Throughout the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, we've all grown accustomed to the slogans "follow the science" and "we're all in this together." The former denotes a presumed scientific consensus, and the latter promotes conformity to the alleged consensus. But is there really such a consensus? According to the Great Barrington Declaration and its professional signatories (59,632 and counting), there is no scientific consensus in favor of lockdowns, public face masking, or vaccine mandates. In fact, it would appear as if the majority of the scientific community actually opposes the public health messaging in spite of all its clout (see "The Unjust Condemnation of the Great Barrington Declaration," click here).
"The science" is not a true science but dogma founded on a biased assortment of facts. Science was used to gather these facts, but politics and media influence have been utilized to denigrate opposing scientific perspectives, conflating some with conspiracy theories in the process. The World Health Organization and the Great Barrington Declaration have both been criticized for not conforming to "the science." This political denigration is the antithesis of science.
Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, and the top public health spokesperson in the US during the Covid-19 pandemic, has repeated the phrase "follow the science" numerous times [click here]. In an HHS podcast [click here], he defended lockdowns, claiming the policy saved millions of lives, and he criticized the anti-science bias of others. "I mean, people get confused. And they say, 'Wow, you know, we shut down and we caused a great disruption in society. We caused great economic pain, loss of jobs," Fauci said, "But if you look at the data, now that papers have come out literally two days ago, the fact that we shut down when we did and the rest of the world did, has saved hundreds of millions of infections and millions of lives."
Dr Fauci may have been correct that the lockdowns prevented countless infections and therefore deaths resulting from these infections, but did this action save lives? It is also a possibility that the lockdowns postponed more infections than they prevented, which may have caused more hospitalizations and deaths. Fewer people had natural immunity to the novel virus when deadlier strains proliferated, and this likely put some at a greater risk of serious outcomes.
The United Nations Global Compact has explained how the breakdown of supply chains would escalate the preexisting crisis of global hunger, and more people could die from COVID-related hunger than from Covid-19 infection as a result [click here]. In addition, the UN World Food Program detailed how the rising cost of basic food prices impacted a dramatic increase in the number of people on the verge of famine, IPC phase 4/Emergency [click here]. The number of people estimated to be experiencing conditions of "extreme food shortages, acute malnutrition and [excessively high levels of] disease...and the [rapidly increasing] risk of hunger-related death" [click here] has increased from 27 million in 2019 to 41 million in 2021.
Starvation is not the only cause of death which has been affected by shortages and inflation. Malnutrition can also be a contributing factor that increases the likelihood of severe outcomes to infection. This factor seems to have been overlooked in the reports of disproportionate COVID hospitalizations affecting minority ethnic groups in the US. Disparity has forced some high-risk individuals to remain in the workforce, which is often a high-risk environment, and cramped living conditions increased transmission within low-income communities. In addition to these factors, inflation has led to the rationing of supplies, and this, in turn, has likely led to a degree of malnutrition.
Anna Filanowski (nee Mokritsky), an indentured servant from the age of 14, passed down her wisdom and experience of the Great Depression to her grandchildren. One example would be that while lard sandwiches can provide low-cost calories, thiamin-enriched bread can prevent vitamin B deficiencies, helping to prevent malnourishment in times of hardship. When people have to tighten their belts, nutrition becomes crucial. However, this is often one of the many things that are sacrificed. An event like a global pandemic makes nutrition of the utmost importance. Nutritious foods should always be evenly distributed, but this is particularly true for the duration of a pandemic.
Dr Fauci has asserted that he became a polarizing figure because he advocates science instead of conspiracy theories [click here]. This would imply that the entirety of dissenting opinions is based on an anti-science bias. In October, Fauci spoke at the POLITICO Health Care Summit 2021, where he said [.youtube.com/watch?v=3KEWuqHlRWc&t=836s 13:15; .eatthis.com/news-fauci-covid-science-message/], "I think if people do understand that, that you have- when you follow the science, science is inherently self-corrective. And when new information comes about, that's when you make changes." Dr Fauci, along with others who seem to have a "mainstream" bias, appears to be ignoring the social science of economics and the impact lockdowns and fear have had on supply chains, the global hunger crisis, homelessness and malnutrition [both domestically and abroad].
One of the more confusing topics during the course of the pandemic has been the guidance for wearing masks in public. Early on, the CDC and WHO both recommended against public masking. On March 8th, 2020, three days before WHO declared Covid-19 a global pandemic, Anthony Fauci appeared on 60 Minutes and recommended against the widespread use of masks in the community [.youtube.com/watch?v=PRa6t_e7dgI]. This was after WHO had declared Covid-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on January 30th [click here]. Fauci made reference to "unintended consequences" like an increase in face-touching, an act that can actually contribute to the transmission of infectious disease. And he implied that masks should be reserved for healthcare workers, along with people who are ill to prevent them from spreading the infection. Dr Jon LaPook, who was interviewing Dr Fauci, chimed in and mentioned how public face masking could contribute to a mask shortage. Dr Fauci reiterated this, saying, "Exactly, that's the point. It can lead to a shortage of masks for the people who really need it."
Almost a month after this interview, on April 3rd, the CDC revised its recommendation to support the wearing of nonmedical masks in public [click here], and Dr Fauci complied with this recommendation. He later explained that the original justification against wearing masks was due to a potential shortage of medical masks and a lack of knowledge in regard to the extent of asymptomatic spread. The reasoning behind a shift in public health messaging based on a new development like asymptomatic spread makes sense. This was a novel virus, and it would be expected that scientists would make new discoveries along the way. Dr Fauci himself even said that things can change, and we should expect the unexpected. However, Fauci said [click here], "...what happened as the weeks and months came by, two things became clear: one, that there wasn't a shortage of masks, we had plenty of masks and coverings that you could put on that's plain cloth..."
More than three weeks after WHO declared a pandemic [and 9 weeks after it declared a PHEIC], the difference between MEDICAL MASKS and CLOTH confounded the public health experts in the US who recommended against wearing any mask in public, medical or nonmedical. And when the top public health spokesperson in the US discussed this discrepancy, he added a decent amount of filler about asymptomatic spread between the old thinking of mask shortages and the new thinking of cloth abundance [see video; click here]. It's important to make the distinction that asymptomatic spread and the abundance of cloth don't necessarily invalidate the unintended consequence of face-touching, which was originally cited by Dr Fauci as one of the reasons that he did not to support the use of masks in the wider community setting.
Three days after the CDC revised its recommendation on public face masking, WHO released its 3rd Interim Guidance, Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19, on April 6th, 2020 [click here]. This report contradicted the CDC's recommendation, stating (pg 2), "As described above, the wide use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not supported by current evidence and carries uncertainties and critical risks," in its advice to decision makers. The publication also said, "WHO will update its guidance when new evidence becomes available."
Unlike the CDC, WHO did not confuse medical masks with nonmedical masks (cloth), as their April 6th Interim Guidance specified that policy makers should differentiate the two (pg 2). WHO also acknowledged evidence for pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission in the Guidance (pg 1). When its April 6th Guidance was published, the World Health Organization was very much aware of the two details cited by Anthony Fauci as the justifications that changed the CDC's recommendation on wearing cloth masks in public. Nonetheless, WHO recommended against universal community masking based on the evidence that was available at the time. Additionally, some of the potential advantages and risks were outlined for policy makers to take into consideration. Five bullet points seem to lay out the only justification offered by the Guidance to oppose the use of masks by healthy individuals in community settings (pg 2). These bullet points are quoted below:
* self-contamination that can occur by touching and reusing contaminated mask
* depending on type of mask used, potential breathing difficulties
* false sense of security, leading to potentially less adherence to other preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene
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