On Trusting the Censorious Authoritarians in Health

January 2023

The amount and degree of egregious misinformation contained in Robin Collins’ short submission to issue #93 of the SAFS Newsletter is remarkable, especially considering the condescending tone of the piece. It is in relation to covid and the merits of the government’s response to the virus.

Collins begins with the assertion that “The evidence overwhelmingly shows a reduction in deaths and serious sickness from the mandates.” No link is provided in support, but if the evidence is so overwhelming it should be easy to find. Within Canada, the provinces with the harshest mandates, Ontario and especially Quebec, also had the worst health outcomes from covid, whereas the provinces that adopted the lightest touch, Alberta and Saskatchewan, suffered only middling effects. We see the same thing in the USA, where the states with the worst covid results, New York and California, also had the harshest mandates, while Florida and South Dakota had much better results with no mandates at all. This is surprising since Florida is a haven for the retired, who are by far the most at-risk demographic.

Sweden also eschewed mandates from the get-go. The “experts” that Collins apparently listens to predicted a catastrophic result, yet Sweden performed much better than the UK, Belgium, Spain, and Italy, all of which adopted draconian mandates. Sweden’s death rate from covid was middling in Europe, i.e., better than half of European countries that employed mandates. In terms of all-cause excess mortality over the past three years, Sweden actually ranks best in the world.

The inefficacy of mandates at stopping the transmission of respiratory viruses was common knowledge prior to covid. It had been rediscovered in the covid context more than two years ago. More recently, a meta-analysis of 34 studies shows no correlation between the harshness of mandates and positive covid outcomes. Anyone who has been following the issue seriously has been exposed to numerous other studies to the same effect, as well as to a multitude of studies showing the terrible toll lockdowns take on people’s mental and economic well-being.

In the understatement of the century, Collins admits that “There were occasional public health errors in the messaging.…” In fact, the grotesque errors of substance began on day one, and continue to the present. A brief reminder of some of the “messaging errors” might be helpful.

First we were told that the virus was contained to China and we had nothing to fear. Those who thought it might be a good idea to suspend flights from China until we figured this thing out, or to buy some time to prepare a response, we called “racists.” Suggesting that it might be a lab leak made one a “conspiracy theorist” worthy of being banished to a media black hole by the very health authoritarians who were funding and conducting gain-of-function research at the lab in question. Just a messaging error of no consequence, I suppose.

We were initially told that masks are useless. Indeed, decades of study prior to the pandemic had shown that even properly worn masks of the kind that have become ubiquitous (and now fill the oceans, suffocating turtles) do not reduce the spread of respiratory viruses at all. Then, just as suddenly, this science was rejected and we were told that masks were required. When masking mandates failed to halt any spike, double-masking and triple-masking were recommended, indoors and out. This remains the official message, despite two separate studies conducted by the CDC itself during the pandemic which confirm their worthlessness. This despite large-scale population studies from Denmark and Bangladesh that likewise show no mask efficacy during the pandemic. But we have found that masks impede the learning of language and social skills in children.

No physicist, Collins mocks the notion that the virus goes right through or around typical masks. Yet the coronavirus is indeed smaller than smoke particles, which are smaller than the weave of the mask. You can effortlessly find videos on YouTube showing how cigarette smoke penetrates and flows around masks. Here is one where University of Guelph virologist Bryam Bridle breathes water vapour onto his eye-glasses through five triple-layer masks.

To “prove” the value of masks, Collins notes that there were only 69 reported cases of flu in Canada in 2020-21, compared to 52,000 in a normal year. The illogic of the argument is glaring: if masks were 0.999% effective at filtering out the flu virus in 2020-21, why did covid nevertheless spike several times during that same flu season? A clue is that the near disappearance of the flu during the pandemic was a global phenomenon; it happened even in places where there were no mask mandates.

More questionable messaging: The early modeling relied upon by the health authoritarians projected deaths orders of magnitude greater than actually transpired. Yet the models were never rejected, and continued to be relied upon for public messaging even though their projections continued to miss the mark by orders of magnitude, month after month and year after year. The same modelers had been equally wrong, in the same direction, about every public-health threat they had modeled in the previous two decades. It is almost as though the health authorities wanted to fan the fear and chose the most unreliable modeling to do it.

In the first months of the pandemic, the health authoritarians prohibited customers from bringing their own grocery bags into a store. We were told to wash all of our merchandise as soon as it was brought into the house. Asymptomatic spread was said to be such a huge problem that you couldn’t trust anyone you might come within an arbitrary 6 feet of, no matter how healthy you or they looked or felt. To enforce that, stores were forced to post signage, including arrows on the floors and silly plastic “barriers” at the check-outs. Anyone with an ounce of understanding of viruses knew that this was all fear-porn theatre, since viruses float in the air for days or even weeks before settling out. And that is in still air; in spaces with constant traffic, viral particles never settle out. Untold millions of them fall on you every day of your life.

Big box stores with well-placed lobbyists, and government liquor and cannabis stores, were of course allowed to stay open throughout, while the little independent mom-and-pop stores and houses of worship were ruthlessly shuttered, harassed, and fined into submission. Grannies were forced to die of loneliness and neglect in long-term care to reduce the risk of dying with a virus while being surrounded by asymptomatic, loving family. This extreme cruelty was perpetrated in the name of “saving granny.”

In the House of Commons, Health Minister Patty Hajdu called vitamin D supplementation “fake news,” even though vitamin D deficiency is one of the biggest comorbidities for covid. The viral protection offered by vitamin D has also been known for decades, until the health authoritarians got drunk on power in 2020. For that entire summer, the health authorities shut down beaches, even though outdoor transmission was never a significant thing, while exercise and vitamin D from exposure to the sun obviously had substantial health benefits. Thus by the Fall of 2020, Canadians were suffering even more than normal from vitamin D deficiency and being overweight, and were ripe for another round of viral infections.

Large outdoor gatherings for Black Lives Matter and residential school protests were countenanced by the health authoritarians and the Prime Minister; but lockdown protests and even skating on empty public hockey rinks were brutally suppressed. Perhaps that doesn’t count in Collins’ book as an “error in messaging.”

We were told that it would take only “two weeks to flatten the curve.” The mandates stretched into more than two years. We were told to hang tight until the novel mRNA injections came to our rescue: they would be 100% effective at stopping infection and transmission, just like traditional MMR and polio vaccines. Two years later we were finally let in on the secret that the mRNA injections were never even tested against infection or transmission, and that the health authoritarians such as Presidential advisor Deborah Birx knew this all along but blatantly lied to the world about it. We were assured that there were no adverse reactions to the injections worth advising people about to obtain their fully informed consent, even while reporting systems such as VAERS showed an alarming spike the moment the roll-out began. Perhaps Collins doesn’t consider such bald-faced lying significant “errors in messaging.”

At the very moment that infections and hospitalizations were spiking in the countries with the highest injection rates – Israel and Gibraltar – our Prime Minister was foaming at the mouth about how evil it would be to allow asymptomatic unjabbed children to sit on a bus or plane or train beside his dutifully injected children. As I pointed out in a previous SAFS Newsletter article, at the very moment the Ontario authorities were publishing research showing a concerningly high rate of myocarditis in boys and young men after getting the jab, the public-health authoritarians continued to insist that the jabs were safe and effective in this population – despite being not at significant risk from the virus in the first place. Indeed, the infection fatality rate of covid among children is even lower than the infection fatality rate for the seasonal flu. This is due in part to the fact that the ACE2 receptors are not yet fully developed in children, so the covid virus has difficulty entering and generating a sufficient viral load to cause harm.

The amount of misinformation on the efficacy and safety of mRNA injections is a topic of its own. I can’t even scratch the surface, so I’ll limit myself to observing that they do not perform anything remotely as they had been advertised. Efficacy wanes extremely quickly, which is why the health authoritarians quickly began pushing third and fourth “boosters.” Unfortunately, multiple doses seem to lead to T-cell exhaustion or antibody-dependent enhancement or both, which is why covid now seems to be a pandemic of the multiply injected. People are not blind to this, and booster up-take in Canada is very low.

Canadians returning from travel abroad had to download the ArrivCan app and prove being “fully jabbed,” and 10,000 of them were misdirected to quarantine anyway. Just a minor messaging glitch, right? Meanwhile, the RCMP valet service was escorting completely undocumented immigrants and refugees across the border by the thousands, to be dispersed across Canada. At one point, thousands of foreigners were coming into Pearson Airport every day while the border between Manitoba and Ontario was closed for local commuters. Because “science,” we were told.

I have more to say about the other mistakes in Collins’ understanding of the pandemic, so I will have to leave the subject of health-authority misinformation there. Lest anyone suspect that my above criticisms of the public-health messaging have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I should mention that I raised all of these objections in real time in my publications and numerous email blasts over the past three years. I do not claim any special expertise or discernment; all that was required to acquire a clear understanding of what was really going on is an internet connection, some spare time, and a modicum of common sense. Mock the keyboard warriors at “Facebook U” all he likes: the fact is that most of us were not so gullible as Collins and stopped trusting the public-health authoritarians after the first dozen or so “messaging errors.”

I have news for people like Collins: Following a government that says they are following the science is not following the science. This is especially true when the government refuses to reveal what science they are actually looking at, even for the benefit of judges when the mandates were challenged in court. No, you are not following the science, you are following a dictator. What Collins styles an “anarchic contempt for public health institutions” is really just a healthy skepticism.

Collins accepts the WHO estimate that 15 million people have died worldwide from covid. Given that the health authoritarians admitted from the start that they don’t distinguish between those who died “from” covid and those who died “with” covid, the most that can be claimed is that 15 million people died with covid. That figure is likely a substantial over-counting since anyone who died within a month of testing positive was counted as dying with covid. Moreover, the PCR test at the level of amplification used by the health authoritarians is known to return a very high rate of false positives. Given the age and comorbidity profile of those who died “with” covid, it is certain that this cavalier attitude toward attributing causes of death resulted in an extraordinary over-counting, which could easily be at least double the true number.

In Canada, that would mean covid was no more fatal than the seasonal flu, probably less so. And since covid is exponentially more dangerous to the elderly – the average age of death with covid is higher than the life expectancy in Canada – the number of years of life lost to covid is almost certainly lower than to the seasonal flu which kills many more younger children – possible much, much lower. Yet we would never dream of undertaking the extreme public-health measures to combat the seasonal flu that we did for covid.

For added context, consider this: James O. Eifert, commander of the Florida National guard, recently acknowledged that “there have been only 95 U.S. service-member deaths attributed to COVID from a total military population of 2.154 million. That’s a mortality rate of 0.004% — and a case-survival rate of 99.98%, based on the 421,807 infections the Pentagon has reported as of July 1. By contrast, the military’s suicide rate during 2020 was about seven times as great (0.027%).”

The final item I will respond to is Collins’ reference to the “belligerent ‘freedom convoy’ (sic).” Despite living in Ottawa, he is as poorly informed about the mandate protests that took place in his city as he is about the rest of the pandemic messaging. The Public Order Emergency Commission has put paid to the government narrative that Collins apes. There was no belligerence from the truckers and their supporters. Not a single protestor was charged with any violent offense, including harassment. The police had no information or intelligence that would suggest these were anything other than ordinary, peaceful citizens. On the contrary, all of the belligerence came from Ottawa residents: setting fires to apartment buildings, slashing truckers’ tires in the middle of the night (and other vandalism), throwing eggs and marbles at protestors from high-rise apartments. The protest itself was peaceful, joyful, unifying, uplifting, and family-friendly.

Putting “freedom convoy” in scare quotes and following it with “(sic)” is an unmistakable indication of Collins’ political sensibilities. He embraces health-care tyranny, including stripping professionals of their jobs and licenses to practice. The reason the covid debate rears its ugly head in the pages of the SAFS Newsletter from time to time is that academic careers have been curtailed and taken by the health authoritarians. Academic freedom is a core principle of SAFS, a commitment to which every member is supposed to affirm upon joining. By mocking Julie Ponesse for sacrificing her academic career at Western University rather than parrot the government’s narrative, rather than abandon every principle of medical ethics she has taught in her career, Collins demonstrates the opposite of a commitment to academic freedom. This is why he needs to be taken to the woodshed for his badly informed and unprincipled rant.

Anyone who takes academic freedom seriously should show solidarity with other professionals who work in knowledge-intensive and knowledge-dependent fields like medicine. If doctors and nurses can be stripped of their professional qualifications and licences to practice simply for disagreeing with a government’s unethical policies and false narratives, or for simply questioning them, we are in deep trouble as a country. That is the fundamental message of Julie Ponesse’s important book. SAFS was correct to celebrate and promote it; Collins was wrong to mock it.