Science Under Duress
Science, or at least the scientific process, is being compromised. I think of it as science under duress.
I was chatting with a relative of mine recently. Let’s call him Sean. We were discussing science and the response to Covid. He is rational, reasoned and measured in what he does and is a great supporter of science, as far as I can see. That’s why I was surprised when Sean told me he and his two children (the eldest just into secondary school) are all, “fully vaccinated and boosted.” I expressed my surprise and this was his response:
“These days, when an issue comes up, whatever it is, I look to two things. I try and understand what the current scientific consensus is and why. And I try to understand what the experts in their fields are recommending and why. So that being the case, I think the scientific consensus is (and I know individual scientists may disagree) that the COVID vaccines are mostly safe and helpful (any medical intervention has risks) and that there needed to be some sort of societal response to COVID.”
Well, I certainly agree that there needed to be a societal response.
The Societal Response To Covid Was Not Scientific
The societal response in many countries around the world was very similar, powered by governments, pharmaceutical companies and health agencies, driven by the mainstream media. A specific message was vigorously promoted, mandates and coercion applied, opposing views denigrated, sanctioned and censored.
That’s not the societal response I envisaged. It in no way resembled a scientific response.
There Is A Problem With Scientific Consensus
The problem with scientific consensus is that the general populace accepts it as the final word. As John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel in the US said, “Science is not about consensus. Science isn’t a vote. Science is about facts.”
This is why double-blind, randomized controlled trials (RCT’s) are considered to be the gold standard in scientific analysis. They are intended to remove bias in generating data, allowing for the most accurate presentation of information. Bias, however, has a way of creeping in. No-one is really sure how; it just does. (And that is why peer-reviewing carries weight. It is supposed to help ensure that a study’s results are ridgy-didge, dinky-di, above board and valid. The real deal.)
For a broader perspective on scientific consensus, read Why Politicized Science Is Dangerous
Are Covid Vaccines Are Mostly Safe And Helpful?
Regardless of the societal response, is it true that the scientific consensus is that Covid vaccines are mostly safe and helpful? To be fair, I don’t really know how to measure scientific consensus on this matter. If one accepts “majority of opinion,” or “general agreement” as definitions of consensus, then one could argue that there is scientific consensus that the covid jabs are mostly safe and helpful, as in the past, there were few who dissented. However, since dissenting views are sanctioned and censored, that is hardly surprising.
Since many of those who held and wanted to express dissenting views were not being listened to or heard in mainstream broadcasting, they had to express those views on social media platforms. These platforms subsequently censored those views. As a result, alternative social platforms such as Telegram and Rumble had to be used. Although the use of these platforms is increasing, they do not have the exposure provided by those more established.
“Only totalitarian States need upload filters”
Lack Of Dissent Is Not Agreement
One also needs to appreciate that lack of dissent is not agreement. When there are directions, instructions and orders to not express dissenting views – as a condition of employment or with threat of sanctions and de-licensing – it is not surprising that the silence is deafening. But that does not mean that those silent people agree with the official narrative.
There is a very high level of dissent from the official narrative on alternative media. Here, the scientific consensus is that covid jabs are decidedly not mostly safe and helpful. But are these just a noisy minority? No.
Rome Declaration And The Great Barrington Declaration
A global covid summit was held in Rome in September of 2021, where a Physicians Declaration calling to end mass covid vaccinations (and many other resolutions) was signed by a significant number of doctors and scientists. As of 8th October, 2021, there were more than 11,400 signatories. (Ref 1)
The Great Barrington Declaration was created by infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists concerned about covid-19 policies. This has more than 929,000 signatories, comprising 867, 000 concerned citizens, 15,800 medical and public health scientists, and 47,000 medical practitioners. And counting. (Ref 2)
That’s a lot of individual scientists, Sean.
Sean likes the work of the Cochrane Institute, whose goal, he describes, is to work out what works. Looking at their website, it inspires confidence immediately. “Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health.” (Ref 3)
Cochrane Institute’s Prize-Winning Review
On their home page they announce themselves as joint winners of the Harding Prize for Useful and Trustworthy Information. “The Harding Prize recognizes Cochrane’s communication of information in a trustworthy and useful way – specifically recognizing the Cochrane Review of Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19”
I had to take a look at that. (Ref 4)
The objectives of the review were:
To evaluate the effects of chloroquine (CQ) or hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for
1) treating people with COVID‐19 on death and time to clearance of the virus;
2) preventing infection in people at risk of SARS‐CoV‐2 exposure;
3) preventing infection in people exposed to SARS‐CoV‐2.
Their search methods were:
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, Embase, Current Controlled Trials (www.controlled‐trials.com), and the COVID‐19‐specific resources www.covid‐nma.com and covid‐19.cochrane.org, for studies of any publication status and in any language. We performed all searches up to 15 September 2020. We contacted researchers to identify unpublished and ongoing studies.
We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) testing chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in people with COVID‐19, people at risk of COVID‐19 exposure, and people exposed to COVID‐19.
That all seems pretty good. It went on to list the main results. The conclusions were:
“HCQ for people infected with COVID‐19 has little or no effect on the risk of death and probably no effect on progression to mechanical ventilation. These results make it less likely that the drug is effective in protecting people from infection, although this is not excluded entirely.”
To me, this conclusion was a surprise. Until I looked at the details in the main results.
The main results were:
1) Treatment of COVID‐19 disease;
We included 12 trials involving 8569 participants, all of whom were adults. Studies were from China (4); Brazil, Egypt, Iran, Spain, Taiwan, the UK, and North America (each 1 study); and a global study in 30 countries (1 study). Nine were in hospitalized patients, and three from ambulatory care.
2) Preventing COVID‐19 disease in people at risk of exposure to SARS‐CoV‐2;
Ongoing trials are yet to report results for this objective
3) Preventing COVID‐19 disease in people who have been exposed to SARS‐CoV‐2;
One trial (821 participants) compared HCQ with placebo as a prophylactic agent in the USA (around 90% of participants) and Canada. We are very uncertain about the effect of HCQ on the primary outcomes, for which few events were reported
One cluster‐randomized trial (2525 participants) compared HCQ with standard care for the prevention of COVID‐19 in people with a history of exposure to SARS‐CoV‐2 in Spain. Most participants were working or residing in nursing homes
While I accept the results of the review of the studies, I question the objectives, the studies and their searches.
The second main objective could not be evaluated as the trials they looked at had no results for this objective. Few events were reported for the third main objective, leaving them understandably “very uncertain.”
If I am reading this review correctly, their searches returned;
- 12 trials involving 8,569 participants that looked at treating people with COVID‐19 on death and time to clearance of the virus, and;
- 2 trials involving 3,346 participants that looked at preventing COVID‐19 disease in people who have been exposed to SARS‐CoV‐2.
There Are Abundant Peer-Reviewed Hydroxychloroquine Studies
There are more than 400 HCQ Covid-19 studies, over 300 of which are peer reviewed. They involve more than 458,000 patients. Conveniently, many can be found in one place. (Ref 5) Yet the Cochrane institute found only 14.
Should you look at that reference, you will read that “HCQ is not effective when used very late with high dosages over a long period (RECOVERY/SOLIDARITY), effectiveness improves with earlier usage and improved dosing. Early treatment consistently shows positive effects. Negative evaluations typically ignore treatment time, often focusing on a subset of late-stage studies.”
Waiting until hospitalised is “late-stage.” Of the 12 trials the Cochrane report looked at for treating people with COVID‐19 on death and time to clearance of the virus, 9 involved hospitalised patients.
Also problematic in the Cochrane review was the nature of the trials they looked at. Only 3 out of the 14 trials they selected were double-blind. The remainder were open label. This means that both the trial participants and the researchers were aware what treatment was being administered. This is well known to lead to bias in the results and is the reason double-blind trials – where neither the participants nor the researchers know what treatment is being administered – are conducted.
Does Funding Undermine Independence?
One can only speculate why the Cochrane Institute looked at a mere 14 studies – only 3 of those being double-blind – when so many more are readily available. (The searches were only conducted up to mid-September, 2020 and the review published in February, 2021.)
Is the Cochrane Institute aware that HCQ/CQ has been officially adopted for early treatment in all or part of 35 countries? (52 countries, including non-government medical organizations) Has the Cochrane Institute been compromised in this instance? I don’t know. I hope not. Yet the question of reviewing limited studies using narrow frames of reference remains.
The Institute’s website is at pains to point out its independence and transparency. In doing so, they thank the support of its funders and partners.
“Cochrane works collaboratively with partners and funders to produce and disseminate authoritative, relevant, and reliable health evidence.”
These funders include government health departments, including the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, Germany’s Ministry of Health and USA’s NIH (National Institutes of Health)
These are the same government departments that have driven the Covid-19 narrative – along with mandates, coercion and moving goalposts – from the start of the pandemic.
THE REPORT’S AUTHORS RECEIVED PERSONAL FEES FROM PFIZER, ASTRA-ZENECA AND JANSSEN
First Impressions Count. Even If They’re Wrong
Reputation counts for a lot for many people. If something appears in a reputable medical journal or newspaper, it is rarely questioned by the public. And first impressions stay with us. We need to be more critical. The Cochrane Institute’s desire for independence and transparency is laudable. Sadly, independence and transparency are broadly compromised in scientific papers – including RCT’s – many of which are commissioned by organisations with a specific agenda. Producing a finding which is against your sponsor’s interests is a sure way to get your research funding cut.
The Lancet published a report on Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19. The background to the report claimed “they were being widely used as a treatment for Covid-19, despite no conclusive evidence of their benefit.”
Dr. Sapan Desai
Prof. Frank Ruschitzka
Prof. Mandeep Mehra
The report had four authors.
- One of the authors, Sapan Desai, MD, was a co-founder of Surgisphere, who provided acquisition of data and statistical analysis.
- Another was Professor Frank Ruschitzka, MD, who reports no personal payments in relation to these trials. However, prior to 2018, he reports personal fees from a range of organizations, including Roche, Bayer, Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer.
- A third author was Professor Mandeep Mehra, MD. He reports personal fees from other organizations as well, including Bayer and Janssen (who produce the J&J vaccine).
The Lancet report claiming no evidence was widely broadcast.
The retraction; not so much.
Following publication of the report – not peer-reviewed – several concerns were raised about the veracity of the data and the analyses by Surgisphere. The Lancet launched an independent third-party peer review. However, Surgisphere would not provide the full dataset or the full ISO audit report, claiming it would breach client agreements and confidentiality requirements.
In other words, we’re going to write a report, but not provide you with the information to be able to verify its findings. Confidential science.
The Lancet reviewers were not able to conduct an independent peer review and withdrew from the process. The Lancet subsequently retracted the report, but the damage had been done. (Ref 6) The Lancet report claiming no evidence for HCQ or CQ was widely broadcast in mainstream media. The retraction; not so much.
Funding For Trials
One might suggest that in order to overcome sponsor bias, fundings for all trials should be made by governments, not by organisations with a vested interest. The problem with that is that in relation to this pandemic, governments are interest groups. They have very firm agendas, which have nothing to do with public health. Maybe the answer is to have double-blind funding. There’s a novel idea.
Why Deliberately Promote False Information?
Misrepresentation – falsification – of report findings also misleads the public and helps to form and solidify public perceptions. For instance, The New England Journal of Medicine published a report out of Israel, which was reported about in The Guardian. The Guardian reported that the study said one thing, yet it did no such thing. (This was written about in more detail in a previous article on this website. https://hiddentruths.org/mainstream-media-parroting-the-government-line/)
Why would a reputable newspaper print such demonstrably false information? Perhaps UK’s Office of Communication has something to do with it. You can read details on this and listen to an interview with a former British broadcasting executive here. They do it because they can get away with it and they can get away with it because so many accept assurances and so few read the reports for themselves.
The Illusion Of Scientific Consensus
Despite the continuing assurances of government health departments, more and more people – including scientists and health professionals – are questioning the validity of the official narrative surrounding SARS-CoV-2 virus and vaccines.
The science has never been settled and claims of scientific consensus may be illusory. Despite the misinformation and disinformation that is still being pumped out by health authorities, governments and the mainstream media, there is plenty of data that reveals it to be just that: misinformation and disinformation.
Perhaps eventually, the scientific consensus will be that covid vaccines are mostly unsafe and unhelpful. If so, unfortunately for Sean, he and his children cannot get unjabbed.
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Ref 1 – The Rome Declaration – https://concerneddoctors.org/rome-declaration/
Ref 2 – The Great Barrington Declaration – https://gbdeclaration.org/
Ref 3 – The Cochrane Institute – https://www.cochrane.org/
Ref 4 – Cochrane Review of HCQ for covid-19 – https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD013587.pub2/full?cookiesEnabled
Ref 5 – Global HCQ studies – https://c19hcq.com/
Ref 6 – Lancet published report retraction – https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2820%2931180-6/fulltext