McKinsey, the Force Multiplier for the Opioid Crisis, Goes All in With Anti-Public-Health Messaging on Covid

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It has been deeply disturbing to see how what passes for leadership in advanced economies has consigned its citizens to unnecessary Covid risks, and with that, the very real odds of significant reductions in lifespans, in the name of profit.

Virtually everyone in authority, from supposed medical experts to pols to the press, talks about Covid mortality and morbidity as if it were a one shot game. It isn’t. For instance, one case study looked at three individuals who had three Covid outbreaks each in 2020. All were under 65 with no pre-existing conditions.1

As our reader GM keeps stressing, even if one assumes that patients are scrupulous in keeping up with vaccinations, it still translates on average into multiple Covid cases for a young adult by the time he reaches 65, unless we get lucky and eventually get a near or actually sterilizing vaccine down the road. Each Covid infection carries with it morbidity risk, such as lung, kidney and heart damage, fatigue, brain fog, and inflammation. There is no good data on how lasting this sort of damage is. That means that some, potentially many patients will go into their second (and third, and fourth) Covid case in a diminished state as a direct result of prior Covid infection, independent of aging and other co-morbidities like diabetes developing in the meantime.

The Canadian Journal of Public Health published a landmark article, The year public health lost its soul: a critical view of the COVID-19 response, which we’ve cited before. It describes how Covid measures (in the West) represented an unprecedented success by commercial interests in squashing public health priorities. An extract:

Public health, as a discipline, rests on three basic tenets. First, its goal of fostering individual and collective health and well-being implies benevolence. Second, interventions ought to rest on principles tested through scientific approaches. Finally, as the discipline evolved during the 20th century, equity became its third core pillar: Interventions should aim at reducing health disparities between individuals and between groups….

Economic actors impacted by lockdowns and infection control measures successfully convinced many governments to slowly push the balance of the containment strategies toward looser infection control measures and the acceptance of higher infection rates. The reference point of balanced-containment strategies slowly shifted from minimizing cases to optimizing intensive care bed occupancy rates near or above 100%….

In the meantime – and unsurprisingly – the balanced-containment strategies were also shown to be deeply inequitable…

More efforts seem to go in controlling the political spin and rationing the information made available than in trying to correct documented deficiencies…The ambition to be a science-driven evidence-based practice continues to be daily trampled in evidence-free statements.

Campaigns for the commerce-favoring “Let ‘er rip” approach have included stunningly dishonest messaging, like “herd immunity” when coronavirus infection does not produce lasting protection, or “Covid is no worse than the flu” when flu doesn’t do lasting damage to survivors. The new version of this “Get happy with dying younger than you should have” are the new spins of “Learn to live with Covid” and trying to make Covid becoming endemic as not so bad.

A new article by McKinsey, a proud recidivist in moral dereliction, does a public service of sorts by putting many of these rancid arguments in one tidy piece, Pandemic to endemic: How the world can learn to live with COVID-19. After getting two odious meme in the headline, it goes full bore into another in the subhead: “With prospects of herd immunity fading…”

As KLG wrote:

Our local leading infectious disease doc and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine views SARS-CoV-2 as something “everyone will get, so we just have to learn to live with it.” And die with it, eventually, which is left unsaid.

Right now all I see is universal complacency, which is based on pandemic fatigue, a current seemingly manageable situation, and a “trust the science” attitude from physicians and medical students who are deeply uncritical. Just another way of saying they are lazy, have no appreciation of the scientific method, and easily convinced that Big Pharma, NIH, and CDC have this all under control.

IM Doc added:

Having an infectious disease become endemic is not the same as having a sore throat as much as our media would like to portray it that way. If COVID follows form to the previous coronavirus pandemics that have become endemic, we have literally years to go before our immune systems collectively call a truce with it.

I do not see the vaccines making a huge dent in this – especially the way we have chosen to play that game. HIV is raging in Africa but not here in the developed world….Why? We just simply do not make our meds available cheaply to them….The CEOs need to make tens of millions for their yachts. Why do people think this would be any different with COVID vaccines or therapies? Alfred Schweitzer and Jonas Salk are long gone. Today, it is all about greed. And things are going to be worlds different between HIV and COVID. COVID is going to be infinitely more difficult to contain.

I wasn’t sure I’d be able to maintain my composure for long enough to do a proper job of shredding the McKinsey propaganda. But GM, unsolicited, did the heavy lifting, so please give him a big round of applause!

Below find McKinsey text in italics, with GM’s comments in normal typeface.

* * *

It is fitting that McKinsey is dancing on the grave of public health — the MBAs did both the short-term and long-term cost-benefit analysis back in March 2020 and the decision to kill public health for good naturally followed.

And now we are at the point at which the elites can’t be bothered to even think about the death rates in the plebs population so we are declaring the “transition from pandemic to endemic”…

What’s happening now is not unusual. Epidemics end in one of two ways—either we close off all chains of transmission and drive cases to zero, as with all Ebola epidemics to date, or the disease becomes an ongoing part of the infectious-disease landscape, or endemic, as tuberculosis is today.1 Occasionally, as with smallpox, a previously endemic disease is eradicated.2 But, for the most part, endemic diseases are here to stay. The shift from pandemic to endemic entails a number of practical considerations, as we discuss in this article. But the shift is also psychological, as we will be deprived of the satisfaction that a clean pandemic end point would bring. Instead, societies will have to adapt to living alongside COVID-19 by making some deliberate choices about how to coexist.

The tiny little problem here is that right now in the human population there is only one infectious agent that is worse than SARS-CoV-2, and that is HIV. We have malaria, which is about as bad (but in the long term one will suffer more damage from COVID, because of more frequent reinfections and the expected escalating downwards spiral after sufficiently many of them; malaria does do long-term damage but not to the same extent), and we have yellow fever, which is worse in terms of IFR, but does not reinfect (and for which there is a proper single-dose lifetime vaccine), but those have external reservoirs in mosquitos and there isn’t much we can do. Trypanosomas are even worse, but it’s the same situation in terms of vectors. However, those are geographically limited.

And they are limited because we did in fact do some quite extreme things to get rid of them in the more northern latitudes, at the cost of tremendous ecological damage (i.e. eradicating mosquitos by draining swamps and indiscriminately poisoning everything with DTT). Because we wanted no part of “living with malaria”…

Nothing else other than HIV is endemic within the human population and as bad or worse than COVID. And HIV is not airborne, you can quite easily avoid catching it.

Things like pertusis and diphtheria we can treat because they are bacterial and we have proper vaccines for those anyway.

After SARS-CoV-2, the next thing in the rankings of nastiness that circulates out of control is seasonal flu.

Everything else we took care of in the civilized world by eliminating it with public health measures.

Now we are being asked to live with COVID? And the “public health experts” are mostly on board…

A complete approach to managing endemic COVID-19 requires the consideration of four interwoven elements. First, society will have to reach a consensus on what is an acceptable disease burden and use those targets to define an acceptable new normal.

Right now in the US “acceptable” has been determined to be at least 2,000 deaths a day (the peak of the summer Delta wave). We will see what levels we will reach in January and whether those will be ignored too. But in Eastern Europe right now there are countries where the death rate is the equivalent of 15,000 deaths a day in the US, and those also refuse to shut down…

First, goals must recognize the “whole of society” impact of COVID-19. Targets for the health burden of the disease remain paramount, but countries can also introduce targets for economic and social disruption.

But beyond death or severe disease, COVID-19 has affected daily activities (learning and working, for example, and mental health). As such, measures of workdays lost, business closures, and school-absenteeism rates should also be considered.

Countries are actually obliged by international law to control epidemics:,_Social_and_Cultural_Rights#Article_12

And there is nothing about “balancing saving lives with the economy” in those treaties. Of course, the US is the only country that has not ratified, but the rest of the world has, and despite that the same policies are followed there too.

And it’s not only public health experts, but also “human rights” organizations that are completely silent on the issue…

Some countries are, therefore, resetting their expectations: “For this outbreak, it’s clear that long periods of heavy restrictions [have not gotten] us to zero cases,” said New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. “But that is OK. Elimination was important because we didn’t have vaccines. Now we do. So we can begin to change the way we do things.”

Or, what probably happened, New Zealand was pressured by its “international partners” to abandon elimination because it made them look bad (plus probably some other reasons). Michael Baker (who was one of the epidemiologists leading the elimination program) has said on several occasions now that the shift in policy came without any consultation with the scientists who were working with the government on COVID policy while elimination was the goal. They were completely taken out of the decision making process, which is quite telling.

The high efficacy of today’s vaccines in preventing severe cases of COVID-19 is critical to normalizing society. Portugal illustrates the point: with 98 percent of those eligible fully vaccinated, severe COVID-19 cases are now rare and almost all public-health restrictions have been lifted.

Portugal is just two months behind where Denmark was in September, when they announced freedom from the virus. And we see how well that is going right now.

Meanwhile we may well find ourselves in a January 2020 situation at any moment with the appearance of a complete-escape variant…2

Moreover, as we transition from a heroic, one-time effort to stand up an infrastructure that put billions of doses in arms to a more routine program of booster vaccination, healthcare providers must integrate and institutionalize COVID-19 vaccinations into their broader ongoing operations.

I have yet to see anyone with a serious platform question the wisdom of staking the existence of organized society (for that is what is at stake — we would have to abandon large cities if this particular virus is out of control in the population for sufficiently long) on a very complex and fragile technology that can disappear at any moment, but which has to be used on a permanent basis to keep immunity levels high enough to avoid a collapse of the system. We will not be able to make those vaccines, at all or at the very least at the necessary scale, at some point in the future, that is near-guaranteed, because of the overall trajectory of industrial civilization. Then what?

Vulnerable populations

The final critical element of limiting death from COVID-19 is outreach to those who are most at risk. Some groups, whether because they live in crowded settings, suffer from socioeconomic disadvantage, or have limited access to healthcare, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic to date. As the level of public attention focused on COVID-19 wanes, societies must be careful to avoid strategies that place a disproportionate burden on the most vulnerable. While some progress has been made, those with low-wage frontline jobs, those living in more crowded settings, and those with the least favorable access to healthcare have too often borne the greatest burden during the pandemic.

Another thing nobody seems to have caught on is that the vaccines actually made the vulnerable more vulnerable and unprotected. Because the vaccines don’t work that well in the elderly and the immunocompromised, but they work a lot better in the young and healthy. Where it was the lowest to begin with, without vaccines.

So the risk for the latter is minimized, which removes all incentives for them to support non-pharmaceutical intervenions (that is still extremely foolish — those breakthrough infections in the young only appear harmless — but in the short term the consequences are not obvious). Then the vulnerable are left exposed and at high risk even if they are vaccinated.

And then you end up with situations like the one in Russia now, which is an extremely scary precedent that few are paying attention to — they declared that people over 60 who are unvaccinated are not allowed to leave their homes, i.e. total lockdown but only for those people.

But what happens when the complete escape mutant arrives? Which it most likely will at some point.

At that point everybody is suddenly unvaccinated again. Will they just lockdown everyone over 60? It is only one step removed from what they are doing now…

But guess what? That is exactly the GBD proposal — “shield the vulnerable”, let everyone else get infected, but in a much less veiled form…

Widely available and rapid testing can help individuals and societies take the steps needed to limit further transmission.

Rapid testing is a ruse designed to trick people into agreeing to uncontrolled spread.

Because that is exactly what has happened wherever it is widely available. The UK is a classic example — they have had a rpaid testing for a long time, and what has that gotten them? Officially 40K cases a day, in really 80-90K infections a day, for many months now…

Yves adds: Rapid testing by itself is not productive unless those who test positive isolate and report on their contacts around the time of peak infectiousness, if they developed symptoms and can work from the onset date, or otherwise recent ones. That in turns requires support for those who hole up (income replacement, delivery of food and other needed household items; for some, child care) and contact tracing with testing and isolation requirements. Neoliberal-infested governments lack the will or competence to do anything remotely that disciplined.

* * *

The bits that GM flagged were particularly noxious. Readers with strong constitution or hazmat suits could be so bold as to look through the entire document and highlight other nasty bits in the comments section.

1 The article conceded some of these apparent reinfections could have reactivation rather than a new infection, but that’s not a terribly cheery alternative. And this is pre-Delta.

2 Via a separate e-mail, GM gave a new sighting as a reminder that the odds of this happening are not as remote as the “Don’t worry” though police want you to believe:

A potentially important update on the still undesignated variant from France/Congo that I think I mentioned a couple weeks ago and that is likely a complete or near-complete escape variant:

It was first sequenced in Congo (Brazzaville) in late September. Then there were several clusters in France, and it also showed up in the UK, Italy and Switzerland.

Then Congo reported a bunch of additional sequences yesterday. They don’t sequence much there, but other than this one it is all Delta there, i.e. right now it is not at all clear that we are not in a situation in which this thing is replacing Delta rather than the other way around.

And now it’s already in California too (Delta was first detected in the US there too):

First USA sequence (California):

So this thing is spreading quite widely already and very fast too. Again, this is first detection in Congo (where they don’t sequence much anyway, and then within a month it is all over France, in multiple countries in Europe, and in the US too).

And everyone is asleep…

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  1. vlade

    Just one thing – flu may have long term effects, IIRC especially increases susceptibility to cardiovascular problems down the track. But the incidence of these is relatively low IIRC.

    I guess instead of “it’s like flu” you could say “it will become like flu”. In a decade or ten, few hundreds of millions prematurely dead later.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Regarding the cavalier attitude of not just McKinsey, but also very, very many public health professionals, I wonder if there is a generational problem. I’m old enough to remember the horror that would spread across elderly relatives faces when you mentioned TB or polio. I’ve seen people visibly shudder at the mention of the word ‘polio’. One elderly aunt of mine (a nurse) refused to visit my ailing mother because she being cared for in a former TB hospital – it had such terrible memories for my aunt of the people she knew who suffered and died there. Its hard to exaggerate the fear and dread those diseases caused. I can’t think that anyone of that generation would have so casually allowed our leaders to get away with this.

      1. Brian Beijer

        I agree. There are just too many Westerners who have not lived in really difficult times. They have no comprehension of how bad things can get in the future when this virus becomes endemic. In Sweden, almost everyone is living life in hyper-normality, meaning they’re going out even more often to bars and restaurants, socializing more, and in general act as though Covid were only a bad dream. As cases skyrocket in Denmark and Germany, FHM (Swedish CDC) decided that as of November 1st, no one who is vaccinated needs to test themselves if they become sick. They can return to work after a day or two of without fever.

        In an interview with Anders Tegnell (rep. of FHM), a reporter asked if there were things we in Sweden could do to prepare for this 4th wave that is obviously coming to us. Tegnell’s response was “we need to prepare the hospitals and ICUs”. The reporter asked if there were any preventative measures the government could take so that the number of sick and dying didn’t rise to the levels of previous waves. His response, “No, there isn’t anything we can do now, but we’ll think about maybe doing something in the future.” Tegnell ended by urging those who weren’t “vaccinated” to get the “vaccine”. That’s it. It seems that in every Western country, the “vaccine” is the only solution the government is willing to entertain. No one cares enough to stop this slow genocide. As long as they can continue to pretend like everything is normal, they’re ok. We’re all boiling frogs.

        1. clarky90

          It is late spring here in the Southern Hemisphere. I am sun-bathing in my back yard for an hour or two, every day, if the sun is out. (I am retired, so I make the time) I wash/shower/swim daily- BUT have not used soap or detergent (body wash) on my skin for about eight years! (However, I diligently wash my hands with soap or hand wash).

          Have you ever wondered why we generally secrete alot of sebum (skin oil) on the top of our noses, ears and shoulders?

          (“Sebum is a yellowish, oily substance secreted by the aptly named sebaceous glands that are found on nearly every surface of the body. Due to its unique composition, sebum seals in moisture and prevents skin from becoming over dry. It also has antibacterial properties, making it the body’s first defense against infection.”)

          Answer; because sebum protects our skin from sunburn AND, stores Vitamin D for reabsorbtion into our blood.

          Anybody feeling helpless and defenseless in the face of disease (pandemics like cancer, diabetes, covid……), please start preserving your God given sunblock (sebum), and get plenty of sun onto your skin.

          Or/and take vitamin D supplements!

          Also, you will smell like yourself, not fake apple or “floral”. You will not be polluting the water with chemicals- or filling our landfills with “recyclable” plastic shampoo/conditioner/body wash bottles.

          I did some meticulous “modeling”, and it turns out…………..

          win win win win win…………

          “…….Throughout the pandemic, evidence that having adequate vitamin D levels might lower a person’s risk of COVID-19 has continued to mount. For example, one study involving nearly 8,300 adults enrolled in the UK Biobank study found that those who took vitamin D regularly (daily or weekly) were 34 percent less likely to develop COVID-19 compared to those who did not take vitamin D. This effect was exclusive to supplementation with vitamin D, not other supplements, suggesting a link to vitamin D specifically. Other studies have shown that…

          COVID-19 patients who had higher vitamin D levels were 20 times less likely to have a critical outcome versus a mild one, and 8 times less likely to have a severe outcome versus a mild one.
          Among patients with COVID-19, 98.9 percent of those with vitamin D deficiency died; 88 percent of those with vitamin D insufficiency died; and just 4 percent of those with sufficiency died, even after adjusting for age, gender, and comorbidities.

          What’s driving the protective connection between vitamin D and COVID-19?

          Many things. But one, in particular, stands out: regulation of the renin-angiotensin system……”

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            lol. brave soul.
            I “smell like myself”, as well.
            wife and boys like all that stinky chemical “body wash” stuff….i like plain old, unscented bar soap.
            and as for Vitamin D…when i’m not being a taxi driver(twice this week to san antone…ugh), or laid up with the arthritis… i’m outside all the time…and leaning towards naked as weather permits(experimenting with induced cold tolerance this fall).
            i expect i have plenty of natural Vit. D.
            but of course this is only an assumption, since i don’t really have access to healthcare…so no blood test to actually find out.
            can one OD on vitamin D?
            i know that B Complex and C is self regulated by the body(pee orange)…but things like Zinc one can overdo.
            not really worried about myself, here…as i avoid people and mask in unavoidably crowded situations(as well as severely limiting time spent in those situations, and putting on the glamour of hostile barbarian with a crazy eye as a sort of repellent forcefield to strangers near me)…but thinking about my unvaxxed eldest son, who is also outside all the time for his job.
            i push B and C vitamins on him regularly…in the form of an elderberry gummy that he likes(almost 20 yo).

            as for the broader situation, outlined above…i’ve thought from the beginning, feb 2020, that this would be a culling exercise…along with the opioid, prison, “let any moron have a gun”, and an hundred other tacit and plausibly deniable failures throughout our so-called civilisation….
            the aristocracy and their enablers hate us, and want us dead.

            1. Rudolf

              Totally agree, amfortas. The oligarchs and their enablers know that C19 kills and maims millions. That is why all their proclamations to hide the true horrors of this disease are everywhere and believed by the misinformed/miseducated. The “elites” long ago drank the Ayn Rand coolaide. Thus: over population is “addressed” as well as the “climate crisis.” In short, allowing as many people as possible to die is a feature of the pandemic response. NOT a bug.

        2. Basil Pesto

          It’s long been my contention that if C19 were a more visceral disease, we’d be taking it more seriously. I understand that it can be fairly grim when the end is near, but by that point acute cases are often in hospitals and it’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Its asymptomaticity might induce collective complacency, as well.

          Spanish Flu was sometimes referred to as the Blue Death because of the cyanosis it induced – something plainly visible and readily understandable and recognisable as very unhealthy and wrong. If Covid-19 had a similar effect, might we be taking it more seriously? A hopeless hypothetical I know, and there are plenty of indicators that the public health rot is deep enough that it might not have made that big a difference. Yet still, I do wonder.

      2. john

        I agree…generational priviledge, which ignores the hard work and investment that helped this country become relatively epidemic free, compounded by ignorant greedy press and media I’ve been struck by the insistent comparison to the Great Flu epidemic –so far back in history–rather than the 1940-1960 polio scourge, within recent memory. (I was a school age child). Comparing public health actions, including mandates, and the public outrage, including racialization of the virus, would have been instructive.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    If anyone is wondering why they should contribute what you can afford to NC, its articles like this one that is all you need as a justification. There is simply no other news source out there so good at digging deep in the subjects other media will not touch.

  3. diptherio

    I hadn’t been keeping up with Denmark, so I did a little searching to see what GM was referring to. Oh my

    A further 3,017 new cases of Covid-19 were registered in Denmark on Wednesday, the highest total since December 23rd 2020 and the first time the number has exceeded 3,000 this year.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      They were doing really well. And then some bright spark decided that they were all clear and all restrictions, including masks, could be dropped. And now they are surprised at whats happening. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

      1. Frithiof Andreas Jensen

        The thinking is that the vaccine is a techno-magick spell for conjuring “Everything Shall Be As It Was”, and if it isn’t then better targeted, more obtuse, Communication – a.k.a. Spin – is totally enough effort to make!

        One of the problems specific to Denmark is that the Danish schools in general have such poor air quality that they are exempted from the normal occupational health and safety regulation, this has been known for years. Nothing is done, we even have new “super hospitals” with exactly the same problem, because we are a nation of cheapskates.

        The ventilation problem is compounded with that “the experts” seems have been let off their leashes to follow the inconsistent, and frankly retarded, “ideas” of Anders Tegnell.

        For example, when Danish school children are exposed to corona, the kids can keep going to school for the 2-4 days it takes for the PSR-test to come back, ensuring that one case in school means that half the class is infected as well as the infected kids parents. They are basically implementing the “herd immunity theory” from March 2019, that rapidly killed 12000 people in Sweden.

        I see this dysfunction of “Never Let a Bad Idea Die” quite a lot these days, maybe I am too old and have seen too much or maybe we are running ever closer to “internet time”, so the old bullshit is discovered and reheated by “critical / edgy minds” to come back around more often!?

    2. Basil Pesto

      when I was ranting about the covid situation a couple of months ago in a group chat, a friend who lives in Denmark was like “you’re probably right, but all I can say based on my experience at the moment is we’re doing fine right now with almost no cases”. me: “calm before the storm, baby”. I haven’t yet done my victory lap (and probably won’t because he’s not a dick)

      Of course, some people see large case numbers and shrug their shoulders; it’s only deaths they care about, or pretend to care about. They are shortsighted fools.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I saw how Oz passed an interesting milestone a few days ago. Oz had a big swell of cases in Victoria last year leading to the deaths of hundreds of people – mostly old age people in aged care homes. This you would be well familiar with I am sure, Basil. And then deaths plateaued from about November of last year to July of this one and was stuck at about 910 deaths. Then Scotty from Marketing – aided and abetted by Premier Gladys – commenced operation ‘Let ‘er Rip’.

        As if a few days ago, an equal number of people have died since NSW started opening up and I see that deaths number about 1,858 as of today. And that these death are nearly all just from NSW & Victoria with other States like Queensland yet to open up. How many will die on an annual basis? Don’t know. But when all the States open up, I would bet that all mentions of death tolls will cease to feature in our news. Their only purpose at the moment is to frighten people into getting a jab after all.

        And in a case of the dog not barking, it was been many months since I have seen mention of the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clotting. I guess that they tweaked it not to do that anymore.

      2. Rockyg

        Here in Santa Clara county in California, the county is locking in contracts for temp health care professionals in preparation of a winter surge. We still mask indoors in public places and while this county doesn’t check vaccine status in clubs and restaurants, other nearby counties do.

        Also, we’re at 85.6% vaccinated for 12 and up. The lowest rates of vaccination are among white and hispanic residents. No data on 5-11 vaccinations on the official site yet, but a few days ago, I saw news of 300,000 already.

        I think the education level and the large Asian population is a driving force for our numbers. I hope we keep following the Public Health experts, but I feel I am in a bubble and leaving it is scary, now.

  4. Jeotsu

    In the context of NZ, it is my understanding that it got away in Auckland when the disease got into the emergency-housing population. This is an area of life little seen by the general population which is defined by chaos and high turnover. Even if such people wanted to be compliant with protective measures (which assumes they have the psychological capacity, when possibly fleeing homes where they were just nearly beaten to death, as one example), the crowding and churn in the emergency placements makes it impossible.
    From there we subsequently had bleed-over into the “less socially compliant” subgroups, e.g. organised gangs.
    At that point the level of compliance in rules-following needed to stop delta was unattainable. We could have stopped another outbreak of wild type, or maybe even alpha, but with Delta they just couldn’t get the R0 back below 1.
    It is encouraging that they are discussing continuous NPIs for the foreseeable future. But just two days ago we had a large march of thousands of unmasked idiots through the middle of Wellington. Unsurprisingly, we’ve got covid-19 detections in our waste water for the first time.
    Our health system was already at max capacity, so this is going to start to hurt, fast. Even just trying to manage the health of people isolating at home is starting to creak. I’m glad we’re going into summer now, who knows what conditions will be like in 6 months.

    1. Basil Pesto

      One thing I would ask (and in turn encourage you to ask your representatives) is what would you say is the masking situation across the ditch? Surgicals? Cloth? Fitted or leaky?

      Are civilians wearing N95 or similar standard respirators, particularly indoors? (where ventilation is also important)

      The question that one (that is; everyone, everywhere) should be asking is: is the government organising the manufacture and/or distribution of N95 or better respirators to every resident free of charge (just as we are doing with the vaccines, remember)? Is there any compelling argument that such a policy wouldn’t meaningfully reduce R0?

      As I’ve argued for Australia, if we’re not doing this, then we’re barely even doing the minimum for controlling this disease. As you allude to, the dynamics of delta compared to wild type are different and require stronger defences (mask mandates + lockdown & lockout with basic cloth + surgical masks seemed sufficient for wild type/alpha, using Melbourne’s 2020 lockdown as a case study). The good thing about effective masking is that it doesn’t need 100% compliance to get the number down, so the refuseniks can continue to be suitably ignored (you could ostracise them too but the hope is that they would become irrelevant to the point that they don’t need to be made into pariahs).

  5. Susan the other

    This corporation is being allowed to practice medicine. They are giving medical advice… the very illegal corporate practice of medicine by our “proud recidivist in moral dereliction” – McKinsey. Already burdened with its own disgusting reputation, it is now advising us all on living with Covid. Isn’t there enough evidence against McKinsey to shut them down and put upper management in jail – and all their slimy corporate partners as well. Let’s do what South Africa did – sue them out of existence. And speaking of South Africa, they have both an HIV and a TB problem. So they are not only taking Covid vaccines, but they are also taking HIV and BCG regularly as well. It was said at the beginning of the pandemic that both medicines were good for Covid too. What is the current assessment of those meds? And could they have created the latest variant from the Congo?

  6. antidlc

    It’s hard to have any real hope.

    Many thanks to GM, IM Doc, members of the Covid Brain Trust, and everyone else who has given us the straight story.

    Thanks to NC.

    1. flora

      My thanks also to NC for the information I’ve found here. That gives me some hope we can work our way out of this mess… as long as there are still honest forums like NC where information can be presented and debated. I learned early on to take everything the in official narrative and MSM reporting with a grain of salt, and in this McKinsey case, with a large grain of salt. / ;)

  7. albrt

    Thanks for this article and the links on the potential escape variant. I have been thinking for a while that I will probably be wearing an N-95 mask in enclosed public spaces until I die. I don’t expect to escape Covid forever, I just expect to get it fewer times that the people who refuse to wear masks.

    It’s not such a great burden, except that it mostly rules out going to restaurants and bars, which I used to enjoy. At least I live in Phoenix where patio dining is an option for much of the year.

    On the positive side, I haven’t had a cold or flu-like illness since a Covid-like episode in January 2020.

  8. Camelotkidd

    The McKinsey article perfectly encapsulates Lamberts neoliberal formulation–1) because markets 2) go die
    Also, articles like this are why NC is head and shoulders above the corporate media, with all their slimy propaganda.

  9. Irrational

    For all the reasons listed by GM and other regular contributors on this topic, I have been doing my utmost to not get this disease – so far so good.
    An elimination strategy would seem preferable, but I worry that we missed that boat because the number of other species in which the disease has been found. They would presumably act as a reservoir except far more unmanageable than mosquitoes for malaria.
    Happy to hear counter-arguments.

    1. JEHR

      Well, this news is very depressing but not surprising. I guess we will have to forget about our “public health” ideas and take all the individual precautions we can in the meantime. Such a sad way to present the end of normality for a very long time indeed.

    2. megrim

      Well, mosquitos actively need to bite people in order to reproduce, but white tailed deer mostly want to be left alone. Until I hear about spillback from wild animals back to humans, I believe that elimination is still possible. But since elimination will not happen without concerted group effort, I’m left just trying to never get this virus.

  10. ChrisPacific

    Or, what probably happened, New Zealand was pressured by its “international partners” to abandon elimination because it made them look bad (plus probably some other reasons). Michael Baker (who was one of the epidemiologists leading the elimination program) has said on several occasions now that the shift in policy came without any consultation with the scientists who were working with the government on COVID policy while elimination was the goal. They were completely taken out of the decision making process, which is quite telling.

    I don’t think you need to hypothesize international pressure to explain this. I don’t doubt that it existed (Morrison for example was quite open about it) but NZ voters generally took a dim view of countries with poor Covid control records trying to tell them what to do.

    What happened was that the control measures that had worked in 2020 didn’t work this time around, due most likely to the increased transmissibility of Delta, and the government didn’t have a strong enough diagnostic capability or clear enough data to say exactly why not. Community transmission reached a low but non-zero equilibrium and then just… held there, even during the highest level of lockdown. In the absence of a clear explanation, a narrative took hold that it was happening in ‘below the radar’ populations like emergency housing and gangs. I have my doubts about this – the reporting from those populations didn’t seem to support the hypothesis, and there was plenty of evidence that the affluent were just as likely to be rule breakers if not more so – but the lack of data meant that the government couldn’t clearly refute it. In any case, the belief arose that there was a small percentage of society that wasn’t following the rules, and that that percentage was keeping Covid alive and circulating in the community. Whether this was true or not, I can’t say.

    This left the government with a dilemma. How long would it take to eliminate the virus if they continued with the current restrictions? Three months? Six months? A year? If the problem was with people not following the rules, was it even possible at all? Would stricter restrictions even do anything, if they weren’t being followed in the first place? And what would happen to public compliance if they persisted with a strategy that saw the majority of economic activity in the country shut down, without any clear end date or assurance that it would succeed? It seemed likely it would decline, meaning that the current measures (which were apparently already insufficient) would likely perform even less well.

    I think the government has moved to a ‘least worst outcome’ approach. We don’t know any more whether full elimination is possible in our current society – at least, not without an improvement in our diagnostic capability to the point where we can say for sure why it’s going wrong, followed by a fix for whatever problems are revealed. The price of making the attempt – shutting down Auckland for an indefinite length of time – was deemed too high politically, especially given the significant chance of failure. (Unacceptable risk for a politician means “we will lose the next election if we do this” which was most certainly a factor here).

    Am I happy with the resulting approach? By no means, but I’m not clear on what other options existed that could have worked or what else the government could have done. I think there is still a strong strain of denial in the global response, which has definitely taken hold here as well, and that this has constrained the range of available options quite severely. When one of the modelers projected 7000 Covid deaths a year there was a furore and the government was accused of scaremongering. Virtually nobody in the media pointed out that this was actually on the conservative side in comparison to some other countries, even highly vaccinated ones like Israel. Proper decision making requires properly informed public discussion, which has proved to be almost impossible for Covid. In the absence of that, choosing the least harmful option is sometimes all that’s left.

    1. GM

      I actually followed the NZ situation as closely as possible from afar back in August and September.

      It most definitely did not look like they tried everything.

      The big problem is that the government never set up population-scale testing.

      It is a wealthy country with a small population, so that should be eminently doable, but NZ never tried it. Even though it had been clear for many months from the Chinese experience that this is the way to make lockdowns quick and painless rather than very long.

      Exponential growth is very fast. But exponential decline is the exact opposite — it has a very long tail to zero.

      So if you rely on transmission chains passively dying out in a lockdown, you will wait a long time, as happened in Melbourne last year. It took three months and we saw a very clear demonstration of what passive exponential decline looks like — it basically took half of the lockdown to get it from 700 cases to 10, and then the other half to get from 10 to 0. But now we have Delta so it’s a lot worse than that.

      The only reason China managed to clear four different Delta outbreaks so far was mass testing — that is how you actively break transmission chains. And it took a dozen rounds of that in some cities.

      The fact that mass testing was never tried tells me there was never any serious intention to persist with elimination, at least for the six months prior to giving up, perhaps for a lot longer than that. They didn’t even have to mass test the whole of Auckland, it could have been done on the suspected populations first, which would have meant 50K tests or so. Perfectly doable, but they never tried…

      1. Basil Pesto

        Thanks for this insightful comment, I’d just like to clarify one thing if you don’t mind:

        So if you rely on transmission chains passively dying out in a lockdown, you will wait a long time, as happened in Melbourne last year.

        Are you suggesting an alternative for transmission chains dying out, related to testing, and what does that look like? My impression was that testing in Melbourne/Victoria has been quite good especially in the acute/lockdown phases, although my impression could certainly be wrong (and I’ve yet to have a Covid test of any type myself)

        1. GM

          It looks like what they do in China.

          1. Line up everyone (outdoors and masked so that it does not become a superspreader event itself).

          2. Take swabs

          3. Pool 5-10 swabs into a single pool (depending on community spread levels; there’s some quite complex math that tells you what the optimal pooling is) to minimize the number of PCR reactions that have to be run,

          4. Run the PCR the same day

          5. If a pool is positive, immediately quarantine everyone in it and retest to find out which of those 5-10 people is positive. Isolate the positives in dedicated quarantine facilities until two negative tests

          6. Rinse and repeat until no cases.

          Australia and NZ never set that system up, which means they were never truly serious about ZeroCOVID and the plan was always to “open up” at some point

          1. bwilli123

            Australia was never serious because from the beginning. The neo-liberal Prime Minister Morrison had determined that we should live with Covid, “just like the flu”. This was after listening to advice from Boris Johnson. Complicit in this was the neo-liberal New South Wales Government, whose policies were designed for eventual failure.
            As an island nation we had complete control of our borders, but the Federal Govt. deliberately chose not to instigate dedicated quarantine, and actively frustrated attempts to do so by the Australian state governments.
            All measures, like lockdowns or hotel quarantine were either, at best temporary or partial measures to mitigate that failure, but all that was available given our hands were tied by the initial Commonwealth Government decision.

          2. Basil Pesto

            I just had a quick search, would you say this paper (from April) is a good overview of Chinese testing strategies?

            (Incidentally, I searched “Chinese covid testing protocol” on the google. Many of the top hits were western press reporting in January about China employing anal swab testing, in a peremptory “look at these autocratic savages” tone. Ironic, since one might argue the west has long since had a sneaky Great Barringtonian rod jammed in its collective *** when it wasn’t paying attention, figuratively speaking)

            1. ChrisPacific

              Yes, I was going to add that while I suspect GM is quite right about population scale testing being the key, to say that conclusion is ‘clear’ for any Western democracy is quite a leap. Most Western responses to Covid, ours not excluded, have been characterized by a stubborn refusal to learn anything from China’s success. (Find me a Western media discussion of China’s testing strategy that didn’t include words like ‘draconian’ or ‘totalitarian.’) It may be that the medical community is agreed that mass testing is the key, but I’ve seen no evidence that the message has reached the political consciousness.

              1. GM

                The “medical community” in the West does not discuss that issue either because it has excluded elimination from its thinking altogether.

                To the extent that last year some very promising approaches (the Chinese do that brute-force with PCR, but there are much more elegant and high-throughput ways to do it, at least in principle) were dropped from the R&D pipeline, because what’s the point, we’re going to live with it, and those don’t make sense if you are going to, for example, keep schools open with rapid testing (which does not work and will get you tens of thousands of cases a day as in the UK while you are patting yourself on the back that you are doing something; it does, however, generate a steady revenue stream for whoever makes those tests). They only make sense as part of the Chinese approach.

                And you are 100% correct about the total refusal to learn from China.

                It’s more than that though — last year when Wuhan was on lockdown that was covered very extensively. This summer there were multiple situations like that, and they were barely mentioned in the media other than to bash China for being delusional about elimination. The business media has to cover it because their audience is tied to China professionally and needs to know how these events affect trade, but other than that there seems to be a directive not to report on how the Chinese control the virus. First, it makes us look bad, second, nobody should get any idea that we could try to do the same here…

      2. ChrisPacific

        Yes, I agree mass testing was the missing ingredient (that’s what I meant by diagnostic failure). I think by the time it was clear that the level 4 lockdown hadn’t worked, though, it may have been too late to do it. In hindsight, yes, there would have been time to set it all up and get it working – but everyone including the government had become a bit too complacent. The timetable we used had been enough to beat the original outbreak, there had been several others since then which we’d successfully suppressed, and I think everyone just thought we could go on doing that. I don’t even recall experts like Michael Baker or Siouxsie Wiles arguing for whole of population testing – or if they did, it never gained traction in the media, and I’m not sure the government listened to them.

        The backdrop to all this was the groundswell of opinion against elimination and in favor of ‘opening up’ to the world, which was very likely due to overseas influence. John Key’s infamous ‘hermit kingdom’ speech was one example of this, but by no means the only one – it seemed like every columnist or talk show host or whatever had the same idea. I think the net effect of all this was the government feeling their solution space was constrained by public opinion to a larger degree than before.

        I suspect that mass population testing might also not have been as easy for us as you think. You’d be surprised at some of the apparently simple things we’ve struggled with during the outbreak. Part of it is due to decades of neglect of the public sector in general and health sector in particular, in large part due to balanced budget laws that prevent the government from spending proactively unless it’s offset by taxes up front. (Long story). So there were systemic neglect factors at work, if perhaps not on the scale of the US.

  11. Grebo

    Re: rapid testing in the UK.

    Rapid, stick up the nose, lateral-flow self-tests are freely (ie. at no cost) available in the UK.

    However, there is no requirement to use them and no protocol for those who do. As Yves says, without a holistic plan self-testing is not a very useful public health measure.

    I contend that, in the absence of a sterilising vaccine, a proper self-testing program is the only way to eliminate the virus without also eliminating the economy. This has been pretty clear since the early days so why it is not even being discussed is a puzzle.

      1. Grebo

        Those that cracked down hard and early did well and were able to open up before their economies broke down. But not everyone did it and so they got reinfected. It seems to me that going hardcore is not sustainable indefinitely and is never going to happen everywhere at once.

  12. Kris Alman

    Drummed into my pandemic education circa mid 1980’s were fears of an influenza A pandemic. Hemagglutinin (and sometimes neuraminidase) glycoproteins from influenza viruses in waterfowl could recombine into human influenza viruses to introduce a novel sub-type for which our immune system had no standing army. An influenza pandemic, with hundreds of thousands or millions of influenza-related deaths, remains a threat to humans.

    Influenza Vaccine — Outmaneuvering Antigenic Shift and Drift

    The hemagglutinin is the viral attachment protein that also mediates the entry of the virus into the cell by fusion. The neuraminidase is an enzyme whose main function is to facilitate the cell-to-cell spread of virus. The immunology of influenza is, in a sense, very straightforward. Antibody against the hemagglutinin is neutralizing and is very protective against infection and illness. Antibody against the neuraminidase can reduce the severity of illness. The immunology of influenza is, in a sense, very straightforward. Antibody against the hemagglutinin is neutralizing and is very protective against infection and illness. Antibody against the neuraminidase can reduce the severity of illness.

    What acts as Covid’s hemagglutinin and neuraminidase? It appears that spike protein is important for both “cell-free” (through ACE2 receptor) and cell-to-cell transmission.

    This June 2021 pre-print, SARS-CoV-2 Spreads through Cell-to-Cell Transmission, shows evidence that cell-to-cell transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur in the absence of ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) receptor expression in target cells through the SARS-CoV-2 spike.

    The authors (primarily from Ohio State University) point out that, “Cell-to-cell transmission is considered to be an effective means by which viruses evade host immunity, especially antibody-mediated responses.”

    Indeed, they found cell-to-cell transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is resistant to antibody neutralization. Moreover, “(w)hile not statistically significant, some of the COVID-19 sera (2 out of 5) even enhanced cell-to-cell transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (Figure 6D), although the underlying mechanisms are currently not known.”

    The findings of this NIH funded study are extremely concerning. It should be peer reviewed and published.

    If other labs reproduce similar findings, it’s evidence that vaccine mandates are grossly insufficient for McKinsey et. al. to proclaim this pandemic has evolved to endemic status and we can let ‘er rip.

  13. Tom Stone

    5150,all of them.
    For those not familiar with the term it refers to the law that allows the authorities to hold someone in a mental health facility because they are demonstrably a danger to themselves and others.
    And shouldn’t that be “Farce” multiplier?

  14. MonkeyBusiness

    I don’t get it. Like McKinsey consultants are people too. Do they have access to a vaccine that confers true immunity? How about their families? I can see how McKinsey the company might benefit from the collapse of public health, but say a mutant variant were to escape to the wild, what would be the exit strategy for McKinsey partners?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The elites think that they are better people and so believe

      1. The magic vaccines work perfectly on them and so they will not get Covid

      2. Even if they bizarrely get Covid, they will get magic treatments at the hospital

      1. GM

        It might be deeper than that too.

        I don’t have direct observations, so I might be giving them way too much credit for thinking that far ahead, but on the other hand it does not even have to a fully conscious decision making either.

        Your goal as a selfish biological replicator is to maximize your inclusive fitness.

        For a long list of reasons, in humans that manifests itself as an innate drive to maximize social status, which in most societies means wealth. For you, and critically, your progeny too.

        So here comes COVID and you are a member of the ruling oligarchy.

        The problem could be solved, but it will require you giving up some of your wealth and giving it to the poor, while also undermining the system that maintains your privileged position (once you set up a redistribution precedent and show it can be done, there is no knowing what else will be demanded next).

        The alternative is to risk losing a few years of your own life expectancy, but maintaining the privileged position of your and your progeny.

        The rational evolutionary choice is the latter.

        But it’s even worse (for humanity as whole) than that — because of your privileged position, you might lose 5-10 years of life expectancy but everyone else will suffer much worse, as they will not have immediate access to the best treatments at all times.

        So you hurt your absolute position, but you actually improve your relative one, by hurting everyone else much more, and it’s the relative one that matters for social status maximization…

        1. albrt

          This is exactly right, plus the privileged people know they have timely access to whatever treatments are considered most likely to succeed at the moment they test positive, whether that is monoclonal antibodies, or the latest Pfizer antiviral, or ivermectin, or all of the above in a frosty cocktail glass.

        2. bwilli123

          The only competition in our society is between the sociopaths who run it. We are grist to their mill.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          And if the elites don’t like all us lower-class poors and middle-class poors cluttering up the place and spoiling their view, why not steer society towards a covid-handling approach designed to kill hundreds of millions of covid-infected people several decades after first infection, so as to avoid connections being made in the public mind?

          Jackpot design engineering. The poor majority should really begin thinking about whether they agree to be Jackpotted or not. And if not, then what policies can be forced on the upper class to reverse the planned slow Jackpotting? And what semi-collective approaches can be taken by smallish groups of non-rich people to control the covid spread, such as the volunteer-making and deployment of huge numbers of box-fan air-filter systems for rooms?

          And finally, individuals who can will have to try keeping themself as safe as they can . . . try getting as few re-infections per lifespan as possible.

  15. Joe Well

    It would be amazing to see a detailed discussion of covid policy with someone who is very strongly in the “let’s live with endemic covid” camp but who clearly isn’t anyone’s shill and isn’t stupid. I honestly do not understand how anyone can take that position and yet I think most people do; it would be great to have a window into that.

    I’m thinking especially of Matt Stoller. Last week Stoller even compared Covid to the flu on Twitter and called continued mitigations “safetyism” yet in February 2020 he was well ahead of conventional wisdom, as was NC.

    1. GM

      That would be a good idea indeed.

      I also see a lot of people on the “left” who have either swallowed the “vaccination has solved this” kool-aid or have fallen for the fake populist narrative that it is in the interest of working people to drop restrictions and let it rip.

      Yeah, sure, the way restrictions were implemented, it hurt regular people economically very badly.

      But that was not the only option economically, and most definitely not how it should have been done epidemiologically either.

      With “let-it-rip” we have set up an extremely dangerous precedent that puts us on the fact track towards a return to Dickensian England (and we were already on that trajectory anyway). As a reminder, back then life expectancy for the working class in the factory towns was below 30 in many cases. Now there is COVID, and then there is the dismantling of safety and public health regulations that will inevitably follow after it (because if no new such measures were taken to stop COVID, why keep the existing ones?), and this will not end well at all.

      We have also firmly established that people’s lives are expendable and will be sacrificed in the name of the “economy”. And yet other than a very small circle of people, nobody seems to mind…

      1. saywhat?

        Many’s the time I’ve read people here on NC (not you that I recall) complain the world is overpopulated. Then Covid comes along and “Whoa, I didn’t mean me!”

        1. Brian Beijer

          I’m one of those people. I probably haven’t written it on this forum, but I absolutely believe the world is overpopulated. I also am among those upset by Western governments’ actions, or lack there of, and not because of “Whoa, I didn’t mean me!”

          I am stongly in favor of humane depopulation. For example, the government could inform people of the dangers of overpopulation, do away with subsidies encouraging people having children, allow for voluntary euthanasia without morally judging people for their choice. All these actions could be taken without allowing people to suffer and die involuntarily. Of course, none of these things will ever happen. The point is that one can be an advocate for human depopulation and still be against these governments’ policies encouraging the “inevitable” spread of the Corona virus.

      2. Joe Well

        >>Yeah, sure, the way restrictions were implemented, it hurt regular people economically very badly.

        I also see a lot of people on the “left” who have either swallowed the “vaccination has solved this” kool-aid or have fallen for the fake populist narrative that it is in the interest of working people to drop restrictions and let it rip.

        I’m like Matt Stoller: contact with “the left” in the US has lowered my opinion so much that nothing would surprise me, including the current drift toward police state authoritarianism.

        And yet Matthew Stoller, Glenn Greenwald, Ross Barkan, and a whole bunch of other critics of the left, right, and center, are drinking the covid-is-the-flue kool-aid, too.

  16. Basil Pesto

    Many thanks for this piece, excellent in form if not in content/conclusion.

    I am glad that GM brought up the human rights angle, which has been on my mind a bit too since the beginning, and I’ve brought it up here and there in the past couple of years. Human rights law in a pandemic of this scale in the post-war era is somewhat uncharted territory.

    My opinion, which is only that of a (somewhat advanced) amateur is that there could well be some interesting cases in Europe (the European Convention on Human Rights lacks the breadth of both the ICESR and to a lesser extent the ICCPR, but it does have stronger force of law in Council of Europe countries and a more robust jurisprudence). Specifically, I would expect cases in countries where there were significant and disastrous outbreaks in state-run aged care facilities in 2020, particularly Sweden. These will take many years to tease out as relevant cases have to exhaust all possible avenues of appeal in domestic courts first. On the other hand, courts like this are generally reluctant to second guess technical advice/expertise even when, as we know, much of that expertise has been wrong. I don’t think that will be enough to save governments who were unconscionably irresponsible in care homes for example, but I think it could limit the breadth of applicants who might bring a complaint on the handling of the pandemic generally.

    This fact sheet on Article 2 – Right to Life of the ECHR might be of interest for those who wish to learn more generally.

    1. GM

      To me it seems totally unquestionable that most countries are in gross violation of the ICESR.

      There are force-majeure excuses that could be brought up, but those absolutely fail in cases like Sweden, Netherlands, and the UK, Bolsonaro, and other, where it was openly announced from the beginning that nothing will be done to stop the virus or that its spread will even be actively encouraged. And there is the paper trail to prove it.

      They also fail in the cases of countries that did lockdown early on but then refused to do it again — if they could take the necessary measures to stop the virus once, they could have done it again, but they chose not to.

      The weird thing is that none of the countless human rights-defending NGOs has touched the topic.

      You would expect them to be screaming bloody murder about this, if they were indeed pursuing their stated mission, but there is complete silence instead…

      1. Basil Pesto

        It’s one of those things where the covenant may say one thing and seem fairly unambiguous, but enforcement is a different (and, for many reasons including geopolitical, fraught) matter. I do agree with you broadly, but I think that rights courts like the ECHR are reluctant to rule against what I would call ‘the right of states to fuck up’ (I know less about enforcement of the ICESR). It’s a bit of a complex issue so I’m reluctant to opine further until I know more.

        I am, broadly speaking, a believer in human rights law (largely synonymous with what’s called civil rights in the US, whose constitution, while historically vital, is now quite outmoded) but my admiration tends to go towards human rights lawyers fighting in the trenches rather that the immense human-rights NGOs who seem to occasionally do good work, but selective good work (and remain quiet on other things, as you point out). A bugbear of mine has been the use of ‘human rights’ as a tendentious sloganistic yelp to get people on-side with whatever their argument happens to be, yet they have not even a superficial understanding of human rights law (an amusing aside: my Dad told me a story about how he heard some Australian claim that mask mandates were against their constitutional rights. Of course, the whole thing about the Australian constitution is that it has only extremely limited rights protections – no ‘Bill of Rights’ – and none of them cover anything like mask mandates. It’s clear this is a talking point that was taken from Murdochian US media and haphazardly applied to Australia). So I suspect that many of the human rights NGOs function more effectively as Public Relations firms in a sense, as opposed to say, genuinely, materially helpful legal aid organisations. I know that user ‘David’ has expressed deep cynicism about Human Rights NGOs in the past.

        But yes, I agree that human rights arguments are there to be made. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a real litmus test for the field in the post-war era. Again, a lot of people invoking human rights law in the ~covid era~ do so to argue against mandates, restrictions etc, when of course it’s an uncontroversial and common part of human rights law to craft exceptions to these rights in times of emergency (there is of course an attendant understanding that these exceptions need to be monitored carefully to avoid government overreach). The people making such arguments tend to rather obliviously ignore the whole, you know, ‘right to life’ thing (that’s before we even get to the ICESR’s actual specific section on epidemic control).

        1. GM

          I understand the “right of states to fuck up” angle, but the thing is that we are not even talking about that in the cases when it was openly announced by governments that they will not do anything to stop the spread or will even encourage it.

          You “fuck up” if you try to stop the pandemic and you fail.

          If you, from the start, or at some point later, declare that you will abandon all efforts, or that you will actively work to get everyone infected to reach “herd immunity” (and the latter did happen on quite a few occasions), it should be just straight up impossible to wiggle out of it, no matter how creative in their interpretation of the law people in the legal world can be.

          Someone has to get the ball rolling though, and, because in this case it is most governments that are in such violation, there seems to be no such someone who dares bring up the issue…

      2. William Hunter Duncan

        “The weird thing is that none of the countless human rights-defending NGOs has touched the topic.

        “You would expect them to be screaming bloody murder about this, if they were indeed pursuing their stated mission, but there is complete silence instead…”

        They know where their bread is buttered….

  17. William Hunter Duncan

    So I get that we are never going to know if this was a manufactured virus or not. But is seems increasingly clear, the pathological elite of this country are reasoning themselves into the unthinkable, consenting to controlled population decline. Public Health seemingly accepting this path.

    So I’m not clear why the title says force multiplier of the opioid crisis, but if that is true as well, am I the only one who is starting to feel like this is a plan to kill off people and not a virus or addiction?

    1. Susan the other

      iirc it was McKinsey who advised the Sacklers how to make more money than god selling opioids legally. ( I’d also just note that this coincided with our going to Afghanistan where we managed to export tons of opium back to the US.) The result was deaths of addiction and despair all across the country, by prescription. McKinsey gives out the usual but thoughtless advice to everyone – one size fits all. Streamline your business, make sales triple, socialize your costs, demand tax exemptions… I can even remember – less than 10 years ago – walking into same-day surgery and seeing big stickers on the floor both advertising opiod pain killers and advising to take them with caution. Laughable because when you are in serious pain post surgery, you are inclined to pop that stuff like candy. And then ask for more. I wonder if McKinsey advised Pharma to install advertisements in hospitals. Sounds like McKinsey. And would Pharma dare do so without the advice of the established business world? It was blatant.

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