What convinced you containment was a scam?
Reader reports: The first of at least two parts.
I’m overwhelmed by your response. Yesterday’s post is one of my most-commented of all time, and I have hundreds of emails. I find reading all these reports extremely informative, and have spent most of the day studying them.
The biographical notes some of you provided are a trove of information in themselves, for the light they shed on the kinds of people resistant to media messaging in general. Libertarians, conspiracy theorists, people who don’t watch television, frequent travellers, expatriates, the religious – all are prominently represented in my replies. In general, it seems you were most likely to survive the propaganda onslaught of February/March 2020 with your wits intact, if you paid almost no attention to the news and trusted your instincts, or if you had a lot of subject expertise and obsessively followed all developments. Those of us in the great informational middle fell hard.
Then there are the common points of disillusionment. Many cite the Diamond Princess as instrumental in convincing them that SARS-2 was never a big deal, before lockdowns were even proposed. That natural laboratory is probably one reason why the narrative shifted so quickly from apocalyptic fatality rates to overwhelmed hospitals as March approached. Many realised something was wrong when the Spring 2020 wave failed to bring the promised disaster (or, in many places, even very many infections); or when Summer 2020 was used to consolidate and extend the containment regime, even though almost nobody was sick. The Floyd riots were a huge moment for Americans; the duplicitous public health messaging on behalf of the rioters did untold damage to the credibility of lockdowns in the United States, to an extent even I hadn’t realised. The absurdity and internal contradictions of many containment measures alienated a lot of people. One reader writes that it was Fauci’s double-masking campaign in Fall 2020 that pushed him over the edge. A final decisive moment was of course the vaccines.
I’ll write at least one further post on this topic, where I’ll highlight some further emails and comments, and write more about the trends I’ve seen. I’ve clipped some of your messages, to fit as much as possible into one email, and I’ve erred on the side of keeping email correspondents anonymous.
Nat writes that he was convinced by the bad data from Wuhan, the senseless attacks on hydroxychloroquine, and tightening regulations in summer 2020:
I was a bit sceptical from the very start but happy to be convinced to play along ... until three things happened in spring 2020 that made me realise everything was way off and not to be trusted. The first was seeing the paper on Wuhan handling of the epidemic, which made it clear the lockdowns there played no part in controlling the virus. The curve / wave followed a natural path, and it started to head downwards nicely BEFORE the lockdown started. The paper was completely ignored, which set off my alarm bells. The second ‘moment’ was the hysterical attempts to demonise hydroxychloroquine, especially the fake paper published in Lancet. It was so badly designed there was no way it was by accident or ignorance. The third was our gov here keeping quiet about close to zero hospital admissions in summer 2020 and actually introducing mandatory masks during that time.
My friend Abdullah (check out his Substack) was put off by the self-defeating absurdity of most containment rules:
At the start, I thought lockdowns were a great idea solely based off the idea that they’d be a temporary measure for about 1-2 months. I followed up very closely with the data in addition to the regular sources of MSM, the latter of which I disregarded once I spotted the obvious inconsistencies like Fraudci lying about mask use and sunlight annihilating COVID, when anons were privy to this information at least a month prior. […] I was always distrustful of the Chinese government and US officials in general before [winter 2020], so I credit my jumping ship very early due to that (and the immense hatred that Governor Meatball Cuomo inspired in me by closing down gyms for 8 months).
It was also the behavior of people in general that tipped me off first thing. People taking their masks off to eat once restaurants opened back up, people fiddling with them all the time and those who outright argued with me about the righteousness of lockdowns then the next day would take a trip to a state that was open (Texas, Florida, etc.). It was clear to me then that this was now a religious belief, that if COVID were truly as dangerous as they said it wouldn't require this level of coercion and spiritually demented compliance.
My absolute Damascus Moment though, was during spring of 2020 when a verified CA Department of Health account tweeted that if you’re eating at a restaurant, and I wish I could still find this fucking tweet: to “make sure you put your mask back on as you chew your food in-between bites”.1 That was it for me, I declared a spiritual and intellectual war on these detrimental demons after seeing that. Fuck these people into oblivion.
Also a bonus, as someone who has contacts in other Arab nations: what was also indicative during the summer of the same year was how many countries in the Middle East, including one where I’ve lived for many years, were just copying western nations with 0 reflection of their own accord, sometimes even making pretentious attempts at seeming original by variating these measures. A funny example: In Jordan, there was once a measure (that didn’t last very long due to lack of compliance) that ordered all places to shut down only on Fridays and Saturdays, as that’s when people gather most. What happened instead was insane traffic jams and long lines at malls, restaurants, entertainment venues, etc. around Thursdays with a probably negative effect on trying to reduce infection. I swear by Allah, stupidity of this kind used to only be found in sitcoms before March 2020.
A lot of parents – particularly mothers – underlined the vaccines as a major issue. One former containment hardliner writes in:
I started out as a ‘zero covid’ strategy supporter. I was for strict lockdowns and everything that came with it because I really did believe it would eradicate the virus. In BC, Canada we initially had lots of half measures to limit the spread, but there was no appetite at the political level for a zero covid strategy. I was mad! I thought they were doing it all wrong and that we were doomed to suffer a slow agonizing burn of low covid for months or years. Which we did, but not for lack of mandates and restrictions! Why did I think a zero covid strategy would work? Because that’s what we were led to believe. Lots of people were dying, or so we were told. We could get out of this mess if we just did more (or rather less) and waited for the vaccine to arrive.
What led me to see a different truth? Being a mother and an academic researcher pre-children. When the vaccines first became available in our area, I was breastfeeding my youngest and also hoping to get pregnant again. So obviously I wanted to know from the horses mouth, were these vaccines safe for my child, and safe for my future baby? Was there research to say the vaccines were safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women? I searched for available research, joined mommy groups online about this topic, and read the published Pfizer approval documents. No such data existed to support any safety claim for this group of women. Pfizer’s own documents said as much in clear language. This is when the cracks started to appear and I began to question what I was reading. ‘Everyone’ was saying these vaccines were safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. But how could they? There were literally zero studies. This is when I realized we were being lied to.
Mike Hearn, a software developer, knew something was wrong when he realised that key epidemiological models suffered not only from terrible, unfounded assumptions, but also from catastrophic coding errors:
I first realized there was something terribly wrong with the containment narrative in March 2020. Ironically, it was quality journalism that made me understand that all wasn’t quite right. I read an article by Sarah Knapton in the Telegraph (a British national newspaper) which told me about the controversial history of Prof Neil Ferguson. The claims Knapton made were so extraordinary I immediately began to fact check this and ended up writing my first skeptical article, titled “Is epidemiology useful?”, which looked at the role epidemiological modelling played in the British foot-and-mouth disaster that occurred around the turn of the millennium. Shortly after Toby Young launched his Lockdown Sceptics site, which I started reading.
After realizing the experts maybe weren’t quite as expert as they seemed I waited for Ferguson to publish the source code of the model that had driven Britain and America into lockdown. I’m a software developer and was curious how exactly these models worked. Once it became available I took a look and was shocked to discover that the problems went well beyond poor quality assumptions. The code was riven with critical bugs that caused it to generate wildly different predictions every time you ran it, depending on things like what type of computer it was executing on and timing differences in how the operating system scheduled work onto the CPU. I read the bug tracker and found the Imperial College team responding to bug reports with completely nonsensical and intellectually dishonest explanations, which prompted me to write an analysis and send it to Toby, who then published it on his site. The article went viral in the software engineering community and attracted so much attention the Lockdown Sceptics site crashed under the weight of traffic. Things moved quite quickly after that. Disgracefully, various academics leapt to Ferguson’s defense, including one who wrote a paper claiming the model was replicable whilst simultaneously admitting that it wasn’t. More evidence was uncovered showing that ICL had been lying about the changes they’d been making to the model, the Telegraph started reporting on the scandal and I was put in touch with a British Member of Parliament. I eventually did some presentations to UK Government ministers (though with no impact), and a report I wrote on common errors in modelling was sent to the Cabinet.
After that people started sending me more models to review, and I wrote more analyses (like this one and this one). It was rapidly becoming clear that it wasn’t just Ferguson’s team of „best epidemiologists in the world“ that were publishing corrupted / nonsensical work. The problem was everywhere. Almost every paper I read had at least one obvious and serious problem with it, often of a type that you didn’t need any actual expertise to notice. I started to wonder how these papers were getting through peer review and getting published. Exploring that led me to discover the phenomenon of Photoshopped images and auto-generated gibberish being published as „peer reviewed scientific research“.
It’s been nearly two years now and my confidence in publicly funded science is completely destroyed. I don’t believe anyone reasonably intelligent can read the COVID literature and come out the other side without concluding that universities and governments cannot tell the difference between science and scientism. Our society is completely in the grip of people who have effectively evolved under selection pressure to strongly resemble scientists without actually being scientists. Their work looks roughly right from a distance - there are data tables, charts, equations - but when you sit down and read it the scientific method has gone AWOL. I am now explicitly open to counter-narrative claims I’d never have previously considered.
Legal scholars and solicitors have been ringing the alarm about containment from the beginning. One writes:
It was clear to me in March 2020 that containment was a rabbit hole. As a solicitor I have experience drafting contracts and creating draft legislation. If you are doing this properly, you are thinking extremely carefully about every single word you write, considering all the loopholes the universe of consequences that your language brings into being. Obviously, legislation which institutes lockdowns with no exit strategy - in fact, no consideration even of standards for exit - is not drafted with the view that the emergency will (can) end. The people drafting this legislation are not stupid. If they have not written an exit strategy into the legislation (i.e., from the state of emergency which justifies the regulations), they do not intend to implement one (at least not unless it is politically expedient). Emergency powers are the One ring that no political party can bring itself to alienate.
It was obvious that the harms would not be readily calculable. Many of those harmed most by containment policies do not have a voice in our society (consider young children with autism who have lost two years of full-time in-person education during a critical developmental period; consider those who are old, alone, and not connected to the world through technology). Every undergrad who took Bioethics 1 learned about the social determinants of health. It was pretty clear immediately that “all this” was an elaborate shifting of risk from certain individuals to others. The young, the poor, and people with disabilities would be among the cohorts who would bear the brunt of the damage.
These were my rationalizations for rejecting containment early on. But first, I guess, it was just this eerie feeling, like observing tectonic plates shifting. My whole career has been bickering endlessly about life on land - I have never seen movement at this level of the philosophical edifice that we live our lives in. It felt frightening and important. Big, big levers were pulled, and their pulling was not obviously justified.
Academics with subject expertise also had suspicions. Prof. Jeff Morris (check out his blog) is a microbiologist at the University of Alabama / Birmingham, who studies microbial evolution. He writes:
I never believed containment was possible, once it was clear that the virus had escaped from Wuhan. To my knowledge no respiratory virus has ever been contained after it broke out so unless CDC had a genie in a bottle this one wasn’t going to be any different. However, like you I was optimistic about vaccination at first. I encouraged my elderly parents to get vaccinated, and I would have gotten my family vaccinated as well if we hadn’t all caught COVID right before vaccines became available. As it was I waited 90 days—as instructed by my doctor—and by the time that wait was over it was an entirely different story.
I wrote about the incident that convinced me the vaccines were on their way to total failure in a blog post back in December. Here’s the link if you’d like to see the whole thing: https://antisocialdarwinist.com/2021/12/02/grotesque-malpractice/. But here’s the tl;dr quote most relevant for your purposes:
“I first became concerned about the effectiveness of the SARS-2 vaccines in July, when a gang of Texas Democrat “fleebaggers” fled their state in a stunt to deny a quorum and prevent a vote... Even though 100% of the fleebaggers were “double-vaxxed”, many of them came down with the virus on this trip and ultimately spread it to some of their colleagues in the White House. Now, anyone who knows anything about vaccines knows that no vaccine is 100% effective, but this level of community spread in a situation where everyone was vaccinated was shocking to me, and should have been shocking to anybody. The most parsimonious explanation for what happened is that one of the fleebaggers had the virus and then spread it to all the rest – followed by a tertiary transmission by at least one of them to somebody at the White House later on.
“Why did this worry me so much? Consider this 2017 hypothesis paper by Kennedy and Read that I’ve been teaching in both my microbiology and evolution classes for several years. The authors talk about why antibiotic resistance evolves more readily in most cases than vaccine resistance – namely that antibiotics are applied when you’re already sick and therefore full of bacteria whereas vaccines are applied before virus exposure and therefore are rarely challenged by more than a small number of virus genomes. The rate of evolutionary improvement in these cases is limited by mutational supply – you need a lot of random mutations challenging the antimicrobial to discover the rare one that confers resistance – and mutational supply is a function of population size. Kennedy and Read then bolster their conceptual argument by considering the handful of vaccines that have failed due to pathogen evolution. Every one of these failed vaccines had at least one of two characteristics: either they targeted a single protein, or else they were incapable of fully preventing infection and transmission. In the former case, it is much easier to find a single mutation that can provide complete vaccine evasion, since vaccinated individuals have a very simple response compared to the layered polyvalent response created by natural infection. In the latter case, even though the vaccine is initially capable of suppressing viral symptoms, it allows large viral populations to accumulate, exponentially increasing the number of mutants that can challenge the vaccine-induced immune response. Every vaccine with one of these characteristics failed; every SARS-2 vaccine has both characteristics: the SARS-2 vaccines solely target the SARS-2 spike protein, and the fleebagger incident strongly suggested they were incapable of suppressing viral reproduction and transmission.
“At that moment, I knew that viral evolution would eventually defeat the vaccines, and started looking for evidence of the fact.”
A Canadian surgeon writes about the rapidly shifting attitude in his field, and about the power of groupthink in these circles currently, which would be one reason why more people in these fields aren’t saying anything:
At the beginning, the vast majority of physicians I knew could see that the world was at risk of an enormous over-reaction. They spoke openly of their puzzlement, at least in the lounge. I had planned some time off in March and April, and had to extend it over travel restrictions. When I returned to work in May, most doctors had figured out what they were supposed to be believe, and had forgotten ever having thought otherwise. I’ve had some conversations with bought-in docs, but not one can present any credible reason for the buy-in. Most take it as axiomatic that lockdowns work, and have trouble understanding that I’m not attacking the logic after that, but the base premise itself. One told me that China’s briefer lockdown was still working more than a year after it had ended, because it had been more severe than ours! I pointed out to another that he was not making the correlation/causation distinction on the fall of infections after lockdowns; he admitted that was true, but couldn’t see how it would affect the present argument. I asked another whether he had read the ‘natural immunity’ paper he was mocking, or got his opinion from CNN. Crickets. This kind of experience rather hardens me against making the switch myself, though I do keep re-assessing my own conclusions based on new data.
Many, many healthcare professionals and first responders knew something was wrong from the start. Masking and distancing guidelines were a red flag for many of them:
I was a Hazmat responder for years, an EMT, a Navy Corpsman and a Fireman. So I spent years in respiratory science and I knew that underwear on your face (my wife gets mad when I call it that, but there’s little difference) is not stopping a 3 micron aerosolized virus.. and we knew COVID was aerosolized from the cruise ship in Japan.
40 years of NIOSH and OSHA data said their containment strategy was a joke.. and every hazmat expert who spoke up got de-platformed. That convinced me the government was not serious, and it was all theater.
I was also the “pandemic guy” in my Navy medical unit. It was my job to stay up on all the candidates for possible pandemics, the plans, etc. So I knew from history that both cloth masks and 6 feet “social distancing” were both failed strategies from the pandemic of 1917-1919, which Facui et al just recycled. That’s not serious science. […]
CPK in comments brings a similar perspective:
My Army training for operating under nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) warfare conditions. I’d spent many miserable hours wearing and working in genuine protective gear, and drilling don/doff and decontamination protocols. I knew even those weren’t guaranteed to work. And they certainly couldn’t be maintained for an entire population for a prolonged period.
So it was obvious from the start that cloth masks and the rest were just self-soothing gestures. I never bought the hysteria that Covid was evil magic insta-murder radioactive death cooties. But even if it was, we weren’t going to stop it.
John Bowman realised that the early messaging was out of step with observable rates of illness in the population:
I trained in a profession complimentary to medicine and spent 5 years in hospital service, then 25 years in the pharma/medical device industry, so I have some knowledge and understanding of medical matters as well as how the sector works.
So. What convinced me? Observation. Symptoms for respiratory viruses usually appear 2 to 3 days after infection. They tend to reach their peak effect 3 to 5 days, then subside or the patient deteriorates thereafter usually heading towards pneumonia requiring hospital attention. For a virus that was supposedly so aggressive producing serious disease and fast spreading, I expected to see big numbers of people with severe symptoms even if not requiring hospitalisation, within one to two weeks of the hysteria breaking all over the media.
This would be noticeable by large scale absenteeism from work. Shops and businesses would be short staffed and some maybe closed for lack of staff, factories operating below normal or even shutting down. Public transport would be affected as fewer staff showed up for work, train and air services cancelled, and goods distribution disrupted. Classrooms would be half-filled and lessons disrupted as children and teachers came down with the disease. Also I would expect to hear of relatives and friends, neighbours taken to their beds. And of course the News would be full of crowded hospitals.
But instead… none of this apart from the daily death toll which in fact was a small fraction of the usual all causes daily death toll.
If the virus had been so serious in its effect and so spreadable, there would have been no need for mandated lockdown as most people would be self-locked down at home in bed or in hospital. […]
LH was spooked by the premature eagerness of hospital record keepers to track vaccinations:
In February 2021, I worked as a registered nurse at an ivy league teaching hospital. Our electronic medical record system (Epic) went through an upgrade. One morning I noticed a new item on the medical record home page for each of my patients. Now in the same place as name, date of birth, gender, and allergies, appeared “COVID vaccination status.” All of my patients were defaulted to a status in bright red marked “Overdue.”
I found this very, very odd. How could anyone be over due for a vaccine that was still in clinical trials and was only available under an emergency use authorization. The vaccine was not yet even widely available to at-risk populations.
Derbyshire Delver offers a similar creepy story, this time about apparent NHS anticipation of closures in late February 2020:
My son needed braces on his teeth which you can get for free on the NHS but you have to wait your turn. In early Autumn 2019, he’d had an initial appointment and were waiting for fitting, they said it would be about 6 months, so we were expecting this to happen in Feb/March 2020.
However, I got a letter from his orthodontist on the 19th Feb stating that it would be another 2 YEARS before he could be seen again to have the braces fitted! Something to do with changes to their „NHS contract” and apparently this was a nationwide problem, not just their practice. Clearly, NHS management and the Department of Health were already cancelling anything they determined to be none essential a full month before the first lockdown came into force and they knew damn well it was going to go on for many months/years not the 3 weeks as we were told.
I didn’t put 2 and 2 together for another couple of months but as things started to drag on and, as far as I could see, no-one, who wasn’t already on his/her last legs was dying, I realised that the restrictions were designed to be in place for the long haul regardless of the severity of the „pandemic”. The sudden recommendation to start wearing masks in the middle of the summer of 2020 when there were no cases really caused the „penny to drop” for me.
A few journalists and media people wrote. Amy, in comments, was put off by the disturbing connections between media messaging and the vaccination campaign:
I work in media so at first I was totally on board with trying to keep people safe and distributing that messaging. This probably impacted my ability to catch up and see the way things really were.
Then, in January 2021 I started to notice that media angle was responding to whatever portion of the population was next in line to get the vaccine. If 80 year olds were next up, the MSM messaging immediately pivoted to 80s are most at risk. When it opened up to 70 year old, then 60 year olds, then 50 year olds, this angle kept shifting. Before we would never hear anything about 40 year olds who had covid then all of a sudden when it hit the 40 year old age bracket, the media was flooded with stories of apparently healthy 40 year olds who died from covid. No comorbidities or risk factors, just died. I started to recognize it for fear porn and even suspected some of these ‘stories’ were fabricated.
Guess what’s in the headlines now? Kids are in hospital with covid! Kids are dying! While I recognize that there are children who are dying from covid, possibly healthy children with zero diagnosed comorbidities, I recognize this is very rare. So where did all these kids come from? Why all of a sudden is there a „surge“ in children in hospital with covid? Could it be because they are next up for vaccination?
A reporter for a small newspaper in the western United States writes:
I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the officials, but it quickly became clear that this disease was not killing people like SARS or MERS (and it wouldn’t have spread if it had), and about four to six months in, I tried asking the local health district director whether or not we would all be better off just getting it rather than trying to prevent the spread, and focusing on protecting those most at risk (the elderly and the immune-compromised), and that way encouraging natural immunity. She responded no, that would overwhelm the health care system. Yes it would, since it was never designed for mass disease, and cannot effectively be designed that way. I understood her concern, but she also proceeded to tell me later hat vaccine immunity was better than natural immunity, which never made any sense to me.
Also, I never entirely trusted the decline in influenza cases. How it is the flu virus isn’t getting transmitted when SARS-CoV-2 is? No one could answer that question to my satisfaction, though maybe I wasn’t paying proper attention.
By about month four, I had come to the conclusion that this was just something we were going to have to live with and get through — people would get sick, some would die, doctors and nurses and hospitals would be overwhelmed, businesses would go under, incomes would be lost, there would be no getting around that. I’ve also had this twice now, last April and several weeks ago. It’s not a fun disease, but I had a bout of influenza in 2018 that left me delirious in bed for three days, and that was much worse. (I’m 54 and diabetic, though I have my diabetes well controlled by diet, exercise and metformin; still, I am at risk and I appreciate that too.) There seemed to be something in the health care administrators about ensuring ease of system administration — shutting things down or restricting activity in order to ensure that the health care system is not strained or stressed. I can appreciate that, as doctors and nurses and aides are human beings too, but privileging a single „system” that way struck me as counterproductive and inhuman.
In short, there was an attempt to minimize certain kind of disease suffering and risk when, given the nature of the event, that was simply not possible. It may help I am a theologically conservative Orthodox Christian who doesn’t view suffering as a problem to be solved.
Several people who lost elderly relatives during the pandemic wrote to me. From Matt in upstate New York:
My mom (who had middle-stage dementia) tested positive for Covid, went in the hospital, and never came out. Remdesivir and oxygen only. But she didn’t die from any virus really, she died because the hospital convinced my elderly, distraught dad that she was “hopeless,” and they moved into the no-food, yes-morphine mode. And she lived for twice as long as they expected – if you ask me, because she wasn’t that sick, only weak: My mom deteriorated physically, mentally, and emotionally from being locked in her rooms 23 hours a day; and so did my dad, making him a pliant touch for the “prettied-up euthanasia” they pressured him with. I blame the lockdown more than anything, including more than Cuomo stuffing sick people in the facilities. On the drive home from the last time I saw my mom alive, I had the pleasure of hearing on the radio that Cuomo would get an Emmy for his work. :-/ The lockdowns are not just stupid, they’re evil.
I find it very interesting to have reports from some Trump administration officials. Paul Elias Alexander (see his pieces on the catastrophic impact of lockdowns and school closures, the failure of compulsory interventions in general, the effectiveness of masking, and vaccine efficacy) writes:
1) I was looking at all of the evidence day one e.g. March 2020 that was emerging that it was a failure and harming people.
2) I was in a position in the HHS of Trump administration where we were getting real state data showing the lockdowns, from April/May 2020 were causing business owners and laid off people to self harm, and children we self harming and by June these groups were committing suicide...many children killed themselves across the US and the media would not cover it and we knew the actual data for it was coming from the States to us.
3) The media I was told were working together to suppress the real outcome of the lockdowns and school closures as Trump would be shown right as he argued to open up society and schools.
4) I was privy to a meeting with the vaccine developers to the media where they told the media that they addressed the short follow-up to examine safety by a larger sample size and from then, this was July 2020, I knew the vaccine was a sham and potentially dangerous...I heard the top vaccine people tell the media this and the govn sat there and accepted that.
5) I knew that the RRR of 95% was a lie for they did not report the ARR of <1% and also, if you go back calculate and put back the 3400 or so that Pfizer omitted, then the RRR drops to 20%, would have never gotten EUA.
6) We know from the Athenian plague 2500 years ago, 430 BC that it is the recovered who are now naturally immune, who cared for the sick...
7) I was told by NIH, CDC, and inside officials in DC that the game plan was to day by day, using the Task Force daily briefings, make Trump look incapable and that all he was doing was a failure...to report infections by the thousands daily, and to make America unmanageable and ungovernable so that by the time the election came, people will be fed up and hurt and crushed by the lockdowns etc. and they actually pulled that off.