Tuesday, November 08, 2022

The Speed of Science

Do you know where this new term “speed of science” comes from? It showed up in memes a few weeks ago and I had no idea. I had never heard it used. Well, I found out today. If you already know, take a bow.

It comes from the answer to a question posed in a European Parliamentary hearing. Dutch MEP Rob Roos asked Pfizer’s Director of International Developed Markets whether Pfizer tested or studied transmissibility before releasing their version of the COVID vaccine to market.

Everything at Risk

Janine Small replied as follows:

“No. We had to really move at the speed of science to really understand what is taking place in the market, and from that point of view we had to do everything at risk.”

So then, it was Small who first used the expression in a public forum, and it has since become online code, as one wag characterized it, for doing research and development at a pace “unhindered by regulations, ethical considerations, safety considerations, and basic humanity”.

No, transmissibility was not studied, which many of us already suspected. Time has proven none of the available vaccines prevents transmission of the virus. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr Rochelle Walensky conceded this on CNN back in August 2021. Unlike Small’s unfortunate coinage of a great new figure of speech, that’s a story I was quite familiar with. For a time, I assumed everyone else was too.

Walensky told Wolf Blitzer:

“Our vaccines are working exceptionally well. They continue to work well for Delta, with regard to severe illness and death – they prevent it. But what they can’t do anymore is prevent transmission.”

By December of 2021, even Scientific American acknowledged, “the risk of vaccinated COVID transmission is not low”. In fact, we now know that vaccinated people spread COVID at least as readily as unvaccinated, as also revealed on CNN. That latter information has been public knowledge for more than 15 months, demonstrating that politicians and media mouthpieces who insisted universal vaccination was necessary for public safety since that time either lied or had no idea what they were talking about.

Legitimate Misunderstandings and Willful Ignorance

Some of these strong assertions may have had their basis in legitimate misunderstandings of the existing scientific evidence, or really the absence thereof. After all, Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla, who managed to avoid testifying before the European Parliament, tweeted in April 2021 that his vaccine was “100% effective in preventing #COVID19 cases in South Africa. 100%!”, even as the CDC was publicly admitting the vaccines did not work as originally advertised. That bit of self-serving puffery could easily have been conflated with scientific evidence if you weren’t squinting at the source too hard. Moreover, during the same timeframe a Pfizer press release claimed the vaccine was “100% effective in preventing severe disease as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”.

Perhaps the CDC needs to work up a new definition of the word “preventing”. Or “effective”. Or maybe “severe disease”.

So then, the information that the unvaccinated pose no greater danger than anyone else is old news, ancient now by media standards. Even the most disengaged, tuned out CNN watcher should know about the transmission issue. There was never any scientific basis for vaccine mandates, disemployment or the verbal, lifestyle and economic harassment inflicted on the unvaccinated. Not one scintilla.

There couldn’t have been. Nobody had studied it.

He Refuses to Be Vaxxed!

Remarkably, this absence of evidence didn’t dissuade my co-worker, a supervisor, from expressing last week her reluctance to return to the office after more than two years at home, a concession which would regrettably involve working next to an openly unvaccinated subordinate: “He refuses to be vaxxed or have his family vaxxed. And he coughs without covering his mouth.”

Ah, well then, refusing to work with him is okay, I guess. The subordinate in question is a fifty-something Russian immigrant. Unlike many Canadians, he doesn’t instantly believe everything his government or the media tells him, and with good reason: his former government had a history of lying through its teeth. His apparent cynicism turns out to have been basic pattern recognition. Maybe we should emulate his alertness to state-sanctioned baloney. And I’ve never seen him cough without covering his mouth. But whatever …

To be fair to our supervisor, one can understand public awareness lagging behind the news cycle by weeks or months. But over a year? That’s a significant problem. Still, her attitude remains commonplace. Many continue to believe the original claims of successful transmission prevention, Christians included, and have either not heard or refuse to acknowledge the subsequent media corrections.

A Pandemic Amnesty?

Then this week The Atlantic opined, “Let’s declare a pandemic amnesty.” Emily Oster writes, “We need to forgive one another for what we did and said when we were in the dark about COVID.”

Oster goes on to claim, “We didn’t know.” Fair enough. In April 2020, that was perfectly true. However, a year later, April 2021, it definitely was not, and that was when the real persecution of the unvaccinated by the majority was hitting full swing. Oster writes:

“We can leave out [forgiving] the willful purveyors of actual misinformation while forgiving the hard calls that people had no choice but to make with imperfect knowledge.

Here she is conveniently overlooking the fact that governments, media, businesses — and in many cases former friends, paranoid neighbors and estranged family members — continued to harass and demonize the unvaccinated well into 2022, when new and more accurate information had been published or aired by all the major mainstream media sources and was increasingly well known.

Don’t be surprised if Emily Oster’s plea for a pandemic amnesty falls on deaf ears in some quarters. Who forgives people who haven’t asked to be forgiven, and whose only defense for their behavior is basically “Well, nobody knew”? Unvaccinated Canadians genuinely suffered, or stood to suffer, major losses because of the ignorance, naiveté, and herd mentality of their more vocal fellow citizens, particularly those who shared their opinions with pollsters. In August 2021, while all this information was coming out, 74% of Canadians “somewhat supported” a vaccine mandate despite the consequences non-compliance might have on the lives of principled friends, family and neighbors, not to mention the efficiency of their own tax-funded healthcare system. Five months later, in January 2022, while the Freedom Convoy to Ottawa was underway, many still did.

Was It Really So Bad?

Is that really so bad? For some, the pressure produced by the Canadian government’s policies — buttressed by appeals to the public opinion of their fellow Canadians — was not the least bit trivial, affecting their daily lives, their dignity, their spirits and their ability to make a living. Here’s Freedom Convoy organizer Brigitte Belton testifying at the Emergencies Act Inquiry about the Ottawa event earlier this year:

“I just want everybody to know that we weren’t there to disrupt the city residents. We were there to be heard. I had given 32 emails, approximately, to MPPs. Thirty-two! Not one of them did anything for me. I followed how things are supposed to go. You first go and you complain. You try again. You try again. And when CBSA [Canada Border Services Agency] sent me a reply that was pretty much “Suck it up, Buttercup, this is the way it’s going to go, and you’re about to lose your job, so don’t worry about it,” what did you want me to do? Sit down, lie down, lose everything over a mandate that was really no longer in effect in the US? That’s what my country was asking of me. That’s what Canadians who were supporting the vaccine mandate were asking of me: to lose everything. Because they were afraid.

Because our government did a very good job at scaring people, making them so afraid that today, still, some of them wear facemasks. And that propaganda hurt our country, and having our Prime Minister say that “There will be consequences” for the unvaccinated, and we don’t want them sitting beside our children on planes and trains and automobiles. And the amount of — I’m trying to control my anger over this gentleman — but the wording that he used was divisive the whole time. Pit one person against another. Shame them. Make them comply. And if they don’t, they will.

I’m sorry, I draw the line when my government wants to throw something into my body I cannot remove. That is where I draw the line. Bodily autonomy, it is mine. It is not my government’s.”

Elsewhere, Belton describes the conditions unvaccinated truckers experienced on the job:

“We worked eight months with no sanitizer, no face masks. Nothing. We had no bathrooms. We had no showers. We were refused everywhere we went. You have no idea what it’s like to pee in a park on your way home from work.”

Tell me that’s a fun way to live. And 74% of Canadians were more or less okay with that.

The Speed of Information Uptake

Today the “speed of science” is lightning quick, particularly when it isn’t real science. Unfortunately, the rate of information uptake among our neighbors and friends is considerably more turtle-esque. When false claims make page 1 and retractions make page 27, that’s usually how it goes, but here the major recalibrations to the popular narrative were right out there for all to see in more-or-less timely fashion.

Here’s the bottom line: Christians who vocally and publicly supported the vaccine mandate, especially those who were unkind or indifferent to other believers about the costs of opposing it, need to take a long, hard look at themselves and figure out whether they owe anyone a retraction and/or a request for forgiveness. Hey, you surely meant well. You were just trying to get your fellow Christians to understand lives were at stake. You believed what you read and heard on TV. You wanted everybody to be safe, just like your unsaved neighbors did. But you were wrong. The mandates accomplished exactly nothing productive, eroded freedoms we thought were guaranteed, and hurt many.

So did you call anyone ignorant, selfish or, God forbid, un-Christlike? Now’s the time to fix that.

Among Christians, “We didn’t know” simply doesn’t cut it, and “You didn’t really know either” is just insulting. The scripture says, “I believed, therefore I spoke.” That’s the apostle Paul describing the spirit of faith that verbalizes itself.

Some things are worth placing our faith in and taking a public stand on behalf of. Politicized “science” is not one of them. Its speed excuses nothing.

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