Covid-19 - Spring, 2020


COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic: Timeline and Analysis - Global Research


September 2019: The official US-WHO position is that the coronavirus originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province and was first discovered in Late December. This statement is questioned by Chinese and Japanese virologists who claim that the virus originated in the US. A renowned Taiwanese virologist pointed to evidence that the virus could have originated at an earlier stage, stating : “We must look to September of 2019”.

October 18-27 2019: Wuhan 2019: CISM Sport Military World Games

Chinese media intimates (without corroborating evidence) that the coronavirus could have been brought to China “from a foreign source” during the CISM Military World Games. 10,000 soldiers from 109 countries will participate 200 American military personnel participated in this 10 day Event.

October 18, Event 201. New York. Coronavirus nCoV-2019 Simulation and Emergency Preparedness Task Force, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health Security. Big Pharma-Big Money Simulation Exercise sponsored by WEF and Gates Foundation.

Simulation Exercise of a coronavirus epidemic which results in 65 million dead. Supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF) representing the interests of Financial institutions, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation representing Big Pharma:
In October 2019, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security hosted a pandemic tabletop exercise called Event 201 with partners, the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. …  For the scenario, we modeled a fictional coronavirus pandemic, but we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction. Instead, the exercise served to highlight preparedness and response challenges that would likely arise in a very severe pandemic. We are not now predicting that the nCoV-2019 outbreak will kill 65 million people. Although our tabletop exercise included a mock novel coronavirus, the inputs we used for modeling the potential impact of that fictional virus are not similar to nCoV-2019.“We are not now predicting that the nCoV-2019 [which was also used as the name of the simulation] outbreak will kill 65 million people. Although our tabletop exercise included a mock novel coronavirus, the inputs we used for modeling the potential impact of that fictional virus are not similar to nCoV-2019.
Several of the occurrences of the nCoV-2019 exercise coincided with what really happened. In the Event 201 Simulation of a Coronavirus Pandemic, a 15% collapse of financial markets had been “simulated”. It was not “predicted” according to the organizers and sponsors of the event. Private sector initiative. Participation of corporate execs, foundations, financial institutions, Banks, Big Pharma, CIA, CDC, China’s CDC. No health officials (with exception of CDC and China CDC) present on behalf of national governments or the WHO. The simulation exercise was held on the same day as the opening of the CISM World Military Sports Games in Wuhan.

December 31, 2019: First cases of pneumonia detected and reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province. China.

January 1, 2020: Chinese health authorities close the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market after Western media reports that wild animals sold there may have been the source of the virus. This initial assessment was subsequently refuted by Chinese scientists.

January 7, 2020: Chinese authorities “identify a new type of virus” which was isolated  on 7 January. The coronavirus was named 2019-nCoV by the WHO exactly the same name as that adopted in the WEF-Gates-John Hopkins October 18, 2019 simulation exercise. 

January 11, 2020 – The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission announces the first death caused by the coronavirus.

January 22, 2020: WHO. Members of the WHO Emergency Committee “expressed divergent views on whether this event constitutes a PHEIC or not”.

January 21-24, 2020: Consultations at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland under auspices of  the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) for development of a vaccine program. CEPI is a WEF-Gates partnership. With support from CIPI, Seattle based Moderna will manufacture an mRNA vaccine against 2019-nCoV, “The Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH, collaborated with Moderna to design the vaccine.”

Note: The development of a 2019 nCoV vaccine was announced at Davos, 2 weeks after the January 7, 2020 announcement, and barely a week prior to the official launching of the WHO’s Worldwide Public Health emergency on January 30. The WEF-Gates-CEPI Vaccine Announcement precedes the WHO Public Health Emergency (PHEIC).

January  30, 2020Geneva: WHO Director General determines that the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This decision was taken on the basis of 150 confirmed cases outside China, First case of person to person transmission in US is reported, 6 cases in the US, 3 cases in Canada, 2 in the UK. The WHO Director General had the backing of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Big Pharma and the World Economic Forum (WEF). There are indications that the decision for the WHO to declare a Global Emergency was taken on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos (January 21-24) overlapping with the Geneva January 22 meeting of the Emergency Committee. Both WHO’s Director Tedros as well as Bill Gates were present at Davos 2020. Bill Gates announced the Gates Foundation’s $10 billion commitment to vaccines over the next 10 years.

January 30, 2020 The Simulation Exercise Went Live. The same corporate interests and foundations which were involved in the October 18 John Hopkins Simulation Exercise became REAL ACTORS involved in providing their support to the implementation of the WHO Public Health emergency (PHEIC).

January 31, 2020 – One day later following the launch of WHO Global Emergency, The Trump administration announced that it will deny entry to foreign nationals “who have traveled in China in the last 14 days”. This immediately triggers a crisis in air transportation, China-US trade as well as the tourism industry, leading to substantial bankruptcies, not to mention unemployment. Immediately triggers a campaign against ethnic Chinese throughout the Western World.

Early February: the acronym of the coronavirus was changed from nCoV- 2019 (its name under the October Event 201 John Hopkins Simulation Exercise before it was identified in early January 2020) to COVID-19.

February 28, 2020: A massive WHO vaccination campaign was announced by WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Who was behind this campaign: GlaxoSmithKline in partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). It is a Gates-WEF partnership, both of which were sponsors of the October 18, “Simulation Exercise”. The campaign to develop vaccines was initiated prior to decision of the WHO to launch a Global Public Health emergency. It was first announced at the WEF meeting at Davos (21-24 January).

Late February 2020. Collapse of the stock markets, surge in the value of the stocks of Big Pharma. Early March devastating consequences for the tourist industry Worldwide.

February 24:  Moderna Inc supported by CIPI  announced  that it experimental mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, was ready for human testing.

Late February 2020. Second wave of transmission of the virus (Worldwide) to a large number of countries.

Late February – Early March: China: More than 50% of the infected patients recover and are discharged from the hospitals. March 3, a total of 49,856 patients have recovered from COVID-19 and were discharged from hospitals in China.  What this means that the total number of  “confirmed infected cases” in China is 30,448. (Namely 80,304 minus 49856 = 30,448  (80 304 is the total number on confirmed cases in China (WHO data, March 3, 2020). These developments concerning “recovery” are not reported by the Western media.

March 5, WHO Director General confirms that outside China there are 2055 cases reported in 33 countries. Around 80% of those cases continue to come from just three countries (South Korea, Iran, Italy). These figures suggested that we are not facing a global health emergency, that the probability of infection was low. And Based on China’s experience  the treatment for the virus infection was effective.

March 7: USA: The number of “confirmed cases” (infected and recovered) in the United States in early March is of the order of 430, rising to about 6oo (March 8). Rapid rise in the course of March. Compare that to the figures pertaining to the Influenza B Virus: The CDC estimates for 2019-2020 “at least 15 million virus flu illnesses… 140,000 hospitalizations and 8,200 deaths. (The Hill)

Early March:  IMF and World Bank To the Rescue 

The WHO Director General advises member countries that “the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have both made funds available to stabilize health systems and mitigate the economic consequences of the epidemic”. That is the proposed neoliberal  “solution” to COVID-19. The World Bank has committed $12billion in so-called “aid” which will contribute to building up the external debt of developing countries.

March 7:  China: The Pandemic is Almost Over

Reported new cases in China fall to double digit. 99 cases recorded on March 7. All of the new cases outside Hubei province are categorized as “imported infections”(from foreign countries). The reliability of the data remains to be established:
99 newly confirmed cases including 74 in Hubei Province, … The new cases included 24 imported infections — 17 in Gansu Province, three in Beijing, three in Shanghai and one in Guangdong Province.
March 10-11, 2020: Italy declares a lockdown, followed by several other countries of the EU.  Deployment of 30,000 US troops in the EU as part of the “Defend Europe 2020” war games directed against Russia.

March 11, 2020: the Director General of the WHO officially declares the COV-19 Pandemic. Bear in mind the global health emergency was declared on January 3oth without stating officially the existence of a pandemic outside Mainland China.

March 11:  Trump orders the suspension for 30 days of all transatlantic flights from countries of the European Union, with the exception of Britain. Coincides with the collapse of airline stocks and a new wave of financial instability. Devastating impacts on the tourist industry in Western Europe.

March 16: Moderna  mRNA-1273 is tested in several stages with 45 volunteers in Seattle, Washington State. The vaccine program started in early February:
“We don’t know whether this vaccine will induce an immune response, or whether it will be safe. That’s why we’re doing a trial,” Jackson stressed. “It’s not at the stage where it would be possible or prudent to give it to the general population.” (AP, March 16, 2020)
March 21, 2020: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while addressing the American people from the White House stated that COVID-19 is a live military exercise.
This is not about retribution, … This matter is going forward — we are in a live exercise here to get this right.” With a disgusted look on his face, President Trump replied: “You should have let us know.”
April 8, 2020: Mounting fear campaign led by Western media. Very rapid increase in so-called “confirmed cases”. “1,282,931 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 72,776 deaths, reported to WHO” (April 8). Mounting doubts on the reported “confirmed cases” of COVID-19. Failures of the CDC’s categorization and statistical estimates.
March- April: Planet Lockdown. Devastating economic and social consequences. The economic and social impacts far exceed those attributed to the coronavirus. Cited below are selected examples of  a global process: 
  • Massive job losses and layoffs in the US, with more than 10 million workers filing claims for unemployment benefits.
  • In India,  a 21 days lockdown has triggered a wave of famine and despair affecting millions of homeless migrant workers all over the country. No lockdown for the homeless: “too poor to afford a meal”.  
  • The impoverishment in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa is beyond description. For large sectors of the urban population, household income has literally been wiped out.
  • In Italy, the destabilization of the tourist industry has resulted in bankruptcies and rising unemployment. 
  • In many countries, citizens are the object of police violence. Five people involved in protests against the lockdown were killed by police in Kenya and South Africa.
Concluding Remarks

We  are dealing with a complex global crisis with far-reaching economic, social and geopolitical implications. We have provided factual information as well as analysis in a summarized “common sense” format. Is is important that COVID-19 be the object of  widespread debate and that the “official interpretations” be forcefully challenged. We ask our readers to forward this article as well other Global Research articles pertaining to the COVID-19 coronavirus.


Rockefeller Foundation: Pandemics and Social Control

A 2010 report by the Rockefeller Foundation, a New York City-based think-tank founded in 1913 by John D. Rockefeller and his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr. with the mantra "Promoting the well-being of humanity throughout the world" looks positively prescient with one of the scenarios outlined in the publication. Let's look at the pertinent section of the report. As background, it is important to keep in mind that John D. Rockefeller Jr. was an outspoken champion of eugenics, a movement that sought to improve humanity through selective breeding. The eugenics movement believed that less desirable traits in humanity like feeblemindedness and criminality could be bred out of existence by sterilization of humans that were deemed "unfit". According to a 1927 publication released by the Eugenics Record Office, the goal of eugenics was to "improve the natural, physical, mental and temperamental qualities of the human family" by preventing certain individuals from having children and encouraging the fittest members of society to have more children. With this background in mind, let's look at the key part of the Rockefeller Foundation document which is entitled "Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development". According to the opening letter by Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, the purpose of the document is to provide decision makers with methods for dealing with certain scenarios as shown in this quote:

"One important—and novel—component of our strategy toolkit is scenario planning, a process of creating narratives about the future based on factors likely to affect a particular set of challenges and opportunities. We believe that scenario planning has great potential for use in philanthropy to identify unique interventions, simulate and rehearse important decisions that could have profound implications, and highlight previously undiscovered areas of connection and intersection. Most important, by providing a methodological structure that helps us focus on what we don’t know—instead of what we already know—scenario planning allows us to achieve impact more effectively."

The report looks at four very different future paths:

1.) LOCK STEP – A world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback.

2.) CLEVER TOGETHER – A world in which highly coordinated and successful strategies emerge for addressing both urgent and entrenched worldwide issues

3.) HACK ATTACK – An economically unstable and shock-prone world in which governments weaken, criminals thrive, and dangerous innovations emerge

4.) SMART SCRAMBLE – An economically depressed world in which individuals and communities develop localized, makeshift solutions to a growing set of problems

For the purposes of this posting, I will focus on the first scenario, Lock Step. Here is the introduction to the Lock Step scenario:

"In 2012, the pandemic that the world had been anticipating for years finally hit. Unlike 2009’s H1N1, this new influenza strain—originating from wild geese—was extremely virulent and deadly. Even the most pandemic-prepared nations were quickly overwhelmed when the virus streaked around the world, infecting nearly 20 percent of the global population and killing 8 million in just seven months, the majority of them healthy young adults. The pandemic also had a deadly effect on economies: international mobility of both people and goods screeched to a halt, debilitating industries like tourism and breaking global supply chains. Even locally, normally bustling shops and office buildings sat empty for months, devoid of both employees and customers.

The pandemic blanketed the planet—though disproportionate numbers died in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America, where the virus spread like wildfire in the absence of official containment protocols. But even in developed countries, containment was a challenge. The United States initial policy of “strongly discouraging” citizens from flying proved deadly in its leniency, accelerating the spread of the virus not just within the U.S. but across borders. However, a few countries did fare better—China in particular. The Chinese government’s quick imposition and enforcement of mandatory quarantine for all citizens, as well as its instant and near-hermetic sealing off of all borders, saved millions of lives, stopping the spread of the virus far earlier than in other countries and enabling a swifter post- pandemic recovery.

China’s government was not the only one that took extreme measures to protect its citizens from risk and exposure. During the pandemic, national leaders around the world flexed their authority and imposed airtight rules and restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face masks to body-temperature checks at the entries to communal spaces like train stations and supermarkets. Even after the pandemic faded, this more authoritarian control and oversight of citizens and their activities stuck and even intensified. In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems—from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty—leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power. (my bolds)

The scenario goes on to state that, at first, citizens seemed willing to accept the idea of a more controlled world:

"Citizens willingly gave up some of their sovereignty—and their privacy—to more paternalistic states in exchange for greater safety and stability. Citizens were more tolerant, and even eager, for top-down direction and oversight, and national leaders had more latitude to impose order in the ways they saw fit. In developed countries, this heightened oversight took many forms: biometric IDs for all citizens, for example, and tighter regulation of key industries whose stability was deemed vital to national interests. In many developed countries, enforced cooperation with a suite of new regulations and agreements slowly but steadily restored both order and, importantly, economic growth."

But, according to the increase in government control was less well accepted in some nations where elites used their increased powers to pursue their own agenda and interests.

We are clearly seeing governments around the world flexing their powers to control the behaviours of their citizens. This started in China with the lockdown of people in urban areas, particularly Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. At this point, states of emergency have been declared around the world with billions of people under lockdown and, in Canada, the Minister of Health is threatening to suspend civil liberties and use measures potentially including a telephone-based "rat line" for Canadians to tattle on their neighbours and a random "check to make sure that you are at home" program to ensure that everyone is behaving themselves. What I find particularly interesting is the number of people in the online world who are practically begging for the dispatching of their national army/police force to their community because they are so fearful of what lies ahead. This plays right into the ultimate plan for complete government control of our lives and once that takes hold, it will never be removed.


Can We Trust the WHO?

The most influential organization in the world with nominal responsibility for global health and epidemic issues is the United Nations’ World Health Organization, WHO, based in Geneva. What few know is the actual mechanisms of its political control, the shocking conflicts of interest, corruption and lack of transparency that permeate the agency that is supposed to be the impartial guide for getting through the current COVID-19 pandemic. The following is only part of what has come to public light.

Pandemic declaration?

On January 30 Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the UN World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern or PHIEC. This came two days after Tedros met with China President Xi Jinping in Beijing to discuss the dramatic rise in severe cases of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan and surrounding areas that had reached dramatic proportions. Announcing his emergency PHIEC declaration, Tedros praised the Chinese quarantine measures, measures highly controversial in public health and never before in modern times attempted with entire cities, let alone countries. At the same time Tedros, curiously, criticized other countries who were moving to block flights to China to contain the strange new disease, leading to charges he was unduly defending China.

The first three cases in Wuhan were reported, officially, on December 27, 2019, a full month earlier. The cases were all diagnosed with pneumonia from a “novel” or new form of SARS Coronavirus. Important to note is that the largest movement of people in the year, China’s Lunar New Year and Spring Festival, during which some 400 million citizens move throughout the land to join families went from January 17 through February 8. On January 23, at 2am two days before start of actual New Year festivities, Wuhan authorities declared an unprecedented lockdown of the entire city of 11 million as of 10am that day. By then, hundreds of thousands if not several million residents had fled in panic to avoid the quarantine.

By the time the WHO declared its Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January, precious weeks had been lost to contain the disease. Yet Tedros effusively praised the “unprecedented” Chinese measures and criticized other countries for placing “stigma” on Chinese by cutting travel. In reference to the Wuhan COVID-19 spread and why WHO did not call it a pandemic, the WHO spokesman, Tarik Jasarevic, stated “There is no official category (for a pandemic)…WHO does not use the old system of 6 phases — that ranged from phase 1 (no reports of animal influenza causing human infections) to phase 6 (a pandemic) — that some people may be familiar with from H1N1 in 2009.” Then, in an about-face, on March 11, Tedros Adhanom announced for the first time that WHO was calling the novel coronavirus illness, now renamed COVID-19, a “global pandemic.” At that point WHO said there were more than 118,000 cases of COVID-19 in 114 countries, with 4,291 deaths.

2009 WHO H1N1 Swine Flu Fake Pandemic

Since an earlier WHO fiasco and scandal in 2009 over its declaration of a global pandemic around the “swine flu” or H1N1 as it was termed, the WHO decided to drop using the term pandemic. The reason is indicative of the corruption endemic to the WHO institution. Just weeks before first reports in 2009 of a young Mexican child being infected with a novel H1N1 “swine flu” virus in Veracruz, the WHO had quietly changed the traditional definition of pandemic. No longer was it necessary a reported disease be extremely widespread in many countries and extremely deadly or debilitating. It need only be widespread, like seasonal flu, should WHO “experts” want to declare pandemic. WHO H1N1 symptoms were the same as a bad cold.

When then-WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan officially declared a Phase 6 global Pandemic emergency, that triggered national emergency programs including billions of dollars of government purchases of alleged H1N1 vaccines. At the end of the 2009 flu season it turned out the deaths due to H1N1 were tiny relative to the normal seasonal flu. Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, a German physician specialising in Pulmonology, was then chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In 2009 he called for an inquiry into alleged conflicts of interest surrounding the EU response to the Swine Flu pandemic. The Netherlands Parliament as well discovered that Professor Albert Osterhaus of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the person at the center of the worldwide Swine Flu H1N1 Influenza A 2009 pandemic as the key advisor to WHO on influenza, was intimately positioned to personally profit from the billions of euros in vaccines allegedly aimed at H1N1.

Many of the other WHO scientific experts who advised Dr Chan to declare pandemic were receiving money directly or indirectly from Big Pharma including GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and other major vaccine-makers. The WHO Swine Flu Pandemic declaration was a fake. 2009-10 saw the mildest influenza worldwide since medicine began tracking it. The pharma giants took in billions in the process. It was after the 2009 pandemic scandal that the WHO stopped using the 6 phase pandemic declaration and went to the totally vague and confusing “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.” But now, Tedros and WHO arbitrarily decided to reintroduce the term pandemic, admitting though that they are still in the midst of creating yet a new definition of the term. “Pandemic” triggers more fear than “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”

WHO’s SAGE Still Conflicted

Despite the huge 2009-10 conflict-of-interest scandals linking Big Pharma to WHO, today the WHO under Tedros has done little to clean out corruption and conflicts of interest. The current WHO Scientific Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) is riddled with members who receive “financially significant” funds from either major vaccine makers, or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BGMF) or Wellcome Trust. In the latest posting by WHO of the 15 scientific members of SAGE, no fewer than 8 had declared interest, by law, of potential conflicts. In almost every case the significant financial funder of these 8 SAGE members included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Merck & Co. (MSD), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (a Gates-funded vaccine group), BMGF Global Health Scientific Advisory Committee, Pfizer, Novovax, GSK, Novartis, Gilead, and other leading pharma vaccine players. So much for independent scientific objectivity at WHO.

Gates and WHO

The fact that many of the members of WHO’s SAGE have financial ties to the Gates Foundation is highly revealing, even if not surprising. Today the WHO is primarily financed not by UN member governments, but by what is called a “public-private partnership” in which private vaccine companies and the group of Bill Gates-sponsored entities dominate.

In the latest available financial report of WHO, for December 31, 2017, slightly more than half of the $2+ billion General Fund Budget of WHO was from private donors or external agencies such as World Bank or EU. Far the largest private or non-government funders of WHO are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation together with Gates-funded GAVI Vaccine Alliance, the Gates-initiated Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM). Those three provided more than $474 million to WHO. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation alone gave a whopping $324,654,317 to WHO. By comparison, the largest state donor to WHO, the US Government, gave $401 million to WHO.

Among other private donors we find the world’s leading vaccine and drug makers including Gilead Science (currently pressing to have its drug as treatment for COVID-19), GlaxoSmithKline, Hoffmann-LaRoche, Sanofi Pasteur, Merck Sharp and Dohme Chibret and Bayer AG. The drug makers gave tens of millions of dollars to WHO in 2017. This private pro-vaccine industry support for the WHO agenda from the Gates Foundation and Big Pharma is more than a simple conflict of interest. It is a de facto high-jacking of the UN agency responsible for coordinating worldwide responses to epidemics and disease. Further, the Gates Foundation, the world’s largest at some $50 billion, invests its tax-exempt dollars in those same vaccine makers including Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline.

Against this background it should come as no surprise that Ethiopian politician, Tedros Adhanom, became head of WHO in 2017. Tedros is the first WHO director who is not a medical doctor despite his insistence on using Dr. as title. His is a doctor of philosophy in community health for “research investigating the effects of dams on the transmission of malaria in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.” Tedros, who was also Ethiopia Minister of Foreign Affairs until 2016, met Bill Gates when he was Ethiopian Health Minister and became Board Chair of the Gates-linked Global Fund Against HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Under Tedros, the notorious corruption and conflicts of interest at WHO have continued, even grown. According to a recent report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in 2018 and 2019 under Tedros, the WHO Health Emergencies Program, the section responsible for the COVID-19 global response, was cited with the highest risk rating noting the “failure to adequately finance the program and emergency operations [risks] inadequate delivery of results at country level.” The ABC report further found that there has also been a “surge in internal corruption allegations across the whole of the organization, with the detection of multiple schemes aimed at defrauding large sums of money from the international body.” Not very reassuring. In early March Oxford University stopped using WHO data on COVID-19 because of repeated errors and inconsistencies the WHO refused to correct. The WHO test protocols for coronavirus tests have repeatedly been cited by various countries including Finland for flaws and false positives and other defects. This is the WHO which we now trust to guide us through the worst health crisis of the past century.


Dr. Fauci Warned In 2017 Of ‘Surprise Outbreak’ During Trump Administration

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease specialist, warned in early 2017 that a “surprise outbreak” would occur during the Trump administration, and he said that more needed to be done to prepare for a pandemic.

“There is no question that there will be a challenge to the coming administration in the arena of infectious diseases,” he said in a speech titled “Pandemic Preparedness in the Next Administration” at Georgetown University Medical Center. He delivered it just days before Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017. Fauci, who has overseen the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, warned that looming health challenges would involve both chronic diseases ― ones already ongoing ― as well as “a surprise outbreak.” “No matter what, history has told us definitively that [outbreaks] will happen,” he said. “It is a perpetual challenge. It is not going to go away. The thing we’re extraordinarily confident about is that we are going to see this in the next few years.” Fauci ticked off a list of measures needed to prepare for such a crisis, including creating and strengthening global health surveillance systems, as well as public health and health care infrastructure; practicing transparency and honest communication with the public; coordinating and collaborating on both basic and clinical research, and developing universal platform technologies to better facilitate the development of vaccines.


The US Government Lifting Ban On Engineering Deadly Viruses To Make Them More Dangerous

H7N9 bird flu virus

Many experts think the greatest possible threat to humanity is a fast-moving airborne pathogen — a particularly deadly flu virus could kill tens of millions of people in a year. On Tuesday, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it was lifting a moratorium on funding research into creating a deadly virus with those capabilities. The NIH's policy shift will allow researchers to take already dangerous viruses and genetically engineer them to be more contagious or deadly. That could mean taking a flu strain or a virus like MERS or SARS and modifying them so they spread more easily or become more fatal. These types of experiments are known as "gain of function" experiments, since they add new — and riskier — functions to diseases.

The risks of developing powerful, deadly superbugs

Such research is controversial because of concerns that a modified deadly disease could escape into the wild and infect the public. That could happen if a terrible accident were to occur, or if the know-how for creating a deadly superbug were to fall into the wrong hands. "Safety isn't all about machines or ventilation, it's also about human judgment," Marc Lipsitch, director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard School of Public Health, previously told Business Insider, shortly before the NIH instituted this moratorium. The NIH decided to stop funding these sorts of studies in 2014, after a couple of terrifying slip-ups with deadly diseases. In one case, the NIH discovered that vials of smallpox had just been sitting in a cold storage room of a Food and Drug Administration lab (there are only two labs in the world authorized to possess smallpox, one at the CDC in Atlanta and another in Russia). In another case, the CDC accidentally exposed more than 75 workers to anthrax. The moratorium halted ongoing studies in Wisconsin and the Netherlands that were working on creating mutant influenza viruses that could spread through the air. The tests were being conducted on ferrets, because airborne virus transmission between the animals closely mimics the process between humans.

Why researchers want to create pandemic viruses

The argument in favor of this research is that nature itself creates new deadly, contagious viruses on its own. "We are coming up on the centenary of the 1918 influenza pandemic," George Poste, a leading member a group that assesses the state of biodefense in the US, recently told Business Insider. "We've been fortunately spared anything on that scale for the past 100 years, but it is inevitable that a pandemic strain of equal virulence will emerge." The 1918 pandemic killed approximately 50 million people around the globe, making it one of the deadliest events in human history. Some experts believe that if we can create these types of viruses ourselves in a lab, then we might be able to better understand them before (or when) they naturally appear. That's why the NIH decided to allow these sorts of studies to resume, according to a statement by director Francis Collins."[Gain of function] research is important in helping us identify, understand, and develop strategies and effective countermeasures against rapidly evolving pathogens that pose a threat to public health," Collins wrote. Experts say there ways to do this work safely, but there are still important questions to address. According to Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research, one of the biggest concerns is how details of this work are communicated to the public. Any release of such information comes with security risks, but the NIH review process for funding these studies doesn't necessarily make it clear how much of the research would become publicly available. Say, for example, that a study found ways to genetically modify Ebola virus so it became an airborne pathogen.  "If [that] were the case, I don't want the public to have a blueprint on how to do it,"Osterholm said.

Biolabs Ringing Russia’s Borders: What’s the US Really Doing at These Facilities?

Late last month, lawmakers demanded a probe into the operations of as many as 15 US-funded biolabs in Ukraine, accusing the US of covering up details regarding the threat these facilities may pose to human safety. This week, Russia’s foreign minister charged Washington with engaging in military-related biological activities on Russia’s borders.

On Tuesday, at a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization alliance, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of “singlehandedly blocking” the creation of a verification mechanism for the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC), a landmark 1972 treaty banning the production of such weapons. According to the foreign minister, the US continues “to carry out military-biological activities around the world, including on our borders.” “We are conducting an intensive state-to-state dialogue with our CSTO allies on these subjects, having already signed an agreement with Tajikistan, and working with Armenia and Kazakhstan. This is a large part of the work in ensuring the fulfilment of nations’ obligations under the BTWC on the inadmissibility of reorienting any biological activity to military needs,” Lavrov stressed.

Pentagon Biolabs in Ukraine

Lavrov’s comments come in the wake of confirmation Tuesday that the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency, a subsidiary of the US Department of Defence, has been working in Ukraine since 2005 on the construction or modernization of at least eight biolabs suitable for storing and working with dangerous pathogens, including those used in biological weapons. The report comes in the wake of a scandal in Kiev last month in which lawmakers accused the US Embassy of scrubbing information about the work of two of its biolabs from its official website. In a complaint, Opposition Platform – For Life party co-chairman Viktor Medvedchuk alleged that since these labs’ deployment, Ukraine has faced outbreaks of deadly diseases, including a 2009 outbreak of hemorrhagic pneumonia, three cholera outbreaks between 2011 and 2015, hundreds of fatalities to swine flu in 2016, and the deaths of at least 20 Ukrainian servicemen to an unknown flu-like illness the same year. “The Ukrainian people have the right to know about secret programs,” the lawmaker stated in his demands for a probe.

Kazakhstan’s $108 Million Laboratory

Ukraine isn’t the only nation where the US has established biological laboratories, with even nations with close ties to Moscow subject to US overtures. Russia has long expressed concerns about the biological safety situation in countries including Kazakhstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, all three of them allies in the CSTO. In Kazakhstan, rumours about the safety of biolabs operating under US patronage have long plagued both local residents and authorities. For years, media in Kazakhstan have alleged that outbreaks of infectious diseases in recent years has been connected to the work of the Almaty Central Reference Laboratory, the huge biolab built with $108 million in US cash in 2016, and which specializes in the study of strains of viruses characteristic to the Central Asian Nation. In 2018, Kazakhstan reported an outbreak in meningitis, with local media alleging that this particular strain may have been deliberately leaked from the Almaty lab to test the effectiveness of a specially-engineered strain of the disease. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Health denied these rumours, and assured the public that there was nothing to worry about. In March 2020, rumours again began to swirl that the spread of the coronavirus may be tied to the US-affiliated lab. Authorities vocally dismissed the claims and urged media and the public not to give in to panic.


In the Caucasus, too, the US has built new biological research institutions, or upgraded the capacities of old ones, to suit their purposes. In Soviet Days, Armenia’s Institute of Microbiology was the largest in the union. After the country’s collapse, officials in the US and the UK took an interest in its work, inviting Armenian specialists to study and teach in Western countries, and, in the 2000s, helping to open several biolabs across the country. As was the case in Kazakhstan, funds were provided by the US Department of Defense, with $10 million contributed to the modernization of Armenia’s National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and other labs built from the ground up in Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor, Martuni and Ijevan, ostensibly to study local strains of viruses. While the centers are formally subordinated to Armenia’s ministry of health, the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency has access to them, and US nationals are known to work at the facilities. Russia has criticized the biolabs’ secretive nature. In late 2019, to dispel concerns, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan agreed on a memorandum of cooperation with Moscow which would enable Russian specialists to visit the labs, but the agreement remains unsigned.


In the 2010s, the US and other Western countries allocated funding to another Russian ally in Central Asia – Tajikistan, with Foundation Merieux, a French charitable foundation whose formal mission includes the strengthening of local health capabilities and reducing the impact of infectious diseases, establishing the Gastroenterological Institute in Dushanbe in 2013 with UN and USAID assistance. In 2019, another lab – the Republican Center for the Fight Against Tuberculosis, was opened in Tajikistan, this time sponsored directly by USAID and the Pentagon. As elsewhere, the lab allows both local biologists and their foreign counterparts to study local diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis and cholera. That same year, another US-funded laboratory was opened in Isfara in Tajikistan north. Little information has been made available regarding its work, except that it is also funded by the US.


The Caucasian nation of Georgia, with whom Russia has had poor relations for over a decade following the 2008 war in South Ossetia, has had one of the most active US biolab programmes in the post-Soviet space. In 2018, Igor Giorgadze, the country’s former minister of state security, asked President Trump to investigate reports that personnel from the Lugar Center biological lab outside Tbilisi had engaged in experiments on people, and that some of these test subjects had died. In a report on the US-funded lab’s activities, Giorgadze revealed the high level of bacteriological protection at the facility, as well as equipment which he said was capable of “spraying harmful substances and ammunition with biologically active materials.” The former official questioned why a lab supposedly engaged in peaceful research would have a need for such equipment. Washington dismissed Giorgadze allegations as “absurd,” and assured that the lab’s research was peaceful in nature. Last month, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that Moscow was fully appraised of US efforts to expand military research at the Lugar Lab, and said such efforts were part of a major expansion of dual purpose biological research at labs across the former USSR under the pretext of fighting bioterrorism.

The best analysis on the internet for the U.S Lugar Bio-Lab


Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist Who Discovered HIV Says Coronavirus Was Created In Laboratory

In a highly significant development, Professor Luc Montagnier, the French scientist who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), has added his voice to those who believe the new coronavirus was created in a laboratory. Interviewed on the CNews channel in France, Montagnier asserted that the virus had been designed by molecular biologists. Stating that it contains genetic elements of HIV, he insisted its characteristics could not have arisen naturally.

Asked by the CNews interviewer what the goal of these molecular biologists was, Montagnier said it wasn’t clear. “My job,” he said, “is to expose the facts.” While stressing that he didn’t know who had done it, or why, Montagnier suggested that possibly the goal had been to make an AIDS vaccine. Labeling the virus as “a professional job…a very meticulous job,” he described its genome as being a “clockwork of sequences.” “There’s a part which is obviously the classic virus, and there’s another mainly coming from the bat, but that part has added sequences, particularly from HIV – the AIDS virus,” he said.

Growing evidence that the virus was ‘designed’

Montagnier also pointed out that he wasn’t the first scientist to assert that the coronavirus was created in a laboratory. Previously, on 31 January 2020, a research group from India had published a paper suggesting that aspects of the virus bore an “uncanny similarity” to HIV. Taken together, the researchers said their findings suggested the virus had an “unconventional evolution” and that further investigation was warranted. While the researchers subsequently retracted their paper, Montagnier said they had been “forced” to do so. In February 2020, a separate research paper published by scientists from South China University of Technology suggested the virus “probably” came from a laboratory in Wuhan, the city where it was first identified. Significantly, one of the research facilities cited in this paper, the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, is said to be the only lab in China that is designated for the study of highly dangerous pathogens such as Ebola and SARS. Prior to the opening of this laboratory in 2018, biosafety experts and scientists from the United States had expressed concerns that a virus could escape from it. As with the paper published by the Indian researchers, however, the Chinese scientists’ paper has similarly been withdrawn.

Involvement of the pharma industry

Professor Montagnier has long demonstrated that he is not afraid to challenge the prevailing views of the scientific establishment. Previously, in an interview recorded for the 2009 AIDS documentary ‘House of Numbers’, he had spoken out in favor of nutrition and antioxidants in the fight against HIV/AIDS. As the co-discoverer of HIV and a Nobel prize winner, Montagnier’s statements in this interview gave valuable support to Dr. Rath and other scientists who, for years beforehand, had been warning the world about the pharmaceutical business with the AIDS epidemic. In a similar way, his assertion today that the coronavirus was designed by molecular biologists raises serious questions about the possible involvement of the pharmaceutical industry. As Montagnier infers, a manmade virus whose genome consists of a “clockwork of sequences” and includes elements of HIV could not have been assembled by amateurs. With estimates of the total global economic cost of the coronavirus varying from $4.1 trillion to $20 trillion or more, the ongoing questions about its origins are unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

 Coronavirus far more likely than Sars to bond to human cells due to HIV-like mutation, scientists say

Scientists say the new coronavirus may be significantly different from Sars. Photo: AP
  • Research by team from Nankai University shows new virus has mutated gene similar to those found in HIV and Ebola
  • Finding may help scientists understand how the infection spreads and where it came from
The new coronavirus has an HIV-like mutation that means its ability to bind with human cells could be up to 1,000 times as strong as the Sars virus, according to new research by scientists in China and Europe. The discovery could help to explain not only how the infection has spread but also where it came from and how best to fight it.

Scientists showed that Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) entered the human body by binding with a receptor protein called ACE2 on a cell membrane. And some early studies suggested that the new coronavirus, which shares about 80 per cent of the genetic structure of Sars, might follow a similar path. But the ACE2 protein does not exist in large quantities in healthy people, and this partly helped to limit the scale of the Sars outbreak of 2002-03, in which infected about 8,000 people around the world.

Other highly contagious viruses, including HIV and Ebola, target an enzyme called furin, which works as a protein activator in the human body. Many proteins are inactive or dormant when they are produced and have to be “cut” at specific points to activate their various functions. When looking at the genome sequence of the new coronavirus, Professor Ruan Jishou and his team at Nankai University in Tianjin found a section of mutated genes that did not exist in Sars, but were similar to those found in HIV and Ebola.

“This finding suggests that 2019-nCoV [the new coronavirus] may be significantly different from the Sars coronavirus in the infection pathway,” the scientists said in a paper published this month on, a platform used by the Chinese Academy of Sciences to release scientific research papers before they have been peer-reviewed. “This virus may use the packing mechanisms of other viruses such as HIV.”

According to the study, the mutation can generate a structure known as a cleavage site in the new coronavirus’ spike protein. The virus uses the outreaching spike protein to hook on to the host cell, but normally this protein is inactive. The cleavage site structure’s job is to trick the human furin protein, so it will cut and activate the spike protein and cause a “direct fusion” of the viral and cellular membranes. Compared to the Sars’ way of entry, this binding method is “100 to 1,000 times” as efficient, according to the study.

Just two weeks after its release, the paper is already the most viewed ever on Chinarxiv. In a follow-up study, a research team led by Professor Li Hua from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hubei province, confirmed Ruan’s findings. The mutation could not be found in Sars, Mers or Bat-CoVRaTG13, a bat coronavirus that was considered the original source of the new coronavirus with 96 per cent similarity in genes, it said. This could be “the reason why SARS-CoV-2 is more infectious than other coronaviruses”, Li wrote in a paper released on Chinarxiv on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a study by French scientist Etienne Decroly at Aix-Marseille University, which was published in the scientific journal Antiviral Research on February 10, also found a “furin-like cleavage site” that is absent in similar coronaviruses. A researcher with the Beijing Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said the studies were all based on genetic sequencing. “Whether [the virus] behaves as predicted will need other evidence including experiments,” said the researcher who asked not to be named. “The answer will tell how the virus makes us ill,” he said.

U.S. Government Gave $3.7 Million Grant To Wuhan Laboratory For Coronavirus Experiments
  • The US National Institutes of Health, a government agency, awarded a $3.7million research grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology
  • The lab is the center of several conspiracy theories that suggest it is the original source of the coronavirus outbreak
  • The institute experimented on bats from the source of the coronavirus
  • They were captured more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan Sequencing of the Covid-19 genome has traced it to bats to Yunnan's caves
  • The U.S. government funded research on coronavirus transmission in the lab over the past decade
The Chinese laboratory at the center of scrutiny over a potential coronavirus leak has been using U.S. government money to carry out research on bats from the caves which scientists believe are the original source of the deadly outbreak. The Wuhan Institute of Virology undertook coronavirus experiments on mammals captured more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan which were funded by a $3.7 million grant from the US government. Sequencing of the COVID-19 genome has traced it back to bats found in Yunnan caves but it was first thought to have transferred to humans at an animal market in Wuhan. The revelation that the Wuhan Institute was experimenting on bats from the area already known to be the source of COVID-19 - and doing so with American money - has sparked further fears that the lab, and not the market, is the original outbreak source. Lawmakers and pressure groups were quick to hit out at U.S. funding being provided for the 'dangerous and cruel animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute'.

US Congressman Matt Gaetz said: 'I'm disgusted to learn that for years the US government has been funding dangerous and cruel animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute, which may have contributed to the global spread of coronavirus, and research at other labs in China that have virtually no oversight from US authorities.' On Saturday, Anthony Bellotti, president of the US pressure group White Coat Waste, condemned his government for spending tax dollars in China, adding: 'Animals infected with viruses or otherwise sickened and abused in Chinese labs reportedly may be sold to wet markets for consumption once experiments are done.' The $37million Wuhan Institute of Virology, the most advanced laboratory of its type on the Chinese mainland, is based twenty miles from the now infamous wildlife market that was thought to be the location of the original transfer of the virus from animals to humans. According to documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday, scientists there experimented on bats as part of a project funded by the US National Institutes of Health, which continues to licence the Wuhan laboratory to receive American money for experiments.

The NIH is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research. The Wuhan Institute lists them on their website as a partner as well as several other American academic institutions. Other U.S. partners include the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas, Harvard University, and the National Wildlife Federation. As part of the NIH research at the institute, scientists grew a coronavirus in a lab and injected it into three-day-old piglets. The news that COVID-19 bats were under research there means that a leak from the Wuhan laboratory can no longer be completely ruled out. According to one unverified claim, scientists at the institute could have become infected after being sprayed with blood containing the virus, and then passed it on to the local community. A second institute in the city, the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control – which is barely three miles from the market – is also believed to have carried out experiments on animals such as bats to examine the transmission of coronaviruses. The Wuhan Institute, which keeps more than 1,500 strains of deadly viruses, specializes in the research of 'the most dangerous pathogens', in particular the viruses carried by bats. Chinese officials decided to build the institute after the country was ravaged by an outbreak of SARS in 2002 and 2003. SARS, another kind of coronavirus, killed 775 people and infected more than 8,000 globally in an epidemic.

Since an outbreak of the novel coronavirus emerged in the city in December, it has been at the center of conspiracy theories which suggest that the bug originated there. While scientists believe that the virus jumped to humans from wild animals sold as food in a market in Wuhan, conspiracy theorists promote different assumptions. Some of them claim that the virus, formally known as SARS-CoV-2, could be a biological warfare weapon engineered there. Others suspect that it escaped from the lab. China has repeatedly denied the allegations.


The Naval War College Ran a Pandemic War Game in 2019. The Conclusions Were Eerie  

U.S. Naval War College's (NWC) Luce Hall located at Naval Station Newport in Newport, Rhode Island.

An infectious disease breaks out in a densely populated metropolis and is spreading rapidly, causing respiratory failure and death in its victims. As local containment and response mechanisms break down and cases multiply, it becomes clear that a global response -- spanning governments, humanitarian organizations, health agencies and the military -- will be required. That scenario is not a condensed narrative of the COVID-19 pandemic that currently has much of the globe on lockdown. Rather, it's the premise of a war game run last September by the Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, Rhode Island. And its findings -- released in summary format Wednesday -- reveal prescient and sometimes troubling parallels to the real-world response effort that continues today.

Called Urban Outbreak 2019, the war game involved 50 experts who spent two days coordinating response, containment and messaging efforts around the notional pandemic. Some of the conclusions, such as the way forced mass quarantine can backfire and trigger additional disease spread, and how the mortality rate is better than the overall number of disease cases in assessing the scale of an outbreak -- have been proved out through the response to the novel coronavirus. Other insights specific to the military's response also hit home. "Even in the planning phase, the military and government may (consciously or unconsciously) exhibit avoidance behaviors to limit the scope of their involvement with affected and/or infected populations in the field," one of 16 conclusions in the 12-page summary document notes.

Another conclusion assesses the tendency of "experienced professionals" to meet unusual or unprecedented conditions in the scenario with resistance. "This can directly inhibit effective planning and adaptation," it adds. Benjamin Davies, the game's designer and the associate director of research for NWC's civilian-military humanitarian response program, said that, for the mid-grade and senior officers participating in the game, one challenge came down to a recurring theme for the military: a tendency to fight the last war instead of the current one. "In this case, there may have been a fairly significant hangover from the ebola response," Davies said, referring to the deadly outbreak of the virus between 2014 and 2016 in West Africa. Davies, who spoke to on his own behalf and not to present an official position of the college, Navy or Defense Department, added that, during the ebola outbreak, which resulted in more than 13,000 deaths, the U.S. military was not supposed to provide direct aid to infected populations. "When players got in the game, they were really stuck on that guidance," he said.

Another possible holdover from the experience supporting the ebola response was a hesitancy to game out scenarios in which troops had direct contact with infected populations or regions, he said. "In a lot of different ways, either passively or actively, the military players ended up gravitating toward higher-level discussions that didn't put them on the ground or didn't put their troops in harm's way," Davies said. "It's very hard to separate avoiding the population that's infected from protecting your own troops." Also of note, according to the summary document prepared by Davies, is the resistance from game participants, including some in the military, to including game elements that didn't correspond to their prior experience. That included the notional disease itself. "The original pathogen proposed for the game had an R0 [rate of transmission] closer to the COVID-19 virus, exhibited itself with cold and flu like symptoms, and required long-term intensive medical care for a small portion of the population," the document states. " ... The learning opportunity lost by failing to use the original pathogen proposed is now obvious." Instead, the game focused on a "known and curable bacterial pathogen."

The Defense Department's coronavirus pandemic response effort has been under a magnifying glass, in part because it supports a contained population that undertakes extensive global and domestic travel and spends lengthy periods in confined environments and in close proximity as part of routine operations. The Defense Department has been widely criticized as being slow to issue guidance curtailing its own operations and limiting activities that multiply risk, such as entry-level training and underway periods that are not mission-essential. At the same time, the military has had to surge capability in unfamiliar ways in support of the broader response effort, including the mobilization of National Guard units, the deployment of hospital ships and mobile field hospitals, and preparations for the possible activation of Selected Reserve members and recall of recently separated troops. Officials have worked rapidly to develop ways to successfully employ assets designed for trauma and non-contagious disease -- including the ships and field hospitals -- such as filling them with non-COVID-19 cases in order to free up space in more specialized facilities.

Davies declined to comment on the military's real-world response efforts. Specific to the fictional war game scenario, he pointed out that the game stretched the military participants, in particular, to operate in ways far beyond what was typical for them. "The military players had a real challenge in front of them because they were doing a mission that they don't often do, and they were given tons of ambiguity in terms of authorities so that they could make their own decisions," he said. " ... The way [command-and-control] should work for them did not work in this game -- we actually removed it completely. And we gave them command authority. And that's really challenging for people who are not used to that." Dave Polatty, director of NWC's Humanitarian Response Program, told via email that the program is now in the middle of "detailed analysis" on the similarities and differences between the fictional war game disease and COVID-19.

"Right up until the current crisis, our brilliant game partners at the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab have been working tirelessly with us to identify the pandemic challenges we might face," said Polatty, who also stressed he spoke on his own behalf and not on behalf of the school or DoD. "We will continue to publish anything we can that will give us an edge in this fight. We believe our mission is to help the responders who are struggling and deserve all the assistance we can offer." NWC, he said, has a network of experts ready to support current disease response efforts and a library of research and reports available to decision-makers. "This is a challenge that requires everyone to look to the experts in every field because no one organization is going to have the monopoly on life-saving solutions," he said.


America’s Pandemic War Games Don’t End Well
U.S. soldiers wearing gas masks wait for orders during a chemical warfare exercise in Yeoncheon near the North Korea-South Korea border on Feb. 26, 2003.

One simulation of an uncontrolled disease outbreak concluded with riots and the National Guard on the streets

In June 22, 2001, a group of well-known U.S. officials and a handful of senior policymakers gathered at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland for a senior-level exercise that simulated a biological weapons attack—an outbreak of deadly smallpox—on the United States. Designed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies (now called the Center for Health Security) and the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the day-and-a-half-long “Dark Winter” simulation was conducted to gauge how senior leaders would respond to such an attack and included such high-level participants as Sen. Sam Nunn (who played the president), former White House advisor David Gergen (the national security advisor), and the retired career diplomat Frank Wisner (the secretary of state). But Dark Winter has since become legendary in senior policymaking circles in Washington for a different reason: It has regularly been cited by its designers and participants as the clearest exhibit of the spiraling stresses, and potential social collapse, that could be sparked by a public health crisis.

Dark Winter (which stipulates a smallpox attack by an unknown assailant) is not COVID-19 (a disease inadvertently spread by human contact), of course. But the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic bears an eerie resemblance to the simulation: leaders hampered by an inability to address a crisis they hadn’t foreseen (“We’d have been much more comfortable with a terrorist bombing,” Nunn later said in congressional testimony); national decision-making driven by data and expertise from the medical and public health sectors; management options limited by the swift and unpredictable spread of the disease (and a limited stockpile of vaccines); a health care system that lacks the surge capacity to deal with mass casualties; increased tensions between state and federal authorities; the rapid spread of misinformation on cures and treatments for the outbreak (the only way to treat smallpox is to not get it); the difficulty of controlling unpredicted flights of civilians from infected areas; domestic turmoil sparked by political uncertainty (with sporadic rioting—quelled by National Guard units—in large urban areas as grocery stores are shuttered); and an increasing reliance on the willingness (and unwillingness) of individual citizens to self-quarantine to stop the spread of the contagion.

The Dark Winter exercise ended on the second day of the simulation after three long sessions—and purposely without resolution. But then, the exercise’s goal was not to predict the future but to dramatize the issues faced by the federal government during a nationwide health crisis. In this it masterfully succeeded, showing that what begins as a localized disease outbreak (of smallpox appearing in Oklahoma City and then in two other densely populated urban areas) can quickly become a crisis that envelopes the entire nation and the world: State borders become chokepoints crowded with those fleeing the disease, Canada and Mexico close their borders with the United States, and foreign nations restrict the travel of American citizens. There is no worst-case scenario, with the collapse of American democracy, but democratic institutions are severely tested and strained. After Dark Winter was concluded, the participants drew clear lessons from the exercise, focusing on the federal government’s lack of preparation for a public health crisis.

The lessons drawn from the 2001 Dark Winter exercise provided a stark preview of what the United States would face in 2020: the unfamiliarity of governing officials with public health issues and the medical options available to address them; a likely lack of good information in the earliest moments of the crisis (Is the outbreak localized? How many Americans are infected? Where are they located? What health resources are available to treat them?); an unfamiliarity with the health care system and how medical care is actually delivered; the indecision surrounding the impact of quarantine orders (Should they be voluntary or required? Should they be local, statewide, or national? How should they be enforced?); the necessity of providing a medical surge capability that would alleviate the strain on hospitals and care providers (the U.S. military can build hospitals and quickly—as one participant noted—but who’s going to staff them?); and the need to act quickly and decisively to identify the threatening virus and, more crucially, to identify who is infected and who isn’t.

These lessons rippled out into the policymaking community, particularly after its participants and designers briefed key figures in the Bush administration and members of Congress on their findings. Included in the briefing was a series of grimly realistic videotapes of the exercise that dramatized its likely effects. “It is not pleasant,” CSIS’s John Hamre told members of Congress in introducing the videos. One of those who agreed, according to retired Air Force Col. Randall Larsen (who co-designed the simulation for CSIS), was Vice President Dick Cheney, who sat through the presentation (just nine days after 9/11) in his office at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building before offering his own judgment. “This is terrifying,” he said.

“Dark Winter was an exercise designed to push the system to failure in order to learn about its vulnerabilities,” said Andrew Lakoff, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California who has studied Dark Winter and its impact. “The lessons of Dark Winter shaped biological preparedness policy for the next 10 years, but it is always difficult to ensure that preparedness is sustained over time.”

Trained as a sociologist and anthropologist of science in medicine, Lakoff is the author of Unprepared: Global Health in a Time of Emergency, an account of global and national responses to disease outbreaks from the SARS epidemic through the spread of the Ebola virus. So it is no surprise that Lakoff has been following the national response to the coronavirus pandemic closely—and worrying that the crisis portrayed by Dark Winter is being replayed now, in what is clearly not a simulation.

Not surprisingly, Lakoff’s worries are reflected among a growing number of health care providers, medical professionals, and policymakers who not only cite Dark Winter as one of the earliest and most well-known disease simulations but who note that it spawned a handful of follow-on exercises that, over the last two decades, should have (but seemingly didn’t) prepared public officials for the COVID-19 pandemic. “Dark Winter is extremely important,” Larsen told Foreign Policy, “but there were any number of follow-ons, right up until very recently—including one in 2019 called ‘Event 201’—that simulated what is happening right now with the coronavirus.”

In fact, by one count, there have been no less than four separate U.S. simulations that prefigured the events that unfolded in central China in January of this year. In 2005, “Atlantic Storm,” organized by the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, simulated an international outbreak of a smallpox pandemic (as opposed to the domestic smallpox terrorism attack stipulated by Dark Winter). “The SPARS Pandemic 2025-2028,” conducted in 2017, tested medical responses to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Clade X,” hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in 2018, proposed a worldwide coronavirus outbreak with no vaccine (and which, according to Tom Inglesby, the center’s director, was designed to “provide experiential learning” for Trump administration officials). And, in October 2019, “Event 201” presented an exercise that started with an outbreak of a novel coronavirus (“a high-impact respiratory pathogen pandemic,” as its designers premised) that spread globally—and that presciently forecast COVID-19.

“Event 201 was basically an exercise that forecast the economic troubles a pandemic would likely cause,” Larsen said, “and proposed a series of economic preparedness steps the U.S. and global economic actors could take in responding to the crisis we’re facing now.” According to the exercise, the pandemic (a respiratory illness that starts in Brazil but ends up killing 65 million people globally) would place outsized economic strains on international medical supply chains unless there were broader cooperation among global health organizations and coordination among supply chain providers. Event 201 showed that an economic response to a coronavirus outbreak would mirror the medical response gamed out in Dark Winter—with an economic response that would be hampered in its earliest days by a lack of good information, which would, in turn, destabilize markets and seed monetary instability. The exercise presaged the events of COVID-19 that would take place within months of the simulation’s end. “It very clearly showed that a global pandemic would take a global response,” Larsen said. “It was uncannily accurate.”

“I think these simulations, these exercises, are critically important—absolutely crucial,” said Gigi Kwik Gronvall, a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security. “And I think that’s true because to really digest what is happening in a pandemic you have to experience it.” But even given the intensity to the series of simulations that began with Dark Winter in 2001, Gronvall notes that the current pandemic has exposed what the simulations predicted. “The response to COVID-19 was slowed by a lack of testing, which led to a lack of situational awareness,” she said. “The truth of this, the lesson, is that we just didn’t take the coronavirus reports coming out of China seriously enough soon enough. We just weren’t quick enough, and now we’re scrambling to catch up. It is a real problem for hospitals, which are bearing the brunt of this mistake. We needed to surge help into our nation’s hospitals right away. And we didn’t. It didn’t need to happen.”

A 2017 Pentagon Memo Foretold Today's Pandemic With Creepy Accuracy*

A 2017 report created by U.S. Northern Command warned that a future pandemic could have grave consequences for the military and the entire nation. The report warned that a “novel respiratory disease” could spread worldwide, seriously affecting American society and the economy for up to two years. The report also predicts global instability resulting in dramatic social disruptions, terrorism, and state aggression.

The document, known as Branch Plan 3650, was first revealed by The Nation and uploaded online. It was meant to provide planning guidance to NORTHCOM personnel responding to an “operationally significant infectious disease outbreak.” It outlines different types of outbreaks, from terrorism to the kind of “biological spillover” from Chinese wet markets that authorities believe created COVID-19. Outlining the threat, Branch Plan 3650 inadvertently predicts with uncanny precision the problem Chinese authorities faced in the early days of the epidemic in Wuhan:

Unlike chemical and radiological hazards, biological incidents may take months to develop, and with certain causative bacteria and viruses may continue to spread from person-to-person. Also, there are limited detection/warning capabilities for biologicals which means that an outbreak/attack can go unrecognized and continue to spread before a clinical diagnosis is made. This will be exacerbated if there are limited or no assays by which to identify the organism and if the symptoms mimic naturally occurring endemic outbreaks (e.g., seasonal flu.)

As of April 7th, 2020, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center counts 1.4 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide since the start of the outbreak, with cases in the U.S. now at 400,000. The site reports 82,145 deaths globally, with 12,722 deaths recorded in the U.S. alone. The report covers two major missions NORTHCOM should prepare for: responding to a pandemic domestically, including supporting civilian authorities, and protecting NORTHCOM forces that carry out the command’s traditional missions such as homeland defense and assisting allies. The report says NORTHCOM’s greatest vulnerability is its people, for whom the outbreak could cause absenteeism, with sick personnel adding to the burden of what it believes will be a stressed health care system.

The report makes plenty of correct calls, identifying the “most likely and significant threat” as a “novel respiratory disease, particularly a novel respiratory disease.” The report says the key to fighting it is in countering its ability to “spread from the point of emergence.” It goes on to recommend several solutions, including, “flu shots, washing hands frequently, cough etiquette, and social distancing.”

NORTHCOM paints what is at times a dire picture. “The recovery from a biological incident may span months or even years based on the nature of the biological and its ability to transmit.” It warns that a disease could impact the command’s “operating environment”—that is, the entire nation itself—for up to 24 months. The report doesn’t delve into estimates of mortality rates and dangers to the economy, but it does warn that a “disease of operational significance may create an environmental and global disaster (pandemic) with the potential of incapacitating 40% of the overall workforce.”

Now that the U.S. is actually in the grips of a pandemic, the report has one final warning. “The (Defense Intelligence Agency) assesses that a pandemic...will give rise to political, social, and economic instabilities that could, in turn, lead to opportunistic aggression, increased terrorist activity, and dramatic social change, especially when combined with morbidity and mortality.”

Examples could include aggression by North Korea against the U.S., Russian moves against Ukraine, a new terrorism campaign by ISIS or Al Qaeda, or other events. Under normal circumstances Branch Plan 3650 would seem like a dry contingency planning document outlining an event that seems unlikely at best. Today, as the U.S. grapples with the unfolding tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic it seems incredibly prescient. While the plan doesn’t offer a way forward, it does give some comfort in chaotic times that someone, somewhere out there nailed the prediction. The rest is up to us.


2019 War Games by US Naval War College Eerily Resembled COVID-19 Pandemic

Last September, the US Naval War College hosted a war games scenario aimed at addressing a global pandemic. The scenario - and some of its findings - bear an eerie resemblance to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges faced in fighting it.

Urban Outbreak

In September 2019, the US Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, Rhode Island, assembled a team of 50 experts to think out ways to address a global pandemic on an international level. The two-day war game scenario was called “Urban Outbreak 2019,” and many of its premises and conclusions are startlingly similar to the crisis and responses seen as a result of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. In Urban Outbreak, the team of experts faced a deadly infectious disease that attacked the victim’s respiratory system and spread rapidly across a metropolitan area, explained. Their attempts to quarantine infected groups, coordinate international aid and find a place for the vast logistical apparatus of the US military all struggled to contain the disease. The experts on the panel hailed from the NWC’s Humanitarian Response Program as well as the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH) and Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab. Their conclusions drawn from the exercise were published on Wednesday.

Conclusions Parallel COVID-19 Lessons

The group arrived at 16 conclusions and provided expanded explanations for them in the report. Many of them mirror those already discovered in practice by addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, while others could find use among experts strategizing about how to contain the virus that has already infected more than 1 million people in 171 countries, killing at least 50,000 of them. For example, in thinking out how people would react to various government initiatives, the experts noted that “forced mass quarantine or other top down approaches to an outbreak that securitize the response with law enforcement and/or military enforcement may not be successful and could increase the spread of the disease.” “Early actions and planning across all sectors are exponentially more important than reactive measures once the disease is widespread,” the experts also found. “Responders may be overconfident if they are not directly connected to the field. Frontline health care workers and first responders are often a good source of realistic assessments,” they also noted. The experts also warned of the danger of misinformation spreading, the dangers of citizens hoarding goods and the possibility that gangs, religious groups and other non-governmental authorities could rise to social prominence in some communities amid the crisis. Incorporating the present crisis into their report, the experts noted that it’s better to focus on the death toll as the primary indicator of the scale of the outbreak, since confirmed case counts will always lag and be incomplete. “Without real time and widespread testing of infections, mortality offers tangible and reliable data,” they found. “Mortality ‘doubling time’ is the most important and widely accessible metric for winning the race against COVID-19 in the absence of extensive testing.”

Resistance to Thinking Outside the Box

Benjamin Davies, the game's designer and the associate director of research for NWC's civilian-military humanitarian response program, told on Wednesday that a major problem faced by the planners was that they kept focusing on how past outbreaks, such as those involving Ebola, have been fought, rather than on what the present situation required. For example, since the US military didn’t provide direct aid to infected populations in the 2014 and 2016 outbreaks of Ebola in West Africa, the experts “were really stuck” on the military not doing so in their scenario, either. This opposition to thinking outside of past boxes actually impaired the war game itself in ways that might have hurt the response to the present crisis. "The original pathogen proposed for the game had an R0 [rate of transmission] closer to the COVID-19 virus, exhibited itself with cold- and flu-like symptoms, and required long-term intensive medical care for a small portion of the population," the report notes. "The learning opportunity lost by failing to use the original pathogen proposed is now obvious." Instead, the game focused on a "known and curable bacterial pathogen."

Outbreak on Carrier Theodore Roosevelt

Some echo of these observed tendencies among leadership might be found in the present crisis involving the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. The warship has dozens of detected cases of the novel coronavirus, but when the ship’s captain raised alarm with Navy brass about his inability to follow established quarantine standards for his crew of more than 4,000 sailors, he was reprimanded for it. His alarmist letter was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle last week, and he was sacked by the Navy on Thursday. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters Thursday that Captain Brett Crozier, the Roosevelt’s commanding officer, "demonstrated extremely poor judgment" amid the outbreak, noting that sending the letter to as many people as he did was "completely unnecessary to do." "It created the perception that the Navy is not on the job, the government is not on the job and it’s just not true," Modly said.


Bill Gates warned us of a COVID-19-like pandemic - watch his TED Talk from 2015

bill gates ted talk

Bill Gates saw the COVID-19 outbreak coming — and he knew we weren’t prepared for it. The Microsoft co-founder on multiple occasions over the past decade talked about the potential for something like the novel coronavirus that has infected nearly 200,000 worldwide and killed almost 8,000 people. His TED Talk from 2015 titled “The next outbreak? We’re not ready” is being shared widely online in recent weeks given the impact of COVID-19 around the world. “If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,” Gates said during the Ted Talk. “Not missiles, but microbes.” Two years later, he said the same thing at an event in Davos. “It’s pretty surprising how little preparedness there is for it,” Gates said in 2017. Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Seattle last month, Gates said the impact of COVID-19 could be “very, very dramatic,” particularly if it spreads to areas like sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. “This is a huge challenge,” Gates said on Feb. 14. “We’ve always known that the potential for either a naturally caused or intentionally caused pandemic is one of the few things that could disrupt health systems, economies and cause more than 10 million excess deaths.” Gates pointed to advances in molecular diagnostic tools as one promising safeguard against such outbreaks. “We’re on the cusp, in science, of being able to make good tools to do the diagnosis, provide vaccines to provide therapeutics including antivirals,” he said. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed $100 million to fighting coronavirus, as part of its broader efforts in global health. The Gates Foundation is also reportedly exploring the idea of supplying at-home testing kits for the novel coronavirus in Seattle, the initial epicenter of the U.S. outbreak that has now spread across the country. It also launched a $125 million COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator and gave $5 million to help public health agencies in the Seattle area enhance their capacity to detect the virus. Head here to see all the foundation’s COVID-19-related work.


Coronavirus, Vaccines and the Gates Foundation

Arguably, no one has been more active in promoting and funding research on vaccines aimed at dealing with coronavirus than Bill Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. From sponsoring a simulation of a coronavirus global pandemic, just weeks before the Wuhan outbreak was announced, to funding numerous corporate efforts to come up with a novel vaccine for the apparently novel virus, the Gates presence is there. What does it actually entail?

We must admit that at the very least Bill Gates is prophetic. He has claimed for years that a global killer pandemic will come and that we are not prepared for it. On March 18, 2015 Gates gave a TED talk on epidemics in Vancouver. That day he wrote on his blog, “I just gave a brief talk on a subject that I’ve been learning a lot about lately—epidemics. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a tragedy—as I write this, more than 10,000 people have died.” Gates then added, “As awful as this epidemic has been, the next one could be much worse. The world is simply not prepared to deal with a disease—an especially virulent flu, for example—that infects large numbers of people very quickly. Of all the things that could kill 10 million people or more, by far the most likely is an epidemic.” That same year, 2015, Bill Gates wrote an article for the New England Journal of Medicine titled, “The Next Epidemic: Lessons from Ebola.” There he spoke of a special class of drugs that “involves giving patients a set of particular RNA-based constructs that enables them to produce specific proteins(including antibodies). Although this is a very new area, it is promising because it is possible that a safe therapy could be designed and put into large-scale manufacture fairly rapidly. More basic research as well as the progress of companies like Moderna and CureVac could eventually make this approach a key tool for stopping epidemics.” Moderna and CureVac both today receive funds from the Gates Foundation and are leading the race to develop an approved COVID-19 vaccine based on mRNA.

2017 and Founding of CEPI

A global flu-like pandemic in fact is something that Gates and his well-endowed foundation have spent years preparing for. In 2017 during the Davos World Economic Forum, Gates initiated something called CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, together with the governments of Norway, India, Japan, and Germany, along with the Wellcome Trust of the UK. Its stated purpose is to “accelerate the development of vaccines we’ll need to contain outbreaks” of future epidemics. He noted at the time that “One promising area of vaccine development research is using advances in genomics to map the DNA and RNA of pathogens and make vaccines.” We will return to that.

Event 201

By 2019 Bill Gates and the foundation were going full-tilt boogie with their pandemic scenarios. He made a Netflix video which made an eerie imaginary scenario. The video, part of the “Explained” series, imagined a wet market in China where live and dead animals are stacked and a highly deadly virus erupts that spreads globally. Gates appears as an expert in the video to warn, “If you think of anything that could come along that would kill millions of people, a pandemic is our greatest risk.” He said if nothing was done to better prepare for pandemics, the time would come when the world would look back and wish it had invested more into potential vaccines. That was weeks before the world heard about bats and a live wet market in Wuhan China. In October, 2019 the Gates Foundation teamed up with the World Economic Forum and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security to enact what they called a “fictional” scenario simulation involving some of the world’s leading figures in public health. It was titled Event 201. As their website describes it, Event 201 simulated an “outbreak of a novel zoonotic coronavirus transmitted from bats to pigs to people that eventually becomes efficiently transmissible from person to person, leading to a severe pandemic. The pathogen and the disease it causes are modeled largely on SARS, but it is more transmissible in the community setting by people with mild symptoms.”

In the Event 201 scenario the disease originates at a pig farm in Brazil, spreading through low-income regions and ultimately explodes into an epidemic. The disease is carried by air travel to Portugal, the USA and China and beyond to the point no country can control it. The scenario posits no possible vaccine being available in the first year. “Since the whole human population is susceptible, during the initial months of the pandemic, the cumulative number of cases increases exponentially, doubling every week.” The scenario then ends after 18 months when the fictional coronavirus has caused 65 million deaths. “The pandemic is beginning to slow due to the decreasing number of susceptible people. The pandemic will continue at some rate until there is an effective vaccine or until 80-90 % of the global population has been exposed.”

Event 201 Players

As interesting as the prescient Gates-Johns Hopkins Event 201 fictional scenario of October, 2019 may be, the list of panelists who were invited to participate in the imaginary global response is equally interesting. Among the selected “players” as they were called, was George Fu Gao. Notably, Prof. Gao is director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention since 2017. His specialization includes research on “influenza virus interspecies transmission (host jump)… He is also interested in virus ecology, especially the relationship between influenza virus and migratory birds or live poultry markets and the bat-derived virus ecology and molecular biology.” Bat-derived virus ecology…

Prof. Gao was joined among others at the panel by the former Deputy Director of the CIA during the Obama term, Avril Haines. She also served as Obama’s Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy National Security Advisor. Another of the players at the Gates event was Rear Admiral Stephen C. Redd, Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The same CDC is at the center of a huge scandal for not having adequate functioning tests available for testing cases of COVID-19 in the USA. Their preparedness was anything but laudable. Rounding out the group was Adrian Thomas, the Vice President of scandal-ridden Johnson & Johnson, the giant medical and pharmaceutical company. Thomas is responsible for pandemic preparedness at J&J including developing vaccines for Ebola, Dengue Fever, HIV. And there was Martin Knuchel, Head of Crisis, Emergency & Business Continuity Management, for Lufthansa Group Airlines. Lufthansa has been one of the major airlines dramatically cutting flights during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

All this shows that Bill Gates has had a remarkable preoccupation with the possibility of a global pandemic outbreak he said could be even larger than the alleged deaths from the mysterious 1918 Spanish Flu, and has been warning for at least the past five years or more. What the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also has been involved in is funding development of new vaccines using bleeding-edge CRISPR gene-editing and other technologies.

The Coronavirus Vaccines

Gates Foundation money is backing vaccine development on every front. Inovio Pharmaceuticals of Pennsylvania received $9 million from the Gates-backed CEPI, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, to develop a vaccine, INO-4800, which is about to test on humans in April, a suspiciously rapid time frame. In addition Gates Foundation just gave the company an added $5 million to develop a proprietary smart device for intradermal delivery of the new vaccine. In addition Gates Foundation monies via CEPI are financing development of a radical new vaccine method known as messengerRNA or mRNA.

They are co-funding the Cambridge, Massachusetts biotech company, Moderna Inc., to develop a vaccine against the Wuhan novel coronavirus, now called SARS-CoV-2. Moderna’s other partner is the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Head of NIAID is Dr Anthony Fauci, the person at the center of the Trump Administration virus emergency response. Notable about the Fauci-Gates Moderna coronavirus vaccine, mRNA-1273, is that it has been rolled out in a matter of weeks, not years, and on February 24 went directly to Fauci’s NIH for tests on human guinea pigs, not on mice as normal. Moderna’s chief medical adviser, Tal Zaks, argued, “I don’t think proving this in an animal model is on the critical path to getting this to a clinical trial.”

Another notable admission by Moderna on its website is the legal disclaimer, “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements: …These risks, uncertainties, and other factors include, among others: … the fact that there has never been a commercial product utilizing mRNA technology approved for use.” In other words, completely unproven for human health and safety. Another biotech company working with unproven mRNA technology to develop a vaccine for the COVID-19 is a German company, CureVac. Since 2015 CureVac has received money from the Gates Foundation to develop its own mRNA technology. In January the Gates-backed CEPI granted more than $8 million to develop a mRNA vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

Add to this the fact that the Gates Foundation and related entities such as CEPI constitute the largest funders of the public-private entity known as WHO, and that its current director, Tedros Adhanom, the first WHO director in history who is not a medical doctor, worked for years on HIV with the Gates Foundation when Tedros was a government minister in Ethiopia, and we see that there is practically no area of the current coronavirus pandemic where the footprints of the omnipresent Gates are not to be found. If that is to the good of mankind or grounds to be worried, time will tell.

US health experts hosted fictional coronavirus pandemic three months BEFORE the outbreak in China
  • Scientists at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security hosted event in October
  • Exercise was not intended as a prediction; it aimed to show how governments and industry would respond to severe pandemic
  • Real-world coronavirus - nCoV-2019 - has infected over 1,400 people worldwide and killed 42; epicentre, the Chinese city of Wuhan, remains on lockdown
  • Center for Health Security's inputs for modelling potential impact of fictional virus were not similar to nCoV-2019
US health experts hosted a tabletop exercise which simulated a fictional coronavirus pandemic to see how authorities could coordinate a response to such an event - three months before the deadly outbreak in China. Scientists at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security modelled a hypothetical pandemic on a computer as part of research last October. The exercise was not intended as a prediction - but rather served to highlight how governments and industry would respond in the case of a very severe pandemic. Meanwhile, the Chinese city of Wuhan remains on lockdown as authorities scramble to stop the spread of the real-world coronavirus - nCoV-2019 - which has infected more than 1,400 people worldwide and killed 42. The Center for Health Security and its partners - the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - have made it clear that the inputs for modelling the potential impact of the fictional virus were not similar to nCoV-2019. Dr Eric Toner, a senior researcher at Johns Hopkins, said he wasn't shocked by the news of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in late December. 'I have thought for a long time that the most likely virus that might cause a new pandemic would be a coronavirus,' he told Business Insider. 'We don't yet know how contagious it is. We know that it is being spread person to person, but we don't know to what extent. 'An initial first impression is that this is significantly milder than SARS. So that's reassuring. On the other hand, it may be more transmissible than SARS, at least in the community setting.' Coronaviruses are infections of the respiratory tract that can lead to illnesses like pneumonia or the common cold. One was also responsible for the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China, which affected 8,000 people and killed 774 in the early 2000s.

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Hosted "Coronavirus Pandemic Exercise" in November 2019
Back in 2001, it was a smallpox outbreak, set off by terrorists in U.S. shopping malls. This fall, it was a SARS-like virus, germinating quietly among pig farms in Brazil before spreading to every country in the world. With each fictional pandemic Johns Hopkins experts have designed, the takeaway lesson is the same: We are nowhere near prepared. "Once you're in the midst of a severe pandemic, your options are very limited," says Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University. "The greatest good can happen with pre-planning." That center's latest pandemic simulation, Event 201, dropped participants right in the midst of an uncontrolled coronavirus outbreak that was spreading like wildfire out of South America to wreak worldwide havoc. As fictional newscasters from "GNN" narrated, the immune-resistant virus (nicknamed CAPS) was crippling trade and travel, sending the global economy into freefall. Social media was rampant with rumors and misinformation, governments were collapsing, and citizens were revolting. For those participating in New York City on Oct. 18—a heavyweight group of policymakers, business leaders, and health officials—Event 201 was a chance to see how much catch-up work is needed to bolster our disaster response systems. Full videos of the discussion are available online. "It really does shake up assumptions and change thinking about how we can prepare for a global pandemic," says Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security.


EVENT 201: COVID-19 Was Launched One Month After The Johns Hopkins Center And Bill Gates Hosted An ‘Invitation Only’ Global Pandemic Exercise

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Bill Gates hosted Event 201, a COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic exercise.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY. The exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences. Bill Gates hosted a closed-door meeting for global elites and the invitation came with a COVID-19 coronavirus plush toy, a few months later thousands would be dead. Welcome to the New World Order.

What I am about to show you is so unbelievable, so infused with conspiracy theory , that your mind will immediately reject it. Yet, the information is 100% true and taken from Johns Hopkins own website. Let me take you back to the evening of October 18, 2019, to a gathering entitled ‘Event 201’, something Johns Hopkins calls a ‘global pandemic exercise’. Of course, it was invitation only, and held behind closed doors. The financing for this event came from none other than the Bill Gates Foundation. To everyone who attended, they were given a cute and cuddly COVID-19 plush toy, the very one you see in the photo at the top of this article. Can you imagine what kind of sick-minded marketing people could conceive of a coronavirus stuffed animal? Wake up, people, the New World Order is not playing around, and yes, they have no qualms of any kind about creating a plush toy out of a killer virus that to date has infected 181,377 people, and has killed 7,118 people, and they best part? They proudly display these statistics on the official Johns Hopkins website, click here to see it for yourself. I wonder if they have any of those cute and cuddly coronavirus plushies left? The fact that Bill Gates was a host of this event surprises no one who is a regular reader of NTEB, no sir. Take a look:
In 1999, Gates gave over 20 million dollars to Johns Hopkins to establish a wing of the hospital where the Foundation was born. This foundation has always hidden behind the mantra of “Health and help” for women in third world countries. The thrust of the foundation has been working with the big Pharma companies, to create vaccines for the masses in these impoverished countries. For years we’ve been watching as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, now retired from the company he founded, use his billions to give ‘free vaccinations‘ to people in third world countries. Now Bill has become a founding partner in another company, this one is called the ID2020 Alliance, and its goal is to give every human being on Earth a digital id. How do they plan on accomplishing this feat? By combining mandatory vaccinations with implantable microchips. Genius, isn’t it? And coming soon to a theater near you, as the saying goes. The participants of Event 201, invited there by the rich and powerful elites that rule the world, sat and war-gamed how an outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus might go. Looks like the meeting was a success because just one month to the day later, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in China, and well, you know the rest.

Event 201 And The Current COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak

FROM JOHNS HOPKINS: The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY. The exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences.
In recent years, the world has seen a growing number of epidemic events, amounting to approximately 200 events annually. These events are increasing, and they are disruptive to health, economies, and society. Managing these events already strains global capacity, even absent a pandemic threat. Experts agree that it is only a matter of time before one of these epidemics becomes global—a pandemic with potentially catastrophic consequences. A severe pandemic, which becomes ‘Event 201’, would require reliable cooperation among several industries, national governments, and key international institutions.


Ron Paul claims Dr Fauci wants 'total control' of the public

Ron Paul, the physician and former Texas congressman who launched two unsuccessful Republican presidential campaigns, has pushed unfounded conspiracy theories about the novel coronavirus — as well as a leading infectious disease expert — amid the pandemic. Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus response task force, wants to have “total control” of the American people, Mr Paul claimed during Thursday’s airing of his programme, titled Ron Paul Liberty Report. He went on to suggest the coronavirus pandemic was “an excuse to have total control over the people” while calling on Donald Trump to fire Dr Fauci from the head of the US institute and White House task force. “As this one goes away, they’ll come up with another one,” the former congressman said about the novel virus. “It’s an excuse to have total control over the people.” “People have to quit listening” to Dr Fauci, he continued. Mr Paul later shared a clip of the show to Twitter, writing: “Fauci should be fired. If not by Trump, then by the American people.”

Dr Fauci’s public facing position on the White House task force has earned him high approval ratings across the country, according to national surveys, as well as criticism from right-wing corners of the web and conservative media. The doctor reportedly began receiving a security detail amid death threats that began surfacing online shortly after his participation in the daily White House press briefings. The security detail was ordered by US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, according to Politico.

Mr Paul seemingly added fuel to the fire that has been stoked in recent weeks against the doctor, with the left-leaning Media Matters reporting a rise in pro-Trump media outlets attacking Dr Fauci in late March. Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host who the president awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his last State of the Union Address, attacked Dr Fauci and other disease experts working on the administration’s response as “Hillary Clinton sympathisers” earlier this week. “It's just, we've got all of these Hillary Clinton sympathisers still in the medical expert team here,” he said on his programme, The Rush Limbaugh Show. “We know that one thing has not changed, and that is these people's desire, above everything else, to get rid of Donald Trump.”

Trump Administration Opposes Bill Gates’ Vaccine Tracking System on ‘Personal Liberty’ Grounds

The Trump administration has come out against a proposed digital tracking system that could tell authorities about an individual’s vaccination history. The Orwellian measure has been proposed by technocratic oligarch Bill Gates, who is attempting to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to inch closer toward mandatory vaccinations. “Eventually we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it,” Gates said during an “Ask Me Anything” appearance on Reddit about the coronavirus. Attorney General Bill Barr is skeptical of Gates’ idea to tag people with these mark-of-the-beast implants. He said he is concerned about “the tracking of people and so forth, generally, especially going forward over a long period of time.” Barr also said that he is “very concerned about the slippery slope in terms of continuing encroachments on personal liberty.” However, Barr said he did feel like “appropriate, reasonable steps are fine.” This leaves the door open for some sort of government action in order to enforce vaccine compliance.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation bankrolled research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that advocated essentially tattooing vaccine data “directly into the skin” of children. “Along with the vaccine, a child would be injected with a bit of dye that is invisible to the naked eye but easily seen with a special cell-phone filter, combined with an app that shines near-infrared light onto the skin. The dye would be expected to last up to five years, according to tests on pig and rat skin and human skin in a dish,” a Dec. 2019 Scientific American article wrote about Gates’ scheme. Gates has been aggressively propagandizing on behalf of vaccines throughout the coronavirus pandemic. He has made it clear that he wants countless shots administered to supposedly stop the spread of coronavirus. “Our foundation works a lot on diagnostics and vaccines,” Gates said during a recent interview with CBS News. He added that vaccine makers are the only entities “that can really get things back on track where we’re not worried about large public gatherings.” Gates said that “there’s a lot of dialogue between our foundation experts and the government” about how to get the world back to normal using his vaccines. “Which activities, like schools, have such benefit and can be done in a way that the risk of transmission is very low? And which activities, like mass gatherings, may be – in a certain sense – more optional? And so until you’re widely vaccinated, those may not come back at all,” he said. This all comes back to Gates’ primary goal with his foundation and its funding: depopulation. “Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we lower that [the population] by perhaps 10 or 15 percent,” he said in a 2010 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. Gates could not have planned a crisis any better than the coronavirus panic to push his vaccination and depopulation agendas.

Snowden: Governments Using Pandemic to Build “Architecture of Oppression” Surveillance
Snowden Pandemic
 Snowden fears that world leaders will hold onto new emergency powers well after the pandemic ends 

In addition to quarantines and lockdowns, some governments like those in China, Taiwan, and South Korea have been using a surveillance strategy called “contact tracing” to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. While each country’s contact tracing program has slight variations, all of them are essentially cell phone apps that keep a running record of the user’s heath and the health records of all the people they come into contact with. If a cell phone comes in close contact with someone who might have the virus, the user receives a text message informing them and then instructing them to self-quarantine for 14 days. However, the quarantine is not necessarily voluntary, depending on where you live. In some countries, phones have been used as a sort of house arrest ankle-bracelet that will notify authorities if the person being monitored leaves the house for any reason. These apps are being touted as the way to end the shut down in both Italy and the UK and it appears that officials are going to be taking things in that direction. At face value, it may appear that this could be a useful strategy in preventing the spread of disease, but privacy advocates and tech experts are concerned that this information could be misused and that the unprecedented surveillance capabilities could be kept and held by corrupt governments long after the pandemic is over. In a recent interview with Vice, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden expressed his concerns about the coming surveillance program, calling it the “architecture of oppression.”
“Do you truly believe that when the first wave, this second wave, the 16th wave of the coronavirus is a long-forgotten memory, that these capabilities will not be kept? That these datasets will not be kept? No matter how it is being used, what’ is being built is the architecture of oppression,” Snowden said.
Snowden recognized that the virus was a serious threat and said that the intelligence community was well aware that it was only a matter of time before a massive pandemic crippled the country, even back when he was working in the NSA.
“There is nothing more foreseeable as a public health crisis in a world where we are just living on top of each other in crowded and polluted cities, than a pandemic. And every academic, every researcher who’s looked at this knew this was coming. And in fact, even intelligence agencies, I can tell you firsthand, because they used to read the reports had been planning for pandemics,” he said.
Snowden questioned the positive numbers that have come out of China in recent weeks and pointed out that the Chinese government has been credited with reducing the spread of the illness because they took such draconian measures during the lockdown. Perhaps their extreme strategy is not working as well as they say it is, but since the government maintained tight control of any information coming out of the country, it is impossible to say for sure.
“If you’re looking at countries like China, where cases seem to have leveled off, how much can we trust that those numbers are actually true? I don’t think we can. Particularly, we see the Chinese government recently working to expel Western journalists at precisely this moment where we need credible independent warnings in this region,” Snowden said.
In a statement published on Friday, Apple and Google announced that they were teaming up in a rare partnership to develop compatible contact tracing apps, which they claim will work on an “opt-in” basis. However, according to Bloomberg, the companies are planning to eventually build the contact tracing into the device’s updates. Apple and Google insist that you will still be able to opt-out of the program if you don’t want to participate, but it is possible that rankings on these apps could be used to gain entry into grocery stores or larger businesses and events once the economy opens up again. As authoritarianism spreads, as emergency laws proliferate, as we sacrifice our rights, we also sacrifice our capability to arrest the slide into a less liberal and less free world,” Snowden warned.


Tucker: We were all lied to about the Coronavirus pandemic [Video]

 “We were all played. Corrupt politicians scared us into giving up control over the most basic questions of our lives… they used a public health emergency to subvert democracy.”
Tucker Carlson delivered another scathing review of the state of affairs in the United States, with liberal governments actually showing themselves as more and more culpable in the deaths of people precisely because of the coronavirus lockdowns, which were touted as life-saving. His monologue, a ten-minute, absolutely packed commentary, delivered the strongest blow yet to the latest coup attempt in progress. However, he is not saying anything we did not already sense or know. For example: We sense that this pandemic is far, far less than advertised. While the numbers of cases continue to grow worldwide, the fatality rate is very low, more analogous to a bad flu year but only in some locales. As of June 11th, 2020 the John Hopkins COVID tracking site gives these selected statistics:
  • USA: 2,000,464 cases; 112,924 fatalities; Fatality rate 5.64%
  • Brazil: 772.,416 cases; 39,680 fatalities; Fatality rate 5.13%
  • Russia: 493,023 cases; 6,350 fatalities; Fatality rate 1.28%
  • United Kingdom: 291,588 cases; 41,213 fatalities; Fatality rate 14.13%
  • India: 276,583 cases; 7,745 fatalities; Fatality rate 2.80%
  • France: 192068 cases; 29,322 fatalities; Fatality rate 15.267%
The aggregate of coronavirus cases worldwide gives us:
  • 7,360,239 cases; 416,201 fatalities; Fatality rate 5.65%
For comparison, the seasonal flu kills between 290,000 and 650,000 people per year. It should be noted that the cases discovered by medical testing are far lower than the asyptomatic “positives” that exist, as well as a great number of people who contracted the virus, got sick from it, recovered from it, while never knowing they had it. We do not know how many there are, but some tests and my own independent analyses suggest that about 20% of the population has had a direct encounter with this virus in some way. Think about it: We locked down most of the planet, shutting down economies, most activity, religious activities and are arresting people because of the coronavirus – something that appears to be no more deadly than the yearly influenza outbreak, and possibly less so.

Some very skilled people threw the world into a panic. Wanting to trust that our authorities had our own best interests at heart, we let them do this. But the narrative was broken when the (planned) Antifa, a.k.a. “George Floyd” riots began, for this was the power play, the biggest one yet, to try to stop President Trump and presumably other leaders who are the vanguard of the new nationalist age that is steadily pushing out “one world” globalism of the European, Chinese and Islamic varieties.

At the top of the list the goal has been to behead the United States, due to its enormous influence in the world. The US is key because of its great power. If the US can be led captive to one world globalism, then secular globalism’s success is all but assured. That is why the attacks against President Trump are so severe, with little effort being expended against Russia’s Vladimir Putin (because Russia, despite its great military power, is a minor economic power, with its oil resources being one of the few cards it plays), or against Chinese President Xi (who like the Chinese Communist Party, views China as the supplier of goods to the whole world, which it largely is.) Like it or not, what the Americans do matters in the world, greatly. This means that if the US is controlled then most of the job is done.

President Trump knows it, too. In an interesting and very amusing development, his team observed the great numbers of Black Lives Matter / Antifa riots over the last ten days or so. These people are not following any of the health wonks’ directions “to stay safe from the virus”, and the coronavirus tracking page shows a steadily declining rate of new cases of the virus, so the Trump team decided to resume the wildly successful and popular “Make America Great Again / Keep America Great” rallies.

This is a big “screw you” to the WHO, and to the esteemed probable co-conspirator Dr Anthony Fauci, who is being rendered more and more irrelevant, even as he continues to be the Chief Doomcrier. It would appear that Americans are coming to realize they have been had, and Tucker Carlson is amazing as he shows us how badly we have been had, and says in his last words a great truth: “They did it because we let them do it. We believed them, so we obeyed them. If there is anything good that comes out of this disaster, it is that none of us will ever make that mistake again.”


Only Surveillance Can Save Us From Coronavirus

A selection of mobile apps relating to the coronavirus pandemic are seen on a tablet screen in London on March 26.

In those parts of the world under lockdown, people have discovered a renewed appreciation for the internet and the resources it offers—books, movies, music, endless news content, and the tools to communicate with friends and family. Imagine the lockdown without the internet; it is not a comforting thought. But there is a second network closely rivaling the internet. It, too, is present everywhere, connecting people and countries with unmatched speed, a global organism that constantly replicates information. This second network is the coronavirus. The two have remained largely separate, hampering our efforts to manage and fight the pandemic. Advertising campaigns have produced posters for city streets covered with giant viruses in an effort to keep us at home. But the virus itself has remained invisible; it has even largely escaped the magnifying glass of the internet.

It could be otherwise. Consider Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s immediate response to the 9/11 attacks, as described in the memoir of a former employee. He rushed into his company’s headquarters possessed by the thought that the company’s search logs could reveal the identity of the terrorists. He understood that by then the internet was no longer simply a tool. It had become an artificial world where a large part of our lives took place. In this artificial world, troves of data were readily available, and Google could work as a sensor of potential threats or anomalies.

Since then, the internet’s system of surveillance has been perfected beyond our imaginations (and usually beyond our acknowledgment). It now extends over email, social media, credit card payments, cell-phone use, and travel records. Every flight and hotel booking, every payment and bank transfer, every call, every picture can be brought together in a single platform and mined for interesting or unusual patterns. Yet, while extending in every direction, this system was completely powerless to warn us about the coronavirus or to help us fight it. That is about to change—and our concept of personal privacy will have to change with it.

So far the Western counterpandemic effort has been stunningly primitive. Social distancing policies have been imposed in a haphazard way, along a predetermined spectrum and in reaction to outdated data. In many places, governments have little recourse but to send bureaucrats driving around town to monitor behavior.

If only governments used all the technology already available to them. Each case could then be treated according to individual parameters. Once a person has been confirmed to be infected, his or her close contacts could automatically be traced and instructed to get tested. Meanwhile, the infected person’s compliance with lockdown instructions could be tracked using digital tools that monitor individual travel and behavior patterns. Of course, this would require governments accessing cell-phone users’ individual data—and eliminating the legal hurdles currently preventing them from doing so. (In Germany, Deutsche Telekom has shared aggregated data with health authorities, in compliance with existing privacy laws, to help measure overall social distancing. But Ulrich Kelber, Germany’s federal data protection commissioner, quickly added that tracking individual smartphones to monitor quarantine would be a “totally inappropriate and encroaching measure.”)

The United States is already making initial efforts in this direction. On Tuesday, Politico reported that White House senior advisor Jared Kushner’s task force had reached out to technology companies with the goal of creating a national coronavirus surveillance system. According to those reports, the government would not be responsible for directly collecting health data but would rely on states, hospitals, and health data companies. In some cases, the goal would be to rationalize the use of public health care resources, but in time the potential to monitor the health data of individual citizens would be practically unlimited. Some have compared it to a Patriot Act for biosecurity. (U.S. President Donald Trump said in a recent press briefing that he liked the idea because it sounded “scientific.”)

The counterterrorism analogy is useful because it shows the direction of travel of pandemic policy. One obvious possibility as we slowly lift the physical restrictions now in place is to replace those blunt instruments with something more advanced and intelligent. Imagine a new coronavirus patient is detected. Once he or she tests positive, the government could use cell-phone data to trace everyone he or she has been in close proximity to, perhaps focusing on those people who were in contact for more than a few minutes. Everyone in that list would receive a message ordering them to immediately go into isolation. They would themselves be tested, and the process would start again.

Your cell-phone signal could then be used to enforce quarantine decisions. Leave your apartment and the authorities will know. Leave your phone behind and they will call you. Run the battery down and a police car will be at your door in a manner of minutes, as happened recently in Taiwan, where the government has instituted arguably the most advanced coronavirus surveillance system anywhere in the world. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service is developing a contact-tracing app that would keep tabs on close-proximity contacts through Bluetooth signals and then automatically notify those people if a user tests positive. According to internal documents, that basic service might be upgraded with a number of extra functions, such as notifying users if they spend more than one hour out of their houses during a lockdown by nudging them to go back home.

Would it work? The first answer is that some kind of contact-tracing app has become inevitable. The current restrictions are not sustainable over the long term; it’s just that no one feels brave enough to lift them without introducing some replacement capable of delivering the same security with fewer social and economic costs. The proper framing for the question is as a choice between the current restrictions and a new surveillance system. Some have argued that traditional tracing methods will be sufficient, but their inadequacy in dealing with an outbreak of the sort we now face has been thoroughly discussed in several recent scientific studies. That should have been obvious; just imagine a couple of health officials trying to contain an outbreak by driving around town to interview potential spreaders, asking them to write down the names of everyone they talked to since being infected.

Privacy advocates will find it difficult to convince the public that traditional definitions of privacy are of higher value than the freedom to leave your house. No one should want to abandon privacy as a value, of course, or even to downgrade its importance. But it’s entirely possible to develop a concept of privacy that is less metaphorical, with new boundaries consistent with the practical challenges society now faces. There are legitimate causes for concern. It is one thing for authorities to be given enough power to perform their role. Too much power might be abused. We know that vast surveillance powers conferred to fight terrorism can and in some cases have been used, for example, to combat illegal immigration. Similarly, health data gathered to fight a pandemic could end up being used, for example, to determine health insurance premiums.

Secondly, there is something too arbitrary about the system as it is currently being developed: a text message out of nowhere and suddenly you might be locked at home. If not designed carefully, this might not end up being a tool to help us guide our conduct but rather to punish us for faults we have no idea how to avoid. But while these are valid concerns, they should not be decisive. The analogy to the counterterrorism system developed after the 9/11 attacks shows that there are ideally two different phases in the operation of a surveillance system. In the initial stage, it is still performing under stress as the threats it was built to prevent are already present in our midst. As the system turns increasingly toward prediction and prevention, individual behavior is significantly less affected by it. In time, it is possible to approach something of a steady state where surveillance is directed toward external threats rather than the routine or normal operations of a given society.

There are always points where a free society is in direct contact with external threats. The important thing is to limit the operations of every surveillance system to this external perimeter. There should always be a private area to which citizens can retreat; that area need not, and must not, be brought under the system’s observation and control.

Critics will have to confront the question of what alternative they propose. Surveillance is meant to stop or prevent intrusions before they penetrate a society’s defenses. For those who insist on lower levels of surveillance, the only alternative is to build a more resilient society, one that can deal with those intrusions after they happen. That may sound much more attractive, but in reality the social and individual costs can be forbiddingly high. Take the case of future pandemics. A resilient society would have to invest massively in health care, creating large redundancies to be used in an emergency. It would have to train its citizens in a range of appropriate behaviors. It might even have to redesign its cities and transportation networks and change its labor laws and economic structures so that a potential outbreak would remain contained. At this point—to return to our analogy—some might be tempted to say the virus had won.

Privacy hawks may disagree, but a surveillance system can be a way to leave people alone. Properly designed, it consists of a kind of security perimeter—mostly virtual—within which life can go on undisturbed. The brunt of power is exercised at the perimeter, with as little as possible seeping inside.


Kushner’s team seeks national coronavirus surveillance system

Jared Kushner

Critics worry about a Patriot Act for health care, raising concerns about patient privacy and civil liberties

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s task force has reached out to a range of health technology companies about creating a national coronavirus surveillance system to give the government a near real-time view of where patients are seeking treatment and for what, and whether hospitals can accommodate them, according to four people with knowledge of the discussions. The proposed national network could help determine which areas of the country can safely relax social-distancing rules and which should remain vigilant. But it would also represent a significant expansion of government use of individual patient data, forcing a new reckoning over privacy limits amid a national crisis.

Health privacy laws already grant broad exceptions for national security purposes. But the prospect of compiling a national database of potentially sensitive health information has prompted concerns about its impact on civil liberties well after the coronavirus threat recedes, with some critics comparing it to the Patriot Act enacted after the 9/11 attacks. Already, the Trump administration has sought to ease data-sharing rules and assure health data companies they won’t be penalized for sharing information with state and federal officials — a move driven in part by Kushner’s push to assemble the national network, according to an individual with knowledge of the decision.

“This is a genuine crisis — we have to work through it and do our best to protect people’s health,” said Jessica Rich, a former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection bureau. “But doing that doesn’t mean we have to destroy privacy.”

Currently, the federal government plays only a limited role in handling health information, with its access restricted by various privacy laws and in many cases reliant on voluntary data-sharing agreements with individual states. The project — based on interviews with seven tech executives, government officials and other people familiar with its contours — would draw on detailed information collected from multiple private-sector databases. It would allow federal officials to continuously track elements like hospitals’ bed availability and the flow of patients into specific emergency rooms across the country — thereby enabling the government to rush resources to parts of the country before they’re hit by a surge of coronavirus cases.

“It allows you to be much more targeted and precise in how you engage,” said one person involved in the discussions. “They need data to make the policy decisions, and so that’s what we and others now have been asked to do.” The White House declined to comment in response to detailed inquiries on Tuesday, but spokesman Avi Berkowitz said in a late Tuesday night statement after this article was published: "This story makes no sense and is completely false. The White House gets many unsolicited random proposals on a variety of topics, but Jared has no knowledge of this proposal or the people mentioned in this article who may have submitted it."

The creation of a national coronavirus database could help the nation get out in front of the fast-spreading virus, which officials anticipate will strain the health care systems of nearly every major city over the next few months and threaten to recur in pockets of the nation for some time after that. Yet concerns about data sharing and patient privacy aren’t the only obstacles to the plan — which was described by people familiar with it as one of a series of out-of-the-box initiatives sought by Kushner’s team. That team is composed of a range of federal officials, friends and leaders from the private sector seeking to promote innovative responses to the coronavirus crisis.

The notion of a national surveillance network has also faced resistance internally from some health officials, who argue that the federal government should only go as far as setting broad standards for disease and resource tracking and leave it to individual states to stand up their own surveillance networks, according to two individuals with knowledge of the discussions. Other officials contend that the administration should build any new monitoring system on its own, without the private sector’s involvement – a position that’s gained steam following a series of articles about Kushner’s team and its involvement of private companies and executives in efforts to fix problems dogging the nationwide response, according two people briefed on the matter.


Coronavirus Surveillance Is Entering Dystopian Territory
Police in Spain use a drone to enforce shelterinplace directives to contain the spread of coronavirus in April. 
Jared Kushner’s team is considering a national monitoring system as some municipalities deploy drones to enforce social distancing.

Earlier this week, the Elizabeth, New Jersey police department gave residents a look at one of the drones officials there will use to help monitor residents and enforce social distancing measures aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. “These drones will be around the City with an automated message from the Mayor telling you to STOP gathering, disperse and go home,” the department said. The city, which has seen close to 1,500 confirmed COVID cases, is one of a growing number of communities in the United States that is either deploying or considering the use of unmanned drones to support their shelter-in-place directives—a practice that has been used, seemingly with success, in countries like France and China. But on Wednesday, the Elizabeth police department was forced to clarify in a second video emphasizing that the drones were only there to spread “an automated notice about keeping your social distance.”

“We are just trying to save lives, not trying to be big brother,” the department said on Facebook. “There is no recording and no pictures being taken, it is a tool of encouragement to follow the rules.”

The episode underscores the looming tensions for federal and local governments between civil liberties and efforts to combat a deadly pandemic that has paralyzed the country. The U.S. government was caught flat-footed by the public health crisis, thanks to Donald Trump ignoring months of warnings and relying on wishful thinking rather than action. But with America now the epicenter of the pandemic, the administration is trying to play catch-up, with Jared Kushner—the president’s unqualified son-in-law and senior adviser—leading a coronavirus response team that has floated a number of potential measures, including a national surveillance system to monitor outbreaks. That has raised privacy concerns, with critics likening it to the Patriot Act put into place following 9/11. “This is a genuine crisis—we have to work through it and do our best to protect people’s health,” Jessica Rich, a former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection bureau, told Politico. “But doing that doesn’t mean we have to destroy privacy.”

Within the federal government itself, there has been a clumsy acknowledgement that there are limits to what the U.S. can do in its efforts to contain the virus. “We are not an authoritarian nation,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Fox News last month, soon after the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic. “So we have to be careful when we say, ‘Let’s do what China did, let’s do what South Korea did.’” (South Korea is a democracy.) Still, actions by the Trump administration to loosen data sharing rules around healthcare and the national coronavirus surveillance proposal from Kushner’s team have raised concerns from privacy advocates—particularly given the longstanding fears about how the Trump administration has used surveillance and technology in its immigration enforcement and other controversial policies, along with the president’s erosion of democratic norms.

“We dealt with similar issues in 9/11,” Rich said. “One reason that the government doesn’t have all of this data is there’s a lot of concern about big brother maintaining large databases on every consumer on sensitive issues like health, and for good reason.” Indeed, for critics, the privacy questions extend beyond the present moment when governments are grappling with the deadly pandemic — what happens when this crisis passes? Is it possible to get the toothpaste back in the tube? “My biggest concern is that tech will emerge more powerful than it was,” Burcu Kilic, who leads a digital right program at consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, told Politico. “When things get back to normal, do you think they’ll want to regulate them?”

Municipalities like Elizabeth and Daytona Beach, Florida that are making use of drones to enforce social distancing are getting a taste of what normal might look like, thanks to the pandemic. As Thomas Gaulkin of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists noted earlier this month, many Americans— often fierce in their objections to perceived government overreach into their lives—might normally object to dystopian images of flying robots policing lockdowns. But these, of course, are not normal times. “If drones do begin to hover over U.S. streets to help control this pandemic,” Gaulkin wrote, “it will be yet another visible reminder that we’ve entered a public health Twilight Zone where Americans have no better option than to embrace what was once only imaginable, and never real.”


Privacy Experts Say Responsible Coronavirus Surveillance Is Possible

In less than a decade, whistleblowers like the NSA’s Edward Snowden and Cambridge Analytica’s Christopher Wylie helped spur a global sea change in the public’s attitude toward privacy and global data dragnets. We may now be in the midst of another seismic moment in the history of digital privacy: Mass surveillance methods could save lives around the world, permitting authorities to track and curb the spread of the novel coronavirus with speed and accuracy not possible during prior pandemics. It’s an extraordinary moment that might call for extraordinary surveillance methods. But privacy advocates tell The Intercept that our ongoing public health crisis doesn’t have to mean creating a civil liberties crisis in turn.

The coronavirus tracking ramp-up is already well underway around the world. In South Korea, Taiwan, and Israel, authorities use smartphone location data to enforce individual quarantines. Moscow police say they’ve already busted 200 quarantine violators caught via facial recognition-enabled cameras. NSA contractor and perennial privacy offender Palantir is helping Britain’s National Health Service track infections. Apps that leverage a smartphone’s bounty of built-in, highly accurate sensors to enforce social distancing or map the movements of the infected have been deployed in Singapore, Poland, and Kenya; MIT researchers are now pitching a similar, but more “privacy friendly,” app. In Mexico, Uber sent government authorities rider data to trace the route of an infected tourist, also banning 240 users who’d taken rides with the same driver.

In the U.S., public health officials, hoping to assess broad compliance with stay-at-home orders and to spot dangerous crowding, are obtaining personal location data in bulk from loosely-regulated online advertisers, and have discussed obtaining it from Google, according to news reports. A maker of “smart” thermometers, Kinsa Health, set up a special website to provide access to geographical fever clusters and other data uploaded from the hundreds of thousands of homes that use its app-enabled devices, earning Kinsa some buzz, including a recent New York Times article in which public health experts praised the predictive power of its user data.

These surveillance methods have been enabled by the rise of the smartphone and cloud computing — and of an entire tracking ecosystem around them. Over the past decade or so, the kindred spirits of the advertising industry and intelligence community have worked tirelessly and on parallel tracks to perfect their exploitation of the unimaginably vast trails of personal data collected through various mobile apps. The ability to learn your location and predict your behavior is priceless to both Silicon Valley and the Pentagon, whether the ultimate goal is to target you with a Warby Parker ad or a Hellfire missile.

As the Covid-19 pandemic worsens and death tolls increase, it stands to reason that the notion of reappropriating these technologies of war and profit into the preservation of human life will only make mass surveillance more palatable to a frightened public, particularly one desensitized by a decade of smartphone ubiquity and data-siphoning apps.


A Pandemic Police State in America
When the Checkpoints Come  How will Americans react when restrictions on their movements are no longer voluntary?

“We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.” The first line of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is pregnant with the novella’s whole plot, wherein a military dictatorship turns fertile women into sex slaves. When authoritarian control descends in fiction, it often does so like this, through narrative retrospect. From the vantage point of the future, the past’s mundane trifles become newly absorbing. Atwood’s gymnasium is meaningful because sleeping there is a sign that something has gone terribly wrong.

Today, as COVID-19 tears across the globe, signs of authoritarian control are making the jump from fiction to reality. In China, which already operates a massive and very real security state, facial recognition, phone data, and helmet-mounted thermal cameras have helped authorities control the outbreak. These efforts are so widespread, they have already been propagandized, in promotional videos wherein drones disperse groups of people playing newly dangerous sidewalk games of mah-jongg. But even democratic states are taking extremely invasive measures to control the virus. All of Italy is on lockdown: no school, university, theater, cinema, nightlife, sports, funerals, or weddings. When Italian police see people on the streets, they send them home. French citizens, also under lockdown, now need to carry a signed travel pass when leaving home. “We are at war,” French President Emmanuel Macron said of the measure.

The United States is next in line. San Francisco and Santa Cruz, California, are on lockdown. New York City might follow suit by the time you read this. New York State, along with New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, and others, has closed restaurants by decree of law. In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser forced one resistant restaurant group to comply with a similar order. In Washington State, where the U.S. outbreak is among the worst, entertainment and recreation facilities have been shut down. Likewise New York’s Broadway theaters. More retail and service businesses fall to the exigencies of the pandemic every day. Ordinary life is suspended, indefinitely.

The spread of the coronavirus is likely to get worse before it gets better, and more extreme restrictions like the ones already seen in Europe and Asia might be coming to America. Israel has started tracking the cellphones of infected people, and the U.S. government reportedly wants to do likewise. Already, we can feel this dark prospect creeping into daily life. On Tuesday, during a drive to a (responsibly social-distanced) family hike, our friendly minivan passed a menacing black Suburban parked on the side of the road, the blue lights of its official authority flashing. What would have been a surprising oddity a mere week ago now seems like an ominous forecast: Soon, perhaps, papers might be requested, temperatures might be taken, passage might be prohibited.

How would we respond? Americans are a unique people, our spirit cut from a different cloth than that of other nations. The “frontier myth,” as the historian Frederick Jackson Turner called it in 1893, connects the taming of our nation’s extensive wild lands (much of them taken by force) with the country’s democratic nationalism. For Turner, American pioneers mined the endless open expanses of the North American continent with rugged individualism, a drive that proved particularly compatible with industrial and then late capitalism. It molded real jobs into symbolic idols: the cowboy, the rancher, the prospector, the oilman. Free to roam our wide continent, those figures transformed resilience and self-actualization (underwritten by raw materials stolen from the common interest) into the mettle of American tenacity.

Eventually, foppish men hawking ideas rather than wares would lay the same claim to the American individualist spirit: the adman as noble as the oilman, the programmer no different from the prospector. Even the most democratically liberal of average American citizens still sees things as things of theirs, and actions as choices of their own. Nobody’s going to tell them how to spend their hard-earned money, where to drive their big car, or what poor choices to make with their mortal body. Let freedom ring.

Against this backdrop, it might seem that Americans would strongly resist the extreme measures that China, South Korea, Israel, Italy, France, and other nations have imposed under the coronavirus’s boot. Americans have never much been troubled when their personal choices infringe upon or even harm the well-being of their fellow citizens. Just think about the absolutist positions taken toward gun ownership. It’s entirely possible to imagine Americans of all stripes—men and women, young and old, coastal and landlocked—spurning any forthcoming governmental health proclamations in order to fetch a fried-chicken sandwich or a CBD kombucha, to travel to a long-planned golf tournament or incant a “Namaste” over rosé at an essential yoga-wine experience.

As it happens, there is a drive no less American that might balance out our obsession with freedom, for better or for worse. Americans have never been enculturated to statist submission like the Chinese, or to a broadly communitarian culture like the Europeans. But secretly, we are addicted to one shameful alternative: bureaucracy.

Despite the cowboys and the oilmen and the entrepreneurs and all the rest, the frontier myth is still a myth, not a reality. Americans might dream that they can claw their way to the top by sheer strength and devoted self-reliance. But in reality, most people don’t become prospectors, whether of gold or of bitcoin. They become procurement specialist level IIs at regional carpeting distributors, or assistant managers at themed bar-and-grilles. No disgrace in that, by the way. All of us still strive for individual greatness. We do our best to be good fathers or aunts. We sublimate the disappointment of managerial food-service careers into 72-month-financed Ford F-250 pickups.

Those choices in turn become collars, yoking us to the reality, no matter how gilded, of the daily grind. There, a new and counterintuitive freedom is born: that of having choices imposed on you: a new human-resources IT system, selected by the power-hungry corporate CIO, that now requires hours of webinar training during the very same week your kids got sent home from school due to a global pandemic. Or a new hire, incompetent for the work, brought on board via the nepotism of the franchise owner. Or a demand from the senior manager above you, a mere manager, to produce a PowerPoint of accomplishments or best practices, for which she will take credit at the directors meeting. Hard as it is to admit right now, this is the “normal life” to which we dream of returning once the coronavirus subsides.

That life is maddening, but it comes with certain comforts, including structure and certainty. Just do the work, and you will be praised—or at least not punished. You can go home at the end of the day and kick back some cold ones. You can work on your boat over the weekend. You can hold your young children close, praising whatever god you worship that the coronavirus appears to spare them. Americans want to think that they will set out on their own and wrest gold from the earth with their bare fingers, but really they just want to tap those digits on the desk until quitting time. This bureaucratic docility is the domesticated, shadow side of American frontiersmanship. It will steer us further toward compliance than we might have believed possible.

Pretending that this truth doesn’t apply to you is easy. But look into your own memory, and you will find it over and over again, no matter how rugged you think you are. I’ll show you my belly first: Many years ago, before smartphones, I made a cellphone game about airport security. My team modeled the 138 most trafficked U.S. airports, using Government Accountability Office data to drive the relative competence of simulated TSA agents in each airport. In 2003, the average airport failed to detect almost a quarter of the contraband carried by undercover agents. The game was supposed to allow players to try to get knives or guns past (virtual) security to see how well their favorite airport performed. You could even play it while in line at that airport.

It was the mid-aughts, and 9/11 was still fresh in law enforcement’s memory. Some of the information on TSA performance had been classified, supposedly to protect national security. One day, I got a call from two federal agents about the game. They sounded like such extreme stereotypes of feds, speaking in accents and cadences that felt scripted for Hollywood, that I thought I was being punked. Playing the artist-journalist-rogue, I laughed them off at first, cowboy-style. “Call my lawyer,” I scoffed. (I didn’t have a lawyer.)

But the conversation rapidly became quite serious, and I realized they weren’t backing down. I thought about the rest of my life—my kids, my house, my frontier-aspirant dreams not yet realized. Reader, I am not proud to admit that I put my tail between my legs quickly. All they really wanted was for me to change the marketing to make clear that I wasn’t using any classified material—or if I was, to tell them how I’d come into its possession. That suddenly seemed like a very reasonable demand. By the end of the call—it was just a phone call!—I was addressing them both as “sir.” I caved.

I am not proud of this portrait of myself, or of this portrait of America. I am not proud of its frontiersman fantasy or its apparatchik reality. Both seem odious—caricatures of virtue contorted to the buffoonish extremes of careless independence on the one hand and spineless capitulation on the other. But if I had to wager on how the tides will turn for that huge, unexceptional middle that forms our 300-million-strong ranks, I’d bet on acquiescence. People will stay home to protect their children and their grandparents. They’ll turn back at the end of the street if questioned on their way to the tavern. They will be more afraid than they will be bold. Maybe that flaw, the more modest of America’s bad traditions, will break our spirit. Or perhaps it will be the sin that saves us.

Coronavirus researcher killed in Pennsylvania police say, "murder-suicide"

A University of Pittsburgh researcher on the cusp of making “very significant findings” about the novel coronavirus was killed over the weekend in what authorities say was a murder-suicide. Bing Liu, 37, was shot multiple times in his townhouse around noon Saturday in Ross Township, Pa., police told WTAE, an ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh.

As a research assistant professor, Liu focused on using computational models to study biological processes. He was working from home during the pandemic and studying the virus, his supervisor said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Officials told the newspaper Liu was shot by another man and suffered gunshot wounds to the head, neck, torso and extremities. The man, later identified as 46-year-old Hao Gu, then got into his car about 100 yards away and killed himself. Neighbors told the paper they didn’t hear any gunshots the day Liu was killed. The front and rear patio doors of Liu’s home were open at the time of his death because of the springtime weather, the Post-Gazette reported. His wife wasn’t home at that time. No items were stolen from the home, according to the paper.

Ross Township Detective Brian Kohlhepp told WTAE that police don’t believe the relationship between the two men had anything to do with Liu’s research on the coronavirus. It is unclear how the two men knew each other, and police are investigating whether there was any confrontation before the shooting. A possible motive for the murder also is unclear, the Post-Gazette reported. In a statement, Liu’s department at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine called him a prolific researcher and generous mentor. Shortly before his death, he had begun researching the cellular mechanisms that underlie coronavirus infections and the cellular basis of ensuing complications. Ivet Bahar, his supervisor and the head of his department, told the Post-Gazette Liu had just started to receive interesting results.

Bahar had sent several emails to Liu over the weekend about his work and was surprised that the normally prompt researcher wasn’t responding, according to the Post-Gazette. After a conversation with a colleague about the crime, she confirmed Liu was the victim, the paper reported. He had not expressed any fear for his life to her, she told the paper. “We will make an effort to complete what he started in an effort to pay homage to his scientific excellence,” the statement said. Liu and his wife had no children and mostly kept to themselves, neighbors told the Post-Gazette. Liu received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the National University of Singapore, according to his professional website. He had previously worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and with Bahar as a research associate in the department of computational and systems biology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Throughout his career, he published more than 30 academic papers and wrote a book.

Father arrested for playing with daughter in park, citing coronavirus restrictions

In an incident caught on video, a former Colorado State Patrol trooper said he was handcuffed in front of his 6-year old daughter on a near-empty softball field Sunday by Brighton police officers enforcing social distancing rules. The department apologized Tuesday afternoon, calling the incident an "overreach by our police officers." Matt Mooney, 33, told ABC News he walked with his wife and daughter from their home to a nearby park Sunday to play softball. "We're just having a good time, not near anybody else. The next closest person is at least 15 feet away from me and my daughter at this point," Mooney told ABC News. Police arrived soon after, Mooney said, telling him and others in the area to leave because the park was closed. Mooney said he told officers that he was familiar with the posted rules and believed he and his family were in compliance and practicing proper social distancing. He said he refused to provide his identification when officers asked for it because he had not broken any law. "Well, they didn't like that idea. They then proceeded to make a threat against me saying, 'If you don't give us your identification, if you don't identify yourself, we're going to put you in handcuffs in front of your 6-year-old daughter.'" Mooney said officers handcuffed him and placed him in a patrol car for about 10 to 15 minutes while they phoned a supervisor for guidance. The incident was captured on cellphone footage by former Brighton City Councilman Kirby Wallin. "Yeah, it's Sunday and the Brighton police are apparently arresting a dad for throwing a ball to his daughter," Wallin is heard saying on the video.

AG Barr Says the DOJ May Take Legal Action against States if Lockdowns Are Deemed Excessive

Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday said the Justice Department could take action against states whose coronavirus lockdowns are deemed too strict. “We have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe,” Barr said in an interview on The Hugh Hewitt Show. “To the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce–our common market that we have here–then we’ll have to address that.” Barr said states should enforce lockdowns and business closures only until the spread of coronavirus has halted. Then, states should eventually reopen in line with the Trump administration’s guidelines, he said. “These are very, very burdensome impingements on liberty, and we adopted them, we have to remember, for the limited purpose of slowing down the spread, that is bending the curve,” Barr went on. “We didn’t adopt them as the comprehensive way of dealing with this disease….You can’t just keep on feeding the patient chemotherapy and say well, we’re killing the cancer, because we were getting to the point where we’re killing the patient.” While most U.S. states have adopted some form of business and school closures, several have seen protests against the lockdown measures. President Trump has repeatedly clashed with state governors on reopening the economy, urging them to do so as soon as possible. Trump has called on protesters to “liberate” certain states, all with Democratic governors. Washington governor Jay Inslee subsequently accused Trump of “fomenting domestic rebellion.” Protests have been particularly strong in Michigan, whose governor Gretchen Whitmer has instituted some of the most stringent lockdowns in the U.S. Whitmer on Tuesday compared protesters to Americans who objected to the World War II production effort.


I am an American constitutional lawyer - and I see our government using Covid-19 to take away our fundamental rights

Do we really think “it can’t happen here” in America? Could we quarantine the constitution? Are we doing it already? Panics from pandemics unleash unchecked governmental power. The very premise of popular films like V for Vendetta reveal this: a group uses a virus to seize power and create a totalitarian society. Anyone could witness this from far-off lands, watching the news about China locking people up in their own homes and then removing them screaming from those homes whenever the state wanted. World War I and the Great Depression birthed virulent forms of governments with leaders like Hitler, Mao, Mussolini and Stalin.

Governments across America already used the pandemic, and the media-stoked panic around the pandemic particularly, to limit, restrict or remove First Amendment freedoms of speech and free association, with officials complaining about the potential restraints the freedom of religion imposed upon them. Others denied or declared the right to deny Second Amendment rights of gun purchase for personal safety (at a time governments are issuing no-arrest and no-detention orders for a wide range of crimes in their community while publicly freeing inmates from jails and prisons). They want to coordinate with tech companies to surveil and spy on your everyday movements and activities, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and potentially waive, unilaterally, your medical right to privacy in multiple contexts. Stay-at-home orders deprive you of your profession, occupation, business and property, without any due process of law at all beyond an executive fiat in violation of the Fifth Amendment right to due process. Governments request the authority to involuntarily imprison any American on mere fear of infection without any probable cause of crime or clear and present danger of harm by that person’s volitional conduct, deny access to personal counsel in an unsupervised, un-surveilled manner in violation of the Sixth Amendment, and act as judge, jury and executioner in violation of the Seventh Amendment right to a trial by jury, as jury trials themselves get suspended around the country in the nation’s quieted courts and fear-muted public. The real pandemic threat is here. It’s the panic that will quarantine our Constitution.

First Amendment Quarantined?

Already, governments in America suspended the First Amendment freedom of millions of citizens with shutdown, stay-at-home, curfew orders that prohibit obtaining a petition for a public protest, or even being physically present for a public protest. Indeed, even meetings in “more than ten” are prohibited by various governing jurisdictions within the United States. Surprising places like Missouri did so. Towns like Hartford did so. Maryland soon followed suit. The effect of the stay-at-home orders of New York, California, Nevada, Illinois and Pennsylvania effectively achieve the same outcome. Other governing officials recognized the dubious lawlessness of these orders, but remain outliers. Remember the Hong Kong protests? Gone. Remember the Yellow Vest protests? Soon to be gone. Seen any protests on American streets today? A pandemic is here. Protests gone. Constitution quarantined.

Second Amendment Quarantined?

But that is not all. Under the guise of “unnecessary businesses,” “emergency powers,” or simply by furloughing or reducing staff in the background checks department, governments show the willingness to limit Second Amendment rights as well as First Amendment protections. Mayors declare the right to ban gun sales, governments declare no background-check personnel to process a background check, delaying gun sales indefinitely, and other governments simply shut down all gun sales businesses entirely. Most worrisome, this happens while governments release inmates into the streets, and discussreleasing even more, and, at the same time, issue no-arrest and no-detention orders from Philadelphia to Fort Worth for a wide range of criminals. Want to defend yourself, give yourself a deep sense of personal protection that comes with gun ownership for many, as the Second Amendment safeguards? Well, no luck, according to too many of our governing overlords. A pandemic is here. Self-protection sacrificed. Constitution quarantined.

Fourth Amendment Quarantined?

Few protections are more American than the right to privacy against coerced, compelled, secretive, subversive invasion. The government operates like a virus in a case of a pandemic panic, infecting our minds and bodies, monitoring speech, association and movement, with tools of surveillance unthought-of to the founders. Coordinating with private companies (unrestrained by the Fourth Amendment; why do you think NSA uses them to gather all your emails, conversations, texts, and internet searches, at the first stage?), governments used the panic about the pandemic, a panic the government itself stoked with aid of a compliant, complicit press, to waive your medical privacy and invade your personal privacy, looking for tools to monitor your every movement, associations, activities, and behavior. The watching eye in the sky can now be the Alexa in your home, the camera on your computer, and the phone in your hand. A pandemic is here. Privacy ended. Constitution quarantined.

Fifth Amendment Quarantined?

The protection for our right to make a living arises from the Fifth Amendment right to property without deprivation by due process of law, and the obligation for the government to compensate any such takings. Yet, governments across America did just that to millions of businesses, workers, and property owners, stripping them of their ability to make a living, or even to engage in a free market of commerce, by shutdown orders, curfews, and stay-at-home orders. The political and professional class ensconced in its work-from-home environs fails to appreciate the hardship this imposes on working people. No compensation. No substitution. No wages. No revenues. No opportunity. Labor lost that can never be recovered, ever, while it leaves our economy teetering on the edge of a worst-ever depression. The foundation of government is to protect the pursuit of happiness. Now all we get to pursue is Netflix-and-chill and hope miracles happen to pay next week’s bills, and pray the market doesn’t crash like in 1929. A pandemic is here. Opportunity & property gone. Constitution quarantined.


Our founders were intimately familiar with pandemics, viruses and plagues, yet they did not allow any to suspend our Constitutional liberties. Not one word in the Constitution about plagues or pandemics to exempt the government from any of our Bill of Rights. Why do our current courts allow it? Because the public is asleep at the wheel. Think the pandemic threatens to kills us all? A review of the data shows the pandemic is more panic than plague. Time to wake up. Maybe it is time in the motto of V for Vendetta, to "Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot." As that film's lead character well said: “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” Only when an awake public asserts their human liberties to protest the loss of their liberties will, then, governments quit using public health crises to seize power that does not belong to them. The answer to 1984 is still 1776.


Anti-Lockdown Protests,d_placeholder_euli9k,h_2250,w_4000,x_0,y_0/dpr_1.5/c_limit,w_1044/fl_lossy,q_auto/v1587000027/GettyImages-1210050155_jy7vi5

Many of the right-wing protests against state stay-at-home orders sweeping the nation have been organized or attended by white nationalists, conspiracy theorists, anti-government militias, members of a neo-fascist street gang, and other assorted extremists and scam artists, a HuffPost analysis shows. The protests, largely coordinated on Facebook, have seen crowds of hundreds descend upon state and city government buildings, where participants flagrantly flout social distancing guidelines to demand that their respective governors reopen state businesses during a deadly pandemic. Images of these often heavily armed protesters, screaming at health care workers and blocking ambulances from reaching hospitals, have gone viral, shocking a country where polls show a large majority support measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed over 45,000 people in this country. Yet the events — which present a clear danger to communities across the U.S., risking the further spread of a virus — have been promoted extensively by Fox News. On Friday, immediately after a Fox segment sympathetic to the rallies, the president tweeted out his support for the protesters. “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” Trump wrote in a tweet-storm, directly contradicting the advice of the medical experts on his own COVID-19 task force. It’s easy to see why footage of the protests might excite the president. They bear a striking resemblance, after all, to his own fascist campaign rallies, with attendees who are almost uniformly white, and who display a deep devotion to the president, donning red MAGA hats and waving Trump 2020 flags. And like Trump’s rallies, the anti-shutdown protests are teeming with right-wing extremists. Here’s a brief look at some of the figures who have either organized or attended these events over the last week.

The White Nationalists

A rally Monday in Augusta, the state capital of Maine, was organized in part by Larry Lockman, a white nationalist former state lawmaker who in 2017 warned that proposed immigrant welcome centers were tantamount to a “war on whites.” According to Maine-based journalist Nathan Bernard, Lockman helped coordinate Monday’s anti-shutdown event on the “Mainers Against Excessive Quarantine” Facebook page, where he encouraged attendees to show up to the rally wearing MAGA gear. “This is about the loss of our civil rights and its impact on our businesses and religion,” he wrote in one post. Bernard reported seeing Lockman coordinating a group of unmasked protesters at the rally Monday. In Columbus, Ohio, two men were photographed at an anti-shutdown protest holding up an anti-Semitic sign depicting Jews as rats, calling them “the real plague.” The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism believes one of the men belongs to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement. According to the ADL, this individual was photographed at a 2019 white power rally with Timothy Wilson, who was killed by federal agents last month during an attempted arrest over his alleged plot to bomb a Missouri hospital during the pandemic in order to attract attention to his white supremacist views.

Proud Boys, ‘Patriots,’ And Militias, Oh My

A “Reopen Florida” protest scheduled for this weekend in Miami was organized by a leader of the neo-fascist street gang The Proud Boys, the Miami New Times reported this week. Enrique Tarrio, a longtime Proud Boy, admitted to the New Times that he’d organized the rally, which he’s advertised as being “against the Democrat-driven unconstitutional lockdown.” Members of the Proud Boys — a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group originally founded by bigot Gavin McInnes — have deep ties to a host of white nationalist and militia groups, and are best known for violently attacking their political opponents. Proud Boys have also been spotted at anti-shutdown protests in Colorado, Nevada, Ohio and Michigan. At the rally in Lansing, Michigan, Proud Boys were allegedly among the attendees blocking ambulances from being able to reach a hospital. Also in Michigan — as noted by reporter Jason Wilson in The Guardian — were members of the Michigan Liberty Militia, whose Facebook page Wilson notes “features pictures of firearms, warnings of civil war, celebrations of Norse paganism and memes ultimately sourced from white nationalist groups like Patriot Front.” A “Reopen Florida” protest scheduled for this weekend in Miami was organized by a leader of the neo-fascist street gang The Proud Boys, the Miami New Times reported this week. Enrique Tarrio, a longtime Proud Boy, admitted to the New Times that he’d organized the rally, which he’s advertised as being “against the Democrat-driven unconstitutional lockdown.” Members of the Proud Boys — a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group originally founded by bigot Gavin McInnes — have deep ties to a host of white nationalist and militia groups, and are best known for violently attacking their political opponents. Proud Boys have also been spotted at anti-shutdown protests in Colorado, Nevada, Ohio and Michigan. At the rally in Lansing, Michigan, Proud Boys were allegedly among the attendees blocking ambulances from being able to reach a hospital. Also in Michigan — as noted by reporter Jason Wilson in The Guardian — were members of the Michigan Liberty Militia, whose Facebook page Wilson notes “features pictures of firearms, warnings of civil war, celebrations of Norse paganism and memes ultimately sourced from white nationalist groups like Patriot Front.”

The Conspiracy Theorists

Anti-vaccination extremists, a mainstay of Trump rallies and other far-right events in recent years, have been seen at multiple anti-shutdown protests. An April 14 rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, was organized in part by an anti-vaccination activist named Ashley Smith. “I am against mandatory vaccination,” Smith said in an email to The News & Observer. “That is a personal right and as a sovereign citizen I have the right to choose what medical procedures I and my children receive. Pandemic status/state of emergency doesn’t change that.” Public health experts fear the anti-vaxx movement could, once a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, undermine a national inoculation program.


Armed protesters demonstrate inside Michigan state capitol

Hundreds of protesters, some armed, descended on the Michigan Capitol demanding an end to state's coronavirus lockdown

United States President Donald Trump on Friday voiced support for protesters, some armed with rifles, after they entered the capitol building in the US state of Michigan and demanded that Governor Gretchen Whitmer lift strict coronavirus lockdown orders, causing some lawmakers to reportedly don bulletproof vests. "The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire," Trump tweeted. "These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal."
The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 1, 2020
Dozens of demonstrators crowded the lobby of the building in Lansing on Thursday, where they demanded to be allowed inside the chamber of the Michigan House of Representatives. State police blocked them from entering the chamber, which was closed to the public to allow room for state representatives and reporters to spread apart. The demonstration, dubbed the American Patriot Rally, was organised by a group calling itself Michigan United for Liberty. "We do not agree with or consent to our unalienable rights being restricted or rescinded for any reason, including the COVID-19 pandemic," the group said on its private Facebook page, where it has more than 8,800 members. It was the second time this month that protesters have demanded Whitmer lift lockdown restrictions in the state, which has seen more than 3,500 people killed by the coronavirus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. On April 16, around 3,000 protesters, some of them also armed, descended on Lansing for "Operation Gridlock," causing a massive traffic jam around the capital building. A day later, Trump appeared to lend his support to them and scattered protests elsewhere, tweeting "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" That tweet and similar ones drew widespread criticism, with one governor accusing the president of "fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies".

Public, judicial support

Thursday's protest came a day after a Michigan court ruled that stay-at-home directives issued by Whitmer on March 24 do not infringe on residents' constitutional rights, according to local media reports. Anti-lockdown protests, many organised by conservative or some fringe groups, have sprung up across the US, including a small demonstration in New York and a larger one in California on Friday. But the protests appear to have little public support.
WATCH: Large crowds gathered in Huntington Beach to protest the closure of Orange County beaches -- which Gov. Gavin Newsom closed because of large crowds at area beaches. — NBC 7 San Diego (@nbcsandiego) May 1, 2020
Whitmer's handling of the virus crisis has been met with a generally favourable response, and polls show public anxiety about reopening before adequate testing and a vaccine are developed. A PBS Newshour/NPR/Marist poll of 1,008 respondents released on April 29 found that without further testing, 91 percent of people think allowing large groups to attend sporting events is a bad idea - and 85 and 80 percent think children returning to school and restaurants opening for customers to eat inside are bad ideas, respectively. This poll is roughly in line with others on the same subject. Whitmer has previously stated that it is fine to be angry, but the restrictions are necessary. "I've said it before, and I'll say it again - Michigan is an extraordinary place to live because of the people who call it home. There are millions of Michiganders doing their part to slow the spread of #COVID19 every single day. We are going to get through this together," Whitmer tweeted Thursday after the protests, without commenting directly.

 The anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown movements are converging, refusing to be ‘enslaved’!/quality/90/?

While most of the world hungers for a vaccine to put an end to the death and economic destruction wrought by COVID-19, some anti-vaccine groups are joining with anti-lockdown demonstrators to challenge restrictions aimed at protecting public health. Vaccine critics suffered serious setbacks in the last year, as states strengthened immunization laws in response to measles outbreaks sparked by vaccine refusers. California tightened its vaccine requirements last fall despite protests during which anti-vaccine activists threw blood on state senators, assaulted the vaccine bill’s sponsor and shut down the Legislature.

Now, many of these same vaccine critics are joining a fight against stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which had killed more than 48,800 Americans as of Thursday afternoon. “This is just a fresh coat of paint for the anti-vaccine movement in America, and an exploitative means for them to try to remain relevant,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Hotez said anti-vaccine groups are seizing on the anti-government sentiment stoked by conservative-leaning protesters to advance their cause. “Unfortunately, their strategy may work.” A group calling itself the Freedom Angels, whose members last year stood on chairs and chanted at public hearings on the California vaccine bill, say governors are abusing their power by shutting down gun shops and other businesses. Many anti-vaccine activists — who have claimed that diseases such as measles aren’t that serious — now contend the coronavirus isn’t dangerous enough to justify staying home. They agree with President Trump that the “cure” for the pandemic could be worse than the disease itself.

That’s led some vaccine foes to join the protesters — whom Trump has encouraged on Twitter — in staging demonstrations in state capitals to “reopen America.” “This is the time for people to take notice and really evaluate the freedoms they’re giving up, all in the name of perceived safety,” said Freedom Angels co-founder Heidi Munoz Gleisner in a Facebook video. The group organized a Monday rally in Sacramento called “Operation Gridlock.”

“People need to get back to work, get back to life, get back into contact with their loved ones who they’re isolated from, they need to be able to have a paycheck,” group co-founder Tara Thornton told the Sacramento Bee, which interviewed her during the demonstration. “This is the grounds they will enslave us upon.”


Stand Up for Your Rights, says Bio-Statistician Knut M. Wittkowski
Who is Knut M. Wittkowski? He is among the many, even many hundreds, of epidemiologists and other medical research professionals whose expertise was not consulted in the frenzied weeks in which the American political class at all levels chose panic and shutdown over rationality and rights. Consider his bio:
Dr. Wittkowski received his PhD in computer science from the University of Stuttgart and his ScD (Habilitation) in Medical Biometry from the Eberhard-Karls-University Tuüingen, both Germany. He worked for 15 years with Klaus Dietz, a leading epidemiologist who coined the term “reproduction number”, on the Epidemiology of HIV before heading for 20 years the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at The Rockefeller University, New York. Dr. Wittkowski is currently the CEO of ASDERA LLC, a company discovering novel treatments for complex diseases from data of genome-wide association studies.
His work has been widely cited in the technical/medical literature. So try to understand his frustration with everything going on around him. A lifetime of work toward understanding diseases and their spread, and he has to watch all this unfold in the most brutal way that contradicts everything he knows and has tried to teach.
At the last moments of this interview below (full transcript) he says the following:
With all respiratory diseases, the only thing that stops the disease is herd immunity. About 80% of the people need to have had contact with the virus, and the majority of them won’t even have recognized that they were infected, or they had very, very mild symptoms, especially if they are children. So, it’s very important to keep the schools open and kids mingling to spread the virus to get herd immunity as fast as possible, and then the elderly people, who should be separated, and the nursing homes should be closed during that time, can come back and meet their children and grandchildren after about 4 weeks when the virus has been exterminated….
We are experiencing all sorts of counterproductive consequences of not well-thought-through policy….
Well, we will see maybe a total of fewer cases—that is possible. However, we will see more cases among the elderly, because we have prevented the school children from creating herd immunity. And so, in the end, we will see more death because the school children don’t die, it’s the elderly people who die, we will see more death because of this social distancing….
If we had herd immunity now, there couldn’t be a second wave in autumn. Herd immunity lasts for a couple of years, typically, and that’s why the last SARS epidemic we had in 2003, it lasted 15 years for enough people to become susceptible again so that a new epidemic could spread of a related virus. Because typically, there is something that requires cross-immunity, so if you were exposed to one of the SARS viruses, you are less likely to fall ill with another SARS virus. So, if we had herd immunity, we wouldn’t have a second wave. However, if we are preventing herd immunity from developing, it is almost guaranteed that we have a second wave as soon as either we stop the social distancing or the climate changes with winter coming or something like that….
[Extreme reactions] cost the US taxpayer $2 trillion, in addition to everything else that it costs, but it also has severe consequences for our social life, and depression is definitely something that we will be researching. I can say for myself, walking through New York City right now is depressing….
We should be resisting, and we should, at least, hold our politicians responsible. We should have a discussion with our politicians. One thing we definitely need to do, and that would be safe and effective, is opening schools. Let the children spread the virus among themselves, which is a necessity to get herd immunity. That was probably one of the most destructive actions the government has done. We should focus on the elderly and separating them from the population where the virus is circulating. We should not prevent the virus from circulating among school children, which is the fastest way to create herd immunity….
And the final question and answer:  “So, is there anything else you want to say about this that—what’s been aggravating you the most? Or what would you like people to know?”
I think people in the United States and maybe other countries as well are more docile than they should be. People should talk with their politicians, question them, ask them to explain, because if people don’t stand up to their rights, their rights will be forgotten. I’m Knut Wittkowski. I was at the Rockefeller University, I have been an epidemiologist for 35 years, and I have been modeling epidemics for 35 years. It’s a pleasure to have the ability to help people to understand, but it’s a struggle to get heard.

Study: Administration of the Hydroxychloroquine+Azithromycin before COVID-19 complications occur is safe and has very low fatality rate



In France, the combination hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and azithromycin (AZ) is used in the treatment of COVID-19.


We retrospectively report on 1061 SARS-CoV-2 positive tested patients treated with HCQ (200 mg three times daily for ten days) + AZ (500 mg on day 1 followed by 250 mg daily for the next four days) for at least three days. Outcomes were death, clinical worsening (transfer to ICU, and >10 day hospitalization) and viral shedding persistence (>10 days).


A total of 1061 patients were included in this analysis (46.4% male, mean age 43.6 years – range 14–95 years). Good clinical outcome and virological cure were obtained in 973 patients within 10 days (91.7%). Prolonged viral carriage was observed in 47 patients (4.4%) and was associated to a higher viral load at diagnosis (p < .001) but viral culture was negative at day 10. All but one, were PCR-cleared at day 15. A poor clinical outcome (PClinO) was observed for 46 patients (4.3%) and 8 died (0.75%) (74–95 years old). All deaths resulted from respiratory failure and not from cardiac toxicity. Five patients are still hospitalized (98.7% of patients cured so far). PClinO was associated with older age (OR 1.11), severity at admission (OR 10.05) and low HCQ serum concentration. PClinO was independently associated with the use of selective beta-blocking agents and angiotensin II receptor blockers (p < .05). A total of 2.3% of patients reported mild adverse events (gastrointestinal or skin symptoms, headache, insomnia and transient blurred vision).


Administration of the HCQ+AZ combination before COVID-19 complications occur is safe and associated with very low fatality rate in patients.


Open Up Society Now, Say Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi (video)

Dr. Daniel W. Erickson of Bakersfield, California, is a former emergency-room physician who co-owns, with his partner Dr. Artin Massih, Accelerated Urgent Care in Bakersfield. They are experienced medical professionals who have 40 years of hands-on experience in dealing with viruses and respiratory infections. Watching the news in China in January, they knew the virus was on its way. They ordered many COVID-19 tests because they knew they would need them. They tested many thousands of people, and discovered for themselves what epidemiologists around the world are saying:  COVID-19 came here earlier than previously believed, is more ubiquitous, and ultimately for the general population less deadly than we thought. While this realization is gradually dawning on people around the world, they went public with their findings, which are not generated out of a predictive model but rather the actual facts of the case. In the course of their press conference, they addressed the question of whether or not California should have shut down much of its economy. Their answer is no. They conclude with the need to open up immediately, on grounds of health and human rights.  “If you’re going to dance on someone’s constitutional rights you better have a good reason, you better have a really good reason, not just a theory,” he said. “The data is showing us it’s time to lift (the stay-at-home orders) so if we don’t lift, what is the reason?” Here are some selected quotes from their interview with a hostile reporter. The videos are embedded below.
We’d like to look at how we’ve responded as a nation, and why you responded. Our first initial response two months ago was a little bit of fear: [the government] decided to shut down travel to and from China. These are good ideas when you don’t have any facts. [Governments] decided to keep people at home and isolate them. Typically you quarantine the sick. When someone has measles you quarantine them. We’ve never seen where we quarantine the healthy. So that’s kind of how we started. We don’t know what’s going on, we see this new virus. How should we respond? So we did that initially, and over the last couple months we’ve gained a lot of data typically. We’re going to go over the numbers a little bit to kind of help you see how widespread COVID is, and see how we should be responding to it based on its prevalence throughout society—or the existence of the cases that we already know about….
So if you look at California—these numbers are from yesterday—we have 33,865 COVID cases, out of a total of 280,900 total tested. That’s 12% of Californians were positive for COVID. So we don’t, the initial—as you guys know, the initial models were woefully inaccurate. They predicted millions of cases of death—not of prevalence or incidence—but death. That is not materializing. What is materializing is, in the state of California is 12% positives. You have a 0.03 chance of dying from COVID in the state of California. Does that necessitate sheltering in place? Does that necessitate shutting down medical systems? Does that necessitate people being out of work? 96% of people in California who get COVID would recover, with almost no significant sequelae;  or no significant continuing medical problems. Two months ago we didn’t know this. The more you test, the more positives you get. The prevalence number goes up, and the death rate stays the same. So [the death rate] gets smaller and smaller and smaller. And as we move through this data—what I want you to see is—millions of cases, small death. Millions of cases, small death.
We extrapolate data, we test people, and then we extrapolate for the entire community based on the numbers. The initial models were so inaccurate they’re not even correct. And some of them were based on social distancing and still predicted hundreds of thousands of deaths, which has been inaccurate. In New York the ones they tested they found 39% positive. So if they tested the whole state would we indeed have 7.5 million cases? We don’t know; we will never test the entire state. So we extrapolate out; we use the data we have because it’s the most we have versus a predictive model that has been nowhere in the ballpark of accurate. How many deaths do they have? 19,410 out of 19 million people, which is a 0.1% chance of dying from COVID in the state of New York. If you are indeed diagnosed with COVID-19, 92% of you will recover. We’ve tested over 4 million… which gives us a 19.6% positive out of those who are tested for COVID-19. So if this is a typical extrapolation 328 million people times 19.6 is 64 million. That’s a significant amount of people with COVID; it’s similar to the flu. If you study the numbers in 2017 and 2018 we had 50 to 60 million with the flu. And we had a similar death rate in the deaths the United States were 43,545—similar to the flu of 2017-2018. We always have between 37,000 and 60,000 deaths in the United States, every single year. No pandemic talk. No shelter-in-place. No shutting down businesses…
We do thousands of flu tests every year. We don’t report every one, because the flu is ubiquitous and to that note we have a flu vaccine. How many people even get the flu vaccine? The flu is dangerous, it kills people. Just because you have a vaccine doesn’t mean it’s gonna be everywhere and it doesn’t mean everyone’s going to take it… I would say probably 50% of the public doesn’t even want it. Just because you have a vaccine—unless you forced it on the public—doesn’t mean they’re going to take it. Norway has locked down; Sweden does not have lock down. What happened in those two countries? Are they vastly different? Did Sweden have a massive outbreak of cases? Did Norway have nothing? Let’s look at the numbers. Sweden has 15,322 cases of COVID—21% of all those tested came out positive for COVID. What’s the population of Sweden? About 10.4 million. So if we extrapolate out the data about 2 million cases of COVID in Sweden. They did a little bit of social distancing; they would wear masks and separate; they went to schools; stores were open. They were almost about their normal daily life with a little bit of social distancing. They had how many deaths? 1,765. California’s had 1,220 with isolation. No isolation: 1,765. We have more people. Norway: its next-door neighbor. These are two Scandinavian nations; we can compare them as they are similar. 4.9% of all COVID tests were positive in Norway. Population of Norway: 5.4 million. So if we extrapolate the data, as we’ve been doing, which is the best we can do at this point, they have about 1.3 million cases. Now their deaths as a total number, were 182. So you have a 0.003 chance of death as a citizen of Norway and a 97% recovery. Their numbers are a little bit better. Does it necessitate shutdown, loss of jobs, destruction of the oil company, furloughing doctors?
I wanted to talk about the effects of COVID-19, the secondary effects. COVID-19 is one aspect of our health sector. What has it caused to have us be involved in social isolation?  What does it cause that we are seeing the community respond to? Child molestation is increasing at a severe rate. We could go over multiple cases of children who have been molested due to angry family members who are intoxicated, who are home, who have no paycheck. Spousal abuse: we are seeing people coming in here with black eyes and cuts on their face. It’s an obvious abuse of case. These are things that will affect them for a lifetime, not for a season. Alcoholism, anxiety, depression, suicide. Suicide is spiking; education is dropped off; economic collapse. Medical industry we’re all suffering because our staff isn’t here and we have no volume. We have clinics from Fresno to San Diego and these things are spiking in our community. These things will affect people for a lifetime, not for a season. I’d like to go over some basic things about how the immune system functions so people have a good understanding. The immune system is built by exposure to antigens: viruses, bacteria.  When you’re a little child crawling on the ground, putting stuff in your mouth, viruses and bacteria come in. You form an antigen antibody complex. You form IgG IgM. This is how your immune system is built. You don’t take a small child put them in bubble wrap in a room and say, “go have a healthy immune system.” 
This is immunology, microbiology 101. This is the basis of what we’ve known for years. When you take human beings and you say, “go into your house, clean all your counters—Lysol them down you’re gonna kill 99% of viruses and bacteria; wear a mask; don’t go outside,” what does it do to our immune system? Our immune system is used to touching. We share bacteria. Staphylococcus, streptococcal, bacteria, viruses. Sheltering in place decreases your immune system. And then as we all come out of shelter in place with a lower immune system and start trading viruses, bacteria—what do you think is going to happen? Disease is going to spike. And then you’ve got diseases spike—amongst a hospital system with furloughed doctors and nurses. This is not the combination we want to set up for a healthy society. It doesn’t make any sense.…Did we respond appropriately? Initially the response, fine shut it down, but as the data comes across—and we say now, wait a second, we’ve never, ever responded like this in the history of the country why are we doing this now? Any time you have something new in the community medical community it sparks fear—and I would have done what Dr. Fauci did—so we both would have initially. Because the first thing you do is, you want to make sure you limit liability—and deaths—and I think what they did was brilliant, initially. But you know, looking at theories and models—which is what these folks use—is very different than the way the actual virus presents itself throughout communities….
Nobody talks about the fact that coronavirus lives on plastics for three days and we’re all sheltering in place. Where’d you get your water bottles from? Costco. Where did you get that plastic shovel from? Home Depot. If I swab things in your home I would likely find COVID-19. And so you think you’re protected. Do you see the lack of consistency here? Do you think you’re protected from COVID when you wear gloves that transfer disease everywhere? Those gloves have bacteria all over them. We wear masks in an acute setting to protect us. We’re not wearing masks. Why is that? Because we understand microbiology; we understand immunology; and we want strong immune systems. I don’t want to hide in my home, develop a weak immune system, and then come out and get disease. When someone dies in this country right now they’re not talking about the high blood pressure, the diabetes, the stroke. They say they died from COVID. We’ve been to hundreds of autopsies. You don’t talk about one thing, you talk about comorbidities. COVID was part of it, it is not the reason they died folks. When I’m writing up my death report I’m being pressured to add COVID.
Why is that? Why are we being pressured to add COVID? To maybe increase the numbers, and make it look a little bit worse than it is. We’re being pressured in-house to add COVID to the diagnostic list when we think it has nothing to do with the actual cause of death. The actual cause of death was not COVID, but it’s being reported as one of the disease processes and being added to the death list. COVID didn’t kill them, 25 years of tobacco use killed. There’s two ways to get rid of virus: either burns itself out or herd immunity. For hundreds of years we relied on herd immunity. Viruses kill people, end of story. The flu kills people. COVID kills people. But for the rest of us we develop herd immunity. We developed the ability to take this virus in and defeat it and for the vast majority 95% of those around the globe. Do you want your immune system built or do you want it not built? The building blocks of your immune system is a virus and bacteria. There’s normal bacteria in normal flora that we have to be exposed to bacteria and viruses that are not virulent are our friends. They protect us against bad bacteria and bad viruses.
Right now, if you look at Dr. Erikson’s skin or my skin we have strep, we have stuff—they protect us against opportunistic infections. That’s why for the first three to six months [babies are] extremely vulnerable to opportunistic infection. Which is why, when we see a little baby in the ER with fever who is one month old, you do a spinal tap, you do a chest x-ray, you do blood cultures, you do urine cultures. But if you had a fever I wouldn’t do that for you. Why? Because that baby does not have the normal bacteria and flora from the community, whereas you do. I guarantee when we reopen there’s going to be a huge, huge amount of illness that’s going to be rampant because our immune systems have weakened. That’s just basic immunology. Do we need to still shelter in place? Our answer is emphatically no. Do we need businesses to be shut down? Emphatically no. Do we need to have it, do we need to test them, and get them back to work? Yes, we do. The the secondary effects that we went over—the child abuse, alcoholism, loss of revenue—all these are, in our opinion, a significantly more detrimental thing to society than a virus that has proven similar in nature to the seasonal flu we have every year.
We also need to put measures in place so economic shutdown like this does not happen again. We want to make sure we understand that quarantining the sick is what we do, not quarantine the healthy. We need to make sure if you’re gonna dance on someone’s constitutional rights you better have a good reason. You better have a really good scientific reason, and not just theory. One of the most important things is we need our hospitals back up. We need our furloughed doctors back. We need our nurses back. Because when we lift this thing, we’re gonna need all hands on deck. I know the local hospitals have closed two floors. Folks, that’s not the situation you want. We’re essentially setting ourselves up to have minimal staff, and we’re going to have significant disease. That’s the wrong combination.  I’ve talked to our local head of the Health Department and he’s waiting… for the powers that be to lift. Because the data is showing it’s time to lift. I would start slowly [open up schools sporting events] I think we need to open up the schools start getting kids back to the immune system you know and the major events the sporting events these are non-essential let’s get back to those slowly let’s start with schools let’s start with cafe Rio and the pizza place here… Does that make sense to you guys and I think I can go into Costco and I can shop with people and there’s probably a couple hundred people but I can’t go in Cafe Rio so big businesses are open little businesses are not….
Eventually we treat this like we treat flu. Which is if you have the flu and you’re feeling fever and body aches you just stay home if you have coughing or shortness of breath—COVID is more of a respiratory thing—you stay home. You don’t get tested, even when people come with flu a lot of times we don’t test them. We go, “you have flu. Here’s a medication.” You have COVID, go home, let it resolve and come back negative. If you have no symptoms you should be able to return to work. Are you an asymptomatic viral spreader? Maybe, but we can’t test all of humanity. Sure we’re gonna miss cases of coronavirus, just like we miss cases of the flu. It would be nice to capture every coronavirus patient, but is that realistic? Are we gonna keep the economy shut down for two years and vaccinate everybody? That’s an unrealistic expectation. You’re going to cause financial ruin, domestic violence, suicide, rape, violence and what are you going to get out of it? You’re still going to miss a lot of cases. So we need to treat this like the flu, which is familiar, and eventually this will mutate and become less and less virulent… 
I don’t need a double-blind clinically controlled trial to tell me if sheltering in place is appropriate, that is a college-level understanding of microbiology. A lot of times in medicine you have to make you have to make educated decisions with the data that you have. I can sit up in the 47th-floor in the penthouse and say we should do this, this, and this, but I haven’t seen a patient for 20 years—that’s not realistic. If you’re healthy and you don’t have significant comorbidities and you know you’re not immunodeficient and you’re not elderly you should be able to go out without any gloves and without a mask. If you are those things you should either shelter in place or wear a mask and gloves. I don’t think everybody needs to wear the masks and gloves because it reduces your bacterial flora… and your bacterial flora and your viruses your friends that protect you from other diseases [if they] end up going away and now you’re more likely to get opportunistic infections infections that are hoping you don’t have your good bugs fighting for you.

Japan Ends Coronavirus Emergency With 850 Deaths and No Lockdown

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced the end of his state of emergency declaration for the novel coronavirus pandemic, with just 851 deaths reported and without ever implementing a lockdown.

"I have decided to end the state of emergency across the nation," Abe said during a televised press conference on Monday. "In just over a month and a half, we almost brought (the infection) situation under control."

Abe cautioned that lifting the order did not mean that the novel virus was gone from Japan. "Our battle against the virus will continue," he said, while urging the Japanese people to continue following stringent social distancing guidance. As of Monday, the East Asian nation had reported 16,628 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. Of those infected, 13,612 have already recovered and 851 have died. Tokyo, the nation's capital with 14 million residents, was the hardest-hit part of the country, with more than 5,100 cases. On Monday, the city reported just eight new infections.

The Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C. did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment by publication. While Japan never implemented stringent lockdowns like those in parts of China, many European countries and the U.S., it barred foreigner travelers who had visited many hard-hit countries and urged residents to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Restaurants and shops were also required to close earlier than normal. Karaoke bars, live music venues and gyms were shuttered and will remain closed in the coming weeks.

Public health officials in Japan have warned the population to wear masks in public and continue to work from home if possible. The Japanese government has asked the population to adapt to a new lifestyle to avoid an uptick in new cases and prevent the spread of the virus. People have also been encouraged to avoid traveling for non-essential purposes to other regions of the country. It's unclear why Japan has a relatively low infection rate and a comparatively small number of deaths due to COVID-19. Abe has faced criticism for taking little action to curb the virus' spread as many other nations implemented stringent lockdowns.

"Just by looking at death numbers, you can say Japan was successful," Mikihito Tanaka, a professor at Waseda University specializing in science communication, and a member of a public group of experts on the novel virus, told Bloomberg. "But even experts don't know the reason."

Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan's economic revitalization minister, has said that the situation with the virus will be reviewed every three weeks and further steps could be taken to ease the guidance currently in place, Kyodo News reported. Until then, the Japanese public has been encouraged to remain at home and to avoid large public gatherings.

Sweden claims coronavirus success after keeping country open, says herd immunity imminent

Sweden has refused to shut down schools and businesses.

Criticized for refusing to lock down, Sweden’s top health official says herd immunity is inevitable and took credit for the slowing of coronavirus numbers. “According to our modelers, we are starting to see so many immune people in the population in Stockholm that it is starting to have an effect on the spread of the infection,” Anders Tegnell, who led the charge to keep Sweden open, told local media. “Our models point to some time in May.” Despite social distancing guidelines from the World Health Organization, Sweden has resisted lockdowns, instead keeping open schools, gyms, bars and restaurants and relying on citizens to caution themselves. Tegnell’s comments echo thoughts about herd immunity, in which most of the population is infected with the assumption that those who survive will not be infected again, floated by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But Johnson eventually folded to the advice of health officials and shut down the United Kingdom. The WHO has also insisted that there’s no evidence yet that coronavirus antibodies leave the infected immune. So far, 14,385 people in Sweden have tested positive for coronavirus. Of those, 1,540 have died. But Tegnell said the death toll “is not a failure for the overall strategy.” “It is a failure to protect our elderly who live in care homes,” he said.

Corbett Report: Lies, Damned Lies and Coronavirus Statistics (video)
The numbers are in on the great Covid-19 pandemic . . . but unfortunately those numbers are unreliable. From mendacious models and puffed-up projections to dodgy death data and tainted tests, today on The Corbett Report James highlights what the accredited scientists and award-winning researchers are saying about the pandemic pandemonium of 2020.


 Yes, the UK’s weekly death toll during Covid-19 is high. But it’s been worse in the past and we didn’t shut down the economy then

The death statistics being used by supporters of a prolonged lockdown, whatever the costs to our jobs, businesses and health, need careful and sober analysis. They raise more questions than they answer.  Coronavirus is being touted as the worst pandemic of modern times, and we are told that excess deaths are reaching record highs. While technically accurate, one week’s statistics demonstrate that this is not the whole picture. Sky TV economics editor Ed Conway recently produced a chart entitled: ‘The Worst Week Ever? Not quite, but not far off’.’ He is referring to the fact that the total number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending April 10 -–18,516 deaths – remains lower than some weeks in previous flu seasons. These weeks include those in January 1970 (20,006 deaths), December 1989 (19,104 deaths) and January 2000 (18,646 deaths). Conway rightly points out that those previous highs came at the peak of those years’ flu seasons, and we are now in April. Conway claims that there has never been a week at this time of year as deadly as this. He may be right, but weekly figures from the Office of National Statistics only go back to 1970, and so do not include earlier pandemics such as the 1951 flu outbreak, the Asian flu pandemic of 1957-58, or, of course, the Spanish flu of 1918. And there are other holes in Conway’s analysis. Although there have been an abnormally high number of deaths this April, there have been certain demographic changes over the years that may have contributed to the overall picture. Let us look into what some of those could be.

Demographic shifts

The most obvious demographic change that happens over time is the changing size of the population. In the UK, the population has been growing –fast– ever since the Second World War, and in 1970, when the data began, it stood at about 56 million. Today, it is close to 66 million - a 15 percent increase. It is important to note that the UK includes Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Mr Conway’s data only focuses on England and Wales; therefore, the difference may have been slightly less than 10 million. But the proportional increase since 1970 would have been roughly the same. And when there are more people in your country –say 15 percent more– there are more people dying every week. Population increase, then, is a mitigating factor as regards to whether we are seeing a record number of deaths. But healthcare has improved over that time, and people generally have healthier lifestyles now. Doesn’t this suppress mortality? Yes, it does. But that also leads directly to a greying population. And the UK now has an elderly population the likes of which few societies have ever dealt with. Almost 8 million people in England and Wales are over the age of 70. This puts a large swathe of the population in the risk category for Covid-19.

The non-Covid-19 excess deaths

There is one more major factor to consider when comparing this pandemic to previous ones, which did not involve economic shutdowns. There were 18,516 deaths in the week ending April 10, representing about 8,000 extra deaths above the number that would normally be expected for this week of the year. But interestingly, almost 2,000 of those could not be directly attributed to Covid-19 – almost a quarter. The week before that, more than half of the deaths – between 3,000 and 4,000 – were unexplained “excess” deaths.

So what explains these thousands of “missing deaths” in the figures? The numbers are too high to be down to random variation. According to Dr Jason Oke, a senior statistician in the Oxford University Medical Statistics Group, there are only two possible explanations. The first is that the missing deaths were indeed directly caused by Covid-19, and the victims simply did not match up to the symptoms or test positive for reasons as yet unascertained. This underreporting would be despite the fact that any death certificate that had a mention of Covid-19 is included among the deaths attributed to the virus, even if there was no positive test and it was not marked down as the primary cause of death.

The second explanation is the missing deaths have been indirectly caused by the lockdown in some way. Right now we can only speculate as to how the lockdown may be killing people, and some of the likeliest ways, from lack of regular healthcare to suicides, are touched-on here. Dr Oke says: “It’s going to be one of those two causes … There’s not enough information to know whether this is under-reporting of Covid or whether this is, not a term I particularly like, but one that has been bandied around, ‘collateral damage’ as a result of the lockdown.”

Collateral damage is a phrase that will probably become more familiar before this is over. Economic shutdowns have been presented by some as a trade-off between “money versus lives.” But what is becoming increasingly apparent is they, in fact, pit “lives versus lives.” The UK’s Office for National Statistics say that they are conducting “further investigation” of the missing deaths, and it will certainly be interesting to see what they conclude. But their head of health analysis, Nick Stripe, has said that it may take months or even years to get to the bottom of it. All that we can say for now is that more people are dying than usual. Exactly why that is, we will have to wait to find out.

Dr. Drew Pinsky: Coronavirus Panic Must Stop, Press Needs to Be Held Accountable for Hurting People

Dr. Drew talks with CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith about coronavirus: “The panic must stop. And the press, they really somehow need to be held accountable because they are hurting people.”

CBS NEWS: “So you’ve seen pandemics over the decades, how does this one compare with everything?”

DR. DREW: “A bad flu season is 80,000 dead, we’ve got about 18,000 dead from influenza this year, we have a hundred from corona. Which should you be worried about influenza or Corona? A hundred versus 18,000? It’s not a trick question. And look, everything that’s going on with the New York cleaning the subways and everyone using Clorox wipes and get your flu shot, which should be the other message, that’s good. That’s a good thing, so I have no problem with the behaviors. What I have a problem with is the panic and the fact that businesses are getting destroyed that people’s lives are being upended, not by the virus, but by the panic. The panic must stop. And the press, they really somehow need to be held accountable because they are hurting people.”

CBS NEWS: “So, where do you think the panic started? Besides the press, like what was the impetus in terms of mass hysteria?”

DR. DREW: “I saw it, there’s a footage of me on a show called The Daily Blast Live a month ago, going ‘shouldn’t we be scared about this?’ and me going ‘no, there’s gonna be as potential for panic here, shut up everybody, stop talking about it, I could see the panic brewing, and I could just see it the way the innuendo and the every opportunity for drama by the press was twisted in that direction. Let me give you an example: so the World Health Organization is out now saying the fatality rate from the virus is 3.4%, right? Every publication from the WHO says 3.4% and we expect it to fall dramatically once we understand the full extent of the illness. No one ever reports the actual statement. We go 3.4% that’s 10 times more than the, whatever five times more than the flu virus and yeah it’s gonna be a little more [than the] flu probably. Still not a bad flu season.”

CBS NEWS: “Right, we’re gonna hear about more cases, more people died.”

DR. DREW: “There are probably several people in this building that probably have it and don’t know it.”

CBS NEWS: “Right, well it was also just the process of letting the public know, the stock market, the number of tests that were available, there was so much happening, I think people were freaking out as a result of that.”

DR. DREW: “I think there was it was a concerted effort by the press to capture your eyes and in doing so they did it by inducing panic. There’s, listen, the CDC and the WHO, they know what they are doing, they contain pandemics, that’s how they know how to do it, they’re doing an amazing job.”

CBS NEWS: “What about the global implications of this because we were talking off-camera about Italy, there’s China as well, there’s some little outbreaks where you should avoid.

DR. DREW: “There are, I would look out where there flus out breaking bad to. I ended up getting the bird flu, I got H1N1 and it was horrible. It was no fun. … There’s certain things having been a physician for almost forty years, there are certain things I just know … and there’s certain things I just know by virtue of all the experience I’ve had and so when I saw this one coming, the corona, I thought I know how this is gonna go, I see kind of what it is and then I saw the excessive reaction the press, so I have to respond and then people, the weird part on social media towards me as people are angry with me, angry with me for trying to get them to see reality and calm down.”

Minnesota: Doctors Receiving Instructions “to Report Covid19 as a Cause of Death, even if Patient was never Tested”.

Minnesota State Senator Scott Jensen appeared on a local news show to report that doctors were receiving instructions from the Minnesota Department of Health to report Covid19 as a cause of death, even if the patient was never tested.

Senator Jensen, who is also a practising physician, said he had never before in his thirty-five-year career received specific instructions on how to fill out a death certificate. The apparent policy of Minnesota – to report any and all pneumonia or “flu-like illness” decedents as Covid19 cases, with or without a test – ties in with the US policy as described by the CDC’s official memos.  This is not new information, we covered the guidelines from the CDC, here. In fact the governments of Italy, Germany, the UK and Austria all doing the same thing. So, while Dr Jensen’s revelation isn’t as shocking as it would have been just 10 days ago, it does at least demonstrate that, within the medical world, these guidelines are not normal. In a separate interview with Lauran Ingraham, Jensen described the guidelines as “ridiculous”. According to Jensen, citing a colleague, it is not usual practice to ever put “presumptions or probabilities” on a death certificate, but rather to “stick to the facts”. The question still hangs in the air: Why do national and regional governments appear to be going out of their way to inflate the Covid19 death statistics? Dr Jensen has his own idea:
Well, fear is a great way to control people, and I worry about that. I worry that sometimes we’re just so interested in jazzing up the fear factor, that…you know, sometimes people’s ability to think for themselves is paralyzed if they’re frightened enough.

US Hospitals Getting Paid More to Label Cause of Death as ‘Coronavirus’ (video)

Dr. Scott Jensen says the American Medical Association is now “encouraging” doctors to overcount coronavirus deaths across the country.  Jensen received a  7-page document that showed him how to fill out a death certificate as a “COVID-19 diagnosis” even when there isn’t a lab test confirming the diagnosis. “Right now Medicare is determining that if you have a COVID-19 admission to the hospital you get $13,000. If that COVID-19 patient goes on a ventilator you get $39,000, three times as much. Nobody can tell me after 35 years in the world of medicine that sometimes those kinds of things impact on what we do.”  This is absolutely bone-chilling.  Watch the interview below.

USA Today Fact check: Hospitals get paid more if patients listed as COVID-19, on ventilators

Health care workers screen patients who will be tested for COVID-19 at the FoundCare drive-thru testing station in Palm Springs, Fla., on March 19.

We rate the claim that hospitals get paid more if patients are listed as COVID-19 and on ventilators as TRUE. Hospitals and doctors do get paid more for Medicare patients diagnosed with COVID-19 or if it's considered presumed they have COVID-19 absent a laboratory-confirmed test, and three times more if the patients are placed on a ventilator to cover the cost of care and loss of business resulting from a shift in focus to treat COVID-19 cases. This higher allocation of funds has been made possible under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act through a Medicare 20% add-on to its regular payment for COVID-19 patients, as verified by USA TODAY through the American Hospital Association Special Bulletin on the topic.

Our fact-check sources

Are ventilators actually deathtraps? Medics are increasingly worried they may do more harm than good, disturbing report reveals

His face contorted with worry, a young casualty doctor sends a desperate message to the world. He has watched over the beds of hundreds of coronavirus patients, and now believes they are dying because of the very treatment that is meant to save them. After being rushed into hospital, they are knocked out by sedatives delivered through a throat tube as a ventilator mechanically pumps their lungs to send oxygen into their bodies. It is a standard treatment for the deadly lung infection pneumonia, and one that was first used for Covid-19 patients in China, then in Europe and now here in Britain. Yet, in a frank YouTube video, the New York casualty doctor Cameron Kyle-Sidell has broken ranks with the medical establishment and warns it is wrong to use ventilators in this way.

He states emphatically: 'I fear this misguided treatment will lead to a tremendous amount of harm in a very short time. Covid-19 is not a pneumonia and should not be treated as one.' His video, which has been viewed around the world, is heralding a re-think concerning the treatment of severe cases of Covid-19. In particular, experts are now asking whether the best way of saving patients might be to saturate their blood with oxygen delivered through a mask without using a ventilator. This is the approach reportedly used during Boris Johnson's fight for life against the virus at London's St Thomas' Hospital intensive care unit. Before the pandemic took hold, Kyle-Sidell's theory might have been dismissed as maverick.

Many of the most eminent medical specialists, governments and politicians were insisting in the early days that ventilators were a crucial life-saver. Britain scrambled to get them. Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised we would have 1,500 new ventilators by the end of last week, although the NHS received just a few hundred. A worldwide shortage as every nation rushed to buy them has forced the Government to scale back on its long-term target of 30,000 of the invasive breathing machines being available during the crisis. But as hospital virus deaths climb, a Daily Mail investigation has found that the New York casualty doctor's unorthodox views, far from being crazy, might be the very opposite — and the key to preventing deaths.

The death rate for those treated on ventilators is devastating. In one British study of 98 Covid-19 patients who were put on them or on similarly invasive breathing-support equipment, two-thirds died, according to a new report by our Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre. In New York, which has been hit particularly hard by the virus, 80 per cent of ventilated patients failed to recover. The loss of life in other countries for those on the machines is equally terrifying. Dr David Farcy, the president of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, warns against using them indiscriminately. His patients have been treated successfully with fastflow oxygen delivered through a simple nasal tube or mask.

He also places patients on their left or right side, a process called proning that is simpler to perform on patients in masks than those on ventilators, which instantly raises oxygen levels in their blood. 'This has challenged everything we thought', he said. 'Six weeks ago everybody (in a hospital) would be running around getting ready to intubate you, put you on a machine'. But not any more. So why the change of tune? The answer is that some doctors have a remarkable new thesis: that the virus's symptoms are more akin to highaltitude breathing difficulties (caused by a lack of oxygen at extreme heights) or even carbon monoxide poisoning (which snuffs out oxygen in the body's red blood cells).

In both instances, victims struggle for oxygen. But they do not have the ravaged lungs of pneumonia sufferers who are routinely put on ventilators. Dr Kyle-Sidell says of Covid-19 in his video: 'It appears to be some kind of viral-induced disease most resembling high-altitude sickness. 'It is as if tens of thousands of my fellow New Yorkers are flying on a plane at 30,000 ft and the cabin pressure is slowly being let out. These patients are slowly being starved of oxygen. 'The patients I am seeing are most like a person dropped off at the top of mount Everest without time to acclimatise. They look like patients on the brink of death (through lack of oxygen). They do not look like patients dying of pneumonia.'

For pneumonia cases, he explains, the ventilator 'does the work that patient's muscles can no longer do because they are too tired to do it'. But the muscles of Covid-19 patients are fine. 'They are suffering from oxygen failure, not respiratory failure.' His supporters include distinguished medics such as Dr Luciano Gattinoni of Germany's Medical University of Gottingen. In a letter to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Dr Gattinoni warns that the conventional use of ventilators may injure the lungs of Covid-19 victims. At one European hospital where virus patients were ventilated in this way, 60 per cent of them died. Into the fray, too, has stepped Professor Sherif Sultan, the Ireland-based President of the International Society of Vascular Surgery.

He believes that invasive ventilation is not a solution for Covid-19 as it does not resemble pneumonia or a similar respiratory ailment. We need to stop treating patients for the wrong disease, he surmises in an analysis of medical research into the virus. Professor Sultan believes the vital clue that the coronavirus is different from pneumonia is in how it attacks the human body. It affects both lungs at the same time, which pneumonia rarely ever does. One has to remember this is a very new disease, first seen in Western Europe just eight weeks ago, which doctors are desperately trying to understand. What baffles them is that many patients suffering from Covid-19 have extraordinarily low oxygen levels when they arrive at hospital.

Mysteriously, they don't feel uncomfortable, they behave normally, and are in a state of what doctors have nicknamed 'happy' hypoxia (oxygen deprivation), then they suddenly deteriorate and collapse. Medical researchers in India report they can be laughing one minute and at death's door the next. And now, it seems, that rushing them to a ventilator may only make things worse. The machine takes over the breathing process of the patients who are heavily sedated so they cannot fight the sensation of not being able to breathe on their own. It pumps the lungs, but also sends oxygen to the vital organs, including the heart, brain and liver which need it to function.


When coronavirus kills, it’s like death by drowning — and doctors disagree on best treatment
Patients struggle to breathe, but ventilators may not always help

COVID-19 is caused by a virus. But what’s actually killing people is something else. This week’s surge in demand for California’s intensive care unit beds – from 1,259 to 1,539 — is caused by an illness that resembles drowning when the lungs are too full of fluid to breathe. It looks a lot like a familiar enemy, called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, or ARDS. But it’s different, too. Now doctors in the trenches are worried that the standard approach for treatment is failing patients.

They are even debating: Does the use of ventilators help? Or hurt? “We’re seeing something very different and new in this disease,” said emergency medicine specialist Dr. James Saunders of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. “It’s very weird. It is not classic ARDS. “It is alarming because we don’t have a treatment paradigm to fall back on,” he said. The general trajectory of a COVID-19 diagnosis is becoming clear, based on months of experience in thousands of patients in China, Europe and now the U.S. The illness seems to have two phases. Most people experience the first. But some go on to a second phase, with catastrophic consequences. In the first week, viral levels are high. Symptoms such as fever, sore throat or cough are mild or moderate. The immune system fends off the virus in a targeted and calibrated way. People may feel lousy but recover. But in a subset of patients, for reasons unknown, things go horribly awry during the second week of illness. Even though levels of virus fall, the immune system goes into dangerous overdrive, flooding the lungs with inflammatory cells. In these people, it’s their body’s response, rather than the virus, that’s lethal.

“This is often when people will deteriorate and become much more ill and end up in the ICU,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Annie Luetkemeyer, associate professor of medicine at UC San Francisco. Patients struggle for air. Oxygen levels plummet. Blood pressure drops. Kidneys fail. The heart stops. Of COVID-19 patients, 15 to 25 percent have severe disease and 5 percent end up in the ICU, according to Dr. Jennifer Babik, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Francisco. In a comparison of very sick patients in China, shortness of breath began around the seventh day of their illness, with sepsis starting on the ninth or 10th day, followed by ARDS and then ICU admission on the 12th day, said Babik. The heart and kidneys showed injury on the 15th day. On the 17th day, secondary infections began to set in. Patients died, on average, on the 19th day. “Honestly, it’s the worst scenario that can happen to any patient. It is a nightmare to control,” said Los Altos geriatric specialist Dr. Mehrdad Ayati.

What’s happening? Think of your respiratory system as a tree. The branches are your bronchi and at the end of each small branch are leaves — clusters of 600 million tiny microscopic sacs, called alveoli. That’s where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. During the immune overreaction, called a “cytokine storm,” the alveoli drown in a gummy yellow fluid. “The feeling that you can’t breathe that is one of the scariest things,” said Eileen Rubin of the ARDS Foundation, who nearly died at age 33 after the onset of non-COVID sepsis, then ARDS. Her kidneys failed, both lungs collapsed and she went into respiratory arrest, forcing her to be put in a medically-induced coma for four of nine weeks of hospitalization. “You try to get a deep, clean breath of air, and you can’t,” she said. “You are constricted. You feel restrained. You can’t fix it. It causes this deep anxiety.” Normally caused by pneumonia or sepsis, ARDS is a well-studied disease that affects 200,000 people a year.

Now, “almost every patient coming to the ICU because of COVID-19 meets criteria for ARDS,” said Dr. Angela Rogers, a pulmonary critical care physician at Stanford University and an expert in the syndrome. But the features of the new viral illness don’t quite fit the classic ARDS pattern, she and a growing number of critical care physicians say. And that’s baffling. “The mortality rate in COVID-19 patients who require mechanical ventilation seems higher than what we typically see for ARDS,” said Stanford’s Rogers. “The syndrome also looks different in some ways, with very bad oxygen levels yet lungs that are not as stiff as what we typically see with ARDS.” Many patients come to the hospital with blood oxygen levels so low they should be gasping for breath but instead they’re talking and texting on their phone, said Valley Med’s Saunders. Their lungs are relatively elastic. Mysteriously, their blood levels of carbon dioxide remain relatively low. Tragically, their disease progresses — and as in classic ARDS, the lungs become filled with protein-rich edema and fibrin debris, according to Dr. Michael Matthay, professor of medicine at UCSF who specializes in the care of patients with acute respiratory failure. But there are also unique cellular features of the COVID illness, with lymphocytes and mononuclear cells filling the lungs.

And, most worrisome: As the disease progresses, ventilators aren’t saving people. Despite our best efforts, COVID-19 illness is far more lethal than traditional ARDS, claiming not 40% of victims but 70% or even 80%. Even as hospitals and governors raise the alarm about ventilator shortages, a growing number of doctors say the equipment may offer little benefit to many and even harm patients. They question the old dogma, instead urging consideration of simpler and less aggressive alternatives, such as breathing masks and lying in a prone position, with the chest down and back up. Ventilation, which forces air into the lungs at a set rate and force, may be essential, they note. But it should be used differently; providing oxygen, not pressure. COVID-19 more closely resembles symptoms of high altitude sickness, rather than pneumonia, they say.

If the air sacs of the lungs are so gummy that they can’t absorb oxygen, a ventilator’s high pressure could cause damage, according to an influential letter last week written by Italian and German ARDS experts in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Amid the fatigue and stress of trying to save patients, doctors are seeking to discover what’s going so wrong. “The way we are treating this right now isn’t working,” said Saunders. “This is either a very virulent and much more terrible disease — or, alternatively, we are treating the wrong disease, so we need to work in a different way. I deeply worry clinicians are incorrectly treating this disease as primarily an ARDS-related process when what we’re seeing suggests it’s not. “This is all new,” he said. “There may be something different about the disease, and we’re trying to understand what it is.”

 80% of NYC's coronavirus patients who are put on ventilators ultimately die, and some doctors are trying to stop using them

coronavirus ventilator
  • Some doctors are trying to reduce their reliance on ventilators for coronavirus patients because of reports of abnormally high death rates for patients using the machines, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
  • New York City officials have said at least 80% of coronavirus patients who were on ventilators in the city died, the AP reported. Unusually high death rates have also been recorded elsewhere in the US and the world.
  • Ventilators are typically used only for the worst-affected patients, and there are no drugs approved to treat COVID-19, so this could help explain the higher death rate.
  • But doctors have also said ventilators can damage the lungs — and while the machines may be an effective way to treat other respiratory illnesses, some are looking for alternative treatments.
  • Because there is a global ventilator shortage, doctors and healthcare systems have called for more to be made or bought quickly to treat the worst-affected patients.
Some doctors are trying to use ventilators less frequently as some areas have reported high death rates among coronavirus patients who were on them, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Ventilators, machines used to bring oxygen into a person's lungs, are typically used only for the patients worst affected by respiratory diseases. Experts have said that some 40% to 50% of patients with severe respiratory issues die while on ventilators, the AP reported. New York City officials have said at least 80% of coronavirus patients who were put on ventilators there ultimately died, the AP reported. New York state has the most confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in the US. There have also been reports of unusually high death rates among patients on ventilators elsewhere in the US and in China and the UK, the AP said. utting a person on a ventilator is an extreme step saved for the worst-affected patients, who typically already have the highest chance of dying from respiratory failure. The higher death rates could be a result of this, as well as the fact that there are so far no drugs approved to fight the coronavirus.

Ventilators could be further harming coronavirus patients, some doctors say

Some doctors are also concerned that ventilators could be further harming certain coronavirus patients, as the treatment is hard on the lungs, the AP reported. Dr. Tiffany Osborn, a critical-care specialist at the Washington University School of Medicine, told NPR on April 1 that ventilators could actually damage a patient's lungs. "The ventilator itself can do damage to the lung tissue based on how much pressure is required to help oxygen get processed by the lungs," she said. Dr. Negin Hajizadeh, a pulmonary critical-care doctor at New York's Hofstra/Northwell School of Medicine, also told NPR that while ventilators worked well for people with diseases like pneumonia, they don't necessarily also work for coronavirus patients. She said that most coronavirus patients in her hospital system who were put on a ventilator had not recovered. She added that the coronavirus does a lot more damage to the lungs than illnesses like the flu, as "there is fluid and other toxic chemical cytokines, we call them, raging throughout the lung tissue." "We know that mechanical ventilation is not benign," Dr. Eddy Fan, an expert on respiratory treatment at Toronto General Hospital, told the AP. "One of the most important findings in the last few decades is that medical ventilation can worsen lung injury — so we have to be careful how we use it."

Doctors are trying to find other solutions and reduce their reliance on ventilators

The lack of treatment options for coronavirus patients has caused much of the world to turn to ventilators for the worst-affected patients. But the high death rates reported among patients on ventilators have prompted some doctors to seek alternatives and reduce their reliance on ventilators, the AP reported. Dr. Joseph Habboushe, an emergency-medicine doctor in Manhattan, told the AP that until a few weeks ago, it was routine in the city to place particularly ill coronavirus patients on ventilators. Now doctors are increasingly trying other treatments.  "If we're able to make them better without intubating them," Habboushe said, "they are more likely to have a better outcome — we think."

New Study Shows Nearly 9 in 10 Covid-19 Patients on Ventilators Don’t Make It

A giant study that examined outcomes for more than 2,600 patients found an extraordinarily high 88% death rate among Covid-19 patients in the New York City area who had to be placed on mechanical devices to help them breathe. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is one of the largest reviews published to date of Covid-19 patients hospitalized in the U.S. The researchers examined outcomes for coronavirus patients who were admitted between March 1 and April 4 to 12 hospitals in New York City and Long Island that are part of the Northwell Health system. Overall, the researchers reported that 553 patients died, or 21%. But among the 12% of very sick patients that needed ventilators to breathe, the death rate rose to 88%.

The rate was particularly awful for patients over 65 who were placed on a machine, with just 3% of those patients surviving, according to the results. Men had a higher mortality rate than women. “The findings of high mortality rates among ventilated patients are similar to smaller case series reports of critically ill patients in the US,” the authors wrote in the paper. With no proven drugs, ventilators are one of the go-to options for ICUs and critical care doctors in working with severe cases of Covid-19 pneumonia. But there are growing reports that few patients who get on the machines are able to get off. As a result, some doctors are questioning their use in Covid-19 patients and have been trying to find methods for keeping coronavirus patients off them when possible. The mortality rate in the study may not represent the ultimate picture that emerges. That’s because the study only included patients for whom a definite outcome is known-- those who died or were discharged. It didn’t include patients still being treated at hospitals. Outcome data were available for just 2,634 of 5,700 patients admitted during the study period. Northwell Health researchers involved in the study said they were aware of the debate over when to use mechanical ventilation in Covid-19 patients, but noted that the observational nature of the study made it impossible to draw any conclusions about how best to use of ventilators in coronavirus patients. “We are only reporting observations in this report,” said Karina Davidson, senior vice president for research at Northwell Health. “So we can’t say if mechanical ventilation had been withheld from these patients there would have been a different survival rate.”


Covid19 Death Figures “A Substantial Over-Estimate”

Given that 99% of them had at least one serious co-morbidity (and that 80% of them had two such diseases) this raised serious questions as to the reliability of Italy’s reported statistics. Prof Walter Ricciardi, advisor to Italy’s health minister, explained this was caused by the “generous” way the Italian government handles death certificates: The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus.

Essentially, Italy’s death registration process does not differentiate between those who simply have the virus in their body, and those who are actually killed by it. Given the amount of fear and panic Italy’s comparatively alarming numbers caused around the world, you would think other nations would be eager to avoid these same mistakes. Surely all the other countries of the world are employing rigorous standards for delineating who has, and has not, fallen victim to the pandemic, right? Wrong.

In fact, rather than learning from Italy’s example, other countries are not only repeating these mistakes but going even further. In Germany, for example, though overall deaths and case-fatality ratio are far lower than Italy’s, their public health agency is still engaging in similar practice. On March 20th the President of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute confirmed that Germany counts any deceased person who was infected with coronavirus as a Covid19 death, whether or not it actually caused death. This totally ignores what Dr Sucharit Bhakdi calls the vital distinction between “infection” and “disease”, leading to stories such as this, shared by Dr Hendrik Streeck: In Heinsberg, for example, a 78-year-old man with previous illnesses died of heart failure, and that was without Sars-2 lung involvement. Since he was infected, he naturally appears in the Covid 19 statistics.

How many “Covid19 deaths” in Germany, fall into this bracket? We don’t know, and will likely never know. But at least Germany is actually limiting itself to test positive cases. In the United States, a briefing note from the CDC’s National Vital Statistics Service read as follows [our emphasis]: It is important to emphasise that Coronavirus Disease 19, or Covid-19, should be reported for all decedents where the disease caused or is presumed to have caused or contributed to death.

“Presumed to have caused”? “Contributed”? That’s incredibly soft language, which could easily lead to over-reporting. The referenced detailed “guidance” was released April 3rd, and is no better [again, our emphasis]:
In cases where a definite diagnosis of COVID–19 cannot be made, but it is suspected or likely (e.g., the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty), it is acceptable to report COVID–19 on a death certificate as “probable” or “presumed.” In these instances, certifiers should use their best clinical judgement in determining if a COVID–19 infection was likely.
Are careful records being kept to separate “Covid-19” from “presumed Covid-19”? Are the media making sure they respect the distinction in their reporting? Absolutely not. Whenever the alleged casualties are referenced we are fed one large all-inclusive number, without context or explanation, which – thanks to lax reporting guidelines – could be entirely false. Government agencies all across the UK are doing the same thing. Northern Ireland’s HSC Public Health Agency is releasing weekly surveillance bulletins on the pandemic, in those reports they define a “Covid19 death” as: individuals who have died within 28 days of first positive result, whether or not COVID-19 was the cause of death.

NHS England’s Office of National Statistics releases weekly reports on nation-wide mortality. Its latest report (Week 12 – March 14th-20th)was released on March 31st and made special mention of Covid19, explaining they were going to change the way they report the numbers in future. The ONS system is predicated on the registration of deaths. Meaning they count, not the number of people who die every week, but the number of deaths registered per week. This, naturally, leads to slight delays in the recording of numbers as the registration process can take a few days. However, with coronavirus deaths, since its a “national emergency”, they are now including “provisional figures” which will be “included in the dataset in subsequent weeks”. This leaves them wide open to – either accidentally or deliberately – reporting the same deaths twice. Once “provisionally”, and then once “officially” a week later. That’s just one peculiar policy decision. There are many others.

Up until now, the ONS reported those Covid19 numbers collated by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The DHSC records only those who died in hospital and have tested positive for the coronavirus as Covid19 deaths. BUT, from now on, the ONS will also include Covid19 deaths “in the community” in their statistics. That “includes those not tested for Covid19”and where “suspected Covid19″ [our emphasis] is presumed to be a “contributory factor”. Here are some screencaps of the relevant sections: The official NHS guidance for doctors filling out death certificates is just as vague [our emphasis]: if before death the patient had symptoms typical of COVID19 infection, but the test result has not been received, it would be satisfactory to give ‘COVID-19’ as the cause of death, and then share the test result when it becomes available. In the circumstances of there being no swab, it is satisfactory to apply clinical judgement.

The government is telling doctors it is OK to list “Covid-19” as a cause of death when there is literally no evidence the deceased was infected. That means there are potentially huge numbers of “Covid19 deaths” that were never even tested for the disease. Further, any possible mistakes will never be noticed or rectified, thanks to recent changes to the law. Usually, any death attributed to a “notifiable disease” had to be referred to a coroner for a jury hearing. Under UK law Covid19 is a “notifiable disease”, but the new Coronavirus Bill alters the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, to specifically exempt alleged Covid19 deaths from jury inquests. Further, according to the office of the Chief Coroner, the Coronavirus Bill means that these deaths don’t have to be referred to a coroner at all, and that medical practitioners can sign off a cause of death for a body they have never even seen:
Any registered medical practitioner can sign an MCCD [Medical Certificate for Cause of Death], even if the deceased was not attended during their last illness and not seen after death, provided that they are able to state the cause of death to the best of their knowledge and belief.
Deaths “in the community” can be listed as Covid19 deaths without being tested for the disease, or even seen by a doctor at all. These deaths will not necessarily be referred to a coroner, and certainly not heard by a jury. By enacting this legislation the UK government has not only made false reporting of Covid19 deaths more likely, they actively removed the safeguards designed to correct it. Recording accurate fatality numbers in this situation is borderline impossible. This is, at best, totally irresponsible and at worst incredibly sinister. Now, before you roll your eyes at the whacky alternate media and their crazy paranoia, the idea deaths are being over-estimated is not a fringe concept or a “conspiracy theory”. It is actually addressed in the mainstream frequently, people just seem to not hear it, drowned out as it is by the fear-inducing headlines. Dr John Lee, a professor of pathology and retired consulting pathologist with the NHS, wrote in a column for the Spectator: WHY COVID-19 DEATHS ARE A SUBSTANTIAL OVER-ESTIMATE

Many UK health spokespersons have been careful to repeatedly say that the numbers quoted in the UK indicate death with the virus, not death due tothe virus – this matters. […] This nuance is crucial ­– not just in understanding the disease, but for understanding the burden it might place on the health service in coming days. Unfortunately, nuance tends to be lost in the numbers quoted from the database being used to track Covid-19. […] This data is not standardised and so probably not comparable, yet this important caveat is seldom expressed by the (many) graphs we see. It risks exaggerating the quality of data that we have. In fact, Dr Lee goes out of his way to emphasise: The distinction between dying ‘with’ Covid-19 and dying ‘due to’ Covid-19 is not just splitting hairs.

The BBC dealt with the same issue in an article on April 1st [again, emphasis ours]: The death figures being reported daily are hospital cases where a person dies with the coronavirus infection in their body – because it is a notifiable disease cases have to be reported. But what the figures do not tell us is to what extent the virus is causing the death. It could be the major cause, a contributory factor or simply present when they are dying of something else. These absurd rules contributed to this recent example, referenced in the BBC article, but not widely reported at the time: An 18-year-old in Coventry tested positive for coronavirus the day before he died and was reported as its youngest victim at the time. But the hospital subsequently released a statement saying his death had been due to a separate “significant” health condition and not connected to the virus.

This story is completely true. The boy was widely reported as the UK’s “youngest coronavirus victim” on March 24th, before the hospital issued a statement saying: [The hospital] had tested for COVID-19 on the day before he died, but this was not linked to his reason for dying. Despite the hospital correcting the press, the case was still being reported in the tabloids a week later on March 31st. However, the important detail here is being lost: Going by the current NHS rules, despite the hospital officially saying it was not his cause of death, this boy is still part of the official coronavirus fatality statistics. How many more people fit that profile? We will never know.


Feds classifying all coronavirus patient deaths as ‘COVID-19’ deaths, regardless of cause

The federal government is classifying the deaths of patients infected with the coronavirus as COVID-19 deaths, regardless of any underlying health issues that could have contributed to the loss of someone’s life. Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, said the federal government is continuing to count the suspected COVID-19 deaths, despite other nations doing the opposite. “There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition, and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the ICU [intensive care unit] and then have a heart or kidney problem,” she said during a Tuesday news briefing at the White House. “Some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. “The intent is … if someone dies with COVID-19, we are counting that,” she added.

Asked whether the numbers could skew data the government is trying to collect, Birx said that would mostly apply more to rural areas where testing isn’t being implemented on a wide scale. “I’m pretty confident that in New York City and New Jersey and places that have these large outbreaks and COVID-only hospitals. … I can tell you they are testing,” she said. Dr. Michael Baden, a Fox News contributor, said it’s reasonable to include the death of someone infected with the virus, who also had other health issues, in the COVID-19 body count. “In the normal course, autopsies would then determine whether the person died of the effects of the COVID virus, whether the person had a brain tumor or brain hemorrhage, for example, that might be unrelated to it and what the relative significance of both the infection and the pre-existing disease is,” Baden told Fox News.

However, the number of autopsies being performed could be low due to the danger of infection, he said. “Then you will include in those numbers some people who did have a pre-existing condition that would have caused death anyway, but that’s probably a small number,” Baden said. The United States had 398,185 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday night, including more than 12,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. President Trump spent Monday trying to assure Americans that the US and health facilities are prepared for a possible surge in cases in the coming weeks. “Progress has been made before the surge,” Trump said during the White House coronavirus briefing, where he said hospitals will be stockpiled with much-needed equipment. “The next week, week and a half is when the big surge is going to come.”


NYT: Officials including people who had never tested positive for the virus but were "presumed" to have died of it

The city has added more than 3,700 additional people who were presumed to have died of the coronavirus but had never tested positive.

New York City, already a world epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, sharply increased its death toll by more than 3,700 victims on Tuesday, after officials said they were now including people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died of it. The new figures, released by the city’s Health Department, drove up the number of people killed in New York City to more than 10,000, and appeared to increase the overall United States death count by 17 percent to more than 26,000. The numbers brought into clearer focus the staggering toll the virus has already taken on the largest city in the United States, where deserted streets are haunted by the near-constant howl of ambulance sirens. Far more people have died in New York City, on a per-capita basis, than in Italy — the hardest-hit country in Europe.

And in a city reeling from the overt danger posed by the virus, top health officials said they had identified another grim reality: The outbreak is likely to have also led indirectly to a spike in deaths of New Yorkers who may never have been infected. Three thousand more people died in New York City between March 11 and April 13 than would have been expected during the same time period in an ordinary year, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the commissioner of the city Health Department, said in an interview. While these so-called excess deaths were not explicitly linked to the virus, they might not have happened had the outbreak not occurred, in part because it overwhelmed the normal health care system.

“This is yet another part of the impact of Covid,” she said, adding that more study was needed. Similar analysis is commonly done after heat waves and was performed in the wake of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. “What New Yorkers are interested in, and what the country is interested in, is that we have an accurate and complete count,” Dr. Barbot added. “It’s part of the healing process that we’re going to have to go through.”

The revised death toll renewed focus on shortcomings in testing that have hamstrung city and state officials since the beginning of the outbreak. A limited number of tests have been available, and until now, only deaths where a person had tested positive were officially counted among those killed by the virus in New York. But for weeks, the Health Department also had been recording additional deaths tied to the virus, according to two people briefed on the matter. Those cases involved people who were presumed to have been infected because of their symptoms and medical history.


Italy: Only 12% of “Covid19 deaths” list Covid19 as cause

The way Italy registers deaths explains their increased coronavirus case/fatality ratio, according to one expert and a report from Italy’s National Institute of Health (ISS). Citing this report (in English here), Professor Walter Ricciardi, scientific adviser to Italy’s minister of health said:
The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus […] On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three,”
This has been reported widely, it was even in The Telegraph, and yet no one seems to be engaging with it. The president of the Italian Civil Protection Service actually went out of his way to remind people of the nature of Italy’s fatality figures in a morning briefing on 20/03:
I want you to remember these people died WITH the coronavirus and not FROM the coronavirus”
What does this actually mean? It means that the Italian death toll figures could have been artificially inflated by up to 88%. If true, this would mean the total number of Italians who have actually died of Covid19 could be as low as ~700. Which would bring Italy, currently a statistical outlier in terms of Covid19 fatalities, well in line with the rest of the world. It means thousands of deaths currently widely attributed to Covid19, and being used to justify the introduction of measures equating to medical martial law, may not have died of covid19 at all but of their serious chronic co-morbidity (cancer, heart disease etc.). This statistic is not a secret, or in any way controversial, it was in The Telegraph after all, but people seem to be ignoring it, or reading around it, or perhaps simply not understanding it. We reported on these statistics a few days ago, and many people who should know better simply reacted to the headline without either reading the actual article or understanding the statistics. Given the bill that is having its second reading in the UK parliament today, it is important this information is spread widely and quickly.

This information was compiled with the assistance of the Swiss Propaganda Research group, we once again recommend everybody read their site. They are a must-read, a must-follow and a must-share. It is the best resource for Covid19 information on the internet.


How lethal is Covid-19 REALLY? Why massive fatality rates from Italy are MISLEADING

In Italy, the proportion of infected people dying from the novel coronavirus — 10 percent according to the latest figures — seems through the roof. Unsurprisingly, there is more to this terrifying figure than meets the eye. You do not need to be an expert to calculate the mortality rate. It is one number divided by another — the number of people who have died from the virus divided by the total number of confirmed cases. In the case of Italy, 7,503 dead divided by 74,386 infected gives a mortality rate of roughly 10 percent. But that does not mean that one in ten people who contract the virus will die, despite what the scaremongering media would have you believe. The first reason why is that the first, smaller number — the number of deaths from Covid-19 — is impossible to underestimate. People are either alive or dead, and usually as soon as a person dies they will quickly find their way into the national statistics. But the larger number, the confirmed cases, must by definition be an underestimate. It would be impossible for every person in a country positive for the coronavirus to have been already tested and added to the confirmed cases. The virus can be dormant in people for up to two weeks, and young people can experience very mild or even no symptoms at all, and still be positive for the virus. Since that figure is by definition too low, the mortality rates being reported are by definition too high.

Failing to test

Another factor is that governments are being pushed well beyond their capabilities for mass testing and contact tracing, some more than others. With typical efficiency, Germany is on top of their testing situation, and as such have picked up many milder cases. Therefore they have a high number of confirmed cases relative to the true number of infected people in Germany. This is keeping the mortality rate in Germany down at 0.5 percent, baffling experts who are expecting apocalyptic scenes at the hospitals, the likes of which have so far only materialized in Italy. Perhaps the cases will soon mount up in Germany, and their mortality rate will climb toward the four or five percent that seems to be the European average. But due to the asymptomatic people (a majority according to the best research) even that is an exaggeratedly high rate. Apply this principle to Italy, whose civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli told La Repubblica newspaper on Monday that “It is credible to estimate that there are 10 positive cases for every one officially reported.” If this were true, and as many as 640,000 people are infected in Italy, their actual mortality rate would in a stroke become one percent instead of ten percent. The scale of the problem begins to look quite different in that context.

Cause of death

Yet another reason for Italy’s inflated mortality rate is how deaths are being recorded there. Professor Walter Ricciardi, an adviser to the Italian minister of health, told the Telegraph on Monday that “the way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus.’’ A thought experiment may elucidate this. Imagine that one thousand people, all over the age of 75, died in hospitals in northern Italy last week. All of them had tested positive for the coronavirus at some point during the past few weeks. The vast majority of Covid-19 fatalities, 99 percent according to Italian research, have had a pre-morbidity, if not two or three. These are underlying health issues,like heart disease, cancer or various infections. Some might have been comatose, with life support machines and artificial breathing the only thing keeping them alive anyway. Eventually, their bodies gave out, and they simply could not fight on any longer. But does that mean that in the absence of the coronavirus, those one thousand people would still be alive? In other words, is it really true to say that all of these people died of Covid-19? But amidst this crisis, when health systems and governments have tunnel vision for this one ailment, all one thousand are chalked off as victims of the plague.

More spanners in the works

A recent article in the Guardian wrestling with Germany’s apparently too-low mortality rate concludes that because they are not conducting widespread testing of dead bodies for the coronavirus people could be dropping dead inside their own homes of Covid-19 and going unrecorded. This seems unlikely to be much of a factor, but there may be other reasons why Italy has so far been an outlier in coronavirus casualties. Many have pointed to Italy’s elderly population as the catch-all reason for their unnaturally high death rates. But that idea is a non-starter. Germany has the next oldest population in Europe, and Germans are not as healthy as Italians (who live long lives precisely because they are healthy), and yet Germany has the lowest death rate of the ten worst affected countries. Age cannot explain away the disparity. Another factor is doubtless the unpreparedness of Italy’s health system, and the dearth of beds and equipment that is now spawning rumors about doctors being forced to jettison some patients to make room for others. Germany is better equipped, but may not have been put to the test yet, as the virus is yet to explode there as it has in northern Italy.

Crisis around the corner?

Experts are still saying that the reason for all of these disparities is simply that some countries are further along the epidemic curve than others. This could explain why so many more have died in China and Italy and so few in Germany and the UK, for example, but it cannot explain the wild fluctuations in the mortality rates. None of this is meant to take away from the severity of the crisis in Italy, or that which may be just around the corner for the rest of the world. But the key point to take away from this is that the 10 percent mortality rate being reported from Italy is grossly misleading. It is being waved around by the mainstream media as a bit of old-fashioned sensationalism at best, and a calculated tool of propaganda at worst. A figure like 0.3 percent - barely higher than the common flu - simply does not have the same power in getting people to swallow unprecedented legislation that gives the state tremendous new powers in a host of new areas... all in the name of public health of course.


Team Trump Pushes CDC to Revise Down Its COVID Death Counts,d_placeholder_euli9k,h_675,w_1200,x_0,y_0/dpr_1.5/c_limit,w_908/fl_lossy,q_auto/v1589332737/200513-banco-swin-coronavirus-deaths-hero_adcbkp

The president and members of his task force are skeptical of the numbers and want the methodology changed.

President Donald Trump and members of his coronavirustask force are pushing officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change how the agency works with states to count coronavirus-related deaths. And they’re pushing for revisions that could lead to far fewer deaths being counted than originally reported, according to five administration officials working on the government’s response to the pandemic. Though he has previously publicly attested to the accuracy of the COVID-19 death count, the president in recent weeks has privately raised suspicion about the number of fatalities in the United States, which recently eclipsed 80,000 recorded deaths. In talks with top officials, Trump has suggested that those numbers could have been incorrectly tallied or even inflated by current methodology, two individuals with knowledge of those private comments said.

The White House has pressed the CDC, in particular, to work with states to change how they count coronavirus deaths and report them back to the federal government, according to two officials with knowledge of those conversations. And Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the administration’s coronavirus task force, has urged CDC officials to exclude from coronavirus death-count reporting some of those individuals who either do not have confirmed lab results and are presumed positive or who have the virus and may not have died as a direct result of it, according to three senior administration officials.

Officials inside the CDC, five of whom spoke to The Daily Beast, said they are pushing back against that request, claiming it could falsely skew the mortality rate at a time when state and local governments are already struggling to ensure that every person who dies as a result of the coronavirus is counted. Scientists and doctors working with the task force, including Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have said the U.S. death-toll count is likely higher than is being reflected in government data sets. And several local officials in hot spot areas said they’ve seen hundreds if not thousands more deaths over the last two months than in the same time period over the last several years. They presume many of those individuals contracted the coronavirus.

“I don’t worry about this overreporting issue,” Bob Anderson, the chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch in CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, told The Daily Beast. Anderson’s team is in charge of aggregating, calculating, and reporting coronavirus deaths for the agency. “We’re almost certainly underestimating the number of deaths [in the country].”

The pressure being placed on the CDC is yet another tension point between the agency and the White House that has erupted over its handling of the coronavirus. Those tensions have reached a boiling point over the last several weeks as the CDC has worked to publish its guidelines for states working to reopen their local economies. The guidelines, which provide detailed information about how local officials can begin to allow some residents to attend religious gatherings and summer camps, were contested by White House officials who sought to shelve many of the agency’s recommendations.

The emerging fight over death counts represents a new front line in these battles—one that’s attracted the direct interest of the president himself. Though Trump has quietly suggested that the U.S. is inflating the COVID-19 death tolls, one task-force official told The Daily Beast that any discussion about mortality rate is merely a small part of a broader dialogue about how to improve the quality of data at the local, state, and federal level. That official called the mortality rate a “far-lagging indicator” of the spread of the virus and argued that it was “not a real-time indicator of how the virus is affecting the population.” The official said it was the task force’s view that the mortality rate doesn’t “inform the response efforts as other data could, like hospitalizations” and that the virus moves through populations “like nursing homes and prisons,” as well as populations with comorbidities.

But according to other knowledgeable sources, there is broader skepticism within the White House over how the CDC is compiling its data. In a task-force meeting last week, officials relayed that Birx said she couldn’t trust the CDC’s numbers—on both case and death counts—because the reporting system it relied upon was flawed. She argued that the agency was likely overcounting. The Washington Post was the first to report on the meeting. Officials in the CDC said they were confused by the argument.

“The system can always get better. But if we’ve learned anything it’s that we’re seeing some of these individuals who have died of the virus slip through the cracks,” one official told The Daily Beast. “It’s not that we’re overcounting.”

But according to one of the sources with knowledge of Trump’s private remarks, the president recently said that he’d like a “review” of how the coronavirus deaths are counted and studied by the government, citing hypothetical cases in which a person has the virus but is killed by other unnatural means, such as falling down a flight of stairs. The other source said that Trump pointed out that death estimates for other incidents—such as natural disasters and wars—are revised down or up “all the time,” and that the coronavirus pandemic could have similar fluctuations in the numbers published by public and private entities. (This month, Axios was first to report on Trump voicing doubts behind closed doors about current body counts.)

“My view is the president is totally correct that we need to have medical transparency,” said Art Laffer, a longtime conservative economist who has counseled Trump and other key administration officials on coronavirus response and how to “open” the economy amid the pandemic. “When you attribute a death to the coronavirus today, what that means is that the guy had the coronavirus and died. It doesn’t matter if he got hit by a car and died, and he would still be categorized as a coronavirus death... You need the whole transcribed medical records on a disk so people can sit there, maybe without names, and look for causes and correlations.”

Anderson said Laffer’s assessment was incorrect and that the form used by physicians to report coronavirus deaths specifically asks them to answer: “Did the patient die as a result of this illness?” “It doesn’t say ‘Did this patient die?’” Anderson said.

Anderson’s division at the CDC keeps tabs on novel coronavirus deaths through two parallel tracking systems. It relies on the data it receives from local departments of health and through information it gathers from states through a death-certificate digital coding system. Anderson said the death count is normally higher from states’ health systems than the death certificate system data. “But those numbers aren’t necessarily inconsistent,” he said, adding that the death-certificate death count usually lags anywhere from two to eight weeks. Meanwhile, local officials and doctors say any disruption in the way they count coronavirus deaths could lead to a significant undercounting. One study by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene published Monday said that there were thousands of “excess deaths” in the city from March 11 to May 2. About 18,879 of those deaths were explicitly tied to the coronavirus. But the study said there were also an additional 5,200 that were not identified as either laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19-associated deaths, but could have been tied to the virus in some other way.

Gretchen Van Wye, the assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Vital Statistics at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said her team matches individuals coded as having died from the coronavirus with the lab results to get a “confirmed” category of people daily. Then, with individuals that aren’t coded, the team uses an algorithm to search for words such as “Covid” or “Covid-19” on their death certificate to create a “probable” category. Unlike other cities across the country, New York City includes this probable count in its reporting. The rest of the results are considered as “other” deaths. In New Jersey, officials told The Daily Beast that they have seen an uptick in the number of patients arriving at the hospital already deceased who were never tested for the virus. Two doctors—one in New York City and one in Jersey City—said that they have not tagged certain individuals as having died as a result of the coronavirus because families requested it be kept off the death certificate so they could more easily collect the remains.

Even with the death-certificate coding system, doctors and local officials say they are running into problems where some of their patients are not being counted in the total coronavirus death tally. State officials are required to enter a specific code—a seven-digit number—on a death certificate to identify whether an individual has died as a result of COVID-19, Anderson said. The CDC requires doctors to input “COVID-19” in order for an individual to be counted in the national system as having died as a result of the coronavirus. Several doctors in New York City who spoke with The Daily Beast said in high intensity situations human error could result in a physician not coding a patient correctly. Doctors were coding patients as simply “coronavirus” or some variation of that without indicating that the virus was specific to the 2020 pandemic. In some instances they were forgetting to input “-19” after “COVID”.

“Now we’re having to go back and recode those deaths,” Anderson said, adding that there were more than 1,500 individuals who were mistakenly overlooked in the first few weeks the CDC was calculating the coronavirus death count.


Covid-19 was already 'silently circulating' in France before virus arrived from China and Italy – study

The outbreak of the coronavirus in France has little to do with cases imported from China or Italy, as another strain of the disease of unknown origin had already been infecting people in the country, research claims. The virologists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris have sequenced the genomes from samples taken from 97 French and three Algerian coronavirus patients between January 24 and March 24. What they found is that the dominant types of Covid-19 viral strains in France differed from those that arrived from China or Italy, and belonged to another group, or 'clade.' The earliest sample in the French clade dated from February 19 and came from an infected person who hadn't traveled abroad recently and had no contacts with possible carriers of the disease. "We can infer that the virus was silently circulating in France in February" prior to the wave of Covid-19 cases in the country, the virologists said in a paper, published on bioRxiv website but not yet peer-reviewed. The origins of this third strain were unknown to the scientists. They also pointed out that their sampling was insufficient to reliably establish the time of its introduction in France. The first coronavirus-related fatality was registered in the country in mid-February, with 129,859 people confirmed as infected and 23,660 dying from complications related to the highly contagious disease since then.


Stanford study finds Covid-19 infection rate likely 50-85 times higher than reported, but could mean mortality rate is much lower

A study out of Stanford University tested California residents and found that the Covid-19 infection rate is likely far higher than has been reported, but the virus could also be far less lethal than commonly believed. Researchers used 3,300 residents in Santa Clara County to conduct their tests, which found that the coronavirus could have infected far more people than has been reported. The study distinguishes itself from past Covid-19 research by using seroprevalence data, meaning the level of a pathogen measured in the blood streams of a specific population. Titled ‘COVID-19 Antibody Seroprevalence in Santa Clara County, California,’ the study was published on Friday at MedRxiv, a service that prints health studies before they have been officially peer-reviewed.

The tests found only single-digit percentages when testing for Covid-19 cases, but these “estimates represent a range between 48,000 and 81,000 people infected in Santa Clara County by early April, 50-85-fold more than the number of confirmed cases.” While it may seem like bad news that the virus could be that much more widespread on a global level — which is what the study concludes — it presents several positive factor including the fact that the mortality rate would be much lower than it is now believed, and that many people have symptoms so mild they don’t need to seek medical treatment and recover rather quickly. “These new data should allow for better modeling of this pandemic and its progression under various scenarios of non-pharmaceutical interventions,” the study said. A Danish study published earlier this week using similar methods arrived at the same conclusion.

There is no officially established mortality rate for Covid-19, but World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has previously mentioned 3.4 percent. This would translate into over 300 deaths per every 10,000 infected persons. Stanford’s study would lower the mortality rate to 0.14 percent or less, meaning 14 deaths or less per 10,000 people infected. The mortality rate suggested by the Stanford study would put Covid-19 on par with or less than the deadliness of the seasonal flu, which has a yearly mortality rate around 0.1 percent, according to both director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci and World Health Organization director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Michael Mina, an immunologist and assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard, tweeted agreement with the study on Friday and theorized 30 million people or more could be infected with Covid-19 in the US, but further “consistent studies” could show that “population immunity is already building up.”


MILLIONS infected? Cuomo says NY antibody tests suggest Covid-19 less fatal than previously thought

Early antibody testing for the coronavirus in 19 New York counties suggests up to 2.7 million people could have been infected in the state alone, meaning the real death rate may be much lower, Governor Andrew Cuomo has revealed. Results from a random testing sample of 3,000 New Yorkers have revealed that some 13.9 percent of state residents have likely had and recovered from the coronavirus, Cuomo stated in a press conference on Thursday. While the governor cautioned that the results were preliminary and varied county by county, he still managed to throw the perception of the virus as a mortal threat for New Yorkers into question. The new numbers indicate that this revised infection rate, compared to 15,740 deaths linked to coronavirus statewide, points to a fatality rate of only about 0.5 – much lower than previously believed.

New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the US, and New York City has been hardest hit given its high population density. However, even in the city, where 21.2 percent tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies (1.77 million people) during this trial, a casualty count of 15,000 deaths points to a fatality rate of 0.8 percent. Outside the city, the rates are lower – Long Island residents tested positive at a rate of 16.7 percent, while Westchester and Rockland Counties were 11.7 percent positive. The rest of the state returned much lower results at 3.6 percent. Cuomo has acknowledged that the virus does not menace the entire state equally and spoke earlier this week of reopening upstate regions before dealing with the densely-populated metropolitan areas. However, he recently extended the state’s lockdown until mid-May and cautioned against permitting anyone to go back to work without widespread testing.

The antibody tests were conducted at grocery and “big box” stores in 40 locations across 19 New York counties, and did not include bedridden patients or those too sick to venture out of their homes. However, the results support the conclusions of researchers in Santa Clara, California and Chelsea, Massachusetts, who found similar widespread asymptomatic and mild infection in populations previously believed to be unaffected by the virus.


Latest antibody study report shows up to 20% of NYC residents had COVID-19

The new report on New York State’s COVID-19 antibody study included a potentially reduced infection rate, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday. As of May 1, approximately 15,000 people have participated in the ongoing study, which concluded that 12.3% of them had COVID-19 antibodies. That’s down from the first two reports: on April 22, the state recorded an infection rate of 13.9%, followed five days later by an April 27 report that indicated the rate had gone up by a full percentage point, to 14.9%.

The same fluctuation held true for New York City, where the study found that 21.2% of respondents had COVID-19 antibodies on April 22. Five days later, that number went up to 24.7%. But the May 1 report found that 19.9% of New York City participants had the antibodies. What does it mean? The governor sees the infection rate drop as a good sign. “You don’t want to see that number go up,” he said. Even so, there are plenty of challenges to tackle — and questions to answer — in combating the contagion.

Breaking down the New York City report, Cuomo noted that the Bronx had the highest infection rate of the five boroughs, with a staggering 27.1% of respondents having COVID-19 antibodies. Brooklyn and Staten Island followed with 19.2%, followed by Queens with 18.4% and Manhattan with 17.3%. Black and Latinx New Yorkers are also being impacted the worst by coronavirus, with 17.4% Black and 25.4% Latinx respondents — a combined 42.8% —reporting to have COVID-19 antibodies. The antibody study, Cuomo said, will help the state strategize its next steps in combating the pandemic.

“We’re still getting about 900 new infections a day walking into the hospital, that’s an unacceptably high rate,” Cuomo remarked during his May 2 briefing at the Corona Maintenance Yard in Queens. “We’re trying to understand why that is, where is it coming from, what we can do to refine our strategies and find out where those new cases are being generated. Then we can get to those areas and people to try and target our attack.”

To that end, the governor has asked local hospitals to gather additional information from COVID-19 patients and better trace where the residents live and how they may have contracted the virus. Cuomo hopes the state could use this data to identify COVID-19 hotspots and bring additional resources to them. He points to the success of combating the first major cluster of coronavirus cases in New Rochelle back in March. The state brought additional resources and took measures to isolate a section of the city, and within weeks, the number of cases significantly dropped.

New York state is also distributing 7 million cloth masks to public housing complexes in New York City as well as senior living facilities to help protect those who are most vulnerable to coronavirus. Meanwhile, Cuomo reported that hospitalizations and intubation rates continue to drop statewide. However, 299 new COVID-19 deaths were reported Friday, up 10 from the number recorded on April 30. “That number remains obnoxiously and terrifyingly high,” Cuomo said. “It’s not where we want it to be.”


Scientists find 78% of people don’t show symptoms of coronavirus - here’s what that could mean

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, with 1.4 million cases and almost 75,000 deaths reported worldwide as of April 7. To slow down the spread and reduce mortality, governments across the world have put in place social distancing measures. When such measures are lifted, the “flattened epidemic curve” is expected to start rising again in the absence of a vaccine. As most testing takes place inside hospitals in the UK and many other countries, the confirmed cases so far largely capture people who show symptoms. But to accurately predict the consequences of lifting the restrictions, we need to understand how many people with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms and to what extent they are contagious.

A recent study, published in the British Medical Journal, suggested that 78% of people with COVID-19 have no symptoms. The findings are in line with research from an Italian village at the epicenter of the outbreak showing that 50%-75% were asymptomatic, but represented “a formidable source” of contagion. A recent Icelandic study also showed that around 50% of those who tested positive to COVID-19 in a large-scale testing exercise were asymptomatic. Meanwhile, a WHO report found that “80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe infections and 5% are critical infections”. Though we don’t know what proportion of that 80% were purely asymptomatic, or exactly how the cases were counted, it again points to a large majority of cases who are not going into hospital and being tested.

The new BMJ study is seemingly different to the findings of studies from earlier in the pandemic, which suggested that the completely asymptomatic proportion of COVID-19 is small: 17.9% on the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship and 33.3% in Japanese people who were evacuated from Wuhan. The new paper is based on collated data that Chinese authorities began publishing daily from April 1 on the number of new coronavirus cases in the country that are asymptomatic. It reports that “a total of 130 of 166 new infections (78%) identified in the 24 hours to the afternoon of Wednesday April 1 were asymptomatic”. They say that the 36 symptomatic cases “involved arrivals from overseas”, quoting China’s National Health Commission.

The new BMJ data is hugely important as the majority of new information and findings released daily worldwide is from the potentially small proportion of people who have shown symptoms, sought hospital help, undertook a test and tested positive. This is different to previous epidemics such as SARS, where most of the infections were symptomatic and could be traced. Ultimately, widespread antibody testing, which is still not imminent, will be able to tell us how many people have already had COVID-19. This will give a better approximation of the total number of infections. This will be important in making decisions on lifting social distancing measures.

For example, if antibody testing suggests that a large proportion of the population has had COVID-19 already, there is a smaller chance of asymptomatic and undiagnosed cases spreading the infection once restrictions are lifted. But if only a very small proportion of the population has had the infection, then lifting of social distancing measures may have to be delayed until vaccination strategies are ready to be implemented.

Tweaking the models

Mathematical modeling allows us to develop a framework in which to mimic reality using formulaic expressions and parameters based on what we know about the virus spread. Models can be refined to replicate known aspects – for example the number of reported infections and deaths due to COVID-19. Such models can then be used to make a prediction about the future. Ideally, a mathematical model for infectious disease spread should be based on parameters including the population of susceptible people, those exposed to the virus, those infected by the virus and those recovered from the virus. The group infected by the virus can further be split into asymptomatic and symptomatic population groups that can be modeled separately. But currently, there are large uncertainties around these numbers.

The new information will be crucial in addressing some of these uncertainties, and developing more robust and reliable modeling frameworks. This is because, although modeling has strong predictive power, it is only as good as the data it uses. The data currently being used is from people who have tested positive to COVID-19 infections. And if asymptomatic infections are a large proportion of COVID-19 infections, as the recent estimates seem to suggest, then a number of model parameters potentially need to be refined and reconsidered. We don’t know how many people current models assume to be asymptomatic, but it could be different to the newly suggested 78%.

Increasing this number would considerably reduce the case fatality rate – the proportion of deaths per number of infections. That’s because, while the number of deaths related to COVID-19 are clearly countable, this new evidence suggests that there are a lot more infections than we thought, with a large proportion asymptomatic. There is also very little information available to estimate the model parameter describing the time it takes for an infection to progress from asymptomatic to symptomatic. One study from Singapore suggested that progression occurs within one to three days. Confirming this will notably change the model predictions.

So while the new study suggests a large proportion of people may have already had COVID-19, we can’t say this for sure. Ultimately, we need a large blanket antibody testing strategy to confirm it. Only then can we discuss whether the UK has reached “herd immunity” – whereby enough people have been infected to become immune to the virus – for this pandemic, and think about relaxing social distancing measures. Hopefully such a test will be available very soon.


Pennsylvania made nursing homes accept COVID patients, but health secretary's mom was moved to hotel

 Around 70 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the state are in nursing homes

Pennsylvania's secretary of Health revealed this week that her 95-year-old mother was transferred from a nursing home facilities into a hotel – as the state government was ordering those facilities to accept patients who had tested positive with the coronavirus. That state policy, issued on March 18, stipulated that elderly care facilities "must continue to accept new admissions and receive readmissions for current residents who have been discharged from the hospital who are stable," including residents who had contracted COVID-19. The policy was meant to "alleviate the increasing burden in the acute care settings."

That rule may have contributed to the significant death toll the pandemic has wrought in the state's care facilities: The overwhelming majority of deaths in the state have occurred in nursing homes, more than 2,400 of the state's nearly 4,000 deaths. Yet even as coronavirus-positive patients were being funneled into state nursing homes, the state's Secretary of Health, Rachel Levine, removed her mother from one of those facilities, lodging her instead in a hotel. Levine made that admission on Tuesday while speaking to Pennsylvania media, stating that "she and her sister complied with their mother’s request to move from a personal care home to another location," the Allentown Morning Call reported.

The admission raises concerns that state health officials may have been aware of the potentially devastating threat that COVID-19 posed to nursing homes even as they ordered those facilities to accept COVID-19 patients. Multiple states in recent weeks have been grappling with deadly coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes. Data indicate that COVID-19 is disproportionately fatal toward older and sicker individuals, two demographics overrepresented at care facilities across the country. New York State has seen significant numbers of care facility deaths over the past several months, a fact that likely caused Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reverse the state's earlier directive, similar to Pennsylvania's, that nursing homes would be required to accept COVID-19 patients.

Emails that surfaced last month showed state officials refusing one nursing home's request to transfer coronavirus patients into emergency care facilities. In Europe, meanwhile, more than half of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing home facilities.

Cuomo doubles down on ordering nursing homes to admit coronavirus patients

Gov. Cuomo doubled down Sunday on the state’s controversial directive ordering nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients. The governor — who himself has described nursing homes as a “feeding frenzy’’ for the deadly coronavirus — said that the facilities can’t challenge a state regulation forcing them to admit patients with the contagion. But he insisted that nursing homes could transfer those ill with the virus to another facility if the centers lacked such things as quarantine space, proper protective equipment and staff. Asked by a reporter at his daily briefing Sunday if there was anything contradictory about his statements, the governor replied, “No.”

“A nursing home can only provide care for a patient who they believe they can provide adequate care for,’’ Cuomo said. “If they cannot provide adequate care for a patient, they must transfer that patient.” He said that if the nursing home can’t find another adequate facility, it should call the state Department of Health. “I have John, I don’t know where to send John,’’ Cuomo said of a possible nursing-home scenario. “Call the DOH, we’ll find a place for John. That’s how it works. “We have vacancies in nursing homes and facilities,’’ the governor said.

The CEO of a hard-hit Brooklyn nursing home, where 55 patients have died from the coronavirus, told The Post last week that he’d been warning state Health Department officials for weeks he had staffing and equipment issues — yet received little help. “There is no way for us to prevent the spread under these conditions,’’ the head of the Cobble Hill Health Center, Donny Tuchman, wrote in an e-mail to the department on April 8. He said he asked to move some patients to the makeshift wards at Manhattan’s Javits Center and aboard the city-docked USNS Comfort amid the pandemic, only to be told those two spots were receiving only patients from hospitals. “I made specific requests to transfer patients, and it didn’t happen,’’ Tuchman told The Post. “There weren’t options.”

The state said at the time that the facility was “able to meet basic needs under the directive — which included having adequate facilities.’’ State health workers also “conducted a focus survey at Cobble Hill and found no deficient practices,’’ a rep said. “Additionally, as we track inventory for all facilities daily, our records indicate they have more than a week’s supply of N95 masks, two months’ supply of surgical masks, and nearly two weeks’ supply of gloves,” the spokesman added. At least 3,500 nursing-home residents in the state have died from the coronavirus to date, including 2,000 in New York City, part of more than 16,000 overall.


 Covid-19 is massacring US elderly in nursing homes, neglected for years by a power-hungry industry

The elderly in US care institutions are dying disproportionately from Covid-19. The pandemic has revealed the extent to which their wellbeing and safety have been sacrificed by an industry that prioritizes profit and influence. The US response to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has been one of the most chaotic and ineffective in the developed world, leading to a situation where this nation of 327 million people, with the globe’s costliest and arguably most advanced healthcare, accounts for almost a third of the total 4.4 million coronavirus cases and 28 percent of all deaths.

But the US situation is even more appalling when one looks at who is dying. It turns out that one third of all COVID-19 deaths have been patients or caregivers working in the nation’s 7,700 nursing homes for the care of the elderly and disabled. Of the total of 85,000 COVID-19 deaths in the US as of noon on May 14, more than 28,000 were elderly Americans.
A bi-partisan failure

There has been widespread criticism, even from many fellow Republicans especially at the state government level, of the Trump administration’s slow acknowledgement of the seriousness of the coronavirus threat, and its delayed and bungled efforts to provide states, hospitals and nursing homes with adequate ventilators, protective masks and testing kits to deal with the pandemic crisis. But the ongoing and worsening pandemic in the US is really a bi-partisan failure – especially when it comes to the elderly. A look at where the most nursing-home deaths have been occurring shows that both Democratic and Republican-run states are doing a terrible job of protecting those in elder-care and convalescent institutions.

Minnesota, for example, with a Democratic governor and a legislature controlled by Republicans, and West Virginia, a state controlled entirely by Republicans, share the dubious honor of having the highest percentage of Covid-19 deaths to date, at 80 percent each, occurring in their state’s nursing homes. Second place on this grim list goes to Rhode Island, a solidly Democratic state, where 72 percent of coronavirus deaths have occurred in such institutions. In third place is my home state, Pennsylvania, with a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature, where 66 percent of Covid-19 deaths have been in elder-care facilities, followed by solidly Democratic Delaware, with 61 percent of its deaths occurring in nursing homes. Clearly, neither political party can be held solely responsible for this outrageous ongoing massacre of the nation’s elderly and their caregivers.

I’m personally all too familiar with the problem. My own mother-in-law, a former superintendent of schools for Passaic, one of New Jersey’s largest urban school districts, died on April 26 at age 93 of a Covid-19 infection. She was one of 21 seniors who died of coronavirus at the home, where more than 116 of the 150 patients and close to half of the staff tested have tested positive for the virus. The contagion at the not-for-profit Jewish home in Rockleigh was first identified when the institution, although it had few test kits for the disease, began taking staff members’ temperatures when they arrived for each new shift. We learnt that two caregivers were found to have elevated temperatures one morning in early April and had been administered Covid-19 tests and sent home.

A day later, when those tests came back positive, there was a scramble to track down which patients and workers they had been in contact with over the prior week. Needless to say, with carriers known to be able to pass on the virus for five days prior to showing symptoms, it was a case of looking for the horse long after it had left the barn. Not surprisingly, within a week of those two workers testing positive, the nursing home had more than 20 patients and a dozen staff members testing positive. The contagion spread like wildfire after that, including to my mother-in-law, who died a few weeks later.

While the deaths and contagion at that nursing home, amounting to about one in seven patients, are shocking, it is scarcely the worst example of this crisis among the elderly, either in New Jersey or in the US. In one case, thanks to a whistleblower who called police, a nursing home was found to have hidden 17 bodies of elderly Covid-19 patients in a refrigerator truck parked behind the building. And the New Jersey Nursing Home for Veterans in Paramus has seen 74 deaths so far of elderly veterans, out of a total patient population of 314. That number is likely to grow significantly, since 112 of the facility’s remaining patients have reportedly tested positive for the virus.

Profits & politics before people

The problem at the federal level has been that, for over a month and a half, as breakouts of the deadly virus were cropping up all over the US, the growing pandemic was downplayed by President Trump and his administration. While the president was calling the disease a “hoax”, or claiming to have prevented it with a ban on Chinese travel to the US, no effort was made by the government to obtain and distribute test kits for the disease, or protective masks for caregivers. To make matters worse, at both the federal and state levels, nursing homes were second priority for a long time when it came to providing limited supplies of badly needed test kits and protective gear, such as N95 masks.

Even after the virus was detected among caregivers working at my mother-in-law’s facility, for example, nearly three months after the first appearance of the virus in the US, we learnt there were still too few protective masks on hand there to provide to all caregivers, much less to the patients they were treating. This shortage inevitably led to the disease’s rapid spread in the facility. This has been a common story at nursing homes and even hospitals across the US and, unfortunately, continues to be a problem.

A second factor that goes a long way towards explaining why nursing homes and their elderly patients have loomed so large in the US pandemic’s death count is the influence of money on regulation – or the lack of it – on these institutions. For years, nursing homes, once run largely by churches and religious foundations, began being sold off to aggressive for-profit corporations. These investor-owned firms saw such facilities as cash cows that could be milked for the lucrative patient-care revenues provided by wealthy families, government programs such as Medicare (for the elderly, disabled and especially people just released from hospitals and in need of rehabilitation services), Medicaid (for the poor), and private insurance. Over the decades, these corporations, many traded publicly on the stock market, came to own 70 percent of the nation’s nursing homes. Anxious to maximize profits by paring back the numbers of nurses and other staff, these companies have been among the biggest donors to politicians at both the state and federal level of any sector in the healthcare field.

According to the campaign-funding monitoring group Follow the Money, nursing homes and long-term-care companies donated a total of almost US$105 million to state-level candidates and party committees between 2001 and 2016 as part of a long-term strategy to gut state regulation. That’s $7 million a year, but the annual amount contributed nearly doubled over that 15-year period. More than half the money came from 38 big contributors, nearly all of them large, for-profit nursing-home chains. At the federal level, the healthcare sector spent $1.7 billion on lobbying between 2006 and 2009, and in 2013–2014, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) representing nursing homes was one of the 16 largest contributors among healthcare campaign funders.

All that spending, it should be clear, is aimed at reducing the monitoring of the industry by state and federal health, safety and licensing agencies. As one academic report makes clear, there is a direct inverse correlation between the staff-to-patient ratio at nursing homes and their profits. The study reports in its findings: “The profit incentive has been shown to be directly related to low staffing. For-profit nursing homes and for-profit chains operate with lower staffing and more quality deficiencies (violations) compared with nonprofit facilities. Facilities with the highest profit margins have been found to have the poorest quality.”

Nor is the current pandemic crisis making things better. Just yesterday, it was disclosed that New York State governor, Andrew Cuomo, lately the Democratic voters’ darling for his take-charge display of leadership during New York City’s coronavirus eruption, which has so far infected 192,000 residents and killed nearly 20,000, had slipped into the coming fiscal year’s state budget bill a measure barring patient-care lawsuits against the state’s nursing homes. The special protective measure had been sought by the nursing-home industry, which has made heavy campaign donations to New York lawmakers, including to Gov. Cuomo.

Some 15 states have already reduced the regulation of nursing homes at the urging of the Trump administration, which claimed the facilities, under pressure from the pandemic, should be freed from having to face periodic safety inspections, staff qualification rules, and so on, while the Covid-19 crisis continues.


The 'massacre' of Italy's elderly nursing home residents

Covid-19 patients in Italy's virus epicentre of Lombardy were transferred to nursing homes by an official resolution with catastrophic consequences. In the early days of March, when northern Italy faced a severe health crisis from the coronavirus outbreak, the scarcity of available hospital beds brought the public health system to its knees. On March 8, a resolution by Attilio Fontana, president of the Lombardy region – Italy's economic engine and the epicentre of the epidemic with 12,213 deceased - sentenced hundreds of elderly people hosted in nursing homes to death. The regional resolution offering150 euros ($163) to nursing homes for accepting Covid-19 patients to ease the burden on hospitals, contributed to the uncontrolled spread of the virus among health workers and elderly guests, turning these institutions into virus hotbeds. Hosting Covid-19 patients in nursing homes was like lighting a match in a haystack.

"We read it twice, we did not want to believe what we read," says Luca Degani, president of UNEBA, the trade association that brings together about 400 rest homes in the region, "the virus affects everyone indistinctly, but its lethality and gravity take a very significant logarithmic curve if people are aged and suffer multiple pathologies."

"The fact that in our facilities we had people at greatest risk was a fact that had to be considered," Degani explains to TRT World, "These structures are made to let the elderly socialise and be provided with adequate care. They are not made to respond to an acute disease caused by a pandemic infection."

At least 1,822 people died in nursing homes in Lombardy, yet it is unknown how many were killed by coronavirus as many were never swabbed. Italian authorities have started investigations into nursing home deaths during the outbreak and police seized documents related to the Pio Albergo Trivulzio in Milan, a historic nursing home with over 1,000 elderly residents, and 13 other nursing homes in the region. Coffins have been piling up inside the church at Trivulzio care home where 150 health workers, in a letter, accused the management of being aware of the dangers but not having reacted promptly. Until March 23, there were no protocols in place, whatsoever. Health workers reportedly assisted residents without personal protection equipment (PPE), and those with symptoms were not even isolated from others. The relatives of the victims and those still hosted at Trivulzio health facility have come together to ask for justice and are ready to file a class-action lawsuit. The Public Prosecutor's Office in Milan is investigating the matter. The charge is a culpable epidemic and multiple culpable homicides.

"Besides support statements, I have also received numerous testimonies from family members of patients who, as in my case, have encountered serious and worrying deficiencies in the management of the health emergency that exploded inside the structure," said Alessandro Azzoni, founder and spokesperson of the Justice and Truth Committee for the victims of Trivulzio, where at least 190 resident have died. "I am very concerned about the health of my mother - still a guest of the facility - whom, like so many other patients, is in a state of current danger," he said. He expressed hope that the prosecutor will intervene promptly and also consider entrusting the management of the structure to a judicial administrator. The governor of Lombardy Attilio Fontana and the councillor for Welfare, Giulio Gallera are in the eye of the storm, but they claim that the technicians of the local Health Protection Agencies are the ones responsible for transferring Covid-19 patients from hospitals to care homes. Meanwhile, over 50,000 signatures have been collected in just a few days to place the regional health administration under 'receivership' (outside management).

A massacre

Last Friday Silvio Brusaferro, chief of the Higher Health Institute (ISS), said that the "carnage" in nursing homes all over Italy had claimed 7,000 victims since February, of which at least 40 percent died due to coronavirus. "What has happened and is still happening in residences for the elderly is a massacre," says Ranieri Guerra, deputy director of the World Health Organization and a consultant with the Italian Ministry of Health. "The epidemic arrived in our facility on March 13 – but we were not aware of that - when 17 patients from Sesto San Giovanni hospital (on the outskirts of Milan) were admitted with the aim of easing the pressure on hospitals that no longer had beds," Pietro La Grassa, health worker and trade unionist of Trivulzio in Milan explained to TRT World.  "On the 17 on March we placed them in a non-Covid ward: we were not afraid because we were told by the hospital administration that they were not infected. Since then, the contagion has started spreading among doctors, nurses and health workers. In the blink of an eye, it reached, of course, the residents of the structure: the elderly."

Last Thursday, Corrado Formigli, a well-known TV investigative journalist in Italy, in his "Piazza Pulita" a prime-time television broadcast, openly referred to a "massacre going on in nursing homes". He aired mobile videos shot by health workers where elderly residents are seen dyeing suffocated, alone, in the beds of the Milanese care home. The images were grotesque. "We were forbidden to wear masks because they told us we would have frightened the guests of the structure," continues Pietro La Grassa, "our hosts saw their relatives with masks, on television they heard that the epidemic kills them above all, yet health workers were forbidden to wear protection." According to Luca Degani, orders for PPE were seized and diverted from nursing homes to hospitals. The result is that today in Trivulzio some 220 workers out of just over 600 are on sick leave with symptoms, fever or cough and some with pneumonia. For a long time, Covid-19 patients were not isolated and coexisted with others, the elderly. Until April 16, swabs were not available, so residents fell ill without knowing whether they had been infected or not. Their dead simply slipped off the official figures. At least 87 elderly have died in Trivulzio just since the beginning of this month.

"Due to the ineptitude of someone, we have become a hotbed of the disease," says La Grassa, "while it was immediately clear that elderly with pre-existing pathologies were the most vulnerable subjects in this epidemic, it was decided to turn care homes into Covid houses. We do not have intensive care and emergency rooms; what care could we provide?" "An absolutely unjustifiable conduct," comments Vittorio Agnoletto, a former member of the European Parliament and occupational doctor. "As early as March 8, in addition to having identified the virus and its transmission pattern, we knew quite clearly how it affects fragile people and mainly kills those over 70 years old. We knew exactly that nursing homes' guests were the ideal victims of Covid-19," he tells TRT World.

A viral wave crashed on the most vulnerable

Agnoletto contextualises this debacle within a series of others triggered by the Lombardy administration. "The entire health model that delegates 40 percent of public health expenses to the private sector must be questioned. These private structures work on treatment, not on prevention because the former brings gains and the latter does not," he says. "Besides, they work on specific care fields: cardiology, oncology, surgery, neglecting emergency and intensive care. This system needs people to be sick to keep on running." Military metaphors are routinely abused these days. "We had a frontline protection network that is made of our general practitioners, a prevention and control form that the world envied. For every citizen or migrant - regular or irregular – there is a doctor to establish a direct relationship with," he says. According to Agnoletto, general practitioners were not provided with adequate protections until recently and were not informed of procedures and protocols to be adopted. “There was a systemic error in such an advanced health system: attention was focused only on the hospital dimension,” agrees Luca Degani, “Pandemics are fought with prevention on the territory.”

Which is what general practitioners should do: have control of the territory, swab the people and take care of those most at risk. “This network is like the breakwater supposed to cushion the impact of the wave. Yet, the virus wave arrived and crashed on the hospitals that could not cope with the load because, over the years, we have progressively cut beds reaching the lowest European average,” says Agnoletto, “We channelled the wave exactly on the most fragile subjects, creating clusters.” But, above all, according to Agnoletto, official figures are a farce. “National numbers are a joke, insignificant and unusable for any statistical purpose: they lack any forecasting logic. Summing up every day the newly infected to the total Covid cases makes the percentage of course smaller – he says - calculations are to be made on the number of the dead instead.” Considering that the number of swabs is negligible and is not done on a given sample, the only reliable parameter of comparison is the account of total deaths over the same period in previous years. “Only so we could have reliable data on the progress of the epidemic,” claims the doctor. Throughout Italy, homes for the elderly have become critical hotspots during the Covid-19 outbreak. The same happened in other countries in Europe: in Spain out of 350, 000 people housed in care homes, 10,000 elderly have died, half of the total deaths due to the epidemic. In France, deaths in the residences for the elderly reached 40 percent of the total deaths. In Belgium, in a few days, deaths in care homes for the elderly make up the majority of the deceased. But in Lombardy - where care homes have been picked to hospitalise Covid-19 patients – it just added to the ongoing tragedy.


Britian sacrificed its elderly in the race to protect hospitals. The result was a catastrophe in care homes

Three months ago, as the novel coronavirus began to gain a foothold in countries across Europe, officials in the UK said they were still confident that the risk to the British public remained low. By February 25, the World Health Organization said the virus had already killed thousands in China and was spreading through northern Italy, but at the time there were just 13 confirmed cases and no deaths in the UK. While the government ordered hospitals to prepare for an influx of patients, its advice to some of the country's most vulnerable people -- elderly residents of care or nursing homes -- was that they were "very unlikely" to be infected. That guidance would remain in place over the next two-and-a-half weeks, as the number of coronavirus cases in the UK exploded. By the time the advice was withdrawn on March 13 and replaced with new guidance, there were 594 confirmed cases, and it was too late. By May 1, of the 33,365 total confirmed deaths in England and Wales, at least 12,526 -- or 38% -- were care home residents, according to the latest estimates from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). While the UK government has defended its handling of the issue, care home staff and experts placed at least some of the blame for Europe's highest death toll on the prioritization of hospitals over these facilities. Others have blamed the slow rollout of testing, the government's alleged pursuit of "herd immunity" (which it denies seeking) and its failure to order a lockdown early enough. The UK is not alone. Many other nations were slow to respond to the threat at care home facilities, and the consequences have been devastating.


Majority of field hospitals will be shut down after going unused

Gleaming new tent hospitals sit empty on two suburban New York college campuses, never having treated a single coronavirus patient. Convention centers that were turned into temporary hospitals in other cities went mostly unused. And a Navy hospital ship that offered help in Manhattan is soon to depart.

When virus infections slowed down or fell short of worst-case predictions, the globe was left dotted with dozens of barely used or unused field hospitals. Some public officials say that’s a good problem to have — despite spending potentially billions of dollars to erect the care centers — because it’s a sign the deadly disease was not nearly as cataclysmic as it might have been. Many of the facilities will now be kept on standby for a possible second wave of infections. Some could even be repurposed as testing sites or recovery centers.

“It will count as a huge success for the whole country if we never have to use them,” said Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the National Health Service in England, where sparsely used field hospitals have been criticized as costly, unnecessary “white elephants.” “But with further waves of coronavirus possible, it is important that we have these extra facilities in place and treating patients,” Stevens said.

In Italy and Spain, field hospitals were seen as crucial to relieving strain on emergency rooms as the disease exploded in March. Those countries rank behind only the United States for the largest number of infections and deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. Spain built at least 16 field hospitals, ranging from a few beds under tents to one with more than 5,000 beds at Madrid’s big convention center. That facility has treated more than 4,000 patients, accounting for 10 percent of the total infected population in the disease-ravaged capital.

As the crisis eases and permanent hospitals are able to better manage the load, some of Spain’s field hospitals are scaling back or shutting down. The Madrid facility halved its capacity and could close in two weeks if infection rates hold. Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said the field hospitals have been important and in some cases “essential.” For all the successes, there have also been missteps. In Milan, in Italy’s hardest-hit region, a field hospital funded with $23 million in private donations came too late and was built too far from the city center to be much help.

The 200-bed hospital, put up in less than two weeks at a conference center on the outskirts of town, opened to great fanfare on March 31, but by then pressure on the region’s intensive care units was already starting to fall. It has treated only a few dozen patients. Italy’s national civil protection agency opposed the plan from the start, arguing it could never equip the facility with ventilators or personnel in time. But the regional governor, a member of a rival political party, forged ahead. “We had to … prepare a dam in case the epidemic overcame the embankment,” Lombardy Governor Attilio Fontana told Italian all-news station Radio 24.

In Berlin, construction and hiring are continuing at a 1,000-bed field hospital dubbed the Corona Center. The project has advanced despite a glut of available hospital beds in the German capital, leading to questions about its usefulness and the 90 million euros ($97.8 million) it’s cost so far. In New York, the hardest-hit state in the US with nearly 300,000 cases and more than 18,000 deaths, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has used the mantra “plan for the worst, hope for the best” to defend his push for field hospitals that have, so far, gone largely unused.

Looking at projections in mid-March that the state would need to double hospital capacity to 110,000 beds by the end of April, Cuomo asked the US Army Corps of Engineers to build at least four field hospitals and the Navy to deploy the Navy’s Comfort hospital ship to Manhattan. At the same time, hospitals were discharging patients to free up beds and adding new ones and the public was starting to embrace social-distancing measures to stem the spread of infection.

With the number of disease-related hospitalizations cresting far below forecasts, at 18,825 on April 12, just one of the Army Corps-built temporary facilities opened, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. It will close Friday after treating little more than 1,000 patients. The three other field hospitals that Cuomo requested were completed and mothballed for possible future use, including ones on the campuses of Stony Brook University and the State University of New York College at Old Westbury on Long Island. Plans for four other field hospitals were scrapped and the Comfort is set to leave on Thursday.

The Army Corps of Engineers paid construction firms $136 million to build the Stony Brook facility and $116.5 million to build the one on the Old Westbury campus, according to federal contracting data. It gave out at least $100 million in contracts for since-canceled hospitals at a horse racing track and a city park. The disparity between Cuomo’s worst-case-scenario planning and what actually happened caught the attention of one critic, President Donald Trump. “We built you thousands of hospital beds that you didn’t need or use,” he tweeted to his gubernatorial nemesis on April 17.

Similar scenarios have played out across the US. Chicago pared back plans for a 3,000-bed temporary hospital at McCormick Place, the nation’s largest convention center, as infection numbers decreased. Opened April 3 instead with 500 beds, the $64 million facility treated just 12 people as of last week, with six of them being released. A 1,000-bed facility at Detroit’s big convention center has treated about three-dozen people, with 16 receiving care there as of Tuesday. Mayor Mike Duggan called the facility’s limited usage a “sign of great success” and said it would soon shut down.

Philadelphia plans to shutter its 200-bed temporary hospital in about two weeks. Open since April 20, it’s never had more than six patients at a time. New Jersey’s four Army Corps-built field hospitals, with a total of 1,000 beds, have treated 346 patients as of Monday. “Better to build it and they don’t come than to not build it at all,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, the convention center that provided refuge to survivors of Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago, is seeing about 100 coronavirus patients at any given time as a field hospital. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he does not have any immediate plans to close the facility, because modeling shows the possibility of an uptick in virus cases in the future. He said the city has no need for the convention space.

“Quite frankly, we’re not going to have conventions coming to New Orleans in the immediate future,” Edwards said.


75,000-150,000 Americans at risk of dying from overdose or suicide due to coronavirus despair, group warns

There’s a potential epidemic brewing within the coronavirus pandemic. Along with deaths from the virus itself, researchers at Well Being Trust and the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care estimate another 75,000 people could die as the result of alcohol or drug abuse and suicide. In a report released May 8, researchers say there are three main factors at play in increasing deaths of despair during the age of COVID-19:

·        Economic failure with massive unemployment
·        Mandated social isolation for months and possible residual isolation for years
·        Uncertainty caused by the sudden emergence of a novel, previously unknown microbe

A rapid recovery could lead to approximately 28,000 additional deaths of despair while a slow recovery could see more than 150,000 deaths. Study authors believe the most likely scenario hits in the middle at 75,000 additional deaths. The method for determining their projection involved looking for clues in history. They considered similar situations in the past and used the Great Recession (December 2007-June 2009) as a baseline. During that period a spike in unemployment contributed to suicide deaths and drug overdose deaths. They also combined data from 2018 (the rate was 55.5 per 100,000 people, which equals almost 182,000 U.S. deaths of despair), projected levels of unemployment from 2020 to 2029 and economic modeling to develop their prediction. Researchers stress, however, that it is a prediction that could be prevented with meaningful and comprehensive action. Study authors detail six policies that could decrease the tide of deaths of despair:

·        Get people working – “Policy solutions must focus on providing meaningful work to those who are unemployed. COVID-19 offers new and unique opportunities to employ a new workforce – whether that be through contact tracing – helping local public health department track the virus – or through community health services where a new corps of community members are employed to provide help to those in the most need.”
·      Get people connected – “Many communities may not have the bandwidth or internet access to support video connections. Policies that support small non-profit organizations, faith communities, and community solutions can provide opportunities to get people connected to their neighbors.”
·        Get mental health integrated – “As we create teams to test, track and trace COVID-19 infections, we must also test, track, trace, and treat patients suffering from mental health and substance use disorders.”
·        Get people facts – “Uncertainty leads to fear and fear may give way to dread. And dread negatively impacts our health and well-being. People need science and calm facts.”
·        Offer a vision for the future – “COVID-19 opens up the door to offer a new vision for the future of health care in this country. Mental health should be central to that vision. Care that is fragmented only creates roadblocks for patients and families. Referrals, prior authorizations, and other administrative barriers have historically led to frustration by all parties, including clinicians. It is essential to bring mental health and addiction care into the fabric of a redesigned vision of clinical care, as well as across community settings.”
·        Get people care – “If COVID-19 has highlighted anything about our current delivery system, it’s that asking people to come to a clinic or a hospital is not always the best approach. Policies that support creative opportunities for care delivered at home, virtually or in-person will provide comfort and safety.”

Coronavirus pandemic may throw 60 MILLION people into extreme poverty, World Bank warns

The world’s progress in eliminating poverty is set to suffer a major setback due to the Covid-19 outbreak, forcing more people to survive on less than $1.90 per day, the World Bank has said in its recent report. “The pandemic and shutdown of advanced economies could push as many as 60 million people into extreme poverty – erasing much of the recent progress made in poverty alleviation,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said. According to him, the unprecedented crisis could wipe out up to three years of progress in the area.

The pandemic has been ripping through the global economy, which is set to fall into a deep recession and contract by up to five percent this year, the Washington-based institution said. Last month, the bank said that the virus-triggered economic turmoil is likely to cause the first increase in global poverty since 1998, when the Asian Financial Crisis hit. Even under the bank’s best estimate, some 49 million people will fall into extreme poverty, which it defines as living on less than $1.90 per person per day.

To help combat the deadly virus, the World Bank has offered financing emergency programs in 100 countries. In the “largest” crisis response in the Bank Group’s history, the program unlocked $160 billion in grants and financial support over a 15-month period, as well as the suspension of bilateral debt service payments. The bulk of the financial help will go to Sub-Saharan Africa, as it is expected be the region hit hardest in terms of increased extreme poverty.

Most international financial institutions have already sounded alarms over the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with some forecasts indicating that the global gross domestic product (GDP) could fall nearly 10 percent. The UN had earlier warned that the virus could also trigger a global food shortage, while its labor agency forecasts that 195 million jobs could be lost worldwide.


UN warns coronavirus could cause global famines of 'biblical proportions'

The United Nations (UN) is warning that the world is at risk of widespread famines “of biblical proportions” due the coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 2.5 million people worldwide since the virus emerged late last year.

The executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) addressed the UN Security Council during a video conference Tuesday, saying famines could break out in more than three dozen countries in the developing world in a worst-case scenario. Ten of those countries already have more than 1 million people on the brink of starvation. “While dealing with a COVID-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” David Beasley told the council. “There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.”

“There are no famines yet,” Beasley said. “But I must warn you that if we don’t prepare and act now — to secure access, avoid funding shortfalls and disruptions to trade — we could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months.”

The WFP had already estimated that 135 million people would face crisis levels of hunger or worse in 2020. But with COVID-19, an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of the year.  He said conflict, economic recession, a drop in aid and collapse in oil prices are likely to contribute to widespread food shortages. Beasley urged the UN security council to bring forward $2 billion of aid that has been pledged, so it can get to the frontline as quickly as possible.

“The truth is, we do not have time on our side, so let’s act wisely — and let’s act fast,” Beasley said. “I do believe that with our expertise and partnerships, we can bring together the teams and the programs necessary to make certain the COVID-19 pandemic does not become a humanitarian and food crisis catastrophe.” Ten countries were particularly at risk due to the housing and food crises last year: Yemen, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria and Haiti.


Flu season deaths top 80,000 last year, CDC says

An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last winter, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means it was the deadliest season in more than four decades — since 1976, the date of the first published paper reporting total seasonal flu deaths, said CDC Spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund. In previous seasons, flu-related deaths have ranged from a low of about 12,000 during the 2011-2012 season to a high of about 56,000 during the 2012-2013. Total flu fatalities during the most recent season included the deaths of 180 children, which exceeds the previous record high of 171 during a non-pandemic flu season, according to the CDC. “One hundred and eighty kids — this really hit me hard as the father of three kids — died last year from the flu. And the majority of them were unvaccinated,” said US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams. speaking at a news conference hosted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases on Thursday. “Flu vaccinations save lives.” Additionally, the nation experienced a record-breaking estimated 900,000 hospitalizations last flu season.

‘Definitely bad’

Overall, the United States experienced one of the most severe flu seasons in recent decades. Severity is based on flu activity, hospitalizations, and deaths from pneumonia or influenza, explained Nordlund. She added, “across the board, last year was definitely bad.” The season began with an increase of illness in November; high activity occurred during January and February, and then illness continued through the end of March. “The thing that was most notable about last year was how high in terms of activity things were,” said Nordlund. She explained that last season, unlike previous seasons, flu did not strike one region of the country and then move across the land. “There were three consecutive weeks when the entire continental US was affected by flu at a very high level,” she said. The 2017-2018 season was also marked by high severity across all age groups — the first season where the CDC found that to be the case. Adams said that getting the flu shot by the end of October is not just about keeping yourself safe and healthy, it’s also about community. It’s your “social responsibility to get vaccinated,” he said, since it protects others around you, including family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.

Pregnant women and children

Speaking at the same conference, Dr. Laura E. Riley, professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine, said that less than half of all pregnant women — 49% — received a flu shot last year. She explained that during pregnancy, even a healthy pregnancy, the immune system is not working full throttle. “Pregnant women who get the flu do very poorly,” said Riley. “It is critical that we help pregnant women not get the flu.” When flu strikes during pregnancy, there’s a greater likelihood of hospitalization for the mother-to-be, she said. Flu during pregnancy can also harm the baby, she said. High fever for an extended period can cause birth defects and lead to premature birth. At every trimester, the flu vaccine is safe and effective for both pregnant women and their fetuses, plus it protects babies after they are born, preventing flu in the first six months of their lives when they are too young to get their own flu shot, she said. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, another conference speaker and chief of digital innovation and digital health at Seattle Children’s Hospital, stressed that it’s very important for children to get vaccinated. “Kids have a lot of snot, they have a lot of drool and they go to school,” she said over laughter from the audience. “We love them, but they are a lot of the reason flu moves around the community.” She said “kids are more likely to be immunized if their parents are” adding everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot, which is the recommendation of the CDC. Adams noted that a variety of vaccines have been officially approved this year, including nasal mist, and that they are widely available, including in doctor’s offices, local pharmacies, some work places and even certain groceries stores.

Upcoming flu season

Overall, the effectiveness of the seasonal flu vaccine for last season was estimated to be 40%. This means the flu vaccine reduced a person’s risk of having to seek medical care by 40%, the CDC found. Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, said that those who get flu after receiving vaccine are less likely to require hospitalization and they’re less likely to die. “The vaccine is not perfect,” said Schaffner. “But give the vaccine credit for softening the blow.” Looking ahead to the coming winter months, Australia’s flu season, which precedes that in the Northern Hemisphere nations, is often an indicator of what’s to come in the US, Canada and across Europe. That said, Schaffner warned that flu is “unpredictable.” As of September 9, Australia is experiencing a mild flu season with person-to-person transmission of flu-like illness “increasing slowly” since July, according to that nation’s most recent surveillance report. Deaths attributed to influenza and patients requiring hospitalization have both been low. Adams stressed that flu is “especially deadly for older adults, pregnant women, people with chronic conditions and children” and he recommended everyone take additional steps to avoid the flu this coming season. Follow daily preventive actions such as washing your hands, covering your cough and staying home if sick. And, he said, get treated quickly and take antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. Flu “can be serious even for healthy adults and healthy children,” said Adams adding, “I’m going to get my flu shot today.”

Federal Reserve Exploiting COVID19 to Loot America | Behind the Deep State (video)
How the Fed Rules and Inflates

In this episode of Behind the Deep State, host Alex Newman explains how the privately owned Federal Reserve System is exploiting the Communist Chinese Coronavirus to loot the American people. Alex also breaks down how this is happening: Basically, the Fed is creating trillions of currency out of thin air and using "Special Purpose Vehicles" (better known as front companies) to buy up real assets including stocks and bonds. It is time for Congress to audit and then abolish the central bank and restore a sound monetary system.


The U.S. has thrown more than $6 trillion at the coronavirus crisis. That number could grow

Between Congress and the Federal Reserve, the government has committed record levels to try to stop an economic calamity — with just limited success.

In late February, the Trump administration said it planned to spend $2.5 billion to fight the coronavirus. A month and a half later, President Trump signed off on spending almost a thousand times as much — $2.35 trillion. And that amount doesn’t include the Federal Reserve’s efforts, which are harder to measure but seem likely to blow past the $4 trillion mark. The dual rescues, each historic in its own way, put the country on track to eclipse World War II-era highs in the national debt and the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. All told, the U.S. government has committed more than $6 trillion to arrest the economic downturn from the pandemic. The moves appear to have calmed stock market investors but may not be enough to hold the economy together if the health crisis drags through the summer.

When you combine the steps taken by Congress and the Fed and account for how the two interact, America’s national coronavirus response represents more than a quarter of U.S. economic output. To feel the weight of that sentence, try thinking of “quarter” as a measure of time, not a fraction. It’s a quarter of GDP. That is to say, the response from Congress and the Fed totals significantly more than the $5.4 trillion of goods and services spewed forth by the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter of 2019. Consider everything the government studiestoestimate gross domestic product: military wages and pensions, record sales, toll booth returns on local highways, high school sports participation, sewage-collection receipts, manufactured-home shipments and even the value of meals farmers grow for themselves. There are about 2,500 measurements like that, and the coronavirus response could easily purchase everything they represent for more than three months.

The fiscal response

The three phases of congressional stimulus are relatively straightforward: There’s $8.3 billion in response to Trump’s $2.5 billion request, $192 billion for an act extending paid leave and an estimated $2.15 trillion for the Cares Act. On its face, that’s the largest covid-19 response of any government in the world, according to Columbia University economist Ceyhun Elgin. In fact, it’s larger than the entire annual economic output of Italy, Brazil and all but seven countries. Still, that number lacks context. Luckily, we can get plenty of context from Elgin, who spends several days each week updating a database of 168 countries’ responses to the pandemic, in between caring for coronavirus-positive family members and a 4-year-old. After they adjusted the congressional response for the size of the U.S. economy, Elgin and his collaborators, Gokce Basbug (Sungkyunkwan University) and Abdullah Yalaman (Eskisehir Osmangazi University), found that the huge congressional stimulus was, proportionately, the world’s 10th largest.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates stimulus spending, combined with current spending and the effects of the current recession, will contribute to a projected $3.8 trillion budget deficit in 2020 as well as a $2.1 trillion deficit the following year.
As those deficits pile up, they’re projected to lead to a notable national debt milestone: This year, for the first time since World War II, the United States will owe more than its economy can produce in a given year, the nonpartisan committee estimates. That’s expected to rise to 107 percent by 2025 and as high as 120 percent by 2030 — and that’s if major provisions from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act aren’t renewed.

The monetary response

The Federal Reserve is probably doing as much (or more) to prop up the economy than Congress is, but its contributions are harder to measure. Several Fed interventions have no stated limit, and none of them is government spending in the traditional sense. Peterson Institute for International Economics senior fellow Joe Gagnon, a veteran of the Treasury and Federal Reserve, said the Fed’s enormous pandemic response should be thought of as intermediation rather than spending. “There’s a borrower and a lender out there, and they’re afraid of each other now — they don’t want to deal with each other because they don’t know if the borrower will go bankrupt, so the Fed is stepping in between, and Congress is giving the Fed money to guarantee those borrowers’ loans,” Gagnon said. “It’s doing a lot of basically risk-free things to keep the economy working,” Gagnon said. To emphasize the safety of the Fed’s actions, Gagnon explained that, in an intervention of a similar scale in 2008, the Fed not only didn’t lose money — it came out ahead. Unlike Congress’s spending, which shows up in the national debt, the lion’s share of these interventions will show up on the Fed’s balance sheet. The ledger, which totals up all the Treasury and mortgage-backed securities and other assets owned by the Federal Reserve, already ballooned from 4.16 trillion in late February to 6.08 trillion on April 8. The next update, expected Thursday afternoon, will show it lurching even higher.
How high can it go? That’s intensely complicated, but we can try back-of-the envelope math. The chart above ends on April 8. The Fed announced $2.3 trillion in new and updated programs on April 9. Combine that with the nearly $2 trillion the Fed already added to its balance sheet, and we’re looking at north of $4 trillion, even if some of those programs aren’t fully utilized. That’s similar to the $4 trillion estimated by top Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, but those estimates, based on the $454 billion included in the Cares Act partly to facilitate Fed lending, didn’t include much of what we see on the balance sheet before April 9. Given that several of the programs have no defined cap, it seems a safe bet that, as the Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos wrote last week, the Fed will remain on track to double its balance sheet — a $4.5 trillion jump — by the middle of this year. That would pass the 40-percent-of-GDP line in the chart above, easily the highest point on that chart. But even if you look only at current programs, the theoretical maximum is much, much higher. Before this year, the Fed had been reducing its balance sheet, as many argued it needed more wiggle room to fight the next crisis. Now that the next crisis has come, the Fed — and Congress — are finding more wiggle room than anybody had imagined.

 IMF Approves $280 Million In Emergency Funding For Armenia

The International Monetary Fund disbursed on Monday a $280 million emergency loan designed to help Armenia cope with the coronavirus outbreak and mitigate its economic consequences. “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the tightening of global financial conditions have disrupted Armenia’s above-trend growth and favorable economic conditions,” the IMF said after a meeting of its Executive Board held in Washington. “The near-term outlook has significantly weakened, with fiscal and current account deficits widening considerably this year,” it said. “The Fund’s financial support will help Armenia meet these challenges, including the urgent social and economic implications of COVID-19 pandemic.”

Yulia Ustyugova, the fund’s resident representative in Yerevan, announced the impending release of the loan in an April 27 interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service. Ustyugova said the sum includes a $248 million “stand-by arrangement” which was allocated to the Armenian authorities in May 2019 but has not been used by them until now. The authorities have requested additional IMF funding because of the coronavirus crisis, she said. The Armenian government plans to borrow this year around $540 million from various external sources for cushioning the impact of an unfolding economic recession in the country. Finance Minister Atom Janjughazian has said it needs to offset a major shortfall in tax revenues and to continue financing its ongoing efforts to stem the spread of the virus.

Earlier this month the Armenian parliament approved corresponding changes to the 2020 state budget proposed by the government. They will lead to a much larger budget deficit than was projected before the pandemic. “The authorities are committed to pursuing their medium-term goal of debt sustainability once the crisis abates, and public debt is expected to decline over the medium-term in line with Armenia’s fiscal rule, while maintaining space for investment and social spending,” Tao Zhang, the IMF’s deputy managing director, said in this regard. In its World Economic Outlook released last month, the IMF forecast that the Armenian economy will shrink by 1.5 percent this year. It warned that a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic would lead to a sharper GDP contraction.

Big Pharma Prepares to Profit From the Coronavirus

As the new coronavirus spreads illness, death, and catastrophe around the world, virtually no economic sector has been spared from harm. Yet amid the mayhem from the global pandemic, one industry is not only surviving, it is profiting handsomely. “Pharmaceutical companies view Covid-19 as a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity,” said Gerald Posner, author of “Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America.” The world needs pharmaceutical products, of course. For the new coronavirus outbreak, in particular, we need treatments and vaccines and, in the U.S., tests. Dozens of companies are now vying to make them. “They’re all in that race,” said Posner, who described the potential payoffs for winning the race as huge. The global crisis “will potentially be a blockbuster for the industry in terms of sales and profits,” he said, adding that “the worse the pandemic gets, the higher their eventual profit.”

The ability to make money off of pharmaceuticals is already uniquely large in the U.S., which lacks the basic price controls other countries have, giving drug companies more freedom over setting prices for their products than anywhere else in the world. During the current crisis, pharmaceutical makers may have even more leeway than usual because of language industry lobbyists inserted into an $8.3 billion coronavirus spending package, passed last week, to maximize their profits from the pandemic. Initially, some lawmakers had tried to ensure that the federal government would limit how much pharmaceutical companies could reap from vaccines and treatments for the new coronavirus that they developed with the use of public funding. In February, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and other House members wrote to Trump pleading that he “ensure that any vaccine or treatment developed with U.S. taxpayer dollars be accessible, available and affordable,” a goal they said couldn’t be met “if pharmaceutical corporations are given authority to set prices and determine distribution, putting profit-making interests ahead of health priorities.”

When the coronavirus funding was being negotiated, Schakowsky tried again, writing to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on March 2 that it would be “unacceptable if the rights to produce and market that vaccine were subsequently handed over to a pharmaceutical manufacturer through an exclusive license with no conditions on pricing or access, allowing the company to charge whatever it would like and essentially selling the vaccine back to the public who paid for its development.” But many Republicans opposed adding language to the bill that would restrict the industry’s ability to profit, arguing that it would stifle research and innovation. And although Azar, who served as the top lobbyist and head of U.S. operations for the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly before joining the Trump administration, assured Schakowsky that he shared her concerns, the bill went on to enshrine drug companies’ ability to set potentially exorbitant prices for vaccines and drugs they develop with taxpayer dollars.

The final aid package not only omitted language that would have limited drug makers’ intellectual property rights, it also left out language that had been in an earlier draft that would have allowed the federal government to take any action if it has concerns that the treatments or vaccines developed with public funds are priced too high. “Those lobbyists deserve a medal from their pharma clients because they killed that intellectual property provision,” said Posner, who added that the omission of language allowing the government to respond to price gouging was even worse. “To allow them to have this power during a pandemic is outrageous.” The truth is that profiting off public investment is also business as usual for the pharmaceutical industry. Since the 1930s, the National Institutes of Health has put some $900 billion into research that drug companies then used to patent brand-name medications, according to Posner’s calculations. Every single drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 2010 and 2016 involved science funded with tax dollars through the NIH, according to the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs. Taxpayers spent more than $100 billion on that research.

Among the drugs that were developed with some public funding and went on to be huge earners for private companies are the HIV drug AZT and the cancer treatment Kymriah, which Novartis now sells for $475,000. In his book “Pharma,” Posner points to another example of private companies making exorbitant profits from drugs produced with public funding. The antiviral drug sofosbuvir, which is used to treat hepatitis C, stemmed from key research funded by the National Institutes of Health. That drug is now owned by Gilead Sciences, which charges $1,000 per pill — more than many people with hepatitis C can afford; Gilead earned $44 billion from the drug during its first three years on the market. “Wouldn’t it be great to have some of the profits from those drugs go back into public research at the NIH?” asked Posner.

Instead, the profits have funded huge bonuses for drug company executives and aggressive marketing of drugs to consumers. They have also been used to further boost the profitability of the pharmaceutical sector. According to calculations by Axios, drug companies make 63 percent of total health care profits in the U.S. That’s in part because of the success of their lobbying efforts. In 2019, the pharmaceutical industry spent $295 million on lobbying, far more than any other sector in the U.S. That’s almost twice as much as the next biggest spender — the electronics, manufacturing, and equipment sector — and well more than double what oil and gas companies spent on lobbying. The industry also spends lavishly on campaign contributions to both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Throughout the Democratic primary, Joe Biden has led the pack among recipients of contributions from the health care and pharmaceutical industries.

Big Pharma’s spending has positioned the industry well for the current pandemic. While stock markets have plummeted in reaction to the Trump administration’s bungling of the crisis, more than 20 companies working on a vaccine and other products related to the new SARS-CoV-2 virus have largely been spared. Stock prices for the biotech company Moderna, which began recruiting participants for a clinical trial of its new candidate for a coronavirus vaccine two weeks ago, have shot up during that time. On Thursday, a day of general carnage in the stock markets, Eli Lilly’s stock also enjoyed a boost after the company announced that it, too, is joining the effort to come up with a therapy for the new coronavirus. And Gilead Sciences, which is at work on a potential treatment as well, is also thriving. Gilead’s stock price was already up since news that its antiviral drug remdesivir, which was created to treat Ebola, was being given to Covid-19 patients. Today, after Wall Street Journal reported that the drug had a positive effect on a small number of infected cruise ship passengers, the price went up further.

Several companies, including Johnson & Johnson, DiaSorin Molecular, and QIAGEN have made it clear that they are receiving funding from the Department of Health and Human Services for efforts related to the pandemic, but it is unclear whether Eli Lilly and Gilead Sciences are using government money for their work on the virus. To date, HHS has not issued a list of grant recipients. And according to Reuters, the Trump administration has told top health officials to treat their coronavirus discussions as classified and excluded staffers without security clearances from discussions about the virus. Former top lobbyists of both Eli Lilly and Gilead now serve on the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Azar served as director of U.S. operations for Eli Lilly and lobbied for the company, while Joe Grogan, now serving as director of the Domestic Policy Council, was the top lobbyist for Gilead Sciences.


Some anti-vaxxers are changing their minds because of the coronavirus pandemic
Never has a vaccine been so eagerly anticipated

Scientists are racing to produce a coronavirus inoculation on an unprecedented timescale, and some political leaders have warned that the restrictions on our lives may not be completely lifted until one is available. That's something of a challenge to the anti-vaccine movement, many of whose members are strongly opposed to mandatory vaccines. But the virus has also done something more startling. It has made some anti-vaxxers change their minds. Haley Searcy, 26, from Florida, told CNN she was "fully anti-vax" when her daughter was born in 2019. "I had seen so many accounts of kids dying from SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] and having other dangerous reactions due to vaccines," she said, repeating the scientifically unsupported but common fear amongst vaccine skeptics that even those treatments that have undergone rigorous testing might still be dangerous. "I was just as scared of vaccines as I was of the diseases they protect against."

Searcy said that after being advised by her daughter's pediatrician, she "begrudgingly allowed her to be vaccinated," but still suspected that vaccines were unnecessary and dangerous. The coronavirus outbreak has changed her view. "Since Covid-19, I've seen firsthand what these diseases can do when they're not being fought with vaccines," said Searcy. "My mother has a lung disease, so if she gets Covid-19 there is no fighting it. I learned as much as I could to speak out against misinformation in the hopes that I could convince more people to stay home and follow social distancing so that she won't get sick."

"So many lives are at stake, including people I care about who are very vulnerable." In the process of researching how the world had dealt with pandemics in the past, Searcy learned about how recent pandemics like swine flu were fought with vaccines. "And I've learned just how rigorous vaccine trials are before they're made available to the public," she said. She also looked up information about countries that had minimized the spread of the coronavirus. "I wasn't actively looking for vaccine information but the more I learned, the more I realized it would help and the easier it became to recognize the lack of science in anti-vax arguments," she said.

In a number of countries, including the UK and France, concerns expressed by some people in recent years about vaccines in general have softened, according to polling carried out for the Vaccine Confidence Project, a research group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. VCP Director Heidi Larson said the figures showed that, as the number of deaths from the coronavirus increased, and public awareness of its seriousness grew, people were more willing to accept a vaccine. "I think it definitely is provoking people to rethink a lot of things," she said, but she cautioned that more data was needed to track reaction over time.  She said some were "going to the opposite side" and were mistrustful of a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

"This is an important time to reflect on the value of vaccines," said Larson. "If we had had a vaccine for this, we wouldn't be locked up in a room, the economies wouldn't be crumbling, we would have been a whole different world. The question I would ask is, do we have to wait for something to be this bad?" When vaccines become widespread and people don't see a threat, they grow more skeptical, Larson said. But she added that protecting society "totally depends on public cooperation."

A worrying trend

Most children today receive life-saving vaccines, but health services have noticed a worrying pattern of declining uptake in recent years. In the UK, just 33 of 149 local authorities met their 95% vaccination target for diseases preventable by immunization in 2018-2019, according to National Health Service figures. Last year the United States experienced its greatest number of measles cases since 1992, mostly among people who were not vaccinated. In 2019 the UK lost its measles-free status, a designation conferred by the World Health Organization. And as Covid-19 surges, a UNICEF report warned that more than 117 million children are at risk of missing out on life-saving measles vaccinations. UNICEF urged countries to continue essential immunization, but said postponement could happen where the risk is "unacceptably high." The term anti-vax "has not been helpful," according to Larson. She said while there are some committed activists, "there are a lot of other people out there who are on the fence, hesitant or questioning."


Bill Gates says the world will need 7 billion vaccine doses to end COVID-19 pandemic

Bill Gates has been big on vaccines since before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but in a new blog posting, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist says the only way to end the pandemic for good is to offer a vaccine to almost all of the planet’s 7 billion inhabitants. That’s big. “We’ve never delivered something to every corner of the world before,” Gates notes.

It’s especially big considering that a vaccine hasn’t yet been approved for widespread use, and that it may take as long as a year to 18 months to win approval and start distribution. Some companies are aiming for a faster pace: Oxford University says its vaccine candidate has shown encouraging results in trials with rhesus macaque monkeys, and if it clears accelerated human trials, a few million doses could be available by September. Meanwhile, the White House is pressing an initiative called Operation Warp Speed that Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, could result in hundreds of millions of vaccine doses being manufactured by January.

Like Fauci, Gates says the January time frame is conceivable — but he also says the vaccine development effort could take as long as two years. Gates says there are more than 100 different COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the pipeline. “I think that eight to 10 of those look particularly promising,” he said, although he adds that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be keeping an eye on all the other just to make surenothing is missed.

Some candidates are being developed using traditional approaches, with inactivated or weakened viruses. But the options most likely to become available first take advantage of newer technologies, involving bits of synthesized RNA or DNA that spark an immune response to fight off SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The first vaccine to be tested in the United States, under the supervision of Seattle’s Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Foundation, is one such RNA vaccine. “Even if an RNA vaccine continues to show promise, we still must continue pursuing the other options.” Gates says. “We don’t know yet what the COVID-19 vaccine will look like. Until we do, we have to go full steam ahead on as many approaches as possible.”

Some candidates are being developed using traditional approaches, with inactivated or weakened viruses. But the options most likely to become available first take advantage of newer technologies, involving bits of synthesized RNA or DNA that spark an immune response to fight off SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The first vaccine to be tested in the United States, under the supervision of Seattle’s Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Foundation, is one such RNA vaccine. “Even if an RNA vaccine continues to show promise, we still must continue pursuing the other options.” Gates says. “We don’t know yet what the COVID-19 vaccine will look like. Until we do, we have to go full steam ahead on as many approaches as possible.”

 “We’ll Just Get Rid of All Whites in the United States” - CDC Chair of Advisory Committee on Immunizations

Dr. Carol Baker was appointed Chair of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in 2009. Carol is well known for her work in immunization and education. The Houston doctor sat on an “expert” panel of experts sponsored by the National Meningitis Association in New York City on May 9, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. During the panel discussion the far left doctor took a swipe at Donald Trump and white Americans. Dr. Baker told the gathered audience: “So I have the solution. Every study published in the last five years, when you look at vaccine refusers. I’m not talking about…hesitance, most of them we can talk into coming to terms. But refusers. We’ll just get rid of all the whites in the United States… Guess who wants to get vaccinated the most? Immigrants.” Not one person from the audience challenged the hateful doctor.

COVID-19 won’t kill globalization
The challenge is how to navigate a changing global balance of power

Among the byproducts of the coronavirus pandemic has been a spate of obituaries for globalization: “A Global Outbreak Is Fueling the Backlash to Globalization.” “Spread of Virus Could Hasten the Great Coming Apart of Globalization.” “Will the Coronavirus End Globalization as We Know It?” Short answer: Not if you define globalization as more than intercontinental supply chains and huge container ships. Moreover, such premature death notices undermine the challenge of managing globalization as the world’s balance of power shifts.Many of these analyses focus on one dimension of globalization within a narrow time frame: the spectacular growth and integration of global markets over the last few decades. They ignore not just globalization’s political, social and cultural components, but its ebb and flow over the 150 years.

Consider what happened during the latter half of the 19th century, when imperialism opened new pathways for trade and investment. New international congresses convened in disciplines like mathematics, statistics, chemistry and philosophy. National public health authorities teamed up to cope with diseases such as the yellow fever that, abetted by greater trade, cut a swath through Madrid, Havana and Memphis during the 1870s, or the bubonic plagues that periodically hit port cities during the two decades before World War I.

True, that war’s outbreak and unfathomable carnage shattered both the emerging global marketplace and smug complacency of internationalists. The subsequent economic and political consequences of the peace, in turn, led to the Great Depression. But even during this period, notes historian Emily Rosenberg, “the extension of transnational networks in science, health, entertainment, and other specific affiliations accelerated.” Despite the growing nativism and xenophobia that all but slammed shut the U.S. golden door in the 1920s, the interwar years also saw the creation of wealthy nongovernmental organizations such as the Carnegie Corporation (1922) and the Ford Foundation (1936), which established international educational and cultural exchanges.

Moreover, notwithstanding the failure of the interwar League of Nations to prevent World War II, the league provided an intergovernmental umbrella for everything from disarmament conferences and the fight against sexual trafficking and narcotics to the International Labor Organization. These were then subsumed or re-created under the postwar United Nations. Bottom line: Even after several seismic disruptions, the process of globalization persisted, creating political, cultural and social networks and links that sometimes even expanded in times of extreme dislocation. That pattern continued through the 9/11 attacks and the Great Recession. By 2004, in fact, international tourism had reached record levels, Internet connectivity continued to spike upward, NATO and the European Union expanded, and there were hefty rises in international trade and investment. Unlike the Great Depression, the economic crisis of 2007-08 did not cause levels of global trade and investment to plummet; if anything, the Great Recession forced policymakers to realize that interdependence demanded greater global coordination.

There is no gainsaying the coronavirus’s massive disruptions to supply chains, international commerce and all forms of travel, let alone daily life. But supply chains were already shifting and becoming shorter and more regional even before COVID-19. Moreover, the evolution of the global economy has made services more significant, relatively, than goods. Companies have become more multinational, innovation more global. Even more fundamentally, widespread connectivity and the cascading surge of digital information have turbocharged the flow of ideas and virtual links, whether among individuals, institutions or nations. That’s something that can’t be quarantined.

Globalization does, however, need to be managed. Unfortunately, as the bungled U.S. response to the coronavirus has once again shown, that is neither President Donald Trump’s inclination nor his forte. He has denied the urgency of climate change and he sees technocratic expertise as just a manifestation of a “deep state” that resists his agenda. And the multilateral organizations built to cope with globalization, whether the United Nations or the World Trade Organization, are viewed as infringements on U.S. sovereignty, not as ways to leverage U.S. influence and promote burden-sharing. Nativism, xenophobia and the bashing of government bureaucracy and global institutions are staples of U.S. politics. But in an era of rising great-power rivalry and declining U.S. (non-military) clout and influence, they are increasingly counterproductive. An authoritarian China is working hard to reshape the global order to advance its interests, and its iron-fisted decisiveness in containing COVID-19 has won it some new fans.

But admirers of China’s model shouldn’t kid themselves: The Chinese Communist Party leadership would happily balkanize the internet, reduce transparency, deprioritize human rights, and rig the liberal international order in its favor. The correct response to this reality is for the U.S. to shore up its alliances, bolster the multilateral institutions it created to advance shared values and take the lead in meeting global challenges. Yes, the decades-long effort to maximize globalization’s benefits and minimize its costs was overstated, if not misleading. But the Middle Kingdom’s effort to fill that vacuum won’t yield results to the U.S.’ liking. It will, in fact, be the end of globalization as we know it. I am not one of those evangelists for globalization, which is fundamentally value-neutral. It is an equal-opportunity conduit for both misery and happiness: pandemics as well as vaccines, criminal activity as well as legitimate business, jihadism, fascism and communism as well as human rights and democracy. But the forging of closer connections, whether for good or ill, is not just necessary on a small planet with a beleaguered ecosystem. It’s inevitable.

Matthew Rooney of the George W. Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative Calls for More Globalism, Claiming It's Needed to Stop Pandemics

In a paean to globalism that flew under the radar of most conservative media, a factotum for the Bush Empire has argued for more globalization after the Chinese coronavirus pandemic ends. Matthew Rooney, managing director of the George W. Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative, does not believe the Asian pathogen is the inevitable result of open borders and free trade. Rather, he averred, globalization is the future of these United States. The problem? He argues from authority, and his glib, easily-refuted claims ignore or contradict history.

Isolation Won’t Protect Us

Thanks to the Chinese Virus, Rooney lamented, “there is a rising chorus of voices who argue that we must deglobalize, dismantle international supply chains, reduce international trade and travel, and close our borders to the world.” Tempting as that is, he wrote, “what was true before coronavirus will still be true afterward: Wealth comes from communication, collaboration and competition. Security comes from cooperation that limits the scope for conflict.” In other words, absent globalization, we’d be broke.
The approach to globalization promoted by the United States over the past 70 years operationalized this insight by freeing markets for goods and services from government interference, opening greater scope for individuals to decide for themselves what to buy and where to travel and even, within tighter limits, where to live and work. This flowering of human freedom led to the greatest reduction in poverty and the greatest decline in interstate conflict in human history.
Ignoring the bureaucratic neologism “operationalized,” those myriad fallacies provided Rooney a route to his point: “The danger of a pandemic did not arise because of globalization.” He continued:

Pandemics have appeared periodically throughout history. Deglobalizing will not protect us from pandemics in the future. On the contrary, we will ultimately come to see that global cooperation is key to responding successfully to pandemics.
Beside arguing from authority, Rooney assumed a globalist utopia in which governments are honest; i.e., “cooperation” implies honesty in the “communication” he so highly values. But governments lie, just as the Chinese communists lied about the deadly microbe their virology lab may have unleashed upon the world. Just as our British allies did when they planted agents of influence to prod U.S. entry into World War II. Just as FDR lied to American about Pearl Harbor. Just as LBJ lied about the Gulf of Tonkin.

Globalization A “Source Of Wealth”?

Beyond that, globalization is not, as he claimed, the “source of wealth that enables us to ensure the availability of healthcare, temporary lodging, emergency response, quarantine facilities, and all the other myriad tools required.” Nor, as he argues, is the “innovation that globalization promotes” required “to produce the vaccines that will inoculate against the virus.” Rooney confessed that “globalization shares responsibility for the coronavirus pandemic” because “the wealth created by globalization” enabled the travel that spread the pathogen. But the “backlash” that has provoked calls “to bring manufacturing back home and put the brakes on immigration, whatever the cost” is “dangerous.” He added:
“Make it here at home” has a nice ring to it, but we must have no illusions: Restricting trade and using taxes, tariffs and subsidies to manipulate the market can only be done by dramatically reducing freedom. That path leads to poverty.
In the case of most disasters as in the case of this one, the country’s “source of wealth” is the American people, who, by and large, produce their wealth as they live and work in their own communities. American scientists developed the polio, rubella, and measles vaccines long before the era of globalization began in earnest and peaked with the interlocking network of trade and consolidation agreements such as the European Union, World Trade Agreement, and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Americans drove quality, inexpensive automobiles before globalization wreck the industry. So American prosperity and even the freedom of Americans do not, as Rooney thinks, depend upon globalization. As columnist Pat Buchanan has frequently observed, this nation’s greatest era of prosperity occurred during the years when tariffs were high.

Not until the era of free trade, open borders, and globalization did this country’s national debt and national and trade deficits — which Rooney didn’t mention — soar to ruinous, unrepayable heights. Americans are chained to debt. Not until the era of free trade, open borders, and globalization did this country send the production facilities for life-saving drugs to a foreign country, and a hostile one at that — China. Americans depend for drugs on factories in a hostile foreign country they cannot control. Not until the era of free trade, open borders, and globalization did the United States import millions of low-wage foreign workers and immigrants who have taken jobs from Americans, and worse, not only changed the country demographically but also politically, moved entire states to the radical left by concentrating votes in major urban areas, and thus doomed the chances of conservative candidates to win local, state, and federal public office. Americans who challenge the change are vilified as bigots. Facts, John Adams said, are stubborn things, which might be one reason Rooney avoided them.

Kissinger says ‘even US’ can’t defeat Covid-19 alone. His solution? Global government, of course
Henry Kissinger, eminence grise of imperial US foreign policy, has warned in an op-ed that no government – even his beloved hegemon – can defeat Covid-19 alone, implying that the New World Order he’s always preached must follow. If the US doesn’t couple its efforts to rebuild its own economy with the first steps toward creating a global government, humanity is doomed, Kissinger wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. “No country, not even the US, can in a purely national effort overcome the virus,” Kissinger warned. “Addressing the necessities of the moment must ultimately be coupled with a global collaborative vision and program.”

Kissinger laments that the pandemic has led to the return of a “walled city” model of nationalist governance, suggesting that “exploration at the frontiers of science” alone can save humanity from disease in his vision of a globalist utopia. But developing cures takes time, and the notion that countries should be discouraged from protecting themselves in the interim is suicidal. If anything, one of the reasons Italy, Spain, and France were hit so hard by coronavirus was the EU’s dysfunctional insistence on open borders amid the pandemic. “Global trade and movement of people” are all well and good, but the pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of the globalist system like never before. It will take years for nations to rebuild, and repeating their mistakes is not something they can afford to do.

While serving as Secretary of State and National Security Adviser under presidents Nixon and Ford, Kissinger played a starring role in bombing campaigns against Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos and oversaw regime-change operations that placed brutal dictators in power in Argentina and Chile, as well as supporting state-sanctioned repression in Indonesia. A notorious report he penned for the Ford administration called for dramatic reductions in population growth across developing nations. One might think, given his record, that he’d be on the side of the virus. But the Nobel Peace Prize recipient is here presenting himself as an experienced statesman who deeply cares about the future of humanity, calling on the US to “draw lessons from the development of the Marshall Plan and the Manhattan Project.” Sure, revisiting the Marshall Plan makes sense – there are no doubt insights to be gained from revisiting the rebuilding of Europe’s shattered post-war economies, especially since some of the countries hit hardest by the epidemic are in Europe.

But the Manhattan Project? How does a top-secret, international doomsday project that produced weapons with unparalleled killing potential have any bearing on the coronavirus crisis? Listening to Kissinger, it must be said, is what got the US into its current situation – believing itself exceptional, distrusting all world powers who do not swear abject fealty to it, repeating the same failed policies to the point of parody. A looming presence in the George W. Bush administration, Kissinger advised the country to plunge headfirst into the ever-expanding War on Terror, penning an editorial in the days following 9/11 that called for taking on “any government that shelters groups capable of this kind of attack.” Following such guidance has bankrupted the US and turned it into a banana republic, printing money frantically while its roads and bridges crumble, its citizens struggle to keep a roof over their heads, and the international community looks on, mouths agape, as its government continues to lecture them about human rights.

Kissinger concludes his jeremiad with a warning that “failure [to safeguard the principles of the liberal world order] could set the world on fire.” If, as he himself writes, the “purpose of the legitimate state is to provide for the fundamental needs of the people: security, order, economic well-being, and justice,” those principles collapsed long ago. The US’ first step, post-pandemic, should be to put out the fires set by Kissinger and those like him who seek to cloak empire in the rhetoric of liberal democracy.


Why don’t we get rid of families and cash? Soros-funded progressive globalists using Covid-19 to push own ‘technocratic solutions’

Technocratic activists are full of solutions to the coronavirus crisis – the same panaceas they've been pushing for years. What problem wouldn't be solved by abolishing the family, privacy, and other things we take for granted?! Under the time-honored rubric of "never let a good crisis go to waste," the usual suspects have come out of the woodwork to tout their favored "solutions" as answers to the coronavirus pandemic and the attendant economic crisis. Of course, they've been pushing these initiatives for years, and there's a reason (or three) that they haven't been terribly popular – they'd require completely upending current societal models, and few have the stomach for such fundamental change. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Surely there's something of value in these revolutionary projects? Let's have a look, shall we…

Abolish cash

On the surface, doing away with physical currency in the middle of an epidemic would seem to make sense. Common wisdom holds that banknotes are dirty, and it's logical to think that they might spread disease. Reports that China was "quarantining" shipments of cash, coupled with a World Health Organization advisory to use contactless payments wherever possible in order to avoid spreading coronavirus, have gone a long way toward manufacturing consent for the concept of dropping cash altogether. However, MIT Tech Review found no real evidence that cash has been a vector for coronavirus, having queried several microbiologists to get to the bottom of the matter. That won't stop proponents of the cashless society from pushing the theory, of course, but it does take the wind out of their sails (and perhaps their sales). There's a lot of energy behind the movement to take the economy off cash – technocratic heavyweights like the World Economic Forum, former Bank of England chief Mark Carney, and of course Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have all invested serious resources in such a project. The idea is already gaining mainstream currency (no pun intended): a "digital dollar" provision made its way into the US' must-pass coronavirus stimulus bill. While it was ultimately removed, cashless society proponents have continued championing it, reasoning that it's the quickest way of getting the stimulus money into Americans' hands. As the Federal Reserve pours trillions of dollars conjured out of thin air into the economy, it seems only fitting that Americans will increasingly embrace using imaginary money to represent imaginary value.

Abolish fossil fuels

The coronavirus pandemic has been seized upon by the climate-change industrial complex as proof that the world must transition away from fossil fuels. As the price of oil has plummeted alongside the generally-collapsing markets, promoters of renewable energy have shifted their appeals from pleading for the planet to pleading for investors' pocketbooks. Why pour money into volatile oil companies when you can have steady profits with wind and solar? Imperial College's Dr. Charles Donovan, one of the loudest voices calling for a coronavirus-inspired shift to renewables, admitted to Forbes that a renewable energy economy wouldn't prevent the next pandemic, or even speed recovery from the current one, but papered over that gap with platitudes about "resilience" and the "big picture." There's certainly something to be said for taking stimulus money earmarked for shale drillers whose operations were already in the red pre-coronavirus and investing it in renewables, especially because it's very likely that air pollution has contributed to the high number of coronavirus deaths in areas like northern Italy and Hubei province. However, there's a dark side to Donovan's call for decarbonization. Making bailouts contingent on implementing "low-carbon transitions" is holding industry hostage to an agenda in a way that ensures rushed, poorly-thought-out decisions will be made in the name of expediency. Some climate campaigners have even hinted this is their desired outcome, frankly admitting that the dramatic changes ushered in overnight to fight the epidemic mean equally dramatic change is possible in the service of crafting their preferred green future. "Decarbonize in haste, repent in leisure" could save the planet, or destroy what remains of industry post-coronavirus – either way, it's not something to be undertaken from a point of panic.

Abolish privacy

As coronavirus-related legislation peels back the privacy protections once enshrined in law, some activists believe we should dispense with this antiquated notion altogether and just embrace the microchip. Bill Gates has been an enthusiastic promoter of the idea, casually bringing it up during a Reddit 'Ask Me Anything' in response to an unrelated question. The Microsoft billionaire-turned-'philanthropist' responded to a question about how governments might decide what businesses are "essential" during a crisis by suggesting the use of "digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it." Whoa there, buddy. Gates has funded research into "quantum-dot tattoos" that simultaneously vaccinate and leave a record of the vaccination, allowing recipients of the shot to be identified as such after the fact. He also backs the ID2020 initiative, which late last year announced plans to implant biometric ID technology in babies born in Bangladesh and homeless people in Austin, Texas. Articles about the dystopian initiative recently had a disclaimer slapped on warning that the program is "not [intended] to track individuals, as claimed by some conspiracy theorists." Gee, that's a relief! Meanwhile, multiple tech companies, including Google, the surveillance state cheerleaders at Palantir, and (reportedly) the global mobile phone industry itself are at various stages of rolling out programs to track the spread of coronavirus using location data collected from people's phones. The data is supposedly anonymized, but given tech companies' abysmal history of paying lip service to privacy while feeding users' data to government agencies – to say nothing of catastrophic leaks – I think we can be forgiven for urging caution before rushing headlong into this particular Brave New World.

Abolish the family

The coronavirus crisis is unprecedented in the amount of disruption it has caused, and outlandish manifestos are to be expected. But the call to abolish the family 'because coronavirus', published by OpenDemocracy, is in a class by itself. The writer, Sophie Lewis, seems appalled at the idea of families self-isolating together, because family homes are "fundamentally unsafe" spaces rife with inequality. The existence of abusive relationships is held up as proof that the family itself is an oppressive structure, while housework is likened to psychological torture. Instead, she calls on society to fling open the doors of prisons and detention centers and house the inhabitants in their "private palaces." It may be easy to dismiss as extreme a view that "the private family qua mode of social reproduction still, frankly, sucks. It genders, nationalizes and races us. It norms us for productive work. It makes us believe we are 'individuals.'" But this isn't just a personal blog, or some antifa kid's Tumblr – this is an outlet sponsored by some very influential organizations, including George Soros' Open Society Foundations. Clearly it had to go through some kind of editorial approval before being published. "Social distancing" aside, there's no logical reason coronavirus should make us put aside our family ties, and one has to wonder why an outlet like this is okay with calling on others to discard the parts of life that – for most of us – make it worth living.


Former Putin’s Aide: Coronavirus is the US biological weapon

An economist, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Sergey Glazyev is sure that the novel coronavirus is man-made. He declared that on the air of the Russia “Tsargrad” TV channel. “The picture is painfully familiar,” he describes the situation, adding that in many ways it is similar to 2014.
“The same beneficiaries: financial speculators. The same conductors are from across the ocean, ”- said the expert on the program.- “Americans…have a full arsenal of biological weapons. And this manifestation of the US hybrid warfare against the economic sectors they do not control is perfectly understandable and logical. ”
Of course, the coronavirus was also detected in the United States itself, but one can recall that the British, who provoked Hitler at the beginning of World War II, became mass victims of the bombing of German aircraft, the expert emphasized. The elite is in principle insured against this. At the same time, the American ruling elite is also armed not only with information technology, but also with a biological weapon, which continues to develop contrary to all international obligations. In addition, the American elite has a huge arsenal for manipulating international financial markets.

“Primitive Malthusian ideas still prevail there, one can constantly hear that there are too many humanity, that the planet, they say, cannot survive so many people, and so on. Therefore, they die today, you look, mostly people of the yellow race, so to speak. This is China, Korea, Japan. Among Europeans, such a tragic fate befell people with reduced immunity, the elderly, who are traditionally regarded as ballast for this ideology of the "golden billion",- Sergey Glazyev stated.


Lukashenko hints at possible coronavirus-related attempts to reshape global order

I believe that global players can capitalize on the world crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said in an interview to the Interstate TV and Radio Company Mir on 2 April, BelTA has learned. “Any politician, let alone my position (I am responsible for millions of people, and not only my own: we have many neighbors whose lives depend on us in one way or another), should verify their specific tactical steps with the most viable strategy,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. According to him, today many people are already thinking about the main question: what will happen after the coronavirus pandemic is over? “Does it not seem that world powers (Macron has already called it a war) want to reshape the global order with the help of this so-called coronavirus psychosis, including infodemic spreads?” the president asked.

He recalled the UN proposal to print money to the amount of 10% of the global GDP to fight the coronavirus. "This is empty money. The US dollar is gradually depreciating. There will be a recession, inflation. It is clear where we will end up with our currency. Moreover: who will get those trillions, who will keep hold of them? Won't it happen that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer? That will be exactly like this. We have been pushed to stop, sit and eat away the scarce currency reserves we have. We cannot say that they are huge in Russia. Sitting idle, Russia will see its reserves vanish in less than a year. The same is true about us. Having printed those 10% of GDP, those who are ‘on their feet' will come to us and say: “We will give you a little, but you will do what we say. This is how the world can be reshaped,” the president said.

The head of state stressed that he is concerned about the future of the country, so he is trying to look further. “Today everyone says that the world will be different after the pandemic. I agree with it. But where will our place be in this world? That is the main question for me. Not coronapsychosis, not an infopandemic. We have this today, but it will pass in a month or two. The question remains where our place will be. That will be the question for everyone, for resource-rich Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan, even more so for Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and for Nauseda [Lithuanian president], who today is trying to question the policy of the President of Belarus. I am afraid that the world will be reshaped without war” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Why do I insist on the economy to continue working? Because I am thinking about what will happen to us afterwards if we stop like many: Lithuanians, Latvians and others. They will survive. Russia has the oil and gas that the world needs today. China has huge economic capacities. There is a printing machine in the United States: they are injecting $2 trillion in their economy and $2 trillion more is in the pipeline,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.


Belarus’s Lukashenko Slams Global Elites, Says They’ve Made ‘Trillions’ as Economy Burns to Pandemic

One of the only countries in Europe not to institute strict lockdown measures amid the coronavirus crisis, Belarus has so far managed to keep virus-related fatalities impressively low. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has taken a shot at the world’s elites, accusing them of taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to put “trillions of dollars in their pockets” while the global economy burns. “The coronavirus has put the whole planet into a state of psychosis...I call it a psychosis because someone clearly needs this. And you’ve probably noticed yourself who. It’s the same as always: after the swine flu, the bird flu, SARS…today we’re facing another pandemic, another pneumonia, only in a new form. And you remember who took advantage of these situations in the past, who put billions in their pockets,” Lukashenko said, speaking to officials in Mogilev region on Saturday.
“The whole world today has stopped; the global economy has not just stalled, but been demolished. But leading companies, leading billionaires and states have put trillions of dollars in their pockets,” the president added, referring to the current crisis.
“That’s why I have always asked the question, going back three months ago, as you may remember: Who needs this? Is this a man-made event – this health pandemic? So far I do not have an answer to this question, and hope that you don’t either,” Lukashenko noted. The Belarusian president also went after his critics, recalling how media and the internet joked about his ‘advice’ to treat coronavirus with vodka, sauna, tractors and work in the field. “I said this as a joke, and it became a kind of a ‘Lukashenko brand’, used to say ‘see, he’s crazy, he doesn’t know how to treat people,’ even though behind these comments were very serious ideas,” Lukashenko said, recommending that people take up sports and engage in outdoor exercise to build up their immune systems and prepare for any possible ‘second wave’ of infections.
“I emphasize again: everything that people say criticizing me is a bluff: nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow,” the president concluded.
Belarus faced the wrath of media and medical experts around the world after refusing to institute mandatory lockdown measures, with the country’s factories, farms, schools, shops, restaurants and other amenities remaining open throughout the past several months even as its neighbours closed down. However, recently published data have shown that while the country’s per capita infection rates are comparable to other European nations and the US, its mortality rates have been among the lowest in the world, ranking 45th among 49 countries with 10,000 or more cases where sufficient data is available. This week, the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington-based think tank, concluded that in the US alone, billionaires have added $565 billion to their fortunes since mid-March, with their total wealth up by 19 percent since the pandemic began. The figures were published amid reports that close to 39 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits amid the crisis. Similar trends have been observed in countries across the world, from Europe to Asia.


Iran Leader Refuses US Help, Citing Virus Conspiracy Theory

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech, in Tehran, Iran March 22, 2020. Official Khamenei…

Iran's supreme leader refused U.S. assistance Sunday to fight the new coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus could be man-made by America. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments come as Iran faces crushing U.S. sanctions blocking the country from selling its crude oil and accessing international financial markets. But while Iranian civilian officials in recent days have increasingly criticized those sanctions, 80-year-old Khamenei instead chose to traffic in the same conspiracy theory increasingly used by Chinese officials about the new virus to deflect blame for the pandemic.

“I do not know how real this accusation is but when it exists, who in their right mind would trust you to bring them medication?" Khamenei said. "Possibly your medicine is a way to spread the virus more.” He also alleged without offering any evidence that the virus “is specifically built for Iran using the genetic data of Iranians which they have obtained through different means.” “You might send people as doctors and therapists, maybe they would want to come here and see the effect of the poison they have produced in person," he said.

There is no scientific proof offered anywhere in the world to support Khamenei's comments. However, his comments come after Chinese government spokesman Lijian Zhao tweeted earlier this month that it “might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe[s] us an explanation!” Lijian likewise offered no evidence to support his claim, which saw the U.S. State Department summon China's ambassador to complain. Wuhan is the Chinese city where the first cases of the disease were detected in December. In recent days, the Trump administration has increasingly referred to the virus as the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus, while the World Health Organization used the term COVID-19 to describe the illness the virus causes. Even a U.S. senator from Arkansas has trafficked in the unfounded conspiracy theory it was a man-made Chinese bioweapon.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. Scientists have not yet determined exactly how the new coronavirus first infected people. Evidence suggests it originated in bats, which infected another animal that spread it to people at a market in Wuhan. The now-shuttered Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market advertised dozens of species such as giant salamanders, baby crocodiles and raccoon dogs that were often referred to as wildlife, even when they were farmed.

An article published last week in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Medicine similarly said it was “improbable” that the virus “emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus.” Khamenei made the comments in a speech in Tehran broadcast live Sunday across Iran marking Nowruz, the Persian New Year. He had called off his usual speech at Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad over the virus outbreak. His comments come as Iran has over 21,600 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus amid 1,685 reported deaths, according to government figures released Sunday. Iran is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world by the new virus. Across the Mideast, Iran represents eight of 10 cases of the virus and those leaving the Islamic Republic have carried the virus to other countries.

Iranian officials have criticized U.S. offers of aid during the virus crisis as being disingenuous. They have accused the Trump administration of wanting to capitalize on its “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran since withdrawing from the nuclear deal in May 2018. However, the U.S. has directly offered the Islamic Republic aid in the past despite decades of enmity, like during the devastating Bam earthquake of 2003. Reassigning blame could be helpful to Iran's government, which faced widespread public anger after denying for days it shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing 176 people. Widespread economic problems as well has seen mass demonstrations in recent years that saw hundreds reportedly killed. Iranian hard-liners have supported conspiracy theories in the past when it suited their interests. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, some publicly doubted al-Qaida's role and state TV promoting the unfounded conspiracy theory that the Americans blew up the building themselves.

Former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad similarly raised doubt about the Sept. 11 attack, calling it a “big lie," while also describing the Holocaust as a “myth.” Meanwhile on Sunday, Iran imposed a two-week closure on major shopping malls and centers across the country to prevent spreading the virus. Pharmacies, supermarkets, groceries and bakeries will remain open. In Saudi Arabia, the kingdom said its armed forces are now taking part in combating the virus, setting up mobile hospitals in various cities. And in Kuwait, authorities have instituted a nightly curfew from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m., warning violators face up to three years in prison and fines of $32,000 if arrested and convicted.


Soviet-Style Kleptocracy Is Infiltrating America

When the U.S.S.R. collapsed, Washington bet on the global spread of democratic capitalist values—and lost

For two years, in the early 1990s, Richard Palmer served as the CIA station chief in the United States’ Moscow embassy. The events unfolding around him—the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rise of Russia—were so chaotic, so traumatic and exhilarating, that they mostly eluded clearheaded analysis. But from all the intelligence that washed over his desk, Palmer acquired a crystalline understanding of the deeper narrative of those times. Much of the rest of the world wanted to shout for joy about the trajectory of history, and how it pointed in the direction of free markets and liberal democracy. Palmer’s account of events in Russia, however, was pure bummer. In the fall of 1999, he testified before a congressional committee to disabuse members of Congress of their optimism and to warn them of what was to come.

American officialdom, Palmer believed, had badly misjudged Russia. Washington had placed its faith in the new regime’s elites; it took them at their word when they professed their commitment to democratic capitalism. But Palmer had seen up close how the world’s growing interconnectedness—and global finance in particular—could be deployed for ill. During the Cold War, the KGB had developed an expert understanding of the banking byways of the West, and spymasters had become adept at dispensing cash to agents abroad. That proficiency facilitated the amassing of new fortunes. In the dying days of the U.S.S.R., Palmer had watched as his old adversaries in Soviet intelligence shoveled billions from the state treasury into private accounts across Europe and the U.S. It was one of history’s greatest heists.

Washington told itself a comforting story that minimized the importance of this outbreak of kleptomania: These were criminal outliers and rogue profiteers rushing to exploit the weakness of the new state. This narrative infuriated Palmer. He wanted to shake Congress into recognizing that the thieves were the very elites who presided over every corner of the system. “For the U.S. to be like Russia is today,” he explained to the House committee, “it would be necessary to have massive corruption by the majority of the members at Congress as well as by the Departments of Justice and Treasury, and agents of the FBI, CIA, DIA, IRS, Marshal Service, Border Patrol; state and local police officers; the Federal Reserve Bank; Supreme Court justices …” In his testimony, Palmer even mentioned Russia’s newly installed and little-known prime minister (whom he mistakenly referred to as Boris Putin), accusing him of “helping to loot Russia.”

The United States, Palmer made clear, had allowed itself to become an accomplice in this plunder. His assessment was unsparing. The West could have turned away this stolen cash; it could have stanched the outflow to shell companies and tax havens. Instead, Western banks waved Russian loot into their vaults. Palmer’s anger was intended to provoke a bout of introspection—and to fuel anxiety about the risk that rising kleptocracy posed to the West itself. After all, the Russians would have a strong interest in protecting their relocated assets. They would want to shield this wealth from moralizing American politicians who might clamor to seize it. Eighteen years before Special Counsel Robert Mueller began his investigation into foreign interference in a U.S. election, Palmer warned Congress about Russian “political donations to U.S. politicians and political parties to obtain influence.” What was at stake could well be systemic contagion: Russian values might infect and then weaken the moral defense systems of American politics and business.

This unillusioned spook was a prophet, and he spoke out at a hinge moment in the history of global corruption. America could not afford to delude itself into assuming that it would serve as the virtuous model, much less emerge as an untainted bystander. Yet when Yegor Gaidar, a reformist Russian prime minister in the earliest postcommunist days, asked the United States for help hunting down the billions that the KGB had carted away, the White House refused. “Capital flight is capital flight” was how one former CIA official summed up the American rationale for idly standing by. But this was capital flight on an unprecedented scale, and mere prologue to an era of rampant theft. When the Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman studied the problem in 2015, he found that 52 percent of Russia’s wealth resided outside the country.

The collapse of communism in the other post-Soviet states, along with China’s turn toward capitalism, only added to the kleptocratic fortunes that were hustled abroad for secret safekeeping. Officials around the world have always looted their countries’ coffers and accumulated bribes. But the globalization of banking made the export of their ill-gotten money far more convenient than it had been—which, of course, inspired more theft. By one estimate, more than $1 trillion now exits the world’s developing countries each year in the forms of laundered money and evaded taxes.

As in the Russian case, much of this plundered wealth finds its way to the United States. New York, Los Angeles, and Miami have joined London as the world’s most desired destinations for laundered money. This boom has enriched the American elites who have enabled it—and it has degraded the nation’s political and social mores in the process. While everyone else was heralding an emergent globalist world that would take on the best values of America, Palmer had glimpsed the dire risk of the opposite: that the values of the kleptocrats would become America’s own. This grim vision is now nearing fruition.

The contagion has spread remarkably quickly, which is not to say steadily, in a country haunted since its founding by the perils of corruption. The United States has had seizures of conscience en route to the top of the new global order surveyed by the British journalist Oliver Bullough in his excellent book Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back. In the months following Palmer’s testimony, the zeitgeist swerved in the direction he urged, at least momentarily. Newspaper articles in the fall of 1999 showed how billions in Russian money, some of it seemingly tied to an alleged crime boss, had landed in the Bank of New York. These sums startled Bill Clinton’s administration, which readied tough new anti-money-laundering bills, designed to stiffen banking regulations. But the administration was in its last year, and passing any new law would have required a legislative slog and bull-rushing obstreperous lobbyists, so plans stalled.

The Clinton-era proposals would have remained an unvisited curio in the National Archives had Osama bin Laden not attacked. But in the days after the Twin Towers collapsed, George W. Bush’s administration furiously scoured Washington for ideas to jam into the 342-page piece of legislation that would become the patriot Act. A sense of national panic created a brief moment for bureaucrats to realize previously shelved plans. Title III of the patriot Act, the International Money Laundering Abatement and Anti-terrorist Financing Act, was signed into law little more than a month after September 11.

This section of the bill was a monumental legislative achievement. Undeterred by the smoke clouds of crisis, representatives of the big banks had stalked the Senate, trying to quash the measure. Citibank officials reportedly got into shouting matches with congressional staffers in the hall. This anger reflected the force of the patriot Act. If a bank came across suspicious money transferred from abroad, it was now required to report the transfer to the government. A bank could face criminal charges for failing to establish sufficient safeguards against the flow of corrupt cash. Little wonder that banks fought fiercely against the imposition of so many new rules, which required them to bulk up their compliance divisions—and, more to the point, subjected them to expensive penalties for laxity.


 After the Coronavirus, the Era of Small Government Will Be Over,1024&quality=90
The pandemic has put the state at the center of political life around the world. The aftermath will keep it there.

Will everything change? Will anything? In the wild heart of tumult, we overestimate how easily settled patterns of behavior can be overthrown. “We’ll never laugh again,” we glumly predicted after the 9/11 attacks. And then, of course, we did. And now, with global deaths from the coronavirus topping 121,000 and much of the world under lockdown? Perhaps, as the veteran diplomat Richard Haass suggests in an essay in Foreign Affairs, things that were already happening will simply happen sooner.

But what things? In what sphere? Those of us who think and write about foreign policy naturally ask how the pandemic will reshape relations among states. But perhaps that’s the wrong question. Crises are a blunt tool for change, but they do have a shape; and that shape determines the nature of the changes they force. Of the cataclysmic events of the last century, the two world wars radically changed the state system by replacing the European balance of power with an American-led world order based on institutions and law. The collapse of the Soviet Union ushered in a quarter-century of U.S. hegemony, now drawing to a close.

World orders, as former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger writes in his book of the same name, last until their foundations are shattered by events. The pandemic is not that kind of event. What we see, in fact, is the apex institutions of today’s global order—the U.N. Security Council, the G-20, the European Union—making hapless gestures as the virus races around the world. There is no reason to believe that their inability to mount an effective global response to what is plainly a global problem threatens their survival. The crisis is far more likely, as Haass predicts, to hasten the relative decline of the United States and the nationalist reaction against global cooperation. It may also further deepen the breach between the United States and China, each of which has blamed the other for the outbreak of the pandemic.

This crisis will affect, above all, our personal lives. The national lockdown is an intimate experience, and the experience is sure to change us at an intimate level. It’s as if the lights have been switched off and we have all had to learn to find our way in darkness. I don’t know whether it will make people kinder, more self-protective, or, as I suggested in an essay just before the pandemic struck, less individualistic. Already we have a kind of social pandemic of loneliness. How much deeper will it become if social distancing must remain in place until a vaccine has been developed, as increasingly seems to be the case?

The catastrophe to which the pandemic bears the closest comparison is the Great Depression, a worldwide event in which national economies collapsed with terrifying speed. That is, the change-forcing event will not be the scale of death but the economic and political consequences. Fifty million people died during the 1918 flu pandemic without redirecting the course of global politics. In any case, the projected death toll from the coronavirus has been diminishing in recent days as preventive measures have taken hold. The virus may also turn out to be somewhat less lethal than we feared.

But the economic suffering has been profound and threatens the legitimacy of national governments. It is in this sense that the pandemic resembles the Depression. As World War I made the 19th-century alliance system look like a suicide pact, so the Depression put an end to the giddy faith in an unregulated marketplace. The state stepped in where the market failed, and it never fully stepped out again. The Nordic model that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders so admires first took shape in 1938, when, after years of mass unemployment and labor strife, workers and employers groups came together to agree on a system of national-level negotiations.


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Prince Charles has pleaded with world leaders and businesses to rapidly shift to a new economic model that revolutionises the interaction between nature and global financial markets and saves the planet from "approaching catastrophe".

In an unprecedented royal intrusion on government policy, the heir to the British throne used a landmark speech in Switzerland on Wednesday to argue market-based solutions and tax reform were the best options to halt the damaging impacts of climate change. He called for the urgent reversal of "perverse subsidies" enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry, reiterated his support for carbon pricing schemes, encouraged superannuation funds to invest in more green projects, and said humans and the planet must be put at "the heart of global value creation".

"Do we want to go down in history as the people who did nothing to bring the world back from the brink in time to restore the balance when we could have done?" the Prince of Wales told the World Economic Forum in Davos. "What good is all the extra wealth in the world, gained from business-as-usual, if you can do nothing with it except watch it burn in catastrophic conditions?"

The 71-year-old has spent five decades speaking out on the environment but his Davos remarks are a rare criticism of the current global economic structure and his proposed solutions would have major implications for government policy, particularly in Australia. He also met Greta Thunberg on the sidelines of the event and labelled the young climate campaigner - who has been repeatedly attacked by US President Donald Trump - "remarkable". Outlining 10 ways to transform financial markets and reduce global emissions, Prince Charles said nothing short of a revolution was required.

"I've come to realise it is not a lack of capital holding us back but rather the way in which we deploy it. Therefore, to move forward we need nothing short of a paradigm shift - one that inspires action at revolutionary levels and pace."

He called for companies and countries to outline how they will move to net zero emissions - a signal he is not satisfied with the commitments made under the Paris climate accord. The United Kingdom has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050 but Australia and other countries have been reluctant to make similar promises. "It is time for businesses, industries and countries alike to design and implement how they will decarbonise and transition to net-zero," Prince Charles said. "A little competition in this area could go a long way."

Denouncing "perverse subsidies" given to heavy polluters, he said policy makers should "not be afraid to adapt out longstanding incentive structures", citing his support for a carbon pricing model similar to the one introduced under Labor prime minister Julia Gillard and scrapped by the Coalition in 2014.

"Re-orientating economic subsidies, financial incentives and regulations can have a dramatic and transformative effect on our market systems. It is time to level the playing field and think about how we properly deploy taxes, policies and regulations in a way that catalyses sustainable markets."

Prince Charles flew into the Swiss ski resort on a private jet but his office stressed that was the only way he would then be able to attend a Holocaust memorial event in Israel. Aware the summit has been criticised as an expensive and carbon-intensive talkfest, Prince Charles told the crowd that leadership figures had a responsibility to better educate the public that the hip-pocket cost of reducing emissions was only one side of the story. "For a transition to take place, being socially and environmentally conscious cannot only be for those who can afford it," he said. He said speaking out on the issue since the late 1960s had at times been "a bit of an uphill struggle".

"Everything I have tried to do, and urge, over the past 50 years has been done with our children and grandchildren in mind, because I did not want to be accused by them of doing nothing except prevaricate and deny the problem," he said ahead of the private meeting with 17-year-old Thunberg. "Now of course, they are accusing us of exactly that. Put yourselves in their position. We simply cannot waste any more time - the only limit is our willingness to act, and the time to act is now."

He said technology solutions to climate change were increasingly cheaper but worried there had been a breakdown in links between investors and potential investments. He also flagged the need to "reimagine" how investors analyse, structure and assess models of return. "There are trillions of dollars in sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, insurance, and asset portfolios looking for investible and sustainable projects with good long-term value and rates of return," he said.

"It is time to align sustainable solutions with funding in a way that can transform the market place. If we valued our natural capital property, as I've been trying to say for quite a long time, our national and individual balance sheets might look very different indeed."

The Prince pledged to conduct a series of climate policy workshops throughout 2020 and suggested he could also attend key global summits throughout the year, including a major gathering of world leaders in Glasgow in November.


 Is the Coronavirus Killing Off Cash?

An abandoned ATM is surrounded by creeping ivy

Stores are shuttering all over the United States, and many of those still open are balking at cash. Shoppers are switching orders to Amazon and Many restaurants that have stayed open won’t take cash, and operate without any contact at all, requiring customers to pay first online. What once seemed like the oldest, most reliable way of paying now seems fraught: A physical object changing hands, bringing people closer than 6 feet, covered in who knows what.

“Do I want to grab the thing that you were just holding in your hand? No,” says Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff, who has advocated for a less-cash society, and predicts the crisis “is absolutely going to drive people to prefer credit and debit to cash.” Or, as one Twitter user, @DonGone5 put it last week, “Still no cash accepted. $10 dollar bill now been in my wallet so long, Alexander Hamilton has shot himself.”

Filling the void, in many cases, are digital payments that are quick, clean and easy. That sudden shift is a huge opportunity for tech firms such as online payments giant PayPal, which also owns the Venmo app. CEO Dan Schulman says the company is seeing the number of new customers setting up accounts each day “basically double” from prepandemic rates. Square, the digital payment company run by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, has found itself fielding calls from merchants whose customers no longer want to touch any surfaces. Some of the change might be temporary. And some might not—which has Silicon Valley excited, and others worried.

For years, tech companies have been pushing toward a more virtual, less cash-based payments system, and pressing regulators to free them from the restrictions that govern traditional banks. Now, in the U.S., the government has been moving in this direction of its own accord, discouraging paper checks in a rush to get stimulus money out to Americans. But the sharp jag away from cash also worries those who look out for older and poorer Americans—groups that tend to be more reliant on paper money either for lack of tech savvy, out of habit or because they don’t participate in the formal banking system.

“Even in this pandemic crisis, we have the same vulnerable people we had before that did not have access to banks or credit cards,” says Vallie Brown, a cash advocate and former Democratic member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.

There’s an ideological component as well: Among cash’s strengths is that it’s universally accepted and difficult to track, giving Americans a just about anonymous way to, say, donate to their preferred church or live out their life as a persecuted minority or back a dissident group. “Some of us still use cash because we think it’s nobody’s business,” says Jim Harper, a visiting fellow with the libertarian-leaning American Enterprise Institute. For more than 200 years, paper cash has been at the heart of the American economy. How close could coronavirus come to killing off cash—and if it does, is society ready? Money habits can be hard to break. It took years for ATMs to replace visits to human bank tellers; now, Americans withdraw cash from them at a rate of some 5 billion times a year.

By one measure, cash is far from gone: The Covid-19 pandemic, like most emergencies, has seen people stashing away paper money. Federal Reserve data shows a slight uptick in U.S. currency withdrawals globally, although much of that could be overseas squirreling away a safe-seeming currency. The pandemic, though, has forced Americans to change their spending habits almost literally overnight. After resisting the move for years, for example, the 1,200-store Southeastern grocery chain Publix this month started accepting Apple Pay. The U.S. Treasury has made it plain that Americans will get their coronavirus stimulus money much quicker if instead of a paper check they opt for direct deposit, either through an on-file account or the just-launched “Get My Payment” portal. (Paper checks are a common financial tool of cash-based Americans, often turned into dollars and cents at one of the country’s thousands of check-cashing places.)

The shift extends to the physical equivalents of cash. The Department of Agriculture is right now rushing to expand a pilot program that lets the country’s 42 million recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—what we once called “food stamps”—buy what they need from online grocers like Amazon Fresh. For so-called fintech firms now building the apps and infrastructure to support mobile banking and digital payments, this kind of economy is a long-held dream. Beyond purely online players like PayPal, San Francisco’s Standard Cognition has been developing technology to turn physical stores into fully cashless environments; pick up a can of soup in its demo store and an AI-boosted camera automatically tracks your purchase and bills your credit or debit card stored in the company’s app. “We get rid of the physical touch point,” says CEO Jordan Fisher. “There’s just nothing there.”

Advocates for moving away from cash also point out that it’s much, much faster to send money via the internet than to mail a check, an argument that has led major fintech firms to bid for a role in the important national business of getting coronavirus-related funds out to Americans. Last month, Square’s Dorsey prodded the government (via tweet, of course) to let his payments company and others in the fintech industry help figure out how to get Americans their money in a hurry. Schulman, of PayPal, says he pitched a business acquaintance, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, about distributing government funds via PayPal. This week, the Treasury Department approved both PayPal and Square as distributors of the $350 billion in small-business loans that were also part of the stimulus package.

To some, however, a pandemic-triggered decline in cash is nothing to celebrate. Cash is an essential financial tool of the millions of Americans who either don’t have access to banks or credit cards, or who opt to not make use of them. (While it’s still possible to use PayPal and Square without a bank account, such as by transferring funds to a prepaid debit card, the services are designed around banked Americans — not to mention ones with smartphones and broadband.) Last year, the city of San Francisco passed a ban on cashless stores; that’s one reason Standard Cognition’s contactless demo store, on the edge of the city’s tech-heavy SoMa neighborhood, still takes dollars, which are collected through a “store ambassador.” (The store is currently closed because of the coronavirus.)

One unlikely place to look to better understand the tensions caused by the move away from cash: the Washington, D.C.-launched salad chain Sweetgreen. In 2016, the fast-casual food retailer stopped accepting cash. There was outrage: The company, the thinking went, was blocking cash-preferring patrons from getting access to healthy foods. The company rolled back the ban two years later. But the company designs at least some of its stores to highlight the most efficient way to get your hands on a kale Caesar salad: pay for your order online first, breeze in, pick up your meal from a designated shelf, and be back out the door in seconds. This still leaves cash-payers a step behind: Skipping cash lets you skip the line.

That hybrid, bets PayPal’s Dan Schulman, is what’s likely to stick post-pandemic: we’ll go back to shopping out in the physical world but stop paying in cash, instead paying online either before or after. PayPal and Square have much to gain by looking like innovators helping the country in its time of need. For one thing, on topics like taxes and insurance, fintech firms like these are attempting to carve out more favorable regulations for the still-young industry. The Electronics Transactions Association, a D.C.-based lobbying group, put out a Covid-19 briefing document saying the payments technology industry stands ready to move money “in a safe and effective manner with little to no physical contact, in-person and online.”

In some countries, mobile banking is seen as a tool for economic inclusion. Kenya’s central bank has found that that country’s M-Pesa system, named after the country’s currency, has boosted access to financial resources. The service, backed by major telecoms, works by tapping the country’s vast network of prepaid airtime resellers to act as cash-exchanging microbanks — often by young people in cities eager to send money back to the rural areas in which they grew up. The M-Pesa model, though, hasn’t taken off in the U.S., where there is less demand — even with access challenges in the U.S., there is a far wider variety of trusted, safe, traditional banking options than in Kenya — and less infrastructure to support it; for one thing, the pay-as-you go plans that put users in frequent contact with bricks-and-mortar resellers are less prevalent.

And there are concerns that a quick, pandemic-inspired wholesale shift to digital money will instead hurt unbanked Americans. In part to address that worry, in recent weeks House Democrats have floated a “digital dollar” plan that would equip Americans with simple online accounts that would make it easy for the government to distribute direct payments to Americans, whether stimulus checks or, someday, so-called universal basic income. And the importance of getting those payments fast only grows with gathering momentum in Congress for more cash infusions to Americans coping with coronavirus. PayPal’s Schulman sees all of this as part of a coming shift: Every transaction that we choose to do virtually instead of with cash builds up our muscles for the change, getting us comfortable with never touching that Alexander Hamilton bill again. And those are muscles, he argues, we’re going to need in the near term, especially as unemployment skyrockets.

“There’s now multigenerational distress being felt and therefore the need for there to be some sort of common platform amongst family members,” Schulman says. Translation: a grandpa who figures out how to Venmo his grandkids some birthday money using the app’s user-to-user functionality is one who knows how to Venmo his family members cash when they’re in real economic need — or to get Venmo’d cash when he is in need.

Already, we’re adapting our behaviors. PayPal reports that in the first week of March, payments tagged with its medical mask emoji—often to canceled housekeepers, babysitters, hairdressers—grew 375 percent. Of course, there’s another possibility. And that’s that cash comes roaring back after coronavirus, perhaps something like the handshake, a practice that seemed odd, even foolhardy during the pandemic but that we return to out of habit or, as it turns out, it still has its place.


Coronavirus Being Used to Scare You Away From Using Cash

Cash has been the target of the banking and financial elites for years. Now, the coronavirus pandemic is being used to frighten the masses into accepting a cashless society. That would mean the death of what’s left of our free society.

CBS News, CNN, and other mainstream outlets are fearmongering again. Alarmism is nothing new in the media world, but this time, it’s not about triggering panic buying or even pushing a political agenda. The war on cash is about imposing a new meta-narrative. As economist Joseph Salerno explains, the cashless society forces all payments to be made through the financial system. It doesn’t end with monopoly control over transactions, though. Being bound to computers for transactions kicks the door wide open to hardcore surveillance of personal activity and location data. Being eternally on the grid means relentless taxation and negative interest rates, which the Federal Reserve is already gearing up for.

None of this bothers the well-heeled boosters of a cashless society or their lackeys in the media. They want Americans reading about the threat of coronavirus cooties on their cash, which is absurd. Germs, of course, can loiter all over credit and debit cards, smartphones, ATMs, and every other cash alternative device. Too bad implanted microchip technology isn’t further along, the banksters must be thinking. In another CNN article, readers are practically shamed for withdrawing cash to save during a crisis. Every sentence, every word, every letter of the article is nuts. It begins by reassuring the reader that their bank account is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). There’s no mention of moral hazard from CNN. The fact that the federal government guarantees every bank account up to $250,000 encourages reckless financial and banking behavior. Not worth mentioning, CNN?

Prior to the end of World War II, there were $500, $1,000, and $10,000 bills in wide circulation. This cash was dissolved by the Federal Reserve in the name of fighting organized crime. This same argument is now being made against $50 and $100 bills by Harvard economics professor Kenneth Rogoff. In the Wall Street Journal, Rogoff also wrote that a cashless society would offer such benefits as “greater flexibility for the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy when necessary.” He wrote those words in 2017. And these too: “The Federal Reserve should be able to implement negative nominal interest rates vastly more effectively in the absence of large bills, which could prove quite important as a stimulative tool in the next financial crisis.”

Prophetic. And indeed, negative interest rates would require the assistance of outlawing cash, so that banking customers don’t cheat by simply drawing out on their accounts. Pardon the pun, but it’s absolutely sick how COVID-19 is being used now as a launching pad for this cashless agenda. There’s nothing to fear about using cash during this time of social distancing. Wash your hands after handling cash, but don’t give up your moolah. Preserve your health, your privacy, and your liberty.

Coronavirus Is a Dress Rehearsal for Climate Change
We can flatten the curve on climate change, too—but only by altering the balance of power in Washington

The under-reaction by the US government to the coronavirus was not inadvertent, a mistake. It was in part the result of a decades-long campaign to degrade the very idea that government can be a useful, essential aspect of our lives, that it can allow us to collectively accomplish tasks far beyond the capacity of any individual. Today, unfortunately, the dominant view in America, held by essentially all Republican leaders and too many Democratic ones, is that the “free market” always delivers better outcomes than the government.

But that’s the self-serving view of those who benefit most in our “winner-take-all” economy. What we need instead is a healthy, regulated balance between civil society, government, and private enterprise. And if we’re smart, we’ll use this current crisis to rebalance the scales in America. The bailouts this time cannot be like the 2008 variety, in which bankers got bonuses and millions of homeowners got screwed. We don’t just need strings attached to this bailout. We need steel cables. The interests of ordinary people must come first. Period.

As everyone should by now be aware, the coronavirus crisis is not just a public health crisis. It’s a jobs and income crisis, a small-business crisis, a child care crisis, a poverty crisis. In a real sense, it is a dress rehearsal for the future. What this crisis plainly demonstrates is the critical importance of investment in the resilience and equity of social and technical systems. It bears repeating: The very idea of government and the public good have been the targets of a decades-long ideological assault. The result? There is absolutely no slack in any of our systems; a shock can disrupt the lives of millions. It should remind every car- or homeowner of what they already know: Preventive maintenance is always worthwhile.

Perhaps the most important lesson of the coronavirus is that if we don’t prepare now, and start thinking about how to stop problems before it’s too late, we’re risking everything we care about: our homes, our jobs, and the health of our loved ones. This is where the virus has something very important to teach us—if we’re willing to learn. The climate crisis is going to be many, many times worse. It may happen more slowly, but let’s not kid ourselves. Greater disease transmission, food shortages, energy blackouts, floods, homelessness, joblessness, species extinction—each will stagger us and then do so again. You have to ask yourself, why are our political leaders unwilling to take serious action on climate? They know it will be too late before too long. So what’s going on?

We live in a hyper-capitalist system that rewards and even demands short-term thinking by political and business leaders. Time after time, political and corporate power brokers put their short-term interests ahead of the long-term health and economic security of all. The crude right wing in American life and media (Fox News and others) gaslights America on this topic; they endlessly claim that pro-climate activists are out-of-touch elitists, while they are the true guardians of the (white) working class. The more sophisticated types—the neoliberals who have dominated economic policy for 40 years—hide behind an ideological smokescreen to argue that theirs is the only path, that another world is simply not possible. Fortunately, the Sanders and Warren campaigns stuck a dagger in that enduring lie.

Republicans in the US Senate did not know that a virus was coming. They would no doubt say that had they known, they would not have supported cuts to CDC staffing and research. Still, anyone with an ounce of foresight took the precisely opposite position in favor of continued funding; they know we have a CDC for a reason. The world is complicated. We have to think ahead. Science is the essential tool for doing so.

It goes without saying that we desperately need to change course in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change. Fortunately, what’s needed is not mysterious, but it is hard and is definitely not short-term. We can save our climate by investing in jobs policies that will transform and improve manufacturing, agriculture, electrification, transportation, housing, infrastructure, care work—and virtually every aspect of our economy. The relevant question is whether we do so in a way that will help working-class, middle-class, and poor Americans first, not last. This is how we take responsibility for the world our children and grandchildren will inherit and inhabit.

Those same Senate Republicans have been Trump’s most important line of defense, joining him in his stance against climate change, public health, the public good, and reality. It does not seem an overstatement to assert that these senators are drenched in shame—and will soon have the deaths of thousands of Americans on their consciences. But it won’t suffice to merely replace them with Democrats who strive for “capitalism with a human face.” The virus has only underlined how deeply unequal and immoral our society is, with wealthy people able to ride out the storm much more easily than the rest of us. The desire for unlimited private wealth and power that characterizes America today will overwhelm our ecosystem just as the coronavirus is overwhelming our health care system. Luckily it’s not too late. We can flatten the curve on climate change too. It starts by altering the balance of power in Washington.


Coronavirus and Climate Change – #PropagandaWatch : The Corbett Report (video)
 Why aren’t we reacting to climate change as aggressively as we are to the coronavirus?

It’s silent. Invisible. It’s spreading everywhere. It’s going to kill us all. We have to take extraordinary measures to combat it. Coronavirus? No, silly! CO2. But it’s not me making the comparison. Find out what the climate schemers and technocrat dreamers have in mind for humanity, and how it’s reflected in the post-virus world in this week’s edition of #PropagandaWatch.


Coronavirus Holds Key Lessons on How to Fight Climate Change

When the COVID-19 pandemic is past, societies may adopt some important measures that would lower emissions, from more teleconferencing to shortening global supply chains. But the most lasting lesson may be what the coronavirus teaches us about the urgency of taking swift action.

A frightening new threat cascades around the world, upending familiar routines, disrupting the global economy, and endangering lives. Scientists long warned this might happen, but political leaders mostly ignored them, so now must scramble to respond to a crisis they could have prevented, or at least eased, had they acted sooner. The coronavirus pandemic and the slower-moving dangers of climate change parallel one another in important ways, and experts say the aggressive, if belated, response to the outbreak could hold lessons for those urging climate action. And while the dip in greenhouse gas emissions caused by the sharp drop in travel and other economic activity is likely to rebound once the pandemic passes, some carbon footprint-shrinking changes that the spread of COVID-19 is prompting could prove more lasting.

Both the pandemic and the climate crisis are problems of exponential growth against a limited capacity to cope, said Elizabeth Sawin, co-director of Climate Interactive, a think tank. In the case of the virus, the danger is the number of infected people overwhelming health care systems; with climate change, it is that emissions growth will overwhelm our ability to manage consequences such as droughts, floods, wildfires, and other extreme events, she said. With entire nations all but shutting down in hopes of slowing the viral spread, “the public is coming to understand that in that kind of situation you have to act in a way that looks disproportionate to what the current reality is, because you have to react to where that exponential growth will take you,” she said. “You look out the window and it doesn’t look like a pandemic, it looks like a nice spring day. But you have to close down all the restaurants, the schools.”

The virus has shown that if you wait until you can see the impact, it is too late to stop it. While the disease is playing out more quickly than the effects of global warming, the principle is the same, she said: If you wait until you can see the impact, it is too late to stop it. “COVID-19 is climate on warp speed,” said Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at New York University and co-author of Climate Shock. “Everything with climate is decades; here it’s days. Climate is centuries; here it’s weeks.”

Governments’ responses have morphed almost as fast as the threat. French President Emmanuel Macron ordered all non-essential businesses to close barely a week after spending an evening at the theater with his wife. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio made similarly abrupt shifts, and President Trump pivoted from downplaying the virus’s dangers to backing measures that had seemed unimaginable shortly before. “We are watching our political leaders learn these lessons live on TV, within days,“ Wagner said. “That’s a learning curve we have never seen with anything, at least not in my lifetime.”

Now, he said, politicians who have grasped the terrifying power of compounding growth must apply that new understanding to the climate. And as with the coronavirus, said Wagner, climate policies must push everyone to take heed of the costs their actions — whether disease exposure or carbon emissions — impose on others. “It’s all about somebody else stepping in and forcing us to internalize the externality, which means don’t rely on parents to take their kids out of school, close the school,” he said. “Don’t rely on companies or workers to stay home or tell their people to stay home, force them to do so or pay them to do so, but make sure it happens. And of course that’s the role of government.”

Stimulus measures aimed at easing COVID-19’s economic shock could aim to drive emissions reductions too, by funding low-carbon infrastructure or offering online training for green-economy jobs to newly unemployed workers stuck at home, Sawin said. Fatih Birol, director of the International Energy Agency, last week similarly urged governments and international financial institutions to incorporate climate action into their stimulus efforts by funding investment in clean power, battery storage, and carbon capture technology.

In Sawin’s view, the pandemic’s multi-layered impact supports an argument U.S. Green New Deal backers have been making: Tackling our biggest problems in tandem may be more effective than taking them on one at a time. Just as those without sick leave may spread the virus because they must work while infected, unaffordable child care and an employer-based health insurance system can rob people of the flexibility to relocate for jobs in growing industries like clean power, she said. “People are starting to understand that to have a whole society shift behavior really quickly, you need to support everyone,” Sawin said. “A social safety net reduces the friction of change.”

Another parallel between the two crises is that we could have headed them off, said Michele Wucker, author of The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore. The book’s title is the metaphor Wucker uses for a high-probability, high-impact event, a counterpoint to the popular idea of a black swan, the term writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined for a very unlikely but highly damaging event that is by its nature hard to foresee. Voters reward politicians for fixing problems, but rarely for preventing them. Both viral spread and climate change are gray rhinos, Wucker said — “the 2-ton thing that’s coming at you, and most of the time we downplay it or neglect it. We kind of miss the obvious.”

The Trump administration, which has aggressively rolled back measures meant to reduce carbon emissions, also axed the National Security Council’s global health security office and sought to cut funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, like many other countries, the United States did little to ramp up coronavirus preparations even as the disease ravaged China. Wucker said there were political, structural, and psychological reasons for such inaction. “Heading off a risk is risky in and of itself,” she said. “People are afraid of doing the wrong thing,” more than they are of doing nothing. Voters reward politicians for fixing problems, but rarely for preventing them, giving leaders incentive to kick knotty issues down the road.

And powerful interests are vested in maintaining the status quo, she pointed out. That dynamic has been central to the global failure to act on climate, with the fossil fuel industry funding a decades-long effort to cast doubt on climate science, and lobbying to thwart changes that would threaten its profits. In the case of COVID-19, while some have sought to deny the seriousness of the coronavirus, people and governments have mostly been far quicker to appreciate its danger. That may in part be because we are instinctually more frightened of disease than of climate threats that many people struggle to envision, Sawin said.

More importantly, though, “one of the richest industries in human history [fossil fuels] isn’t trying to prevent people from understanding” the coronavirus, she said. The global response to COVID-19 — a near halt in international aviation, factories closing in China and elsewhere, a panicked scramble to enable remote work — will almost certainly bring a downward blip in carbon emissions. But such changes are likely to be temporary, with emissions from driving, for example, expected to bounce back as soon as people return to workplaces. If many grow fearful of public transportation, commuting’s carbon footprint might even rise further, experts say.

But some new behaviors could outlast the pandemic, including carbon-cutting shifts climate activists have sought for years. The changes most likely to stick in such a crisis are those that were already underway before it hit, said Amy Myers Jaffe, director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The question is what trends were out there that could now happen faster,” she said. At the top of the list, Jaffe believes, is a fall in business travel, as big companies realize video meetings can often accomplish as much as in-person ones.

Similarly, she said, the pandemic may hasten a flattening, or even reversal, in the growth of international trade, which began to slow in 2019 because of tensions over tariffs. “Now, of course, it’s really crashing,” Jaffe said. If virus-induced shutdowns or border closings create shortages of drugs, medical equipment, or other essential items, many nations and companies may be anxious to reduce their vulnerability to highly globalized supply networks. “If we shrink supply chains, if countries are going to produce more of their own goods, I think that is structurally going to reduce oil demand” and shrink shipping’s carbon footprint, she said. A shift toward remote working may also be here to stay, with some companies abandoning offices altogether.

A shift toward remote working may also be here to stay, said Prithwiraj Choudhury, an associate professor at Harvard Business School. And it doesn’t just mean workers logging on from home in the same city as their company. It offers the freedom to work from anywhere — in a small town with a lower cost of living, for example, or wherever a spouse’s job is, he said. Some companies and organizations have gone completely virtual, abandoning offices altogether. “There’s a lot of latent demand” among workers for such arrangements, and companies may welcome the change as they realize they can save money by maintaining smaller offices, or none at all, Choudhury said. Those workplace changes may bring real emission reductions, but Sawin said the pandemic’s most important climate impact could come from people applying the lessons the coronavirus teaches about the urgency of swift action.

Deep Decarbonization: A realistic way forward on climate change. Read more.

When the outbreak finally ends, “if we can tell that story of what we just went through and help people understand that this is an accelerated version of another story we’re going through that has the same plot structure but a different timeline, that could be transformative,” she said. No one could celebrate a disease spreading so much fear and suffering, Sawin emphasized, but with the losses inflicted by the coronavirus sure to mount, “maybe there’s a kind of honoring of that, to at least take what we learn and put it to good use.”


Photos and charts show how the natural world is thriving now that humans are staying indoors
  • As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, more than a third of the planet's population is under some form of lockdown, with many under order to stay at home and avoid social gatherings.
  • This lockdown has led to a profound impact on the global economy.
  • But fewer humans outside has also allowed the natural world to convalesce. Changes in pollution, air quality, and a resurgence of wildlife have all been observed in the months since the new coronavirus was first detected. 
  • From cleaner beaches to less air pollution, here are 10 photos, videos, and charts that show how the world's condition is improving while humans stay indoors.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take hold of the world, many governments have imposed strict lockdown and social distancing measures in order to curb the spread of the disease. As of Wednesday evening, more than a third of the planet's population is under some form of restriction, with many under order to stay at home and avoid social gatherings. Limiting social gathering has led to declines in certain industries, like travel and hospitality, which has stunted the global economy. But fewer humans outside has also allowed the natural world to convalesce. Changes to pollution, air quality, and a resurgence of wildlife have all been observed in the months since the new coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Some environmentalists say that humans have put too much pressure on the natural world, leading diseases that typically exist in nature to spillover into humans.

"There are too many pressures at the same time on our natural systems and something has to give," Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program told The Guardian last month. "We are intimately interconnected with nature, whether we like it or not. If we don't take care of nature, we can't take care of ourselves."

Other experts have said that the world is undergoing an "unprecedented natural experiment" in how restrictions on human activity put in place due to the new coronavirus have brought us clearer skies and cleaner air. From cleaner beaches to less air pollution, here are 10 photos, videos, and charts that show how the world's condition is improving while people stay indoors. Air pollution in China has decreased, and satellite photos have captured the dramatic drop in recent weeks. The novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and began to spread to other parts of China and the world in the subsequent months. Wuhan, in Hubei Province, introduced lockdown measures earlier than other cities, and by January 29 all cities in Hubei were under quarantine. But the virus spread quickly to other parts of mainland China, leading other Chinese cities to introduce curfews and other lockdown measures.

NASA and European Space Agency pollution monitoring satellites detected "significant decreases" in air pollution over parts of China in February compared to the month before. While there is often a decline in air pollution around the Lunar New Year celebrations, NASA said this year there was more of a decrease than usual. "This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event," Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA, said in the report. "I am not surprised because many cities nationwide have taken measures to minimize spread of the virus," Liu added. Still, some experts have warned that air pollution may bounce back as China begins to lift its lockdown restrictions and ramp up production to compensate for the previous losses.

Italy has been one of the countries hardest-hit by COVID-19. Several provinces introduced lockdown measures in late February. A nationwide lockdown was put in place on March 9. Data taken from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite between January and March indicate a decline of air pollution, specifically nitrogen dioxide concentrations, over Italy. According to the European Space Agency, the reduction in gases was particularly visible in northern Italy, which imposed lockdown measures in February, before the rest of the country followed. Scientists said the pollution decrease was due to efforts to stop the coronavirus spread. "Although there could be slight variations in the data due to cloud cover and changing weather, we are very confident that the reduction in concentrations that we can see, coincides with the lockdown in Italy causing less traffic and industrial activities," Claus Zehner, ESA's Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager, said in an April 13 report

And major decreases in nitrogen dioxide concentrations were observed throughout Europe in recent weeks. Data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite reported by the European Space Agency indicated that drops in nitrogen dioxide concentrations were observed across major European cities in recent weeks. Nitrogen dioxide is a gas produced by power plants, cars, and other industrial facilities. It is found in the Earth's atmosphere and causes changes in weather patterns, as well as adverse health impacts on humans. From March 13 to April 13, 2020, Madrid, Spain, Milan, Italy, and Rome, Italy, saw decreases of around 45% in their nitrogen dioxide concentrations from the year prior. Paris also saw a dramatic drop of 54% in those months, compared to the same frame in 2019. Spain, Italy, and France all imposed coronavirus lockdown measures in recent weeks, which the European Space Agency says coincides with the drop in air pollution.

"Averaging data over longer periods of time allows us to see clearer changes in concentrations owing to human activity," Henk Eskes, from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, wrote in an April 16 report. The Earth is rumbling less, and scientists may now be able to detect smaller earthquake aftershocks. Data from the Royal Observatory of Belgium detected lower anthropogenic noise, or sounds produced by humans, since lockdown measures were put in place. Since the lockdown measures were put in place, vibrations caused by human activity have fallen by about one-third, according to, allowing the observatory's equipment to better detect waves with frequencies that would have been difficult to discern before the lockdown.

Andy Frassetto, a seismologist at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology in Washington DC, told that if lockdowns continue, detectors might be able to better pick up locations of earthquake aftershocks. "You'll get a signal with less noise on top, allowing you to squeeze a little more information out of those events," Frassetto said. In the weeks following the national lockdown, the canals of Venice saw a major improvement in water clarity. Photos taken last month show seaweed on the canals' bottoms, while photos of the nearby island of Burano show fish and swans in the water. The office of Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro told CNN that the water looks clearer due to "less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom."

Animals are returning to their habitats and other areas usually highly trafficked by humans. Bears have been spotted in greater frequency at Yosemite National Park in California since lockdown measures closed major tourist sites. California has seen a growing number of coronavirus cases, and Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a mandatory statewide stay-at-home order on March 19. Around 95% of Yosemite National Park is designated wilderness. The park also sees about 4 million visitors each year, particularly at the start of springtime when bears come out of hibernations, which makes it difficult for the bears to forage for food. But since the park closed to visitors on March 20, the park's 300 to 500 black bears have been spotted "more frequently than usual," the park tweeted on April 14. Bobcats have also been spotted in empty administrative buildings, and coyotes have been able to pass through quiet roads and walkways without human distraction, according to the LA Times. "The bear population has quadrupled," Dane Peterson, a park employee, told The Times.

Climate crisis: in coronavirus lockdown, nature bounces back - but for how long?

The environmental changes wrought by the coronavirus were first visible from space. Then, as the disease and the lockdown spread, they could be sensed in the sky above our heads, the air in our lungs and even the ground beneath our feet. While the human toll mounted horrendously from a single case in Wuhan to a global pandemic that has so far killed more than 88,000 people, nature, it seemed, was increasingly able to breathe more easily. As motorways cleared and factories closed, dirty brown pollution belts shrunk over cities and industrial centres in country after country within days of lockdown. First China, then Italy, now the UK, Germany and dozens of other countries are experiencing temporary falls in carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide of as much as 40%, greatly improving air quality and reducing the risks of asthma, heart attacks and lung disease.

For many experts, it is a glimpse of what the world might look like without fossil fuels. But hopes that humanity could emerge from this horror into a healthier, cleaner world will depend not on the short-term impact of the virus, but on the long-term political decisions made about what follows. After decades of relentlessly increasing pressure, the human footprint on the earth has suddenly lightened. Air traffic halved by mid-March compared with the same time last year. Last month, road traffic fell in the UK by more than 70%, to levels last seen when the Beatles were in shorts. With less human movement, the planet has literally calmed: seismologists report lower vibrations from “cultural noise” than before the pandemic.

Key environmental indices, which have steadily deteriorated for more than half a century, have paused or improved. In China, the world’s biggest source of carbon, emissions were down about 18% between early February and mid-March – a cut of 250m tonnes, equivalent to more than half the UK’s annual output. Europe is forecast to see a reduction of around 390m tonnes. Significant falls can also be expected in the US, where passenger vehicle traffic – its major source of CO2 – has fallen by nearly 40%. Even assuming a bounceback once the lockdown is lifted, the planet is expected to see its first fall in global emissions since the 2008-9 financial crisis.

There is no doubt that these lockdowns are hitting the fossil fuel industry. With fewer drivers on the roads and planes in the air, the price of oil has slumped almost two-thirds since last year. Car sales fell by 44% in March, with motorway traffic down 83%. So many more people are learning to teleconference from home that the head of the Automobile Association in the UK advised the government to switch infrastructure investment from building new roads to widening internet bandwidth. This is potentially good news for the climate because oil is the biggest source of the carbon emissions that are heating the planet and disrupting weather systems. Some analysts believe it could mark the start of a prolonged downward trend in emissions and the beginning of the end for oil. Others strike a more cautious note about the fuel that has dominated our lives and polluted our atmosphere for the past century.

“The drop in emissions is global and unprecedented,” Rob Jackson, the chair of Global Carbon Project said. “Air pollution has plunged in most areas. The virus provides a glimpse of just how quickly we could clean our air with renewables.” But he warned that the human cost was too high and the environmental gains could prove temporary. “I refuse to celebrate a drop in emissions driven by tens of millions of people losing their jobs. We need systemic change in our energy infrastructure, or emissions will roar back later.”

Hopes that the pandemic will accelerate the transition to a cleaner world are already running into a political wall: the “shock doctrine” of disaster capitalism outlined by the author and activist Naomi Klein. In her book of the same name, the Canadian writer describes how a powerful global elite exploits national crises to push through unpopular and extreme measures on the environment and labour rights. This is what is happening in the United States and elsewhere. Oil company executives have lobbied Donald Trump for a bailout. Under the cover of the crisis, the White House has rolled back fuel-economy standards for the car industry, the Environmental Protection Agency has stopped enforcing environmental laws, three states have criminalised fossil fuel protesters and construction has resumed on the KXL oil pipeline. The US government’s massive economic stimulus bill also included a $50bn bailout for aviation companies. Environmental groups are urging the UK and European Union not to do the same.

If governments prime the economic pumps with the intention of a return to business as usual, environmental gains are likely to be temporary or reversed. China provides some indication of what can be expected. With no new cases in Wuhan, the lockdown is being eased and energy use and air pollution have been rising since the end of March. Nevertheless, while our species is in temporary retreat during the lockdowns, wildlife has filled the vacuum. This year will almost certainly see a much lower toll for roadkill by cars and trucks, which – in the UK alone – annually takes the lives of about 100,000 hedgehogs, 30,000 deer, 50,000 badgers and 100,000 foxes, as well as barn owls and many other species of bird and insect. Many councils have delayed cutting the grass on roadside verges – one of the last remaining habitats for wildflowers – which should bring a riot of colour to the countryside this summer and provide more pollen for bees.

Coyotes, normally timid of traffic, have been spotted on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Deer are grazing near Washington homes a few miles from the White House. Wild boar are becoming bolder in Barcelona and Bergamo, Italy. In Wales, peacocks have strutted through Bangor, goats through Llandudno and sheep have been filmed on roundabouts in a deserted playground in Monmouthshire. This is presented as the comedy in our tragedy. Cartoonists have depicted throngs of tourist animals gawping through city windows at humans under lockdown. Commentators are even talking of the “post-human” era – a mocking rejoinder to the idea that we live in Anthropocene, a period of human domination that is reshaping the planet. Humour does not get much blacker. We are laughing at our own decline – and assuming that nature will be the beneficiary.

Environmental campaigners say that is a dangerous misconception. The picture is different across our unequal world. Rich, industrialised nations are seeing a temporary recovery of nature because there is so little of it in the first place. Poorer countries, on the other hand, especially in the southern hemisphere, fear an increased threat to wildlife because the pandemic means they have less money and personnel with which to conserve endangered species and habitats. In the Amazon rainforest, environmental authorities are reining in monitoring and protection operations. In the Masai Mara and Serengeti, nature reserves are taking less tourist revenue, which means they are struggling to pay rangers. Conservation groups fear this will open the door to more illegal poaching, mining and logging, especially now that local people are losing income and need new ways to feed their families.

“In the short term it would be dangerous to think that a downturn in economic activity is a benefit to nature,” said Matt Walpole of Fauna and Flora International. “There are significant risks.”

Potentially offsetting this is reduced demand for many natural resources, but it remains to be seen whether home isolation of half the world’s population affects the appetite for consumer goods. The respite for nature will be less important than what follows. That is already being decided in closed meetings while the public is locked down at home. Meanwhile, global conferences intended to find solutions to environmental problems, such as the Cop26 UN climate talks originally scheduled for Glasgow at the end of this year, have been postponed. UN leaders, scientists and activists are pushing for an urgent public debate so that recovery can focus on green jobs and clean energy, building efficiency, natural infrastructure and a strengthening of the global commons. “This is the big political battle,” said Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation and an architect of the Paris agreement. Leading scientists have jointly signed an open appeal for governments to use recovery packages to shift in a greener direction rather than going back to business as usual.

Ultimately, the most important environmental impact is likely to be on public perceptions. The pandemic has demonstrated the deadly consequences of ignoring expert warnings, of political delay, and of sacrificing human health and natural landscapes for the economy. Of new infectious diseases, 75% come from animals, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Compared with the past, they pass more rapidly to humans through wildlife trafficking and deforestation and then spread across the globe through air travel and cruise-ship tourism. China – the world’s biggest market for wild animals – appears to have recognised this by banning the farming and consumption of live wildlife. There are growing calls for a global ban on “wet markets”.

The pandemic has also shown that pollution lowers our resistance to disease. More exposure to traffic fumes means weaker lungs and greater risk of dying from Covid-19, according to scientists at Harvard University. As the UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen, put it, nature is sending us a message that if we neglect the planet, we put our own wellbeing at risk. Since the start of the pandemic, it is not just from space that the world looks different. The unthinkable is now thinkable. Positions are shifting. Libertarian governments are curtailing freedoms more drastically than wartime leaders. Austerity conservatives are approving trillions of dollars for healthcare and emergency spending. Small-state advocates are being forced into massive interventions. Leading business publications are calling for a deep reform of capitalism. Most importantly, the political focus has shifted from individual consumption to collective wellbeing.

These 100 days have changed the way we think about change. Ultimately, whether this pandemic is good or bad for the environment depends not on the virus, but on humanity. If there is no political pressure on governments, the world will go back to unsustainable business as usual rather than emerge with a healthier sense of what is normal. For the French philosopher Bruno Latour, one thing we have learned is that it is possible in a matter of weeks to slow the economy, which until now had been considered inconceivable due to the pressures of globalisation. “The incredible discovery is that there was in fact in the world economic system, hidden from all eyes, a bright red alarm signal, next to a large steel lever that each head of state could pull at once to stop ‘the progress train’ with a shrill screech of the brakes,” he writes.

This makes ecological calls to move off a path of endless resource consumption more realistic, maybe even more desirable. But Latour warns that this unforeseen pause could easily allow powerful interests to seize more control ahead of the bigger battles looming over the climate and biodiversity. “This is where we must act,” he says. “If the opportunity works for them, it works for us too.”


The COVID-19 crisis could show us how to cure our congested cities!/quality/90/?

Each morning I check the roads even though I’m not going anywhere. Today my drive to work, if I had made it, would have taken 26 minutes, according to Google Maps. That’s about half of what it takes when I actually commute — when there’s no pandemic keeping me home. If traffic could just stay like this when the restrictions are lifted, I could save about 48 minutes a day, or four hours a week, or 200 hours a year. Los Angeles, in normal times, is one of the country’s most traffic-clogged cities, home to the two most congested stretches of road — parts of the 5 and the 101 — and to a vast web of freeways that back up daily. The typical driver spent 103 hours stuck in traffic in 2019, according to Inrix, which specializes in transportation analytics.

But these days, as a result of the pandemic, which has shut down much of our economy, vehicle volume has been reduced by 40% and more in parts of the city. On average, L.A. traffic is moving 12% to 30% faster for those who are still driving. Air quality in Southern California is way up, according to EPA data, and auto collisions statewide are way down, according to a UC Davis survey. Obviously, traffic is better today for all the wrong reasons: Hundreds of thousands of Angelenos have lost their jobs and millions of us are stuck in our homes avoiding the virus. No one wants that to continue. But just looking out, even from the window, on L.A.'s empty roads can’t help but raise the wistful question of whether, when the economy eventually reopens, there’s a way to keep the traffic flowing smoothly. Answer: Probably not.

For years, L.A. has fought to get people off the roads and out of their cars with little success. We’ve raised our own taxes by billions of dollars to improve mass transit, including adding bus routes and building new rail lines. We’ve constructed new housing near public transit with the hope that people will opt for subways and buses as the system becomes more comprehensive, appealing and reliable. But in recent years, transit use has declined rather than increased, and with fears of virus contagion it doesn’t seem likely that trend will reverse itself any time soon. We’ve built HOV lanes to encourage carpooling, although they get mixed reviews from drivers. We’ve added extra freeway lanes — but under what’s known as “the fundamental law of road congestion” they get full as fast as we build them. We’ve got Sig alerts warning us of problems ahead and Waze offering us alternate routes. But we’re still stuck.

It’s frustrating because transportation experts say that even a relatively small decrease in the number of cars on the road would significantly reduce congestion. So what else is out there? Hawaii experimented with having public sector employees start work at staggered hours, but abandoned the idea because the mandatory program proved disruptive and inconvenient to peoples’ lives. Some cities have required deliveries to be made before 8 a.m., to reduce truck traffic. Tom Vanderbilt, author of “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do,” says maybe the pandemic will allow for a “window of experimentation” for Los Angeles — because research has found that the time to change habitual behavior is when habits have been interrupted.

“The collapse of the Embarcadero freeway in San Francisco [in 1989] achieved what politicians could not: a demonstration that urban freeways were neither desirable nor necessary,” says Vanderbilt. “When cars flooded New York after Hurricane Sandy knocked out the subway system, people quickly adapted to a three-passenger carpool requirement.”

One hope might be that the experience of the last six weeks has taught employers that it really is possible to keep a business running without requiring everybody to drive to the office every day. But when I ran that idea by Genevieve Giuliano, a transportation expert at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, I got only a cautious “I’ll be very curious to see what happens.” Martin Wachs, a professor emeritus of engineering and city planning at UCLA, also seemed unpersuaded. He says there’s only one proven way to get people to drive less: ”The only strategy that works 100% of the time is charging people more money,” he says. “Charge more to park, charge to drive, quadruple the cost of gasoline, impose congestion pricing.”

Congestion pricing exists in London, Stockholm and Singapore. L.A. Metro is studying it here. We have a limited form of it already, with the pay-to-use lanes on sections of the 110 and 10 freeways. And last year, the Southern California Assn. of Governments suggested that a $4 fee to drive into a 4.3-square-mile portion of west Los Angeles could reduce traffic delays there by more than 20% at rush hour. The money raised from congestion pricing can be used to pay for transportation improvements generally, or, more specifically, for mass transit. But politicians haven’t fully embraced congestion pricing because, in the end, they don’t believe their constituents want it. We could clear the traffic jams in the Sepulveda Pass by charging people $10 to make the trip, Wachs points out — but who would support that? Instead, we live with the congestion because, although we hate it, we prefer it to the alternative.

Without strong incentives, changing behavior is not easy. Giuliano pointed to Carmageddon in 2011, when parts of the 405 were closed down; to the Northridge earthquake of 1994, after which the 10 and the 5 suffered closures for months; and to the 1984 Olympics in L.A., when the city took dramatic steps to reduce driving. In each case, she said, traffic was markedly reduced, proving that L.A. can function with fewer cars on the roads. But each time, traffic surged back to normal afterward. Apparently neither the soul-crushing traffic nor the cataclysmic threat of global climate change is enough to convince us to change our behavior. So, make good use of the extra time in your day while you have it. It’s not likely to last.


The best way to prevent future pandemics like coronavirus? Stop eating meat and go vegan

In 2011, EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit organisation that works to protect people from emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19, released the results of a survey showing that fewer than one in five respondents knew that most pandemics originate in animals. The COVID-19 outbreak, for instance, is believed to have originated in a Chinese "wet market" that sold sea animals, live birds, and exotic animals for human consumption. Much like swine flu, bird flu, and SARS (which was also caused by a coronavirus linked to a Chinese wet market), COVID-19 spread from animals to humans, starting with those who worked in or frequented the market. Scientists suspect that they contracted the virus by eating or touching an animal who was infected. This is yet another reason why we should all be vegan. It's bad enough that the consumption of meat and other animal-based foods contributes to heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and that harmful bacteria found in the intestines and faeces of animals, including salmonella and E coli, often cause outbreaks of food poisoning. Do we really want to add more deadly animal-borne diseases into the mix?
Many devastating disease outbreaks come about because humans house animals in filthy, severely crowded farms and markets – breeding grounds for pathogens – in order to satisfy their meat habit.
It's not at all unusual for viruses and other pathogens to jump from animals into the human population. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 75% of emerging infectious diseases originate in animals. Kevin Olival, a disease ecologist and conservationist at EcoHealth Alliance, says, "When you bring animals together in … unnatural situations, you have the risk of human diseases emerging." In other words, many devastating disease outbreaks come about because humans house animals in filthy, severely crowded farms and markets – breeding grounds for pathogens – in order to satisfy their meat habit.

It's easy for people in the UK to point the finger at China and other countries – including Mexico, where hundreds of sick pigs died on a massive farm in 2009 just before swine flu spread to humans. But there are disease-ridden animal factories around the globe, including here on our home soil. Our demand for meat means that huge numbers of animals, such as chickens and pigs are crammed together on crowded, faeces-ridden farms, transported in filthy lorries, and slaughtered on killing floors soaked with blood, urine, and other bodily fluids. Pathogens flourish in such conditions.

And to make matters worse, animals on factory farms are routinely fed vast amounts of antibiotics in order to keep them alive in filthy, disease-ridden conditions that would otherwise kill them. Because of this rampant use of antibiotics, certain bacteria have become resistant to even the most powerful ones, contributing to the emergence of "superbugs" – new, aggressive pathogens which are resistant to antibiotics. The CDC has stated that antibiotic resistance is "one of the world's most pressing public health problems," and other experts predict that at our current rate, more people will die of diseases caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria than of cancer by 2050. This is a problem we cannot afford to ignore.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the new coronavirus pandemic a public health emergency demanding international attention, and scientists are working to develop a vaccine, but that is likely to take at least a year. In the meantime, steps to help slow its spread, including avoiding social contact and practising good hygiene, are being taken. But one significant step to prevent outbreaks of animal-borne infectious diseases is missing: we have to stop eating animals. Raising and killing animals for food threatens human health and causes tremendous animal suffering. Obviously we all need to do our bit and #StayAtHome, but if we want to save even more lives – human and animal – and prevent future pandemics, we also need to #GoVegan.


Capitalism Causes Disasters, Socialism Can Solve Them

‘Disaster socialism’: Will coronavirus crisis finally change how Americans see the safety net? | Will Bunch

The devastation brought by the coronavirus has been hugely magnified by an irrational system that measures human life in terms of profits and loss. Faced with collapse, states have already had to intervene in the markets — now, we need them to plan to rebuild our societies for the future.

The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly threatening to escalate into a global crisis of epochal proportions. As the virulent disease holds the world in its grip, the disastrous handling of the outbreak in the United States and Europe also highlights a number of structural weaknesses in the political-economic configurations of the Western world. This is demonstrating in the most unambiguous terms just how ill-equipped market-oriented capitalist societies are to deal with an emergency of this scope and intensity.

There are at least three interrelated aspects to the current crisis, all of which expose fundamental flaws at the heart of the established order. The first and most important of these is, of course, the medical dimension: a public health emergency that takes the form of a relentless exponential increase in the number of detected cases, in the number of hospitalized patients, and in the number of fatalities. In the United States and many European countries, a repeat of the Italian scenario is now imminent, as the sudden influx of critically ill intensive-care patients threatens to overwhelm structurally underfunded or outright unaffordable public health care systems.

In the short term, the immediate priority of governments should therefore be to stave off the coming humanitarian catastrophe and save as many lives as possible. Yet it has rapidly become clear that bringing this raging pandemic under control will require much more than government officials “nudging” citizens toward behavioral changes. This strategy, which effectively seeks to privatize the costs of the crisis by placing the full burden of adjustment on individuals, is the ultimate market-conforming approach. As the dithering of several Western governments over the past weeks has amply demonstrated, a public campaign for handwashing, elbow-sneezing, and voluntary social distancing simply will not be enough to stem the rising rate of infections.

According to the World Health Organization, suppressing the pandemic will require radical state action, from enforced lockdowns and quarantines to far-reaching public health interventions. The latter will need to include not only a rapid upscaling of hospital capacity and a herculean effort to produce ventilators, protective gear, and other medical supplies, but also an immediate and widespread government-led rollout of testing capacity, contact tracing, and supervised isolation of those who have been infected — not to mention the fast-tracked development of an effective vaccine. Such a state-led emergency response is clearly necessary, but it will force most Western governments to go far beyond the neoliberal remit they have long since established for themselves as the guarantors of “free enterprise.”

It is also clear that some of these public health interventions will come at an immense cost. This in turn highlights the second dimension of the current crisis: the economic one. As the virus continues its rapid spread, advanced capitalist democracies suddenly find themselves in the extraordinary position of having to defy business interests and effectively shut down all nonessential workplaces to enable their working populations to stay at home. Of course, employers are actively challenging the “necessity” of such radical measures — yet public health experts are adamant that a failure to institute them would rapidly overwhelm hospital capacity.

Economic Collapse

At present, we are yet to apprehend what the consequences of such a sudden stop in productive and commercial activity will be. All we know is that the economic fallout will be immense — far worse than anything we have ever seen outside of a major war — and that it could potentially pose an existential threat to the heavily indebted world economy and the global financial system as we know it. As the billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman recently put it to CNBC, “capitalism does not work in an 18-month shutdown.”

Ever keen to prop up the established order, Western governments and central banks have therefore moved aggressively to respond to this second aspect of the crisis. Even as they hesitated to safeguard the health of the general public, they moved swiftly to preserve the health of the markets. In the space of just weeks, officials have already pledged a number of record-shattering rescue packages to prevent a system-wide meltdown, including a raft of groundbreaking new monetary interventions by the Federal Reserve and the $2tn fiscal stimulus program recently passed by the Senate.

But even then, analysts agree that the world economy is still on course for a frightful contraction this year. The investment bank Goldman Sachs has estimated that the US economy could shrink by as much as 24 percent in the second quarter of 2020. Last weekend the Federal Reserve came up with the even more dramatic estimate of a 50 percent drop in economic output. A collapse on this scale has never been experienced before — not even during the Great Depression. With China, Japan, the Eurozone, and the UK all simultaneously recording their worst declines in business activity on record, the conclusion seems inescapable: the bottom is about to fall out of the capitalist world economy.

We now find ourselves in uncharted waters. In the absence of radical state action, the coming economic depression will inevitably feed into a third concurrent emergency: a social crisis of a severity unparalleled in a modern democracy during peacetime. As the world’s leading economies suddenly grind to a halt, hundreds of millions of people around the globe stand to lose their jobs and livelihoods. The Federal Reserve just warned that unemployment in the United States could surge to a record 30 percent by the second quarter of 2020. By way of comparison, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, it took four years for unemployment to reach its peak of 25 percent.

Drastic Measures

Clearly, this unprecedented situation calls for unprecedented measures. There is only one way to prevent the triple disaster of a fulminating pandemic, an imploding world economy, and a fraying social order from spiraling completely out of control. And that is for national governments around the world to band together in a coordinated effort to decisively deal with the global public health emergency, take control over strategic parts of the economy, and ensure that essential goods keep being produced according to ability and distributed on the basis of need. We cannot allow the costs of the crisis to be privatized and fall on the shoulders of those least able to carry the burden: workers, the elderly, and the poor.

All of this will require an abandonment of long-standing neoliberal principles about the sanctity of the market, and a collective effort to defend public health, economic survival, and social solidarity. It will require the effective demobilization of large parts of the workforce to prevent the further spread of the disease. There will need to be an immediate moratorium on all rent, debt, and mortgage payments to keep people in their homes for the duration of the pandemic. And where they have not done so already, governments will have to step in to underwrite all salaries and provide a guaranteed income to those who are not in regular or steady forms of employment.

These radical measures will in turn necessitate a vast increase in government spending to make up for lost income from private-sector activity. Such an ambitious fiscal expansion could be funded through a major wealth tax on the ultrarich and large-scale monetary financing of public deficits. In the Eurozone, the issuing of collective “corona bonds” — a proposal floated last week by nine Eurozone member states, but staunchly opposed by Germany and the Netherlands — would lower the borrowing costs of the most heavily affected countries, enabling them to keep the rest of the continent safe from recurring infection. Without a strong show of international solidarity in the face of this common crisis, the European project — and the internationalist ideal more generally — will be dead in the water.

It is now rapidly becoming clear that the “spontaneous order” of the market cannot save us from the medical, economic, and social emergency at hand. Whether we like it or not, large parts of the world are already moving toward a partially planned economy — or at least a much more state-guided or state-directed one — in order to deal with the extraordinary challenges of the moment. The only real question is: Will the emerging economic model take the form of a business-friendly “disaster capitalism,” geared toward preserving corporate power in a more nationalist and statist shell, or will it take the form of an internationalist “disaster socialism,” geared toward protecting workers and preserving the fabric of our democratic societies?

The battle lines are already being drawn for what is almost certain to become the greatest crisis of our times. Whatever the outcome, it will surely shape our ability to confront the even greater challenges that still lie ahead: from the climate emergency to the sixth mass extinction. This time, we’d better get it right.


Will coronavirus launch the second wave of socialism?
Will coronavirus launch the second wave of socialism?

Forecasting the aftermath of the current crisis is nearly impossible, but here is one prediction you can take to the bank: However deep the economic carnage and regardless of its source, those who seek to drive this country towards socialism will exploit it for all it’s worth. President Trump recently declared himself a wartime president, as well he should. He is fighting an unprecedented two-front domestic war — one a health crisis, the other economic. In the coming days, the economy will further decline, perhaps in unprecedented ways. And since economic upheaval usually precedes political upheaval, he will soon need to fight a third front: the inevitable propagandizing that will flow from forces of the far left who will lay many resulting economic inequities, real or perceived, at the feet of free markets and capitalism.

The catalyst for the ascendancy of socialism in our recent politics was the financial crisis of 2008. In its wake — sparked by Occupy Wall St., encouraged by hard leftists and enabled by the media — a majority of millennials and Gens X, Y and Z now look favorably upon the movement, according to most polls. They were the base that put a Democratic socialist within a hair’s breadth of the Democratic presidential nomination. And because political views formed in youth tend to last a lifetime, this voting bloc will be the pig in the electoral snake for decades to come. If the economic blow of the Great Recession was able to catalyze such a breathtaking lurch leftward, imagine what two in a row — in less than half a generation — might unleash on our body politic. Socialists and progressives must be salivating at the prospect of the potential for a one-two punch.

So, brace yourself for the emergence of yet another generation of those intrigued by the false promises of socialism. Ominously, this will coincide with the natural decline of the elderly, the last demographic to understand, overwhelmingly, the abhorrence of socialism. Will Trump rise to such a fight? I am not holding my breath. He is a warrior, yes. It is a source of his appeal. But he thrives on bludgeoning opponents personally, not in nuance and appeals to higher principle which this fight will require. His adversaries will be nimble and guerilla-like since socialists already live every day on a wartime footing. Whether originalists Marx and Engels, revolutionaries Lenin and Castro, or modernists Bernie Sanders and AOC, a common thread amongst them all has been to pounce upon every inequity for maximum political impact.

Inequities on a scale that may exceed the financial crisis will abound in the days ahead. So, look for progressives to seize upon them as the true fruits of capitalism, and re-issue the siren call of socialism. Look for the Trojan Horse temptation of state-sponsored security at the expense of freedom, innovation and growth. Overflowing hospitals? Time for Medicare for all. Joblessness and bankruptcies? Time for Universal Basic Income.  And look for the made-for-Instagram moments where AOC, Bernie and other opportunists will make great hay and stoke class warfare, the rocket fuel of all socialists. When a Southampton socialite is filmed at the butcher’s counter ordering, in full Marie Antoinette style, to “sell me the entire cabinet!”, demands for a Wealth Tax and other state confiscations will surely follow.

There will be winners in this mess. Private jet travel, the ultimate self-quarantine, is in high demand. Big Tech is king as remote work and in-home entertainment drive demand for broadband connectivity. Food distribution is humming from servicing a population now eating three meals a day at home. Amazon is hiring thousands to meet demand from folks avoiding stores and malls. But to the left, winners are not exemplars of a vibrant, nimble private sector providing value and service in a time of great need. They are simply the rich getting richer. They are to be scrutinized, regulated, and gouged of ill-gotten profit. The most dangerous propagandizing from the left will come if the number of U.S. COVID-19 infections, and our economic dislocations, exceed China’s experience. That would lend credence to their predictable and seductive yet insidious suggestion that central planners have the best tools to protect humans from themselves. Never mind that the cause of U.S. business dislocations will have been the government and its mandated business shutdown.

As we sit in our homes watching people die and savings destroyed as the economy melts, it may be hard to fathom that this third front might actually prove the more existential fight for our country. But if we lose, and yet another generation falls for what some have called the Big Lie of socialism, then founder Ben Franklin’s warning of our Republic’s fragility may prove hauntingly prophetic.


Coronavirus Socialism

When (hopefully soon) we all get out of coronavirus lockdown and try to resume normal life, we will probably find a different “normal.” The best-case outcome: scientists discover a “magic bullet” treatment that quickly restores the most serious cases to health. We could then ease restrictions and get on with business. But more likely, any such treatment is months away and a vaccine probably a year away, so many precautions will have to stay in place. We won’t see large gatherings and crowded restaurants anytime soon. But we’ll see something else: a radically different economic structure. The US has never been truly “capitalist” but at least it had a free market façade. Thanks to the coronavirus, the façade is now crumbling. We will come out of this further from capitalism and closer to socialism. We know this because a leading capitalist said so.

Shoved Left

Back in January, about the time Chinese authorities quarantined Wuhan, the world’s billionaires gathered in Davos, Switzerland, as they do each year. CNBC interviewed JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon on January 22. Asked about the Democratic presidential candidates, Dimon said he preferred a moderate, not a socialist. He went on:

“Capitalism is the greatest thing that ever happened to mankind. I think that people who haven’t read history books about socialism really should… Once you have governments taking control of businesses it ends up in corruption… “If you’re talking about governments controlling corporations that’s socialism. You can do it in a small way or a big way. The small way is to put a commissar on your board remember the old Russian commissars could sit in the room or do it through regulatory or stuff like that the other way is that they actually own the company. Look at all the other countries and they start to take over the oil companies and the steel companies and utility companies. “And the banks. The banks start making loans not to good companies not because they are properly allocating capital to its highest and best use but to keep that factory open. The bridge to nowhere to make sure the mayor doesn’t lose jobs in his town and once you do that you will have an eroding society.”

As I wrote at the time (see Socialism Is Coming But Not the Way You Think), Dimon actually loves misallocating capital. His bank routinely makes “bridge to nowhere” loans and does so happily as long as it gets repaid with interest. So if those activities define socialism, Jamie Dimon is a very confused billionaire. He professes to love capitalism, but his actions say otherwise. My point back then was that the US-China “Phase 1” trade deal was nudging the US toward some kind of socialism. I didn’t expect the coronavirus would soon shove us that same direction. Yet it is.

Collectivized Production

Two months after Jamie Dimon said socialism doesn’t work because governments can’t properly allocate capital, Congress allocated $2.2 trillion via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Note, left-leaning Democrats didn’t do this alone. The bill was as bipartisan as it gets. The CARES Act does some useful things. It will help workers and small businesses who had to close down to stop the virus from spreading. But that’s not all. The new law gives the Treasury Department $454 billion to invest in a “special purpose vehicle” jointly with the Federal Reserve. The Fed will then allocate (or perhaps misallocate, to use Dimon’s favorite word) that money in loans to private businesses. But in fact, it’s way more than $454 billion. Here’s how two economists described the arrangement in a Wall Street Journal article (my emphasis in bold). The expectation is that the central bank will leverage this money 10 to 1, enabling it to lend up to $4.54 trillion to companies. That sum is more than all U.S. commercial and industrial loans outstanding at the end of 2019 ($2.35 trillion) plus all the new corporate bonds issued during 2019 ($1.41 trillion). Thus, if this capital is all deployed by the Fed, and at rates that will surely crowd out private capital, all capital allocation in the U.S. in 2020 will be done by the Federal Reserve System, not by the capital market. This is the largest step toward a centrally planned economy the U.S. has ever taken. Will the Treasury-Fed partnership wisely allocate this money? We don’t know yet, but the plan is exactly what Jamie Dimon says won’t work. Quoting him again:

…The banks start making loans not to good companies not because they are properly allocating capital to its highest and best use but to keep that factory open.

The bridge to nowhere to make sure the mayor doesn’t lose jobs in his town. Keeping factories open and avoiding job losses is the CARES Act’s entire point, and government, not private lenders, will decide how to do it. Maybe this centrally-planned financing will find the “highest and best use” Dimon thinks it should, but we don’t know that yet. We do know that private companies will get money from taxpayers, and taxpayers will bear the loss if those companies don’t repay it. The government might get equity in those companies, too. In other words, we are (for now, at least) collectivizing the means of production. Mao Zedong would be pleased.

Power to Some People

If, like Jamie Dimon, you fear socialist misallocation, Bernie Sanders should be the least of your worries. It’s already happening on a massive scale and President Trump, not Sanders, signed the bill. We were heading that direction anyway; the coronavirus sped up the process. And where it will lead isn’t clear yet. But it won’t be anything you can plausibly call “capitalism.” More likely, we will get even more state-enforced corporatism, with socialized losses and privatized profits.


Coronavirus response: why Cuba is such an interesting case

Some countries seem to be weathering the coronavirus pandemic better than others. One country that moved rapidly to deal with the emerging threat was Cuba. Cuba has several advantages over many states, including free universal healthcare, the world’s highest ratio of doctors to population, and positive health indicators, such as high life expectancy and low infant mortality. Many of its doctors have volunteered around the world, building up and supporting other countries’ health systems while gaining experience in emergencies. A highly educated population and advanced medical research industry, including three laboratories equipped and staffed to run virus tests, are further strengths.

Also, with a centrally planned, state-controlled economy, Cuba’s government can mobilise resources quickly. Its national emergency planning structure is connected with local organisations in every corner of the country. The disaster-preparedness system, with mandatory evacuations for vulnerable people such as the disabled and pregnant women, has previously resulted in a remarkably low loss of life from hurricanes. However, COVID-19 presents differences. Cuba’s lack of resources, which hampers recovery from disasters, also contributes to a housing shortage that makes physical distancing difficult. And the island’s poor infrastructure creates logistical challenges.

Also, the pandemic comes at a particularly difficult time, as tightened US sanctions have sharply cut earnings from tourism and other services, deterred foreign investment, hampered trade (including medical equipment imports) and obstructed access to international finance – including emergency funds. Given these strengths and weaknesses, Cuba provides an interesting case study in responding to the current pandemic. Cuba’s reaction to the coronavirus threat was swift. A “prevention and control” plan, prepared in January 2020, included training medical staff, preparing medical and quarantine facilities, and informing the public (including tourism workers) about symptoms and precautions. So, when the first three reported cases were confirmed on March 11, arrangements were in place to trace and isolate contacts, mobilise medical students for nationwide door-to-door surveys to identify vulnerable people and check for symptoms, and roll out a testing programme.

On March 20, with 21 confirmed cases reported, the government announced a ban on tourist arrivals, lockdown for vulnerable people, provision for home working, reassignment of workers to priority tasks, employment protection and social assistance. As issues arose, the Cuban government adjusted its response. For example, when face-masks and physical distancing proved insufficient to keep public transport safe, services were suspended and state and private vehicles and drivers were hired to transport patients and essential workers. And to reduce crowding in shops, the distribution system was reorganised and online shopping introduced. Physical distancing enforcement has also been stepped up in response to instances of non-compliance. With 766 reported cases by April 15 (68 cases per million of population), Cuba is around the middle of the range for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Before Demanding Access to Wuhan, US Should Lift Veil on Its Secret Bioweapon Labs, Analyst Says

The US accusations against Beijing over the so-called "cover-up" of the supposed Wuhan lab origins of COVID have raised questions about the US network of secretive bio labs located near the borders of Russia and China, as well as Washington's decades-long resistance to the creation of an international transparency mechanism for bioweapons research. The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) first received a clinical sample of the unknown virus that later became known as SARS-CoV-2 on 30 December 2020, Wang Yanyi, an immunologist and director of the institute, told CGTN broadcaster on 23 May, denouncing the Trump administration's claims that the novel coronavirus escaped from the Wuhan bio lab as “pure fabrication”.

US Has Been Opposing Int'l Biosafety Verification Mechanism for Decades

The Trump administration has repeatedly urged Beijing to grant access to Wuhan virology labs to American and other foreign inspectors. However, the People's Republic rubbished Washington's claims about the virus' origins and expressed doubts that the so-called "independent" investigation pushed for by the US would be unbiased and objective. Washington's verbal attacks against China and the alleged non-transparency of its bio research have turned the spotlight on the US' own bioweapons programme.

On 13 May, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov raised the issue of US biological laboratories established overseas, most notably in the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and in former Soviet republics. "There is a fairly dense network of these laboratories along the perimeter of the Russian Federation and near Chinese borders", Lavrov told journalists, revealing that Moscow had signed a memorandum of understanding on biosecurity with Tajikistan and is holding similar talks with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and other neighbours in the post-Soviet space.

Since 2001, Russia, China, and many other countries have advocated for the creation of a verification mechanism within the framework of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction to ensure biosafety and transparency with regard to biological research across the world. Still, the US remains "just about the only country" which has categorically opposed this proposal for roughly 20 years, according to the Russian foreign minister.

"This is another indication of American exceptionalism", says Petri Krohn, Finnish political analyst and cybersecurity specialist. "It can safely be assumed that the United States biological defence programme is 'developing pathogenic agents'. This is allowed under the Biological Weapons Convention as long as it is for defensive and not offensive purposes. Similar 'gain-of-function' (GOF) research has been done quite openly and transparently by civilian scientists".  The analyst alleges that "there is no bioweapons research programme in any other country with the scope of the US programme".

In mid-April, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova did not rule out that the Americans were using such bio labs in third countries "to develop and modify various pathogenic agents, including for military purposes". Earlier, the issue was discussed by Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev in his November 2019 op-ed for Rossiyskaya Gazeta: the Russian security chief signalled concerns about the Pentagon's network of overseas biological labs "which conduct research on infectious diseases and where biological weapons can be made".

US Domestic & Overseas Bio Experiments Raise New Questions

The Chinese are concerned about the US' domestic and overseas bio experiments, which remain no less shrouded in secrecy and non-transparent for the international community than their Russian counterparts. In early May, the People's Liberation Army's English-language website published "Ten questions the US needs to offer clear answers to the world". One of these questions touches upon the US' avian influenza virus modification experiment, which was described by Science Magazine, the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in February 2019.

The journal reported that in 2018, a US government review panel "quietly approved" experiments with the avian H5N1 influenza virus that were previously "considered so dangerous that federal officials had imposed an unusual top-down moratorium on such research" since they could potentially enable the pathogen to jump to humans.

Yet another question listed in the PLA list is about bio research conducted at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), located in Fort Detrick, Maryland, before and after April 2020. According to The New York Times' August 2019 report, "safety concerns at a prominent military germ lab have led the government to shut down research involving dangerous microbes like the Ebola virus". On 1 April 2020, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) restored the full operating capability of the USAMRIID, but the details of the shutdown remained unclear. "What is the truth behind?" the PLA website asks.

Similarly, the Chinese website questions the scope and purpose of US bio research overseas: "Why does the US keep tight-lipped about it?" it asks. "I think these questions are legitimate to ask", says Rob Kajiwara, a Hawaiian human rights activist. "I'm not saying that I think COVID-19 is a weapon, but we are well aware that the US has a long history of biological and chemical warfare".

At a press conference on 8 May, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying pointed out that while China has only two P4 (biosafety level 4) laboratories dealing with dangerous viruses, the US has 13 bio labs of that kind which are "either in operation, under expansion or in planning". She noted that in addition, the US has 1,495 medium containment facilities (P3), "not including many other labs it built in territories of the former Soviet Union, like in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and in many other places around the world".

Will US be Able to Contain Hazardous Leak if It Fails to Curb COVID?

According to Petri Krohn, the USAMRIID "is likely to have the largest collection of naturally occurring viruses and their genomes". He presumed that "one of the main functions of the satellite laboratories in the former Soviet Union and around the world is to collect these viruses". As for the US avian flu experiments, the Finnish analyst highlights that gain-of-function (GOF) studies are believed to be highly controversial. "The US imposed a four-year moratorium on funding for GOF work, but new research, like the H5N1 influenza study have now resumed. It is impossible to know if similar studies are done in the biological defence programme", he says.

What's more troubling is that given the US failure to contain COVID-19 "because of the diverse cultures, the individualist ideology and the huge economic inequality", the question arises as to whether the US would be able to effectively tackle a potential virus spread if it escaped either from its domestic or overseas labs, the analyst notes. Chinese daily newspaper Global Times suggested that by building bio labs overseas, the US is seeking to avoid a potential leak accident, as well as legal problems and pressure from US media and anti-war groups. Citing Chinese military experts, the media outlet put forward an assumption that Beijing and Moscow could initiate an investigation of American bio labs worldwide at the UN to pressure the US into giving long-overdue answers to the questions about its secretive research.


Russia to treat virus cases with anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine

The Russian government has authorised the use of an anti-malarial drug to treat coronavirus patients despite international concerns over its safety and effectiveness.  The government published an order late Thursday allowing the use of hydroxychloroquine on patients after China donated more than 68,000 packs of the tablets to Russia. The order was published after President Vladimir Putin had a phone conversation with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday evening. It said the drug would be distributed to hospitals that are caring for patients who have tested positive for coronavirus or are suspected of having it. It said the drug's safety and effectiveness will be monitored by the state health watchdog.

Hydroxychloroquine has been used for decades against malaria and is being tested worldwide against the virus along with another anti-malarial drug, chloroquine. Both have potentially serious side effects, especially in high doses or when administered with other medications, and their use to treat the virus is still experimental, without having gone through exhaustive clinical testing. Some see them as a potential weapon in the fight against the virus while there is still no proven cure or vaccine.

Hydroxychloroquine has shown early promise against COVID-19 in small-scale studies in France and China to reduce virus levels among people badly infected. US President Donald Trump has touted it as a coronavirus treatment and in the US a limited emergency-use authorisation has been granted to the drug. But many scientists are urging caution until larger trials show whether it is safe and effective. The European Medicines Agency has said that both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine need to go through clinical trials and should not be used to treat virus cases unless there is a "national emergency."

 Anti-vaxxers rejoice! Any future coronavirus vaccine will be VOLUNTARY, says Russian health minister

Russia will not make immunization against Covid-19 compulsory, according to Minister of Health Mikhail Murashko. A homegrown vaccine is currently being trialled and could possibly be registered and mass-produced by September.  According to the health ministry, vaccinations in Russia can only be given with a citizen’s expressed consent. “Today, interest in the vaccine is quite high, because people have realized the full significance of vaccination,” he said. “Over this period [of Covid-19], the number of supporters of vaccination has increased.” In May, it was suggested that Russia’s Code of Administrative Offenses include a fine for the refusal of compulsory vaccinations. Still in the discussion stage, the new code would allow a fine of up to 7,000 rubles ($100) for citizens refusing immunizations deemed necessary. According to Rospotrebnazdor, the country’s health watchdog, the punishment would only be applied to those who perform work associated with a high risk of contracting infectious diseases. Murashko also revealed that Russia is currently working on 17 vaccines deemed “promising.” Last week, it was reported by the country’s Ministry of Defense that the testing of a drug developed by Moscow’s Gamalei Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology was proceeding well, and voluntary trialists had suffered from no side effects. If all goes well, it is expected that the vaccine will be registered in August, and be put into mass production quickly after. Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko explained that mass vaccination against Covid-19 may begin in Russia in the autumn.

Thanks to Sanctions, Russia Is Cushioned From Virus’s Economic Shocks

Red Square in Moscow on Thursday. After Russia was hit with sanctions, the government and companies adapted to isolation and were virtually forced to prepare for economic shocks like the one hammering the global economy.

Years of economic isolation and bulging financial reserves have positioned the country to ride out the coronavirus panic and bounce right back

Six years ago, the United States and the European Union slammed the door on Western bank loans for Russian companies, starving the country’s oil and banking industries of financing. The harsh measure, and others that followed, were intended to punish Russia for military interventions in Ukraine and Syria and for meddling in the 2016 American election to help Donald J. Trump. Paradoxically, however, those sanctions and the policies Russia enacted in response prepared the Kremlin for what came this month: a universal dislocation of the global economy from the coronavirus pandemic and an oil price war that led to a collapse in oil prices and the revenues that Russia relies upon to support social spending.

Far from being a basket case, Russia enters the crisis with bulging financial reserves, its big companies nearly free of debt and all but self-sufficient in agriculture. After Russia was hit with the sanctions, President Vladimir V. Putin’s government and companies adapted to isolation and were virtually forced to prepare for economic shocks like the one hammering the global economy today. “Russia will be a bit better off than other countries because of its experience, because of sanctions and because of reserves,” said Vladimir V. Tikhomirov, chief economist for BCS Global Markets, referring to the roughly $600 billion in gold and hard currency reserves the country has amassed. To be sure, Russia has taken a hard hit from the collapse of oil prices, with the national currency, the ruble, losing about 20 percent of its value in recent weeks. Oil and natural gas account for about 60 percent of Russia’s exports.

It is still too early to predict how outbreaks of the virus will spread and how various governments will respond. Given the state of Russia’s ramshackle and underfunded health care system, the coronavirus outbreak could be catastrophic. With the state’s tight grip on the news media, many Russians suspect that the Kremlin could be hiding the scale of the problem or the extent of preparedness, hampering an effective response. Still, some countries, Russia among them, seem better positioned than others. For Russia, that is linked to the Western sanctions. Take, for example, a 2014 sanction limiting loans from Western financial institutions to a maximum of three months. Russian companies responded by paying down their debt so that total government and corporate foreign debt in Russia fell to $455 billion at the start of this year from $713 billion in 2014. By contrast, Western companies have taken advantage of low interest rates to run up trillions of dollars in debt in the past decade.

“Russia over the past six years has been living with a hostile foreign environment because of sanctions,” said Mr. Tikhomirov. When the virus threat passes, he said, “it’s possible things will come back to life faster in Russia than in other countries because there won’t be the negative drag of debt.”

The Russian government on Thursday published its plan to contain the virus and maintain economic activity. It said that all pneumonia patients would now be tested and that the country was making 100,000 test kits a day. The plan revised rules for paid sick leave so that companies must pay an advance when an employee goes on leave. It will dip into the National Welfare Fund, the main sovereign wealth fund, to pay bonuses to medical workers. Russia has 55,000 hospital beds available to treat coronavirus patients and 40,000 ventilators, which are critical in treating the sickest patients, the statement said. By Friday, Russia had reported 199 cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. For now, Russia is relying on quarantines of individuals and contact tracking without major lockdowns. But measures to halt the virus’s spread will most likely bring Russia’s economy to a halt, as they have elsewhere, as companies send employees home. At that point, Russia’s treasure chest of hard currency will be of little help.

The reserves will come into play during a recovery, though, as Russia will not be competing for financing from capital markets to stimulate the economy. For years, economists criticized Russian economic policy as overly conservative, emphasizing saving over spending. It seemed to reflect a deep-seated Russian belief: No matter how bad things are today, they can always get worse. Now, that policy looks justified, particularly in view of the country’s reliance on natural resource extraction for most of its hard currency earnings. “Russia is more ready than ever before in its history,” said Vladimir Osakovsky, the chief Russia economist at the Bank of America, referring to the economic fallout from the virus’s spread.

Russia built those reserves throughout the sanctions period by writing into its budget an artificially low estimate for the global price of oil. All tax on profits above that level went into the national piggy bank. The policy starved the economy of investment — the gross domestic product grew at 1.3 percent last year — but put Russia in a solid position entering the coronavirus crisis. Russia’s agricultural sector is also benefiting from changes introduced after sanctions on food imports. Before European agricultural products fell victim to the sanctions war, for example, Koza Nostra, a small company making gourmet cheese, was a barely viable family enterprise. But after sanctions cut off French cheese imports, the company doubled and then tripled its output in ensuing years. “It was the right approach,” the general director, Aleksandr Asatryan, said of the Kremlin’s move to prop up Russian agriculture in response to sanctions, useful today as insulation against trade disruptions.

Since 2014, the share of imported food on the Russian market has fallen to about 10 percent today from about 25 percent. Russia is self-sufficient for most staples other than fresh fruits and vegetables. More than guaranteeing nutrition, the shift allows the government to reserve its hard currency for a recovery rather than expend it propping up the ruble to keep imported food affordable. “Even in a bad scenario, Russia can survive this shock better than many other economies,” said Sofya Donets, an economist at Renaissance, a Moscow investment bank, who returned to work last week after a mandatory quarantine.

Russia in the Year of Corona. What to Expect of the Economy

In a global comparison, Russia’s corona epidemic response has been very strong. The best and most foolproof indicator is the fatality rate. Russia has experienced the lowest Covid-19 mortality among all countries in the Northern Hemisphere, significantly lower than nearly all Western countries. Presently the fatality rate in Russia is 10 per 1 million, compared to 684 in Belgium, 544 (Spain),  483 (UK), 481 (Italy), 386 (France), 274 (Sweden) and 211 (USA).

Russia’s initial decisive response helped reduce the spread. The Russian healthcare system proved superior to most other countries in terms of adequate facilities, medical devices and protective gear. Russia increased capacity nationwide by refurbishing existing hospitals and constructing 17 new ones in record time (4-6 weeks). The country also ramped up domestic production of medical necessities, including personal protective equipment. By May, Russia’s production capacity was enough to cover 100% of domestic needs. At the time of this writing, Russia has not yet exhausted its hospital capacity (even at the virus’ epicenter in Moscow). Another commendable facet of its response has been the rapid roll out of testing. In absolute numbers, Russia (4.5 million tests) is second only to the US. In per capita terms, Russia has conducted one-third more tests than the United States and is now on par with Germany.

Most countries have almost exclusively tested only severely ill people who have been admitted to hospital. Russia, on the other hand, is currently the global leader in contact tracing. As a result, many outwardly healthy people have been tested. Two weeks ago, the Russian epidemiology authority reported that 60% of all those who tested positive in Moscow were asymptomatic. Later it was  reported that 95% of all those who tested positive were either asymptomatic or  only with mild symptoms, similar to  a common cold. Lately, there have not been any new reports on the proportion of severely ill vs. those showing mild symptoms among people tested.. The author assumes this is due  to  the government’s efforts to motivate  people to follow  the stay-home orders strictly during the last ten days of the lockdown, coinciding with the traditional Russian May Day and Victory Day holidays. Due to the  extraordinary warm and sunny weather, the government faces an increasing challenge to keep people at home. However, today the Swedish government reported that a staggering 98.5% of all infected people in their country were asymptomatic or mild. Presumably, this would also apply to Russia.

Preliminary, the government has promised to start gradually loosen the lockdown restrictions starting from May 12. Most seem to think it is about time. The comparison of Russia’s infection with the global count would just not seem to motivate that Russia keeps the restrictions in full force anymore.

Russia’s economy proves strong in a global comparison

With the corona crisis taking its toll around the world, Russia’s economy looks relatively  strong in a global comparison. This should not come as a surprise to anybody who has been following our Awara reports  on the Russian and global economies. In a seminal report with the ominous title With Global Recession Looming, Russia Looks Strong — which garnered across various platforms over a quarter of a million readers last August – we at Awara predicted the global crisis. Everything pointed to it even before corona.  The meltdown we are seeing in some of the Western countries is entirely due to the dreadful  shape of those economies, which has been becoming increasingly evident. Only massive amounts of QE cash injections and central bank bond purchasing at zero or negative rates kept the economies superficially afloat. In this report, we also pointed out all the relative strengths the Russian economy possessed and which would help to mitigate the effects of the global crisis on the Russian economy.

To quote our earlier seminal report:

“The debt saturation point has been reached, therefore this time it will be different, the central bankers have lost their magic wand and won’t be able to renew the debt binge and extend it with one more decade. Instead, there will be a day of reckoning. Governments and corporations will have to put their act together and let the market weed out the failed entities. Those who cannot carry the debt, will have to shed it. There will be bloodbath with defaults, bankruptcies and massive unemployment. – Perhaps a revolution here and there. – There will be no choice, deleveraging must happen. Now, whether this system will come crashing down or just slowly die as it trundles downhill will not matter all that much. It will eventually die either way. Most people would prefer the slow motion option, but only with the crash would a cure come. Whatever, it has become increasingly difficult to stave off the crash and this time around, the financial markets would take the real economy down with them big time.”

We also reported about Russia’s advantage:

“The question then is, who would be left standing? Naturally, those who are less leveraged. Now, scroll back to have a new look at the above charts on government and household debt. Find the position of Russia there? That’s right. Russia is the country with – by far – the least debt, both public and private. Having after 2014 following sanctions been cut off from the Western debt orgy, even Russian corporations are shielded against a possible Western debt apocalypse. Let’s look at Russia’s present financial health report.”

Subsequent events have proven that Awara was absolutely correct in everything referenced in that report about Russia’s extraordinary financial and economic We recommend all who have a stake or who want to explore the opportunities on the Russian market, to go through the solid set of arguments in this Awara report. We then followed up on that August report with a brief in January called As Global Growth Stalls, The Russian Economy is Gathering Momentum. That was just after corona had become a global scare. In this report, we acknowledged the possibility that the corona crisis could wreak havoc in the global economy. But allowing for this scenario, we stressed that Russia would anyway fare substantially better than most of the world, and in particular, better than most Western countries on average. All the points made in the January economic brief still remain valid for a better understanding of today’s situation.

Skyrocketing debt, but not in Russia

Russia’s strengths are many. The extraordinary low level of government (national) debt forms the rock solid fundament of the country’s economic edifice. By the end of 2019, Russia’s national debt-to-GDP was 12.9%. This is a fraction of the debt levels of the old developed countries of the West. In the US, the national debt was way above 100% by 2019, when state and municipal debt is added to the official figures. (That in accordance with the global standards, which the US has not been following). With the already announced corona bailouts and stimulus, with the shortfall of tax revenue and additional debt and a lower GDP as the base, the US debt level will shoot above  the 130% level. Hereby, Russia, is expected to add 3% to its national debt. All major Western countries have at least 3 times as much debt as Russia and many – for example, Italy, France, Spain – are in a similar debt crisis as the US. It is expected that most, if not all countries  will  follow the US lead with skyrocketing borrowings. These different debt trajectories will only increase Russia’s comparative advantages. Being in this favorable situation, Russia has ample room to dip into a budget deficit, especially after two years of solid surpluses. Presently it is expected that Russia could manage the crisis with a mere 3.5% budget deficit in 2020. That’s a level, which has been the norm  in the West even during the “good years.” Following the enormous economic crisis in the US, experts are predicting a record $3.8 trillion budget deficit, a staggering 18.7% of GDP. Most European countries might not go as high as the US in jacking up the deficits, though  an average of at least 10% is to be expected.

GDP decline – far too early for definite predictions, but Russia relatively better off

We think it is far too early to make any predictions on countries’ actual GDP 2020. There are too many unknown factors. What is the level of permanent destruction and bankruptcies caused by the corona responses across the globe? (Quite a lot). Will the corona unemployment turn structural and long-term? (We think, to a big degree, yes). What has been the real level of destruction of disposable income and asset values, eroding of savings? (Huge). How long will restrictive measures stay in force? (At least leisure and travel, especially international will mostly remain shut until end of year). Will international trade and investments rebound? (Not, just by waving the magic wand of calling off the corona measures). Will beggar-thy-neighbor currency and trade wars raise their heads? (Yes). Will the US go out with full-blown trade war and sanctions on? (Looks so).

It is impossible to estimate the long-term economic effect of all these questions on the global economy and any given country in particular. Therefore, we think it is best to refrain from giving numeric predictions. We are however on much firmer  ground to assess how countries will do relatively to each other. For this purpose, we may look at the GDP forecast given by the rating agency Fitch. Fitch predicts (April) that Russia would incur a 3.3% GDP cut, this while their predictions are much worse for Western countries, Fitch expecting eurozone GDP to decline by 7%, US GDP by 5.6%, and UK GDP by 6.3% in 2020. We would in fact expect a bigger GDP decline for those countries and perhaps for Russia as well, though with a major advantage for Russia.

When estimating the Russian GDP decline, one has to bear in mind that the fossil fuel sector makes up a much smaller portion of the GDP than commonly believed. According to the latest figures from the World Bank, we estimate it as forming 9% of the economic output. Furthermore, GDP growth is calculated based on production volumes rather than prices, and the former is  not expected to significantly decline. We estimate that Brent oil would cost $35 per barrel by the end of this year.

No galloping inflation this time. Rate cuts expected

Not only the Russian government is financially solid, but also corporations and households. Household debt in Russia is also the lowest among major countries. At the same time, Russians have – proportionally – much more savings than for example Americans. Furthermore, there is no reason to expect Russian unemployment to rise beyond 9%. We estimate that most probably it will not exceed  7% by year-end. Meanwhile, unemployment already has shot up to 20% in the US. Russia also has in store for the hard times the possibility to slash interest rates, hardly an option for Western countries who already are at zero or negative rates. Already in April, the Russian central bank  cut the key rate by 0.5% to 5.5%. As inflation has not picked up, we see room for further rate cuts down to 4% within the next half year.

In all the financial crises Russia has experienced since 1990, the big problem was always the galloping inflation. This time however, inflation didn’t budge beyond a small initial shock. The difference is the incredible story of Russia’s solid finances and the amazing success of its important substitution policies. Import substitution is what Russians call the efforts to bring in manufacturing and food production onshore. This process was intensified after the West imposed sanctions on Russia in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis. As a result, Russia now is virtually self-sufficient in food and even exporting a surplus. Russia has also come close to self-sufficiency in medicine. Overall, Russia has by far the absolutely smallest share of imports relative to the total economy among all major countries. So far, critics of Russia have focused on the relatively smaller level of export of manufactured goods, while they failed to realize the importance of the vastly more significant domestic autarky.

This success of domestic production is what put an end to Russia’s vicious inflation cycle. Earlier, when Russia was dependent on foreign imports and energy exports, the ruble plummeted and prices shot up during a crisis. This is not the case anymore.

Oil price won’t break the bear’s back

This time even the sharp plunge in oil prices did not break Russia’s back. There have even been speculations that Russia has not been trying especially hard to prevent the rumored tripartite oil price war between itself, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The influential oil and energy news source reported in March that Russia could well cope – thanks to its built up reserves and financial solidity – with oil prices as low as $25 per barrel up to 10 years from point of view of keeping the countries budget afloat and foreign reserves intact. Meanwhile experts deemed that the Saudis would barely last for 2 years. Anton Siluanov, the minister of finance, estimated in late April that the money in the sovereign wealth fund will suffice to see the country through to 2024 according to the present situation assessment. The balance should be 7 trillion rubles ($90 bn) at the end of the year. The minister expects that the total cost of the corona response would be only 6.5% of GDP. (We assume, this means over next two years). The main source of funding the crisis response would consist of borrowings.

No blanket bailouts and money printing

Although business associations and the financial press have been criticizing the government for insufficient support in response to the crisis, we think it is good that the government has been cautious in this regard. The European governments have announced massive packages; the ECB has opened up an unlimited tab for bond purchases; the US government is doling out trillions; and the Fed was at $6 trillion bailouts and QE last time we checked. Russia on the contrary has not announced any blanket bailouts or QE monetary easing and bond purchases. All that big business has received so far is a paltry $10 million in tax deferments. The government is readying a program for them. Anything paid out however, in form of loans or other financing, will be considered case-by-case. Most importantly, the government has announced that only companies that refrain from mass lay-offs  will be eligible.

So far, there has been more direct support for SMEs, most importantly with a 50% reduction in employer’s social contribution. Direct support has also gone to front-line sufferers of the corona restrictions, enterprises in non-food retail, restaurants, bars, leisure, sports etc. In general, the relief provided to those is rather inadequate and unfortunately many of those companies are expected to go bankrupt. The support to households has been twofold. Most importantly, employers have been forced to bear the cost of  the stay-home regime, as the government mandated that they have to pay full salaries during this period. Dismissals, furloughing and reduction of pay was outlawed, although there are reports that many have proceeded to do so anyway. However, all such actions can be contested in court.

Russia relies on market mechanisms

Russia mainly and correctly relies on market forces to take it out of the crisis. This is only possible because Russia still being  one of the few countries in the world that still runs a market economy. Russia of all countries in the world is in the unique position to conduct a classical countercyclical fiscal and monetary policy on all fronts. (It’s classical according to theory, but as far as we know, first time ever applied in practice). It means dipping into a budget deficit in hard times after having secured surpluses when the going was good. It means using reserves from the sovereign wealth fund, to fund public works. It also means slashing the interest rates, when it is needed to ease monetary conditions and stimulate the economy.

Russia now the world’s fifth largest economy ahead of Germany

With corona dominating the news, the business media entirely  missed the latest IMF GDP figures for 2019, made official on April 22. The PPP conversion now showed that Russia had passed Germany as the world’s fifth largest economy. The other stunning fact was that the Chinese economy is now one-third bigger than the US. Note also, once the UK will be deducted from the EU totals, India alone will be very close to overtake the EU in economic size. We stress that the PPP conversion is the only sensible way to measure the relative size of countries’ economies. The PPP measures the real output of goods and services, whereas the nominal GDP only measures how expensive one country is relative to another. We have explained the difference between PPP and nominal GDP in this article. If anybody still wants to take comfort in the nominal figures in an attempt to cling on to a lost world, then by all means do carry on, who are we to stop you?
Russia is the 5th economy in the World
Most importantly, these figures show a trend, which cannot be denied. Note, these are not adjusted for debt levels. If we would do that – reduce the artificial GDP portion achieved through wasteful (non-productive) debt – then Russia would come out even far better. Actually, we have earlier done such an exercise on reducing debt from countries’ GDP and the results were shocking. You can access that report here. At the end, we are sure that due to the corona crisis Russia, China and India will extend their relative GDP leads. Therefore, our advice: Go East, corporations, young and old.

 Մոդեռնայի մահացու թույնը․ Արսեն Թորոսյան — Բիլ Գեյթս համագործակցության շղթան

Արսեն Թորոսյան Բիլ Գեյթս

Հուլիսի 2-ին Կառավարության նիստում ՀՀ վարչապետ Նիկոլ Փաշինյանի՝ կորոնավիրուսի դեմ պատվաստանյութի ստեղծման աշխատանքների ընթացքի վերաբերյալ հարցին ի պատասխան Առողջապահության նախարար Արսեն Թորոսյանը նշեց. «Պատվաստանյութերը 3 փուլով են հետազոտվում՝ շատ քիչ անձանց վրա, հետո մոտ 100, հետո արդեն տասնյակ հազարների: Մենք բանակցություններ ենք վարում ուղիղ արտադրողների հետ: Ես խոսել եմ «Մոդեռնա» ընկերության կոմերցիոն տնօրենի հետ, որը մեր հայրենակից Նուբար Աֆեյանի հետ փողկապակցված ընկերություն է:

«Մոդեռնա»-ի պատվաստանյութն ամենահավանական տարբերակներից մեկն է, որը կարող է ընդունվել որպես վերջնական պատվաստանյութ: Մենք բանակցում ենք նաև Առողջապահության համաշխարհային կազմակերպության (ԱՀԿ), «Գավի»-ի և UNICEF-ի պլատֆորմների հետ, որոնք փորձելու ենք հավաքական գնումներ իրականացնել, այսինքն մեծաթիվ երկրների համար մեծաթիվ քանակներ, որպեսզի հավասար բաշխում տեղի ունենա: Քանի որ մեծ երկրները միանգամից մեծ քանակությամբ պատվաստանյութ կգնեն, մենք արդեն այս պահից պետք է սկսենք բանակցությունները, որպեսզի առաջիններից մեկը ձեռք բերենք պատվաստանյութը»:

Հիմա փորձենք մեկ առ մեկ անդրադառնալ Արսեն Թորոսյանի հայտարարության բոլոր կետերին և հասկանալ, թե ինչու նախարարը թվարկեց հենց այդ կազմակերպությունների անունները, այլ ոչ թե օրինակ մի ռուսական ընկերության, որը ևս մեծ հաջողություններ է գրանցել պատվաստանյութի ստեղծման աշխատանքներում: Կփորձենք հասկանալ՝ Արսեն Թորոսյանի գործունեությունը բխու՞մ է Հայաստանի Հանրապետության քաղաքացու առողջության շահերից, թե՞ կան այլ՝ անձնային շահեր:
Մինչև մեկ առ մեկ Արսեն Թորոսյանի հայտարարության բոլոր կետերին անդրադառնալը, պետք է ծանոթանանք շատ հետաքրքիր մի անձնավորության հետ, որի անունը Բիլ Գեյթս է: Բիլ Գեյթսին մենք ճանաչում ենք որպես ՏՏ ոլորտի համաշխարհային գիգանտ, Microsoft ընկերության հիմնադիր, մարդ, որի գործունեությունը, իրոք, փոխել է աշխարհը: Չենք կարող չգնահատել այն հաջողությունները, որ գրանցել է Գեյթսը Microsoft-ի հետ, սակայն տարիներ առաջ չգիտես ինչու այս մարդը որոշեց իր քիթը մտցնել նաև առողջապահության ոլորտ և զբաղվել պատվաստանյութերի արտադրությամբ:

Պատվասանյութերի արտադրությամբ և դրանք աղքատ երկրների բնակիչներին հասցնելով զբաղվում է Բիլ Գեյթսի և նրա կնոջ՝ Միլինդա Գեյթսի հիմնադրամը: Իրո՞ք Բիլ Գեյթսն այնքան բարի մարդ է, որ տարիների ընթացքում իր կուտակած ունեցվածքը որոշել է ծախսել բարեգործության վրա, թե՞ Գեյթսը հատուկ առաքելությամբ է «գործուղվել» առողջապահության ոլորտ:

«Բիլ և Միլինդա Գեյթս» հիմնադրամի գործունեությունը բազմաթիվ հարցեր է առաջացրել բժիշկների, քաղաքական գործիչների և պարզապես սովորական մարդկանց մոտ: Հիմնադրամի միջոցներով մոտ 2 տասնամյակ առաջ Հնդկաստանում իրականացվեց մանկական պոլիոմիելիտի դեմ զանգվածային պատվաստում (, որին հաջորդած 17 տարիների ընթացքում պատվաստված 491,000 երեխա պարալիզացվեց, իսկ Հնկաստանի կառավարությունն արգելեց երկրում իրականացնել «Բիլ և Միլինդա Գեյթս» հիմնադրամի կողմից ֆինանսավորվող պատվաստումները: 2010 թվականին TED կոնֆերանսում Բիլ Գեյթսը հայտարարեց, որ աշխարհի բնակչության թիվը շարունակում է անվերահսկելի կերպով աճել, և համապատասխան պատվաստանյութերի օգտագործմամբ հնարավոր կլինի բնակչության աճի թիվը պակասեցնել 10-15 տոկոսով:

Այստեղ ուշադրություն դարձնենք «պակասեցնել» բառին: Ի՞նչ է նշանակում պակասեցնել մոլորակի բնակչության աճի թիվը: Եթե փորձենք օգտագործել հոմանիշ բառ, ապա ավելի ճիշտ կլինի ասել պատվաստանյութերի միջոցով սպանել մարդկանց: Բացի այդ, 2015 թվականին TED կոնֆերանսի ընթացքում Բիլ Գեյթսը նախազգուշացրեց գլոբալ համաճարակի վտանգի մասին և նշեց, որ այժմ միլիոնավոր մարդկանց սպանելու ավելի արդյունավետ միջոց է ոչ թե պատերազմը, այլ վիրուսը:
ԵՎ ահա, 2020 թվականին աշխարհում տարածվեց կորոնավիրուսը և Առողջապահության համաշխարհային կազմակերպության կողմից COVID-ը համավարակ ճանաչելու հենց հաջորդ օրն ամերիկյան հեռուստաալիքների էկրաններին հայտնվեց Բիլ Գեյթսը, ով հայտարարեց, որ անհրաժեշտ է սկսել պատվաստանյութի ստեղծման աշխատանքները և պատրաստակամություն հայտնեց միլիարդավոր դոլարներ ներդնել պատվաստանյութի ստեղծման աշխատանքներում:

Հիմա անցնենք Արսեն Թորոսյանին և փորձենք նրա կատարած հայտարարությանը տալ 3 կետից կազմված պատասխան, որը դժվար թե դուր գա Թորոսյանին, սակայն պետք է շատ խորը հարցեր առաջացնի մեր քաղաքացիների շրջանում: Նաև փորձենք հասկանալ, թե ի՞նչ կապ ունի Հայաստանի առողջապահության նախարար Արսեն Թորոսյանը Բիլ Գեյթսի և նրա հիմնադրամի հետ:

«Մոդեռնա». Հայաստանի Առողջապահության նախարարը նշեց, որ ինքը բանակցում է ամերիկյան «Մոդեռնա» ընկերության հետ, որը հաջողությամբ իրականացրել է պատվաստանյութի հետազոտման փուլերը: Այն, որ «Մոդեռնա»-ն հաջողությամբ է իրականացրել պատվաստանյութի հետազոտման փուլերը, դրա մասին հայտարարել է անձամբ ընկերության հիմնադիր, մեր հայրենակից Նուբար Աֆեյանը: Բայց արդյո՞ք հետազոտություններն անցել են բարեհաջող, թե՞ Նուբար Աֆեյանը պարզապես ստել է, և հիմա այդ սուտը փորձում է մեզ հրամցնել Արսեն Թորոսյանը: Ամերիկացի իրավաբան, ԱՄՆ 35-րդ նախագահ Ջոն Քենեդու եղբորորդի, այժմ ԱՄՆ-ում մեկնարկած հակապատվաստումային շարժման ղեկավար Ռոբերտ Քենեդին ներկայացրել է բազմաթիվ փաստեր, որոնք ապացուցում են, որ «Մոդեռնա»-ի հետազոտությունները ոչ թե անցել են բարեհաջող, այլ, ինչպես նշել է Քենեդին. «Դրանք ավելի վատ անցնել չէին կարող»:

Քենեդին ներկայացրել է փաստեր (, որ պատվաստանյութի կլինիկական փորձարկումների ժամանակ գրանցվել է սարսափելի ցուցանիշ՝ պատվաստանյութի 20 տոկոսանոց վտանգավորություն: Այսինքն, եթե տվյալ պատվաստանյութը ներարկվի մոլորակի բոլոր բնակիչներին, ապա այն մահացու հիվանդություններ կառաջացնի 1.5 միլիարդ մարդու մոտ: Այստեղ հարկավոր է նշել, որ ցուցանիշներ կազմվելիս հաշվի են առնվում լիովին առողջ մարդկանց վրա կատարված փորձարկումները, հետևաբար մոլորակի ամբողջ բնակչության պատվաստումը կհանգեցնի շատ ավելի աղետալի վիճակի, քանի որ մոլորակի բնակչության ամենալավատեսական ցուցանիշներով գոնե կեսը լիովին առողջ չէ:

Քենեդիի հաջորդ հրապարակման մեջ ( ամերիկացի իրավաբանը ներկայացնում է, որ տվյալ կլինիկական փորձարկումից հետո «Մոդեռնա»-ի արժեղթղթերի արժեքը նվազել է 39%-ով, իսկ ընկերության բաժնետերերն այդ փորձարկումից հետո վաճառքի են հանել իրենց բաժնեմասերը, որպեսզի ապագայում խուսափեն պատասխանատվությունից, եթե պատվաստանյութն օգտագործվի վիրուսի դեմ պայքարի համար:

Այնուհետև Ռոբերտ Քենեդին կազմակերպել է պատվաստանյութերի դեմ հանրահավաքներ (, որոնց ժամանակ հայտարարել է, որ «Մոդեռնա»-ի կողմից պատրաստվող պատվաստանյութը թույն է, որը սպանելու է մարդկանց: Քենեդին նաև հրապարակել է փաստեր՝ հիմնված Ավստրալիայում իրականացված հետազոտությունների վրա (, որ մահացու է նաև այսպես կոչված «Գարդասիլը», որով պատվաստված աղջիկների մոտ գրանցվել է քաղցկեղային հիվանդությունների աճ 44.6 տոկոսով:

Հիմա ամենահետաքրքիր փաստը կապված «Մոդեռնա»-ի հետ: Այդ ընկերության գլխավոր դոնորներից մեկը հանդիսանում է հենց «Բիլ և Միլինդա Գեյթս» հիմնադրամը, որը 2016 թվականից հետո մի քանի հարյուր միլիոն դոլարի հասնող ներդրումներ է կատարել ընկերությունում, ինչի մասին տեղեկանում ենք ընկերության պաշտոնական կայքից ( Վերջին խոշոր ներդրումը հիմնադրամը կատարել է կորոնավիրուսի դեմ պատվաստանյութ ստեղծելու աշխատանքների մեկնարկից առաջ:

Այս ամենն իմանալուց հետո մենք կարո՞ղ ենք մեզ թույլ տալ ընդունել «Մոդեռնա» ընկերության պատրաստած պատվաստանյութը, որը, ունենալով 20 տոկոսանոց վտանգավորության աստիճան, կարող է մահացու հիվանդություններ առաջացնել մեր 3 միլիոն բնակիչներից 600,000-ի մոտ: Կարծում եմ, որ գոնե կասկածներ հայտնելու և հետաքննություն անցկացնելու իրավունք մենք ունենք:

• «ԳԱՎԻ». Արսեն Թորոսյանը նշեց, որ ինքը բանակցում է նաև վակցինաների «Գավի» համաշխարհային ալյանսի հետ: Այստեղ 2 շատ կարևոր փաստ պետք է ընդգծենք: Նախ, Արսեն Թորոսյանը հանդիսանում է «Գավի» ալյանսի խորհրդի անդամ, ինչի մասին տեղեկանում ենք կազմակերպության պաշտոնական կայքից ( Տրամաբանորեն Արսեն Թորոսյանը, «Գավի»-ի հետ բանակցելով, բանակցում է ինքն իր հետ, և ավելի քան ակնհայտ է, որ նա չի կարող այս բանակցություններում չունենալ անձնական շահագրգռվածություն:
ԵՎ կարո՞ղ եք գուշակել, թե որ հիմնադրամն է ստեղծել ու ֆինանսավորում «Գավի» ընկերությունը: Իհարկե, «Բիլ և Միլինդա Գեյթս» հիմնադրամը, ինչի մասին կրկին տեղեկանում ենք կազմակերպության պաշտոնական կայքից (

• ԱՀԿ. Հաջորդ կազմակերպությունը, որի հետ բանակցելու մասին հայտարարեց Արսեն Թորոսյանը, Առողջապահության համաշխարհային կազմակերպությունն է, որի գործունեությունը վերջին ամիսներին շատ մեծ հարցեր է առաջացրել բազմաթիվ երկրներում: Ամենավառ օրինակը ԱՄՆ-ն էր, որը հանդիսանում էր կազմակերպության գլխավոր դոնորը, սակայն ԱՄՆ նախագահ Դոնալդ Թրամփը մեղադրեց ԱՀԿ-ին Չինաստանի շահերը սպասարկելու մեջ և հայտարարեց, որ ԱՀԿ-ն իր գործունեությամբ միտումնավոր կերպով նպաստել է կորոնավիրուսի տարածմանը: Թրամփը խզեց ԱՄՆ-ի բոլոր կապերը ԱՀԿ-ի հետ և այժմ կորոնավիրուսի դեմ պայքարն իրականացնում է ներքին ռեսուրսներով:

ԵՎ կարո՞ղ եք գուշակել, թե որ հիմնադրամն է այժմ հանդիսանում ԱՀԿ-ի գլխավոր դոնորը: Գրողը տանի, կրկին «Բիլ և Միլինդա Գեյթս» հիմնադրամը, որը 2018-2019 թվականներին կազմակերպությունում ներդրել է 531 միլիոն դոլար: ԱՄՆ-ը, որը գլխավոր դոնորն էր, ներդրել է 656 միլիոն դոլար, իսկ ամենահետաքրքիրն այն է, որ «Գավի» ալյանսը, որի մասին արդեն խոսել ենք, հանդիսանում է ԱՀԿ-ի չորրորդ գլխավոր դոնորը և կազմակերպությունում 2 տարվա ընթացքում ներդրել է 371 միլիոն դոլար, ինչի մասին տեղեկանում ենք կազմակերպության ներկայացրած հաշվետվությունից (

ԱՄՆ-ում և աշխարհի շատ երկրներում տարբեր բժիշկներ, քաղաքական գործիչներ, լրագրողներ, իրավաբաններ և պարզապես սովորական քաղաքացիներ «Բիլ և Միլինդա Գեյթս» հիմնադրամին մեղադրում են հակահումանիստական գործունեություն ծավալելու մեջ: Բիլ Գեյթսին արդեն կառավարությունների մակարդակով մեղադրում են մարդկության դեմ հանցագործություն կազմակերպելու՝ կորոնավիրուսի համավարակն աշխարհում արհեստականորեն տարածելու մեջ և պահանջում են անհապաղ ձերբակալել նրան:

Ի՞նչ է ստացվում: Ստացվում է, որ մենք ունենք Առողջապահության նախարար, որը բազմաթիվ թելերով կապված է մի հիմնադրամի հետ, որին աշխարհում մեղադրում են մարդկության դեմ հանցագործություն կազմակերպելու մեջ: Եթե պարոն Արսեն Թորոսյանը չգիտեր այս մասին և լրիվ ազնիվ նպատակներով, Հայաստանի քաղաքացիների առողջության մասին մտածելով բանակցում էր «Մոդեռնա»-ի, «Գավի»-ի և ԱՀԿ-ի հետ, ապա այս ամենն իմանալուց հետո նա անհապաղ պետք է դադարեցնի բանակցությունները և կորոնավիրուսի դեմ պատվաստանյութը փնտրի լրիվ այր վայրում, եթե իհարկե մեզ պատվաստանյութ անհրաժեշտ է, քանի որ բազմաթիվ բժիշկներ պնդում են, որ այս մուտացվող վիրուսի դեմ պարզապես անիմաստ է պատվաստանյութ ստեղծել, այն էլ կասկածելի ծագում ունեցող պատվաստանյութ:

Իսկ ինչու՞ Նիկոլ Փաշինյանը հենց կառավարության նիստի ժամանակ Արսեն Թորոսյանից հետաքրքրվեց պատվաստանյութի ստեղծման աշխատանքներով: Չէ՞ր կարող Փաշինյանն այդ մասին Թորոսյանին հարցնել առանձին, թե՞ Փաշինյանի այս քայլն ուներ շատ հեռուն նայող նպատակներ: Փաշինյանի քայլն ինձ հիշեցնում է այն սցենարը, որով ԱՄՆ նախագահ Դոնալդ Թրամփն ամբողջ ամերիկացի ժողովրդի առաջ պատռեց երկրի Համաճարակաբանության և ալերգիկ հիվանդությունների ուսումնասիրության ազգային ինստիտուտի ղեկավար Էնթոնի Ֆաուչիի դիմակը՝ բացահայտելով նրա կապն ու սերտ համագործակցությունը նույն «Բիլ և Միլինդա Գեյթս» հիմնադրամի հետ: Ի դեպ, ԱՄՆ-ում արդեն բազմաթիվ հեղինակավոր բժիշկներ ստորագրահավաք են սկսել Էնթոնի Ֆաուչիին ձերբակալելու պահանջով»: