14 April 2021 **** Olli Tammilehto's writings **** TL's Home Page
Why am I a coronavirus sceptic?
By Olli Tammilehto
For decades, I've been following Helsingin Sanomat (Finland's largest newspaper) and many other mainstream media fairly frequently. It has been interesting and felt like a meaningful use of my time. During the coronavirus crisis however, opening mainstream newspapers has become increasingly repugnant. Not because the flood of coronavirus news would make me fearful, but because I find the newspapers to be misleading the public in this matter. In light of the information which I have acquired elsewhere, the prevailing coronavirus discourse appears absurd.
So, is it that I don't trust the experts of epidemiology and medicine who are being interviewed in the newspapers? I must be a climate sceptic who denies an unambiguous scientific consensus? No, that is not the case. When it comes to the climate issue my opinions are mainstream – I have even written three books about the seriousness of the threat climate change poses. What is essential, however, is that there is no scientific consensus on the coronavirus issue. And it is precisely the fact, that I value science and read and listen to the views of a wide variety of scholars, that has made me a coronavirus sceptic.
Indeed, there is a large number of epidemiologists and medical scientists who believe that coronavirus is not exceptionally dangerous, but that the measures taken to combat the virus are out of proportion: They kill more people than the virus does. One of these scientists is John Ioannidis, Professor of Medicine, Health Research and Policy, and of Biomedical Data Science at Stanford University . He is one of the most cited researchers in medicine. When there is no consensus, one who cares about science shouldn't simply choose a view that has received the most publicity, or is supported by one's colleagues. Instead, the choice should be guided by the “unforced force of the better argument”.
What, then, are the arguments in favour of a sceptical stand on the official truth?
First of all, studies have shown that the infection mortality rate of the coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2) is much lower than initially thought. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate for China at the beginning of the pandemic, 2 - 4 percent of those infected would die. However, these calculations did not take into account people carrying the virus with mild or no symptoms. The researchers in different countries have been trying to assess the size of this group with antibody and other immunity studies, as well as various model calculations, and have come to a conclusion that the mortality rate of the virus is only about one tenth of what it first was thought to be. For example, according to the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, only 0.1 - 0.41 percent of those infected die. The death rate is similar in a moderate or severe influenza epidemic.
Secondly, almost all of the coronavirus fatalities have been the elderly or people suffering from multiple health conditions. In Finland there have been around 870 covid deaths (up to 12.4.2021). The median age of those who died is 83 years. Fifteen of the deaths were under 50, while no children or teenagers have died. In other countries the figures are quite similar. Many influenza epidemics kill young people, too. For the elderly, on the other hand, severe heat or cold can also be deadly. How can a disease that mostly kills only the most vulnerable people be considered so serious to justify the upheavals that we've seen?
Thirdly, it is unclear what a “covid death” actually means. In addition to those who have died from covid-19, many people, who died for other reasons such as heart disease but who also were found to have coronavirus, have been included in the covid-19 statistics around the world. According to the WHO guidelines, even those who haven't been found to be infected but who are believed to have carried the virus on the basis of their symptoms, can be classified as coronavirus fatalities. This has been the case at least in Belgium, United Kingdom, and the United States. The statistics provided by the Finnish Institute for health and welfare (Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos - THL) are titled “Deaths related to coronavirus”, not “Deaths from coronavirus”. It is possible that most of the world's “coronavirus deaths” have actually been caused by something else. For example, in Italy 88 percent of the covid-19 fatalities were not actually caused by coronavirus.
Fourthly, the statistics on coronavirus cases are as misleading as the figures on covid-19 deaths. Everyone whose coronavirus test is positive will end up being part of the statistics. However, most of these people feel well or have only mild symptoms and never get any severe symptoms. The number of tests taken vary depending on time and place. The reason for the growth in the number of covid-19 cases has often been increased testing.
Fifthly, the RT-PCR test that has been used when testing people for coronavirus, has major problems. It doesn't indicate whether one has coronavirus, but whether one has a short piece of RNA found in the virus genome. This piece may be from somewhere else than from a functional SARS-Cov-19 virus; for example from a fragment of a virus.
A Canadian study found that the test can find fragments of coronavirus RNA even weeks after the human immune system has fought off the virus and it is no longer able to cause the disease. This means that coronavirus quarantines are often imposed on people who are not carrying a functional virus, and who can no longer infect anyone.
In a sample taken from a human body, the amount of viral RNA is so small that it cannot be observed. The RT-PCR test makes the amount of the RNA grow so much that its presence can be detected. In the test the RNA is first converted into a complementary DNA. Then, in the first cycle, the amount of DNA is doubled. In the next cycle, this two-fold amount is doubled again and so on. Thus, the amount of DNA grows exponentially. The more amplification cycles are performed, the more sensitive the test.
If the DNA being traced is detected only after 23 cycles (that is, after the amount of DNA has become 8,4 million times larger), then according to the Canadian study it is not related to a functional virus. However, in many tests the virus is detected only after 35 cycles, or after the original number of viruses is 34 billion times bigger. Often before anything is detected the test perform s no less than 45 cycles, which means the amount of DNA becomes 35 trillion times larger. In this case most of the positive test results just indicate the presence of dead viruses or their fragments, and the result is false or misleading .
Hold on a second, at least in Italy the situation was completely appalling; that cannot be explained by anything else than an exceptionally dangerous virus! However, the shocking news about coronavirus may also have other explanations: Italy has Europe's oldest population. Initially, only seriously ill or even dead people were tested, causing the mortality rate to skyrocket. However, 99 percent of those who died also had other serious conditions. Due to budget cuts, the Italian healthcare system is in a state of disrepair, which is why the country's hospitals were filled to the brim also during the 2017 - 2018 influenza epidemic. That time only some local newspapers wrote about the situation. The explanation for the mountains of coffins seen lately in the news, was the backlog of covid-19 related victims whose corpses awaited cremation: the cremation capacity in Italy is low as this method of final disposition has been rarely used there. Also, the situation in Italy was made more dramatic by the fact that for the first time in modern European history, the entire population of large regions was quarantined.
But even if the coronavirus statistics were erroneous and the ability of the virus to kill people were low, wouldn't the control measures still be beneficial since every human life saved is immeasurably valuable? Yet, such control measures are not harmless, because as a result millions of people will die. For example, reserving hospitals for (often in vain) expected coronavirus patients has led to deferral of many surgeries, treatments, and follow-up visits. The lockdowns have increased suicides and domestic violence; in poor countries even famine. Here are only a couple of the grim figures: According to a British government report, two hundred thousand people could die in the United Kingdom due to delays in healthcare and to the economic and social consequences of the lockdown. According to David Beasley, the director of the World Food Program (WFP), the preventive measures against coronavirus may have pushed 130 million people to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020 .
If all of the above is true, how on earth can such insanity occur in the first place? The fact that the explanation for the madness cannot be found immediately is not a proof of its non-existence. Things that can be explained only many years later happen all the time. However, there are some attempts to understand the coronavirus phenomenon. One of the most popular explanations among coronavirus sceptics is the incompetence of governments. Helmut Schmidt, former Chancellor of Germany, has said: “One should never underestimate the stupidity of governments.” Another possible explanation is corruption in the “medical industrial complex”.
In 2009, people weren't afraid of coronavirus but of swine flu. It was not an unusually dangerous wave of disease but the WHO declared it a pandemic. This was possible by merely changing the definition of a pandemic. Earlier, an epidemic was required not only to spread globally but also to pose a significant risk to people. Suddenly, an epidemic was no longer expected to meet this criterion.
The declaration of a pandemic resulted in a large number of vaccines being ordered by governments under advance agreements, but most of these vaccines remained unused. The vaccine and pharmaceutical companies made huge profits. In its 2010 report, the European Council suspected that the pharmaceutical industry had influenced the WHO's decision to change the definition of a pandemic. Eventually, it turned out that five of the fifteen experts who had made the decision were associated with vaccine companies.
For a long time, the WHO hasn't been the kind of intergovernmental collaborative organization it was intended to be when founded. The latest budget that has been published is from 2017. It shows that just over half of the WHO's funding comes from private donors and supranational organizations. The most notable private donors are the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, the Vaccine Alliance GAVI (funded by Gates), and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (founded by Gates). In total, they donated to the WHO more than 474 million dollars which is more than the biggest state donor, the United States gave. The Gates Foundation is part of the medical industrial complex through its shareholdings and many other ties. Pharmaceutical companies also donated millions of dollars directly to the WHO.
The impact of the financial power of the medical industrial complex in the WHO can be seen on many levels. SAGE, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts, that currently consults the WHO on vaccines, is staffed with industry representatives. The majority of its members (8/15) have received significant sums of money from the biggest vaccine manufacturers or the Gates Foundation. The previous health minister and foreign secretary of Ethiopia, Tedros Ghebreyesus who is now the Director-General of the WHO, used to be chairman of the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a fund already mentioned above.
Corruption is also pervasive in the production of medical knowledge. Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of Lancet, the most prestigious medical journal in the world, said in 2004: “[Medical] journals have devolved into information laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry.” In the same year, Richard Smith who has been for 25 years editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal, a journal of high standing as well, wrote: “Medical journals are an extension of the marketing arm of pharmaceutical companies.”
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