I am so grateful to those people whose training, courage and collaboration results in their continuing to ask questions and explore ideas. Promotions of “a single source of truth“, as political leaders are strongly campaigning for, are disquieting. Covid-19 is in no way, shape or form, something that can be viewed through the lens of a single source of truth. Particularly not one emerging from partisan politics which have ridden roughshod over humanity in 2020 to the detriment of every one of us. The single source of truth campaign has devastated established knowledge, academic inquiry and informed discourse. Relying on politics to find a resolution seems misguided at best. We need experts without political affiliations to be heard at least as much as those speaking from their seats alongside elected officials.
One would assume that if there were a single source of truth, then that source might originate from the World Health Organisation? If that is the case, then human physiology must have metamorphosed into a new and unique entity this year. Established knowledge of the human immune system and it’s interaction with microbes has taken a sucker punch.
The Director-General of the World Health Organisation is Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who was born in 1965 in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, when it was still part of Ethiopia. His political affiliations include Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) who according to Wikipedia have Marxist-Leninist ideologies. From 2005 to 2012 Tedros was the Ethiopian TPLF-led government’s Minister of Health. Between 2005 – 2010 Ethiopia experienced three Cholera epidemics. Under Tedros’ command no laboratory confirmation was sought and government edict insisted that the epidemics be referred to as “acute watery diarrhoea” (a symptom of Cholera disease). Neighbouring countries confirmed their concurrent epidemics via laboratory isolation of the bacteria Vibrio cholera and received appropriate international aid to treat the sick and bring the epidemic under control. Ethiopia’s refusal to provide a diagnosis for their epidemics blocked international aid, allegedly resulting in thousands of preventable deaths, of mainly young children.
Tedros denies any wrongdoing and there are claims that these accusations were only made in 2017 by those advocating for his opponent, Dr David Nabarro to be voted Director-General of WHO. The denials may be true. However, using definitions for political purposes appears to be a peculiar phenomenon which follows Tedros around, as outlined below.
Established knowledge of human immunity is outlined in all texts in much the same way, using diagrams that look somewhat like this to provide a basic overview of a very complex system.
In active immunity our body is exposed to foreign substances which prompt it to work out an immune response, a complicated process which induces long-term protection. In passive immunity the complicated process is bypassed and our body “receives” someone else’s immunity, offering short term protection. Herd immunity occurs via the active process of building a response, which can be via infection or vaccination. Where vaccination is used for the purposes of attaining herd immunity in a population, it often works in conjunction with natural infection. For example, we don’t vaccinate those already immune via infection.
One example of herd immunity established through infection is Hepatitis A. This virus is very common in impoverished communities where it spreads via contaminated water and food. Children in poor communities across the globe are exposed to Hepatitis A virus very early in life. Although Hepatitis A can cause severe illness and death, infected children usually experience no or few symptoms, such that most do not get sick, but develop lifelong immunity. According to WHO, 80-95% of infected children have asymptomatic infection compared with only 10-25% of infected adults. The same document provides a case fatality rate of 0.1% for children under 15yo compared to 2.1% for adults over the age of 40yo. Hepatitis A vaccination is not recommended in populations where the virus is endemic, as it is known that herd immunity establishes with relatively minimal harm amongst childhood populations. The vaccine is however, recommended for travelers visiting endemic areas, from areas where the virus is rare, as these people are at high risk of developing illness.
Herd immunity by infection with organisms occurs in many other instances and many complicated ways. It is a necessary part of the complicated interplay between our bodies and the millions of organisms which surround and infiltrate us everyday. These exposures start with our very first breath and ensure our immune systems remain challenged and competent. We are yet to see if the suppression of exposures caused by lockdown have an impact on immune system health for populations. Sunetra Gupta’s 2013 presentation Pandemics: Are We All Doomed? covers the subject with an interesting twist. Without a robust immune system even harmless micro-organisms could hurt us, as seen in people with conditions such as HIV or receiving chemotherapy, which suppress their immune system.
Why then, have World Health Organisation done this?
Someone suggested that to refer to this as pseudoscience is an insult to pseudoscientists everywhere. Tedros claims in his 12 October Briefing Speech (link above) that “Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic”. This is a bold-faced lie, as herd immunity is an important consideration in many outbreaks and is not a “strategy” but an end-point to all epidemics.
Anti-science can become our single source of truth if we passively accept these events. This frightens me far more than any virus.