Written by Dr Wanda Skowronska
Fear is a powerful motivator as psychologists and politicians have often observed. And never have we seen so much diffuse fear as in the past two years of what is known as ‘the pandemic’, of Covid-19. A simple definition of fear is a feeling of anxiety and agitation caused by the presence or nearness of danger, evil, pain. There is a hierarchy of fears including fear of humiliation, abandonment loss of autonomy, mutilation, and the worst fear – extinction. What we have had here, however, is ongoing global fear, triggered by the media. Writer Frank Furedi observes that ‘fear plays a key role in twenty-first century consciousness. Increasingly, we seem to engage with various issues through a narrative of fear’, adding that ‘fear is not simply associated with high-profile catastrophic threats’, but also the ‘quiet fears’ of everyday life.'[i]
In our post-modern world there are fewer shared convictions or shared stories so fear can unite our fragmented societies as few things can. Up till the nineteenth century there was hope that history was progressing to a positive goal. People trusted all would be reconciled in time and history. They found, however, that in forgetting that history is God’s story, their plans resulted in war and genocide. In the ruins of the ‘modernist’ project, writer Scott Bader-Sayer concludes that ‘fear becomes the story we share in the absence of any other shared account of goods and goals.’[ii] It is a very effective political strategy.
Pandemics generate especially intense fear, with unfolding variants and uncertainties. British investigative journalist Laura Dodsworth found, in her book A State of Fear (2020) that her government used behavioural psychology to mould the public fear reponse to the threat of SARS-CoV-2. She says the British government took advice from several behavioural insight teams: RICU, the Home Office’s Research, Information and Communications Unit; the Rapid Response Unit, based in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office; the Counter Disinformation Cell, an intelligence, cyber and security agency; the 77th Brigade, an army unit combining media and psychological operations; and the Independent Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), a sub-group of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). Perhaps the most significant of these groups, the SPI-B’s role was to provide behavioural science advice aimed at getting people to adhere to recommendations by medical or epidemiological experts.[iii] They shared their techniques with other countries. Most would be unaware that the pervasive phrase ‘We’re all in this together’ emanated from the British behavioural psychologists.
In the initial climate of fear, medical and political authorities stated they could help us. This was welcome – the notion of the helper as charitable and benign, a good Samaritan, is deeply ingrained within us. Our past experiences with vaccines showed evidence in reducing epidemics of illness. Our instinct is to reach out to the helpers, even without asking questions. At the beginning of 2020, we were genuinely ‘all in this together.’ There was much heroic action on the part of nurses, doctors, and other helpers. With few or no early treatment protocols for the viral replication stage (week 1) many with Covid-19 progressed to the final respiratory phase (after week 2-3) of the disease, with harrowing scenes on TV of people dying alone. Many priests died after giving solace and support to those who needed it.
Then came the vaccines and many breathed a sigh of relief. People understood the ‘vaccine’ to provide immunity to the virus in good faith. They understood taking the vaccine came from ‘best medical advice.’ At the same time, our understanding of other strategies developed, in the absence of early treatment protocols. At this point, I wish to state I am for good vaccines but also for other effective treatments which can help others if they are found.
American Professors Peter McCullough, Dr Paul Marik, Dr Pierre Kory, and Australian Professor Thomas Borody, noting the absence of early treatment protocols in 2020 as Covid-19 spread, sought ways of treating the illness using their extensive clinical knowledge. Nobel Prize winner Professor Borody repurposed Ivermectin, a well-known safe drug, and found it very effective in the early stages of the disease. He himself took Ivermectin prophylactically while successfully treating over 400 patients with it, and never became ill. He was invited for a short initial burst of TV and radio interviews but then the interest went cold. Though the media went cold, people’s interest did not go cold, and his practice was getting hundreds of calls a day. Borody, among others, wondered at the unscientific suppression of interest in a safe medication and speculated at the big Pharmaceutical companies’ financial interest in the matter. Dr Tess Lawrie, medical researcher, and consultant to the World Health Organisation, also stated that Ivermectin could be repurposed for use in the early stages of Covid 19, giving her scientific view that Ivermectin was effective and safe.[iv] Increasing peer-reviewed and randomised controlled studies in the past year have reinforced this view.[v]
At the same time, New York physician Dr Zelenko, faced with many sick people, used a treatment, based on his clinical knowledge of Hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness in treating Covid19 in its early stages. He was asked to help Donald Trump and healed him, though this enraged some who were anti-Trump. According to his own account, he treated over 6,000 patients, stating that if patients came to him in the early stages, he could cure them of Covid-19. And his treatment was cheap.
Then came confusion. Politicians and health ministers were saying contradictory things about Covid-19. The NSW Premier said, ‘Stay inside’, others reminded us that we might be ‘granny killers’ if we went out (another British behavioural psychology slogan). We were told not to have superfluous conversations in supermarkets, and not to catch balls in parks. Simultaneously, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, told us all that the safest place to be was out in the sunshine, in parks. We were told within one week, that the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be given to those under 60, then to those under 50, then to those under 40, and then we were told anyone could have it. No wonder people were confused.
Alongside the contradictory information, it was very strange, however, that Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, showing increasing efficacy, were ignored and then banned. In Pandemic Blunder (2020) Joel Hirshborn asked why early treatments for COVID-19 were blocked saying this seemed a major blunder. One would have thought that the increasing success of these repurposed drugs would induce rejoicing. ‘Not enough evidence’ was the reason given for the suppression – vaccines alone could protect. And yet there was much evidence which went against this narrative. In India, for example, the government of Uttar Pradesh (population over 240 million) introduced large-scale ‘prophylactic and therapeutic’ use of Ivermectin. The results? The mortality rate plummeted. The Indian Express (May 12, 2021) stated:
In May-June 2020, a team at Agra, led by Dr Anshul Pareek, administered Ivermectin to all RRT team members in the district on an experimental basis. It was observed that none of them developed Covid-19 despite being in daily contact with patients who had tested positive for the virus,” Uttar Pradesh State Surveillance Officer Vikssendu Agrawal said.
Meantime came some warnings from renowned virologists and immunologists. Michael Yeadon, who served as the chief scientist and vice-president of the allergy and respiratory research division of the drug company Pfizer, and pro vax, pointed out these new vaccinations were experimental with unknown long-term consequences, especially with children and pregnant women.[vi] According to Yeadon, the needed pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies for vaccines were not done, nor were the usual regulatory procedures.[vii] He says now that the adverse event reports, noted in the official US VAERS list (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), reveal deaths following the vaccine many times the usual rate of death after previous vaccinations – and believes the rate of deaths are under reported.[viii] Geert Vanden Bossche, expert virologist who had worked for GAVI – the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation – stated the current vaccines, whose developers were ‘brilliant’, were in fact the wrong weapons for this pandemic. He stated they should be used prophylactically, not as treatments in a period of high viral load. He called for increased understanding of ‘immune pathogenesis’ saying, ‘mass vaccination with leaky Covid-19 vaccines in the midst of the pandemic can only breed highly infectious variants.’[ix] He added. ‘these immune escape variants will even be able to adapt to the rising immune status of the vaccinated population.’[x] Thus the variants will become harder to control. So, is Vanden Bossche wrong? One can ask why there is no media discussion of his findings, along with those of thousands of other researchers.
It is also clear to many of us non-scientists, that eminent scientists are saying very different things and that understanding of immune pathogenesis is evolving over time. The empirical evidence leads reasonable people to reach differing medical and moral conclusions. Some say one should have the vaccine as soon as possible. Some invoke the precautionary principle or look to other treatments. The medical profession is split and various groups have arisen, such as the FLCCC Alliance ( Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance Prevention & Treatment Protocols for COVID-19), which gives broader perspectives on ways of treating Covid-19.[xi] Dr Robert Malone, mRNA developer, has led a global Covid Summit, with the support of over 4,600 doctors around the world calling for ‘open exchange of objective scientific findings, without fear of reprisal; and the right of doctors to prescribe and patients to receive safe and effective treatments after receiving full information on risks and benefits.’[xii]
Meantime, people have feared losing the ‘freedom’ to travel, to visit their families, and to work. Some took the vaccine thinking they helped the common good. Some took it under coercion and now fear they have harmed the common good, if Vanden Bossche’s research findings regarding the ‘leakiness’ of vaccines are true. Many scientists and researchers have spoken out sharing their expertise for the common good, for which they received no money or accolades. People acted initially in good will on the ‘best medical advice.’ But the question remains: was the initial ‘best medical advice’ really the best?
Sydney criminologist and lawyer, Tony Nikolic has established a ‘Covidmedical network’ to address legal issues arising from the lack of information concerning risks arising from the new vaccines. Nikolic wrote to the NSW Health Minister explaining the duty of care of the government to inform citizens of this, especially health workers. He questions the mandatory nature of the vaccines.[xiii] Notre Dame Law Professor Augusto Zimmerman stated that ‘no Australian government, either federal or state, or those acting on its behalf, is constitutionally authorised to force any individual to take medicament against his or her own will, or force them or their children to be, among other things, compulsorily vaccinated.’[xiv] German trial lawyer, Dr Reiner Fuellmich, co-founder of the Berlin Corona Committee, pointed out that the scientific understanding of PCR testing had changed: ‘The PCR does not test for LIVE VIRUS, only fragments, and those fragments could be from previous influenza infections. Each cycle for the PCR amplifies the production of those fragments, and the results should never exceed 24 cycles … it must be assumed that any test above 24 cycles has a 96% probability of false results.’[xv] How will our understanding of other ‘facts’, or indeed of this era, change with time?
Meantime the 2020 global Great Barrington Declaration was established with representatives from medical research and legal fields saying:
As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies … Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.[xvi]
Several alliances are challenging what was considered the ‘best medical knowledge’ with ongoing results of new research. For example a Polish initiative was established in 2021 called Ordo Medicus, a ‘grassroots social initiative of doctors and scientists of various fields for the promotion of health.’[xvii] This may in time alter previous assumptions which people accepted in good faith. At the very least, there is a need for greater informed consent, and Australian Dr Deirdre Little, with colleagues, is publishing on this very subject in Law and Medicine.
Despite the threats that those unable or unwilling to take the vaccination would be excluded from society, Archbishop Fisher has been insistent that churches will be open to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people as the church has never discriminated against any group of people. (Catholic Weekly, Sept 19, 2021). Now it seems that there will be a loosening of the restrictions through some states. Is some of the research questioning the dominant narrative on Covid-19 altering the ‘best medical advice’? Whatever is happening in the new ‘normal’, perhaps we need to remember that while many fear the Delta virus, we always have with us the Alpha and the Omega, HE, who holds us close, mitigates our fears, and is a lamp for our path, and with us every moment of our days.