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On Monday, October 4, a reader of mine, The Underdoug, commented on my last coronavirus vaccine post, including a link to an essay by Julius Ruechel, ‘The Snake-Oil Salesmen and the COVID-Zero Con: A Classic Bait-And-Switch for a Lifetime of Booster Shots (Immunity as a Service)’.

Julius Ruechel appears to be a dairy farmer living in Canada.

Excerpts from his lengthy essay follow, emphases in purple mine.

Ruechel posits that coronavirus vaccines could become yet another subscription model, because there will always be a perceived need for boosters:

Exposing this story does not require incriminating emails or whistleblower testimony. The story tells itself by diving into the long-established science that every single virologist, immunologist, evolutionary biologist, vaccine developer, and public health official had access to long before COVID began. As is so often the case, the devil is hidden in the details. As this story unfolds it will become clear that the one-two punch of lockdowns and the promise of vaccines as an exit strategy began as a cynical marketing ploy to coerce us into a never-ending regimen of annual booster shots intentionally designed to replace the natural “antivirus security updates” against respiratory viruses that come from hugs and handshakes and from children laughing together at school. We are being played for fools.

This is not to say that there aren’t plenty of other opportunists taking advantage of this crisis to pursue other agendas and to tip society into a full-blown police state. One thing quickly morphs into another. But this essay demonstrates that never-ending boosters were the initial motive for this global social-engineering shell game ― the subscription-based business model, adapted for the pharmaceutical industry. “Immunity as a service”.

Vaccines cannot eradicate everything

Ruechel explains that vaccines cannot eradicate everything, because specific criteria must be met in order to do so.

A disease such as smallpox, which is specific to humans, can be eradicated, but a respiratory virus that jumps across species — animals and humans — cannot:

Eradication of a killer virus sounds like a noble goal. In some cases it is, such as in the case of the smallpox virus. By 1980 we stopped vaccinating against smallpox because, thanks to widespread immunization, we starved the virus of available hosts for so long that it died out. No-one will need to risk their life on the side effects of a smallpox vaccination ever again because the virus is gone. It is a public health success story. Polio will hopefully be next ― we’re getting close

But smallpox is one of only two viruses (along with rinderpest) that have been eradicated thanks to vaccination. Very few diseases meet the necessary criteria. Eradication is hard and only appropriate for very specific families of viruses.

Smallpox made sense for eradication because it was a uniquely human virus ― there was no animal reservoir. By contrast, most respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2 (a.k.a. COVID) come from animal reservoirs: swine, birds, bats, etc. As long as there are bats in caves, birds in ponds, pigs in mud baths, and deer living in forests, respiratory viruses are only controllable through individual immunity, but it is not possible to eradicate them. There will always be a near-identical cousin brewing in the wings.

Even the current strain of COVID is already cheerfully jumping onwards across species boundaries

SARS was an exception, he says, because it was poorly adapted to humans:

When it made the species jump to humans, it was so poorly adapted to its new human hosts that it had terrible difficulty spreading. This very poor level of adaptation gave SARS a rather unique combination of properties:

    1. SARS was extremely difficult to catch (it was never very contagious)
    2. SARS made people extremely sick.
    3. SARS did not have pre-symptomatic spread.

These three conditions made the SARS outbreak easy to control through contact tracing and through the quarantine of symptomatic individuals. SARS therefore never reached the point where it circulated widely among asymptomatic community members. 

COVID-19 was different:

COVID was quite contagious (its rapid spread showed that COVID was already well adapted to spreading easily among its new human hosts), most people would have mild or no symptoms from COVID (making containment impossible), and that it was spreading by aerosols produced by both symptomatic and pre-symptomatic people (making contact tracing a joke).

In other words, it was clear by January/February 2020 that this pandemic would follow the normal rules of a readily transmissible respiratory epidemic, which cannot be reined in the way SARS was. Thus, by January/February of 2020, giving the public the impression that the SARS experience could be replicated for COVID was a deliberate lie – this genie was never going back inside the bottle.

Viruses such as these mutate quickly, unlike polio or smallpox:

Once a reasonably contagious respiratory virus begins circulating widely in a community, herd immunity can never be maintained for very long. RNA respiratory viruses (such as influenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinoviruses, and coronaviruses) all mutate extremely fast compared to viruses like smallpox, measles, or polio. Understanding the difference between something like measles and a virus like COVID is key to understanding the con that is being perpetrated by our health institutions. Bear with me here, I promise not to get too technical.

All viruses survive by creating copies of themselves. And there are always a lot of “imperfect copies” — mutations — produced by the copying process itself. Among RNA respiratory viruses these mutations stack up so quickly that there is rapid genetic drift, which continually produces new strains. Variants are normal. Variants are expected. Variants make it virtually impossible to build the impenetrable wall of long-lasting herd immunity required to starve these respiratory viruses out of existence. That’s one of several reasons why flu vaccines don’t provide long-lasting immunity and have to be repeated annually ― our immune system constantly needs to be updated to keep pace with the inevitable evolution of countless unnamed “variants.” 

Hence the need for constant booster shots, as with influenza:

This never-ending conveyor belt of mutations means that everyone’s immunity to COVID was always only going to be temporary and only offer partial cross-reactive protection against future re-infections. Thus, from day one, COVID vaccination was always doomed to the same fate as the flu vaccinea lifelong regimen of annual booster shots to try to keep pace with “variants” for those unwilling to expose themselves to the risk of a natural infection. And the hope that by the time the vaccines (and their booster shots) roll off the production line, they won’t already be out of date when confronted by the current generation of virus mutations.

He criticises public health officials and Big Pharma for causing alarm over variants:

The alarm raised by our public health authorities about “variants” and the feigned compassion of pharmaceutical companies as they rush to develop fresh boosters capable of fighting variants is a charade, much like expressing surprise about the sun rising in the East.

Vaccines for these types of viruses will only ever offer temporary, short-lived protection. The same goes for our own antibodies:

… for fast-mutating respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses, within a few months they are sufficiently different that your previously acquired immunity will only ever offer partial protection against your next exposure. The fast rate of mutation ensures that you never catch the exact same cold or flu twice, just their closely related constantly evolving cousins. What keeps you from feeling the full brunt of each new infection is cross-reactive immunity, which is another part of the story of how you are being conned, which I will come back to shortly. 

But let’s pretend for a moment that a miraculous vaccine could be developed that could give us all 100% sterilizing immunity today. The length of time it takes to manufacture and ship 8 billion doses (and then make vaccination appointments for 8 billion people) ensures that by the time the last person gets their last dose, the never-ending conveyor belt of mutations will have already rendered the vaccine partially ineffective. True sterilizing immunity simply won’t ever happen with coronaviruses. The logistics of rolling out vaccines to 8 billion people meant that none of our vaccine makers or public health authorities ever could have genuinely believed that vaccines would create lasting herd immunity against COVID.

So, for a multitude of reasons, it was a deliberate lie to give the public the impression that if enough people take the vaccine, it would create lasting herd immunity. It was 100% certain, from day one, that by the time the last dose is administered, the rapid evolution of the virus would ensure that it would already be time to start thinking about booster shots. Exactly like the flu shot. Exactly the opposite of a measles vaccine. Vaccines against respiratory viruses can never provide anything more than a temporary cross-reactive immunity “update” ― they are merely a synthetic replacement for your annual natural exposure to the smorgasbord of cold and flu viruses. Immunity as a service, imposed on society by trickery. The only question was always, how long between booster shots? Weeks, months, years? 

Feeling conned yet?

Mass vaccination and vaccine passports are a ‘con’

Ruechel posits that mass vaccination should not have been done. Only the vulnerable should have had the vaccine:

these vaccines can neither stop you from catching an infection nor stop you from transmitting the infection to someone else. They were never capable of creating herd immunity. They were designed to protect individuals against severe outcomes if they choose to take them – a tool to provide temporary focused protection for the vulnerable, just like the flu vaccine. Pushing for mass vaccination was a con from day one. And the idea of using vaccine passports to separate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated was also a con from day one. The only impact these vaccine passports have on the pandemic is as a coercive tool to get you to roll up your sleeve. Nothing more.

I am going to interject here to offer support for the argument that vaccine passports drive up vaccination rates. In Scotland, vaccine passports will be mandatory from October 18, 2021, provided the bugs with the app, which rolled out on October 1, can be ironed out.

A July 21 article in The National on this subject has a quote from Dr Nicola Steedman, Scotland’s deputy chief medical officer:

According to the Times, less than half of men under 30 in Scotland’s cities have received their first dose of a vaccine. Asked if a passport scheme could increase vaccine uptake, Steedman said: “In theory it might, and clearly that’s something other nations have used to increase the uptake in their vaccination programmes, but we have to balance that very carefully against people feeling as though they’ve been forced into something or coerced …”

The need for a vaccine passport, the use of which in Scotland will be limited, increases Big Pharma’s profits, especially if people have to update it every few months to prove they have had the latest booster shot.

Ruechel says:

vaccines will, at best, only last as long as immunity acquired through natural infection and will often fade much faster because the vaccine is often only able to trigger a partial immune response compared to the actual infection. So, if the disease itself doesn’t produce a broad-based immune response leading to long-lasting immunity, neither will the vaccine. And in most cases, immunity acquired through vaccination will begin to fade much sooner than immunity acquired through a natural infection. Every vaccine maker and public health official knows this despite bizarrely claiming that the COVID vaccines (based on re-creating the S-protein spike instead of using a whole virus) would somehow become the exception to the rule. That was a lie, and they knew it from day one. That should set your alarm bells ringing at full throttle

Thus, to pretend that there was any chance that herd immunity to COVID would be anything but short-lived was dishonest at best. For most people, immunity was always going to fade quickly. Just like what happens after most other respiratory virus infections. By February 2020, the epidemiological data showed clearly that for most people COVID was a mild coronavirus (nowhere near as severe than SARS or MERS), so it was virtually a certainty that even the immunity from a natural infection would fade within months, not years. It was also a certainty that vaccination was therefore, at best, only ever going to provide partial protection and that this protection would be temporary, lasting on the order of months. This is a case of false and misleading advertising if there ever was one.

He explains that coronavirus vaccines for animals work in the same way:

If I can allow my farming roots to shine through for a moment, I’d like to explain the implications of what was known about animal coronaviruses vaccines. Baby calves are often vaccinated against bovine coronaviral diarrhea shortly after birth if they are born in the spring mud and slush season, but not if they are born in midsummer on lush pastures where the risk of infection is lower. Likewise, bovine coronavirus vaccines are used to protect cattle before they face stressful conditions during shipping, in a feedlot, or in winter feed pens. Animal coronavirus vaccines are thus used as tools to provide a temporary boost in immunity, in very specific conditions, and only for very specific vulnerable categories of animals. After everything I’ve laid out so far in this text, the targeted use of bovine coronavirus vaccines should surprise no-one. Pretending that our human coronavirus vaccines would be different was nonsense

The only rational reason why the WHO and public health officials would withhold all that contextual information from the public as they rolled out lockdowns and held forth vaccines as an exit strategy was to whip the public into irrational fear in order to be able to make a dishonest case for mass vaccination when they should have, at most, been focused on providing focused vaccination of the most vulnerable only. That deception was the Trojan Horse to introduce endless mass booster shots as immunity inevitably fades and as new variants replace old ones.

How natural immunity works

Ruechel explains how the body fights off infection.

Not all forms of our natural defences are needed whenever we get sick. It depends on the illness:

a mild infection doesn’t trigger as many layers whereas a severe infection enlists the help of deeper layers, which are slower to respond but are much more specialized in their attack capabilities. And if those deeper adaptive layers get involved, they are capable of retaining a memory of the threat in order to be able to mount a quicker attack if a repeat attack is recognized in the future. That’s why someone who was infected by the dangerous Spanish Flu in 1918 might still have measurable T-cell immunity a century later but the mild bout of winter flu you had a couple of years ago might not have triggered T-cell immunity, even though both may have been caused by versions of the same H1N1 influenza virus.

As a rule of thumb, the broader the immune response, the longer immunological memory will last. Antibodies fade in a matter of months, whereas B-cell and T-cell immunity can last a lifetime.

Another rule of thumb is that a higher viral load puts more strain on your immune defenses, thus overwhelming the rapid response layers and forcing the immune system to enlist the deeper adaptive layers. That’s why nursing homes and hospitals are more dangerous places for vulnerable people than backyard barbeques. That’s why feedlot cattle are more vulnerable to viral diseases than cattle on pasture. Viral load matters a lot to how easily the generalist layers are overwhelmed and how much effort your immune system has to make to neutralize a threat.

Where the infection happens in the body also matters. For example, an infection in the upper respiratory tract triggers much less involvement from your adaptive immune system than when it reaches your lungs. Part of this is because your upper respiratory tract is already heavily preloaded with large numbers of generalist immunological cells that are designed to attack germs as they enter, which is why most colds and flus never make it deeper into the lungs. The guys with the clubs are capable of handling most of the threats that try to make through the gate. Most of the specialized troops hold back unless they are needed.

Catching a dangerous disease like measles produces lifetime immunity because an infection triggers all the deep layers that will retain a memory of how to fight off future encounters with the virus. So does the measles vaccine. Catching a cold or mild flu generally does not.

Constant booster shots could harm natural immune systems

Ruechel says that a continual regimen of booster shots could harm our natural immune systems:

At this point you may be wondering, if there is no lasting immunity from infection or vaccination, then are public health officials right to roll out booster shots to protect us from severe outcomes even if their dishonest methods to get us to accept them were unethical? Do we need a lifetime regimen of booster shots to keep us safe from a beast to which we cannot develop durable long-term immunity?

The short answer is no. 

Contrary to what you might think, the rapid evolution of RNA respiratory viruses actually has several important benefits for us as their involuntary hosts, which protects us without the benefit of broad lifelong immunity. One of those benefits has to do with the natural evolution of the virus towards less dangerous variants. The other is the cross-reactive immunity that comes from frequent re-exposure to closely related “cousins”. I’m going to peel apart both of these topics in order to show you the remarkable system that nature designed to keep us safe… and to show you how the policies being forced on us by our public health authorities are knowingly interfering with this system. They are creating a dangerous situation that increases our risk to other respiratory viruses (not just to COVID) and may even push the COVID virus to evolve to become more dangerous to both the unvaccinated and the vaccinatedThere are growing signs that this nightmare scenario has already begun

The panic generated by our notional experts over the Delta variant is unwarranted and unethical. That variant is a logical progression of coronavirus.

Ruechel says:

fear mongering about the Delta variant being even more contagious leaves out the fact that this is exactly what you would expect as a respiratory virus adapts to its new host species. We would expect new variants to be more contagious but less deadly as the virus fades to become just like the other 200+ respiratory viruses that cause common colds and flus

How lockdown damages healthy immune systems

Lockdowns and restricted circulation among humans also adversely affect healthy immune systems:

the decision to lock down the healthy population is so sinister. Lockdowns, border closures, and social distancing rules reduced spread among the healthy population, thus creating a situation where mutations produced among the healthy would become sufficiently rare that they might be outnumbered by mutations circulating among the bedridden. Mutations circulating among the healthy are, by definition, going to be the least dangerous mutations since they did not make their hosts sick enough to confine them to bedrest. That’s precisely the variants you want to spread in order to drown out competition from more dangerous mutations.

A host stuck in bed with a fever and not out dining with friends is limited in his ability to infect others compared to a host infected with a variety that only gives its host a sniffle. Not all bedridden hosts have caught a more dangerous mutation, but all dangerous mutations will be found among the bedridden. Thus as time goes by, dangerous mutations can only compete with less dangerous mutations if the entire population is limited in its ability to mix and mingle.

As long as the majority of infections are among the healthy, the more dangerous variants circulating among some of the bedridden will be outnumbered and will become evolutionary dead ends. But when public health officials intentionally restricted spread among the young, strong, and healthy members of society by imposing lockdowns, they created a set of evolutionary conditions that risked shifting the competitive evolutionary advantage from the least dangerous variants to more dangerous variants. By locking us all up, they risked making the virus more dangerous over time. Evolution doesn’t sit around to wait for you while you develop a vaccine.

Spanish Flu 1918

Ruechel explores the Spanish Flu pandemic, which took place in the last year of the Great War. A lot of soldiers were in trenches:

Let me give you a historical example to demonstrate that this rapid evolution of a virus towards either more or less dangerous variants isn’t mere theory. Small changes to the environment can lead to very rapid changes in the virus’ evolution. The first wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu was not particularly deadly, with mortality rates similar to regular seasonal flu. However, the second wave was not only much deadlier but, rather unusually, was particularly deadly to young people rather than just the old and the weak. Why would the second wave be the deadly one? And what would cause the virus to evolve so quickly to become both more deadly and better adapted to preying on young people? At first glance it would seem to defy all evolutionary logic.

The answer demonstrates just how sensitive a virus is to small changes in evolutionary pressure. The Spanish Flu spread in the midst of the lockdown-mimicking conditions of World War One. During the first wave, the virus found a huge population of soldiers trapped in the cold damp conditions of the trenches and a near endless supply of captive bedridden hosts in overflowing field hospitals. By the Spring of 1918, up to three-quarters of the entire French military and half of British troops had been infected. These conditions created two unique evolutionary pressures. On the one hand, it allowed variants that were well adapted to young people to emerge. But on the other hand, unlike normal times, the cramped conditions of trench warfare and field hospitals allowed dangerous variants that immobilize their hosts to spread freely with little competition from less dangerous variants that spread through lively hosts. The trenches and field hospitals became the virus incubators driving the evolution of variants

Normally young people are predominantly exposed to less dangerous mutations because the healthiest do all the mingling while the bedridden stay home. But the lockdown conditions of war created conditions that erased the competitive advantage of less dangerous mutations that don’t immobilize their hosts, leading to the rise of more dangerous mutations

Thanks to the end of the war, the lockdown-mimicking conditions also ended, thereby shifting the competitive advantage back to less dangerous mutations that could spread freely among the mobile healthy members of the population. The deadliness of the second wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu is inextricably linked to the First World War, and the end of the war is linked to the virus fading into the background of regular cold and flu season.

This brings him back to our 2020 lockdowns around the world:

It is therefore highly likely that the 1918 Spanish Flu would never have been more than a really bad flu season had it not been for the amplifying effect of lockdown conditions created by a world at war.

It also raises the question, for which I don’t have an answer, whether the lockdown strategy during COVID was intentionally used to reduce spread among the healthy in order to keep the virus from fading into harmless irrelevancy. I use the word “intentionally” ― and it’s a strong word ― because the deadly second wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu and its causes are hardly secrets in the medical community. You’d have to be a completely reckless and utterly incompetent idiot, or a cynical bastard with an agenda, to impose any strategy that mimics those virus-amplifying conditions. Yet that’s what our health authorities did. And what they continue to do, while shamelessly hyperventilating about the risk of “variants” to force us to submit to medical tyranny based on mandatory vaccines, never-ending booster shots, and vaccine passports that can turn off access to our normal lives. This is cynicism at its finest.

‘Leaky’ vaccines: how vaccinated people can pose a danger

As we know, coronavirus vaccines do not provide what is known as sterilising immunity because they cannot.

The vaccinated can still spread the virus, making the vaccines ‘leaky’, something which happened in chickens vaccinated against a herpes virus in the 1950s. This is what is known as the Marek effect, as he was the one who discovered it in 1968.

Ruechel says:

Vaccinated chickens were protected from severe outcomes but nevertheless continued to catch and spread the virus, so evolutionary pressure led to the emergence of a dual-track variant that become the dominant strain of this herpes virus. It continues to spread among the vaccinated chickens without killing them but kills up to 80% or more of unvaccinated birds if they get infected. Thus, a never-ending stream of vaccinations is now required just to maintain the status quo. I bet the pharmaceutical industry is smiling at all those drug-dependent chickens though — talk about having a captive audience!

Ruechel explains that this same effect is happening with COVID-19 vaccinations:

A vaccine that provides sterilizing immunity prevents the vaccinated from being able to catch or transmit the virus. They become a dead end for the virus. However, as I’ve already mentioned, the current crop of COVID vaccines, which are meant to train the immune system to recognize the S-spike proteins, were not designed to create sterilizing immunity. By their design, they merely help reduce the risk of severe outcomes by priming the immune system. The vaccinated can still catch and spread the virus ― the definition of a leaky vaccine ― and epidemiological data makes it very clear that this is now happening all around the world. Thus, both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated are equally capable of producing new variants. The idea that the unvaccinated are producing variants while the vaccinated are not is a boldfaced lie.

This is dangerous:

From an evolutionary perspective, this is a potentially dangerous scenario. What has been done by temporarily blunting the risk of hospitalization or death, but without stopping infection among the vaccinated, is to create a set of evolutionary conditions where a variant that is dangerous to the unvaccinated can spread easily among the vaccinated without making the vaccinated very sick. For lack of a better term, let’s call this a dual-track variant. Thus, because the vaccinated are not getting bedridden from this dual-track variant, they can continue to spread it easily, giving it a competitive advantage, even if it is highly dangerous to the unvaccinated.

Furthermore, since COVID vaccination only offers temporary short-term protection, as soon as immunity fades, the vaccinated themselves are also equally at risk of more severe outcomes. Thus, this creates the evolutionary pressure for the virus to behave as an increasingly contagious but relatively mild virus as long as everyone is vaccinated but as a dangerous but also very contagious virus as soon as temporary immunity wears off. The call for boosters every 6 months is already here. (Update: now it’s being revised down to 5 months.)

Here’s where Big Pharma steps in, aided and abetted by our respective leaders:

So, the pandemic really does have the potential to become the Pandemic of the Unvaccinated (the shameless term coined by public health officials to terrify the vaccinated into bullying their unvaccinated peers), but reality comes with a twist because if a dual-track variant does evolve it would be the unvaccinated (and those whose boosters have expired) who would have reason to fear the vaccinated, not the other way around as so many frightened citizens seem to believe. And the end result would be that we all become permanently dependent on boosters every 6 months, forever.

He says that the reason this hasn’t happened with the flu vaccine is because not enough people are advised to take it, thereby avoiding a dangerous dual-track variant scenario:

It is mostly the vulnerable and those who work around them that get it while children, young adults and other healthy members of society don’t get it. So, even if more deadly variants were to arise in nursing homes or hospital settings, the high number of healthy unvaccinated visitors to those facilities would constantly bring less deadly more contagious variants with them, thereby preventing more dangerous variants from gaining a competitive edge in nursing home or hospital settings. But if the leaky flu vaccinations were to be extended to everyone, or if nursing home populations continue to be kept isolated from the rest of society during COVID lockdowns, things might begin to look a little different.

We do not need constant booster shots

Ruechel gives various scientific reasons why we do not need constant booster shots for coronavirus if we are healthy:

This year’s runny nose is your protection against COVID-23. Your cross-reactive immunity to last years annoying flu might just save your life if something truly dangerous arrives, as long as it is at least somewhat related to what your immune system has seen before. COVID could easily have turned out to be as dangerous to us as the Spanish Flu if it hadn’t been for the saving grace of cross-reactive immunity. As this study shows, up to 90-99% of us already had some level of protection to COVID thanks to partial cross-reactive immunity gained from exposure to other coronaviruses. The high percentage of infections that turn out to be asymptomatic bears that out.

Someone needs to remind Bill Gates, his fawning public health bootlickers, and the pharmaceutical companies that whisper sweet-nothings in his ear that in the natural world of respiratory viruses, most of us don’t need a regimen of never-ending booster shots to keep us safe from COVID variants ― we already have a perfectly functioning system to keep bringing us new updates. Respiratory viruses are a completely different beast than smallpox, polio, or measles; and pretending otherwise is not just silly, it’s criminal because anyone with a background in immunology knows better. But it’s a fantastic and very profitably way to scare a wide-eyed population into accepting never-ending booster shots as a replacement for the natural antivirus updates that we normally get from hugs and handshakes. Protect the vulnerable. Stop preying on the rest of us.

He also delves into the Diamond Princess cruise case, which was made public in February 2020, early on in the pandemic. Not many people displayed symptoms, and only a few died.

Yet, world leaders were getting the jitters:

The important thing to remember is that the Diamond Princess data was already publicly available since the end of February of 2020. Operation Warp Speed, the vaccine development initiative approved by President Trump, was nevertheless announced on April 29th, 2020. Thus, our health authorities knowingly and opportunistically recommended lockdowns and promoted vaccines as an exit strategy after it was already clear that the majority of us had some kind of protection through cross-reactive immunity. The Diamond Princess example provided the unequivocal proof that the only people who might benefit from a vaccine, even if it worked as advertised, were the small number of extremely vulnerable members of society with weak immune systems. Likewise, lockdowns should have been recommended only for nursing home residents (on a strictly voluntary basis to protect their human rights) while the pandemic surged through the rest of us.

Conclusion — vaccine by subscription

There is much more that Ruechel discusses, so it is worth reading his essay in full.

I’m going to skip to the conclusion, which is about making us permanently dependent on Big Pharma’s vaccines:

What if, by depriving us of normal life, those who stand to gain from vaccines can forever cement themselves at the center of society by providing an artificial replacement for what our immune systems used to do to protect us against common respiratory viruses back when we were still allowed to live normal lives? …

What if the fast mutation of RNA viruses ensures that no vaccine will ever be fully effective at providing lasting immunity, thus creating the illusion that we are permanently in need of vaccine boosters? 

What if politicians could be convinced to make vaccination mandatory in order to prevent potential customers from opting out? 

What if, by relying on lockdowns during the winter season, our vulnerability to other viruses increased, which could then be used to rationalize expanding the jab, via mission creep, to simultaneously vaccinate us against RSV, influenza, other coronaviruses, the common cold, and so on, despite knowing full well that the protection that these vaccines offer against respiratory viruses is only temporary?

And what other social engineering goals can be rolled into your annual booster shot in the future once you are permanently bound to these annual jabs and vaccine passports? In an atmosphere of hysteria, it’s a system ripe for abuse by opportunists, ideologues, power hungry totalitarians, and Malthusian social engineers. The snowball doesn’t have to grow by design. Mission creep happens all on its own once Pandora’s Box is opened to coerced vaccinations and conditional rights. The road to Hell is frequently paved by good intentions… and hysteria. 

So, what if COVID-Zero and the vaccine exit strategy is merely the global state-sanctioned equivalent of a drug dealer creating dependency among its customers to keep pushing more drugs? 

What if it was all just a way of convincing society of the need for subscription-based “immunity as a service”? The subscription-based business model (or some version of it) is all the rage these days in the corporate world to create loyal captive audiences that generate reliable money streams, forever. Subscriptions are not just for your cable TV and gym membership anymore. Everything has been redesignated as a “consumable”. 

Netflix did it with movies.

Spotify did it with music.

Microsoft did it with its Office suite.

Adobe did it with Photoshop editing suite.

The smartphone industry did it with phones that need to be replaced every 3 to 5 years.

The gaming industry did it with video games.

Amazon is doing it with books (i.e. Kindle Unlimited).

The food industry is doing it with meal delivery services (i.e. Hello Fresh).

Uber is doing it with subscription-based ride sharing …

Monsanto and its peers did it to farmers with patented seed technology, which cannot legally be replanted, and is lobbying to try to legalize the use of terminator seed technology (GMO seeds that are sterile in the second generation to prevent replanting).

The healthcare industry is doing it with concierge medical services, fitness tracking apps (Fitbit), sleep-tracking apps, and meditation apps.

The investment industry is doing it with farmland, with investors owning the land and leasing it back to farmers in a kind of modern revival of the sharecropping system. (Bill Gates is the largest farmland owner in the USA – are you surprised?)

Blackrock and other investment firms are currently trying to do it with homes to create a permanent class of renters.

And public health authorities and vaccine makers have been trying to do it with flu vaccines for years, but we’ve been stubbornly uncooperative. Not anymore.

Remember when the World Economic Forum predicted in 2016 that by 2030 all products would become services? And remember their infamous video in which they predicted that “You will own nothing. And you will be happy.”? Well, the future is here. This is what it looks like. The subscription-based economy. And apparently it now also includes your immune system in a trade-off for access to your life.

Ultimately:

The con is clear. It’s time to focus all our might on stopping this runaway train before it takes us over the cliff into a police state of no return. Stand up. Speak out. Refuse to play along. Stopping this requires millions of voices with the courage to say NO — at work, at home, at school, at church, and out on the street

It’s time to be bold. It’s time to call out the fraudsters. And it’s time to reclaim the habits, values, and principles that are required to fix our democratic and scientific institutions to prevent this from ever happening again.

Feudalism was one giant stinking cesspool of self-serving corruption. Individual rights, free markets, the democratic process, and limited government were the antidotes that freed humanity from that hierarchical servitude. It seems we have come full circle. The COVID con is a symptom, not the cause, of a broken system …

Freedom of speech, individual rights, private property, individual ownership, competition, good faith debate, small government, minimal taxes, limited regulation, and free markets (the opposite of the crony capitalism we now suffer under), these are the checks and balances that bullet-proof a society against the soulless charlatans that fail upwards into positions of power in bloated government institutions and against the parasitic fraudsters that seek to attach themselves to the government’s teat.

Yes, we need a Great Reset. Just not the subscription-based version that the World Economic Forum imagined.

I learned a lot about vaccines and immunity from Ruechel’s essay, even though reading it and writing this post has taken me well over five hours.

Thanks again to The Underdoug for sharing it.

Following on from my post of last week, below is a continued timeline about herd immunity and the coronavirus crisis in Britain.

Old news, perhaps, but it will be interesting to see how much of this, if any, is mentioned at the Government’s hearing, scheduled for 2022.

May 2020

On May 17, 2020, journalist Robert Peston tweeted about a conference in Edinburgh that could have been a super-spreader event:

One of Peston’s readers said that he was partly to blame, because, in March, he wrote an article for The Spectator‘”Herd immunity” will be vital to stopping coronavirus’.

It begins with this (emphases mine):

The key phrase we all need to understand is ‘herd immunity’ – which is what happens to a group of people or animals when they develop sufficient antibodies to be resistant to a disease.

The strategy of the British government in minimising the impact of Covid-19 is to allow the virus to pass through the entire population so that we acquire herd immunity, but at a much delayed speed so that those who suffer the most acute symptoms are able to receive the medical support they need, and such that the health service is not overwhelmed and crushed by the sheer number of cases it has to treat at any one time.

Infection figures were starting to recede in May. This could partly be explained by a month of glorious weather, apart from two days. It was one of the warmest and sunniest on record. I fantasised that I was in Cannes.

On May 18, Freddie Sayers of UnHerd interviewed Prof Karl Sikora, the Founding Dean and Professor of Medicine at the University of Buckingham Medical School and an ex-director of the WHO Cancer Programme:

Prof Sikora said:

The serology results around the world (and forthcoming in Britain) don’t necessarily reveal the percentage of people who have had the disease.

He estimates 25-30% of the UK population has had Covid-19, and higher in the group that is most susceptible.

Pockets of herd immunity help *already* explain the downturn.

Sweden’s end result will not be different to ours – lockdown versus no lockdown.

On May 10, Nic Lewis wrote a post about the UK and Sweden for Climate Etc.: ‘Why herd immunity to COVID-19 is reached much earlier than thought’.

It says, in part:

A study published in March by the COVID-19 Response Team from Imperial College (Ferguson20[1]) appears to have been largely responsible for driving government actions in the UK and, to a fair extent, in the US and some other countries. Until that report came out, the strategy of the UK government, at least, seems to have been to rely on the build up of ‘herd immunity’ to slow the growth of the epidemic and eventually cause it to peter out.

The ‘herd immunity threshold’ (HIT) can be estimated from the basic reproduction rate of the epidemic, R0 – a measure of how many people, on average, each infected individual infects. Standard simple compartmental models of epidemic growth imply that the HIT equals {1 – 1/R0}. Once the HIT is passed, the rate of new infections starts to decline, which should ensure that health systems will not thereafter be overwhelmed and makes it more practicable to take steps to eliminate the disease.

However, the Ferguson20 report estimated that relying on herd immunity would result in 81% of the UK and US populations becoming infected during the epidemic, mainly over a two-month period, based on an R0 estimate of 2.4. These figures imply that the HIT is between 50% and 60%.[2] Their report implied that health systems would be overwhelmed, resulting in far more deaths. It claimed that only draconian government interventions could prevent this occurring. Such interventions were rapidly implemented in the UK, in most states of the US, and in various other countries, via highly disruptive and restrictive enforced ‘lockdowns’.

A notable exception was Sweden, which has continued to pursue a herd immunity-based strategy, relying on relatively modest social distancing policies. The Imperial College team estimated that, after those policies were introduced in mid-March, R0 in Sweden was 2.5, with only a 2.5% probability that it was under 1.5.[3] The rapid spread of COVID-19 in the country in the second half of March suggests that R0 is unlikely to have been significantly under 2.0.[4]

Very sensibly, the Swedish public health authority has surveyed the prevalence of infections by the SARS-COV-2 virus in Stockholm County, the earliest in Sweden hit by COVID-19. They thereby estimated that 17% of the population would have been infected by 11 April, rising to 25% by 1 May 2020.[5] Yet recorded new cases had stopped increasing by 11 April (Figure 1), as had net hospital admissions,[6] and both measures have fallen significantly since. That pattern indicates that the HIT had been reached by 11 April, at which point only 17% of the population appear to have been infected.

How can it be true that the HIT has been reached in Stockholm County with only about 17% of the population having been infected, while an R0 of 2.0 is normally taken to imply a HIT of 50%?

A recent paper (Gomes et al.[7]) provides the answer. It shows that variation between individuals in their susceptibility to infection and their propensity to infect others can cause the HIT to be much lower than it is in a homogeneous population. Standard simple compartmental epidemic models take no account of such variability. And the model used in the Ferguson20 study, while much more complex, appears only to take into account inhomogeneity arising from a very limited set of factors – notably geographic separation from other individuals and household size – with only a modest resulting impact on the growth of the epidemic.[8] Using a compartmental model modified to take such variability into account, with co-variability between susceptibility and infectivity arguably handled in a more realistic way than by Gomes et al., I confirm their finding that the HIT is indeed reached at a much lower level than when the population is homogeneous. That would explain why the HIT appears to have been passed in Stockholm by mid April. The same seems likely to be the case in other major cities and regions that have been badly affected by COVID-19.

On that topic, Prof Sunetra Gupta, one of the signatories to The Barrington Declaration which came out that summer, entered the picture. Prof Gupta is the Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford. Freddie Sayers of UnHerd interviewed her on May 21:

The accompanying article says:

Her group at Oxford produced a rival model to Ferguson’s back in March which speculated that as much as 50% of the population may already have been infected and the true Infection Fatality Rate may be as low as 0.1%.

Since then, we have seen various antibody studies around the world indicating a disappointingly small percentage of seroprevalence — the percentage of the population has the anti-Covid-19 antibody. It was starting to seem like Ferguson’s view was the one closer to the truth.

But, in her first major interview since the Oxford study was published in March, Professor Gupta is only more convinced that her original opinion was correct.

As she sees it, the antibody studies, although useful, do not indicate the true level of exposure or level of immunity. First, many of the antibody tests are “extremely unreliable” and rely on hard-to-achieve representative groups. But more important, many people who have been exposed to the virus will have other kinds of immunity that don’t show up on antibody tests — either for genetic reasons or the result of pre-existing immunities to related coronaviruses such as the common cold.

The implications of this are profound – it means that when we hear results from antibody tests (such as a forthcoming official UK Government study) the percentage who test positive for antibodies is not necessarily equal to the percentage who have immunity or resistance to the virus. The true number could be much higher.

Observing the very similar patterns of the epidemic across countries around the world has convinced Professor Gupta that it is this hidden immunity, more than lockdowns or government interventions, that offers the best explanation of the Covid-19 progression:

“In almost every context we’ve seen the epidemic grow, turn around and die away — almost like clockwork. Different countries have had different lockdown policies, and yet what we’ve observed is almost a uniform pattern of behaviour which is highly consistent with the SIR model. To me that suggests that much of the driving force here was due to the build-up of immunity. I think that’s a more parsimonious explanation than one which requires in every country for lockdown (or various degrees of lockdown, including no lockdown) to have had the same effect.”

June 2020

On June 4, Freddie Sayers interviewed Prof Karl Friston, a computer modelling expert, world-renowned for his contributions to neuroscience. He had been applying his ‘dynamic causal modelling’ approach to the Covid-19 pandemic:

The accompanying article says that his Bayesian models were showing that up to 80% of the population might be naturally immune to coronavirus:

His models suggest that the stark difference between outcomes in the UK and Germany, for example, is not primarily an effect of different government actions (such as better testing and earlier lockdowns) but is better explained by intrinsic differences between the populations that make the “susceptible population” in Germany — the group that is vulnerable to Covid-19 — much smaller than in the UK.

As he told me in our interview, even within the UK, the numbers point to the same thing: that the “effective susceptible population” was never 100%, and was at most 50% and probably more like only 20% of the population. He emphasises that the analysis is not yet complete, but “I suspect, once this has been done, it will look like the effective non-susceptible portion of the population will be about 80%. I think that’s what’s going to happen.”

Theories abound as to which factors best explain the huge disparities between countries in the portion of the population that seems resistant or immune — everything from levels of vitamin D to ethnic-genetic and social and geographical differences may come into play — but Professor Friston makes clear that it does not primarily seem to be a function of government coronavirus policy. “Solving that — understanding that source of variation in terms of this non-susceptibility — is going to be the key to understanding the enormous variation between countries,” he said …

His explanation for the remarkably similar mortality outcomes in Sweden (no lockdown) and the UK (lockdown) is that “they weren’t actually any different. Because at the end of the day the actual processes that get into the epidemiological dynamics — the actual behaviours, the distancing, was evolutionarily specified by the way we behave when we have an infection.”

Most significantly, it would mean that the principal underlying assumption behind the global shutdowns, typified by the famous Imperial College forecasts — namely, that left unchecked this disease would rapidly pass through the entire population of every country and kill around 1% of those infected, leading to untold millions of deaths worldwide without draconian action — was wrong, out by a large factor. The largest co-ordinated government action in history, forcibly closing down most of the world’s societies with consequences that may last for generations, would have been based on faulty science.

When I put this to Professor Friston, he was the model of collegiate discretion. He said that the presumptions of Neil Ferguson’s models were all correct, “under the qualification that the population they were talking about is much smaller than you might imagine”. In other words, Ferguson was right that around 80% of susceptible people would rapidly become infected, and was right that of those between 0.5% and 1% would die — he just missed the fact that the relevant “susceptible population” was only ever a small portion of people in the UK, and an even smaller portion in countries like Germany and elsewhere. Which rather changes everything.

With such elegant formulations are scientific reputations saved. Practically, it makes not much difference whether, as per Sunetra Gupta, the 40,000 officially-counted coronavirus deaths in the UK are 0.1% of 40 million people infected, or, as per Karl Friston’s theory implies, they are more like 0.5% of 8 million people infected with the remaining 32 million shielded from infection by mysterious “immunological dark material”. If you are exposed to the virus and it is destroyed in your body by mucosal antibodies or T-cells or clever genes so that you never become fully infected and don’t even notice it, should that count as an infection? The effect is the same: 40,000 deaths, not 400,000.

However, on Sunday, June 7, SAGE member Prof John Edmunds was still backtracking on his earlier claims about herd immunity from March. He was all about lockdown and told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that the UK should have locked down sooner to prevent deaths:

Speaking of lockdown, Britons were increasingly angry about being told not to leave the house, especially when people were protesting with no social distancing:

June in the UK — Part 1: the angry, yet law abiding, silent majority (June 3)

June in the UK — Part 2: angry silent majority questions lockdown (June 5; masks; no arrests for destructive protestors, two for eccentric Piers Corbyn)

June in the UK — Part 3: the angry silent majority on lockdown (June 5)

June in the UK — Part 4: coronavirus and the public’s anger about health during lockdown (June 5)

June in the UK — Part 5: the hypocrisy surrounding coronavirus and social distancing (June 6, protests)

—————————————————————-

Writing a year later, I do wonder whether getting vaccinated is really worth it for most of us.

Unfortunately, we have to do it to have any semblance of normality.

I’m a big believer in natural herd immunity, less so the artificially engineered type.

More to follow on herd immunity next week.

Early in March 2020, my far better half and I were optimistic that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his government and his advisers would not be too proscriptive about coronavirus restrictions.

In the end, they were, but the following timeline shows how quickly their thinking on herd immunity changed.

In light of Dominic Cummings’s testimony to the Science and Technology Select Committee on Wednesday, May 26, and his lengthy Twitter thread prepared beforehand (continuing afterwards), I offer a short and a long version of what happened.

Short version

The Government denies that natural herd immunity — catching the virus — was ever government policy.

Yet, here is Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, at a coronavirus briefing on Thursday, March 12, 2020:

It seems that Cummings might have advised the government to backtrack and deny it was policy, however briefly:

As Cummings said on Wednesday, once he received numbers from an NHS specialist/mathematician who extrapolated scenarios on what could happen, the Government changed tack:

Long version

I haven’t missed a single coronavirus briefing since they started in March 2020. As regular readers will know, I have been deep-diving into the pandemic since then.

February 2020

Lessons From The Crisis has an excellent article on how the herd immunity plan unfolded and changed. ‘It’s bizarre that this needs saying, but *of course* the UK had a Herd Immunity plan’ is well worth reading.

It includes a capture of SAGE minutes from February 4, 2020, advocating that policies for influenza be followed. The article summarises this as follows (emphases in the original):

On the 4th of February, at the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies’s fourth Covid meeting, influenza planning, with its assertions that spread was “inevitable”and halting the virus “a waste of resources” was adopted as the official recommendation- tragically this was about ten days before Chinese covid cases peaked, never return to their early 2020 levels …

The scientific consensus presented to ministers was: mass infection of the population was inevitable, a vaccine would not be available in time, so the only choices were about how to manage the mass infection of the population until the country had accumulated enough cases to get to herd immunity

The alternative being attempted by governments elsewhere, trying to stop the disease from infecting the population, was regarded as folly; the UK government’s scientific advisors were certain that countries attempting suppression would fail …

March 2020

In his testimony on Wednesday, Cummings claimed he broke rank with the Government on Wednesday, March 11:

Publicly, however, he was still on board with the Government plan:

Vallance gave his aforementioned briefing on herd immunity on March 12. This is what appeared afterwards:

This is a summary of an interview Vallance gave to Sky News the next day (full video here):

The Independent quoted a BBC interview with him on March 13:

Sir Patrick told the BBC that the advice the government is following for tackling coronavirus is not looking to “suppress” the disease entirely but to help create a “herd immunity in the UK” while protecting the most vulnerable from it.

Asked if there is a fear that clamping down too hard on its spread could see it return, Sir Patrick said: “That is exactly the risk you would expect from previous epidemics.

“If you suppress something very, very hard, when you release those measures it bounces back and it bounces back at the wrong time.

“Our aim is to try and reduce the peak, broaden the peak, not suppress it completely; also, because the vast majority of people get a mild illness, to build up some kind of herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease and we reduce the transmission, at the same time we protect those who are most vulnerable to it.

“Those are the key things we need to do.”

That same day, SAGE’s Professor John Edmunds also advocated natural herd immunity in this Channel 4 interview:

Nigel Farage was outraged by the policy:

The Lessons From The Crisis article says that the turning point happened almost immediately:

Partly in response to this outrage, the government changed course; Boris Johnson swapped strategies and began locking down the country just 3 days after the herd immunity plan became public, with new priorities built around suppressing the virus with blunt instruments such as lockdowns to buy time for building countermeasures- testing and tracing capacity, vaccines, treatments.

That is not to give Nigel Farage single-handed credit. The media also helped a lot, especially with frequent footage of what was happening in northern Italy at the time.

On Monday, March 16, Prof Neil Ferguson released his (spurious) numbers from Imperial College London, which changed the Government’s policy. 

UnHerd reported on it the following day — ‘Why the Government changed tack on Covid-19’:

The Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and the government’s science adviser Dr David Halpern indicated that the government’s strategy was to allow the virus to pass through the population, to allow individuals to “acquire herd immunity” at a delayed speed, while vulnerable groups were “cocooned.” This strategy, however, was subsequently contradicted by health secretary Matt Hancock, who insisted that “herd immunity is not our goal or policy”.

The quick reversals did not end there, as a ban was announced on mass gatherings just a day after the government’s initial claims that it was not the right time for such measures. On Saturday, the government briefed select journalists on “wartime measures” to quarantine the elderly at home or in care homes, away from any contact with the rest of the population; earlier than such measures were expected to be announced.

Finally, it was revealed yesterday afternoon that the Prime Minister had decided to dramatically step up countermeasures, and switch entirely to a strategy of containment as a result of advice from an expert response team at Imperial College London, which concluded that the strategy of delay would likely cause “hundreds of thousands” of avoidable deaths.

The initial plans — to establish herd immunity based on research on social fatigue and assumptions that effective vaccines would not be developed — contradicted the guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the wealth of evidence in the fields of epidemiology, behavioural science and immunology, so it is unsurprising that countless experts have already questioned and criticised the strategy, including epidemiologists, immunologists, and behavioural scientists.

On Saturday, March 21, Alex Wickham from Buzzfeed summarised a tense and confused week inside No. 10, and the road to lockdown (emphases mine):

While the scientific debate was raging last week between experts, officials, and ministers in face-to-face meetings and over emails and text messages, Johnson’s government was publicly insisting that the scientific advice showed the UK did not yet have to bring in more stringent measures to fight the virus.

Political aides tacitly criticised other countries who had taken more dramatic steps, claiming Britain was being “guided by the science” rather than politics.

Towards the end of last week, some ministers and political aides at the top of the government were still arguing that the original strategy of home isolation of suspect cases — but no real restrictions on wider society — was correct, despite almost every other European country taking a much tougher approach, and increasing alarm among SAGE experts.

The thought of months or even a year of social distancing was simply not feasible, some in Johnson’s team still thought at that point. They continued to privately defend the controversial “herd immunity” approach outlined to the media by Vallance, even as other aides scrambled to claim the UK had never considered it to be policy.

And there was fury behind the scenes among members of Johnson’s team at the likes of Rory Stewart and Jeremy Hunt, who had been publicly saying the government had got it wrong.

But data from Italy — presented to the government before it was published by experts at Imperial College on Monday — changed all that. Their report confirmed the earlier fears of the epidemiologists who had been calling for more drastic action.

On Monday, March 23 — the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson took away every Briton’s civil liberties in five minutes by announcing the first lockdown — Byline Times posted a must-read article, ‘COVID-19 SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Part Three — Behavioural Scientists told Government to use “Herd Immunity” to Justify Business-As-Usual’.

SPI-B is our behavioural, or ‘nudge’, unit and is part of SAGE. Dr David Halpern, a SAGE member, runs the unit. This was allegedly their role in the herd immunity discussions:

A SPI-B document dated 4 March, which rejected the need for school closures, went on to refer to the medical concept of immunity. In a discussion about how the public might be confused about the disparity between the Government’s approach of “not applying widescale social isolation at the same time as recommending isolation to at-risk groups”, the document acknowledges disagreement within the SPI-B.

The document explains: “One view is that explaining that members of the community are building some immunity will make this acceptable. Another view is that recommending isolation to only one section of society risks causing discontent.”

The idea of immunity does not come up elsewhere in the SAGE corpus. But, Professor Chris Whitty, the Government’s Chief Medical Advisor, claimed that 20% of the population of Wuhan, China, had contracted the Coronavirus and acquired herd immunity. He believed that this explained why new cases had begun to fall in China

This flatly contradicted data from China showing that, by end of January, after the crisis had peaked, just under 95% of the Wuhan population remained uninfected by the virus. This was, therefore, nothing to do with herd immunity, but a result of China’s emergency containment response. 

The UK Government, it seemed, had made a gamble: one that Dr Brian Ferguson, Director of Immunology at Cambridge University, described as “not scientifically based and irresponsible” because typically “Coronaviruses don’t make long-lasting antibody responses”.

Whether or not it was a specific goal of the Government, its network of behavioural science advisors had fielded herd immunity as a way of justifying to the public why the Government was not taking early action – despite having no scientific evidence behind the idea

Social media discussions on herd immunity began to appear:

On Tuesday, March 24, Byline Times posted another must-read article, ‘The Coronavirus Crisis: Oxford Model Touting “Herd Immunity” was Promoted by PR Agency Tied to Ministry of Defence and Nudge Unit’.

Excerpts follow:

On 24 March, the Financial Times claimed that as much as half of the British population may have already been infected by the novel Coronavirus, according to a new model by Oxford University’s Evolutionary Ecology of Infectious Disease group

The conclusion, according to the FT’s science editor Clive Cookson, suggested that the country “had already acquired substantial herd immunity through the unrecognised spread of COVID-19 over more than two months”. If true, this would vindicate the Government’s “unofficial herd immunity strategy – allowing controlled spread of infection,” he stated.

Although numerous epidemiologists and scientists had questioned the validity of the Oxford model – which had not been peer-reviewed – it was promoted to the press by a PR agency with ties to the Government, raising questions about how and why this model was published and disseminated at this time.

The draft paper, which was originally posted to Dropbox, included a disclaimer noting that its content was “not final” and could be “updated any time”. The disclaimer also contained a contact point for journalists: “Contact for press enquiries: Cairbre Sugrue, cairbre@sugruecomms.com.”

Dr Lewis Mackenzie, a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Discovery Fellow, commented: “Why on earth has this been sent to the media via a third party PR company instead of the Oxford University press team? Seems very irresponsible to encourage reporting on this topic before the scientific community had a chance to comment and peer-review it.”

When asked why its own press team did not release the study, Oxford University said: “All Oxford academics have freedom of expression regarding their areas of specialism, including communication through the media. It is therefore not uncommon for academics to make their own arrangements for contacting the press. The university cannot comment on individual arrangements that it is not party to.”

Caibre Sugrue is the founding director of Sugrue Communications, a technology PR agency. He is also a non-executive advisory board member of 100%Open, an innovation consultancy – which has worked for several British Government agencies, including the UK Ministry of Defence’s Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and a leading charity which co-owns the Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) or ‘nudge unit’.

This seems to be the first appearance of Prof Sunetra Gupta, later of The Barrington Declaration (a libertarian approach to coronavirus self-isolation), who works at Oxford University:

The original FT piece had claimed that, if substantial herd immunity had been achieved, restrictions could be removed sooner than expected. The article added: “Although some experts have shed doubt on the strength and length of the human immune response to the virus, Prof Gupta said the emerging evidence made her confident that humanity would build up herd immunity against COVID-19.

I contacted Professor Sun[e]tra Gupta, one of the co-authors of the study, to find out what this emerging evidence is. She did not respond to a request for comment. However, the model was reported worldwide and some commentators in both the US and UK used it to suggest that strong social distancing measures may be unnecessary

Scientists are divided on the prospects for achieving herd immunity, but most agree that, while achieving it may be possible at some point, it is not clear how long it would last. In any case, whether or not it is achievable, the immediate focus should be on minimising fatalities.

By the end of the month, confusion among journalists reigned:

April 2020

In April, it appeared that dealing with coronavirus was becoming highly complex. Author Ian Leslie tweeted a considered an explanation from a Financial Times reader:

May 2020

Two months later, Sir Patrick Vallance denied that natural herd immunity was ever a plan:

Prof John Edmunds gave Channel 4 another interview, wherein he appeared to backtrack on his previous claims about herd immunity. The first video is from his March interview and the second from May:

I’ll have more on the UK’s approach to herd immunity next week.

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