Below the text of a letter sent by email on June 16 to various members of the Irish HSE’s expert group on the decision to not recommend oral ivermectin or any other antiviral treatments in the context of the current COVID situation
Dear members of the COVID-19 EAG,
I read with some alarm the 5 February advice issued by HIQA concerning the use of interventions to prevent the progression of severe COVID-19 in an ambulatory setting.
The document appears to include information which is either not correct, incomplete, or has since lost topicality and therefore is in need of urgent update:
‘Very low certainty’ evidence was identified from a further two studies (both published as preprints) of two interventions: ivermectin plus doxycycline and sulodexide. Serious concerns were raised with regard to the high risk of bias, small sample sizes and short durations of follow-up within the trials. As such, results from these studies should not be used to inform decision-making with Advice to the National Public Health Emergency Team: Interventions in an ambulatory setting to prevent progression to severe disease in patients with COVID-19 Health Information and Quality Authority Page 11 of 16 respect to effectiveness. Neither study was considered applicable to the Irish healthcare setting due to differences in usual care provided in the trials.” (Pages 10-11)
as well as:
“The EAG agreed that there is currently no evidence of benefit associated with the treatments considered within the present review and there is insufficient information on whether any of these may be safely used in the treatment of Advice to the National Public Health Emergency Team: Interventions in an ambulatory setting to prevent progression to severe disease in patients with COVID-19 Health Information and Quality Authority Page 12 of 16 COVID-19. Furthermore, some of the interventions investigated within the trials would not be considered applicable to the Irish setting due to differences in the standard of care and or on the basis of safety concerns.” (page 11-12)
Regarding safety concerns, I am sure you are all well aware of the fact that ivermectin, when administered in appropriate doses, has a safety track-record spanning many decades.
Concerning efficacy, note that the American Journal of Therapeutics has published, in May 2021, a “Review of the Emerging Evidence Demonstrating the Efficacy of Ivermectin in the Prophylaxis and Treatment of COVID-19” (Kory et al, 2021), which concludes that:
“Meta-analyses based on 18 randomized controlled treatment trials of ivermectin in COVID-19 have found large, statistically significant reductions in mortality, time to clinical recovery, and time to viral clearance. Furthermore, results from numerous controlled prophylaxis trials report significantly reduced risks of contracting COVID-19 with the regular use of ivermectin. Finally, the many examples of ivermectin distribution campaigns leading to rapid population-wide decreases in morbidity and mortality indicate that an oral agent effective in all phases of COVID-19 has been identified.“
This conclusion is echoed by Bryant et al*, still in pre-print, but expected to pass peer review in the coming days.
I would urge you to consider, as a matter of priority, updating your advice, taking into account the wider range of RCTs available, as well as the meta-analysis results published by the AJT. Furthermore, given the fast-moving nature of the pandemic, I would further urge you to be more flexible regarding your position on dismissing non-peer-reviewed evidence on this topic, even if this requires a more ‘hands-on’ approach to evaluating the evidence in question, in order to ensure academic rigour.
At the risk of sounding trite, lives may well depend on it.
Is mise le meas,
* Bryant, Andrew & Lawrie, Theresa & Dowswell, Therese & Fordham, Edmund & Scott, Mitchell & Hill, Sarah & Tham, Tony. (2021). Ivermectin for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 infection: a systematic review, meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis to inform clinical guidelines.
1) Masks don’t work. Not a single RCT study has shown positive effects of mask mandates in the community setting.
2) Lockdowns don’t work (very well). When factors like demographics and pop density are taken into account, they maybe shaved 10% off the curve. Maybe.
3) The Infection Fatality Rate is low – 0.03% even without using any effective treatments. Anyone under 70 faces a risk from COVID lower than from the flu. For young adults and children the risk is miniscule. Over 70s face higher and risking risks (but that’s true for lots of things).
4) There isn’t much evidence of asymptomatic transmission. So if you’re not sick, you don’t need to change your behaviour at all. There’s really no evidence you could harm others.
5) Vaccines appear to provide protection against symptomatic infection, but they have some short-term negative side effects. Spike proteins escape into the vascular system and can cause blood clots, or concentrate in the ovaries of women. While these cases are rare, their likelihood is higher among younger vaccine recipients. Women face a higher risk of negative side effects than men.
6) Longer-term effects of the (mRNA) vaccines are unknown. They may include fertility effects, damage to brain tissue or other unknown effects. Fetuses may be negatively impacted in cases where spike protein escapes into ovaries or is passed through the umbilical chord.
7) The best evidence suggests immuno-protection afforded by previous infection is likely to be lifelong. So if you’ve had COVID, there is little reason for you to wear a mask, get vaccinated or behave in any way other than normal.
8) There exists at least one off-patent, readily available, and safe drug for prophalaxis and treatment of COVID, which obtains results close to, if not at par with, those of the experimental mRNA vaccines. It is called Ivermectin. Those familiar with the wealth of extant data are convinced that if it were prescribed en masse tomorrow, the pandemic, such as it is, would be over in a month.
There was a time when it was possible, through intellectual curiosity and persistent application, for a thinking individual to climb from the ground of primitive understanding, up to the pinnacle of human knowledge – in almost any discipline. Someone like Gauss, for example, was a curious child who received little more than a rudimentary education in mathematics, yet managed to make an indelible mark on the discipline. The same is true of Darwin, Keynes, Freud, Turing – the list is almost endless.
Such would simply not be possible today. In order to make an advancement, one must start from a relatively lofty position, taking for granted knowledge without having explored it from its fundaments.
Those unable to obtain that lofty position are effectively locked out of pursuit of this higher knowledge. I have no idea how to design a circuit board or build a semiconductor, and it would be impossible for me to figure such a thing out. Unless I am given and take for granted the assumed wisdom of those who have come before, I cannot make any notable contribution in that field.
I could start, of course, from scratch. But the futility of the pursuit would soon become clear to me. My lifelong endeavour would have less computing power than a toddler’s wind-up toy.
This basic truth drives a deep disconnect between the technology and knowledge we use, and our sense of ownership over it. It is one of the factors, I believe, which explains how we have become so enthralled to the technology which controls us.
We cannot climb onto the shoulders of giants, so we kneel down and worship their heels instead.
When ancient man gazed up into the stars, he saw before him a wondrous display. But his curious mind could not quite accept that this pattern could be nothing more than randomness. He sought order, and therefore picked out constellations – Orion’s belt, the big dipper, the little dipper…all having only the most tenuous links to the images he felt they must … must … represent.
This, it seems, is innate to us. When confronted with something that is at once overwhelming and apparently lacking in order, our brains attempt, by whatever means, to make order out of it. Let’s call it ‘spurious pattern recognition’.
In our time, the temptation is great to want to find such a pattern in what has befallen our civilisation in recent months. Is there, after all, a smoky backroom table, around which Gates, Soros, Page and Zuckerberg are plotting the Great Reset, in meticulous detail? (We imagine Dorsey is there too, but a little doped out and only vaguely aware of the overall evil plot).
It certainly would explain a lot – from the ridiculous overreactions that were lockdown, to the silly face diapers we must still all wear, to the steamrolling of an experimental vaccine, in the teeth of an antiviral treatment that is safer and just as effective (Ivermectin).
But we cannot dismiss the possibility that there is, after all, no great agenda. Vaccines will not achieve mass population control. Governments are short-termist and basically not that competent, while Big Tech is really nothing more than a gangly teenager with a sledge hammer, some fireworks and a bottle of whiskey stolen from dad’s liquor cabinet.
Maybe we can put away our tin foil hats this time. Maybe everything’s just a mess.
You can’t define a peaceful frame of mind
In terms of states observable.
But if you could, you might try this:
A grassy slope, yourself reclined
A summer crop of people ripened right behind.
On one cheek the heat of evening sunshine
Still burns hard
On the other whips a chill nocturnal breeze –
You are the evening.
Your face is twilight.
Your nose the border between the Republic of Day
And the Kingdom of Nightfall.
The very air inhaled must show its passport
To move from glaring colour’s bloom
Into the comfort promised to the night’s caccoon.
I have always wondered at the impossibilty of atheism. To deny God, is to deny dogma itself. It is to be fool enough to consider that rational thought is sufficient to make sense of the universe.
A moment’s reflection suffices to reveal that this assertion is patently absurd. Without a dogmatic framework upon which to operate, no observations can have any meaning – even to trust in the reality of one’s own eyes or ears depends on an axiom. Likewise, in a world of infinite observations, no scientific method can prevent the formulation of a biased hypothesis. Infinite hypotheses would, in such a Godless world, result in an infinite scatterplot of results, but would bring us no closer to understanding truth.
Of course, even the most ardent self-proclaimed atheists are nothing of the sort. They do cling to dogma, and therefore have a conception of God. What it lacks is a codification – and therein lies the ultimate danger.
For despite the preaching of that famous evangelist Marx, religion is not the opiate of the masses. Rather, it is the conductor, who attempts to turn cacophany into harmony.
In 2020, we have seen what happens when the conductor is bludgeoned and left a cripple. Like Nietzsche’s madman who lit the lantern in broad daylight, we err through the streets, chanting Black Lives Matter, habited in our face masks, fearing COVID and self-flagellating our soft, white backs. Searching for God without even realising that is our purpose.
It is not without great symbolic significance that the churches, almost to a one, closed their doors, denying spiritual comfort, out of fear for their earthly flesh. Christ must surely weep for us, for His religion is dead to us.
And after finally gaining admittance, the madman asks: “What after all are these churches now, if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”
A knave by any other name…
One of the worst things you can be called nowadays is a ‘conspiracy theorist’. It is right up there with ‘anti-vaxxer’, ‘COVID denier’ and ‘Trumper’ as a dysphemism with the weight of mainstream, neo-liberal social condemnation behind it. Very few of those who wield it as a ball-and-chain in the melee of internet comment battles ever stop to consider what the two words in the compound actually mean.
To ‘conspire’ is for two or more parties to agree in secret a course of negative action. ‘Theory’ is a much abused word in common parlance. As Brett Weinstein has been at pains to point out over at the Darkhorse Podcast, in the scientific sense a ‘theory’ is a well-substantiated explanation of a phenomenon, which fits together laws, hypothesis and observational data.
A Wuhan conspiracy? Or just people breathing at the same time?
So when those advancing the Lab Leak Hypothesis concerning the origins of COVID were branded conspiracy theorists, the branders were unwittingly using doublespeak. Because in fact no collective secret agreement was needed to conceal the mistake that is hypothesised to have occured at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in late 2019 – a simple denial on the part of those involved will suffice, combined with an unwillingness to allow any meaningful investigation. Nor does the hypothesis in any way hinge on leading virologists like Peter Daszak from EcoHealth Alliance sitting in a smoky back room with President Xi and Tony Fauci. He might simply pursue naked self-interest in aligning himself with the statements of the Chinese Communist Party. And likewise, the media who skillfully ignored the leads that were publicly available last year needn’t have been party to any conspiracy; their distaste for Donald Trump was enough for them to shy away. Since no one has a positive motive to admit the truth, there is little need to assume they would agree to withhold or suppress it.
Nor is the hypothesis necessarily worthy of earning the title ‘theory’, as it lacks the weight of rigorous testing to which hypotheses should be subjected.
Are so! Am not! Are so! AM NOT! ARE SO!…
But none of that matters, because the term ‘conspiracy theory’ has assumed a meaning distinct from the sum of its parts. It now merely infers, ‘a statement or line of reasoning that is out of step with orthodox views, and which is therefore worthy of public derision, and association with which should cause a loss of credibility for its proponents, advocates or even elucidators.
Like its siblings in the medical and political spheres, the conspiracy theory label does much damage to our ability to understand and find positive solutions to important problems. Those unjustly branded with this label are shoved further away from the centre, making consensus more difficult. And the fact-free, lebel-heavy nature of such accusations is at best lazy, at worst feeds a cycle of ad hominom attacks and ego battles. Reason emerges as the big loser.
Content warning: this section has been fact-checked by Facebook’s independent shareholders and found to pose risks to Facebook’s share value
All this is a preamble to address an example of just such a ‘conspiracy theory’; one which has received surprisingly little air time, even among those whose natural scepticism earns them the collective designation ‘tin foil hat brigade’.
I am referring to the role Big Tech has played in steering the political discourse. Anyone paying attention cannot be ignorant of the considerable power these tech monopolies now have over virtually every aspect of our lives. Many on the neo-liberal centre left didn’t blink when, in the wake of controversial election results in January, Jack Dorsey used his editorial control of Twitter to silence the democratically elected leader of the Free World. They barely raised an eyebrow when, shortly thereafter, Jeff Bezos used his control of servers to shut down Parler, effectively silencing half the political voices in the US. Because, well, Orange Man Bad.
Yet they ought to have been concerned. You don’t need to be an exceptional scholar of the history of tyranny to appreciate that when that kind of power exists, it will not exclusively be used against your political foes. And so there was somewhat more of a collective gasp when, a little later, Facebook acted to effectively shut down the virtual lives of millions of Australians, when that country dared try and enforce the intellectual property of its free press.
But few have wondered about the role Big Tech is so evidently playing in this ongoing pandemic response. No one seems to ask how it is that, barely 16 months ago, no country in the world would have considered lockdowns as any legitimate pandemic response, yet the media and social media were virtually unanimous in supporting these measures. No one wonders why Alex Berenson’s pamphlets which make this very point and others were banned from Amazon, saved only by a personal intervention on the part of Elon Musk. No one queries how numerous YouTubers, from Iver Cummins to Freddie Sayers to TalkRadio have faced content removel, shadow banning and demonitisation, all for the crime of daring to engage in public debate on the most important and unprecedented policy change of the Century, and at a time when it was literally illegal for us to have such discussions in person.
Q: Qui bono? A: Page, Gates, Zuckerschmuck, Dorsey, Bezos…especially Bezos
This lack of questioning is all the more surprising when you consider the obvious motives these companies have in promoting as much panic and overreaction to COVID as possible. By closing coffee shops, people take to Twitter and Facebook to stay in touch, with Google running everywhere in the background. For this they need computers, sold to them by Gates. And by shuttering physical stores, more people shop on Amazon, and Bezos pulls ahead of Musk in the race to be the world’s billioniest billionaire.
But don’t take my word for it. Just look at what happened to the share value of all these publicly traded companies in the wake of the pandemic. Without exception, they profited massively. And likewise, as things have threatened to return to normal, share values begin settling down again. Then suddenly: second wave, third wave, UK variant, South African variant, Indian variant, limited natural immunity, vaccinate yet wear masks forever…
Of course, this is a crazy ‘conspiracy theory’. But my point is that no conspiracy is actually needed. In fact, given these publicly traded companies have no legal duty to tell ‘truth’, yet do have a fiduciary duty to maximise shareholder value, you could easily argue it would be illegal for them to not downplay content that tends to reduce lockdowns and encourage people back into the physical world. Evil? Perhaps. But that’s business. And with business decisions increasingly being taken by AI, it’s not even clear that an unscrupulous human being is required to achieve that outcome. Skynet could be doing it all on its own.
When all is said and done, very little is being said and nothing is being done
What is most worrying is the relative lack of meaningful post mortem. On any of it. By which I mean: On face masks. On lockdowns. On border closures. On the media’s role. On Big Tech’s role, and how policy decisions are arrived at. On the role of Big Pharma. On the origins of the virus. On the role of the WHO. On the role of Anthony Fauci and other ‘medical and scientific experts’, and how consensus is reached within their hierarchies. On the side effects of mRNA vaccines. On why large-scale clinical trials were not ordered in April 2020, (or October 2020, January 2021…or even today) on ivermectin, given its safety and the clear evidence it might be an effective, if not ‘pandemic ending’ treatment.
At this stage, these questions are becoming increasinly academic in nature. But it is nevertheless important that we answer them, and make a concerted effort to address the weaknesses that have allowed a relatively mild pandemic to do so much damage to our societies, our economies and our well-being.
But there is still time to ask the right questions
As a start, I would suggest we need to consider the harms of informational monopolies in terms that go beyond classical market failure (consumer prices) and take into account societal harm and harm to our democracies. We need to take a hard look at how our institutions – academia and the medical establishment – perform in light of funding, hierarchy and the process of peer review. We need to look at how media voices create and sustain particular narratives, including the role of corporate control and ownership in mainstream media channels.
Oh, and we need to consider how the Chinese Communist Party is using its high degree of centralised power to achieve favourable political and market outcomes outside its own borders.
I am writing to you once again in English. You are a little older now, and I know you are going to be learning English in school, so reading my letters can perhaps help you.
English is a great language. It is very useful, because you can travel to many, many places and speak it to many different people around the world.
It is also a beautiful language, with many very good books, songs and poems that you can learn to read, when you get a little older. As you might know, I am a writer, and I always write in English. I hope one day I can help you improve your English.
Your little sister Daphne speaks very good English, of course. But because she is still very little (only 4) she sometimes mixes in French with her English. For example, she sometimes says, “I want a fruit, me.” Which is translated from the French “Je veux un fruit, moi.” (In English you should say, ‘I would like a piece of fruit.’)
Anyway, the sunshine is (finally) here. I hope you enjoy getting outside and make the most of it.
As always, I am thinking fondly of you.
It so often happens that I read 19th Century fiction and marvel at how much better the writers of the day were at controlling the mechanics of their craft. Characters are richer, the vocabulary is wielded with greater ease and the plots flow with the confidence of certain conclusion. Is it the Great Filter of History in action? Or is it simply that our ancestors spent more time reading and writing than we do, therefore became better at it?
Whatever the reason, Andre Gide’s “Straight is the Gate”, a masterful novella, is further evidence that older is sometimes better. Even in translation, it easily surpasses most, if not all, of the digitally processed fast food that streams across the cyberbookshops of the digital age. And as is often the case, it does so without the aid of gimmickry: no bodies on page two, and a simplicity of narrative style (first person, referencing the letters of a second person) at which most modern writers would balk – I am including myself here.
The story is nonetheless interesting, in the very complexity of its eventlessness. A young couple, in love, yet unable to come together as a result of twisted piety and self-imposed restraint; one which belies a deeper psychological illness. I have often reflected how the current state of COVID-hysteria has a religious dimension to it, and in reading ‘Straight is the Gate’, I found eerie parallels. The female protagonist, Alissa, uses her religion as a cloak for her mental illness, in the same way our mentally ill society is using COVID as an excuse to collapse into itself.
Great novels may yet be written about our time, which explore a similar theme – how COVID is being used by the mask-wearing masses to shield themselves against the emotional void created by this godless, consumerist society in which they feel so lost. I just hope that, buried in the ashheap of digital junkies, there are enough real writers out there with the craft to do such a theme justice.