By Jeffrey A. Tucker
An epic disaster like the COVID response, one might suppose, should inspire some humility and rethinking on how public health could have gone so wrong. They had their run at it but created a global disaster for the ages.
This is more than obvious to any competent observer. The next step might be to see if there are any places where matters went rather well, and Sweden comes first to mind. The educational losses were non-existent because they didn’t close schools. In general life went on as normal and with very good results.
One might suppose the Swedish way would be vindicated. Sadly, our leaders care nothing for evidence, apparently. Their concern is for power and money at any cost. As a result, we are witnessing a concerted effort not only to double down on errors the next time but make them even worse.
The top two exhibits emerged over the weekend.
New York Times: “We’re Making the Same Mistakes Again” by Bill Gates.
Wall Street Journal: “What Worked Against Covid: Masks, Closures and Vaccines” by Tom Frieden (former head of CDC).
Gates deploys his privileged place at the New York Times to agitate once again for a Global Health Emergency Corps, ensconced at the World Health Organization and managed by the same people who created the pandemic response this time around. In other words, it would be the core of the global government pushing more lockdowns for the world—lockdowns to wait for another round of vaccines.
If you can believe it, he has learned nothing from the last mess that he created. Indeed, he is completely shameless about it. In his view, the only problem is that we didn’t lock down fast enough, get vaccines out fast enough, and conduct enough research ahead of time to craft the perfect vaccine. And yes, this necessarily requires gain-of-function research.
In other words, in Gates’s view, we need to have research continue to fiddle around in labs with tricks that anticipate pathogens of the future, thus again raising the risk of lab leaks that then necessitate fixes that can only be produced and distributed by the pharmaceutical companies in which he has such heavy investments.
As a result, we have this hellish loop in play: gain-of-function research to anticipate the next pathogen by creating it and thus risking a lab leak that releases the pathogen that then has to be fixed by the vaccines themselves but the world has to lock down until they can be put into billions of arms.
And keep in mind that Gates isn’t just another bloke writing an op-ed. He is the de facto owner of the World Health Organization himself, so his push for a permanent pandemic bureaucracy carries a lot of weight. His dream bureaucracy would override national sovereignty to make sure that never again would there be another Sweden.
“It’s difficult for any one country to stop a disease from spreading on its own,” he writes “Many of the most meaningful actions require coordination from the highest levels of government.”
The model is always the same and it is taken from the world of computer science. There is a clean hard drive, analogized to the human body or whole societies. They are working fine but then an exogenous threat comes along in the form of malware. In order to defeat it, we need software that is updated. You clearly should not turn on your computer until you can get the hard drive cleaned up.
I’m serious here: Gates’s understanding of viruses is no more sophisticated than that. He has learned absolutely nothing in years. He is still repeating the ridiculous lines from his TED Talks from years ago.
In reality, this has nothing to do with biological viruses, which we evolved to manage through the immune system, a concept that is entirely lost on him. He finds it inconceivable that the best strategy for healthy people is to meet the virus and train the immune system. Indeed, he is appalled by that idea, favoring only more injectable substances designed to fight diseases.
Also lost on him is the way in which viruses—whether from labs or nature—all must obey the natural epidemiological dynamics of pathogenic spread. The more deadly they are, the less likely they are to spread. And the reverse is also true: the more prevalent they are, like COVID, the less severe they are.
The reason is simple: a pathogen needs a living host. Yes, there are other variables such as latency, which is how long the virus lives in the host before debilitating symptoms appear. Other than that, a lab cannot create anything that games its ways out of this matrix.
If you can understand that paragraph, I can promise you this. You now know far more about viruses than Bill Gates. And yet it is he who has the decisive influence over pandemic policy the world over. The reason is extremely crude: it’s his money. It certainly isn’t his intelligence. In fact, it is rather shocking how his money alone has managed to buy the silence of scientists the world over, who have shown themselves to be appallingly obsequious and deferential to the crankism that Gates has been peddling for decades.
A good example comes from Tom Frieden, the author of the above mentioned piece in the Wall Street Journal. For all the problems of the pandemic response, he writes, we know what works: masking, lockdowns, and vaccines (ideally mandated). The piece is infuriating to the point that it is frustrating even to write a response. And this is because his conclusion is already baked into the prose. He throws out a flurry of links to other studies in case you doubt his veracity, while carefully avoiding the huge numbers of studies that show otherwise.
So, yes, I spent too much time over the week actually looking at the evidence for his thesis. On masks, he cites preposterous studies from three years ago. One looked at masking in Arizona over three weeks and came up with a difference in infection rates. But that study was during the smallest initial wave from 2020 and is entirely invalidated by subsequent analyses of the same two counties, not to mention the many hundreds of quality studies that have shown absolutely no difference in viral spread contingent on masking.
Another study comes from a Navy ship in which people were asked to self-report. It’s not even serious science and yet this former head of the CDC cites it. That same study was pushed by the CDC to justify its own push for masks. It appeared in the MMWR series over three years that included some of the worst science ever distributed by a modern bureaucracy.
On the business closures, Frieden doesn’t even bother to cite a study in defense of them. He just asserts the right of governments to shut businesses if they want to. What these people never mention is that business closures also include the government’s right to shut your home to house parties and your church to worship services. In other words, this amounts to a massive attack on human rights hard won over 1,000 years.
Finally, on matters of vaccine efficacy, every study he cites is based on bogus computer models that can generate any conclusion one desires based on the parameters of the input variables. They are the types of models that serious scientists working, for example, in economics stopped using many decades ago. And yet the epidemiologists are still wallowing in them in order to make a case for their preferred policies.
Of course he ignores the many hundreds of studies from the United States and the world that show no relationship at all between government interventions and good health outcomes during the pandemic.
There is a reason to be deeply alarmed by these two articles. The authors speak for some of the world’s most powerful people. They are explaining exactly what they want to do. They are completely impervious to evidence. And they reveal every ambition to override, reverse, and effectively abolish everything once known as freedom.
Incredibly, they have the chutzpah to write this stuff in the midst of the carnage they created from last time. All of which reminds me of the famous summary of the Roman empire as written by the great historian Tacitus, paraphrasing Calgacus:
“These plunderers of the world, after exhausting the land by their devastations, are rifling the ocean: stimulated by avarice, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor; unsatiated by the East and by the West: the only people who behold wealth and indigence with equal avidity. To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.”
Bill Gates and Tom Frieden have made a desert and call it health.