The idea that exposure to some infectious agents is protective against immune-related disorders isn’t new and comes with significant scientific heft. The so-called hygiene hypothesis is constructed from epidemiologic evidence, laboratory studies and clinical trials that, put together, support the notion that an excessive emphasis on antisepsis is implicated in misalignments of the immune system that risk disease.
The extreme concern for hygiene at the onset of Covid-19 was intuitive and understandable. The virus was spreading fast, information on routes of transmission was limited, and we as a society tried to protect one another from infection. But policies that were easy to support two years ago need re-evaluation. Distancing, deep-cleaning and masking aren’t “more is better” kinds of goods.
On the other side of the balance, health risks from extended intensive hygiene are credible. As Omicron recedes and we internalize the paucity of Covid-19 benefits from some hygiene practices, we should balance those against the benefits we lose by shielding our immune systems from normal exposures—and the ones we withhold from children by preventing the exchange of microbes through play and smiles.
Nevertheless, when scientific institutions and scientists acting as the de facto figureheads of “Science” once more began to appear to be in conflict with their old foes on the Right of pandemic policy, this time led by President Donald Trump, political battle lines were drawn in a way where either you were on the side of Democrats and “The Science” or on the side of Republicans and Trump.
Henceforth, if being a Democrat, an anti-Trumper, or someone who believed in science was part of your core identity, you now found yourself in a position where you would defend “The Science” and all its related leaders, beliefs, and policies and do so on a very core level. It didn’t matter if you had followed “The Science” to a psychological Twilight Zone where a commitment to science was characterized not by critical thought and a careful assessment of data and evidence, but obedience to authority and a defense of symbolic representations of an institution.
Hence, many once seemingly reasonable biologists and biologists in training I knew in the Before Times came to exhibit a profound lack of curiosity, or express hostility and condescension toward the suggestion that one might want evidence for that which had been proclaimed by Pope Fauci, the Church of the CDC, or “The Science.” To some, questioning that which had been proclaimed by “The Science” had become like questioning that which had been revealed to Marian Keech.
Doctors and commentators in the media like amateur UFO-watchers from 1954 defended long-term Doomsday predictions of various epidemiological models even after some of them, although not quite unequivocally disproved, were shown to perform rather poorly in their predictions of things like daily deaths from Covid-19 and ICU bed utilizations.
As we now enter year three of the Pandemic Era, true believers continue to hold that the actions of those who “followed The Science” saved the world through their actions, no matter how destructive those actions are ultimately revealed to be.
And, even after the most cataclysmic events predicted by “The Science” have not come to pass, there remains a core group of true believers who are convinced “The Science” had simply gotten the date or the variant wrong and that the End of Days are still to come unless we all remain vigilant by forever being ready to mask up and lock down when “The Science” says it’s time.
Everywhere you look these days, you can see versions of this tendency, in large and small ways: Teachers unions have spent the last two years using public health fears as an excuse to stay out of classrooms. Biden and congressional Democrats have used the pandemic as an excuse for massive expansions of social spending that have little to do with responding to the coronavirus.
Elsewhere, I have described a process of undermining authority by unleashing uncontainable social forces: “underthrow.” Irish Democracy is proving to be a vector of underthrow against vaccine authoritarianism. As each wave of withdrawal and truculence crashes against authoritarian policies and then recedes, those policies unravel, as President Biden has discovered. The vaccine mandates lay in state at the White House, even before the Supreme Court struck the coffin’s final nail.
Likewise, parents are pulling their children out of the public schools in droves. Weary of unjustifiable closures, parents are finding private alternatives that are affordable and of higher quality. Thus, teachers’ unions and their paymasters are learning about underthrow, too. Indeed, despite the MFP accusation that ‘racism’ motivates everything, up to and including defections from schools and the Party of Rectitude, voters are simply fed up with keeping their kids at home based on paranoia and flimsy justification.
Robby Soave reports that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) dined at The Big Board, a DC restaurant the owner of which nobly refuses to obey all of the DC governments’ Covidocratic diktats. A slice:
Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) made an appearance at Big Board, a bar in the H Street neighborhood of Washington D.C., after the city revoked its liquor license and then shut it down for refusing to enforce COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates. Paul and his staff visited the restaurant on Tuesday night, shortly after D.C. Health posted a closure notice on its front door.
“I’m proud of the owner for not submitting,” said Paul.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.) attended as well. Both thanked the owner, Eric Flannery, for protesting the idea that the government could force restaurant servers to inspect customers’ medical records.
Another study published the same day found that COVID-19 outbreaks were more common in Arizona schools that did not require masks. Again, that study did not control for vaccination rates or other mitigation measures, and critics pointed out various other weaknesses.
“You can’t learn anything about the effects of school mask mandates from this study,” Arizona State public health economist Jonathan Ketcham told science writer David Zweig. Noah Haber, a Stanford postdoctoral fellow who had co-authored a systematic review of research on COVID-19 mitigation measures, described the study as “so unreliable that it probably should not have been entered into the public discourse.”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky nevertheless repeatedly cited the Arizona study as proof that her agency’s advice was well-grounded, and her slippery response to the criticism was revealing. During a Fox News appearance in December, she said “study after study” has “demonstrated that our layered prevention strategies, including masks in schools, are able to keep our schools safely open.”
While those studies show that schools with mask mandates can operate “safely,” they do not show that mask mandates are necessary to achieve that goal. Data from Florida, Tennessee, North Dakota, Texas, the U.K., and Spain suggest they are not.
Genuine question: How can a mask mandate be credited for the current decline in cases when it was in effect before and during the preceding rise in cases?
There is no ethical dilemma about denying essential treatment to a toddler based on the vaccination status of his parents. It is an unmixed evil.
After the government announced that Canadian truckers must be vaccinated in order to cross the border from the United States or face a 14-day quarantine, the truckers organised. On January 23, thousands set off across Canada in protest, moving from British Columbia towards Ottawa, where the Canadian parliament meets.
Despite the fact that this is a working-class movement fighting for rights and freedoms, the left has almost universally condemned the Freedom Convoy, attempting to slander the protesters as ‘far right,’ ‘white nationalists,’ and ‘fascists.’ The media has attempted to paint the protesters as dangerous, violent extremists, despite the fact the truckers and their supporters have only been peaceful.
The left was once focused on class, fighting corporate power and government overreach. Today, they seem to have lost the plot.
A leftist activist named Taylor McNallie, with numerous assault charges to her name, published a widely shared post on Instagram labelling the convoy a ‘white nationalist movement’ and the ‘Ku Klux Konvoy’ (her account has since been deleted). Michael de Adder, a political cartoonist for the Washington Post, published a cartoon referencing the convoy with the word ‘Fascism’ written across the trucks.
It’s almost as though elite progressives are losing control of the narrative and desperately clinging to old tactics. Problem is, anyone with a brain knows that a worker-led protest against tyranny is not fascism.
Despite their insistence that these mandates and restrictions exist to protect society, progressives in Canada don’t seem to care that it is the poor who have been hit the hardest by these measures. They claim to care about public health and smear those questioning or challenging the restrictions as ‘selfish,’ yet they are in fact the most selfish of all — destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of people because they want to remain comfortable, because they want to live in fear.
The truckers’ convoy is the most inspiring thing I’ve seen come out of Canada in my life. I am, for once, proud of Canadians, and I hope their numbers force the truth out of Trudeau and the Canadian media, which is that the country’s handling of Covid has been unconstitutional, cruel, destructive, and an economic disaster. Time to get back to reality, whether the powers that be like it or not.
The trucker protest has clarified the contempt middle class liberals have for the working class.
It’s fine when they’re delivering your Amazon packages while you work from home- but as soon as they want their rights back they’re branded racists.
It has become common to criticise restrictions for children on the grounds that they harm mental health and social development. These concerns are valid, but it is important to emphasise that a more laissez-faire approach to kids and Covid makes public health sense, too. Dropping masks, quarantines, distancing, and all other mitigations will allow children to develop the kind of broad immunity gained by living a normal life.
Shielding kids from exposure only increases their future risk. This is partly why the UK does not vaccinate against chickenpox. Serious complications from the disease are rare among children, and the circulating virus allows adults to be naturally boosted against reactivation-driven shingles. By rebuilding population immunity among the least at-risk, moreover, we help buffer risk for those most vulnerable.
With Covid, the nadir of risk is between 5–11 years old — an age where children develop more robust and durable immunity from infection than adults, even with asymptomatic silent infections.
Some parents may think this sounds like a call to put their children at risk of serious illness or death. But it is important to remember that exposure to Covid-19 is inevitable. Vaccines protect against severe disease and side-effects such as MIS-C, but they cannot stop breakthrough infections, and the rapidity of Omicron’s spread suggests that no matter what we do, we cannot avoid the virus. In January, Anthony Fauci admitted as much, saying that Omicron will eventually “find just about everybody”.
The title of a new paper by Kevin Bardosh, et al., is “The Unintended Consequences of COVID-19 Vaccine Policy: Why Mandates, Passports, and Segregated Lockdowns May Cause more Harm than Good.” Here’s the abstract:
Vaccination policies have shifted dramatically during COVID-19 with the rapid emergence of population-wide vaccine mandates, domestic vaccine passports, and differential restrictions based on vaccination status. These policies have prompted ethical, scientific, practical, and political controversy; however, there has been limited evaluation of their potential unintended consequences. Here, we outline a comprehensive set of hypotheses for why these policies may be counter-productive and harmful.