Friday, October 30, 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic and its Impact on the Mental Health of Americans

With the COVID-19 pandemic grinding onwards as the mainstream media now reports cases rather than deaths to keep the public panicking, recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides us with key insight into the real and very disturbing human cost of the pandemic/casedemic.


In a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the CDC looks at the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and the impact of measures including physical distancing and stay-at-home orders on the mental health of Americans and the resulting morbidity and mortality.  To assess mental health, substance abuse and suicidal ideation during the pandemic, the authors of the study used adults (minimum age of 18 years) that were resident in the United States as of April 2 to 8, 2020.  During the week of June 24 to 30, 2020, a total of 5,412 out of a total of 9,896 eligible invited adults who met these requirements completed web-based surveys after being informed of the purposes of the study.  Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder were assess using the four-time Patient Health Questionnaire; those who scored three or more out of six on the Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Patient Health Questionnaire subscales were considered symptomatic for these disorders.  Symptoms of a COVID-19-related Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders (TSRD) were assessed using the six item Impact of Event Scale which screens for overlapping symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Adjustment Disorder (AD).  For this survey, the COVID-19 pandemic was specified as the traumatic exposure to record peri- (around or about) and post-traumatic symptoms associated with the wide range of stressors that were created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are the results:

1.) 40.9 percent of the respondents reported an adverse mental or behavioural health condition related to COVID-19.

2.)  30.9 percent of the respondents reported symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder.

3.) 26.3 percent  of the respondents reported symptoms of Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorder.

4.) 13.3 percent of the respondents reported either starting or increasing the use of substances (alcohol, legal or illegal drugs or prescription drugs).

5.) 10.7 percent of the respondents reported having seriously considered suicide in the preceding 30 days.

Mental health issues related to COVID-19 varied with age as with at least one adverse mental or behavioural health symptom being reported by 74.9 percent of respondents aged 18 to 24 years of age and 51.9 percent of respondents aged 25 to 44 years of age.  Mental health issues related to COVID-19 also varied with gender, race, household income level and education.  

Let's focus on the issue of suicidal ideation:

1.) Gender - 21.6 percent of males compared to 8.9 percent of females.

2.) Age - 25.5 percent of 18 to 24 year olds compared to 16 percent of 25 to 44 year olds, 3.8 percent of 45 to 64 year olds and 2.0 percent of those 65 years of age and older.

3.) Race - 7.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites compared to 15.1 percent of non-Hispanic blacks, 6.6 percent of Asians and 18.6 percent of Hispanics.

4.) Household Income - rates of suicidal ideation varied relatively little when measured using household income, ranging from 9.9 percent for households with incomes of less than $25,000 to 11.7 percent for households with incomes between $100,999 and $199,999.

5.) Education - 30 percent of those with less than a high school diploma compared to 13.1 percent for those with a high school diploma, 8.6 percent for those with some college, 10.7 percent for those with a Bachelor's Degree and 12.6 percent for those with a professional degree.


When measured using employment status, suicidal ideation was highest among essential workers at 21.7 percent followed by 15.0 percent of employed respondents, 7.8 percent of non-essential workers and 4.7 percent of unemployed respondents.


In case you are interested, here is a table which summarizes all of the results of the survey:


Let's close with a quote from the study:

"Elevated levels of adverse mental health conditions, substance use, and suicidal ideation were reported by adults in the United States in June 2020. The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder was approximately three times those reported in the second quarter of 2019 (25.5% versus 8.1%), and prevalence of depressive disorder was approximately four times that reported in the second quarter of 2019 (24.3% versus 6.5%). However, given the methodological differences and potential unknown biases in survey designs, this analysis might not be directly comparable with data reported on anxiety and depression disorders in 2019 


Approximately one quarter of respondents reported symptoms of a TSRD related to the pandemic, and approximately one in 10 reported that they started or increased substance use because of COVID-19. Suicidal ideation was also elevated; approximately twice as many respondents reported serious consideration of suicide in the previous 30 days than did adults in the United States in 2018, referring to the previous 12 months (10.7% versus 4.3%).


Mental health conditions are disproportionately affecting specific populations, especially young adults, Hispanic persons, black persons, essential workers, unpaid caregivers for adults, and those receiving treatment for pre-existing psychiatric conditions. Unpaid caregivers for adults, many of whom are currently providing critical aid to persons at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, had a higher incidence of adverse mental and behavioral health conditions compared with others. Although unpaid caregivers of children were not evaluated in this study, approximately 39% of unpaid caregivers for adults shared a household with children (compared with 27% of other respondents). Caregiver workload, especially in multigenerational caregivers, should be considered for future assessment of mental health, given the findings of this report and hardships potentially faced by caregivers."


The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting actions taken by all levels of government have, without a doubt, had a significant negative impact on the mental health of Americans.  What should be of extreme concern is the high levels of both suicidal ideation and increased use of substances, issues that could continue to haunt the United States for months and years to come.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Origins of Washington's Anti-China Narrative

I know that it's "so 2016" but do you remember poor old John Podesta?  His unsecured email was the target of hackers who managed to download thousands of documents that provided American voters with a private view of Hillary Clinton and her 2016 run for the Oval Office.  Among those documents was a key report which outlined "Speech Flags" from various speeches that Ms. Clinton gave as shown here:


It was the content of some of these speeches that was worrisome to Clinton's campaign team because the content of the speeches showed her unvarnished opinions on key issues, particularly her views on China.


While we are all prone to forgetting history, it was during the Obama Administration that the "Pivot to Asia" began.  Here are some key quotes from a speech given by President Obama to the Australian Parliament on November 17, 2011:


"For the United States, this reflects a broader shift.  After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region….


Our new focus on this region reflects a fundamental truth -- the United States has been, and always will be, a Pacific nation. Asian immigrants helped build America, and millions of American families, including my own, cherish our ties to this region.  From the bombing of Darwin to the liberation of Pacific islands, from the rice paddies of Southeast Asia to a cold Korean Peninsula, generations of Americans have served here, and died here -- so democracies could take root; so economic miracles could lift hundreds of millions to prosperity.  Americans have bled with you for this progress, and we will not allow it -- we will never allow it to be reversed.


Here, we see the future.  As the world’s fastest-growing region -- and home to more than half the global economy -- the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority, and that's creating jobs and opportunity for the American people.  With most of the world’s nuclear power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress. 


As President, I have, therefore, made a deliberate and strategic decision -- as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with our allies and friends.


Let me tell you what this means.  First, we seek security, which is the foundation of peace and prosperity.  We stand for an international order in which the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld.  Where international law and norms are enforced.  Where commerce and freedom of navigation are not impeded.  Where emerging powers contribute to regional security, and where disagreements are resolved peacefully.  That's the future that we seek." (my bolds)


It is also important to keep in mind that it was the Obama Administration that spearheaded the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade and investment agreement that China was deliberately excluded from.  The entire point of the TPP was to bring the signatories of the agreement into the American trade empire and reduce their dependence on trade with China.


Now, let's look at one of the earliest quotes regarding Washington's "pivot to Asia" from a speech given by Hillary Clinton at the ASEAN Summit on July 23, 2010:


"The United States, like every nation, has a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia’s maritime commons, and respect for international law in the South China Sea. We share these interests not only with ASEAN members or ASEAN Regional Forum participants, but with other maritime nations and the broader international community.


The United States supports a collaborative diplomatic process by all claimants for resolving the various territorial disputes without coercion. We oppose the use or threat of force by any claimant. While the United States does not take sides on the competing territorial disputes over land features in the South China Sea, we believe claimants should pursue their territorial claims and accompanying rights to maritime space in accordance with the UN convention on the law of the sea. Consistent with customary international law, legitimate claims to maritime space in the South China Sea should be derived solely from legitimate claims to land features. 


The U.S. supports the 2002 ASEAN-China declaration on the conduct of parties in the South China Sea. We encourage the parties to reach agreement on a full code of conduct. The U.S. is prepared to facilitate initiatives and confidence building measures consistent with the declaration. Because it is in the interest of all claimants and the broader international community for unimpeded commerce to proceed under lawful conditions. Respect for the interests of the international community and responsible efforts to address these unresolved claims and help create the conditions for resolution of the disputes and a lowering of regional tensions." (my bolds)


Let's move forward in time.  Here's a key quote from an exchange between Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, and Hillary Clinton at the Goldman Sachs 2013 IBD CEO Annual Conference in South Carolina on June 4, 2013:


"The biggest supporters of a provocative North Korea has been the PLA (China’s People’s Liberation Army). The deep connections between the military leadership in China and in North Korea has really been the mainstay of the relationship…


You know, we all have told the Chinese if they (North Korea) continue to develop this missile program and they get an ICBM that has the capacity to carry a small nuclear weapon on it, which is what they’re aiming to do, we cannot abide that.  Because they could not only do damage to our treaty allies, namely Japan and South Korea, but they could actually reach Hawaii and the west coast theoretically, and we're going to ring China with missile defense.  We’re going to put more of our fleet in the area.  So China, come on.  You either control them or we’re going to have to defend against them." (my bold)


Now, let's look at quotes from a speech given by Hillary Clinton at the Goldman Sachs Builders and Innovators Summit on October 29, 2013 taken from the aforementioned document:


"48 percent of the world’s trade, obviously that includes energy but includes everything else, goes through the South China Sea.  Some of you may have seen the long article in the New York Times Magazine on the South China Sea this past weekend, an issue that I worked on for the entire time was in the State Department because China basically wants to control it.  You can’t hold that against them.  They have the right to assert themselves.  But if nobody’s there to push back to create a balance, then they’re going to have a chokehold on the sea lanes and also on the countries that border the South China Sea…


I think that—you know, one of the greatest arguments that I had on a continuing basis was with my Chinese counterparts about their claim.  And I made the point at one point in the argument that, you know, you can call it whatever you want to call it.  You don’t have a claim to all of it.  I said, by that argument, you know, the United States should claim all of the Pacific.  We liberated it, we defended it.  We have as much claim to all of the Pacific.  And we could call it the American Sea, and it could go from the West Coast of California all the way to the Philippines.  And, you know, my counterpart sat up very straight and goes, well, you can’t do that.  And I said, well, we have as much right to claim that as you do.  I mean, you claim it based on pottery shards from, you know, some fishing vessel that ran aground in an atoll somewhere.  You know, we had conveys of military strength.  We discovered Japan for Heaven sakes.  I mean, we did all of these things." (my bolds)


Here is an exchange between Clinton and a male attendee of the Summit:


"MALE ATTENDEE:  Madam Secretary, what is the most important competitive advantage that you think the U.S. will keep as compared to a country like China?                


SECRETARY CLINTON:  Freedom.  I think freedom.  Freedom of the mind, freedom of movement, freedom of debate, freedom of innovation.  You know, I just—I don’t think we fully value—we sometimes take it for granted, and we sometimes even dismiss it, how much stronger we are.  Because in addition to that individual freedom that we have in great abundance compared to China, for example, we do have checks and balances.  We have constitutional order.  We have protection of intellectual property, we have a court system that we use for that purpose.  We have a lot of assets that support the free thinking and free acting of individuals.  And in the long run, that’s what I would place my bet on.  I think that is what gives us such a competitive advantage." (my bold)

While on the surface it may appear that the Trump Administration has been the driver of the anti-China rhetoric that has become pervasive in Washington, in fact, Washington's anti-China narrative has been in place for nearly a decade and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a key player in the Obama Administration's "pivot to a China-free future".  If we think that Washington's relationship with China is in poor shape now, God only knows what would have happened to the relationship between the United States and China had Hillary Clinton been in the Oval Office for the past 4 years.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Tracking Wearables - The Government's Solution to Enforcing Personal Distancing

During the pandemic, we have repeatedly heard about the implementation of software tracking for ensuring that social distancing rules are being obeyed.  According to a posting on the U.S. government's System for Award Management (SAM) website, it appears that the United States Navy is readying itself for deployment of its own proximity app.


Here is the posting of the Request for Information (RFI):


The Navy is requesting that the app include the following components:


1.) sets of wearable proximity tracking devices “wearables” and


2.) a storage and processing device “station(s)”.  There may be additional intermediate devices to transfer the information from the wearable to the stations. The storage and processing device can be a local, standalone server or laptop or other computer. Additionally, a Cloud solution is desired that would replicate the functionality of the local, standalone device.


Each wearable device must estimate the distance between itself and wearables worn by other Navy personnel and record the following four pieces of information which will be transferred to a station or stations that will store the records for all employees:


1.) unique identifier of the wearer’s device


2.) the unique identifier of the device that is in close proximity


3.) the estimated distance or a measurement that is used to estimate distance


4.) the date/time of the measurement


These four pieces of information are used to calculate the distance between naval personnel and the length of time that they were in close contact. 


The wearable device must meet the following operational requirements:


1.) Measure distances accurately to at least +/- 12 inches with +/- 1 inch being the objective.


2.) Store proximity records for all devices that are within 6 feet but not more than 10 feet away.


3.) Identify up to 100 devices within one minute and store a proximity record for all 100 devices.


4.) Must be able to store up to 200,000 contact records.


5.) Must have a battery life of at least 5 days with more than 30 days desired.


6.) Can have features to provide the we are that they are within 6 feet of another individual.


Here is a complete listing of requirements:


The proximity wearables will only be worn while individuals are at work.  The proximity records will determine whether an individual was too close for too long to a person that has tested positive for COVID-19.  These records will also be used to determine whenever government-mandated social distancing policies are effective which seems to be a rather odd request given the extremely close quarters on ships and submarines and the use of hot bunking/hot racking.


This device gives us a sense of what could lie ahead for all of us in the COVID-19 era.  Since a significant number of people do not have cell phones with sufficient technological capabilities that they can be used for tracking, the implementation of a wearable device could be governments' ultimate answer to ensure that we "behave ourselves" and follow their mandated rules.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Russia's Approach to the New Global Reality

While the rest of the world focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trump - Biden election, the isolation of Russia continues unabated and Russia's lead foreign politico has had enough of the West's sabre rattling and accusations and has a rather profound solution to the problem.


At a recent meeting held in Moscow on October 13, 2020, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed Russia's approach to the world in a question and answer session following a presentation of the Valdai International Discussion Club analytical report "History To Be Continued: The Utopia of a Diverse World":


Let's start by looking at some of Mr. Lavrov's more interesting comments regarding Russia's approach to the new global reality noting that all bolds are mine:

"We should not focus only on the ways in which the world is likely to change in the foreseeable future, but also on whether we will be able to influence this change. Our position with regard to what is going on in the world is basically the same as the formulas used in the report: the “volatility” and “impulsiveness” of international life.   We have been saying for a long time that the world is going through profound transformations, with the global balance of power being reshaped. There is no doubt that the substance of the modern epoch is an objective process of formation of a more democratic, multipolar international order.  It is a difficult and long process. It will probably take an entire epoch.


Thus far, we can see that the rise of new centres of economic growth, financial power and political influence and these growth and influence centres’ sincere desire to establish mutually beneficial and equal relations with all others are running into resistance from a group of Western states, which are neither ready for, nor used to sharing their privileged position in the international hierarchy.  This standoff is behind the state of turbulence and uncertainty described in the report.


As I said, the clash between the old and the new will take, judging by all appearances, an entire historical epoch. The sign of the current juncture is that the maximally selfish behaviour of certain state leaders is increasingly influencing real events on the international arena.  A case in point is that a well-known, very rich and well-armed country bought up, at an early stage in the pandemic, or administratively redirected to its own havens cargoes with protective gear against COVID 19 intended for others. Of course, there are numerous examples of this sort and we cannot rejoice at the loss of the culture of dialogue and compromise and generally the skill of listening to others. Often there prevails the desire to issue accusations, ultimatums and demands. We believe that today, as never before, it is important to try to return to the sources and basics of diplomacy, to the painstaking, protracted, occasionally thankless, but eventually effective search for points of contact and compromises, and to the coordination of positions. We are ready for this work and are ready to conduct it with all our partners without exception….


I believe that what we need now is something different: we must work to ensure that all countries strictly comply with the norms and principles of international law and their obligations under international conventions, and to prevent the erosion of international law or its replacement with the rules-based order promoted by our Western partners, who even avoid using the very phrase “respect for international law.”…


The world is becoming increasingly diverse and competitive. It is hard to argue with this. It can no longer be governed from any one centre."


While Mr. Lavrov points the accusing finger at the United States, Europe does not come off “scot free””


The EU is actively following in the footsteps of the US, increasingly relying on the threat of sanctions. Brussels has created two mechanisms to punish those, who, in its opinion, will use chemical weapons and violate human rights. All of this is outside of the UN Security Council and in no way tallies with the principles of the UN Charter. If this is understood to be a new reality, then, in my view, we must fight it. Good and evil will not disappear anyway. I am convinced that not only the spirit, but also the letter of the UN Charter are absolutely fine for the modern-day world, if we want it to be a little bit more democratic and just.


When asked this question about global dominance and how it is changing:


…if things are so bad, maybe Russia should, as they say now, self-isolate during the period of these terrible shocks and entirely concentrate on itself, abandoning or minimising any foreign policy ambitions? As they say, do not get angry, but focus. And let others fight their battles for global dominance or whatever prize there is.


…here is the key part of his response:


“…we must stop considering our Western colleagues, including the EU, as a source of assessment of our behaviour that we need to follow, or measuring ourselves with the same yardstick. They don’t know Russian arshins, they have inches. I think we need to stop looking over our shoulders at them….


In the last twenty years, we have always had self-esteem. But those people who are responsible for foreign policy in the West do not understand the need for mutually respectful communication. So we should probably stop communicating with them for a while. Moreover, Ursula von der Leyen declares that geopolitical partnership is not working with the current Russian government. So be it, if that’s the way they want it.

Let's close with one thought.  Many people believe that hate is the opposite to love when, in fact, indifference is actually worse.  In Russia's case, it is clear that they are becoming increasingly indifferent to how the West feels about the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin and the rest of Russia for that matter.  If Russia shuts out the West as a result of the West's actions against it, western leaders will have no one to blame but themselves and their endless sanctions for creating and propagating the New Cold War.


Monday, October 19, 2020

The High Human Cost of the War on Terror

A recent study by the Costs of War group at Brown University examines the high cost of the seemingly endless War on Terror on the population of nations that have born the brunt of Washington's moves to crush its enemies since the attack of September 11, 2001.  While the War on Terror is receiving absolutely no coverage by the mainstream media, it is an issue that has the potential to impact the western world since anger against the United States is being created by these actions which are allegedly intended to protect us.

Here is a key quote from the paper that outlines the importance of the study:

"Wartime displacement (alongside war deaths and injuries) must be central to any analysis of the post-9/11 wars and their short- and long-term consequences. Displacement also must be central to any possible consideration of the future use of military force by the United States or others."


The authors open by noting that since the Bush II administration announced the War on Terror 19 years ago, the United States has fought in wars or participated in combat operations in at least 24 nations.  These wars have had a very high human cost that Washington seems quite capable of ignoring.  Civilians have been forced to flee for their lives from air strikes, bombings, artillery fire and drone attacks among other events which has created both refugees and internally displaced people (IDP). 


With that background, let's look at some statistics.  The authors calculated the total number of displaced people in eight of the most significant wars in which U.S. forces have been involved since September 11, 2001.  These include the Afghanistan/Pakistan and Iraq wars for which Washington is clearly responsible for initiating armed combat, the wars in Syria and Libya for which Washington was responsible for escalating and the conflicts/wars in Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines for which Washington was responsible as a participant through the use of drone strikes, battlefield advising, arms sales and logistical support among other means.


Here is a table showing the total displacement for the eight aforementioned wars as well as the percentage of each nations pre-war population that has been displaced:


These conservative estimates of displaced people could be far higher given that many refugees are not officially registered and are not counted as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  Using expanded estimates in the number of displaced people for Afghanistan and Syria could bring the total to between 48 million and 59 million.  In addition, as shown in this quote from the paper, the United States government has been substantially involved in many conflicts that are not included in the total:

"The U.S. government has employed combat troops, drone strikes and surveillance, military training, arms sales, and other pro-government aid in countries including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia (related to the war in Yemen), South Sudan, Tunisia, and Uganda.72 In most of these countries, the U.S. military and allied European forces have backed national governments’ counter-insurgency campaigns and “counter-terrorism” operations against Islamist militants and other insurgents. In Burkina Faso, for example, there were more than half a million incidents of displacement in 2019; by year’s end, around 560,000 Burkinabe were living as IDPs. In Mali, 208,000 were living as IDPs by the end of 2019 as a result of years of violent conflict.73 Since 2001, U.S. combat troops have operated in every single one of the ten countries now suffering from the most severe internal displacement in the world, according to IDMC. The Central African Republic joins Burkina Faso and Mali in the top three. The rest of the top ten include Niger, Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as Somalia, Syria, and Yemen."

Here is a graphic showing the outflows and inflows of displaced people:


On the upside, if there is one, the authors of the study note that 25.3 million people have returned to their countries of origin as shown here:


It is important to keep in mind that many of these returnees are children that were born while in exile and are returning to homes that they have never known.  As well, many have returned because they were deported by their host nation or because they could not afford to live in their host nation because the cost of living was much higher than they could afford.


Let's close this posting with a final quote from the paper:


The displacement documented in this paper, along with the wars’ death toll and other intersecting forms of harm, cannot simply be dismissed or normalized as “unintended consequences” or “collateral damage.” The displacement and other suffering must be central to any analysis of the post-9/11 wars and to any conceivable consideration of the future use of military force by the United States or any other country. The legitimacy and efficacy of war should be questioned more than ever given nearly two decades of disastrous outcomes. One must also ask what steps the U.S. government, U.S. citizens, and other responsible parties have taken—and what steps they will take—to repair and make amends for the damage inflicted on the 37 million or more people displaced by the post- 9/11 wars.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

How Facebook is Controlling the Vaccine Narrative

 A recent posting on Facebook's company blog has made it quite clear where the world's foremost social media platform stands on the issue of vaccines, most particularly, the potential vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


Here is the posting as written by Kang-Xing Jin, Head of Health and Rob Leathern, Director of Product Management at Facebook:


For your information, here is Kang-Xing Jin's Linkedin page showing his experience in the field of public health given that he is head of Facebook's Health division (i.e. there is none):


Here is Rob Leathern's LinkedIn page which also shows his experience in the field of public health (again, none):


Here is the opening paragraph of their blog posting:


"The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of preventive health behaviors. While public health experts agree that we won’t have an approved and widely available COVID-19 vaccine for some time, there are steps that people can take to stay healthy and safe. That includes getting the seasonal flu vaccine. So today we’re announcing new steps as part of our continued work to help support vaccine efforts. These include: 


1.) Launching a new flu vaccine information campaign on Facebook, including new product features that provide additional vaccine-related content


2.) Rejecting ads globally that discourage people from getting a vaccine


3.) Working with global health partners on campaigns to increase immunization rates"


Here's how Facebook is going to control the vaccine narrative in the ecosystem that they control:


Facebook is also going to act to "amplify the voices of Public Health Partners" to increase vaccination rates around the world by working with organizations like WHO and UNICEF using public health messaging campaigns.  They are also working with WHO's Vaccine Safety Network to "train and support their network of vaccine partners to utilize Facebook to reach as many people as possible with public health messaging".


The writers of the posting conclude with this message:


"We will continue to support vaccine efforts as part of our work to help the people who use our platform stay healthy and safe."

Apparently, there are no alternatives to vaccines to help us stay healthy and safe.  It also seems rather coincidental that Facebook has suddenly taken an interest in vaccines now that nations around the world are biding their time, waiting for the development of a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is likely to be mandatory.


It's nice to see that Facebook, formerly a social media company, has turned itself into a health care company whose mandate includes the promotion of vaccines.  Bill Gates, one of Mark Zuckerberg's fellow technoplutocrats and the global spokesperson for universal vaccines, would be proud.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Great Barrington Declaration - Universal Lockdowns vs. Focused Protection

Updated February 24, 2021 

With governments around the world implementing Phase II of their lockdowns as the number of COVID-19 cases grows (in tandem with the number of tests being completed), it is interesting to see that there is another narrative being promoted by a group of infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists who are growing increasingly concerned about the physical and mental health impact that these universal lockdowns are having on our society.  After a meeting at Great Barrington, Massachusetts between October 1st and 4th, 2020, three scientists have created the Great Barrington Declaration, a document that has been signed by thousands of scientists and hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens who have become increasingly concerned about how their governments are handling the COVID-19 pandemic and how the current measures being utilized (i.e. lockdowns) are, in fact, causing irreparable damage to all of us.


Let's open this posting by looking at a video featuring three dissenting scientists who are responsible for issuing the Great Barrington Declaration:


The three imminently qualified scientists who originated this Declaration are as follows:

1.) Dr. Martin Kulldorff

2.) Dr. Sunetra Gupta:

3.) Dr. Jay Bhattacharya:

Here is a screen capture showing the lead page of the Great Barrington Declaration website:


Here is the entire text of the Great Barrington Declaration:


"As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection. 


Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice. 


Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.


Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza. 


As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e.  the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity. 


The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection. 


Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals. 


Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity."


The proposals in this document are very pragmatic. Never before have healthy people been subject to universal quarantining, a measure that has caused great economic distress, particularly among the less economically well-to-do.  This is why the originators of the Declaration are promoting the idea of a "focused protection" method of protecting society's most vulnerable populations rather than a "shotgun" approach as is currently in favour. 


According to the Great Barrington Declaration website, the following medical and public health practitioners and scientists are among those that have signed the document:


Here is the current number of signatories of all types current to February 24, 2021:

I have taken the opportunity to submit my signature as support for this measured approach to controlling the pandemic.  If you wish to do the same, please click here and follow the instructions on the Great Barrington Declaration website.