The capitalist virus

John Ioannidis, Professor of Medicine and an expert in biomedical data science at Stanford University, has drawn attention to the remarkably sensational –  and vacuous -reporting of the Covid 19 pandemic.

This year’s coronavirus outbreak is clearly unprecedented in amount of attention received. Media have capitalized on curiosity, uncertainty and horror… Different coronaviruses actually infect millions of people every year, and they are common especially in the elderly and in hospitalized patients with respiratory illness in the winter. A serological analysis of CoV 229E and OC43 in 4 adult populations under surveillance for acute respiratory illness during the winters of 1999‐2003 (healthy young adults, healthy elderly adults, high‐risk adults with underlying cardiopulmonary disease and a hospitalized group) showed annual infection rates ranging from 2.8% to 26% in prospective cohorts, and prevalence of 3.3%‐11.1% in the hospitalized cohort. Case fatality of 8% has been described in outbreaks among nursing home elderly. Leaving the well‐known and highly lethal SARS and MERS coronaviruses aside, other coronaviruses probably have infected millions of people and have killed thousands. However, it is only this year that every single case and every single death gets red alert broadcasting in the news.

Despite increasing censorship, pockets of critical journalism have exposed a psyop to paralyse rational public response. UK Column confronts the security state and unpicks a government agenda shrouded in secrecy. OffGuardian hosts the views of experts and public health specialists unwelcome on corporate platforms. In similar vein Journeyman Pictures  offer an alternative to the official narrative of a deadly plague.

The views of some 120 dissidents curated by Rubikon appear on Taking Sides in English. Unherd and Lockdown Sceptics illuminate the BBC’s partiality. Iain Davis (In This Together) provides analysis of the pandemic beyond the ken of obscenely overpaid public school  hacks. Swiss Policy Research rigorously confirms the facts have been smothered in fear.

This isn’t new. In 2009 the Director-General of the WHO Margaret Chan declared a swine flu pandemic that could infect 2 billion people. It didn’t materialise. A landmark investigation led by Tom Jefferson eventually revealed that the WHO, the European Medicines Agency and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encouraged the use and stockpiling, of essentially ineffective and potentially harmful anti-viral drugs – without vetting the claims of the manufacturers. In 2014 the British Medical Journal
cautiously reported.

This week is the culmination of a five year campaign led by Jefferson’s Cochrane research team, supported by The BMJ, to ensure the release of the full clinical trial data on neuraminidase inhibitors . The studies, analyses, and editorials in this issue strike like a hammer blow. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) has generated sales in excess of $18bn for Roche since 1999, something more than the “nice little earner” that a City of London financial analyst described it as. The United States stockpiled 65 million treatments for a cost of $1.3bn. The United Kingdom spent £424m on a stockpile of 40 million doses. By 2009, 96 countries possessed enough osteltamivir for 350 million people. GlaxoSmithKline’s drug zanamivir (Relenza) was less successful but still generated sales in the region of $2bn…Drug companies exploited a window for rapid sales. Regulators approved drugs with insufficient scrutiny, exposed now by the forensic approach of the Cochrane researchers. And politicians were desperate to act, to do something in the face of a perceived crisis, whether it was based on evidence or not. Patient welfare didn’t matter, although it was the excuse for these decisions.

Professor Neil Ferguson at Imperial College, London has played a key role in fuelling Covid 19 hysteria. He says that notable partnerships with the WHO, the CDC and Public Health England “have been vital in facilitating the results of my work being used to inform policy.” This does not explain why he remains credible despite his dismal track record.

In 2001 the Imperial team’s prognosis led to the largely wanton slaughter of more than six million cattle, sheep and pigs  in the UK at a cost of some £10 billion. Large scale agribusiness benefitted.

In 2002, Ferguson predicted between 50 and 50,000 people were likely to die from BSE (mad cow disease) –  100 000 more if the epidemic spread to sheep. Eventually 177 deaths from BSE were recorded.

In 2005, Ferguson claimed that up to 200 million people might die from the H591 bird flu virus. Between 2003 and 2009 there were 282 deaths worldwide.

In 2009, Ferguson and his Imperial team posited a likely mortality rate for swine flu of 0.4 percent giving a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ of 65,000 UK deaths. The actual rate was 0.026 percent and 457 people died.

On March 16 he warned -on the basis of a paper yet to be peer reviewed -that more than 500,000 people in the UK, and around 2.2 million in the US, could die from Covid 19 if stringent ‘social distancing’ measures were not implemented. This advisory heavily influenced the decision to lockdown both economies.

Sue Denim analysed the code used by Ferguson and uncovered a motherlode of incompetence and amateurism.

All papers based on this code should be retracted immediately. Imperial’s modelling efforts should be reset with a new team that isn’t under Professor Ferguson, and which has a commitment to replicable results with published code from day one. On a personal level, I’d go further and suggest that all academic epidemiology be defunded.

The soothsayer resigned as a scientific advisor following revelations of cross-town visits from his married lover that breached the lockdown regulations he had inspired.

Vanessa Beeley, in an investigation for UK Column, revealed the ubiquitous influence of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the British government and world health policy. She highlighted Ferguson’s leadership of the Vaccine Impact Modelling Consortium, a network in which Imperial is embedded.

The VIMC is hosted by the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College. VIMC is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and by “GAVI, the vaccine alliance”. Bill and Melinda Gates began funding Imperial College in 2006, four years before the Gates Foundation launched the Global Health Leaders Launch Decade of Vaccines Collaboration (GHLLDVC) and one year after Ferguson had demonstrated his penchant for overblown projections on mortality numbers from H5N1. Up to the end of 2018, the Gates Foundation has sponsored Imperial College with a whopping $185 million.

William Engdahl uncovered a similar connection in the US.

More recently, the forecast models being used to justify the unprecedented lockdown measures across the United States have been developed at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle… [Its] wildly inaccurate projections were the ones used to impose catastrophic social and economic restrictions across the USA.Like Neil Ferguson at the Imperial College London, the University of Washington’s IHME is another project of the Gates Foundation. It was created in 2007 with a major grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In May 2015 IHME and the World Health Organization signed a major agreement to collaborate on data used to estimate world health trends. Then in 2017 IHME got an additional $279 million from the Gates Foundation to expand its work over the next decade. That, in addition to another a $210 million gift in 2016 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund construction of a new building to house several UW units working in population health, including IHME. In other words, IHME has been a crucial piece of the Gates global health strategy for more than 13 years.

The British government is an enthusiastic supporter of GAVI – and UK drug manufacturers within the alliance. Via UKAID it pledged £1.44 billion to GAVI for 2016–2020 and will be hosting the 2020 GAVI pledging conference, which is due to take place in June 2020 to “mobilise at least US$ 7.4 billion in additional resources to protect the next generation with vaccines. In April the Department for International Development announced a further investment of £1.65 billion – over five years -in GAVI.

 

In October last year the Philippines website Bulatlat, revisited the sordid history of colonial health policy founded on the myth that vaccines – rather than improved nutrition, hygiene and sanitation – were responsible for eradicating polio, small pox and other infectious diseases. It is a conceit that persists despite the deadly impact of vaccines in the Phillipines and other Third World nations. Romeo Quijano,  a former professor at the University of the Philippines-Manila traced the arc of this imperial deception from eugenics-inspired Rockefeller Foundation largesse to the debt-trap Bill Gates -the second largest funder of WHO- is springing.
With his unprecedented power, Bill Gates was able to initiate an elaborate neoliberal financing scheme for vaccines that inevitably transfers public funds to private coffers. Ostensibly, the scheme is designed to help developing countries to fund their vaccination programs but in reality, these countries are caught in a debt-trap. This so-called “innovative development financing” is a debt-based mechanism that taps capital markets to subsidize vaccine buyers and manufacturers through an intermediary, the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm). Gavi floats bonds which are secured by the promise of government donors to buy millions of doses of vaccines at a set price over periods as long as 20 years. Capitalists take a cut at every stage of the value chain while poor countries are supposed to benefit from access to vaccines that might not otherwise be affordable. Bondholders receive a tax-free guaranteed return on investment, suited to an era of ultra-low interest rates. Pharmaceutical firms, meanwhile, are able to peddle expensive vaccines at subsidized prices in a cash-poor but vast and risk-free market. By creating a predictable demand pull, IFFIm addresses a major constraint to immunization scale-up: the scarcity of stable, predictable, and coordinated cash flows for an extended period.

In February, CNBC reported that the coronavirus outbreak could provide a further boost for drug manufacturers.

The vaccine market has grown sixfold over the past two decades, worth more than $35 billion today, according to AB Bernstein. The firm said the industry has consolidated to four big players that account for about 85% of the market — British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, and U.S.-based Merck and Pfizer. “For every dollar invested in vaccination in the world’s 94 lowest-income countries, the net return is $44. Hard to argue against,” Wimal Kapadia, Bernstein’s analyst, said in a note. “This oligopoly has been built through significant market consolidation driven primarily by the complexities of the manufacturing and supply chain…Vaccines are long-lived assets, have high barriers to entry, typically stable/growing pricing, mostly limited competition and no patent cliff.”

In May 2014 the Research Unit for Political Economy (RUPE) based in Mumbai published The Real Agenda of the Gates Foundation. Jacob Levich put it bluntly. The thrust of BMFG’s coordinated interventions in pharmaceuticals, agriculture and population control is fundamentally aimed at reshaping societies in the context of ruling class imperatives.

Far from empowering small farmers, BMGF’s efforts envision the exit of “inefficient” small farmers from their land – a process euphemistically termed “land mobility” – as revealed by an internal memo leaked to the press in 2008: In order to transition agriculture from the current situation of low investment, low productivity and low returns to a market-oriented, highly-productive system, it is essential that supply (productivity) and demand (market access) expand together… [this] involves market-oriented farmers operating profitable farms that generate enough income to sustain their rise out of poverty. Over time, this will require some degree of land mobility and a lower percentage of total employment involved in direct agricultural production.

Levich says the policy anticipates the displacement of millions who will be unable to find productive employment. But “there is reason to believe that BMGF is already contemplating strategies for coping with the “surplus” population that the processes of accumulation and dispossession are generating.”

Gates proposes to redress the environmental damage that underlies climate change by reducing population growth to zero if “we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, and reproductive health services.”  He blames poverty on unrestrained sexual reproduction “in places where we don’t want it” although he must be aware that the greatest  population pressure on resources comes from the advanced countries, not India or Africa.

BMGF’s investment in “family planning” includes a multibillion dollar distribution system and research support for new high-tech long lasting contraceptives. It aggressively lobbies Third World governments to spend more on birth control and supporting infrastructure while subsidizing steep cuts in the price of subcutaneous contraceptives.

These initiatives lie squarely within the traditions of Big Philanthropy. The Rockefeller Foundation organized the Population Council in 1953, predicting a “Malthusian crisis” in the developing world and financing extensive experiments in population control…Foundation research culminated in an era of “unrestrained enthusiasm for government-sponsored family planning” by the 1970s. Less discussed but amply documented is the consistent support for eugenics research by US-based foundations, dating from the 1920s, when Rockefeller helped found the German eugenics program that undergirded Nazi racial theories through the 1970s, when Ford Foundation research helped prepare the intellectual ground for a brutal forced sterilization campaign in India.

AIDS illustrates the continuity. A fictitious disease is invented and the toxic drugs prescribed produce a spate of victims to confirm the existence of the scourge. In Africa, and particularly South Africa, a racist theory linking transmission to black promiscuity cloaks the reality of imperial exploitation, the failure of neoliberal governance and deliberate industrial-scale poisoning over four decades.

In a 2015 Ted talk Bill Gates famously warned:

 If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes. Now, part of the reason for this is that we’ve invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents. But we’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic. We’re not ready for the next epidemic.

Two years later he launched the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations backed by the WEF, the governments of India and Norway and the medical charity Wellcome Trust.

“The idea is to take a new way of building vaccines that could let us develop in less than a year a novel vaccine, called DNA/RNA vaccines...If we pick some things that we know there is a risk from, if we’re right about the ones we pick, those will be there and that’s an amazing thing. Even if we don’t anticipate it, we will have this platform that will be more timely and so you won’t have to build a new factory, the approval steps will be streamlined, and having gone through that with particular pathogens, we’ll understand what the regulator wants to see for this emergency case. And you just have to plug in some information and do some quick safety profiles and then you can get into manufacturing quite rapidly….We can take the same type of approach we use to prepare for military situations. We can say, ‘Hey, is there standby capacity? Do people train and drill on these things? And how would the coordination work?’

To answer these questions:

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY. The exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences.

It should be mentioned that the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, handsomely funded by themselves, is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

James Corbett’s Meet Bill Gates  series provides essential context for understanding how the neoliberal equivalent of crude eugenic theory is being activated.

 

Capitalism is a virus condemned by its genetic code to destroy all life forms including the rich.The next part of this essay argues that lockdown is a symptom of its deadliest mutation in history. The most perilous times lie ahead.

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