This article was originally published by The Defender — Children’s Health Defense’s News & Views Website.
(Children’s Health Defense) — The U.K.’s Royal Society – acclaimed as the world’s oldest scientific academy – last week issued a report saying there was “clear evidence” that lockdowns, masks, contact tracing, travel restrictions and other nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) were effective at reducing COVID-19 transmission “in some countries.”
However, in an article published Wednesday in UnHerd, Kevin Bardosh, Ph.D., research director at Collateral Global – which is “dedicated to researching, understanding and communicating the global impacts of policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic” – called the report “deeply flawed,” saying it revealed “an unfortunate detachment from reality in our prestigious scientific institutions.”
Bardosh called out the report, particularly for its use of the word “unequivocally,” which stated:
In summary, evidence about the effectiveness of NPIs applied to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 shows unequivocally that, when implemented in packages that combine a number of NPIs with complementary effects, these can provide powerful, effective and prolonged reductions in viral transmission.
Bardosh, whose work has focused on the epidemiology and control of human, animal and vector-borne infectious disease in over 20 countries, is co-author of more than 50 peer-reviewed publications.
In this 2022 analysis of the unintended consequences of COVID-19 vaccine policy, published in BMJ Global Health, Bardosh and co-authors concluded: “mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies have had damaging effects on public trust, vaccine confidence, political polarization, human rights, inequities and social wellbeing.”
Failure to ‘evaluate the harmful consequences’ of policies
Bardosh said the central problem with the Royal Society report – and similar work like last year’s Lancet Commission report and Nature’s review – is that they fail to comprehensively evaluate the harmful consequences of pandemic policies.
Instead they “exclude or minimize the uncomfortable outliers and data that question orthodoxy and sidestep the hard policy questions.”
Without such critical inquiry, “simple narratives and comfortable popular projections” become entrenched, said Bardosh, in part by the mainstream media’s constant repetition of messages – like “masks worked” and “lockdowns slowed the spread” – and by admonitions to not question the conclusions or the authorities or institutions responsible for pushing them.
Among the most glaring yet unexamined consequences, according to Bardosh, are the hundreds of millions of people pushed into poverty and food insecurity by COVID-19 pandemic mandates and the lost educational opportunities for children.
In another article in UnHerd, Bardosh called out the U.K. COVID-19 inquiry – after more than 40 child rights charities and advocates issued a “scathing indictment” – saying it “must address the harms to children,” and that “lockdown ‘experts’ need to be held to account.”
Children were not vectors of disease, despite pervasive media propaganda that toddlers would kill grandma. They were at minuscule risk from severe outcomes. Schools were never places of high transmission, something known as early as April 2020.
Yet the expert classes, media and politicians hyped the risk to kids, dressing it up in a garb of unquestionable moralism that fed on our deepest fears: hurting children.
What’s wrong with the Royal Society analysis?
The Royal Society report found individual NPIs in isolation had no effect on transmission, and it considered only the reduction of transmission in its overall analysis, not the illness or death outcomes, Bardosh pointed out.
In its analysis of lockdown and social distancing data, the Royal Society inconsistently applied targeting of time periods and effect sizes, and failed to distinguish between voluntary and mandated behavior change, he said.
Bardosh further criticized the report for relying heavily on observational studies from high-income countries and for cherry-picking cases from countries like South Korea, New Zealand and Hong Kong while ignoring those from Sweden, India, Haiti and Nicaragua.
“For the 17% of the world that could stay home (about 500 million people) during the height of global lockdown, reports are now written that render the other 83% invisible,” he wrote.
The report’s review of the evidence on masks, noted Bardosh, contradicts the recently updated meta-analysis of 78 randomized control trials (RCTs) by Cochrane which, while admitting the flaws in the study, nonetheless found “the pooled results of RCTs did not show a clear reduction in respiratory viral infection with the use of medical/surgical masks” and “wearing N95/P2 respirators… may make little to no difference in how many people catch a flu-like illness.”
In his article last week about mask mandates, Bardosh also cited the recent RCT studies of community-wide cloth masking in Bangladesh and Guinea-Bissau during the pandemic, which found little to no benefit from the interventions.
Before COVID, population-wide medical masks were not viewed as a particularly effective tool for respiratory viruses. In a 2018 address at the National Academy of Medicine, science writer Laurie Garrett stated that ‘the major efficacy of a mask is that it causes alarm in a person and so you stay away from each other.’
The many downsides of facemask use also remained unexplored in the report. In his masking article Bardosh wrote:
Oddly, the pro-mask narrative ignores the… harmful effects on social and emotional cognition, the toxicity of poorly manufactured masks, environmental pollution, psychological and physical discomfort (especially in people with a history of trauma or abuse), as well as increased social conformity to illogical bureaucracy and greater acceptance of mass surveillance technologies.
Collateral Global in April brought together a group of 30 scholars, activists and experts from across the globe to discuss the impacts of pandemic restrictions in low- and middle-income countries – many of which were not considered in the Royal Society study, according to Bardosh.
They issued a report calling for focusing on human rights and centering local actors’ knowledge and experience, disaggregating risk based on local conditions, consistent public investment in healthcare across the world, open and accurate information flow from central authorities to regional areas and back, and for governments to avoid unnecessary and unworkable restrictions on movement, freedoms and the economy.
They also called out the acceleration of the global trend toward authoritarianism, the unlawful granting of emergency powers to the state and the manipulation of public opinion through the exploitation of fear.
Bardosh warned of a global policy “domino-effect” where lockdown policymaking in major countries invariably leads, through political pressure, to the herding of lower-income countries into the same mandates, regardless of the social and economic harm.
A new ‘lockdown doctrine’?
Despite the shortcomings of the Royal Society report, it is already being used as a rallying point for a new global preparedness vision, according to Bardosh, to make sure that NPIs such as lockdowns are rolled out early in the next pandemic.
This is part of the 100-day mission roadmap promoted by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), Bardosh said.
CEPI is closely connected to efforts to develop a vaccine for “Disease X,” raising over a billion dollars from governments and organizations such as the Gates Foundation.
According to the 100 Days website, “In preparing for Disease X, it’s important to be clear about the knowns and the unknowns: The X in ‘Disease X’ stands for everything we don’t know” and “What we do know is that the next Disease X is coming and that we have to be ready.”
CEPI recently hosted the Global Pandemic Preparedness Summit with the U.K. government “to explore how we can respond to the next ‘Disease X’ by making safe, effective vaccines within 100 days,” stating it has a $3.5 billion “pandemic-busting plan” that “will kickstart and coordinate this work.”
According to the Daily Mail, countries have pledged $1.5 billion for this plan.
Bardosh called this “our new lockdown doctrine.”
In a June article, he wrote that this doctrine represents the consolidation of the world’s resources toward pandemic preparedness and building “the critical infrastructure for rapid lockdown,” and that “Shutting down harder and faster next time is the wrong idea.”
Sir Jeremy Farrar, previous director at the Wellcome Trust and current WHO [World Health Organization] Chief Scientist, warned the inquiry not to be complacent in our ‘new pandemic age.’
Views expressed this week sounded similar to those outlined in Bill Gates’s recent book, ‘How to Prevent the Next Pandemic.’ The Gates Foundation has become the WHO’s second largest donor, giving it an oversized influence in determining the shape of future pandemic responses.
In his book, Gates outlines a plan echoed so far in the U.K. inquiry: lock down fast and make reopening dependent on a vaccine.
Bardosh warned the successful rollout of lockdowns, vaccines and therapeutics would require “mechanisms to shape public opinion, curtail civil liberties and deploy massive government spending programs.”
Bardosh sees the Royal Society report – driven by “powerful interests, spin and egos” – functioning as just such a mechanism, forming the latest brick in the wall of a new and expanding global command-and-control system.
“We have seen in the years since 2020,” he wrote, “that once you impose a slew of government mandates, repealing them is just as difficult.”
Bardosh hopes that “skeptical academic oddballs” like him can make enough noise to make a difference.
This article was originally published by The Defender – Children’s Health Defense’s News & Views Website under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Please consider subscribing to The Defender or donating to Children’s Health Defense.