Category Archives: Coronavirus

Cannabis can help fight coronavirus, study says

Cannabis could be a new weapon in the fight against the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), researchers say. A new study by scientists at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta says that cannabidiol (CBD) — the main non-psychoactive component of marijuana — can help fight the coronavirus by lowering the number of cell receptors available for the latter to attach to.

“There’s a lot of documented information about cannabis in cancer, cannabis in inflammation, anxiety, obesity and whatnot,” said Dr. Igor Kovalchuk, who co-authored the study alongside his wife, Dr. Olga Kovalchuck, and a team of other researchers from Lethbridge. “When COVID-19 started, Olga had the idea to revisit our data, and see if we can utilize it for COVID.”

“It was like a joker card, you know, coronavirus. It just mixes up everybody’s plans,” Olga added.

The Kovalchuks’ have been working with cannabis since 2015, using varieties from around the world to create new hybrids and develop extracts that demonstrate certain therapeutic properties.

CBD reduces available ACE2 receptors for the virus to latch on to

For the study, published in pre-peer review server Preprints, the researchers partnered with cannabis therapy research company Pathway Rx — of which Igor Kovalchuck is the CEO — and cannabinoid-based research company Swysh.

The team created 3D tissue models with human oral, mucociliary and intestinal tissues and tested them with different samples of high CBD extracts. The extracts were low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. (Related: CBD vs. coronavirus? Potential natural remedies that promote immunity.)

With this setup, the researchers then observed the effect that the extracts had on angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the receptor that the virus uses to enter human cells.

The results of the researchers’ tests demonstrated that the extracts helped reduce the number of these receptors that the coronavirus could use to “hijack” host cells.

“A number of them have reduced the number of [ACE2] receptors by 73 percent, the chance of it getting in is much lower,” stated Igor.

“If they can reduce the number of receptors, there’s much less chance of getting infected,” he added.

In addition to ACE2, the researchers also looked into other receptors such as transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2), which allows the virus to invade cells more easily and multiply quickly.

“Imagine a cell being a large building,” explained Kovalchuk to CTV News. “Cannabinoids decrease the number of doors in the building by, say, 70 percent, so it means the level of entry will be restricted. So, therefore, you have more chance to fight it.”

Clinical trials still needed but exploring therapeutic options is important

The researchers’ early findings indicate that the CBD extracts could be used in inhalers, mouthwash and throat gargle products for both clinical and home treatment.

However, they say that people looking for CBD extracts to fight the coronavirus won’t be able to do so at their local dispensaries yet. They state that the current medical cannabis and CBD products, while helpful for a lot of ailments, are not designed to treat or prevent infection from COVID-19.

“The key thing is not that any cannabis you would pick up at the store will do the trick,” said Olga.

With this in mind, the researchers are now actively pursuing clinical trials. They stressed that their data is already based on human tissue models, so these trials are a natural next step.

They also highlight the importance of exploring every therapeutic option when it comes to fighting the coronavirus.

“Given the current dire and rapidly developing epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue needs to be considered.”

“We need to bring it to the people,” says Olga. “We need to fight the beast.”

Visit Pandemic.news to learn more about how health experts are learning to fight the coronavirus.

Sources include:

DailyMail.co.uk

Preprints.org

Calgary.CTVNews.ca

Covid: Killing Fields of the Old and Sick?

Percent of Covid deaths who were in nursing homes

Dear Friends of the Ron Paul Institute:

The numbers are sickening and impossible to ignore. Throughout the United States the Coronavirus “pandemic” looks more and more like a war on the elderly and sick than a mysterious new virus that was so dangerous and unknown that the entire country (with notable exceptions – South Dakota for example) had to be completely locked down tighter than Guantanamo Bay.

Nationwide, 42 percent of the Covid-19 death toll was comprised of Americans who were confined to live-in care facilities. While at first it was easy to simply gasp at a disease so cruel that it seemed to target older people, now that the smoke has cleared it is becoming painfully – and criminally – obvious that the virus had some very powerful human enablers.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has shamelessly used the coronavirus crisis to puff up his national political profile, ordered the elderly hospitalized with Covid back to their nursing homes where they could spread the virus like so many Typhoid Marys. Amid calls for a Federal probe into Cuomo’s callous and deadly decision to rip elderly patients from their hospital beds and send them back to cramped senior facilities, Cuomo demurs, blaming…you guessed it: Trump!

In Pennsylvania a particularly cruel (and unelected) creature, Rachel Levine, in charge of the state’s Covid policy oversaw a virus outbreak that claimed the elderly in care facilities as 70 percent of the entire state’s death toll. Astonishing! A real genocide of the old. Of course before she ordered those elderly hospitalized with Covid back to their care facilities to infect and kill others she moved her own mother out of the facilities and into a hotel.

Under the Mussolini of Michigan, the Covid-ravaged elderly were also returned to their care facilities where they could infect and kill their housemates. Governor Gretchen Whitmer seemed to actually gain pleasure from destroying untold lives with her strict lockdown orders, stooping so low as to strip a 77 year old barber of his license for daring to open his shop against her will as he faced starvation. She loved pushing around working people, who were nearly immune to the virus. But when it came to actually protecting the vulnerable layers of society, she was AWOL.

These shameful policies were followed in many states and while at first when little was known about the outbreak, there might be some room for acceptable error. But as it became clear the demographics of who were most vulnerable, it has become indefensible to focus all resources on shutting down restaurants, bars, churches, mom and pop shops, schools while ignoring that the virus preyed almost exclusively on the old and sick. Yes, shut down elementary schools where virtually no one fell victim, but throw open the doors to the old folks home where the virus raged like a tsunami. Brilliant move.

Coincidence? We should not discount the possibility that sheer government incompetence is responsible for this massive failure and resulting senior killing fields. Maybe there is more to it. The sanctity of life in the United States has been degraded for years, including via a foreign policy that considers half a million dead Iraqi children “worth it” to undermine Saddam Hussein’s rule. A foreign policy that doesn’t blink when an estimated 40,000 Venezuelan civilians die from US sanctions. A foreign policy that has spend the past nine years arming literal Islamist terrorists to overthrow the secular rule of Syria’s Assad with hundreds of thousands dead in the process and nary a notice in the US mainstream media.

When one embraces the idea that it’s OK to kill millions overseas to maintain a US global empire that only enriches the Beltway military-industrial-Congressional-media-think tank complex, it is not a far leap to embrace the idea that seniors are expendable. When some lives are not considered worth saving – from pre-cradle to grave – it is a slippery slope to view others also not worth saving.

US Pirates of the Caribbean

“American global power right now is seen as a farce. It has been devastated by a virus and shown to be a lying cheat over its attempt to smear China and the World Health Organization. Its sanctioning against nations struggling with a deadly disease is barbaric terrorism; and while millions of Americans are facing poverty, the US is sending warships and warplanes to all corners of the world.”
sputniknews.com
May 21, 2020

You have to be amused at this headline: “US masses planes at Japan airbase to show foes and allies it can handle coronavirus,” reports Reuters.

So, let’s get this straight. At a time when the US is leading the world with deaths and infections from the disease, the Pentagon views flexing muscles with warplanes in the Asia Pacific is somehow a demonstration of American potency.

While the American public is crying out for more resources to cope with the pandemic, Washington sees fit to ramp up militarism not just in the Asia Pacific, but also in the Arctic region, the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean.

US warships despatched to the Caribbean are said to be on a mission to counter-narcotic trafficking. Few people will buy that pretext. The military force is deployed as a threat to Venezuela and its socialist government which the Trump administration has openly targeted for regime change.

A failed coup attempt earlier this month involving a private US mercenary outfit may or may not have had official support from the White House.

But one thing is clear: when Russia proposed a statement of support for Venezuela at the UN Security Council this week in which the failed coup was denounced as a violation of the UN charter forbidding aggression, the draft statement was “killed” by Washington’s envoy.

The implication is that Washington’s public position sees nothing wrong with aggression despite the flagrant violation of international law that it involves.

In that case, it could be expected that the US will attempt to block Iranian oil tankers en route to Venezuela. If aggression is acceptable to Washington then why not also a bit of high-seas piracy?

Five Iranian-flagged tankers are due to dock in the South American country in the coming days. They are reportedly ferrying $45 million worth of gasoline to alleviate Venezuela’s crippled economy as it struggles like many other nations to control the coronavirus pandemic.

Venezuela is a major exporter of crude oil but due to US sanctions its capacity to refine fuel has been decimated. This has caused severe shortages for Venezuelan transport which has, in turn, exacerbated the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both Venezuela and Iran have warned the US to not interfere in the sea passage of the oil tankers. Both countries have been burdened with American sanctions, but they are legally entitled to conduct bilateral trade. If US warships impede the transport, then it will be viewed by Venezuela and Iran as an act of piracy. We might add that the rest of the world will view it that way too. An act of piracy compounding acts of economic aggression under heartless US sanctions.

Given the pandemic crisis, Iran’s supply of vital fuel to Venezuela is not merely a normal trade transaction, but a courageous act of solidarity and humanitarian aid.

The Trump administration has mischievously indicated it will do something to stop the Iranian ships reaching Venezuela. What that something is open to guesswork. Will it use its warships in the Caribbean to mount a blockade?

Iran has warned it will retaliate. Perhaps by attacking American warships in the Persian Gulf, where skirmishing has already taken place.

Venezuela says it is sending naval forces to escort the Iranian tankers once they arrive in its territorial waters.

In the next coming days, a showdown awaits which could have explosive repercussions, not least because the Iranian tankers are reckoned to contain 1.5 million barrels of gasoline.

The US head of Southern Command, Admiral Craig Faller, this week played down the probability of an armed confrontation with the Iranian vessels.

He is quoted as saying: “You have to ask yourself what interest Iran has in Venezuela, where we have seen recent indications of Iranian military and state support?”

Eh, let’s guess Admiral Faller, maybe simply an act of solidarity by two nations who are under the boot of American imperialism and illegal sanctions that amount to a crime against humanity.

American global power right now is seen as a farce. It has been devastated by a virus and shown to be a lying cheat over its attempt to smear China and the World Health Organization. Its sanctioning against nations struggling with a deadly disease is barbaric terrorism; and while millions of Americans are facing poverty, the US is sending warships and warplanes to all corners of the world.Washington won’t dare do piracy in the Caribbean at this juncture. Because it can’t afford another fiasco. Its global image is already in tatters.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

US pandemic cover-up responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands

Saving Wall Street, not lives

The deliberate efforts by the federal government to muzzle scientists and downplay the disease, combined with massive delays in the roll-out of testing, led states to begin restrictions far too late.

Source

http://www.wsws.org

Andre Damon

May 22, 2020

 

On Wednesday, researchers from Columbia University released a study showing that the massive US death toll, now approaching 100,000, is a direct consequence of decisions made by the Trump administration.

The study, posted on medRxiv.org, found that if the United States had begun social distancing and other control measures just two weeks earlier, it would have saved the lives of 54,000 people. The implementation of such measures one week earlier would have saved 36,000 lives.

These figures quantify the consequences of the Trump administration’s efforts in January and February to minimize the threat posed by the pandemic. Despite clear evidence and warnings by scientists, Trump and his cabinet members systematically downplayed the significance of the disease. As late as February 28, Trump was still claiming that the coronavirus “is going to disappear” like “a miracle.” Trump condemned those saying that COVID-19 was rapidly spreading throughout the country, declaring, “This is their new hoax.”

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

But within the government, leading scientists had been ringing the alarm for nearly two months in a futile attempt to make the White House take the most basic measures to prepare for a major pandemic. “Public health officials were fully aware of the emerging threat of COVID-19 by early January 2020,” wrote Rick Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, in a whistleblower complaint.

In a subsequent interview, Bright added “I knew that all of the signs for a pandemic were present. A novel virus, causing significant mortality, and spreading. All the signs were there. It was just a matter of time before that virus left China.”

Bright’s statements tear apart the administration’s claims that “no one could have predicted” the pandemic, and that to the extent the response was delayed in the United States, it was because China lied about the spread of the disease.

Rather, the Trump administration, Bright said, was “intent on downplaying this catastrophic threat.”

The deliberate efforts by the federal government to muzzle scientists and downplay the disease, combined with massive delays in the roll-out of testing, led states to begin restrictions far too late.

New York State implemented its stay-at-home order on March 22, more than two months after community transmission began in the United States in mid-January. Lockdowns in most US cities came three and a half months after Chinese researchers discovered the virus, prompting fears of a global pandemic.

While the Trump administration and the media blame China for delaying the release of information, it now emerges that as many as 50,000 deaths were caused by the White House’s decision to postpone as long as possible the ordering of a lockdown.

Chinese scientists announced a cluster of unexplained illnesses on December 31, and the announcement was widely reported in the United States, including by Reuters, the Associated Press and the New York Times.

The World Socialist Web Site, on the basis of only publicly available data, was able to warn on January 24 that “evidence has emerged that person-to-person infection is occurring.” Four days later, the WSWS wrote, “The outbreak has exposed the enormous vulnerability of contemporary society to new strains of infectious disease, dangers for which no capitalist government has adequately prepared.”

But for months, US officials did nothing to prepare for the coming pandemic. It was not until nearly eight weeks after the first public statements by Chinese health officials that any systematic testing for COVID-19 began in the US.

Even as Trump did nothing to prepare for the spread of COVID-19, he imposed a travel ban on China against the advice of the World Health Organization and his own scientific advisors. Within the federal government, Bright and other scientists within the administration were desperately warning that a travel ban would not prevent the disease from entering the United Sates.

Why, despite the warnings of scientists within his administration, did Trump implement a purely cosmetic measure, whose aim would be to construct the narrative that COVID-19 would be kept out of the country?

Driving the White House’s response to the pandemic from the beginning was not the threat of COVID-19 to human lives, but its impact on the stock market. The White House was well aware that the pandemic would have a devastating impact. But it would come under conditions where Wall Street was already under tremendous strain. The markets had been artificially inflated through years of ultra-low interest rates and “quantitative easing,” which had fueled a massive rise in indebtedness that was undermining corporate profitability and threatening a collapse of the already wildly inflated stock market.

Trump and his advisers knew that the impact of the pandemic would trigger a market selloff, which could only be contained and reversed through the infusion of trillions of dollars in cash from the Federal Reserve and Treasury. In order to gain time, the White House suppressed information and misled the public while this bailout could be prepared.

An article by Edward Luce in the Financial Times last week provided a window into this process. “Nothing could be allowed to frighten the Dow Jones,” the Times wrote, explaining the thinking of the Trump administration. “Any signal that the US was bracing for a pandemic—including taking actual steps to prepare for it—was discouraged.”

The Financial Times quoted one person close to the White House as saying, “Jared [Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law] had been arguing that testing too many people, or ordering too many ventilators, would spook the markets and so we just shouldn’t do it.”

Amid the public silence, there was furious activity in the background as lawmakers were preparing what would be the largest government bailout of major corporations in history. The Trump administration was playing for time, keeping the public in the dark while a complex program for bailing out Wall Street could be put into motion.

This time was used to write what would become an 800-page bill known as the CARES Act, which created the framework for a multitrillion-dollar bailout of the financial system by the Federal Reserve and the funneling of hundreds of billions of dollars into major corporations from the Treasury.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the bill on March 25. Within two days, the CARES Act passed the Senate with a unanimous vote and the House with a voice vote. It was signed into law the same day. In other words, the largest redistribution of public funds in human history took just 48 hours.

An article in Foreign Affairs notes that this bailout would “blur the lines, never clear to begin with, between the public and private sectors and transfer a large portion of the global economy onto government balance sheets. This level of spending has no precedent in history—not even close. Not in war. Not in peacetime. Not ever.”

As soon as this bailout was secured, the media immediately changed its tone. It turned from focusing on images of mass death and overcrowded hospitals to “hopeful signs” and “silver linings” in order to declare that the pandemic was all but over and that workers should get back on the job.

Even as 1,500 Americans continue to die every day from COVID-19, all 50 states have reopened businesses, sending workers back to work in unsafe conditions and setting the stage for a massive resurgence of the disease.

The same total disregard for human life that prompted the White House to downplay the pandemic and hamper the federal response is at work in the back-to-work campaign.

Amid warnings by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield that the United States faces a major resurgence of COVID-19, Trump declared yesterday, “Whether it’s an ember or a flame… we’re not closing our country.”

In other words, no matter how high the death toll climbs, the needs of society will not be allowed to interfere with the profit-making of Wall Street. The priority of the government will continue to be the interests of financial oligarchy, not saving lives.

This is why the fight against the pandemic must be waged not only on the medical front, but on the political front as well. The struggle against COVID-19 is inseparable from the broadest possible fight against the criminal policies of the Trump administration and its supine enablers in the Democratic Party.

As the Socialist Equality Party wrote in its recent statement, “Build rank-and-file factory and workplace committees to prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus and save lives,” workers must:

Form rank-and-file safety committees in every factory, office and workplace. These committees, democratically controlled by workers themselves, should formulate, implement, and oversee measures that are necessary to safeguard the health and lives of workers, their families and the broader community.

There can be no “business as usual!” The pandemic exposes the urgent necessity for a complete restructuring of the processes of production, distribution and economic activity in general. The lives of working people and their families must not be sacrificed in the interests of corporate profits and the private wealth of billionaire oligarchs.

We urge all those who agree with these demands to draw the necessary political conclusions and take up the fight for socialism.

 

America is Drowning in Problems: Washington is Picking Another Fight With China

The blame China game is really an effort to cover-up the failure of Western governments to deal with a crisis.

The United States and its vassals knew about the virus outbreak in China two months prior to its outbreak in the West and did nothing. Through either inaction or intent, the US, Canada, and Europe imported the virus.

Throughout America, state, local, and federal government  epitomize  failure. Trillions of dollars have been poured into weapons systems that cannot be used without destroying the United States along with the rest of the world, while dams fail, bridges collapse, communities deteriorate, and homelessness grows. The government in Washington spends time, effort, and money manufacturing enemies to justify the budget of the military/security complex, while  jobs and the US economy are offshored, the environment is degraded, and health care needs go unaddressed.   The US rivals third world countries in terms of the percentage of its population that has no savings, no access to health care, and no prospects for advancement in life. 

Source

Washington is picking yet another fight with China. On top of the trade war we now have the coronavirus war.  China is accused of being responsible for the virus by withholding information about it.  Some in Washington want to make China pay for the cost of the virus by reneging on US debt held by China in the form of US Treasuries.

What information about coronavirus is China supposed to have withheld? 

That China was doing coronavirus research?  How could this information have been withheld when the US State Department knew about it, the N.I.H. was funding it, and US scientists were complaining about the danger?

That coronavirus was ravaging Wuhan?  How was this information withheld when it was in the media every day?

The United States and its vassals knew about the virus outbreak in China two months prior to its outbreak in the West and did nothing. Through either inaction or intent, the US, Canada, and Europe imported the virus. 

The governments refused to stop flights in and out of China and to prevent cruise ships from welcoming passengers from infected areas. Governments did not want to interfere with profits, which came before public health.  Absolutely nothing was done.  No efforts were made to stockpile protective masks and gear, or to protect nursing homes, or to segregate hospital facilities, or to think outside the box about treatments.  The Swedish government was so unprepared that it did not even try to do anything and just let the virus run its course with devastating effects on the elderly.  [Note: There is much disinformation about Sweden from those who believe the virus is a plot to impose police state controls, such as claims that Sweden has kept the economy open without paying for it in a higher death rate and is gaining “herd immunity” against Covid-19.  These claims are contradicted by news reports.  For example: see this and this.]

In an attempt, more or less successful, to reduce the infection rate so that health facilities were not over-burdened, every other country imposed social distancing rules, bans against crowd events, and workplace closures.  As little was known about the disease and the Chinese mortality rate was believed to be vastly understated, there was no responsible alternative to the so-called “lockdowns.”  It remains to be seen whether the concern for profits has produced a premature reopening that will result in a second wave of rapid infection rates. Many suspect that Big Pharma and Bill Gates want to keep the infection spreading in order to panic us into being vaccinated with an inadequately tested vaccine.

The blame China game is really an effort to cover-up the failure of Western governments to deal with a crisis.

The failure of governments to deal with crisis is ubiquitous.  Just think Katrina, the hurricane that devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.  If you don’t remember or are too young to have experienced the 2005 hurricane via TV, read Douglas Brinkley’s The Great Deluge (see this).

Everyone knew that the levies protecting New Orleans and surrounding areas were unable to withstand a storm of Katrina’s intensity.  The city was a bowl waiting to fill up with the water that wiped out 80% of New Orleans and 150 miles of Gulf Coast communities.   Evacuation orders came too late.  There were no steps taken to evacuate those without cars and resources. The sick and elderly were left in place.  The few steps that were taken to assemble buses, boats, and first responders located the scanty resources in areas that flooded.  The New Orleans Police Department went AWOL. Some joined in the looting. FEMA was a total failure.  President George W. Bush and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff were not focused on the unfolding tragedy but on their creation of a terrortist hoax that was used to justify 20 years of US bombing and invasions of Middle Eastern and North African countries. As Bush had deployed Louisiana’s National Guard to Iraq, the Louisiana governor had to borrow guardsmen from other states.

The US Coast Guard, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries personnel, and private individuals formed the force of first responders. People from Louisiana and from other states showed up on their own time, their own money, and with their own boats and began organizing rescues.  There were many heroic and generous people involved in the rescue. As most of the rescuers were white southerners and most of the rescued were black, it put the lie to the propagandistic picture of the white southern racist. For example, Sara Roberts and her husband Buisson, a descendant of Confederate General P.G.T.Beauregard, organized the Cajun Navy.  Sara enlisted clients of her accounting firm who came up with 35 boats and crews to man them.  One of her clients, Ronny Lovett, paid his construction crews triple wages for their rescue time and spent $200,000 of his money equipping the boats with food, water, medical supplies, chain saws, life jackets, spotlights, ropes and whatever else could contribute to successful rescues. It was individual citizens, not the governments in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Washington that rescued many thousands of people who otherwise would have perished. 

From its founding day, New Orleans was a man-made disaster waiting to happen.  Dredging, canals, watercourse alterations, pipelines and a variety of other environmental damaging mistakes had over the years destroyed the wetlands that protected the city and Gulf Coast. In order to serve private profit, failure was built into the system. The Great Deluge is an external cost of a political and economic system that puts private profits first.

We are undergoing it again at this moment as areas of Michigan are inundated from floods caused by dam failures. One of the dams, the Edenville Dam was a long known public safety hazard . Boyce Hydro, the owner of the dam, repeatedly failed despite the intervention of regulators to address the known risk.  Not only was Boyce Hydro negligent, but also were the government authorities that permitted the known risk to persist unaddressed.  The lost of life and property from the flooding is an external cost imposed on third parties by Boyce Hydro whose agenda was limited to its profits.

It is as difficult to understand the liberal and progressive belief in government as it is to understand the libertarian belief in the efficacy of the invisible hand that allegedly causes private greed to serve the public’s interest.  Humans are a built-in failure machine.  Their time perspective is short term.  They are always surprised by the unintended consequences of their own thoughtless actions and inactions.

Throughout America, state, local, and federal government  epitomize  failure. Trillions of dollars have been poured into weapons systems that cannot be used without destroying the United States along with the rest of the world, while dams fail, bridges collapse, communities deteriorate, and homelessness grows. The government in Washington spends time, effort, and money manufacturing enemies to justify the budget of the military/security complex, while  jobs and the US economy are offshored, the environment is degraded, and health care needs go unaddressed.   The US rivals third world countries in terms of the percentage of its population that has no savings, no access to health care, and no prospects for advancement in life.   

But we can blow up the world several times over and make mindless interventions in the natural environment that multiply the destructive power of storms, heavy rains, and other natural phenomena.

Another election approaches and yet again there is no acknowledgement of the real problems our country faces or any interest in discussing what to do about them. America and the Western World in general are simply going to drown in their unaddressed problems just as New Orleans drowned in Hurricane Katrina.

*

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Dr. Paul Craig Roberts writes on his blog site, PCR Institute for Political Economy, where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Ten reasons why immunity passports are a bad idea

Pic added by Tales
Restricting movement on the basis of biology threatens freedom, fairness and public health.
Women in Beijing display a health QR code on their phones as a security guard takes their temperature with a remote sensor

A woman in Beijing shows a health QR code on her phone to access a shopping area, as a security guard checks her temperature. Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty

Imagine a world where your ability to get a job, housing or a loan depends on passing a blood test. You are confined to your home and locked out of society if you lack certain antibodies.

It has happened before. For most of the nineteenth century, immunity to yellow fever divided people in New Orleans, Louisiana, between the ‘acclimated’ who had survived yellow fever and the ‘unacclimated’, who had not had the disease1. Lack of immunity dictated whom people could marry, where they could work, and, for those forced into slavery, how much they were worth. Presumed immunity concentrated political and economic power in the hands of the wealthy elite, and was weaponized to justify white supremacy.

Something similar could be our dystopian future if governments introduce ‘immunity passports’ in efforts to reverse the economic catastrophe of the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea is that such certificates would be issued to those who have recovered and tested positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus that causes the disease. Authorities would lift restrictions on those who are presumed to have immunity, allowing them to return to work, to socialize and to travel. This idea has so many flaws that it is hard to know where to begin.

On 24 April, the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned against issuing immunity passports because their accuracy could not be guaranteed. It stated that: “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection”(see go.nature.com/3cutjqz). Nonetheless, the idea is being floated in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and other nations.

China has already introduced virtual health checks, contact tracing and digital QR codes to limit the movement of people. Antibody test results could easily be integrated into this system. And Chile, in a game of semantics, says that it intends to issue ‘medical release certificates’ with three months’ validity to people who have recovered from the disease2.

In our view, any documentation that limits individual freedoms on the basis of biology risks becoming a platform for restricting human rights, increasing discrimination and threatening — rather than protecting — public health. Here we present ten reasons why immunity passports won’t, can’t and shouldn’t be allowed to work.

Ten points

Four huge practical problems and six ethical objections add up to one very bad idea.

COVID-19 immunity is a mystery. Recent data3 suggest that a majority of recovered patients produce some antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. But scientists don’t know whether everyone produces enough antibodies to guarantee future protection, what a safe level might be or how long immunity might last. Current estimates, based on immune responses to closely related viruses such as those that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), suggest that recovered individuals could be protected from re-infection for one to two years. But if SARS-CoV-2 immunity instead mimics that seen with the common cold, the protection period could be shorter.

Serological tests are unreliable. Tests to measure SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the blood can be a valuable tool to assess the prevalence and spread of the virus. But they vary widely in quality and efficacy. This has led the WHO and former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb to caution against their use in assessing individual health or immune status. Several available tests are sufficiently accurate, meaning they are validated to have at least 99% specificity and sensitivity. But preliminary data suggest that the vast majority aren’t reliable4. Low specificity means the test measures antibodies other than those that are specific to SARS-CoV-2. This causes false positives, leading people to think they are immune when they aren’t. Low sensitivity means that the test requires a person to have a high concentration of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies for them to be measured effectively. This causes false negatives in people who have few antibodies, leading to potentially immune individuals being incorrectly labelled as not immune.

The volume of testing needed is unfeasible. Tens to hundreds of millions of serological tests would be needed for a national immunity certification programme. For example, Germany has a population of nearly 84 million people, so would require at least 168 million serological tests to validate every resident’s COVID-19 immune status at least twice. Two tests per person are the minimum, because anyone who tested negative might later become infected and would need to be retested to be immune certified. Repeat testing, on no less than an annual basis, would be necessary to ensure ongoing immunity. From June, the German government will receive 5 million serological tests a month from the Swiss firm Roche Pharmaceuticals — a leading supplier of one SARS-CoV-2 serological test that has been approved by regulators. This will allow only 6% of the German population to be tested each month.

Even if immunity passports were limited to health-care workers, the number of tests required could still be unfeasible. The United States, for example, would need more than 16 million such tests. At the time of writing, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and US public-health laboratories have performed more than 12 million diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 (3% of the total US population; see go.nature.com/2wemdd2). Even South Korea, a country with high testing rates, had managed to test only 1.5% of its population by 20 May (see go.nature.com/2aztfvp).

Health-care worker draw blood samples from a family wearing facemasks sitting at the dining table in their home in Munich

Health-care workers in Munich, Germany, take blood to test for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.Credit: Laetitia Vancon/NYT/Redux/eyevine

Too few survivors to boost the economy. The proportion of individuals known to have recovered from COVID-19 varies widely in different populations. Reports from hot spots in Germany and the United States suggest some locations could have recovery rates between 14% and 30%. In New York state, for example, where 3,000 people were tested at random in grocery shops and other public locations, 14.9% had antibodies against COVID-19 (see go.nature.com/2waaku9). But these seem to be the exception. In an April press conference, the WHO estimated that only 2–3% of the global population had recovered from the virus.

Low disease prevalence combined with limited testing capacity, not to mention highly unreliable tests, means that only a small fraction of any population would be certified as free to work. Based on current numbers of confirmed US cases, for example, only 0.43% of the population would be certified. Such percentages are inconsequential for the economy and for safety. A cafe can’t open and serve customers without risk if only a fraction of its staff are certified as immune. A shop can’t turn a profit if only a minuscule proportion of customers are allowed to enter.

Monitoring erodes privacy. The whole point of immunity passports is to control movement. Thus, any strategy for immunity certification must include a system for identification and monitoring. Paper documentation could be vulnerable to forgery. Electronic documentation integrated into a smartphone app would be more resistant to fraud and more effective for contact tracing, retesting and updates of immune status.

But electronic documents present a more serious risk to privacy5. In some Chinese provinces, QR codes on smartphones control entrance into public places on the basis of the individual’s COVID-19 health status. However, these apps report more than COVID-19 information — including people’s locations, travel history, who they’ve come into contact with and other health information, ranging from their body temperature to whether they’ve recently had a cold. Taiwan is also using smartphone apps with alert systems that are directly linked to police departments. The United Kingdom, United States and many other countries are testing various app options. Yet there’s no guarantee that the apps will recede when COVID-19 does. China has announced that elements of its QR-code tracking system are likely to remain in place after the pandemic ends.

Marginalized groups will face more scrutiny. With increased monitoring comes increased policing, and with it higher risks of profiling and potential harms to racial, sexual, religious or other minority groups. During the pandemic, China has been accused of racially profiling residents by forcing all African nationals to be tested for the virus. In other parts of the world, people from Asia have faced spikes in racialized prejudice.

Before this pandemic, stop-and-frisk laws in the United States already disproportionately affected people of colour. In 2019, 88% of people who were stopped and searched in New York City were African American or Latin American (go.nature.com/2jntjym). And during the pandemic, policing continues to target people from minority groups. Between mid-March and the start of May in Brooklyn, New York, 35 of the 40 people arrested for violating physical distancing laws were black6.

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Russian researchers test coronavirus vaccine on THEMSELVES, team leader says they now have antibodies

rt.com
ByJonny Tickle
Russian researchers test coronavirus vaccine on THEMSELVES, team leader says they now have antibodies
Scientists in Russia have carried out the first unofficial trial of a Covid-19 vaccine – and they say it’s effective. Epidemiologists in Moscow took the unorthodox step of injecting themselves and examining their own results.

The test, conducted by employees at the National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, reportedly saw the participants gaining immunity to the virus with no adverse effects. According to the research center’s director, Alexander Ginzburg, this is a step towards state-sanctioned trials.

“We will consider the experiment successful when we get permission for official trials from the Ministry of Health and carry them out,” he said, speaking to Russian news agency TASS.

ALSO ON RT.COMFor the first time, Russian coronavirus recoveries OUTNUMBER new diagnoses

According to Ginzburg, the scientists chose to vaccinate not only to prove the effectiveness of their creation but also to defend themselves from the virus and gain immunity, enabling them to continue working throughout the pandemic. The director did not specify how many people were vaccinated, but described them all as “alive, healthy and happy.”

Ginzburg believes that it would take about six months to immunize the entire country once the vaccine is officially approved. If everything goes to plan, he hopes it will be approved by the end of summer. In his opinion, the first people to be immunized should be frontline doctors and the elderly.

ALSO ON RT.COMNormal life in Moscow will resume ONLY after 60% of residents have Covid-19 immunity – official

On Thursday, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko told TV channel Russia 1 that “access to wider use of the vaccine should appear sometime at the end of July.” Previously, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova had reported that 47 different vaccines were being developed throughout the country.

According to the latest government data, Russia has had 326,448 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Thus far, 99,825 people have recovered, and 3,249 have died.

Europe is abandoning Trump on the world stage as it turns away from the US toward China

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has triggered global criticism. 
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Analysis banner
  • Recent polling suggests Europeans are turning away from the US under President Donald Trump’s leadership.
  • Public opinion toward America has declined in major European countries since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Seventy-six percent of Germans in a new poll said their view of America had deteriorated because of the crisis.
  • Roughly equal numbers of Germans in the poll favored maintaining close relationships with China and the US in a head-to-head matchup.
  • One poll last week found that just 2% of French people trusted Trump to provide world leadership.
  • China is exerting growing political, diplomatic, and financial power across Europe.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump is presiding over the deterioration of the US’s position on the world stage as European countries increasingly look toward China as a future global leader.

This shift is apparent in a series of recent opinion polls that found European sentiment toward the US to be in decline since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

New polling published in Germany this week found that an overwhelming majority of Germans said they had a worse opinion of the US because of the pandemic.

The survey found that 76% of Germans said their view of the US had deteriorated because of the pandemic, compared with 36% who said the same of China.

The poll found:

  • Germans were largely split when asked whether they favored maintaining close relations with China or the US.
  • 37% of Germans said it was more important to maintain close relations with the US, compared to 36% who said the same of China.
  • That was a big drop from a poll last year, when 50% of Germans said maintaining US relations was the priority, compared with just 24% who said China.
  • In a separate question, just 10% of Germans saw the US as the country’s most important global partner, down from 19% last year. Six percent said the same of China, down 1 percentage point from the year before.

Separate polling conducted in the UK also found a deterioration in Britain’s view of the US since the pandemic began.

Asked at the end of last month whether Britain should forge a stronger relationship with Europe or with the US, 35% of Brits told the pollsters YouGov that Europe should be the priority, compared with just 13% who said the US.

That’s a net shift of 6 percentage points toward Europe since early November and came despite Britain’s exit from the European Union in January.

The shift comes amid global shock about recent interventions by President Donald Trump on the coronavirus pandemic.

The president’s comments speculating that disinfectant might be used to treat coronavirus patients caused widespread disbelief and horror in many European countries.

“Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger,” the Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole wrote last month in response to Trump’s comments.

“But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.”

Reports that Trump had attempted to buy exclusive rights to a coronavirus vaccine being developed in Germany also triggered anger on the continent.

Trump’s behavior has highlighted already widespread negative feelings in Europe toward the president, with one survey last week finding that just 2% of French people trusted Trump to lead the world.

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The ‘Conman Elites’ That Want To “Save Us” From COVID-19

Last week the Federal Reserve released a report predicting that the next print on GDP numbers will likely show a loss of 34.9% in the second quarter. This is the biggest GDP plunge since the Great Depression; even the crash of 2008 doesn’t compare.  And when we take into account the fact that the Fed artificially boosts GDP calculations by adding in many non-productive government programs, we have to ask, what are the REAL losses above and beyond what the Fed admits to?

With the supply chain in disarray, many companies (like Apple) are trying to shift their manufacturing base to dodge the pandemic. Of course, none of them want to bring factories back to the US; there’s simply no incentive to do so. And, the small business sector has been crushed by the shutdowns, with the vast majority of those seeking bailout loans still waiting for aid and over 20.5 million employees laid off in April alone.

Needless to say, the economy has been severely affected. The problem is that many people are being led to believe that this event has been triggered by the virus outbreak alone. This is a lie. As I noted back in February in my article ‘Global Centralization Is The Cause Of The Crisis – Not The Cure’, the collapse of the Everything Bubble was well underway long before the pandemic. The crash was started by the Federal Reserve hiking rates into economic weakness at the end of 2018, puncturing the bubble and setting the liquidity crisis in motion.

The pandemic is just the icing on the cake of a collapse that was going to happen anyway. It is also a convenient scapegoat, because now the banking elites are going to escape all the blame for the crash and the public is going to hyperfocus on the coronavirus as the culprit.

As I also warned would happen over the past few months, the Chinese government has been caught in numerous lies surrounding their response to the outbreak, including hiding the true numbers of dead and infected and suppressing information to the rest of the world on the danger of human-to-human transmission. The problem that the public is still not being told about, however, is that the Chinese did not act alone, they had help.

It takes two sides to do the pandemic tango – If air travel had been cut off from China immediately upon the confirmation of the virus spread until the danger could be assessed, the outbreak may have never carried beyond China’s borders. Yet this did not happen. Air travel remained open for weeks from China after the outbreak confirmation. Then, when the virus hit Italy hard, air travel continued from Europe to the US unabated. It was almost as if the establishment WANTED the virus to spread quickly…

I remember some of the idiotic sentiments being passed around in web forums back in January and February. Some people argued that the virus “only infects Asians”. Some people said sarcastically “Oh no, whatever will we do without our new iPhones…!”. And, yet others, including the Trump Administration, argued that the US economy would escape any real harm.

Well, we are a few months into the outbreak and now the US has the largest number of infections in the world. US deaths are already almost triple that of the CDC’s yearly reported 30,000 deaths for the flu. The virus is no Black Plague, but it’s not something to be shrugged off either. If this virus behaves anything like the pandemics of the past, expect it to linger for a couple of years, not just a few months.  The lockdowns actually guarantee that this situation will drag on for quite some time.

Apple iPhone sales have crashed 77% in April, right along with almost every other sector of the economy. Clearly, the Trump Administration and Larry Kudlow were either lying to us in February, or they had no idea what they were talking about.

Despite the current reopening hype, the situation is only going to get worse from here on out. Certainly in terms of the economy, but also in terms of the outbreak. The globalists have openly discussed their plans for this pandemic, including a minimum 18 month period of lockdowns and “reopenings”. The public seems to be oblivious to the fact that the plan is for a “1 month open, 2 months closed” cycle going into next year. That’s right, the lockdowns will return.

Certain globalists have slithered out of the swamp to the forefront of media attention recently, and it is interesting to see how transparent the narrative has become. As I have predicted time and time again, during the collapse the very people that helped create the crisis are now suddenly being put on a pedestal by the media as our saviors and some are being presented as “rebels” on the side of conservatives. Here are just a few global elites that have been specifically prominent during this disaster.

Bill Gates

Wow, I’m getting incredibly sick of seeing Bill Gates presented in the media lately as some kind of virology guru. Why should we take the advice of a computer programmer on issues of biology and sociopolitical response? Why should we take the advice of an open globalist with an admitted agenda of population control?

Bill Gates is notorious for letting his agendas slip in public forums such as his Ted Talks. In 2010 Gates called for carbon emissions to be reduced to zero (an impossibility without complete de-industrialization and the economic murder of billions of people). In the same talk, he hinted that methods to reduce the population could include “new vaccines and reproductive health services…” He did not elaborate at the time, except to claim that vaccines would lead to “social changes” that would reduce population.  Aren’t vaccines supposed to extend people’s lives, thus increasing the population?

We do know that Bill Gates has funded numerous experimental vaccine trials through the World Health Organization, including Polio vaccination programs. It was these same programs that led to viral outbreaks of polio in various countries and hundreds of paralyzed children. In fact, the vaccines caused more cases of polio than the wild-type virus. This if VERIFIED FACT, admitted by the WHO, though numerous leftist media sources have tried to deny it.

At most, the WHO and Gates can claim that the infections were “accidental”. But if this is the case, it would still suggest that vaccines developed by Gates Foundation programs and the WHO should not be trusted. Given Gates’ obsession with depopulation, I think it safer to not allow him to inject viruses (living or dead) into people.

The Gates Foundation was also central in Event 201, a pandemic exercise which “simulated” a coronavirus outbreak and the government and UN response. This exercise took place only a couple of months before the real thing happened. What an incredible coincidence. It is also an incredible coincidence that almost every solution presented in the simulation is now being implemented or suggested around the world during the real pandemic, including the use of tracking apps and immunity passports that violate every level of personal freedom we know.

Gates is not a hero, far from it. In fact, Gates and his ideology benefit greatly from the pandemic.

Mohamed El-Erian

A dedicated globalist, El-Erian has been everywhere in the economic media lately. As I examined in my Globalist Disinformation Spotlight article, El-Erian is an active promoter of a global currency under the control of the IMF through its Special Drawing Rights basket. He also argued last year that economic swings were “out of the control of central banks” and that they should not be blamed for any financial disruptions. At the same time, El-Erian claimed that the US economy was “strong” and that there was no chance of a recession in 2020.

El-Erian was consistently wrong about almost everything last year, but this year, suddenly, he has been the go-to guy for the economic media. Mohamed has shifted gears entirely in 2020, flip-flopping on his outlook and presenting, finally, a realistic analysis of the situation.  He is now being presented as the wise man on the mountain warning us of impending disaster.

This is a classic case of the globalist “savior” narrative in play. They lie about the danger of collapse right up until the collapse becomes obvious to the public, and then they suddenly start warning of the collapse when it is too late for the public to do anything about it. That is to say, they keep the public unprepared and complacent for as long as possible, then act like they predicted the whole mess at the last minute.

Elon Musk

The great fake liberty billionaire.  A long time globalist, Musk seems like an enigma, but he is really rather simple. As a classic narcissist, Musk switches his persona to ride what he sees as the waves of public sentiment. He wants to be all things to all people and has bought into his own hype. A couple of years ago Musk was a globalist gatekeeper, a top guest of the Global Government Summit, a proponent of universal basic income, and argued in favor of transhumanism.

Musk’s companies are lavished with praise in the media despite their minimal global market share.  Being one of the only carmakers in the US does mean Tesla is one of the “biggest” in the US, I suppose (but how often do you actually see a Tesla on the road outside of California?).  The problem is Musk survives predominantly by siphoning up billions in government funding and taxpayer dollars. Without such funding, Musk would have been out of business a long time ago.  This fact runs contrary to Musk’s new persona as a kind of libertarian, small government businessman.

Also keep in mind that Musk’s business model relies on global warming propaganda flowing out of the same elitist circles he enjoys when he’s not “speaking out” about government tyranny.  If carbon controls are not enforced by governments (and if gas prices stay low), Musk’s high-priced electric cars have no market.

While Musk’s companies live primarily on government welfare, the guy acts like he’s some kind of savant, and he has a lot of people fooled on this account on both sides of the political spectrum. It is truly astounding.  If he is a “genius” at anything, it is that he is an effective con man.

For now, Musk is attempting to hook into the alternative media and the rise of the liberty movement with his anti-lockdown tweets and sudden opposition to globalism. Has Musk been “red-pilled”?  I suspect he will flip-flop again in due course. If Musk wants to cut off all ties to his many friends in the globalist community then perhaps he has turned a new leaf, but I seriously doubt it.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

One of the people that helped create the coronavirus outbreak is the leading Trump Administration talking head on the coronavirus response. An avid defender of the WHO and, along with Trump, a defender of China’s rigged data back in January, Fauci is the guy who, in 2015, greenlit the millions of dollars in funding on coronavirus research at the Level 4 lab in Wuhan, China.  This is the same lab that is now under investigation for releasing the virus on the world, and Fauci’s funding went directly into research on coronavirus transmission from bats to other mammals.

All I have to ask is, why has this man been at the forefront of the pandemic response for the US? Now in self-isolation for possible infection, perhaps Fauci will fade into the background as he is further exposed as a participant in the creation of this pandemic.

Greta Thunberg

Thunberg is not so much a global elite as she is a useful idiot.  A puppet of her activist parents, Thunburg only parrots the same global warming arguments that have already been debunked year after year, yet she continues to be elevated in the mainstream media as a spokes girl for environmentalism.  Why?  Because the “children are our future”, and leftists love the idea of brainwashed kid activists.  If Thunburg is any indication of the next generation, the future is bleak.

While there is still zero concrete evidence that human carbon emissions lead directly to changes in the Earth’s climate, it is true that the climate does “change” over time.  Of course, shifts in activity on the gigantic nuclear fusion reactor in space known as THE SUN are probably more responsible for temperature changes on the Earth than the tiny 0.04% of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere.  Don’t tell the political left this, though, or you might be labeled a “climate denier”…

Thunberg and other climate activists have suddenly been pushed to the forefront recently to comment on the pandemic situation.  This might seem rather bizarre, but it makes sense when you realize how the pandemic is being exploited by the globalists to achieve certain goals.  Every agenda of the globalists from carbon emissions reductions to the suppression of industrial manufacturing to the destruction of large scale farming and even to the reduction of meat in people’s diets is being accomplished right now by the coronavirus and the government shutdowns.  Where climate activists failed, the virus is making headway.

Beyond that, climate activists are now arguing that the restrictions put in place because of the pandemic should be KEPT IN PLACE because of global warming.  You see how that works?  One has nothing to do with the other, but the technocrats will force the public to see them as related if they can.  Just “listen to the scientists”, people!  Listen and obey the high priests of the Technotronic era.  Stop demanding evidence, you aren’t “smart enough” to understand it anyway.  Only UN-funded labs have the power to decipher the magical math behind global warming studies.

The pandemic will open the door to many lies and the flood of disinformation the alternative media has been working so hard to counter is going to explode beyond anything we’ve seen in the past.  The elites are at a crossroads.  They have to turn the public towards supporting collectivism and tyranny now, or they may find themselves facing the business end of a large number of torches and pitchforks.  At the bottom, these elites should be in prison, not on TV dictating to the people about how they should behave and what freedoms they should give up during the crisis.

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