May You Live in Interesting Times
The absurdity of life in the world's most lock-downed city where rainbow flag signs state "you are welcome" without a trace of irony in the midst of medical apartheid
Doubtless, you’re tired of anything pandemic themed—what is there left to say? As early as two years ago, I was writing about mass psychosis. At that time, its only manifestation was the stockpiling of toilet paper. I’d even covered the limits of empathy in my article on COVID-19 and compassion fatigue:
Human beings, en masse, have at various points in history, appeared to have made peace with large-scale suffering. It’s not so much that we turn a blind eye to death, pain and injustice, it’s just that the magnitude of such suffering is hard both to grasp, and to respond to in an emotionally proportionate way. Suffering doesn’t scale well; death tolls are numeric abstractions.
Although we are naturally empathetic, we are selective about the recepients of our sympathies. We are more likely to empathise with another if we share a commonality, and we are much less likely to empathise with the out-group, particularly where prejudice is involved.
There is a tendency for memories to lose their emotional edge; become smoothed by time like river pebbles. Well, this isn’t a river I want to be waddling through twice. Let’s not forget these benighted years, lest we repeat them.
The Australian context
According to provisional data for the period up to 31 January 2022, 2,639 people died from or with COVID-19 in Australia. Of the 2,556 that died from the virus, 91% had other conditions and diseases listed on the death certificate (2.7 on average).
The majority had pre-existing chronic conditions such as cardiac conditions, dementia, diabetes and cancer. The median age of death was 83.7 years which is higher than the average life expectancy.
According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration—our version of the FDA, connected as though by marionette strings—there were 757 adverse events leading to death reported for COVID-19 mRNA vaccines up to 31 January 2022.
How many lives could have been saved if early treatment was prioritised rather than suppressed to justify the roll-out of experimental mRNA vaccines on an emergency basis? Or if the government had emphasised risk factors such as having a vitamin D deficiency or being obese instead of shutting down gyms and limiting citizens’ time outdoors?
267 days of solitude
Not only am I living through an interesting time as per that apocryphal curse, but I am also living in an interesting place—the world’s most locked-down city, Melbourne, Victoria. Two-hundred and sixty-seven non-consecutive days of lockdown.
The sixth lockdown ended with more positive test results than at any time prior.
Unsurprisingly, a meta-analysis of 24 relevant studies found that “lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality”. Consider the collateral damage: the economic toll, the increased suicides from unemployment and other deaths of despair, increased domestic violence, and an increase in undetected or untreated illnesses.
Given the “deterioration in mental health, physical health, [and] financial situation” due to “highly restrictive lockdowns”, an increase in suicides is likely. This will be a delayed effect. After all, in wartime, there is a decrease in suicides, but once that sense of solidarity fades and some are left to pick up more pieces than others, suicides go up.
An analysis of 80 lockdown studies showed that many leaned heavily on the false premise that without a lockdown there would have been no “rational, voluntary individual responses”. However, in Sweden, given the appropriate advice and without overly restrictive measures, people willingly “reduce[d] their social interactions in ways which limit[ed] the spread of the virus”.
QR codes and digital passports
Up until very recently, all Victorians were required to scan a QR code everywhere they went. This requirement persisted even after the government had ceased contact tracing.
The Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police and credit checking firm Illion have all tried to get their grubby mitts on the data.
Presently, the QR code requirement applies only to digital passport locations such as “entertainment, hospitality, adult/higher education, hairdressers, community premises, physical recreation, and nightclubs”.
Melburnians protested the vaccine mandates and a bill enabling $90,000 individual fines or two-year imprisonment terms for those who recklessly disobeyed a health order… say by congregating to exercise their civil liberties?
For the purposes of medical apartheid, “fully vaccinated” refers to those who have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, their immunity long dwindled to almost nothing. Their number includes people who were vaccinated under duress, and who are now required to have the booster to keep their jobs.
The Australian government has secured an additional 85 million doses for 2022 and 2023 of Comiranty (the Pfizer vaccine) alone. It’s the old formulation, how can they flog it months before an Omnicron-specific vaccine is available? The manufacturers will be singing a different tune then.
Given the number of cases, how can the government pretend those with stronger and longer-lasting natural immunity from direct contact with the virus need to prime their immune system with a vaccine? They’ve already fought off the virus.
The available vaccines are the mRNA “vaccines” Comiranty (Pfizer), Spikevax (Moderna), Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca), and very recently Nuvaxovid (Novavax), a protein-based vaccine with a soapbark tree extract adjuvant.
AstraZeneca is contraindicated for those under 60 by scientists and is “no longer the preferred vaccine for Australian adults under 50”. Moderna was suspended for young people in Sweden, Norway, and Finland, a vote of no-confidence that is hard to shake off.
Pfizer is courting another several billion dollars in fines, it seems. A whistleblower’s documented “poor laboratory management, patient safety concerns, and data integrity issues” were published in the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ).
The BMJ was later “fact-checked” by an online college yearbook with delusions of grandeur. It’s almost as farcial as the FDA’s insistence that they cannot “make public the data it relied on to license Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine” in fewer than 75 years. (“They’ll all be dead by then, right?”)
Homegrown Covax-19 (Spikogen), using artificially manufactured proteins (in a lab and not inside the hijacked human body) was left to languish. Covax-19 “completely blocks virus transmission to non-immune individuals” and is not available in the country of its origin.
Healthy children as young as five can be vaccinated despite being at negligible risk of death and hospitalisation. This was true even before the Omicron variant, which is associated with significantly less severe outcomes in young children. (Caveat: the study is presently a preprint so keep your eyes peeled.)
Nor are children “superspreaders”. Children are robust to COVID-19 infection and are “unlikely to be the index case” in household transmission clusters.
Consider also the limitations of the vaccine clinical trials with regards to children:
“Clinical trials for these inoculations were very short-term (a few months), had samples not representative of the total population, and for adolescents/children, had poor predictive power because of their small size.
Further, the clinical trials did not address changes in biomarkers that could serve as early warning indicators of elevated predisposition to serious diseases. Most importantly, the clinical trials did not address long-term effects that, if serious, would be borne by children/adolescents for potentially decades.”
Last year, I took stock of a) my estimated risk of virus adverse outcomes with regard to my age group, sex, and comorbidities should I even get the virus, b) the benefit of the mRNA vaccines (a meagre absolute risk reduction of infection which rapidly wanes to almost nothing in a matter of months) and c) my risk of vaccine adverse outcomes. (Cognizant of the fact that not every side-effect is yet known due to delayed effects.)
The vaccination status of a person infected with the virus does not determine their risk of transmission. However, I want to be crystal clear on this: even if the mRNA vaccines did stop the spread—which they don’t as we can see from an analysis of 68 countries—I would never do anything to jeopardise my health so as to be less likely to transmit a virus to you. I would quarantine, but that would be a temporary concession.
Every person has the responsibility and all the recourse in the world to protect themselves from the virus.
My cost-benefit analysis fell short of what’s most profitable for the pharmaceutical industry (going forward, they got my tax dollars this time) and demonstrated a distinct lack of mindless obedience or obeisance to those in power.
I wasn’t going to take any action that could compromise my health in order to lower an already negligible risk of death and hospitalisation regardless of bullying, bribery, coercion, and some distinctly repugnant advertising. My inalienable rights and freedoms cannot be used to “reward” me.
How is it that some vaccinated people simultaneously claim to believe vaccines work and then blame the non-vaccinated for being the ones to have supposedly infected them?
Most puzzling are the folks who think that herd immunity can only be achieved with 100% coverage, and don’t realise that it protects the non-vaccinated exclusively. A happy by-product of people protecting themselves.
If you can transmit the virus despite being vaccinated, how are you helping those who are both vulnerable and unvaccinated? By transmitting potentially highly virulent vaccine-escape mutations to them?
Ex-government staffers who obtain sinecures as Big Pharma lobbyists.
I am sovereign over my body and have the right to make decisions regarding my health autonomously, privately, and in the context of informed consent rather than coercion.
Adults of sound mind should be free to reject any and all medical interventions in a civilised society. This belief renders me “anti-vax”, but why stop there? After all, in my support of those who decline chemotherapy after some “cold calculations”, I am also “anti-chemo”, am I not?
Not only have we forgotten the value of informed consent, but we have also forgotten the value of research (apart from when it comes to the purchase of a new flatscreen TV), the concept of conflict of interest, and the appreciation that one life cannot be weighed against another. In public health, it’s never about lives lost but the number of potential years of life lost.
Moreover, many mistakenly believe we aim to maximise lives saved, forgetting that we do not overscreen for cancer for the very reason that the economic cost and the mental turmoil and unnecessary biopsies inflicted on false-positive cases far outweighs the benefits of saving a scant few more lives.
Worst of all, some medical professionals have forgotten that they swore to help the ill—no provisos, no quid pro quos. Doctors can no more deny treatment to a non-vaccinated person than a vaccinated morbidly obese one. (Or even a child with a sprain from risky skateboarding.)
As soon as the 90% vaccination target was reached, the non-vaccinated were barred from non-essential retail and continued to be excluded from gyms, restaurants, clubs, cinemas, and galleries. Or rather, for the non-vaccinated the lockdown segued seamlessly into a lockout.
The documented presence of antibodies or the absence of the virus is not sufficient, only a vaccination record proves you are safe to brunch outdoors. (You can still go indoors to order takeaway though.)
Shortly before Christmas, restrictions on non-essential retail, excluding hairdressing and beauty services, were lifted. All other restrictions remain; aren’t the vaccinated protected by their vaccine, and me by herd immunity? No? Then why are we doing this?
Although my decision-making process has not changed, my health status and knowledge of my potential genetic predisposition have; I may well decide to be vaccinated with Novavax. (Perhaps after an antibodies test, given how often the media emphasise asymptomatic carriers—or is that only relevant where expedient?)
I will remain a second-class citizen as I have no desire to give up my privacy or to participate in medical apartheid.
“Anti-vax”—some people chafe at the label; insist they are only against vaccine mandates or emphasise their hitherto immaculate immunisation record. Embrace the label; it simply means you’re a critical, nuanced thinker.
Consider “anti-vaxxer” actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik who was was libelled for merely vaccinating her children on a delayed schedule.
Bialik does not feel the hepatitis B vaccine is necessary for newborns. This is likely because hepatitis B virus endemicity is low in North America (and also in Northern and Western Europe and Australia) with only 0.5–2% of the population being chronic carriers and horizontal transmission being exceedingly rare on top of that.
“Anti-vax” has referred to those with the audacity to criticise or question any aspect of any vaccine; even scientists are on the receiving end of this slur when sharing inconvenient findings. (You can read the full saga regarding Gardasil’s aluminium adjuvant on Retraction Watch here and here.)
Science isn’t something you infer from the policy; it’s not whatever you perceive to be the mainstream view and assume is the consensus. It’s a method—one you cannot disavow to get a favourable result. Science is also the resultant body of evidence: a morass of peer-reviewed research, obstructive delays in publication, and flimsy excuses for retractions.
It’s not easy to read it all, or even all of the meta-analyses and systematic reviews, much less to mull over whether a particular study was underpowered or otherwise set up for failure—but the point is that it’s all there, at your fingertips. Don’t ignore it for corporate-sponsored propaganda.
Misinformation is any fact that’s politically or financially inexpedient. (Even if there really was some grand, impartial arbiter of truth out there—why would it be necessary to outsource your thinking to them?)
It’s “not gene therapy” the fact-checkers cry; it’s just inserting mRNA into mammalian cells; it’s just a “genetic immunogen”. It’s not new technology, it’s just (low-cost to manufacture and undertested) technology that Nature as recently as 2018 described as having “demonstrated encouraging results” and “largely overcome” its issues.
It doesn’t matter how many years something has been theorised about, how many animal models there were, or even the smattering of small trials (particularly those conducted with cancer patients where safety isn’t as much of a priority). What matters is the breadth (sample size) and depth (the number of years) of human testing. There is no long-term data—there is no retort to that.
Your government, your employer, and the manufacturer are not liable—only you will suffer the consequences and bear the responsibility of not thinking things through.
Another example is poor, maligned, patent-expired, unprofitable ivermectin: just a veterinary medicine, just a Noble-prize winning anti-parasitic, just an effective anti-viral as shown in “indefinite” in vitro (test-tube) studies, let’s-just-ignore-all-the-studies-in-patients-like-they-don’t-exist. All the systematic reviews of randomised-controlled studies and the ecological evidence. The latest inanity is to mindlessly repeat that the required dose is unsafe—poppycock. Don’t be a means to someone else’s ends.
Many years ago, when I worked in the behavioural science division of Cancer Council Victoria, solarium (tanning bed) operators were fighting against a looming ban. I recall one protest sign in particular: “Long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation does not cause melanoma”. Did you catch the bait and switch? The subtle narrowing of the assertion to answer a question no one ever asked?
Long-term UVR exposure causes non-melanocytic skin cancers; while melanoma is particularly associated with high, intermittent exposure. Today, the solarium shills’ banner would be the title of a “fact-checking” article “refuting” the idea that UVR causes skin cancer through its mere Google-able existence.
I wear a fairly useless cloth mask such is my contempt for the indoor mask policy. (I should probably buy an N95 one.) I’m not willing to entertain the fantastical scenario wherein an asymptomatic carrier with a typical viral load up their nose breathes erratically on me in an enclosed and ventilated environment.
Around Christmas, I witness an argument break out inside a cafe. Three masked vigilantes were cycling so head-spinningly rapidly between fear and hostility that the non-masked recipient of their emotional outburst ended up walking out.
How did they know she wasn’t medically exempt? Half the patrons had their masks down in front of their empty cups and cake-smeared plates, as permitted. Why did they pretend to be rattled by her? Who on earth was forcing them to risk life and limb in their pursuit of croissants and caffeine?
Man’s inhumanity to man
There was no shortage of people “rolling up their sleeve” to be “jabbed” merely to hasten the reopening of pubs and restaurants. Naturally, whilst purporting to have a nobler motive and relishing in the perceived carte blanche to wallow in hallucinated moral and intellectual superiority whilst denigrating and castigating others.
I have been fortunate in that all of my friends and family are either apathetic (not ideal) or vehemently opposed to vaccine mandates. This includes a medical researcher who once conducted clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies and was vaccinated purely to keep her job. She suffered tinnitus and facial paralysis; her doctors never even suggested vaccination as a possible cause to be ruled out.
Last year, she and I had an interesting talk after peeling our tacky masks from our faces to sip lattes in the high humidity as we walked around an oval. The first topic was naturally the absurdity of wearing masks while out in the open air and where ultraviolet radiation would kill the virus.
The last topic of conversation was that, according to her teacher friend, children were displaying speech delays due to masking. Masks are detrimental to audio-visual speech detection, particularly for “individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, young children or students learning to read, students learning a new language, individuals with disabilities”.
No doubt children’s social development will have suffered too as “positive emotions become less recognizable, and negative emotions are amplified” when the lower half of the face is covered. Children unable to lip-read or read facial expressions—what could possibly go wrong?
Of course, all this pales with Victoria’s greatest victims: those unable to visit dying relatives in hospital or to give them a proper send-off, followed by those frontline workers, once hailed as heroes and now dismissed from their jobs and disparaged by the media.
This has resulted in some COVID-19 positive hospital staff being required to come into work due to staff shortages during our aptly named “code brown” period, which no doubt owes to us having fewer ICU beds per capita than the national average.
In terms of unemployment, vaccine mandates had a flow-on effect. Imagine the injustice of working in an industry that isn’t beholden to mandates, unceremoniously thrown out after decades of service and stripped of your severance package, while your coworkers continue to work from home indefinitely.
The pandemic has been a godsend for any company looking to downsize while pretending to be invested in Occupational Health & Safety.
Let’s not make excuses for the jackboot lickers.
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