Make a Difference

Category: Health (Page 1 of 2)

Hating Bill Gates

Bill Gates has been the Emmanuel Goldstein of the anti-vaccination movement for years. But why are so many other people suddenly jumping in?

Boy that Bill Gates is an evil dude. Or so you might think if all you read is Facebook and Twitter. US commentator Candace Owens (whom I otherwise like and admire) has called him a “vaccine criminal,” while conspiracy theorist Alex Jones says he is “Satan’s benchwarmer,” the “placeholder for the anti-Christ.” Gates is hell-bent on depopulating the world so the elite can take over and live in unimaginable luxury while the common folk live as slaves. His chosen method for this depopulation is vaccines, and COVID-19 was created to trick or force everyone into getting the vaccine that will either kill them or track them using microchip implants.

What makes it even worse is that he has publicly announced his intentions, and has been carrying out this plan in plain view, if people would only look. He even owns patent WO (for World Order) 666 for implantable tracking technology, but people are sheeple, and refuse to believe what is right in front of them.

It’s a great plot for a movie. Tom Hanks has to uncover the secret and save the world in the nick of time.

You can’t get much more evil than all that. If all of this is true.

So let’s look at some of the claims being made about Bill Gates, and see how much truth is in them. But first, let’s consider another, related post that has recently done the rounds of Facebook and Twitter. This tells the story of Robert F Kennedy Jnr bravely facing down the CDC and showing that “The CDC is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry. The agency owns more than 20 vaccine patents and purchases and sells $4.1 billion in vaccines annually.”

Hmm.. sounds worrying. Let’s check. First of all though, let’s understand what patents are.

Patents protect a creator’s design, product or process, so that the creator can invest in research and development, and be confident that some ratbag is not going to come along and steal their work and profit from it by using the process or manufacturing the product without having done the creative work and research. For example, there are over a thousand patents which protect the latest iPhone.

Vaccines are hugely expensive to create, and just as hugely expensive to test, then to package and bring to market. In the same way many patents may protect a product like an iPhone, many patents may be needed to protect a single vaccine. These may cover the antigen itself, adjuvants, packaging, manufacturing processes, method of delivery, etc. Patents can be licensed to other companies or individuals. iPhones include technology licensed from other companies, as well as technology developed by Apple itself.

The CDC owns a large number of patents related to medical technology. This is because the CDC does a huge amount of medical research. Some of these relate to vaccines. This is because from time to time a researcher will discover, for example, an antigen that provokes an immune response to a particular pathogen, or a method of inactivating a virus for use in a vaccine, or a new adjuvant.

The CDC lists all of its patented technology which is available to be licensed. Given it is a publicly funded organisation, why would the CDC patent these things? Why not just let people use them? There are three reasons. Firstly, it stops anyone else from patenting the CDC’s research, profiting from it, and stopping others using it. Secondly, licensing this technology protects the integrity of the manufacturing process, assuring end users of the quality of the product. And thirdly, licensing royalties provide a small return to tax-payers for their investment in the CDC’s research.

The CDC owns patents, not on vaccines, but on vaccine technology (amongst many other things), which it licenses to manufacturers and to other research bodies. There are fifty-seven such patents currently listed. So far, Robert Kennedy Jnr is roughly, sort of right. The CDC does own more than 20 vaccine-related patents. Everything else he said in the interview in which he made that claim, and everything else in the Facebook post in which these claims appear, is false. As we go on to consider the Bill Gates conspiracy theories, we will see that this is a very common anti-vax tactic: Make one true, or near true, claim, then by exaggerating, missing context, or simply making data up, proceed to make claims which are completely false, and because false, dangerous. Dangerous because they are an attempt to dissuade people from receiving life-saving treatments and preventatives.

The CDC does not sell vaccines. In fact it spends nearly half its annual budget (in 2017 $4.1 billion out of a total $11.9 billion budget) on buying vaccines. Which it then sells at a profit, right? No. Which it then gives away:

“CDC buys vaccines at a discount and distributes them to grantees—i.e., state health departments and certain local and territorial public health agencies—which in turn distribute them at no charge to those private physicians’ offices and public health clinics registered as VFC providers.”

But it still makes money from its vaccine technology patents? Yes, although it does not manage the licensing of those patents directly. This is handled by National Institutes of Health Office of Technology Transfer (OTT), which is responsible for licensing all of the patents generated from the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the CDC. If we want to be picky, we should note it is the Department, specifically the Secretary of the Department, which owns the patents, not the CDC itself.

Last year the OTT reported income of $78.2 million for all patent licensing from the NIH, CDC and FDA. Let’s say that half of this was licensing of CDC patents, and half of that was generated by vaccine technology patents. The CDC has another six research areas in which patents are available to license, so this is a very generous estimate. That means the CDC’s income from vaccine-related patent licensing was no more than $19.55 million, and probably less.

There are three things to note about this. Firstly, the CDC does not make $4.1 billion selling vaccines. It doesn’t sell vaccines. It SPENT $4.1 billion on vaccines, which it gave away. Second, the maximum of $19.55 million which the CDC made from royalties on vaccine-related payments is less than one fifth of one percent of its budget. Thirdly, all of those royalties went back into further medical services and research. If you think less than one fifth of one percent of the CDC’s budget is enough to corrupt an entire organisation whose purpose is improving health, whose personnel are there and are recruited because they want to make world a better and healthier place, many of whom put themselves at considerable risk in order to do so, then allow me to suggest politely that you have rocks in your head.

This does not mean the CDC is above criticism. It is sometimes slow to react, and sometimes gives contradictory advice. Like all very large government organisations it has become top heavy and bureaucratic. It has lost focus on its original mandate to research and assist with infectious diseases, and broadened into other medical fields. But there is no evidence to suggest it is corrupt or in cahoots with pharmaceutical companies.

Considering these claims by Kennedy has given us some useful background to the conspiracy theories about Bill Gates, and the venomous rage those stories generate.

Let’s start with patent WO666. Microsoft Technology does own patent WO2020060606A1. That is the little bit of truth in this story. It isn’t owned by Bill Gates. Bill Gates hasn’t worked day-to-day at Microsoft since 2008, and retired from his position as Chairman of the Board in 2014. The WO doesn’t stand for World Order, it is an abbreviation for World Intellectual Property Organization, the largest international patent issuing organisation, and is the preface to all patents issued by that body. The A1 at the end indicates that the patent has not yet been granted; it has been applied for and published so other patent holders can review it before the patent is granted. The 2020 indicates the year in which it was published. The patent number is 060606. These are issued sequentially and have no meaning other than being an index/reference. The number does include three sixes, but you have to ignore the other eight letters and numbers to get “patent 666.”

What is the patent application for? Microchipping humans, right, so they can be tracked? No. There is nothing in the application which suggests any kind of implant or any sort of geo-location or tracking.  It is an application for digital technology which could be included in a watch or fit-bit type device, which would reward users with crytpto-currency for physical activity.

Most crypto-currency, bitcoin is an example, is “mined” using computer GPUs. This process uses considerable electricity, estimated at over 60 terawatt hours per year; more than the entire country of Switzerland.

The Microsoft proposal would reward people with crypto-currency for keeping fit. It is that simple. It is also worth noting that the patent hasn’t been granted yet, and that while Microsoft had a fitness band, released in 2014, it stopped producing them in 2016, and has announced no plans to produce another. If granted, the technology patented in WO2020060606A1 would likely be licensed to other companies like Fitbit, rather than in a new product made by Microsoft itself. A company which in any case, as noted above, Bill Gates is no longer involved in running.

“But Bill Gates and Dr Anthony Fauci sent $7.5 million to the Wuhan lab to research altering bat viruses so they would infect people, and Bill Gates owns the patent for Coronavirus!”

The little bit of truth in this is that since 2014 the National Institutes of Health has granted $3.7 million to a well-respected research organisation called Ecohealth Alliance to fund research into coronaviruses. Since 1984 Dr Anthony Fauci has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of twenty-seven bodies which make up the NIH. Dr Fauci has never been in Wuhan, and it is not clear whether he had any role in the grant to Ecohealth Alliance. He certainly had no role in The Ecohealth Alliance’s decisions about where that grant money was directed. Bill Gates, incidentally, has nothing to do with the NIH. The Gates Foundation has made one grant of $1.5 million to Ecohealth Alliance, but that was in 2020 and was for agricultural development.

Funds from the NIH grant were divided between the Wuhan lab, and institutes in Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore. This is a list of published papers based on research partially funded by that grant.

Most of the recent virus scares have come from zoonotic infections, that is, infections which have jumped from animal hosts to humans. Examples include Zika, Ebola, Plague, and West Nile Fever. Research into coronaviruses is important because of their ability to jump from animal to human hosts, often with deadly results. Many ordinary colds result from one of the four common coronaviruses: 229E, NL63, OC43, HKU1. Most people will suffer from one these at least once, with nothing more than a mild fever, a cough and sniffly nose.

However, coronaviruses can also be killers. SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) are both examples. Because these diseases are highly infectious and have high mortality rates, many health authorities were concerned that the next major pandemic could be a coronavirus, and offered grants for study into their genome and infection pathways. If a new, deadly coronavirus appeared (and it has – that is what COVID-19 is), this research would help us be better prepared.

China’s behaviour in deleting records of the genome, denying the outbreak, and then denying the risk of infection, were reprehensible. China should be held to account. It is possible that the virus escaped from the Wuhan lab. This needs to be carefully and independently investigated. But the research itself was worthwhile and deserved to be funded. There was nothing nefarious about the funding at all. Also, Bill Gates had nothing whatever to do with it.

But then how does he happen to have a patent for coronavirus that dates from 2014? Surely that proves this pandemic was all planned in advance?

The normal anti-vax conspiracy practice, as we have seen above, is to take a little truth, and then add several large lies. In this case, there is no truth at all, just several wild assumptions.

There are many coronaviruses. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds many medical services and research organisations. One of these is the Pirbright Institute in England. The Pirbright Institute has received two grants from the Gates Foundation, one in 2013 for research into diseases affecting livestock, and one in 2016 for research into a more effective flu vaccine.

In 2018 Pirbright was granted a patent which covers the development of an attenuated (weakened) form of a coronavirus that causes respiratory diseases in poultry, which they hope might be used be used as a vaccine to prevent respiratory diseases in birds, including avian infectious bronchitis. The vaccine is not owned by Bill Gates, the funding his foundation provided was for completely different purposes, and the weakened avian coronavirus for which Pirbright holds a patent is a completely different pathogen from SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19.

In the last couple of months the Pirbright Institute, which has considerable experience with zoonotic and respiratory infections, has collaborated with researchers at the University of Oxford and Public Health England, to try to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Bill Gates has nothing to with that either.

“But still, everyone knows Bill Gates experimented on African children with untested vaccines.”

The trouble with claims like these is that they are easily made, and easily passed on. Just create a meme with a happy looking picture of Bill Gates juxtaposed with a dying black child, and another child being poked with what looks like a horse needle, and you are guaranteed a viral response. People are less inclined to read referenced articles, or to look carefully for facts in government or local medical reports. It is easier and more fun to repost that story about the horrible Bill Gates, because, like, it’s probably true, and even it isn’t he deserves it because everyone knows he has done so many other horrible things. Then you can feel indignantly self-righteous for a few minutes, be pleased with the number of likes you get, and go back to cat videos and complaining about the government.

Except that Bill Gates Bill Gates doesn’t own any vaccine patents, he doesn’t sell vaccines, and he doesn’t conduct any research into vaccines. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds health services and research including sanitation, vaccines, clean water, anti-biotics, birth services, and diagnostic and treatment centres. Mr Gates has no role in the day-today determination of which bodies receive grant funding, and no role at all in determining how grant recipients spend that money.

This experiments on black children story seems to have started with a 2017 non-peer reviewed article on international law and the accountability of NGOs, (non-government organisations).

In that article, the author, Sharmeen Ahmed, claims that several programmes funded by the Gates Foundation resulted in “numerous deaths and injuries, with accounts of forced vaccinations and uninformed consent.” She offered no references to support these claims.

If true, this would show that some organisations which have been part-funded by the Gates Foundation need to operate more carefully and openly, and perhaps that the Foundation needs to vet grant-receiving organisations more carefully. But Ahmed’s claims are not true. They were known not to be true six years before they were published. Sadly, like most anti-vaxxers, Ahmed has no interest in what is true.

Her story related a mishmash of distortions about a trial of HPV vaccination that was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which ran in India, Peru, Uganda and Vietnam. Let’s note first off that it was not a trial of an untested or experimental vaccine, as is often claimed in various Farcebook references. Gardasil had been approved for use in the USA in 2006, following many years of research and clinical trials, and Cervarix in 2009. They have been hugely success in reducing the incidence of cervical cancer. By 2010, when large numbers of girls began to be vaccinated through the trial programme, both vaccines had solid research support, had been approved for use in most Western countries, and had been proven in the field to be both safe and effective. The purpose of the trial funded by the Gates Foundation was not to assess the vaccine itself, but the practicalities and costs of  widespread vaccination in very poor rural and densely populated urban areas.

All went well, until a small number of girls in India, seven out of 23,428, died within four months of receiving the vaccine. This story was picked up by local, then national media. A furore was created, and the trial halted. A government review was undertaken. Sharper readers may already be wondering whether seven girls out of 23,428 in impoverished areas of India dying in any four month period was anything out of the ordinary. Sadly, they would be right to do so.

To quote from the official government report:

“There were a total of 7 deaths, 5 from the AP and 2 from Gujarat. A detailed review of death cases were undertaken from the available records in the form of FIR, Clinic/hospital prescriptions/records and the autopsy. Out of the five deaths reported from Andhra Pradesh, two died due to consumption of organo-phosphorus poisoning (autopsy proven) and one died due to drowning in a well.

These three girls died after 45, 97 and 49 days after the last HPV vaccine dose respectively. The fourth case developed symptoms 96 days after receiving the third dose of the vaccine and had died of unrelated disease which cannot be linked possibly to HPV. The fifth case had started symptoms 23 days after the last dose and possibly died of severe malaria after eight days of treatment in health facilities. Similarly at Gujarat, one case died of snake bite and the other case died of severe malaria.

… The background death rates among girls 10-14 years of age in both Vadodora and Khammam districts did not show any increase rate. In fact in Vadodora district the death rate has significantly decreased in 2009 compared to the past years.”

None of the deaths of any of the seven girls was related in any way to the Gardasil or Cervarix vaccines they received as part of the trial. We have seen the same kind of irrational panic over the last month in relation to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. “It causes blood clots!” No it doesn’t. The rate of dangerous thromboembolism is no greater in vaccine recipients than unvaccinated populations. See the WHO review here:

And my own earlier comments about relative risk and COVID-19 vaccination here:

Just as an aside, another of the programmes funded by the Gates Foundation was MenAfriVac. This programme, which cost $70 million, was one of the most successful African health initiatives ever. Between 2010 and 2019, 315 million people in Africa’s meningitis belt, an area extending across the width of sub-Saharan Africa, received the vaccine. Cases of meningitis A have dropped almost to zero. According to the WHO, the vaccine is “expected to eliminate meningococcal A epidemics from this region of Africa,” Meningitis regularly killed thousands of people during outbreaks. Not any more. Without MenAfriVac, hundreds of millions of Africans would be vulnerable to a disease that can kill within hours and leave survivors paralysed, blind, and intellectually disabled.

If anti-vaxxers cared about the truth, they would be gasping for breath right now. Sadly for their victims, they don’t. They only care about ammunition. Here is the last gasp.

“But Bill Gates has publicly said he intends to use vaccines for population control! He is lulling people into a false sense of security before forcing everyone to be vaccinated with a vaccine that isn’t a vaccine, will permanently alter their DNA, and will kill half of those who receive it.”

To paraphrase Theoden of Rohan, “What can people do against such reckless stupidity?” Is it even worth trying to answer such manifest irrationality? Well, perhaps briefly.

Firstly, just because a vaccine operates in a different way from previous vaccines does not mean it is not a vaccine. The mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccines developed against COVID-19, are designed to provoke an immune response just like other vaccines. They just shortcut a couple of steps in doing so, and this has the potential to make them faster and more reliable. Neither mRNA vaccines, or any other proposed COVID-19 treatment or preventative does or even can alter human DNA.

“Yeah, well, Bill Gates still said he was going to use vaccines to eliminate half the population.”

No, he didn’t. So where the heck did that come from? In 2010 Bill Gates said “The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s heading up to about nine billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.”

Does this mean he intends to poison vaccines, or implant tracking devices in them, or slow release killers to be activated by the 5G signal?  I am not going to link to any of the fantastically dishonest or relentlessly stupid and baseless videos which make this claim. You can find them, or friends will send them to you.

Instead, here is a link to Bill Gates explaining exactly what he meant, which is pretty much exactly what it was obvious to me and every rational person on the planet he meant. As infant and youth mortality improves, families have fewer children, so over time the rate of population growth declines, and even becomes negative. This is true of every developed country in the world. There is nothing remotely controversial about this. What this means is that doing everything possible to improve infant mortality and health does not mean unsustainable population growth. The evidence shows exactly the opposite. The healthier we are, the more stable the population becomes.

None of this means that Bill Gates is perfect. He is human. He gets things wrong. His Foundation will get things wrong. They fund some programmes I believe are inappropriate. But this does not make him a monster. Despite the occasional misallocation (in my view) of funds by the Gates Foundation, it is still a huge influence for good. See the MenAfriVac programme briefly described above for one example. What we should be concerned about, and doing everything we can to combat, is the repeated, lazy and vicious misrepresentations of anti-vax lobby groups. Anti-vaxxers kill children. If anyone deserves contempt, it is they.

More from the Anti-vax Tinfoil Hat Brigade

It was interesting to see a few hundred tin foil hatters turn out to the million people anti-mandatory-vaccinations comedy sessions around the country.

Void of purpose from the start, since no COVID-19 vaccine in Australia is mandatory.

Bu of course, the “I’m not anti-vax, but…” crowd are not really about objections to mandatory vaccination, they want to scare people off vaccines altogether.

This in unmitigatedly, inexcusably evil.

It isn’t woke, or clever. People who are anti-vaxxers don’t know more than others. They haven’t “Done their research.” They are not concerned about your welfare, or that of your children.

But, they wail…

COVID-19 vaccines are experimental. No, they are not.

COVID-19 vaccines contain cells from aborted babies. No, they do not.

COVID-19 vaccines change your DNA. No, they do not.

COVID-19 vaccines contain tracking devices. No, they do not.

COVID-19 vaccines have terrible side effects the government and bug pharma are hiding from you. No, they do not.

COVID-19 vaccines are part of Bill Gates and the Cabal’s plot to reduce world population. No, they are not.

COVID-19 vaccines don’t stop you getting the disease. Yes, they do.

COVID-19 vaccines won’t save lives. Yes, they will, and already are.

None of the above complaints has any basis in science or reality. They originate with scumbags, scroungers and scammers like Andrew Wakefield, Joseph Mercola, Robert F Kenned Jnr, Sherri Tenpenny, etc.

I have said this before, and it is worth saying again, if you are telling people not to get a proven, life-saving medication or procedure because you don’t understand that post hoc ergo propter hoc (after, therefore must be because of) is a fallacy, or because you would rather pass on Facebook memes that agree with your prejudices, or you can’t be bothered checking your views with genuine science and medical authorities, then you are either astonishingly stupid, or simply evil. There is no other option.

You don’t get to try to talk people out of life-saving medical treatments on basis of unchecked dim-wittery from known shysters, and then claim to be concerned about others.

By all means don’t get the vaccine if you don’t want to. But this is not just a decision that affects you. You are in exactly the same position as those who refused to refused to follow Ignaz Semmelwiess’s guidelines on handwashing between examinations. “There’s no reason it should work!” “You can’t make me wash my hands!” “You can’t experiment on me!” “It’s just a conspiracy to sell carbolic acid!” They were the what anti-vaxxers are now – promoters of fear, disease and death, and for the same reasons.

There are limits to how much a society can tolerate deliberate, dangerous, dishonesty when it comes to health and safety. So again, don’t get the vaccine if you don’t want to. No one will make you. But understand if people need to put other precautions in place to protect themselves, their families, their workers, their clients and residents, and those who are genuinely unable to get the vaccine from the demented selfishness of the anti-vaxxers.

Antivaccination Hysteria – Dangerous Evangelising Ignorance

I have always regarded the anti-vax movement as either bafflingly stupid or deliberately malicious. Perhaps that is not entirely fair.
Some parents genuinely believe their children suffered serious adverse effects as a consequence of being vaccinated. In vanishingly rare instances they may be right. And some anti-vax propaganda is glossy and convincing. I remember the first time I encountered the argument that Japan had reduced its incidence of SIDS to zero by stopping early childhood vaccinations. It was well-presented and convincing, with carefully laid out photos, graphs and tables.
Of course it only took about ten minutes to confirm that the claim was completely false. During the couple of years in which Japan reduced its childhood vaccination programme, the number of children dying from SIDS increased, not decreased. What changed was that none of these deaths could be blamed on vaccines.
I understand parents whose children become ill a few hours, days, weeks or even years, after being vaccinated, wondering whether that illness was in some way connected. Some time ago I posted the story of a child taken to a paediatric practice in Perth for a routine vaccination. While the practice nurse was drawing the vaccine into the syringe, the child began to convulse. If this had happened a few minutes later, no one would have been able to convince the parents that the convulsions and the vaccine were not connected.
But children (and adults for that matter) get sick all the time, and sudden infant deaths occur during the period when most children receive their first batch of vaccinations, so it is natural that some parents will make a connection between the two. In the same way, no blame attaches to people who are initially taken in by glossy and apparently detailed anti-vax websites and publications. People are entitled to ask questions.
But it only takes a little effort to go to genuinely science-based websites or publications, or to talk to a paediatrician, and get factual answers. What people are not entitled to do is to pass on dangerously misleading and counter-factual propaganda.
I have a rule that I try to behave in online conversations as in real life conversations; to be careful and polite in all interactions. Anti-semites and anti-vaxxers are the two exceptions, both online and face to face. Both of those philosophies are so false, so dangerously false, and so easily checkably false, that anyone who contributes to their spread is either irretrievably stupid, lazy to the point of being maliciously careless with the well-being of others, or deliberately vicious.
If you have no medical or scientific expertise (and even if you do) you have an absolute moral obligation to check carefully, and ensure that you are not passing on falsehoods which will endanger the lives and health of other people. If you continue to forward information which is out of context, misleading, or deliberately false, as all anti-vax information is, then you forfeit any right to be considered a truthful or decent person.
One of the regulars in the anti-vax line-up is the argument that you can’t trust big pharma – just follow the money! But big pharma have been forced to admit their products are harmful in an insert to vaccine packaging. They just do it in a way that makes sure no-one reads it because it is in such tiny print. In fact, anti-vaxxers say, most doctors have never read a vaccine insert, or if they have and keep giving them, they are just in it for the money, so you can’t trust what they say either. Sometimes you will read a story of a brave mother who insisted on her rights, and demented, sorry demanded, the doctor read the vaccine insert before giving the vaccine to her child. At which point the astonished doctor realised the error of his ways, and vowed never to give another vaccine again. I’ll take things that never happened for $500, please Alex.
Another is the argument that vaccines are full of poisons. Anyone who makes this claim might as well put a big sign on their head saying “I know nothing about science and can’t be bothered learning.”
If you are interested in reality, as opposed to dark fantasies and conspiracy theories, here are a couple of science and research based web pages about vaccine inserts and “poisonous ingredients” to read through. Of course the anti-vaxxers won’t because 1. They don’t care, and 2. They prefer their loony Facebook posts to reality.
If you want the world to be a better place, reality is better.
And finally, I am pleased to be able to report that I have discovered the actual source of most Facebook anti-vax material. See photo below.
The stinky sewer of antivax propaganda

COVID19, Wuhan, Coronavirus, the Chinese Virus – the case for a Lockdown

As at this morning, 1st April, there have been 855,941 cases of novel Coronavirus around the world. Of those, 636,964 are still active, and 218,977 have run their course either to recovery or death. Of these, 42,069 (19%) ended with the death of the patient.

The infectiousness of this disease, combined with this frighteningly high mortality rate for known cases, is what has convinced me that a tighter lock-down, though horrifying costly (more on that later), is the most responsible course of action.

However, there is a large and possibly growing body of thought that very restrictive government actions are not necessary, and even that those so far implemented are doing more harm than good to overall health and well-being.

For example, over the last few days:

Associate Professor of Medicine Eran Bendavid, and Professor Jay Bhattacharya  of Stanford University:

Oxford Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology Sunetra Gupta:

Professor Sucharit Bhakdi, infectious medicine specialist, former head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz:

And just yesterday, a more cautious article in The Lancet:

Those who claim immediate shutdowns are necessary need to acknowledge these variations of opinion, and the widely varying advice being given to politicians.

It is not good enough simply to snipe from Facebook, calling politicians names, or suggesting a lack of integrity, or repeating slogans. Doing so convinces no one, especially decision-makers, and begins to make it look like those in favour of a shutdown have no real case for their point of view. Otherwise, why not make that case instead of throwing insults?

There also needs to be acknowledgement of the horrific cost of restrictions implemented to this point, and a genuine accounting and balancing of the cost of further restrictions.

Simply repeating “Health not wealth” will not wash. The huge improvement in lifespan over the last century, and our amazing good health into much older age, are a product of our prosperity as a nation, and the benefits that flow from that; the ready availability of fresh food, easy access to good medical services, improved working conditions, etc, etc. Undermine the nation’s wealth, and you undermine the nation’s health.

To give just one example of how this works in practice, the latest astonishing cash splurge sees income support for a broad range of workers to the extent of $130 billion. This would be enough to build and staff 200 new regional hospitals in Australia, or to renew and re-equip 300.

It is not only the loss of massive amounts of cash for crucially important infrastructure which needs to be considered, but the impact on business. Again, to give just one example, two days ago the government decreed that no one, and no business, could be evicted for the next six months for non-payment of rent. For businesses, rent can be deferred. But the income from which that rent needs to be paid has not been deferred, it has been lost. It is not recoverable. Even large businesses like Westfield, with billions of dollars invested in shopping centres, do not have large cash reserves. If rent is not paid over an extended period, they will fail. Repeat this a few times, and superannuation funds will collapse, leaving another massive hole government will be expected to fill.

On a more personal level, retail rents are not trivial amounts. The rent on the business Kathy and I have purchased in Townsville is $84,000 per year. Rents in higher traffic shopping centres can be much higher. Businesses will go bankrupt. This ripples out causing further, sometimes breaking point, difficulties to other businesses. There will be massive unemployment and all the evils that go with it; reduced general health, increased domestic violence, family breakdowns and suicide. And of course, further demands on a now massively under-resourced government. Then there is the fact that much of our self-esteem and energy comes from feeling useful. The long term mental health impacts of an extended lockdown/extended period of unemployment are potentially disastrous even without considering other factors.

People in favour of a complete lock-down, which would be even more costly in all these ways than measures so far implemented, also need to recognise and factor into their explanations the fact that a lock-down is not a solution. The virus will not magically disappear. Infection will reoccur and spread, and further lock-downs and restrictions will need to be enforced.

If, on the other hand, if it can be demonstrated by reference to policies and outcomes elsewhere, and known data about infection rates and mortality, that this draconian course of action with no clear end in sight will result in significantly better outcomes for most people than less costly and less disruptive options, then it should be implemented.

Despite everything above, this is still the view I hold.

All of the four articles linked above have one key flaw. They assert mortality rates in some cases more than an order of magnitude lower than the figure for known cases so far. They do this on the assumption that for every one case that has been diagnosed, there are ten or more which have not been. But this is simply a guess, with modelling based on that guess. Just as it is not good enough for people in favour of a complete shutdown simply to assert that a shutdown is required and expect national leaders to fall in line, it is not good enough for researchers with a different view to ask leaders to base life and death policy suggestions on guesses with no discernible basis in reality.

There are no answers. We are in for a long, depressing haul no matter who is right, and no matter which course is decided upon. The best we can do is listen, put our views as clearly and with as much evidence as we can, and be respectful, caring and supportive of people around us, including our leaders.

ITP, Parkinsons, Levodopa

A friend in her late fifties developed Parkinson’s type symptoms; bradykinesia, rest tremor, forward falls, speech difficulties, some twelve months ago. The disease progressed rapidly to the point she is no longer able to work. Difficulties in accessing good neurological services mean that she has not yet had a full diagnostic review.

Her GP prescribed Levodopa, which even though it has been in use for forty years is still the treatment of choice for Parkinson’s. A positive response to Levodopa was supportive of the diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

She had a splenectomy in her early teens as a treatment for ITP (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), and had been symptom-free since that time. Shortly after commencing Levodopa, she began to notice a recurrence of symptoms of thrombocytopenia including spontaneous skin bruises and petechiae.

There have been multiple reports of the spontaneous development of thrombocytopenia in patients treated with Levodopa, but these have not been common, and tend to occur after an extended period of treatment.

As at June 2019, no research has been conducted on the possibility of increased risk of recurrence of thrombocytopenia symptoms for patients with ITP following treatment with Levodopa.

Thrombocytopenia is not trivial. Although symptoms are most commonly spontaneous bruising and petechiae, there is also increased risk of internal bleeding and cerebral haemorrhage.

Pending research, practitioners treating patients with Parkinson who have a history of ITP should consult with a haematologist prior to prescribing Levodopa. If Levodopa is appropriate, they may wish to consider prescribing in conjunction with Prednisone to reduce the risk of recurrence of symptoms of thrombocytopenia.

Keywords: ITP, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, thrombocytopenia, parkinsons, parkinson’s, levodopa, prednisone, levadopa, dopamine, dopamine agonists


Every Day in Every Way …

“Every day in every way, I am getting better and better” was the catch-phrase of Émile Coué, French psychologist and pharmacist, who believed people could be healed and their lives improved through the power of aut0-suggestion.

His theories have long since fallen out of favour. But what is true is that every day, in almost every way, the world is getting better and better; cleaner, safer, healthier, happier.

The driving forces behind this change have been free trade, rule of law and secure property rights.

It is interesting how much of this progress towards a cleaner, safer, healthier, fairer world has been accomplished by three types of industry; pharmaceuticals, oil, and agri-science. Yet, those are the three types of companies the luvvies love to hate.

Free trade, rule of law and secure property rights are a recipe for a better world.

Free trade, rule of law and secure property rights are a recipe for a better world.

Cheap energy and science help too!

Cheap energy and science help too!

Almost half of Australians are being conned into taking supplements, vitamins

Conned is the right word. If you are wasting money on vitamins or supplements, just stop it. Unless recommended by a doctor for a specific condition or deficiency, they are not doing you any good, and may be doing you harm.

Vitamins and supplements are a massive scam

Vitamins and supplements are a massive scam

From New Daily:

“The billions of dollars almost half of Australians are now spending on vitamin supplements may as well be flushed down the toilet, as experts warn there is little evidence they have any health benefits.

About 43 per cent of Australians are taking supplements, new research by Roy Morgan found – the most popular brands being Nature’s Own, Swisse, Blackmores, Berocca and Cenovis.

Some of the current trends include vitamin D, fish oil, vitamin C and multivitamins.

But nutritional epidemiology expert Dr Amanda Patterson, of the University of Newcastle, said consumers are being “ripped off”.

“We have very expensive urine,” she told The New Daily, a reference to supplements passing straight through the body.

The complementary medicine industry in Australia generated $4.7 billion in revenue in 2016 and it’s growing.”

Doctors Remove 132 Pound Ovarian Tumour

A 132-pound ovarian tumor was removed from a 38-year-old Connecticut woman this year, according to two doctors involved in the case.

The patient, who wished to remain anonymous, reported that the tumor began growing at a rate of about 10 pounds per week in November. A medical team, including 12 surgeons, removed it in a five-hour procedure February 14 at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut, according to Dr. Vaagn Andikyan, a gynecologic oncologist for Western Connecticut Health Network and a lead surgeon on the case.

Surgeons remove 132lb tumor

Surgeons remove 132lb tumor

How terrifying to feel something growing inside you at 10 pounds every week. Thank God for science and modern medicine.

No, Orange Juice Does Not Cause Cancer

Scary headlines claiming orange juice causes cancer still float around the internet, even though the authors of a 2015 study themselves said their findings were not conclusive.

“Grapefruit and orange juices are breakfast staples for many of us. But consuming these in large amounts may be putting us at higher risk of melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – according to a new study.

… Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the study found people who consumed high amounts of whole grapefruit or orange juice were over a third more likely to develop melanoma, compared with those who consumed low amounts.”

Orange juice causes skin cancer? Probably not.

Orange juice causes skin cancer? Probably not.

Well, maybe. But as I have pointed out before, correlation does not prove causation.

“Though Dr. Wu and colleagues did not investigate the mechanisms underlying the association between citrus fruit consumption and melanoma risk, they speculate that it may be because the fruits are rich in psoralens and furocoumarins, which are believed to make the skin more sensitive to the sun.” So, just guessing, then.

Let’s suggest another, simpler, possibility. More citrus juices are consumed in places where more citrus is grown. Citrus fruit is almost entirely grown in warmer climates with lots of sunshine. Exposure to sunlight is the predominant cause of melanoma.

I think William of Ockham would prefer my theory.


James Randi and Homeopathy

Need a dose of common-sense? Watch this. Even if you have seen it before, it is worth another look.

Also, homeopathy is stupid. So is naturopathy. So is chiropractic. None of these have any basis in science or reality. None of them work. Don’t waste your money.

Vaccines, Anti-vaxxers and Faulty Reasoning

My chiropractor told me I don’t have the gene for autism, so it must have been caused by something else, probably vaccines.

I blame hair conditioner. Widespread use of hair conditioner began in the seventies, shortly before the alarming rise in diagnoses of autism. Well, what do you expect, rubbing chemicals into your head? Even now, places where hair conditioner is not used have a far lower reported incidence of autism. The more hair conditioner a population uses, the higher the rate of autism diagnosis in that community.

Well, no. I don’t really think autism is caused by hair conditioner, though that correlation does exist.

This is the kind of argument frequently used by anti-vaccination campaigners; this happened, then that happened, so this must have caused that. My child was vaccinated, then I noticed his ears turning purple. That had never happened before. Big pharma is trying to poison us!

This kind of faulty reasoning is so old and so common it has a name; post hoc ergo propter hoc. After this therefore because of this. The ancient Greeks and Romans knew this did not necessarily follow over two thousand years ago.

But  anti-vaxxers still manage to fool some people, potentially endangering themselves, their children, and others.

A couple of years ago in a doctors office in Perth, a nurse was drawing down a vaccine to administer to a four year old girl. The child began having convulsions while she was waiting with her mother. If her convulsions had started just a few minutes later, medical staff would never have been able to convince her parents they were not caused by the vaccine.

Just because something happens after something else does not mean the first thing caused the second.

Multivitamins and Supplements

For almost everyone, multivitamins and supplements are not necessary, do not work, and are probably harmful.

Taking vitamin A dramatically increases the risk of developing lung cancer in smokers.

Excess intake of vitamin E increases mortality (in other words, you are likely to die sooner), increases rates of heart failure, and significantly increases the risk of prostate cancer.

Taking calcium supplements actually increases the risk of suffering a hip fracture, as well as increasing the risk of death from cardio-vascular disease.

Taking anti-oxidants increases your risk of getting colon cancer.

If you are pregnant, a dark-skinned person who lives in a cold or dark environment, a diabetic who takes metformin, or if you have been on high dose of a proton pump inhibitor for more than a year, you should talk to you doctor (a real medical doctor, not a scammer like a chiropractor or naturopath), who will check, and if necessary advise about possible short term supplementation.

For everyone else, unless you have been diagnosed with a specific deficiency, vitamins and supplements are more likely to harm you than do you good. And yet people in the USA spend more than $32 billion per year on them.

Aflie Evans, Alder Hey Hospital, and Socialised Medicine

“Britain’s Court of Appeal on Wednesday rejected a new bid by the parents of terminally ill toddler Alfie Evans to take him to Italy and continue his life support against the wishes of his doctors and judges.

Doctors say the 23-month-old boy suffers from a degenerative neurological condition that has left him in a “semi-vegetative state” with almost no brain function. Medics caring for him at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool have said further treatment is futile, and the toddler’s life support was withdrawn Monday after a series of court rulings sided with the doctors and blocked further medical treatment.

Alfie’s parents continued their fight to take him to Italy to be cared for at the Vatican’s children’s hospital, which has said it is willing to take him.

High Court Justice Anthony Hayden dismissed the parents’ case on Tuesday, and said his ruling represented “the final chapter in the life of this extraordinary little boy.” From the US ABC.

Alfie Evans nursed by his mother Kate James at Alder Hey Hospital

Alfie Evans nursed by his mother Kate James at Alder Hey Hospital

People are upset. They are right to be. It is one thing for a hospital to decide it can no longer care for a dying patient. Resources are limited, and bed space, medication, nursing time and other resources which are given to one patient cannot be made available to others, who may be in greater need, or who in the opinion of medical staff have a greater chance of recovery.

It is another thing entirely to use the force of the law to prevent loving parents from taking Alfie to another hospital where treatment is being offered.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Diabetes.

If you are vitamin D deficient, you are up to five times more likely to develop diabetes.

“People deficient in vitamin D might have a greater risk of developing diabetes, report researchers in a new study.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Seoul National University studied 903 healthy adults without pre-diabetes or diabetes during clinic visits from 1997 to 1999, and followed up with them for 10 years, to study their levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin and their medical condition. Their findings were published this week in PLOS One.”

Moderate sunlight and increased intake of foods containing vitamin D will be enough for most people. If you live in a cold part of the world or are dark skinned, you may also need supplementation.

If you are in doubt, especially if you are over forty or pregnant, check with your doctor. A real medical doctor, not some unqualified “health professional.”

« Older posts

© 2024 Qohel