Some Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on December 19, 2021

in Country Problems, Current Affairs, Legal Issues, Philosophy of Freedom, Regulation, Risk and Safety

George Leef writes at National Review about Phil Magness’s recent acquisition of a stash of e-mail correspondence between Francis Collins, Anthony Fauci, and other officious government bureaucrats. A slice:

Phil Magness, that irrepressible foe of statism, managed to obtain emails between White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci and NIH director Francis Collins in which they hatch an attack on the Great Barrington Declaration. (The GBD was authored by three well-known epidemiologists, arguing that the best approach to COVID was not locking down, but targeted protection for the truly vulnerable.)

Dissent from the federal government’s chosen strategy was quite unwelcome. “There needs to be a quick and devastating takedown of its premises,” Collins wrote in reference to the GBD. Real scientists would investigate the premises first, then decide if the declaration should be subject to a “takedown,” but no such thing ever happened. The authors were disparaged, their motives impugned, their conclusions ridiculed, but one looks in vain for anything like a scientific counter-argument.

Phil Magness shares, in a Twitter thread, many of these e-mails. Three slices:

The Fauci-endorsed Wired article is noteworthy for having one of the single worst hot-takes of the entire pandemic. It declared in October 2020 that the GBD should be ignored, because lockdowns were a thing of the past and would not be returning!
…..
Far from a scientific study refuting the GBD, [Gregg] Gonsalves’s article is a political op-ed attacking @Jacobin magazine for breaking “solidarity” with other far-left media outlets on lockdowns. Why? Because Jacobin ran an interview with @MartinKulldorff on how lockdowns hurt the poor.
…..
In the meantime, Gonsalves also gets in contact with Collins to volunteer his services (along with future @CDCDirector Rochelle Walensky) to attack the GBD in the media.

Collins approves, and forwards it to Fauci and a bunch of NIH underlings.

Also writing about these e-mails, in the Daily Mail, is Stephen Lepore. A slice:

Dr. Anthony Fauci and the head of the National Institute of Health (NIH) colluded on a way to discredit an alternative plan to deal with COVID from a group of experts, released emails reveal.

The emails, some of which were tweeted out on Saturday by Phil Magness, senior research faculty and interim research and education director at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), show Fauci and Francis Collins attempting to coordinate a ‘devastating takedown’ of the Great Barrington Declaration.

Jordan Schachtel tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Fauci has never participated in a public debate about COVID-19. Neither has Francis Collins. Nor has Deborah Birx. Same with Rochelle Walensky. And the list goes on. The weight of their premises has never been challenged in a non-scripted environment. This speaks volumes.

Speaking of debates, here’s one, on vaccine mandates, between Angela McArdle and GMU Law’s Ilya Somin. (DBx: I seldom disagree with Ilya, but I do not find his support for vaccine mandates persuasive.)

Aaron Kheriaty tweets: (HT Martin Kulldorff)

Collins and Fauci don’t realize when they are in the presence of three giants, and lack the scientific confidence to meet these three with reasoned, evidence-based debates. Instead, they resort to orchestrating smear campaigns and defamation. Disgraceful and embarrassing.

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

Bureaucrats who fund the careers of scientists should play no role whatsoever in setting pandemic policy. The conflict of interest created by this dual role has forced countless scientists to stay silent or risk losing their careers.

el gato malo is unhappy with the U.S. Sixth Circuit’s unfortunate 2-1 ruling upholding one of Biden’s abominable vaccine mandates.

The dissenting vote in this vaccine-mandate case was cast by my friend Judge Joan Larsen. You can read Judge Larsen’s dissenting opinion, starting on page 39, here. Three slices:

The majority’s theme is that questions of health science and policy lie beyond the judicial ken. I agree. But this case asks a legal question: whether Congress authorized the action the agency took. That question is the bread and butter of federal courts. And this case can be resolved using ordinary tools of statutory interpretation and bedrock principles of administrative law. These tell us that petitioners are likely to succeed on the merits, so I would stay OSHA’s emergency rule pending final review.
…..
One more background point: The purpose of the mandate is to protect unvaccinated people. Id. at 61,419. The rule’s premise is that vaccines work. Id. And so, OSHA has explained that the rule is not about protecting the vaccinated; they do not face “grave danger” from working with those who are not vaccinated. Id. at 61,434.
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And it is easy to envision more tailored solutions OSHA could have explored. It might, for example, have considered a standard aimed at the most vulnerable workers; or an exemption for the least. The government’s own data show that unvaccinated workers between the ages of 18 and 29 bear a risk roughly equivalent to vaccinated persons between 50 and 64. See Ctr. for Disease Control, Rates of COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by Vaccination Status (last visited Dec. 16, 2021), https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#rates-by-vaccine-status; https://perma.cc/8SU2-SVLZ. Or it might have considered a standard aimed at specific industries or types of workplaces with the greatest risk of COVID-19 exposure. Congress told the Secretary to “give due regard” to the need for standards “for particular industries” and types of “workplaces or work environments.” 29 U.S.C. § 655(g). And OSHA acknowledges that death rates are higher in “[c]ertain occupational sectors,” 86 Fed. Reg. at 61,415; yet its rule never considers what results would obtain from targeting those sectors alone. Would these, or other alternatives, have achieved similar results? We do not know because OSHA did not ask.

OSHA counters that given the COVID-19 emergency, rough-cut mandates are the best it can do. I see two problems with OSHA’s assertion. First, even an emergency standard must consider “obvious distinctions” among those it regulates. Dry Color, 486 F.2d at 105. Here, there are many, none reflected in the emergency rule. Second, the agency’s claim of emergency rings hollow. It waited nearly two years since the beginning of the pandemic and nearly one year since vaccines became available to the public to issue its vaccinate-or-test mandate. The agency does not explain why, in that time, it could not have explored more finely tuned approaches.

The majority opinion contends that to require more of OSHA would contradict the point of an emergency standard. But it offers no support for this proposition. It cannot be found in the text of § 655 itself. Indeed, as discussed, the only distinction apparent from the statutory text is that emergency standards should be more tailored to the problem, not less.

The straw man might return to the Netherlands.

Jeffrey Tucker wonders what happened to “liberty and justice for all.”

Covidocratic tyranny intensifies in Ontario.

Alexander Nazaryan tweets:

If we shut everything down because of Omicron, then we have learned absolutely nothing in the last two years.

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