When I try to answer my children’s questions, I am so furious that I can barely speak.
I choose my words slowly. “Many grownups around you have failed.”
Never have I wished so strongly to be wrong than when I remember predictions I made back in March of 2020. And instead, for two years and counting, we have collectively failed and keep failing at the primary goal of any society: protecting our children.
The sum total of USA youth Covid policy comes down to this: millions of kids wearing masks in school, being told to stay away from each other and obsessively avoid germs, and receiving experimental vaccines en masse.
Why are so few of us speaking up for the children?
Republicans have largely argued against masks and some mandates for schoolchildren, but this is weak posturing (though at least children in red states can breath reasonable levels of oxygen) and employs several logical fallacies: 1. “Do Nothing” does not equal public health policy, even though Nothing neatly happens to be “Opposite of the Democrats”; 2. lack of policy equals a net loss for people, when politicians keep subsidizing the criminal corporate profiteers who pollute our children’s bodies with their drugs and our children’s environment with poisonous effluent of all types; and 3. ultimately, No Policy equals callous disregard for children when it includes quietly cutting funding (and _never_ supporting increases) for Medicaid, leaving millions of poor and middle-income Americans under- and un-insured. Another travesty: to imagine that a salary of ~$15/hour ($30,000 per year before taxes) is sufficient to support even one adult, let alone a family, constantly forces parents to choose between providing food for their children and actually taking care of them.
Meanwhile, ruling Democrats have similarly sold out to Big Pharma and Big Tech and the myth of Progress (and Externalizing Costs) Through Privatization, largely subscribed to the equally dangerous “As Long as it is Opposite to Republicans” policy planning, and increasingly enacted foolish, dangerous mask and vaccine mandates that fail to protect the vulnerable from Covid, while _increasing_ all-cause mortality and suffering for children and everyone else in our society except the fat cat executives who now guide policy at both a federal and institutional level. “But vaccines save lives!” parrot the news media. “Vaccines are safe and effective! You should scapegoat the unvaxxed!” Not to mention, over and over and over: Wear your masks, little school children, or your dirty, asymptomatic bodies can spread disease and possibly kill your grandparents.
“Always be skeptical,” I tell my children, “of anyone who wants you to be scared. Thoughtless fear is dangerous, and one should always try to make decisions when calm. Grownups haven’t been doing a good job of this lately.”
And here is the ultimate crime against our children, perpetuated by two administrations thus far: censorship and removal of jobs and licenses from thousands of respected doctors and researchers who disagree with the dominant Covid narrative, while repeatedly ignoring and ridiculing their simple and honorable message - “early Covid treatment saves lives.” This censorship and canceling does not “stop misinformation”: it interrupts the scientific process itself, and leaves a bad taste in mouths of all who wish to live in a democratic society. And yes, it is still censorship if you urge private companies to do the dirty work for you, again and again.
“Kiddos,” I say, “science is something you DO, not a dogma to be obeyed. And we can all do science, and learn how to think scientifically.”
Many have recently and repeatedly urged our children to “listen to the experts.” To which I respond: a democratic society depends upon education, and not the rote and submissive variety. If we want one of those Democracies, we owe it to our children to model the complexity and necessity of using our brains to come up with our own opinions, _in addition_ to learning what “experts” believe.
“But Mama, they wouldn’t make kids do these things if they were DANGEROUS…would they, Mama?”
And I have to look at my children and blink away tears, because yes: in the current social moment, we adults are allowing our society to slip ever further into Pharma totalitarianism.
“Okay, but Miss Matilsky, these vaccines are safe and effective, and masks are Not a Big Deal Anyway, so why get angry now? The kids should Do Their Part to social-distance, and Slow the Spread!”
Masks are actually part of a very big deal for children, because they interfere with every aspect of normal social functioning, raising an entire generation of kids to believe that hiding their faces is normal - and that it plus “testing” completes their civic duty toward our collective public health - which is both shameful and a lie. There is not and has never been evidence justifying community-wide mask wearing (and the equally shamefully enormous quantity of plastic garbage that comes from it). It would be nice if masks worked well to protect their wearers and those around them from contagious disease, but they don’t.
Study after study refutes their benefit in community settings, and we can see around us that people spread Covid even when masks are worn scrupulously, even while statistical epidemiology modeling supports the _possibility_ that they might slow the spread….IF they were thicker, bigger, more widely worn.
I am reminded of the plan to use smaller dinner plates, which in turn was supposed to reduce portion sizes and therefore cause widespread weight loss! But oh, wait…this was similarly a case of wishful _theories_ being confused with actual results.
Ultimately: no amount of ever thicker and more stringently-worn masks, nor fanatic germ-avoidance, will ever make up for the true public health measures that increase EVERYONE’S resistance to contagious disease: ensuring access to clean water, clean air, and clean, fresh, wholesome food, not to mention meeting our human need to gather socially for work, relaxation and spiritual pursuits.
And here we grownups must stop beating around the bush, and face the most shameful fact of all: condoning regulatory capture by pharmaceutical companies has become the defining feature in Covid Policy Mismanagement by two administrations. Big Pharma are the same players who brought us so many truly criminal situations over the past several decades that the death toll and suffering is dizzying to contemplate. From the opioid epidemic to unethical experimentation on children and others in the developing world, to the ongoing approval of drugs that “improve biomarkers” while causing toxic side effects and little or nothing in the way of improved health, to consistently shoddy oversight and safety standards, Big Pharma has not even showed any sign of remorse, let alone reform. Why should we trust them with our children’s health for even one moment, let alone rely on their press releases to guide public policy?
Presidents Trump and Biden, you should be absolutely ashamed to have been taken in by these corporations so incredibly adept at manipulation. We need leaders who can identify and protect children from the effects of such bullying, not become complicit in the criminal activities themselves.
In order to understand some of the manipulation I refer to, you will have to put aside the idea that only experts can understand these matters and form truly educated opinions on public health. Give me ten more minutes of your time, and I believe we can both can grasp enough of the math to think clearly.
Right now, we’re simply going to talk about “test-negative case control studies,” which are one of those things expertly bandied about by the media in the era of COVID. They are the primary type of observational study (“where researchers observe the effect of a risk factor, diagnostic test, treatment or other intervention without trying to change who is or isn't exposed to it”) used to calculate vaccine efficacy.
I know, it sounds boring. But it is very, very important.
According to this biostatistician, “Test-negative case control studies were first used in in 1980 for the pneumococcal vaccine. Their use rapidly increased in the last decade, and since 2011 this has been the design of 90% of vaccine efficacy studies.”
The way these studies work is that the same _clinical case definition is used for enrollment_ of both cases and controls, while _laboratory testing is subsequently used to define_ which patients were “cases” and which were “controls.”
“The key word is clinical. For enrollment, everyone is equally sick. But for analysis of vaccine efficacy, the clinical picture becomes irrelevant and suddenly we switch to defining a case as someone who tests positive for the pathogen of interest, and a control as someone who tests negative. Hence the design is called the ‘test negative’ design.”
Think about it. _Everyone getting the treatment in the study is sick._ Everyone else is sick, too - with the _exact same overall symptoms_ as those who are not getting the treatment. The ONLY outcome difference that a negative case control study will elucidate is the participants’ laboratory test results.
“…I truly believe the word “scam” applies here. Not among scientists. Scientists who conduct, publish, read, and analyze test-negative case control studies all know what's going on. They understand the design. They aren't scamming each other. In fact, they have good reasons for conducting these studies and sharing them amongst themselves…
“The reason I believe the word ‘scam’ is appropriate is because all public health messages derived from these studies are clearly scamming the public. If a vaccine is said to be such-and-such percent effective against being hospitalized for disease X, absolutely no non-scientist in the general public will think this means that you will instead be hospitalized for something else. Every non-scientist in the general public will hear this and think that it is roughly that percent effective at actually keeping you out of the hospital.
In the recent test-negative case control study from the CDC, which analyzed 87,904 hospitalizations for COVID-like illness, 57% of those hospitalized were vaccinated, while 79% of those hospitalized tested negative for COVID. “They all met the same clinical case definition — hospitalization for COVID-like illness — but, in the words of the test-negative definition, ‘laboratory testing [the PCR test] is subsequently used to distinguish which patients were cases [PCR positive] and which were controls [PCR negative].’
“Because those who had received an mRNA booster shot were, assuming correlation is causation, 94% effective at causing someone to test negative during the delta-dominant period and 90% effective during the omicron-dominant period, the authors concluded that they were 90-94% effective against “COVID-19–associated hospitalizations.”
“Absolutely no non-scientist in the public will hear this and intuitively grasp that this means the vaccines would give them a roughly equal chance of winding up in the hospital with COVID-like illness but would be highly effective at preventing them from testing positive. Almost anyone would think that this means if they are exposed to COVID, they are 90-94% likely to stay out of the hospital.
“None of the scientists or public health bureaucrats sharing these numbers with the public think the public will understand them. They know the perception will be that the vaccines keep people out of the hospital. It is too obvious that ‘preventing COVID-19–associated hospitalizations’ sounds like the vaccine is ‘preventing hospitalizations’ for anyone involved not to know this is what people will hear.
“This is not just about COVID vaccines. Up through 2018, there were 348 such studies published…
“The review [here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6888869/ ] cites four polio studies in which everyone involved was _paralyzed_.
“Surely, the worst example of this design (apart from everyone in the study being dead) would be if everyone was equally paralyzed but the vaccine was effective at getting them a negative stool test for polio.
“Could it really be that bad? …”
For over year now, our intelligence has been demoted to less than parrot-level while “the experts” under the thumb of Big Pharma shout at us about how Safe and Effective their products are. This is an insult to the concept of public health.
And now that you’ve spent ten minutes reading and re-reading about the astoundingly obvious math above, you too can evaluate this one aspect of the deception practiced by Big Pharma, and promulgated by Big Tech and Big Media, and try to explain it to your children.
It is not for me to decide if a vaccine is the right choice for you or your child. And it absolutely _is_ up to me to insist that anyone trying to convince me to accept a medical treatment on my child’s behalf should A. _never_ promote, pressure, or discuss the matter with my child separately from me (i.e. in schools or anywhere else, or by requiring a medical treatment, test, or vaccine for admission); and B. not be in the business of marketing their drugs to me for profit. It is criminal that the New York Times, among many other news outlets, consistently runs Big Pharma press releases as news in order to co-opt my goodwill and reason. It is wrong for Presidents of the United States to promote these corporate profiteers who never had to run for office, but now are running the show.
We failed our children when we made them put their lives on hold while we adults squabbled for two years, and now we fail them even further, while we let politicians and epidemiologists and drug companies experiment with their bodies for reasons that leave nobody healthier, while exposing them to known and unknown risks from policies that aren’t reducing transmission, cases, or the Covid death rate.
How incredibly lonely for our children, to be masked and told to interact with others only Very Cautiously…because so many grownups around them are so fearful and unwilling to learn some of the basic principles of scientific inquiry that our kids are supposed to be learning in grade school! How shameful to coerce medical treatment on those who stand to benefit the least. How criminal to turn a blind eye to the politicians and profiteers who are bankrupting our children’s future by polluting our water, air, food supply, and our bodies. How on earth will we build up enough trust in our government and our systems if we can’t admit our mistakes and apologize to our children, the way we make them do when they’re wrong?
Step up to the plate, grownups. Show the criminal corporations to the door, and make them get back to the actual work of helping us clean up their mess. It’s the least we can do for the generation that will have to care for our messes when we’re old; it would be nice if today’s kids could have productive, meaningful, _healthy_ lives first.