Robert G. Evans, PhD, Centre for Health Services and Policy Research Emeritus Professor, Vancouver School of Economics, UBC, published a paper that’s accessible in PubMed titled “Tough on Crime? Pfizer and the CIHR.

In it, he outlines the fact that,

Pfizer has been a “habitual offender,” persistently engaging in illegal and corrupt marketing practices, bribing physicians and suppressing adverse trial results. Since 2002 the company and its subsidiaries have been assessed $3 billion in criminal convictions, civil penalties and jury awards. The 2.3-billion settlement… set a new record for both criminal fines and total penalties. A link with Pfizer might well advance the commercialization of Canadian research.

Suppressing clinical trial results is something I’ve come across multiple times with several different medicines. Five years ago I wrote about how big pharma did not share adverse reactions people had and harmful results from their clinical trials for commonly used antidepressant drugs.

Even scientists from within federal these health regulatory agencies have been sounding the alarm. For example, a few years ago more than a dozen scientists from within the CDC put out an anonymous public statement detailing the influence corporations have on government policies. They were referred to as the Spider Papers.

The Takeaway

Given the fact that everything is not black and white, especially when it comes to vaccine safety, do we really want to give government health agencies and/or private institutions the right to enforce mandatory vaccination requirements when their efficacy have been called into question? Should people have the freedom of choice? It’s a subject that has many people polarized in their beliefs, but at the end of the day the sharing of information, opinion and evidence should not be shut down, discouraged, ridiculed or censored.

In a day and age where more people are starting to see our planet in a completely different light, one which has more and more questioning the human experience and why we live the way we do it seems the ‘crack down’ on free thought gets tighter and tighter. Do we really want to live in a world where we lose the right to choose what we do with our own body, or one where certain rights and freedoms are taken away if we don’t comply? The next question is, what do we do about it? Those who are in a position to enforce these measures must, it seems, have a shift in consciousness and refuse to implement them. There doesn’t seem to be a clear cut answer, but there is no doubt that we are currently going through that possible process, we are living in it.

This article (Norway Investigates 29 Deaths in Elderly Patients After Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccination) was originally created for Collective Evolution and is published here under Creative Commons.

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New Stanford Study Claims Lockdowns Are Not Effective To Stop Spread Of COVID

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New Stanford Study Claims Lockdowns Are Not Effective To Stop Spread Of COVID
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution

Over the last few months, I have seen academic articles and op-eds by professors retracted or labelled “fake news” by social media platforms. Often, no explanation is provided. I am concerned about this heavy-handedness and, at times, outright censorship. – Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH (source)

What Happened: study published by four medical professors from Stanford University has failed to find evidence supporting the use of what they call “Non-Big Pharma Interventions” (NPIs) like lockdowns, social-distancing, business closures and stay at home orders. According to the study, these measures have not been sufficient and are not sufficient to stop the spread of COVID and therefore are not necessary to combat the spread of the virus. Although they do mention that “the data cannot fully exclude the possibility of some benefits” they mention that “even if they exist, these benefits may not match the numerous harms of these aggressive measures.”

The authors used England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden and the United States for the study. They found “No clear, significant, beneficial” effects of the methods being implemented (lockdowns, business closures, stay at home orders etc) to combat COVID case growth in any country.

You can access the full study here for a deeper discussion/analysis.

This Isn’t The Only Study

The recently published study by the Stanford professors is not the first. There are many examples.

A country level analysis measuring the impact of government actions, country preparedness and socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes” by Rabail Chaudhry, George Dranitsaris, Talha Mubashir, Justyna Bartoszko, Sheila Riazi. EClinicalMedicine 25 (2020) 100464. “[F]ull lockdowns and wide-spread COVID-19 testing were not associated with reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.”

Was Germany’s Corona Lockdown Necessary?by Christof Kuhbandner, Stefan Homburg, Harald Walach, Stefan Hockertz. Advance: Sage Preprint, June 23, 2020. “Official data from Germany’s RKI agency suggest strongly that the spread of the coronavirus in Germany receded autonomously, before any interventions became effective. Several reasons for such an autonomous decline have been suggested. One is that differences in host susceptibility and behavior can result in herd immunity at a relatively low prevalence level. Accounting for individual variation in susceptibility or exposure to the coronavirus yields a maximum of 17% to 20% of the population that needs to be infected to reach herd immunity, an estimate that is empirically supported by the cohort of the Diamond Princess Cruise ship. Another reason is that seasonality may also play an important role in dissipation.”

Comment on Flaxman et al. (2020): The illusory effects of non-big pharma interventions on COVID-19 in Europe” by Stefan Homburg and Christof Kuhbandner. June 17, 2020. Advance, Sage Pre-Print. “In a recent article, Flaxman et al. allege that non-big pharma interventions imposed by 11 European countries saved millions of lives. We show that their methods involve circular reasoning. The purported effects are pure artefacts, which contradict the data. Moreover, we demonstrate that the United Kingdom’s lockdown was both superfluous and ineffective.”

Did COVID-19 infections decline before UK lockdown? “ by Simon N. Wood. Cornell University pre-print, August 8, 2020. “A Bayesian inverse problem approach applied to UK data on COVID-19 deaths and the disease duration distribution suggests that infections were in decline before full UK lockdown (24 March 2020), and that infections in Sweden started to decline only a day or two later. An analysis of UK data using the model of Flaxman et al. (2020, Nature 584) gives the same result under relaxation of its prior assumptions on R.”

Professor Ben Israel’s Analysis of virus transmission.” April 16, 2020. “Some may claim that the decline in the number of additional patients every day is a result of the tight lockdown imposed by the government and health authorities. Examining the data of different countries around the world casts a heavy question mark on the above statement. It turns out that a similar pattern – rapid increase in infections that reaches a peak in the sixth week and declines from the eighth week – is common to all countries in which the disease was discovered, regardless of their response policies: some imposed a severe and immediate lockdown that included not only ‘social distancing’ and banning crowding, but also shutout of economy (like Israel); some ‘ignored’ the infection and continued almost a normal life (such as Taiwan, Korea or Sweden), and some initially adopted a lenient policy but soon reversed to a complete lockdown (such as Italy or the State of New York). Nonetheless, the data shows similar time constants amongst all these countries in regard to the initial rapid growth and the decline of the disease.”

Impact of non-big pharma interventions against COVID-19 in Europe: a quasi-experimental study” by Paul Raymond Hunter, Felipe Colon-Gonzalez, Julii Suzanne Brainard, Steve Rushton. MedRxiv Pre-print May 1, 2020. “The current epidemic of COVID-19 is unparalleled in recent history as are the social distancing interventions that have led to a significant halt on the economic and social life of so many countries. However, there is very little empirical evidence about which social distancing measures have the most impact… From both sets of modelling, we found that closure of education facilities, prohibiting mass gatherings and closure of some non-essential businesses were associated with reduced incidence whereas stay at home orders and closure of all non-businesses was not associated with any independent additional impact.”

Full lockdown policies in Western Europe countries have no evident impacts on the COVID-19 epidemic by Thomas Meunier. MedRxiv Pre-print May 1, 2020. “This phenomenological study assesses the impacts of full lockdown strategies applied in Italy, France, Spain and United Kingdom, on the slowdown of the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. Comparing the trajectory of the epidemic before and after the lockdown, we find no evidence of any discontinuity in the growth rate, doubling time, and reproduction number trends. Extrapolating pre-lockdown growth rate trends, we provide estimates of the death toll in the absence of any lockdown policies, and show that these strategies might not have saved any life in western Europe. We also show that neighbouring countries applying less restrictive social distancing measures (as opposed to police-enforced home containment) experience a very similar time evolution of the epidemic.”

Lockdowns and Closures vs COVID – 19: COVID Wins by Surjit S Bhalla, executive director for India of the International Monetary Fund. “For the first time in human history, lockdowns were used as a strategy to counter the virus. While conventional wisdom, to date, has been that lockdowns were successful (ranging from mild to spectacular) we find not one piece of evidence supporting this claim.”

There are dozens upon dozens of examples of published research showing and claiming that lockdown and other non-pharmacological methods for combating COVID have no benefit whatsoever on reducing the spread of the virus, so why are we being forced into these measures?

Below is a video of Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician and epidemiologist (also one of the authors of the study mentioned at the beginning of this article) where the initiators of the declaration. Together, they created The Great Barrington Declaration. The declaration has an impressive list co-signers, and has also now been signed by more than 50,000 doctors and scientists and more than 700,000 concerned citizens, which is pretty impressive given the fact that it’s received no attention from mainstream media.  Follow their twitter account here.

The declaration explains why these health professionals and scientists strongly oppose lockdown measures, and also brings up the topic of herd immunity. In the video below they explain their belief of why there should be a different response to the pandemic.

The Consequences of Lockdown

The consequences of lockdown are many. And we are doing so for a virus with a 99.95% survival rate for people under the age of 70, and a 95% survival rate for people over the age of 70.

In Ontario, Canada, a member of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s caucus is speaking out against his own government’s policies and calling for an end to the province-wide pandemic lockdown. “The lockdown isn’t working,” writes York Centre Progressive Conservative MPP Roman Baber in a letter to Ford.  “It’s causing an avalanche of suicides, overdoses, bankruptcies, divorces and takes an immense toll on our children. Dozens of leading doctors implored you to end the lockdowns.” (source)

A letter to the editor published in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Open Schools, Covid-19, and Child and Teacher Morbidity in Sweden” has found that “Despite Sweden’s having kept schools and preschools open, we found a low incidence of severe Covid-19 among schoolchildren and children of preschool age during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic…No child with Covid-19 died…Among the 1,951,905 million children who were 1 to 16 years of age, 15 children had Covid-19, MIS-C, or both conditions and were admitted to an ICU, which is equal to 1 child in 130,000.”

Many experts who are opposing lockdowns are not advocating for no measures to be taken, instead many of them believe we don’t have to shut down businesses and keep people inside to protect the vulnerable. They advocate for a more focused type of protection, especially in light of all the harms that lockdown measures seem to be creating.

These harms were pondered early on in the pandemic, a report published in the British Medical Journal titled Covid-19: “Staggering number” of extra deaths in community is not explained by covid-19″ has suggested that quarantine measures in the United Kingdom as a result of the new coronavirus may have already killed more UK seniors than the coronavirus has during the months of April and May.

response by Professor David Paton, Professor of Economics at the University of Nottingham and Professor Ellen Townsend, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Nottingham School of Medicine, to an article  published in the BMJ in November titled “Screening the healthy population for covid-19 is of unknown value, but is being introduced worldwide” states,

Taken together, the data are clear both that national lockdowns are not a necessary condition for Covid-19 infections to decrease and that the Prime Minister was incorrect to suggest to MPs that infections were increasing rapidly in England prior to lockdown and that without national measures, the NHS would be overwhelmed…Lockdowns have never previously been used in response to a pandemic. They have significant and serious consequences for health (including mental health), livelihoods and the economy. Around 21,000 excess deaths during the first UK lockdown were not Covid-19 deaths. These are people who would have lived had there not been a lockdown.

It is well established that the first lockdown had an enormously negative effect on mental health in young people as compared to adults. The more we lockdown, the more we risk the mental health of young people, the greater the likelihood the economy will be destroyed, the greater the ultimate impact on our future health and mental health. Sadly, we know that global economic recession is associated with increased poor mental health and suicide rates.

According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, lockdown and social distancing measures are strongly correlated with an increase in suicidal thoughts, attempts and behaviour.

According to Dr. John Lee, a former Professor of Pathology and NHS consultant pathologist,

Lockdowns cannot eradicate the disease or protect the public…They lead to only economic meltdown, social despair and direct harms to health from other causes…Scientifically, medically and morally lockdowns have no justification in dealing with Covid.

Bhattacharya, MD, PhD wrote an article  for The Hill titled “Facts, not fear, will stop the pandemic.” In that points out a number of facts regarding the implications of lockdown measures.

The media have paid scant attention to the enormous medical and psychological harms from the lockdowns in use to slow the pandemic. Despite the enormous collateral damage lockdowns have caused, England, France, Germany, Spain and other European countries are all intensifying their lockdowns once again.

By lockdowns, we mean the all-too-familiar shuttered schools and universities, closed playgrounds and parks, silent churches and bankrupt stores and businesses that have become emblematic of American civic life these past months. The relative dearth of reporting on the harms caused by lockdowns is odd, since lives lost from lockdown are no less important than lives lost from COVID infection. But they’ve received much less media attention.

The harms from lockdown have been catastrophic. Consider the psychological harm. Reader, since you’re reading this in lockdown, you can undoubtedly relate to the isolation and loneliness that these policies can cause by shutting down typical channels for social interaction. In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that one in four young adults had seriously considered suicide. Opioid and other drug related deaths are on a sharp and unsurprising upswing.

The burden of these policies falls disproportionately on some of the most vulnerable. For example, isolation led to a 20% increase in dementia-related deaths among our elderly population. Moreover, retrospective analysis of the lockdown in the United States shows that patients skipped cancer screenings, childhood immunizations, diabetes management visits and even treatment for heart attacks.

Internationally, the lockdowns have placed 130 million people on the brink of starvation, 80 million children at risk for diphtheria, measles and polio, and 1.8 million patients at risk of death from tuberculosis. The lockdowns in developed countries have devastated the poor in poor countries. The World Economic Forum estimates that the lockdowns will cause an additional 150 million people to fall into extreme poverty, 125 times as many people as have died from COVID.

Other Strange Happenings

A lot of people are also raising concerns about COVID deaths being marked as COVID when they’re not really a result of COVID. You can read more about that, in detail here.

Concerns have also been raised with regards to PCR testing; you can read more about that in detail here.

Furthermore corruption and conflicts of interest also seem to be a big concern, you can read more about that in detail here.

The Takeaway

Never before have we seen actions taken by Western governments come under such scrutiny from so many people. COVID has really been a catalyst for more people to question what we are doing here on planet Earth, why we live the way we do and why we give so much power to governments that may not have the ability to make the best decisions for us due to a number of different factors.

The suppression and muzzling of scientists, journalists, doctors and people during this pandemic for simply providing information, evidence and opinions that oppose mainstream rhetoric has also forced many more people to question what’s happening here. The shutdown of open scientific debate is quite concerning, and social media platforms have completely banned the accounts of what seems to be thousands of health professionals, journalists and independent media outlets while someone like Dr. Anthony Fauci is given instant virality on television when expressing his views.

Why is it that we fail to have proper conversations about controversial topics and viewpoints? Why do we have to shut them down, ridicule them and ignore them? What’s going on here? Is there a battle to control the perception of the masses when it comes to not only this pandemic, but other topics as well? Why do we continue to listen to and rely on entities that don’t really have our best interests at hand? Is the political realm really a representation of truth? Can it provide us with the answers and advice we are looking for and ones that are actually good for us? Should we give governments such power where they can shut down the planet at will when so many people across the globe disagree? Should people have the freedom to do as they please? Should business closures, isolation, and stay at home orders simply be shifted to recommendations? Should people be able to choose what measures they wish to take and respect the decisions of others who oppose them? When everything is not as black and white as sometimes it is made out to be, I believe freedom of choice should always remain, what do you think? I don’t have the answers, but I do know that asking questions and having discussions is very important.

This article (New Stanford Study Claims Lockdowns Are Not Effective To Stop Spread of COVID) was originally created for Collective Evolution and is published here under Creative Commons.

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Poland Moves To Make Censorship By Facebook, Twitter & Other Big Tech Giants Illegal

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Poland Moves To Make Censorship By Facebook, Twitter & Other Big Tech Giants Illegal
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution

What Happened: The deactivation of Donald Trump’s social media accounts has sparked both praise and outrage across the globe. One fact, however, that remains unacknowledged on such a large scale is the deactivation of thousands of social media accounts which includes many doctors, scientists, journalists and people for sharing information, evidence, science and opinions that go against the grain, so to speak.

Over the last few months, I have seen academic articles and op-eds by professors retracted or labelled “fake news” by social media platforms. Often, no explanation is provided. I am concerned about this heavy-handedness and, at times, outright censorship. – Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH (source)

The Polish government has responded as officials have denounced the deactivation of Trump’s social media accounts and has said that a draft law is now being prepared, in Poland. This law will make it illegal for tech companies to take similar actions there and regulate what information people are able to see and access.

According to Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not.” He said that there can be “no consent to censorship”, comparing social media companies regulation of information to Poland’s experience during the communist era. He said that “Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently.”

Below are his words taken from a recent Facebook Post.

I was born and raised among people from whom freedom was the most valuable value. In Poland we are so attached to freedom because we know what it’s like when someone tried to limit it. For nearly 50 years we lived in a country where censorship was in force; in a country where Big Brother told us how to live, what think and feel – and what to think, say and write…That’s why we look at all attempts to restrict freedom with such anxiety.

One of the synonyms of freedom has always been the Internet for us. The most democratic medium in history, a forum where anyone can speak without embarrassment. A tool that allows every person to really influence reality, to an extent unknown several years ago. Freedom related to the lack of internet regulation has many positive effects. But they are also negative: big, transnational corporations, richer and more powerful than many countries, have gradually begun to dominate it. These corporations have only begun to treat our online activity as a source of profit and strengthening global domination. And also to ensure political correctness the way they like it. And fight those who oppose them.

Recently, we are increasingly dealing with practices that would seem to have gone on in the past. Censoring free speech, the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, returns today in the form of a new commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently

The discussion is about exchanging views, not gagging your mouth. We don’t have to agree with what our opponents write, but we can’t deny anyone from spreading views that are legal.

There is no, and cannot be, consent to censorship….Freedom of speech is the salt of democracy – that’s why we must defend it. Which views are right and which are not, cannot be decided by algorithms or owners of corporate giants.

Poland will always stand guard for democratic values, including freedom of speech. Social media owners cannot operate above the law. That’s why we’ll do everything to determine how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other similar platforms operate. In Poland, we regulate this with appropriate and national regulations. We will also propose that similar regulations apply throughout the European Union.

Social media must serve us – the public, not the interests of its powerful owners. All people have the right to freedom of speech. Poland will defend this right.

This does not mean Poland has not succumb to the corruption that plagues multiple governments, it seems these days no government is free the burdens of many unethical and immoral actions and measures they take and may impose on the population. This article however, is focusing specifically on censorship. Perhaps this is simply a PR move to “look good.” I don’t know.

It’s great to see censorship on the minds of many and with all of the controversy that has crept into the mainstream, more people are definitely aware of the problem. I would, however, like to emphasize again that it’s not just Donald Trump that’s been subjected to it, it’s thousands of doctors, scientists, journalist and media organizations.

We are living in an age where there is a digital authoritarian Orwellian type of “fact-checker” patrolling the internet telling people what is and what isn’t. Should people not have the right to examine information openly and transparently and determine for themselves what is and what isn’t?

All of this censorship obviously requires a mass amount of surveillance. It’s no secret that tech companies like Facebook and Amazon, for example, have strong connections to intelligence. If you look at Facebook, Google and Amazon employees for example, there are many who have come from very high positions within the Department of Defence.

Amazon appointed Keith Alexander, director of the NSA under Barack Obama. NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden pointed out in a recent interview with journalist Glenn Greenwald,

He was one of the senior architects of the mass surveillance program that courts have repeatedly now declared to be unlawful and unconstitutional…When you have this kind of incentive from a private industry to maintain the warmest possible relationship with the people in government, who not just buy from you but also have the possibility to end your business or change the way you do business…You now see this kind of soft corruption that happens in a constant way.

In secret, these companies had all agreed to work with the U.S. Government far beyond what the law required of them, and that’s what we’re seeing with this new censorship push is really a new direction in the same dynamic. These companies are not obligated by the law to do almost any of what they’re actually doing but they’re going above and beyond, to, in many cases, to increase the depth of their relationship (with the government) and the government’s willingness to avoid trying to regulate them in the context of their desired activities, which is ultimately to dominate the conversation and information space of global society in different ways…They’re trying to make you change your behaviour…

Snowden goes on to explain how people get upset when government tries to set the boundaries of what appropriate speech is by attempting to stop big tech censorship, he then says,

If you’re not comfortable letting the government determine the boundaries of appropriate political speech, why are you begging Mark Zuckerberg to do it?

I think the reality here is…it’s not really about freedom of speech, and it’s not really about protecting people from harm…I think what you see is the internet has become the de facto means of mass communication. That represents influence which represents power, and what we see is we see a whole number of different tribes basically squabbling to try to gain control over this instrument of power.

What we see is an increasing tendency to silence journalists who say things that are in the minority.

I would argue, however, that big tech may not just be censoring “minority” opinions. When it comes to the coronavirus for example, there seems to be, in my opinion, a large majority of doctors, scientists and journalists who are presenting information, science, evidence and opinion that strongly oppose certain measures taken by governments to combat Covid, like lockdowns, for example. Yet somebody like Dr. Anthony Fauci can go on television anytime he wants and is given the gift of instant virality while other experts in the field with opposing views seem to be completely ignored.

I would argue that the mainstream can make the majority feel like the minority, and the minority feel like the majority.

Final Thoughts

Censorship of information, thoughts, opinions and more can be a tricky subject to debate. At the end of the day, information that should not be censored seems to be censored simply because it threatens various corporate and government initiatives, or because it opposes a narrative that we see within the mainstream media. This is exactly why people like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, among many, face difficulty. What does it say about our world when we silence and jail those who expose unethical and immoral actions by those we give the most power to?

This, in my opinion, is just wrong and not something humanity should stand for. Already we’ve seen a massive growth of other social media platforms that don’t work with and engage in big tech censorship, like Telegram, for example, and this doesn’t really come as a surprise. Many people are under the opinion that Facebook or Twitter can do whatever they like because these are private companies, and we the users, choose to use them. That may be true, but at the same time why censor so much information that is clearly not false, but simply because you don’t want people to think that way? What we are seeing today is not censorship of harmful information but rather the continued and concerted effort to control the way people think. The information that is censored is constantly labelled as “misinformation” and “fake news” when again, that’s clearly debatable and in many cases simply not true.

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are melded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. – Edward Bernay’s, Propaganda 1928

The good news is that censorship measures have exploded and have also acted as a catalyst for more people to question what’s happening on our planet, why, and ask themselves what can we do about it. The number of people asking questions today is more so than ever before, and although sometimes it presents itself and seems like chaos, perhaps we are simply experiencing birthing pains as humanity transitions into a new experience. The more this kind of activity happens, the more our collective eye begins to see our planet in another light. The veil is being lifted.

Right now all of this is simply a reflection of human consciousness, the need to control, the need for power, control and more. Once human consciousness shifts and as it continues to shift, perhaps one day we will have more “conscious corporations.”

This article (Poland Moves To Make Censorship By Facebook, Twitter & Other Big Tech Giants Illegal”) was originally created for Collective Evolution and is published here under Creative Commons.

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