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Some Covid Links

Martin Kulldorff continues to write courageously, sensibly, and humanely about Covid and lockdowns. Two slices:

During his short four-month stint at the White House, Dr. Scott Atlas worked to better protect older Americans while urging the return of children to school. While he succeeded in implementing more frequent Covid testing in nursing homes, he was unable to turn the White House Covid Task Force away from the ineffective but damaging lockdowns to traditional and more effective measures to protect the vulnerable.

Seeking to evade blame during congressional hearings, Dr. Deborah Birx, the former task force coordinator, is now accusing Atlas for the consequences of the lockdown policies that she urged and implemented during her one-year tenure, falsely claiming that he wanted to “let the infection spread widely without mitigation.”


An article in the British Medical Journal falsely claimed that Bhattacharya, Gupta, and I have “expressed opposition to mass vaccination.” The opposite is true. I was even removed from a CDC working group for being too pro-vaccine, after arguing against the CDC pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. By publishing erroneous claims that there are prominent professors at Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford who are against the Covid vaccines, the British Medical Journal gave the anti-vaccine movement a boost.

The central fallacies in pro-lockdown thinking are that more restrictions automatically lead to fewer Covid deaths, that focused protection is impossible, and that collateral lockdown damage is insignificant. To his credit, [Ryan] Grim acknowledged that school closures were a disastrous mistake. He even moved out of Washington, DC so his own children could go to school.

Nicole Saphier and Marty Makary, writing in the Wall Street Journal, calm parents’ worries about their children’s exposure to Covid and about their children being vaccinated. A slice:

There’s an important exception, though: If a child already had Covid, there’s no scientific basis for vaccination. Deep within the 80-page Pfizer report is this crucial line: “No cases of COVID-19 were observed in either the vaccine group or the placebo group in participants with evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection.” That’s consistent with the largest population-based study on the topic, which found that natural immunity was 27 times as effective as vaccinated immunity in preventing symptomatic Covid. Natural immunity is likely even more robust in children, given their stronger immune systems. An indiscriminate Covid vaccine mandate may result in unintended harm among children with natural immunity.

Johan Anderberg, writing at UnHerd, reports from Sweden that “[t]he death toll here is lower than nations with draconian restrictions.” A slice:

Few now remember that for most of 2020, the word “experiment” had negative connotations. That was what Swedes were accused of conducting when we — unlike the rest of the world — maintained some semblance of normality. The citizens of this country generally didn’t have to wear face masks; young children continued going to school; leisure activities were largely allowed to continue unhindered.

This experiment was judged early on as “a disaster” (Time magazine), a “the world’s cautionary tale” (New York Times), “deadly folly” (the Guardian). In Germany, Focus magazine described the policy as “sloppiness”; Italy’s La Repubblica concluded that the “Nordic model country” had made a dangerous mistake. But these countries — all countries — were also conducting an experiment, in that they were testing unprecedented measures to prevent the spread of a virus. Sweden simply chose one path, the rest of Europe another.


At this stage, it was not unreasonable to conclude that Sweden would pay a high price for its freedom. Throughout the spring of 2020, Sweden’s death toll per capita was higher than most other countries.

But the experiment didn’t end there. During the year that followed, the virus continued to ravage the world and, one by one, the death tolls in countries that had locked down began to surpass Sweden’s. Britain, the US, France, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Argentina, Belgium — countries that had variously shut down playgrounds, forced their children to wear facemasks, closed schools, fined citizens for hanging out on the beach and guarded parks with drones — have all been hit worse than Sweden. At the time of writing, more than 50 countries have a higher death rate. If you measure excess mortality for the whole of 2020, Sweden (according to Eurostat) will end up in 21st place out of 31 European countries. If Sweden was a part of the US, its death rate would rank number 43 of the 50 states.

This fact is shockingly underreported. Consider the sheer number of articles and TV segments devoted to Sweden’s foolishly liberal attitude to the pandemic last year — and the daily reference to figures that are forgotten today. Suddenly, it is as if Sweden doesn’t exist. When the Wall Street Journal recently published a report from Portugal, it described how the country “offered a glimpse” of what it would be like to live with the virus. This new normal involved, among other things, vaccine passports and face masks at large events like football matches. Nowhere in the report was it mentioned that in Sweden you can go to football matches without wearing a facemask, or that Sweden — with a smaller proportion of Covid deaths over the course of the pandemic — had ended virtually all restrictions. Sweden has been living with the virus for some time.

The WSJ is far from alone in its selective reporting. The New York Times, Guardian, BBC, The Times, all cheerleaders for lockdowns, can’t fathom casting doubt on their efficacy.

And those who’ve followed Sweden’s example have also come in for a lot of criticism. When the state of Florida — more than a year ago and strongly inspired by Sweden — removed most of its restrictions and allowed schools, restaurant and leisure parks to reopen, the judgement from the American media was swift. The state’s Republican governor was predicted to “lead his state to the morgue” (The New Republic). The media was outraged by images of Floridians swimming and sunbathing at the beach.

Natalie Paris justifiably accuses the United States of having “some of the world’s most restrictive Covid rules when it comes to children.” Here’s her conclusion:

A final, yet important, consideration for families wanting to fly Stateside is that, depending on where they go, unvaccinated British children might soon be banned from restaurants and other indoor public places. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) already recommends that unvaccinated children aged two and above wear masks in public spaces, and it has now given the green light for American children aged five and above to be vaccinated. In response, some jurisdictions – such as San Francisco – are considering expanding their vaccine passport requirements to include children of five or more years.

All in all, the US seems a risky prospect for families with little children right now. As a passenger, I’m not sure I’d want to be on a transatlantic flight bearing toddlers. As a parent, if the only way to avoid having my family removed from a plane is to swap my daughter’s imaginary tea parties for games involving mask wearing, I would rather spare everyone the headache.

Newcastle University philosopher Sinéad Murphy writes wisely about the “the three major themes according to which our lives are currently being transformed: Covid, Climate, and Critical Theory.” She continues:

These themes have jostled with one another for our ever more petrified attention during the past almost-two years.

Each theme is accompanied by the great motif of ‘Zero’ – Zero Covid, Zero Carbon, Zero Tolerance.

There is something tantalizing about Zero. It has an elegant and satisfying simplicity. That it cannot be realised does not dilute its effect, which is to instill in us a new contempt: for the mechanisms of our bodies, for our impact on the world, and for the building blocks of social interaction.

Bombardment by the themes of Covid, Climate and Critical Theory makes us retreat in disgust from ourselves, one another and our world.

And in this lies the great power of Zero: it implies only retreat, that action taken in its name is only privation – less of what we had or have, not as dirty, not as noisy, not as bawdy, not as hurtful, not as unhealthy.

Will Jones exposes the illogic in former British Health Minister (but current Member of Parliament) Matt Hancock’s recent argument for mandatory vaccination of all NHS staff as well as social-care workers. (Hancock, you might recall, is one of the Covidocracy’s many Covidocrits; he resigned his cabinet office this past summer after being caught violating his own Covid guidelines.)

Vinay Prasad calls for research into an absent denominator.

James Macpherson decries the Covid-hysteria-fueled further transformation of the concept of human rights as possessions naturally held by each of us as individuals, into privileges to be granted, withheld, or snatched away by the state. A slice:

Listening to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today, one could be forgiven for thinking human rights were hers to give, and hers to take away.

The Premier, speaking in Brisbane, described the easing of restrictions on movement and association from December 17 as a “reward” for vaccinated people.

“People who are vaccinated have absolutely stepped up and done the right thing and you deserve to keep your freedoms,” she said, straight-faced.

Wait. What?

These freedoms – that Queenslanders may or may not “deserve” – included the ability to go to the pub, a concert, a sporting event, a Christmas party or to visit family members in hospital.

“A lot of people have gone and got vaccinated and they need to be rewarded for their efforts. They have done everything I have asked them to do,” the Premier said.

It is astonishing to me that Australian politicians can speak in this authoritarian tone and receive, as if their due, nothing but approving nods from the press gallery.

Brisbane? Beijing? What’s the difference these days? Not much evidently.

If vaccinated people “deserve” basic freedoms then, by implication, the 20% of Queenslanders who are not vaccinated, are undeserving.

Think about that. If a perfectly healthy person has decided — for whatever reason – that they don’t want to be vaccinated, they are now deemed undeserving of basic rights we all took for granted less than two years ago.