End Vaccine Apartheid Before Millions More Die

By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram

SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 23 2021 (IPS) – At least 85 poor countries will not have significant access to coronavirus vaccines before 2023. Unfortunately, a year’s delay will cause an estimated 2.5 million avoidable deaths in low and lower-middle income countries. As the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General has put it, the world is at the brink of a catastrophic moral failure.

Vaccine apartheid
The EU, US, UK, Switzerland, Canada and their allies continue to block the developing country proposal to temporarily suspend the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement to enable greatly increased, affordable supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, drugs, tests and equipment.

Meanwhile, 6.4 billion of the 12.5 billion vaccine doses the main producers plan to produce in 2021 have already been pre-ordered, mostly by these countries, with 13% of the global population.

Thirty two European and other rich countries also have options to order more, while Australia and Canada have already secured supplies enough for five times their populations. Poor countries, often charged higher prices, simply cannot compete.

Big Pharma has also refused to join the voluntary knowledge sharing and patent pooling COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) initiative under WHO auspices. Thomas Cueni, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) Director General, snubbed the launch, claiming he was “too busy”.

Pfizer’s CEO dismissed C-TAP as “nonsense” and “dangerous”, while the AstraZeneca CEO insisted, “IP is a fundamental part of our industry”. Such attitudes help explain some problems of alternative vaccine distribution arrangements such as COVAX. According to its own board, there is a high chance that COVAX could fail.

Suppressing vaccine access
Despite knowing that many developing countries have much idle capacityCueni falsely claims the waiver “would do nothing to expand access to vaccines or to boost global manufacturing capacity”, and would jeopardise innovation and vaccine research.

Big Pharma claims manufacturing vaccines via compulsory licensing or a TRIPS waiver “would undermine innovation and raise the risk of unsafe viruses”. US Big Pharma representatives wrote to President Biden earlier this month claiming likewise.

Both Salk and Sabin made their polio vaccine discoveries patent-free, while many contemporary vaccine researchers are against Big Pharma’s greedy conduct only rewarding IP holders regardless of the varied, but crucial contributions of others.

Big Pharma’s price gouging
Vaccine companies require contract prices be kept secret. In return for discounts, the EU agreed to keep prices confidential. Nonetheless, some negotiated prices were inadvertently revealed, with a UNICEF chart listing prices from various sources.

Reputedly the cheapest vaccine available, Oxford-Astra Zeneca’s is sold to EU members for around US$2 each. Although trials were done in South Africa, it still pays more than twice as much, while Uganda, even poorer, pays over four times as much!

US negotiated bulk prices, for Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, are much higher, at US$15.25–19.50 per dose in several contracts, yielding 60–80% profit margins! Moderna will charge the rest of the world US$25–37 per dose.

Hypocrisy
Quite understandably, most developed countries opposing temporary TRIPS suspension have provisions in their own IP laws to suspend patent protection in the national interest and for public health emergencies.

Canada, Germany, France and others have recently strengthened their patent laws to issue compulsory licences for COVID-19 vaccines and drugs. European Council President Charles Michel announced that the EU could adopt “urgent measures” by invoking emergency provisions in its treaties.

Similarly, in the US, 28 US Code sec. 1498 (a) allows the government to make or use any invention without the patentee’s permission. To handle emergencies, the 1977 UK Patents Act (section 55) allows the government to sell a patented product, including specific drugs, medicines or medical devices, without the patentee’s consent.

When avian flu threatened early this century, the US was the only country in the world to issue compulsory licences to US manufacturers to produce Tamiflu to protect its entire population of over 300 million. The drugs were not used as the virus was not brought over either Pacific or Atlantic Oceans.

Biden must act
By helping developing countries expand vaccine manufacturing capacity and access existing capacity, US President Biden can earn much world appreciation overnight. US law and precedence enables such a unilateral initiative.

The Bayh-Dole Act allows the US government to require the owner or exclusive licensee of a patent, created with federal funding, to grant a third party a licence to an invention. Moderna received about US$2.5 billion from Operation Warp Speed, which dispensed over US$10 billion.

Moderna was founded in 2010 by university researchers with support from a venture capitalist. It has focused on mRNA technology, building on earlier work by University of Pennsylvania scientists with National Institutes for Health (NIH) funding.

The vaccine developer also used technology for previous coronavirus vaccines developed by the NIH. The NIH also provided extensive logistical support, overseeing clinical trials for tens of thousands. Moderna has already announced it will not enforce its patents during the pandemic.

Thus, POTUS has the needed leverage. The Bayh-Dole Act applies to Moderna’s vaccine, enabling the Biden administration to act independently and decisively against vaccine apartheid.

Sharing knowledge crucial
Developing countries not only need to have the right to produce vaccines, but also the requisite technical knowledge and information. Hence, the Biden administration should also support C-TAP, as recommended by Dr Anthony Fauci.

When the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) was in similar trouble, the Obama administration came forward to put US-owned patents into the pool while encouraging drug companies to help improve developing countries’ access to medicines.

President Biden knows that early US support was critical for the MPP’s eventual success. It dramatically increased production and lowered prices of medicines for HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases in developing countries.

PANDA’s Response to Daily Maverick: Kung-Flu Panda: dodgy analytics or pandemic propaganda?

[PANDA have been denied the right to respond to a hatchet piece published by the Daily Maverick, as the recipients of similar treatment by our co-opted, press, we publish their response in full below. – Ed]

From: Nick Hudson
Date: Friday, 5 February 2021 at 08:24
To: Rebecca Davis
Subject: Re: Media inquiry: Daily Maverick ~ Panda

RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS FROM DAILY MAVERICK 4 February 2020

PANDA received these questions at 14h38 on 4 February and was required to respond by 9am on 5 February (4 business hours). Some of the questions posed of PANDA relate to the non-PANDA activities of individuals based in Canada, the United States and New Zealand. Given the timezones, it was not possible to get responses from the individuals in question and we have responded based on publicly available information.

The article that our response is requested to premises a conspiracy between various groups around the world, of which PANDA is, by implication, one. The article is such a tawdry concoction of nonsense that it hardly warrants a response. It is not clear what the purpose of the alleged conspiracy is, but the conspiracy is supposedly coordinated by the former lead psychologist at Cambridge Analytica, who apparently advises these “pandemic disinformation platforms”. The article is authored by a journalist once described by Vanity Fair as engaging in “conspiracy mongering” and is published on a controversial “platform for freelance reporters and writers to produce fearless journalism not found in the mainstream media.” It seems its primary purpose with this article is to attack “hard right politicians” in the UK’s Conservative Party. Daily Maverick would be the first mainstream media publication to publish the conspiracy theory about PANDA and thereby the first to lend credence to the fanciful and defamatory statements about PANDA and its members made therein.

We will be lucky if we vaccinate 2% of our population

GIVEN the slow pace at which South Africa’s mass vaccination campaign has been rolled out — as yet, not one confirmed public vaccination has been administered — claims by government that 10% of the population, including the vulnerable and front-line workers will receive the jab, must be met with a good degree of scepticism.

We will be lucky if we manage to vaccinate some 2% of our citizens over the coming six months, that’s 1 140 000 or just over 1 million individuals. The recent comments made by the Chief Justice may have already torpedoed the public Covax Initiative.

In the week in which a new more virulent local variant of the virus was announced by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, with its origin in Nelson Mandela Bay, the country finally paid over its contribution to the UN programme, yet another example of what Dr Carl Venter terms a ‘poor handling of the crisis’.

Health activists had thus already expressed concern that South Africa had missed the deadline, and all this while images of the West’s immunisation campaign already under way were being streamed over our television screens, a local wait-and-see approach if any.

Meanwhile the health system in several provinces was under severe pressure, with no plans in sight to alleviate the lack of oxygen, PPE and high care facilities over the New Year period. Local press appeared unable to present the problematic second wave and our failing vaccination programme in any frame except, ‘we’ve been here already, and don’t want another hard lock-down’.

Readers would have had to find information on the collapse of health care services and lack of critical care in Nelson Mandela Bay, not from the local press, but rather from the New York Times, whose Sheri Fink reported this week on a tragedy unfolding in Port Elizabeth, and thus a troubling lack of credible information from local media houses.

A situation of self-censorship which has its echo in previous fumbling by the Mbeki administration over ARVs and the earlier Botha regime which suppressed news about the SADF invasion of Angola and death toll at Cuito Cuanavale?

While government was announcing it had identified the 501.V2 Variant, Minister Mkhize was thus bizarrely playing down the implications of a sudden shift in the epidemiological picture as the demure Prof Karim continued to spew forth scientific opinion with little impact on the reality and lives of health care workers.

“Clinicians, said Karim “have been providing anecdotal evidence of a shift in the clinical epidemiological picture – in particular noting that they are seeing a larger proportion of younger patients with no co-morbidities presenting with critical illness,” he said.

If Fink’s observations as a journalist are mere anecdotes, then much of what passes for press commentary in the republic is a fraud.

Let her words below sink in, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to observe the virus isn’t any more deadly, it is rather, more pernicious and disruptive to our health sector:

“At the center of a terrifying coronavirus surge, 242 patients lay in row after row of beds under the soaring metal beams of a decommissioned Volkswagen factory.”

“Workers at the vast field hospital could provide oxygen and medications, but there were no I.C.U. beds, no ventilators, no working phones and just one physician on duty on a recent Sunday — Dr. Jessica Du Preez, in her second year of independent practice.”

“In a shed-like refrigerator behind a door marked “BODY HOLD,” carts contained the remains of three patients that morning. A funeral home had already picked up another body.”

“On rounds, Dr. Du Preez stopped at the bed of a 60-year-old patient, a grandmother and former college counselor. Her oxygen tube had detached while she was lying prone, but the nurses had so many patients they hadn’t noticed. Now, she was gone.”

That medics are having to prioritise who gets treatment while denying others, according to a score card, is a tragedy being repeated all around the world.

Crackpot Chief Justice Mogoeng, now with added 666

THE FAR RIGHT agenda within South Africa’s judicial system reared its ugly head once again this past week, with Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng pronouncing upon the Covid Vaccine.

According to the elected head of the judiciary, some Covid vaccines might contain ‘triple-six’ or the ‘mark of the devil’. Only ‘non-Satanic’ vaccines should be accepted, he added.

It is a declaration that would be risible if it were not for the fact that Mogoeng Mogoeng, who alleges he is ‘not a scientist but rather a prayer warrior‘, is also a legal professional and a sitting judge.

According to Stephen Grootes, the ‘claim that some vaccines might be “triple-six” cannot be based on scientific fact.

“He himself admits he has no understanding of vaccines. His comments may reasonably be construed to lead to harm, particularly in a context in which it is currently illegal, during the State of National Disaster, to spread falsehoods about the virus.”

The judge, whose crackpot beliefs are certainly not backed by science nor academic research, defends his views rather, as being ‘in accordance with Christianity’.

That Mogoeng is a charismatic Christian is well-known, less evident is the basis upon which he issues forth his opinions in the form of prayer, and thus the claim that the rights guaranteed by our constitution accord his office the benefit of speaking on topics, for which he is no doubt unqualified to speak.

Notwithstanding the obvious intrusion of Church and State and undermining of the separation of powers. The Chief Justice claims rights which he denies others and is thus a mendacious hypocrite, suppressing the views of anyone who disagrees with his far-right Christian ideology.

In 2010 an irregularly-gained decision handed down by a corrupt ANC official, purporting to be the opinions of the Labour Court of South Africa, proceeded to demonise this writer, for asserting that the views of a Media24 employee resembled the now defunct ideology of the Dutch Reformed Church (NGK).

The contested decision anathematised a career in journalism on the basis of the writer’s opposition to apartheid and possession of a secular belief system.

It proceeds to assert that de facto race segregation and race profiling of readers at Die Burger (sic) not Media24 community newspapers, was ‘merely a coincidence of homogeneity’ i.e. an accident of nature or ‘miracle of sameness’, and the company in question could not possibly be in the wrong, since its sole witness was ‘Italian and a Catholic‘.

Imagine explaining the events at Brackenfell this year as a mere coincidence?

Race segregation is not a teaching of the Catholic Church, and likewise, the Covid vaccines being developed by Pfizer and Moderna are unlikely to be repudiated and excommunicated as the ‘work of the beast’, by the broader Christian establishment.

Needless to say, several complaints to the Office of the Chief Justice, i.e. the Judicial Services Commission were ignored.

See DRL condemnation of right-wing anti-secular revolt within SA justice system

See: Dr Glenda Gray to Chief Justice Mogoeng: Keep your religious beliefs to yourself

See: Scientists call for Mogoeng’s impeachment over vaccine conspiracy

See: The Chief Justice must be called to order

Much ado about the Covid ‘second wave’

please note: events of the past weeks of December have shown the speculation surrounding the so-called ‘seasonal thesis’ below to be completely wrong, instead we have a witnessed another surge as the result the rise of a more infectious lineage of the virus, the article is preserved here to serve as a record of this open speculation.

TWO WEEKS ago Boris Johnson announced a second nation-wide lockdown for the UK. This apparently after data showing projected infection increases, outstripping the capacity of the NHI — there is a broad variance shown by the conflicting mathematical models, which do not take into account exposure to UV radiation.

As the Northern economies enter Winter, the ‘second wave is upon us’. However the same cannot be inferred by local data. So far as the South is concerned, summertime is proving that when it comes to Covid-19 every indication points to the pandemic being seasonal, and that a diverging UV profile will lesson the impact in the South.

The announcement of a vaccine with a 90% effectiveness has boosted hopes for an end to the pandemic. With Nelson Mandela Bay metropole the sole outlier, South Africa has been spared the worst ravages of the ‘second outbreak’. The nation has an extraordinary high recovery rate and most early projections have proven wrong, witness the controversy over the modelling.

‘In the South African context, there is close to zero value in going back to a hard lockdown as it is not going to achieve anything different in controlling the epidemic’ is the view of Professor Shabir Madhi from the school of pathology at the University of the Witwatersrand. This stands in contrast to Dr Zweli Mkhize’s insistence that his mathematical models are correct.

What is not being said by either sides, (and speaking as an environmentalist) is that there are very different environmental factors at play in Africa. Not only do we have a different seasonal procession, with the South experiencing Summer when North experiences Winter, but there are vastly different weather patterns, all of which impacts on the amount of sunshine and consequently UV radiation experienced by the average individual.

South Africa’s UV burn index is amongst the highest in the world. Bare in the mind that the coronovirus is a derivative of the common cold, and operates much in the same way that the flu does, save for the fact that coronoviruses tend to break out in clusters unlike the flu which comes in waves. Direct normal radiation for Upington for example, is nearly 1000 w/m2, and vastly different from our coastline.

The whole notion of a ‘second wave’ for the entire world, is potentially a flawed assumption made by the World Health Organisation which has tended to operate as if the earth were flat in the process dishing out advice that is no better than that given by socialist bureaucrats during the Soviet Union.

The mandarins and technocrats in Geneva simply rolled out policies for the entire world this year, a one-size-fits-all determination that treats every economy as if we are all living in Alaska, and which deserves to be tested and scrutinised by local and regional scientific councils.

The only ones benefiting from this extraordinary overreach, are the large pharmaceutical companies which stand to make a mint out of the supply of PPE and the much-vaunted vaccine. A vaccine which may take anywhere up to 5 -7 years to dispense. Nevetheless questioning Covid stats, may incur professional liability and institutional sanctions much in the same way that questioning received doctrine on the HIV epidemic has become a shibboleth of notable proportion.

Now more than ever, is the time to host a national symposium on what is known about the virus within the local context, what still needs to be understood and to derive policies based upon evidence-based science and empirical research rather than policy decisions made externally and consequently adopted by our government without any forethought as to the consequences.

Unfortunately as the HIV crisis has shown, the likelihood of the South African government taking a lead where science is concerned is extremely slim. Read my piece on Skepticism during the Mbeki era.

A vaccine is just the beginning of the fight against Covid-19 …

THIS PAST week saw British scientists lauded for a successful phase 1 vaccine trial. A working vaccine may be available by the end of 2020. Unfortunately deploying a global immunisation programme may prove to be harder than producing the vaccine.

Although the United Nations is pushing all countries to join ‘an effort to make vaccines and drugs to fight Covid-19 cheap enough that the poorest populations in the world can be treated’, the sheer scale of such an endeavour looks daunting.

South Africa with a population of 58.8 million would require production of at least 160 000 doses per day for over a year to cover the entire country. Dispensing the vaccine would require 6712 jabs per hour to complete in 12 months, a Promethean task, more likely to occur over 5 to 10 years.

In other words, while the good news is that the world has a working vaccine, one of several vaccines capable of producing the right antibodies and killer T cells required to defend against the virus, the logistical problems of immunisation, make the pandemic likely to stay with us for the foreseeable future.

Technological innovation such as robotic application and drone delivery, novel production techniques and other medical advances, could bring this horizon closer — the day when everyone has immunity and countermeasures such as masks, social distancing and other measures are no longer required.

Bare in mind that as more people recover and gain natural immunity, the target population for an immunisation programme is lowered, thereby reducing the immediate task at hand. Although there is some debate as to whether or not, such immunity is short term and may fall off over time.

By that stage, those who would have died from the virus, will in most likely be dead. The risks of cluster outbreaks and casualty ward spikes will have diminished, and the burden on our health system will normalise along with the impact on the economy.

In effect, the virus and its grip on society, will have weakened, at least for now, but the risk of future flare-ups and other coronovirus clades remain.

Targeted immunisation programmes focusing on vulnerable groups and maximising scarce resources could also assist us in meeting our goal. But for now, we stuck with the ‘no longer novel’ coronovirus of 2019, which looks set to become as prevalent as the common cold, and a seasonal disease just like the flu.

Dear Mr President, the paradox of leadership during Covid-19

THERE is a paradox in philosophy, one popularly referred to as Buridan’s Ass. It tells the story of a donkey that is equally hungry and thirsty, and placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. The paradox assumes the ass will always go to whichever is closer, and therefore it dies of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision between the hay and water.

Similarly, South Africa is caught between two seemingly contradictory paths, both of which necessitate immediate and urgent action.

On the one hand, we are required to combat a ‘killer virus’, a virus whose impact upon our health and the health of our broader population is only beginning to be understood. If we do nothing, we risk inundating our health care system with casualties, and incurring unacceptable loss of life.

On the other hand, we are dependent upon our economy, for our livelihoods and way of life. Not simply our lives, but the very manner — both way and means by which we as individual households, survive year to year. We are all stricken by the need to feed and clothe our families, forced to pay our way, our rent and our bills. It matters not whether one believes necessities of life exclude alcohol or the nails one uses to repair ones roof, or whether we do depend upon smokes or the tools one uses to fix ones walls.

If we cease to engage with our economic imperatives, we also risk death — incurring unacceptable, diminished living standards, shortened life spans and negative health outcomes as we move forward.

That the burden of disease is also the burden of hunger, has already been written about here at length, and only a fool would suggest otherwise, to engage in a binary debate between people’s lives and livelihoods. Both are equally important.

The conundrum is similar to a patient forced to take medication. The list of side-effects may turn out to be worse than the disease. The cure may kill us all.

To complicate matters, there are urgent human rights and serious civil freedom predicaments that have compounded the situation. What appears to be nothing less than a silent coup, occurring the world over, a creeping Global Police State and a major shift in national and international imperatives.

Bar the health agenda, it is with almost zero constitutional backing that our own government has embarked upon a drastic course of action, (taken alongside other governments both across the continent and the world), with outcomes that appear to result in a blatant seizure of power in favour of the national executive.

Power taken without debate, taken away from Parliament in favour of the Executive, power usurped from the Courts, without checks and balances in favour of a centralised authority, the so-called National Command Council (NCC). The erosion of democratic institutions which have characterised our republic for decades and likewise many other democracies, is further reflected in local authorities pulling away from democratic norms and standards .

That the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) in South Africa has admitted it was an “error of law” on its part not to investigate the alleged role played by the Johannesburg Metro Police in the death of Collins Khoza at the hands of the SANDF is to be welcomed.

But a lot more needs to be done to preserve the rule of law in our country.

For starters, recognition that the SANDF may only act in an adjunct or auxiliary role to the Police during a National Disaster — the courts and justice system must be seen as primary during such a difficult period, especially one where the metaphor of war is easily bandied about, but where no actual war has been declared. Even then, we are a democracy and expect the democratic will and rule of law to prevail.

There are troubling signs that local authorities also wish to curtail rights not to be subject to search and seizure without a warrant.

The lock-down certainly has a sell-by-date and it is surely an extraordinary act of chicanery for us to believe that powers emanating from a piece of legislation designed primarily to deal with natural disasters such as hurricanes, drought, famine and earthquakes is fit for the purpose of public health initiatives taken over the past month?

Parliament must return to its civic duties, and the justice system must resume its oversight role. The many rules, bylaws and regulations must be debated by our elected representatives, and the NCC must explain why it is that they find themselves unable to choose between a stack of hay and a bucket of water, unable to speak to the absence of a vaccine and the problematic of herd immunity, unable to come through for those who demand alcohol or tobacco? Stricken as it were, by the enormity of what they have done, in seizing power over the commons.

Hertzogate: No evidence tobacco assists patients with respiratory illness

COLUMNIST Mandy Wiener has written an opinion piece for News24 entitled: ‘The case for lifting the cigarette ban’ Her central thesis is that the ‘prohibition on smoking tobacco merely drives the practice underground’. While Wiener appears to grasp some of the health arguments being touted by the Dept of Health, she appears to be in plain denial of the consequences:

“We understand that research globally shows that those with underlying conditions are more likely to be susceptible to Covid-19.”

“The working premise is that this also applies to current smokers. It is therefore safe to assume that government has implemented the ban to stop people from smoking so it reduces their risk if they contract the virus.”

It is highly irresponsible for a columnist to be advocating a return to smoking tobacco as usual during a global respiratory disease epidemic, in other words a pandemic of respiratory illness.

Wiener then further states “According to the WHO, ‘Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to Covid-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth. Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness.”

The insinuation is that smokers simply need to stop sharing their fags. Instead of drawing rational conclusions from her observations, she casts doubt and proceeds to make an irrational case for the lifting of the ban.

For starters, it must strike readers as a tad too convenient for Wiener to assert at the beginning of her piece that she has ‘no personal investment in this matter’. The claim is rather disingenuous since it is predicated upon the supposed independence she enjoys from her publishers and the tobacco industry. Two claims which are demonstrably false.

Wiener’s column is published in a Naspers-controlled News24 media outlet, one heavily invested in by the self-same Tobacco Industry,  if not outright controlled by those with extensive tobacco-related investments.

Medialternatives has previously covered the manner in which apartheid financiers Rupert Beleggings Pty Ltd, the real  brains trust behind Naspers, and the ultimate control behind a cartel actively involved within South Africa’s media, is also involved in capture of our justice system.

Readers however may be unaware of the manner in which the Rupert dynasty rose to fame and fortune via its stake in the tobacco industry. Orchestrating the outright purchase of Rothmans International in 1953. The biography of Anton Rupert, written be Ebbe Dommisse and Willie Esterhuyse covers the meteoric rise of the ‘Rembrandt Tobacco Corporation’, devoting an entire chapter to what they term ‘the birth of a masterpiece’.

The corporation founded in 1946 initially focused on tobacco and alcohol but later became the saviour of apartheid financial institutions.

JBM Hertzog, National Party & Naspers founder

A launchpad for the careers of prominent National Party members including Chris Stals, and Nico Diederichs. Dan O’Meara’s book Volkskapitalisme asserts that the Broederbond connection was vitally important to the early development of Rembrandt, as too it was in the formation of Naspers. The Hertzog’s were instrumental in the creation of both Naspers and Rembrandt. Two corporations which rose alongside the National Party itself, and whose founder-in-chief was none other than J B M Hertzog. The book further details various intrigues involving cousins Dirk and Albert Hertzog, Owen Horward and Anton Rupert.

It may be demonstrated, that the Tobacco industry, the same industry behind second-hand smoking and apartheid, is also behind climate change denial. A fact documented by science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Oreskes and Conway write that a handful of politically conservative scientists, with strong ties to particular industries, have “played a disproportionate role in debates about controversial questions”. The authors write that this has resulted in “deliberate obfuscation” of the issues which has had an influence on public opinion and policy-making.

It is not all that surprising that the selfsame industry is behind science denial and censorship in the Coronovirus Pandemic.

The Tencent WeChat system for instance has been accused of censoring Coronovirus Content in China. Naspers exercises minority control of Tencent via its 73% control of subsidiary Prosus, a company which in turn owns 31% of Tencent.

Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the University of Toronto, has released an analysis, showing censorship around the coronavirus on WeChat and YY — a Chinese livestreaming app similar to Twitch. The lab found that ‘both platforms began blacklisting terms related to the virus as early as the last week of December 2019, when Chinese health officials first reported an unknown pathogen spreading through the country’s hospitals.’

The self-same supposed rational gatekeepers have previously resorted to Anti-Vax propaganda. Most recently targeting philanthropist Bill Gates in the aptly named Gatesgate in which News24 editors were forced to publish lengthy retractions.

There is no evidence Bill Gates has ever advocated vaccine trials in Africa. He has instead donated much needed drug assistance to various institutions whilst funded various philanthropic initiatives which will hopefully bring post-trial Covid-19 vaccines within the reach of consumers.

British American Tobacco (BAT) part owned by Rupert’s Reinet Investments, claims it is working on a potential Covid-19 vaccine using its biotechnology subsidiary Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP). It is claim met by a great deal of scepticism and suspicion.

There is also no evidence that Tobacco assists in recovery from Respiratory disease, quite the contrary. Tobacco has been shown to cause cancer and cardio-respiratory illness.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week made a second revision on its stance about the risks of Covid-19 and nicotine, saying that cigarettes also increase the chances of catching the disease.

“People who smoke cigarettes may be at increased risk of infection with the virus that causes Covid-19, and may have worse outcomes from Covid-19,”


Medicine is ‘part observation, part hypothesis’, Tim Noakes apologises.

THAT A HydroxyChloroquine vs Chloroquine controversy continues to rage, and one of the theories as to why Covid-19 patients may be getting starved of oxygen despite medical interventions, appears to have been debunked as nothing more than in silica research, hasn’t stopped Dr Tim Noakes going out on a limb to defend what he feels should be an open debate on the subject.

‘It is not important if one’s hypothesis is wrong or right, what is important are the clinical observations, the theories must come later’ is the gist. In an audio interview broadcast on Capetalk and 702 Noakes apologised to listeners for any perceived harm his comments during an interview on CCFM may have caused, but urged the public to keep an open-mind instead of jumping to conclusions.

Without mentioning Nathan Geffen directly, he referred to the Treatment Action Campaign, which he lauded for doing a sterling job, but accused an unnamed activist for ‘being in cahoots with drug companies’ and wanting to shut down and censor debate. An advocate whose views were also broadcast during the follow up interview, was of the opinion that Noakes should rather ‘stick to his own lane’, meaning his chosen field, as a physician, which is sports medicine.

Noakes is no stranger to controversy, having literally had his version of the Banting diet placed on trial (his research started out as a refutation of a key feature of the Lore of Running), and then suffering the inequity of several years of litigation before the matter was finally put to rest in 2018, with HPCSA failing to appeal his acquittal.

Far from issuing a rebuttal, Noakes was keen to assert that he had spent most of his career researching the manner in which oxygen circulates within the body, and thus the impact of diet on ones health.

Noakes then proceeded to laud a New York physician Cameron Kyle-Sidell, MD who suggested COVID-19 ventilator protocols may need revisiting, and requested listeners to take the time to watch the following video:

The CCFM podcast is available here and criticism which you can read here and Noakes response here and here.

SEE: Could Hypokalemia explain COVID-19 mortality?

SEE: OGH using hyperbaric 02 therapy with success on COVID-19 patients