Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘COVID

Djokovic takes another unfair hit / Follow-up: Various

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It appears that Djokovic has, again, lost the first place on the ATP ranking through unfair treatment.

(And Nadal appears to have dropped out of the top-10, but for more legitimate reasons, viz. injuries.)


Over the weekend, Carlos Alcaraz won the 2023 Indian Wells Masters, in the forced absence of Djokovic,* and appears to have passed him by 260 points, while a mere semi-final from Djokovic would have netted him 360 points and kept him ahead. This even assuming that Alcaraz would still have won, for which there is no guarantee, and even ignoring the much bigger hits that Djokovic has taken through his literally pointless Wimbledon victory in 2022 (2000 points lost vs. 180 (?) for Alcaraz) and his forced non-participation in the 2022 US Open (won by Alcaraz; up to 2000 points more for Djokovic, with a chance of less points for Alcaraz). This further ignoring other negative effects of the mistreatment, including his non-participation in last year’s Miami Open (won by, surprise, Alcaraz; up to 1000 points more for Djokovic, with a chance of less points for Alcaraz).

*Note a discussion of the Miami Open situation in [7] (see below for links). Indian Wells is the tournament before Miami, and his absence follows for the same reasons.

This is the more absurd, as whatever COVID restrictions might have seemed plausible at an earlier stage clearly are not even remotely plausible today. Indeed, they were implausible already by last year’s Australian Open (as the first major event on the 2022 calendar, and the point where the Djokovic issue really took off).

While Alcaraz would currently be a very worthy number 2 and, considering his youth, might eventually prove a true all-time great in his own right, the rightful current number 1 is Djokovic.

I will likely drop the topic for the foreseeable future, as the general idea should be clear and further installments would soon become tedious. However, past installments in this saga include [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7].


Written by michaeleriksson

March 20, 2023 at 6:37 pm

Further Galeria closures / Follow-up: German department stores (and COVID-19)

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Back in 2020, at an early stage of the COVID-lockdowns, I wrote a text on German department stores ([1]). In an excursion to a text from last month, I noted:

[…] I have likely not set foot in a department store in the almost three years since [1]—in part, due to the relatively low benefit; in part, due to the COVID-countermeasures, which saw a long stretch of forced downtime and made me lose any habit of department store visits. Further, that German Wikipedia points to severe and continued problems for the sole major player left (Galeria / Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof), including repeated Schutzschirmverfahren, which, in my understanding, are comparable to the U.S. “Chapter 11”.

Today, I learn that a new round of closures is part of the latest Schutzschirmverfahren, including the Galeria in my local Wuppertal, which might make the issue semi-academic. This could bring the total number of stores down from 129 to 77. (Cf., in German, [2] and [3].)

Contrast this 77 with the “170-or-so” mentioned in [1]—and even this number was likely very considerably smaller than when I moved to Germany in 1997. (But note that the current Galeria resulted from the merger of two previous chains, which makes numbers hard to compare.) On the upside, as early as in [1] there was a potential threat of 80 closures, and the actual number of closures in the almost three years since has been lower, which points to some possibility that stores are saved over time.

Written by michaeleriksson

March 16, 2023 at 2:07 pm

Third COVID Anniversary / Follow-up: Various

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In a few days, we will have the third anniversary of my first text on COVID.* In the year since the last anniversary, COVID-mania has petered out and I am going through a period of low motivation to write. Correspondingly, I will just mention a few brief points:

*See [1] for the original text and [2] resp. [3]/[4] for the previous anniversaries.

  1. These new twelve months have, again, confirmed my fear that the countermeasures would do more harm than good. They did—and by a very considerable distance.
  2. There are some (based on my state of knowledge) inconclusive signs that the after effects of the countermeasures, especially lockdowns and market sabotage, will continue to hit the business world, that many who managed to get through the prime crisis were left sufficiently injured and with sufficiently reduced reserves that they might yet falter. (Not to mention the losses in e.g. missed growth opportunities for those who do survive.)
  3. The likely long-term effects on humans, especially on children, might be far worse. Adult health, youth education, socialization of infants, whatnot, have all suffered massively through the countermeasures. Here, too, much of the damage might only become noticeable in the future.
  4. Developments in knowledge during these three years have almost without exception come down on the side of the “sceptics” and against the likes of Fauci, Birx, and Ferguson. COVID, lockdowns, masks, vaccines, …—on each item, the “sceptics” were right and the self-proclaimed “experts” wrong.
  5. Nevertheless, there are large groups, especially of politicians, who stubbornly insist that this-or-that was a success, that millions of lives were saved, that inflation is just “greedy capitalists” (“price gougers”, Putin, or similar), whatnot. Whether this is stupidity/ignorance or intellectual dishonesty, I do not know, but it is absurd, intolerable, and horrifying.
  6. There are no true signs that the reckoning that is so urgently needed will take place. At the end of the day, the perpetrators of this travesty, be they incompetents or evil manipulators, will get away unpunished, unless some drastic change takes place. Bad as that is, the worst part is that the main reason for a reckoning is to prevent repetitions. Without a reckoning, repetitions are more likely, especially if large parts of the population have already been indoctrinated into seeing various idiocies as normal and acceptable.

Excursion on “amnesties” and the like:
A common attitude among the early COVID-fanatics in light of later developments (apart from the aforementioned denial) is some variation of “We did what we thought right, no-one could have foreseen what would happen, and we cannot be blamed!”. Well, there were a great many others who did foresee what would or could happen, be it with an eye at the economy (like yours truly), at medical issues (note, in particular, the Great Barrington Declaration), at consequences for children, whatnot. Moreover, many of us openly warned about negative consequences. Our warnings were ignored—worse, we were condemned and defamed en masse as e.g. COVIDiots, conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers,* anti-science extremists,** peddlers of mis- and disinformation, … But now, they suddenly claim that no-one could have foreseen this-and-that!

*Notably, with no regard for the degree of opposition (including very sensible positions like a “test more before we inject half the world”) and with no regard for opposition to specifically the COVID vaccines vs. opposition to vaccines in general, which is a very, very different thing.

**The idea that someone like yours truly would be anti-science, even without the “extremist”, is absurd—and quite insulting.

To any policy maker or advisor who calls for a self-serving amnesty: Not only should you have foreseen the potential negative issues on your own, had you had a brain and actually used it, but you were told about the potential negative issues—you were outright and explicitly told! You have no excuse whatsoever and you have no right to an amnesty. That you have the inexcusable audacity to ask for one merely serves to condemn you further.

Excursion on the “precautionary principle”:
A common excuse by COVID-fanatics is the “precautionary principle”, that we must act strongly because we do not know how bad COVID could be. This is disingenuous and turns the world on its head. In truth, the “precautionary principle” would dictate that we proceed with caution with the countermeasures, as we know that humanity easily survived e.g. the Spanish Flu,* but we do not know how bad e.g. the effects of lockdowns would be—those of us who used our heads and understood even elementary economics knew that they would be bad, but to predict the exact consequences was near impossible. If we look at the vaccines, there might never, through the entire course of human history, have been a better example of when the “precautionary principle” should have been applied—to not inject (or try to inject) billions of humans with multiple doses of poorly tested vaccines. What if things had gone very, very wrong? (As opposed to the “somewhat wrong” that we have reason to suspect today.) What if the vaccines had turned out to be troublemakers on par with Thalidomide? Certainly, no precautionary argument concerning something so trivial as COVID could have outweighed that risk.

*Note that even the very early estimates around COVID, outside the panic-mongering of idiots like Ferguson, pointed to a lesser danger than once from the Spanish Flu—and incomparably lesser than from some of the epi- and pandemics of even earlier times. As is, COVID turned out to be closer to the regular flu than to the Spanish… For that matter, cancer kills more humans per year, year in and year out, than COVID.

Then there is the damage to Rechtsstaatlichkeit and democracy… To this, note that principles of this type are especially important when things go wrong, to prevent governmental and other abuse, to reduce the risk of totalitarianism and dictatorships, etc. To swear by such principles in times of smooth running and then to abolish them when a crisis appears, well, that is incompatible with the very ideas behind them—like building and bragging about a storm cellar and then, when a tornado actually comes, to remain above ground “because reasons”. Again, the “precautionary principle” speaks against the policies of the COVID-fanatics—the true COVIDiots.

Written by michaeleriksson

March 12, 2023 at 1:22 pm

DeSantis speaks out in favor of Djokovic and against insane COVID-restrictions

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The issue of Novak Djokovic and his unfair treatment by various entities with regard to his vaccination status has been addressed repeatedly in earlier texts ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]). While he was allowed to compete in this year’s Australian Open, and while this allowed him to regain the first place on the ATP ranking, he is still a victim of undue restrictions, as with e.g. this year’s Miami Open.

The restrictions on travel to the U.S. (that prevent Djokovic from participating in the Miami Open) has caused Florida* Governor Ron DeSantis to write a letter to Joe Biden, available at Brownstone. Due to the high quality and high relevance to COVID-nonsense in general, not just on the topic of Djokovic, I republish large parts below:**

*Miami is, of course, located in Florida, which makes the tournament of particular relevance to DeSantis—and the main risk of COVID-damage, should such exist (have existed), would be (have been) directed at Floridians, not the U.S. population in general or Delawareans, as Biden’s potential special-interest group.

**Restricted to the body. Footnote removed. The usual reservations for formatting, etc., apply.

It has been reported that Novak Djokovic has formally applied and been denied permission from your administration to enter the United States so that he may compete at the upcoming Miami Open tennis tournament. This denial is unfair, unscientific and unacceptable. I urge you to reconsider. It’s time to put pandemic politics aside and give the American people what they want—let him play.

While Mr. Djokovic is surely a supreme competitive threat to his fellow tennis professionals, his presence in our country poses no meaningful health or public safety risk. I note that since the onset of COVID-19, Mr. Djokovic has visited the United States at least twice — including once during your presidency — without any apparent health incident. It is also not clear to me why, even by the terms of your own proclamation, Mr. Djokovic could not legally enter this country via boat. Please confirm no later than Friday, March 10, 2023, that this method of travel into Florida would be permissible.

Furthermore, even as you enacted the Proclamation on air travel that remains in force to this day, your administration pointedly allowed thousands of unvaccinated migrants to enter our country through the southern border. In sum, the current “travel ban” as applied to Mr. Djokovic and presumably millions of other potential unvaccinated foreign visitors — seems completely ungrounded in logic, common sense, or any genuine concern for the health and welfare of the American people.


The only thing keeping Mr. Djokovic from participating in this tournament is your administration’s continued enforcement of a misguided, unscientific, and out-of-date COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreign guests seeking to visit our great country. American tennis legend John McEnroe recently termed this restriction “absurd.” He was quite right to say so.

We are now three years since the onset of COVID-19, and we have learned many valuable — and often painful — lessons during that time. For one thing, it is now clear that the COVID-19 vaccines are not as effective as initially advertised. A new study in the Lancet has found that natural immunity is at least as effective as the COVID vaccines (“Our analysis of the available data suggests that the level of protection afforded by previous infection is at least as high, if not higher than that provided by two-dose vaccination using high-quality mRNA vaccines.”). Furthermore, data also suggests that exposure to COVID-19 is now significantly less likely to result in hospitalization or fatality. Finally, not only is the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine now in question, but recent scientific studies have identified serious potential health risks from the vaccine. Florida’s Surgeon General has issued guidance recommending against the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines for males ages 18-39 years old — precisely the cohort of Mr. Djokovic.

[…] Although it has taken some time, most of the rest of the world has now come to recognize COVID-19 vaccination requirements as obsolete. At present, it appears that the United States is one of only a handful of countries that requires foreign visitors to have received a COVID-19 vaccination. […]


Written by michaeleriksson

March 8, 2023 at 9:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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COVID and natural immunity / Follow-up: The paradoxical betrayal by those who should fight for truth

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In my previous text, I went hard on fact-checkers, proponents of Official Truths, and the like. Among other things, I noted:

With more facts in hand, it is horrifying how much the likes of Fauci [contextually juxtaposed with Trump] got wrong.

At around the same time, Brownstone published a text on distortions, including by Fauci, around natural immunity and COVID, which well illustrates some of the problems.* I strongly recommend reading the article as a whole, especially for examples and details. Still, a few quotes:**

*In addition to pointing to the benefits of natural immunity. This is off-topic relative my previous text, but is important in its own right, considering how many have not yet seen the point.

**With reservations for formatting, etc.

A new study in The Lancet has confirmed that natural immunity from COVID infection is at least as protective and durable against severe complications as vaccination.

Yet again, another COVID “conspiracy theory” has become today’s “The Science™.”

Natural immunity has long been a well known and accepted part of immunology, despite rabid, frenzied attempts to discredit it.

This fits a bigger picture of trying to discredit unwanted opinions with various slurs (e.g. “conspiracy theory”, “racism”, “White Supremacy”) instead of with arguments. Such attempts could, on a meta-level, be seen as a strong argument for the attacker being wrong and the attacked being right, as those who actually have arguments should* use those arguments instead of shouting “conspiracy theory”. I have reached the point where, unthinkable just a few years ago, “conspiracy theory” seems more like an endorsement than a condemnation. The issue with natural immunity is particularly puzzling, if we take a “we want to help” attitude at face value,** as the idea behind vaccines has historically been to get as much of the benefits from (post-infection) natural immunity without actually taking the risks associated with a (regular, non-manipulated) infection—immunity with less risk; not stronger immunity. The COVID vaccines use a somewhat different approach, but there is nothing that a priori (in my layman’s perspective) pointed to their being more effective than natural immunity and, for the young and healthy, even the “less risk” part seems*** highly dubious by now.

*Unfortunately, this is not foolproof, as some go for the easy manipulation of the broad masses over attempts to convince the thinkers; however, it does seem to hold up very well with the Left. (Cf. e.g. [1].)

**Whether we should is another matter. Much of what has happened can be parsimoniously explained by assuming a priority of e.g. selling vaccines or enforcing compliance over a wish to keep the people healthy.

***Unfortunately, the methods of the COVID fanatics, and the polarization of the debate that they have caused, have made it hard to gain a clear impression, at least without putting in much more leg-work than I have. There are definite risks, but how large they are and how they compare with the COVID risks is hard to tell.

Repeatedly, “fact-checkers” labeled posts as “misleading” for claiming that natural immunity was highly effective and could provide similar protection as vaccination.

Except they’ve all been proven wrong.

The Lancet study examined 65 studies from 19 different countries to determine the level of protection from infection against severe illness from COVID.

And they found that natural immunity was extremely protective against further complications, even for newer variants.

An excellent example for my own discussion of fact-checkers and how large the disconnect between claims about science (facts, whatnot) and the actual science (facts, whatnot) can be. (But note that I do not vouch for the correctness of details, here and elsewhere, e.g. whether “extremely protective” holds true or just “protective”. The point is, to me, that natural immunity was dismissed in a near blanket manner, while actually working well.)

Even more importantly, the study found that natural immunity was “at least” as protective as vaccination against all variants. And frequently more so.


Beyond being as least as protective, natural immunity was potentially longer lasting than protection from vaccination.

As really should have been expected. Moreover, something that the sceptics have been saying for a very long time based on earlier research. (A disadvantage with a meta-study is, of course, that it has to wait for individual studies to materialize—the truth has been out there for most of the COVID era.)

It’s almost impossible to be more wrong than Fauci, Birx, Mother Jones, dismissive “experts” and “fact-checkers” have been over the past few years.

With regards to masks, vaccine passports, school closures, lockdowns and natural immunity, for every single pandemic question the ‘experts’ formulated the wrong answer.

Hear, hear! The interesting question now is to what degree this is explained by e.g. incompetence and to what degree by some hidden agenda.

One of the most consistent features of the COVID era has been “experts” lying to the public, while steadfastly refusing to ever admit they were wrong.

Ditto. (Note that the word “lying” is justified, even should the issue ultimately be rooted in incompetence, as many stuck with the same line even after it must have been clear that the line was faulty.)

Written by michaeleriksson

February 21, 2023 at 12:54 pm

Drowning in ideas / Some British news

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Over the last few months, I have often had the problem that ideas for texts pop up faster than I can write them—and this even when I restrict myself to ideas that I find sufficiently interesting or valuable that they are worthy of a text of their own. (As opposed to the many, many more that are discarded entirely, end up as a brief excursion/footnote/parenthesis within another text, or, as today, are otherwise integrated in some other text.)

For instance, once in a while, I visit The Telegraph, a UK newspaper and one of the lesser evils in mainstream journalism, both in terms of quality and in terms of political leaning. When I do, I often find myself with a handful of potential texts to write, some of them of the pass-something-on kind,* some of the inspired-to-write-something-own kind.

*I usually, regardless of the source, do not, as the gain seems small relative the amount of work, especially with an eye at the other article/whatnot already existing, that I might drive comparatively little traffic the way of the source, and that the absence of pingbacks in most sources reduces the benefit for me. The exceptions usually arise from an unusually great personal interest and/or that the material fits unusually well with my own, prior, writings. Today is an exception for the purposes of demonstration, but still with an abbreviated treatment of each individual item.

For instance, during a visit earlier today, with less than a dozen opened links, I found at least the following items that were worthy of passing on and/or useful as sources for ideas:*

*Some change to formatting, including loss of links, has taken place through copy-and-paste, etc.

  1. [1] discusses how “[b]y closing the Medicine Man exhibition, the Wellcome Trust has decided to value anti-colonialist rhetoric over celebrating medical advances”.

    A particular pertinent part:

    Whatever the Trust’s views, this is surely a matter for the Charity Commission to investigate. The Trust may be in breach of its obligations under Henry Wellcome’s will. But there is a more profound issue at the heart of this affair which undermines philanthropy itself. Why would anyone want to endow and support science and medicine today and in the future if their fate is to fall victim to bad history and character assassination?

    Note my earlier text on overruled choice and a similar case of an art museum ignoring the stipulations of the founder/artist, and e.g. the distortions of the Nobel Prizes. No matter the situation at the time of death, and no matter what paperwork has been laid down, there is no guarantee that the willed money, art, objects, whatnot, continue to serve their intended purpose a hundred years later. They might even have been turned around to work in direct opposition to that purpose. I note in particular an apparent Leftist strategy, in the extended “Frankfurt School”, of gaining control of other person’s accomplishments, money, whatnot, by hi-jacking organisations over the administrative route. Many founders of U.S. colleges, e.g., would be turning in their graves if they knew what has become of those colleges.

  2. [2] notes that “[o]ne year on, we [Brits] still haven’t learnt the lessons of lockdown failure” and continues with much that is justified in the same vein.

    While this alone has some value, a personal* eye-opener is the claim:

    *Note that I have spent comparatively little time on U.K. news and politics until this autumn—and still put in much less time than on Swedish and U.S. news. It might well be that e.g. the typical Brit was already well aware of this and/or has a deeper knowledge of Sunak et co. in other areas too. (While I live in Germany, I spend very little time on German news these days, due to a combination of how depressing it tends to be, how incompetent and/or Left-tilted the journalists are, and the extreme degree of paywalling.)

    There’s a long list of people who “saved” last [2021] Christmas, but Sunak deserves a place near the top. Had he not intervened, the economy and society would have been closed yet again. If the blood-curdling Sage “scenarios” did not come to pass, lockdown would be credited. Sunak had gone along with previous shutdowns, thinking himself a lone voice of dissent. But this time, he had enough support at a time when Boris Johnson had already lost a by-election and lost David Frost, his Brexit minister. He could not afford to lose a Chancellor.

    This tells us three things. First, that Sunak was single-minded enough to take on the whole government machine, risking his career. Next, he’s smart enough to work out when the civil service has been captured by groupthink and find his own information. But perhaps the biggest lesson was that there was — and remains — a massive flaw in the government system, where decisions are taken on unreliable science, with minimal scrutiny. It’s a scandal that ought to have been quickly remedied, but what we see instead is a pattern of denial.

    Maybe, my early, unfavorable, impression of new PM Sunak has been unfair.

  3. According to [3]:

    In the great race to conquer world markets, stock exchanges and tech companies are pairing up. A year ago, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange struck a deal with Google, and Nasdaq agreed to link up with Amazon Web Services. Now, it is the turn of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), which agreed this week to make Microsoft its dancing partner for the next 10 years: the LSE will spend £2.3 billion on Microsoft services and, in turn, Microsoft is buying a four per cent stake (£1.5 billion) in the exchange.

    There are many angles to discuss such a situation, but one particularly depressing is how size begets size, as most companies would simply never be on the table for a deal like this. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and a few others, are large enough, but even a merely large player might be too small—and the many who fail to reach the bar of even “large” have no chance at all. A strongly contributing problem is that making this type of deal in parcels can be tricky, too costly, or practically impossible, which turns them into all-or-nothing deals—either company A gets the whole deal or one of B, C, and D does. The same situation often occurs with governments, as many government projects range from very large to enormous, which can then imply that tax-payer’s money are used to line the coat-pockets of Billy Gates et co. Of course, the choice of company, be it by the government, the LSE, or someone else, is a correspondingly enormous, with complications like the risk of bribery, that the damage from some fools, maybe convinced more by a slide-show than by the facts at hand, making a poor decision is commensurate, and that a decision once made is nearly irrevocable. The last brings many secondary problems, including that the offers made might be dishonestly optimistic, in the knowledge that “if we get the deal, even an overrun of several years and several billions will be accepted” and the fear that other bidders will also be dishonestly optimistic.*/**

    *Note, e.g., the extreme differences between plans and reality for the Berlin Airport, the Stuttgart main station, and, on a much smaller scale, the main station of my local Wuppertal.

    **This with a secondary complication that the decision makers, especially when politicians, might be willing collaborators: By accepting an artificially low offer, they look good in the moment and voters (stock holders, whatnot) might be more willing to accept the pet projects of the decision makers. If things get out of hand later, (a) the old decision makers might already have moved on to greener pastures, (b) those that remain can shove the full responsibility onto the contractor. (While expressing regret that said contractor must still be paid in full, including for any extra work, but without any true attempt to shorten payments.)

  4. [4] is titled “Governments have learnt that fear works — and that is truly terrifying”, which well sums up the contents. In some parts, it is a little late to the show, both with regard to COVID and to fear (chances are that governments have long known), but it is still a valuable contribution by pointing out how current techniques of and approaches to control* of public opinion might have changed the world for the worse.

    *Of course, that politicians and governments presume to even attempt a control of public opinion is a fundamental problem, as I have noted in e.g. a text on politicians dictating opinions to the people.

  5. [5] deals with the intersection of the COVID-countermeasures and the NHS—two of the greatest fiascos in British history. This with a dose of unions (likely deliberately) choosing to strike when it does the most damage, which calls into question whether strikes are a legitimate means of conflict in the modern world. (And points to another area where more Thatcherism is needed.)

    Particularly interesting quotes are:

    A friend’s husband has had his operation cancelled. Again. The first time, Rob was actually in the hospital and hadn’t eaten anything for more than 24 hours before they finally tipped him out. He was in tears. As there are over 7.2 million on the waiting list, getting admitted for a procedure is roughly akin to your numbers coming up on EuroMillions while enjoying cocktails with George Clooney.

    With nurses going on strike on Thursday [Dec 15],* there are likely to be thousands more disappointed Robs. The NHS is required to give two days’ notice of a surgical cancellation but, in a special Winter of Discontent bonus, the postal workers are also on strike, so the letters won’t reach patients in time. Prepare to hear that you won’t be having your coronary angioplasty done on Friday — only the letter breaking that news will arrive sometime in late January.

    *The “[Dec 15]” is present in the original. My time of writing is Dec 20, making this the previous Thursday.

    Frankly, hearing from these chaps,* who were both given gongs for their work, felt a bit like two arsonists providing a commentary on the likely safety implications of having set fire to a highly combustible building. Offering advice to their successors on dealing with any future pandemic, Whitty* and Vallance* said that the speed with which the Covid vaccines were developed might “lull politicians into a false sense of security, with other new diseases possibly requiring social distancing and lockdowns for even longer”.

    No. No. No. We are now living through the consequences of a purblind pursuit of restrictions that has beggared our economy for a generation and overwhelmed healthcare to the point that an elderly man with a broken hip is told that no ambulance is coming, ever. We can barely call ourselves a civilised country, yet the most public advocates of that ruinous policy have the cheek to suggest that, next time, we could lock down even harder.

*Given as “Chief Medical Officer for England, Sir Chris Whitty” and “Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser”.

Then we have an amazing feat of somnambulism: Serial burglar found in Robert De Niro’s house using his iPad while he slept.

Unfortunately, lack of time prevented me from reading this particular article, but the headline says it all. (Or, maybe, this is another case where those who read just the headlines are mislead.)

Written by michaeleriksson

December 20, 2022 at 10:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

Ethics, choice, and vaccines

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Apparently, a German nurse has been convicted of injecting, without their knowledge, patients* with saline instead of a COVID-vaccine (cf. e.g. [1]).

*I follow [1] in the use of this word, but note that it might give the wrong overall impression. Something like “vaccinee” might be closer to the mark.

This is another case of overruled choice, if one in an unusual direction, as the COVID-vaccine pushers have been among the greatest sinners—this up to and including cases of someone unknowingly being given a COVID-vaccine, e.g. by a nurse substituting it for a requested flu shoot.*

*These cases might fall in the category of “honest mistakes”, unlike the activities of this nurse, but there are a great many indisputably deliberate examples of implemented or merely attempted overruled/denied/sabotaged/whatnot choice, e.g. vaccine mandates for U.S. military personal and the attempted nationwide mandate in Germany. Also note several recent reports of denied access to medical treatment for those not vaccinated—even when already having the superior protection of prior infection and even in light of what we know today that was not known in the early days of the vaccines.

However, there are quite a few other ethical issues to ponder:

  1. If this saline replacement had been performed with the consent* of the patients, she would have been in the clear ethically,** but she might still have been punished.

    *Leaving aside practical details around the plausibility of such a scheme. Just giving the option to every non-voluntary patient might have led to her being caught on the first day; a scheme of outsiders giving tips, to those who wanted to avoid the vaccine, that a certain nurse would be able to help, leaves the question of how to actually get the right nurse; etc. (For voluntary patients, the scheme would have been pointless.)

    **Indeed, she would have helped them avoid an unethical removal of choice.

    However, from another point of view, there might be situations where some type of mandatory and/or forced intervention is warranted and ethically justifiable, and who is to draw the line between the one and the other? COVID is clearly not it, but what if something appeared that did similar damage to the population as the Black Death?

  2. Looking at the reverse situation, might there be cases where failure to subvert some action (here the act of vaccinating someone; but the issue is not restricted to medicine, let alone COVID) is unethical? With COVID, e.g., we now know that much of the Official Truth was not just contrary to later scientific knowledge but even the scientific knowledge of the time—would it be ethical for someone who knows better to not act in the best* interest of the patient? Similarly, would it be ethical for someone who knows better to not speak out, for fear of repercussions?

    *Note that I do not claim that this would automatically imply e.g. “do not vaccinate”. Whether a COVID-vaccination makes sense will depend on the individual at hand, and a blanket approach of “do not vaccinate” is just as flawed as the reverse “do vaccinate”. For instance, covertly using saline instead of a COVID-vaccine might have been good for an even remotely average boy of fifteen, while being highly irresponsible were his great-grandmother concerned.

    Then, again, when does someone know with sufficient certainty to act? There are many in the medical community who have been, maybe still are, true believers in COVID-propaganda, many who believe religiously in homeopathic quackery, many who believe in other quackery—and the mere fact that someone is convinced that X does not necessarily imply X.* Similarly, experts can be found in virtually any field who have very unorthodox ideas (mostly, incorrect ones, but sometimes they are right and the orthodoxy wrong).

    *Note that I discuss persons of alleged expertise here. That laymen have entirely incorrect ideas is very, very common, as can be seen e.g. by the spread within the population of Leftist beliefs that do not stand up to five minutes of critical thinking or a basic (genuine!) fact check. (For instance, much of the worldview of Feminists and CRT-ists.)

    (The true solution in medicine, and likely many other fields/situations, is a true and informed consent, in that e.g. a patient is given all the facts and then makes a decision for himself—as opposed to the government, his employer, or a nurse making the decision and as opposed to the patient making the decision based on deliberately distorted or too incomplete data.)

  3. What about all those who have deliberately or out of ignorance done far more harm, and typically harm that was foreseeable, yet have not even been put on trial? Why should this nurse be in trouble, when the likes of Fauci, Ferguson, Birx, or e.g. Biden, Merkel, Ardern walk free?

Excursion on agenda pushing:
How hard the real misinformation on COVID and COVID-vaccines is still pushed is clear from claims in [1] like:

[her actions] leaving [the patients] with no protection against the deadly virus.

Fundamentally untrue, as the virus has proven to not be particularly deadly, as they would still have the protection from their immune systems and deliberate own countermeasures*, and as the formulation implies that they would have had protection, had they been vaccinated, while data shows that this protection is at best spotty and requiring repeated boosters. Certainly, those who already have had COVID (but are unvaccinated) have less to fear than those who are vaccinated (but have not had COVID—maybe even those who had COVID after the vaccination).

*While, in all fairness, those suggested so far appear to be mostly pointless.

Following the incident, state authorities urged the fraud victims to register for revaccination and emphasised that it is completely safe.

If so, state authorities are either horrifyingly ignorant or ruthless liars and far more culpable than the nurse, as there is a small but very clear known* danger associated with the vaccines. (Whether the non-vaccinations constitute fraud or something else might also be debatable, but is not necessarily a sign of agenda pushing.)

*As well as speculation and claims of greater dangers, which might, in due time, prove to be true or just over-interpretation.

Further doubt on the quality of reporting is cast by the titular claim that the nurse “walks free”, which is a half truth—a sentence on probation is not the same thing as freedom and the ultimate consequences will still depend on her future behavior. The repeated use of “anti-vaxxer” might or might not be acceptable depending on her overall opinions, which I have not investigated—but I do note that equating scepticism towards specifically the COVID-vaccines with being an “anti-vaxxer” is intellectually dishonest and highly misleading, as the COVID-vaccines have been shown to be both more problematic and less effective than other vaccines. Prior to that, the COVID-vaccines suffered from a great lack of knowledge, too little testing, and whatnot relative other vaccines. In other words, advocating caution and scepticism was the right, sound, and scientific position back then, while advocating an outright rejection (for those not in a risk group!) is the right, sound, and scientific position today.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 13, 2022 at 6:08 pm

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Immunity debt, COVID, and a reduced germophobia

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Reading [1], I am reminded of an interesting personal paradox around COVID: that I began the journey as quarter-germophobe and grew less germophobic as time went by.

Now, I was never anywhere near, say, the eponymous protagonist from “Monk”, but I have over decades washed my hands after coming from the outside, strongly disliked handshakes with strangers, outright hated it when a waitress has put cutlery directly on the table, tried* to avoid using a hand that had contact with door-knobs and railings for direct contact with food, and similar—all because I have had a feeling that germs could spread. (I also have a dislike of kissing, but this is likely mostly a side-effect of that disgusting artificial smacking sound that is usually added to TV/movie kisses.)

*Unlike Mr. Monk, I tend to forget what hand has done what and when after a few minutes have passed, so my success rate might not be the best.

On paper, I would seem an easy victim for e.g. mask-up-and-keep-your-distance propaganda, but, unlike so many others, I kept a cool head and looked at the actual facts and arguments—not the fear-mongering and panic.

On the contrary, as I learned more about how how human immunity worked, I began to consider my old quarter-germophobia outright detrimental,* something likely to have worsened my health outcomes in the past. The hitch is that immunity is built and refreshed through exposure, and that continual exposure to small doses of an “attacker” can give us an advantage when a larger dose follows. Yes, of course, a hand touching a railing can lead to a severe illness, but it is a rare scenario, and what is gained through the much more likely exposure to something small will usually outweigh the risk. In particular, immunity to “yearly” or otherwise recurring diseases often hinges on a refresher exposure: If I am hit by a virus today, chances are that my immunity will still be able to handle a renewed exposure a year from now, and that this renewed exposure will make me better able to handle the recurrence yet another year into the future (and so on). However, if I go year in and year out without a refresher, then the immunity will dwindle, if in doubt because the accumulated mutations of the virus make it a worse match for the original defense.

*As opposed to merely overkill. (I had long realized that it was more a matter of psychology than a real protection, which is demonstrated by my washing my hands comparatively often but rarely very thoroughly—a quick rinse and the psychology is satisfied, even though I know that such quick rinses are of dubious effectiveness. I admit to slightly having increased my thoroughness in the early COVID-countermeasure era, however.)

Another issue to remember is that far from all exposures lead to an actual “case”: We are constantly exposed to various viruses, bacteria, and whatnot—but how often do we actually grow ill? Indeed, I have repeatedly heard tales of someone, or some group of workers, who has (a) been exposed to unusual amounts of germs, (b) remained unusually healthy, which raises the question of “Despite—or because?”.* Is the claimed (pre-COVID) increased spread of e.g. colds truly a result of an increased exposure to germs,** or might it be a result of a decrease, through too many of us being too set on avoiding infections? That more of us are singles and/or childless and have a lesser private exposure? Certainly, while I rarely have been very ill, I have long seemed to be more susceptible to common colds than most of my colleagues.

*Including repeated claims around garbage men and a scene with a slaughterhouse worker in one of James Herriot’s books.

**As a physician once claimed to me. (All that commuting and whatnot would make us more exposed today than a decade or two back.)

As to [1], a key point is “immunity debt”,* which is a similar idea to some of the above, including the risk that the COVID-countermeasures have weakened our defenses against other diseases, which makes us much more vulnerable to them now than we would have been in an alternate reality without COVID-countermeasures resp. than we were pre-COVID.

*“a gap in the level of protection that you might be expected to have from previous exposure to the disease in question”.

End result: I am less likely to wash my hands, avoid contacts with this-and-that, whatnot today (late 2022) than I was at the beginning of 2020.

Also see [2] for a prior discussion of similar issues, including my over-protective mother. (While I am the over-protective one, towards myself, above.)

Written by michaeleriksson

December 11, 2022 at 11:59 pm

Follow-up III: Djokovic as GOAT? (III) and COVID distortions

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In the previous follow-ups (cf. [1], [2]), I noted that “The arguably best tennis player in the world, right here, right now, is Djokovic.”, with further remarks on how he was artificially disadvantaged and how he, among other consequences, might miss the ATP Finals through these artificial disadvantages.

As it happens, Djokovic just won these ATP Finals, even be it in the absence of Carlos Alcaraz, the injured number one on the world ranking, giving further support to my assessment. To wit: out of the five most important tournaments of the year, Djokovic won two (Wimbledon and the ATP Finals), lost against the eventual winner in the French Open (Nadal), and was artificially barred from both the U.S. Open and the Australian Open. In contrast, Nadal won the Australian Open and French Open, the first in the absence of Djokovic. (And flopped badly in the ATP Finals.) The sole other winner, Alcaraz had “only” the U.S. Open—again, in the absence of Djokovic.

The existence of the ATP Finals is, of course, yet another reason to discount the “majors won determines the GOAT” idea: While the relative value of the ATP Finals and the majors can be discussed back and forth, neglecting the former is silly. Looking at this year, Djokovic went undefeated* in five matches against players all in the top-9 of the world-ranking. Winning a major, seven matches against players in the top-128, or so,** is standard, and beating even one top-9 player is not a requirement—beating more than two is rare. If we look at totals of majors and ATP Finals for the “Big Three”, we find Djokovic at 21 + 6 = 27, Federer at 20 + 6 = 26, and Nadal at 22 + 0 = 22. (Yes, Nadal has never won.)

*Unlike the majors, the ATP Finals are divided into two round-robin groups, followed by semi-finals and finals. Correspondingly, it is possible to win the overall despite an imperfect record in the group phase.

**There are 128 slots for each major, but some are filled with wild cards, qualification players, and the like, that are not necessarily in the top-128 ranking-wise.

In a correction to my earlier claims: My fears that Djokovic would miss the ATP Finals were a little misguided, as there is a wild-card rule for those who have won one of the four majors during the year. Due to this rule, it would have taken a very unfortunate constellation for him to be excluded (barring more COVID-nonsense, of course).

Written by michaeleriksson

November 20, 2022 at 10:55 pm

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The tables have turned on the COVID fanatics / Time for a reckoning

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Doing some reading up for a potential text on the new British budget, I find two entries on COVID, in a mainstream newspaper, that are very promising and that show how much the tables have turned and how the “COVID deniers”, “COVIDiots”, and whatnots are increasingly vindicated even in the public eye,* while the fanatics proposing unprecedented lockdowns and countermeasures are increasingly acknowledged as the idiots that they were (and, typically, still are).

*While they had science on their side much earlier—no matter what the likes of Fauci dishonestly claim.

Today sees the belated lockdown reckoning gives a (not sufficiently hard, admittedly) complaint about the lockdowns, their failure, and their costs.

We are paying an enormous price for the bad science behind Covid lockdowns, well, the contents are somewhat self-explanatory.

I note that my own first text on COVID, from March 15th, 2020, was COVID-19 reactions doing more harm than good?. While some of my thoughts were naive in detail, the overall has been vindicated again, and again, and again. Ditto many of my early complaints in other texts, including the lack of a cost–benefit analysis for the countermeasures, use of shoddy or over-trusted models, and a pin-the-tail approach to countermeasures (in Germany, at least).

The simple truth is that what has happened is inexcusable—even if the perpetrators had had the science right (which they did not), they proceeded in a manner that was irrational, destructive, and, in many cases, horrifyingly incompetent and naive. This is more than grounds enough for a reckoning that has not been seen this side of the post-WWII trials. (But they are unlikely to follow.)

That some two or more* years of censorship, cancellations, defamation, insults, and whatnot towards those more clear-headed followed, that should be cause for an equal reckoning.

*Note e.g. the recent “thou must not deny the Revealed Truth on COVID” commandment in California, which threatens the medical licences of physicians who do not follow official advice, no matter how outdated or otherwise unsound, and no matter how poor the official track record has been during these years.

As to the brain-dead nonsense of a “COVID amnesty” (cf. Emily Oster):* This is the exact opposite of what we need. In the absence of a reckoning, and a harsh reckoning, the same thing might very well happen again in a few years—or something similar in some other area. There should be a reckoning already because of the evil, maliciousness, and incompetence shown by so many—but that point is secondary to preventing repetitions. There must be a reckoning so that this does not happen again!

*I will not engage in a full critique (but others have); however, I do note a central idea that might be paraphrased as “there were so much uncertainty—anyone could have gotten it wrong”. No, not in that manner. Note e.g. that cost–benefit analyses were not merely faulty—they were absent. Similarly, uncertainty does not imply that we should take the most extreme course available, but is a call for moderation and flexibility. Similarly, the more uncertainty there is, the less we should trust models. Etc. What happened is comparable to a boxer focusing so on his opponent’s one hand that he is caught blindsided by the other—and then complaining that no-one could have seen it coming. Yes, they could. In fact, not seeing the risk is remarkable.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 18, 2022 at 1:09 am