Crisis of Bias

Dr Hodgkinson spoke for five minutes on 13 November 2020 to government officials at a public services committee in Alberta. Since then he has been accused of calling Covid-19 a hoax. His “hoax” reference was in fact specific to the pandemic response by media and politicians. Last month he gave an interview, where he speaks about the degree of harm being caused by measures which don’t work for a virus with such strong age graduated impact that focused protection of the susceptible population, namely the elderly and particularly those in nursing homes or with comorbidities, was the obvious required response very early on. This was firmly rejected in favour of harmful restrictive measures on a universal scale leading to a global crisis far bigger than the virus could possibly cause.

He also speaks about evidence based medicine, about the dogmas which establish easily in the medical community, in turn leading to a fear to speak out due to potential loss of income and punishment from employers and registration colleges. He states that “the intimidation is not just subliminal, it is overt”, and that the phenomenon is endemic in society today. Unfortunately the consensus narrative is so strong that if you do speak out, you are quickly labelled “a denier”. A simple response to a complex issue. In epidemiology what appears obvious can often be wrong.

There are so many questions which would once have been perfectly normal to ask in reference to epidemic related public health but which today are taboo. For example, why are excess death numbers for the year of 2020 no higher than the five year average in most places, including those with high Covid deaths? Why are so many young people now making up the bulk of PCR positive “cases” in locations which are easing their restrictions? Is it because we protected them with shelter in place policies, forcing the vulnerable to bear the brunt of infections for a full year, driving up the Covid death rate? How does the diagnostic test work and is it appropriate for purpose?

One of my heroes through this, of which I have thankfully been introduced to many, is Dr Clare Craig. She persists despite ferocious opposition, to talk about the data and her interpretations including mountains of evidence, of a false positive pseudo epidemic playing out on a mass scale. She never responds to personal attacks, which imply that in fact there is no intelligent opposition to what she has to say. One of the best interviews I heard her give, was with Alex McCarron at his Escape from Lockdown podcast (episode 24). Many of his interviews have been with highly specialised and informed professionals who are ignored, censored and smeared. Why is this happening?

As the whole world are observational epidemiologists now, it is useful to consider the advice from a 2012 article in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, False Alarms and Pseudo-Epidemics: The Limitations of Observational Epidemiology. Most reported associations in observational clinical research are false, and the minority of associations that are true are often exaggerated… All observational research has bias (which can include selection, information, and confounding bias)… strong (yet spurious) associations can result when large amounts of bias are present… Better training and more circumspection on the part of investigators, tougher editorial standards on the part of journals, and hefty skepticism on the part of referees and readers are necessary to avoid the dangers of false alarms, pseudo-epidemics, and their unfortunate consequences.

This is highly relevant given the issues reported with the tests being used to diagnose Covid-19 disease, which do nothing other than detect genetic material of the virus which causes the disease. Presence alone of genetic material does not equal presence of an actual virion. Even if there are actual virions present, this does not equal presence of disease. In most test positive cases there is no disease and in most people there is insignificant risk of disease. The test can neither diagnose disease, nor identify infectiousness. Presence of symptoms is the strongest indication of infectiousness and of disease. Testing of people experiencing symptoms makes sense to support a clinical diagnosis, but should be done with a suite of tests to exclude other possible causes. Isolation whilst sick and focused protection of those at risk of disease would have been the gold standard public health response.

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