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How the CDC Uses Fear to Increase Demand for Flu Vaccines

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The CDC continues to use fear of hospitalization & death to increase demand for flu vaccines. Their "Recipe" calls for encouraging medical experts and public health authorities to “state concern and alarm.”

  • Reflect On:

    Is the flu shot necessary? It's becoming hard to trust health professionals regarding this, especially given the fact their knowledge on vaccines isn't up to par. Independent research might be more effective. It's OK to question vaccines.

Before you begin...

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The CDC claims that its recommendation that everyone aged six months and up should get an annual flu shot is firmly grounded in science. The mainstream media reinforce this characterization by misinforming the public about what the science says.

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New York Times article from earlier this year, for example, in order to persuade readers to follow the CDC’s recommendation, cited scientific literature reviews of the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration to support its characterization of the influenza vaccine as both effective and safe. The Times claimed that the science showed that the vaccine represented “a big payoff in public health” and that harms from the vaccine were “almost nonexistent”.

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What the Cochrane researchers actually concluded, however, was that their findings “seem to discourage the utilization of vaccination against influenza in healthy adults as a routine public health measure” (emphasis added). Furthermore, given the known serious harms associated with specific flu vaccines and the CDC’s recommendation that infants as young as six months get a flu shot despite an alarming lack of safety studies for children under two, “large-scale studies assessing important outcomes, and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required.”

The CDC also recommends the vaccine for pregnant women despite the total absence of randomized controlled trials assessing the safety of this practice for both expectant mother and unborn child. (This is all the more concerning given that multi-dose vials of the inactivated influenza vaccine contain mercury, a known neurotoxin that can cross both the placental and blood-brain barriers and accumulate in the brain.)

The Cochrane researchers also found “no evidence” to support the CDC’s assumptions that the vaccine reduces transmission of the virus or the risk of potentially deadly complications—the two primary justifications claimed by the CDC to support its recommendation.

The CDC nevertheless pushes the influenza vaccine by claiming that it prevents large numbers of hospitalizations and deaths from flu. To reinforce its message that everyone should get an annual flu shot, the CDC claims that hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands die each year from influenza. These numbers are generally relayed by the mainstream media as though representative of known cases of flu. The aforementioned New York Times article, for example, stated matter-of-factly that, of the 9 million to 36 million people whom the CDC estimates get the flu each year, “Somewhere between 140,000 and 710,000 of them require hospitalization, and 12,000 to 56,000 die each year.”

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…the average number of deaths each year for which the cause is actually attributed on death certificates to the influenza virus is little more than 1000.

On September 27, the CDC issued the claim at a press conference that 80,000 people died from the flu during the 2017 – 2018 flu season, and the media parroted this number as though fact.

What is not being communicated to the public is that the CDC’s numbers do not represent known cases of influenza. They do not come directly from surveillance data, but are rather controversial estimates based on controversial mathematical models that may greatly overestimate the numbers.

To put the matter into perspective, the average number of deaths each year for which the cause is actually attributed on death certificates to the influenza virus is little more than 1,000.

The consequence of the media parroting the CDC’s numbers as though uncontroversial is that the public is routinely misinformed about the impact of influenza on society and the ostensible benefits of the vaccine. Evidently, that’s just the way the CDC wants it, since the agency has also outlined a public relations strategy of using fear marketing to increase demand for flu shots.

In other words, the CDC considers it to be a problem that people are increasingly doing their own research and becoming more adept at educating themselves about health-related issues.

The CDC’s “Problem” of “Growing Health Literacy”

Before looking at some of the problems with the CDC’s estimates, it’s useful to examine the mindset at the agency with respect to how CDC officials view their role in society. An instructive snapshot of this mindset was provided in a presentation by the CDC’s director of media relations on June 17, 2004, at a workshop for the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

In its presentation, the CDC outlined a “‘Recipe’ for Fostering Public Interest and High Vaccine Demand”. It called for encouraging medical experts and public health authorities to “state concern and alarm” about “and predict dire outcomes” from the flu season. To inspire the necessary fear, the CDC encouraged describing each season as “very severe”, “more severe than last or past years”, and “deadly”.

One problem for the CDC is the accurate view among healthy adults that they are not at high risk of serious complications from the flu. As the presentation noted, “achieving consensus by ‘fiat’ is difficult”—meaning that just because the CDC makes the recommendation doesn’t mean that people will actually follow it. Therefore it was necessary to cause “concern, anxiety, and worry” among young, healthy adults who regard the flu as an inconvenience rather than something to be terribly afraid of.

The larger conundrum for the CDC is the proliferation of information available to the public on the internet. As the CDC bluntly stated it, “Health literacy is a growing problem”.

In other words, the CDC considers it to be a problem that people are increasingly doing their own research and becoming more adept at educating themselves about health-related issues. And, as we have already seen, the CDC has very good reason to be concerned about people doing their own research into what the science actually tells us about vaccines.

One prominent way the CDC inspires the necessary fear, of course, is with its estimates of the numbers of people who are hospitalized or die each year from the flu.

…many if not most people diagnosed with ‘the flu’ may not have actually been infected with the influenza virus at all, given the large number of other viruses that cause the same symptoms and the general lack of lab confirmation.

The Problems with the CDC’s Estimates of Annual Flu Deaths

Among the relevant facts that are routinely not relayed to the public by the media when the CDC’s numbers are cited is that only about 7% to 15% of what are called “influenza-like illnesses” are actually caused by influenza viruses. In fact, there are over 200 known viruses that cause influenza-like illnesses, and to determine whether an illness was actually caused by the influenza virus requires laboratory testing—which isn’t usually done.

Furthermore, as the authors of a 2010 Cochrane review stated, “At best, vaccines may only be effective against influenza A and B, which represent about 10% of all circulating viruses” that are known to cause influenza-like symptoms. (That’s the same review, by the way, that the Times mischaracterized as having found the vaccine to be “a big payoff in public health”.)

While the CDC now uses a range of numbers to describe annual deaths attributed to influenza, it used to claim that on average “about 36,000 people per year in the United States die from influenza”. The CDC switched to using a range in response to criticism that the average was misleading because there is great variability from year to year and decade to decade. And while switching to the range did address that criticism, other serious problems remain.

One major problem with “the much publicized figure of 36,000”, as Peter Doshi observed in a 2005 BMJ article, was that it “is not an estimate of yearly flu deaths, as widely reported in both the lay and scientific press, but an estimate—generated by a model—of flu-associated death.”

Of course, as the media routinely remind us when it comes to the subject of vaccines and autism (but seem to forget when it comes to the CDC’s flu numbers), temporal association does not necessarily mean causation. Just because someone dies after an influenza infection does not mean that it was the flu that killed him. And, furthermore, many if not most people diagnosed with “the flu” may not have actually been infected with the influenza virus at all, given the large number of other viruses that cause the same symptoms and the general lack of lab confirmation.

The “36,000” number came from a 2003 CDC study published in JAMA that acknowledged the difficulty of estimating deaths attributable to influenza, given that most cases are not lab-confirmed. Yet, rather than acknowledging the likelihood that a substantial percentage of reported cases actually had nothing to do with the influenza virus, the CDC researchers treated it as though it only meant that flu-related deaths must be significantly higher than the reported numbers.

The study authors pointed out that seasonal influenza is “associated with increased hospitalizations and mortality for many diagnoses”, including pneumonia, and they assumed that many cases attributed to other illnesses were actually caused by influenza. They therefore developed a mathematical model to estimate the number by instead using as their starting point all “respiratory and circulatory” deaths, which include all “pneumonia and influenza” deaths.

In his aforementioned BMJ article, Peter Doshi reasonably asked, “Are US flu death figures more PR than science?”

Of course, not all respiratory and circulatory deaths are caused by the influenza virus. Yet the CDC treats this number as “an upper bound”—as though it was possible that 100% of all respiratory and circulatory deaths occurring in a given flu season were caused by influenza. The CDC also treats the total number of pneumonia and influenza deaths as “a lower bound for deaths associated with influenza”. The CDC states on its website that reported pneumonia and influenza deaths “represent only a fraction of the total number of deaths from influenza”—as though all pneumonia deaths were caused by influenza!

The CDC certainly knows better. In fact, at the same time, the CDC contradictorily acknowledges that not all pneumonia and influenza deaths are flu-related; it has estimatedthat in an average year 2.1% of all respiratory and circulatory deaths and 8.5% of all pneumonia and influenza deaths are influenza-associated.

So how can the CDC maintain both (a) that 8.5% of pneumonia and influenza deaths are flu-related, and (b) that the combined total of all pneumonia and influenza deaths represents only a fraction of flu-caused deaths? How can both be true?

The answer is that the CDC simply assumes that influenza-associated deaths are so greatly underreported within the broader category of deaths coded under “respiratory and circulatory” that they dwarf all those coded under “pneumonia and influenza”.

In his aforementioned BMJ article, Peter Doshi reasonably asked, “Are US flu death figures more PR than science?” As he put it, “US data on influenza deaths are a mess.” The CDC “acknowledges a difference between flu death and flu associated death yet uses the terms interchangeably. Additionally, there are significant statistical incompatibilities between official estimates and national vital statistics data. Compounding these problems is a marketing of fear—a CDC communications strategy in which medical experts ‘predict dire outcomes’ during flu seasons.”

Setting aside pneumonia and looking just at influenza-associated deaths from 1979 to 2002, the annual average according to the NCHS data was only 1,348.

Illustrating the problem, Doshi observed that for the year 2001, the total number of reported pneumonia and influenza deaths was 62,034. Yet, of those, less than one half of one percent were attributed to influenza. Furthermore, of the mere 257 cases blamed on the flu, only 7% were laboratory confirmed. That’s only 18 cases of lab confirmed influenza out of 62,034 pneumonia and influenza deaths—or just 0.03%, according to the CDC’s own National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Setting aside pneumonia and looking just at influenza-associated deaths from 1979 to 2002, the annual average according to the NCHS data was only 1,348.

The CDC’s mortality estimates would be compatible with the NCHS data, Doshi argued, “if about half of the deaths classed by the NCHS as pneumonia were actually flu initiated secondary pneumonias.” But the NCHS criteria itself strongly indicated otherwise, stating that “Cause-of-death statistics are based solely on the underlying cause of death … defined by WHO as ‘the disease or injury which initiated the train of events leading directly to death.’”

The CDC researchers who authored the 2003 study acknowledged that underlying cause-of-death coding “represents the disease or injury that initiated the chain of morbid events that led directly to the death”—yet they fallaciously coupled pneumonia deaths with influenza deaths in their model anyway.

At the time Doshi was writing, the CDC was publicly claiming that each year “about 36,000 [Americans] die from flu”, and as seen with the example from the New York Times, the range of numbers is likewise presented as though representative of known cases of flu-caused deaths. Yet the lead author of that very CDC study, William Thompson of the CDC’s National Immunization Program, acknowledged that the number rather represented “a statistical association” that does not necessarily mean causation. In Thompson’s own words, “Based on modelling, we think it’s associated. I don’t know that we would say that it’s the underlying cause of death.” (Emphasis added.)

Of course, the CDC does say it’s the underlying cause of death in its disingenuous public relations messaging. As Doshi noted, Thompson’s acknowledgment is “incompatible” with the CDC’s “misrepresentation” of its flu deaths estimates. The CDC, Doshi further observed, was “working in manufacturers’ interest by conducting campaigns to increase flu vaccination” based on estimates that are “statistically biased”, including by “arbitrarily linking flu with pneumonia”.

…there are otherwise significant limitations of the CDC’s models that potentially result in spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.

More “Limitations” of the CDC’s Models

While the media present the CDC’s numbers as though uncontroversial, there is in fact “substantial controversy” surrounding flu death estimates, as a 2005 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology noted. One problem is that the CDC’s models use virus surveillance data that “have not been made available in the public domain”, which means that its results or not reproducible. (As the journal Cell reminds, “the reproducibility of science” is “a lynch pin of credibility”.) And there are otherwise “significant limitations” of the CDC’s models that potentially result in “spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.”

To illustrate, when Peter Doshi requested access to virus circulation data, the CDC refused to allow it unless he granted the CDC co-authorship of the study he was undertaking—which Doshi appropriately refused.

While the number of confirmed H1N1-related child deaths was 371, the CDC’s claimed number was 1,271 or more.

In the New York Review of Books, Helen Epstein has pointed out how the CDC’s dire warnings about the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu” never came to pass, as well as how “some experts maintain that the CDC’s estimates studies overestimate influenza mortality, particularly among children.” While the number of confirmed H1N1-related child deaths was 371, the CDC’s claimed number was 1,271 or more. To arrive at its number, the CDC used a multiplier based on certain assumptions. One assumption is that some cases are missed either because lab confirmation wasn’t sought or because the children weren’t in a hospital when they died and so weren’t tested. Another is that a certain percentage of test results will be false negatives.

However, Epstein pointed out, “according to CDC guidelines at the time”, any child hospitalized with severe influenza symptoms should have been tested for H1N1. Furthermore, “deaths in children from infectious diseases are rare in the US, and even those who didn’t die in hospitals would almost certainly have been autopsied (and tested for H1N1)…. Also, the test is accurate and would have missed few cases. Because it’s unlikely that large numbers of actual cases of US child deaths from H1N1 were missed, the lab-confirmed count (371) is probably much closer to the modeled numbers … which are in any case impossible to verify.”

As already indicated, another assumption the CDC makes is that excess mortality in winter is mostly attributable to influenza. A 2009 Slate article described this as among a number of “potential glitches” that make the CDC’s reported flu deaths the “‘least bad’ estimate”. Referring to earlier methods that associated flu deaths with wintertime deaths from all causes, the article observed that this risked blaming influenza for deaths from car accidents caused by icy roads. And while the updated method presented in the 2003 CDC study excluded such causes of death implausibly linked to flu, related problems remain.

As the aforementioned American Journal of Epidemiology study noted, the updated method “reduces, but does not eliminate, the potential for spurious correlation and spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.” Furthermore, “Methods based on seasonal pattern begin from the assumption that influenza is the major source of excess winter death.” The CDC’s models therefore still “are in danger of being confounded by other seasonal factors.” The authors also stated that they could not conclude from their own study “that influenza is a more important cause of winter mortality on an annual timescale than is cold weather.”

Once the CDC has its estimated hospitalization rate, it then multiplies that number by the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations to arrive at its estimated mortality rate. Thus, any overestimation of the hospitalization rate is also compounded into its estimated death rate.

As a 2002 BMJ study stated, “Cold weather alone causes striking short term increases in mortality, mainly from thrombotic and respiratory disease. Non-thermal seasonal factors such as diet may also affect mortality.” (Emphasis added.) The study estimated that of annual excess winter deaths, only “2.4% were due to influenza either directly or indirectly.” It concluded that, “With influenza causing such a small proportion of excess winter deaths, measures to reduce cold stress offer the greatest opportunities to reduce current levels of winter mortality.”

CDC researchers themselves acknowledge that their models are “subject to some limitations.” In a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, CDC researchers admitted that “simply counting deaths for which influenza has been coded as the underlying cause on death certificates can lead to both over- and underestimates of the magnitude of influenza-associated mortality.” (Emphasis added.) Yet they offered no comment on how, then, their models account for the likelihood that many reported cases of “flu” had nothing whatsoever to do with the influenza virus. Evidently, this is because they don’t, as indicated by the CDC’s treatment of all influenza deaths plus pneumonia deaths as a “lower bound”.

For another illustration, since it takes two or three years before the data is available to be able to estimate flu hospitalizations and deaths by the usual means, the CDC has also developed a method to make preliminary estimates for a given year by “adjusting” the numbers of reported lab-confirmed cases from selected surveillance areas around the country. The “80,000” figure claimed for last season’s flu deaths is just such an estimate. The way the CDC “adjusts” the numbers is by multiplying the number of lab-confirmed cases by a certain amount, ostensibly “to correct for underreporting”. To determine the multiplier, the CDC makes a number of assumptions to estimate (a) the likelihood that a person hospitalized for any respiratory illnesswould be tested for influenza and (b) the likelihood that a person with influenza would test positive.

Caveats such as that, however, are not communicated to the general public by the CDC in its press releases or by the mainstream media so that people can make a truly informed choice about whether it’s worth the risk to get a flu shot.

Once the CDC has its estimated hospitalization rate, it then multiplies that number by the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations to arrive at its estimated mortality rate. Thus, any overestimation of the hospitalization rate is also compounded into its estimated death rate.

One obvious problem with this is the underlying assumption that the percentage of people who (a) are hospitalized for respiratory illness and have the flu is the same as (b) the percentage of those who are hospitalized for respiratory illness, are actually tested, and test positive. This implies that doctors are not more likely to seek lab confirmation for people who actually have influenza than they are for people whose respiratory symptoms are due to some other cause.

Assuming that doctors can do better than a pair of rolled dice at picking out patients with influenza, it further implies that doctors are no more likely to order a lab test for patients whom they suspect of having the flu than they are to order a lab test for patients whose respiratory symptoms they think are caused by something else.

The CDC’s assumption thus introduces a selection bias into its model that further calls into question the plausibility of its conclusions, as it is bound to result in overestimation. In a 2015 study published in PLoS One that detailed this method, CDC researchers acknowledged that, “If physicians were more likely to recognize influenza patients clinically and select those patients for testing, we may have over-estimated the magnitude of under-detection.” And that, of course, would result in an overestimation of both hospitalizations and deaths associated with influenza.

Caveats such as that, however, are not communicated to the general public by the CDC in its press releases or by the mainstream media so that people can make a truly informed choice about whether it’s worth the risk to get a flu shot.

Conclusion

In summary, to avoid underestimating influenza-associated hospitalizations and deaths, the CDC relies on models that instead appear to greatly overestimate the numbers due to the fallacious assumptions built into them. These numbers are then mispresented to the public by both public health officials and the mainstream media as though uncontroversial and representative of known cases of influenza-caused illnesses and deaths from surveillance data. Consequently, the public is grossly misinformed about the societal disease burden from influenza and the ostensible benefit of the vaccine.

It is clear that the CDC does not see its mission as being to educate the public in order to be able to make an informed choice about vaccination. After all, that would be incompatible with its view that growing health literacy is a threat to its mission and an obstacle to be overcome. On the other hand, misinformed populace aligns perfectly with the CDC’s stated goal of using fear marketing to generate more demand for the pharmaceutical industry’s influenza vaccine products.

This article is an adapted and expanded excerpt from part two of the author’s multi-part exposé on the influenza vaccine. Sign up for Jeremy’s newsletter to stay updated with his work on vaccines and receive his free downloadable report, “5 Horrifying Facts about the FDA Vaccine Approval Process”.

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Most Diabetic, Heart Disease & Alzheimer’s Deaths Categorized As “Covid” Deaths (UK)

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CE Staff Writer 10 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    According to professor of evidence based medicine at Oxford Dr. Carl Heneghan , who is also an emergency GP, most diabetic, heart disease & alzheimer's deaths were categorized as COVID deaths in the United Kingdom.

  • Reflect On:

    How many deaths have actually been a result of COVID? Why is this pandemic surrounded with so much controversy? Why does mainstream media fail at having appropriate conversations about 'controversial' evidence/opinions?

Before you begin...

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 Dr. Carl Heneghan has an interesting view on the pandemic, not only is he a professor of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, he also works Saturday shifts as an emergency GP. This allows him to see healthcare from both the academic perspective as well as the healthcare experience, more specifically, it allows him to see COVID from both perspectives.

What Happened: In a recent article he wrote for The Spectator, he writes the following,

It’s hard to imagine, let alone measures, the side effects of lockdowns. The risk with the government’s ‘fear’ messaging is that people become so worried about burdening the NHS that they avoid seeking medical help. Or by the time they do so, it can be too late. The big rise in at-home deaths (still ongoing) points to that. You will be familiar with the Covid death toll, updated in the papers every day. But did you know that since the pandemic, we’ve had 28,200 more deaths among diabetics that we’d normally expect? That’s not the kind of figure they show on a graph at No. 10 press conference. For people with heart disease, it’s 17,100. For dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s 22,800. Most were categorised as Covid deaths: people can die with multiple conditions, so they can fall into more than one of these categories. It’s a complicated picture. But that’s the problem in assessing lockdown. you need to do a balance of risks.

Evidence-based medicine might sound like a tautology — what kind of medicine isn’t based on evidence? I’m afraid that you’d be surprised. Massive decisions are often taken on misleading, low-quality evidence. We see this all the time. In the last pandemic, the swine flu outbreak of 2009, I did some work asking why the government spent £500 million on Tamiflu: then hailed as a wonder drug. In fact, it proved to have a very limited effect. The debate then had many of the same cast of characters as today: Jonathan Van-Tam, Neil Ferguson and others. The big difference this time is the influence of social media, whose viciousness is something to behold. It’s easy to see why academics would self-censor and stay away from the debate, especially if it means challenging a consensus.

This is something that’s been a concern since the beginning of the pandemic. For example, a report published during the first wave in the British Medical Journal  titled Covid-19: “Staggering number” of extra deaths in community is not explained by covid-19″ has suggested that quarantine measures in the United Kingdom, as a result of the new coronavirus, may have already killed more UK seniors than the coronavirus has during the months of April and May.

According to the data, COVID-19, at the time of publication, only accounted for 10,000 of the 30,000 excess deaths that have been recorded in senior care facilities during the height of the pandemic. The article quotes British Health officials stating that these unexplained deaths may have occurred because quarantine measures have prevented seniors from accessing the health care that they need.

Fast forward to more recent research regarding lockdowns, and these concerns have grown. Professor Anna-Mia Ekström and Professor Stefan Swartling Peterson have gone through the data from UNICEF and UNAIDS, and came to the conclusion that at least as many people have died as a result of the restrictions to fight COVID as have died of COVID. You can read more about that here.

These are just a few of many examples. You can read more about the hypothesized “catastrophic” impacts of lockdown, here.

When it comes to what he mentions about academics shying away from debate, especially if their research goes against the grain, we’ve a seen a lot of that too. Here’s a great example you can read about from Sweden regarding zero deaths of school children during the first wave despite no masks mandates or lockdown measures. Jonas F Ludvigsson, a paediatrician at Örebro University Hospital and professor of clinical epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute is quitting his work on COVID-19 because of harassment from people who dislike what he has discovered.

Why This Is Important: Heneghan’s words are something that many people have been concerned about when it comes to the deaths that are attributed to COVID-19. How many of them are actually a result of COVID? The truth seems to be that we don’t really know. But one thing we do know is that total death toll caused by COVID doesn’t seem to be quite accurate.

That being said, we do know that people with comorbidities are more susceptible to illness and death from COVID, and that’s something to keep in mind. For people with underlying health conditions, covid, just like flu or pneumonia, can be fatal.

Ontario (Canada) Public Health has a page on their website titled “How Ontario is responding to COVID-19.” On it, they clearly state that deaths are being marked as COVID deaths and are being included in the COVID death count regardless of whether or not COVID actually contributed to or caused the death. They state the following:

Any case marked as “Fatal” is included in the deaths data. Deaths are included whether or not COVID-19 was determined to be a contributing or underlying cause of death…”

This statement from Ontario Public Health echoes statements made multiple times by Canadian public health agencies and personnel. According to Ontario Ministry Health Senior Communications Advisor Anna Miller:

As a result of how data is recorded by health units into public health information databases, the ministry is not able to accurately separate how many people died directly because of COVID versus those who died with a COVID infection.

In late June 2020, Toronto (Ontario, Canada) Public Health tweeted that:

“Individuals who have died with COVID-19, but not as a result of COVID-19 are included in the case counts for COVID-19 deaths in Toronto.”

It’s not just in Canada where we’ve seen these types of statements being made, it’s all over the world. There are multiple examples from the United States that we’ve covered since the start of the pandemic.

For example, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health stated the following during the first wave of the pandemic:

If you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live and then you were also found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death, despite if you died of a clear alternative cause it’s still listed as a COVID death. So, everyone who is listed as a COVID death that doesn’t mean that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of death.

Also during the first wave, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had to announce a change to how it tallies coronavirus deaths due to complaints that it inflated the numbers.

As you can see, we’ve struggled to find an accurate way to go about tallying COVID deaths since the start, creating more fear and hysteria around total numbers that are plastered constantly in front of citizens by news stations. That being said, a lot of people who are dying of COVID do have co-morbidities as well. But as the professor says, “it’s a complicated picture” and hard to figure out, and probably something we will never figure out.

There’s been a lot of “fear mongering” by governments and mainstream media, and some believe that lockdowns and masks are simply being used as a psychological tool to keep that fear constant, which in turn makes it easier to control people and make them comply.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of experts in the field who are pointing to the fact that yes, COVID is dangerous, but it does not at all warrant the measures that are being taken, especially when the virus has a 99.95 percent survival rate for people over the age of 70. There are better ways to protect the vulnerable without creating even more chaos that lockdown measures have created, and are creating throughout this pandemic.

That said, it’s also important to note that some calls for lockdown measures are focused on stopping hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. Why do some places with very restrictions see no hospital capacity issues? Why do some places with a lot of restrictions see hospital capacity issues? Why do we also see the opposite for both in some areas? These questions appear to be unanswered still. That being said. Hospitals have always been overwhelmed. This is not a new phenomenon.

The main issue here is not who is right or wrong, it’s the censorship of data, science, and opinions of experts in the field. The censorship that has occurred during this pandemic has been unprecedented.

Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. COVID-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science. –  Dr. Kamran Abbasi, recent executive editor of the prestigious British Medical Journal (source)

This censorship alone has been an excellent catalyst for people to question what we are constantly hearing from mainstream media, government, and political scientists. Any type of information that calls into question the recommendations or the information we are receiving from our government seems to be subjected to this type of censorship. Mainstream media has done a great job at not acknowledging many aspects of this pandemic, like clinically proven treatments other than a vaccine, and therefore the masses are completely unaware of it.

Is this what we would call ethical? When trying to explain this to a friend or family member, the fact that they are not aware of these other pieces of information, because they may be avid mainstream news watchers, has them in disbelief and perhaps even sometimes labelling such assertions as a “conspiracy theory.” This Brings me to my next point.

The Takeaway: As I’ve said in a number of articles before, society is failing to have conversations about “controversial” topics and viewpoints. This is in large part due to the fact that mainstream media does such a poor job at covering these viewpoints let alone acknowledging them. The fact that big media has such a stranglehold over the minds of many is also very concerning, because we are living in a time where independent research may be more useful. There seems to be massive conflicts of interest within mainstream media, and the fact that healthy conversation and debate is being shut down by mainstream media contributes to the fact that we can’t even have normal conversations about controversial topics in our everyday lives.

Why does this happen? Why can’t we see the perspective of another? To be honest, I still sometimes struggle with this. When it comes to COVID, things clearly aren’t as black and white as they’re being made out to be, and as I’ve said many times before when things aren’t clear, and when government mandates oppose the will of so many people, it reaches a point where they become authoritarian and overreaching.

In such circumstances I believe governments should simply be making recommendations and explaining why certain actions might be important, and then leave it to the people to decide for themselves what measures they’d like to take, if any. What do you think? One thing is for certain, COVID has been a catalyst for more and more people to question the world we live in, and why we live the way that we do.

To help make sense of what’s happening in our society today, we have released a course on overcoming bias and improving critical thinking. It’s an 8 module course and you can learn more about it here.

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Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

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Alternative News

Lebanese Hospital Becomes The World’s First To Go 100 Percent Vegan (Food)

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A hospital in Lebanon has become the first in the world to adopt a completely vegan menu.

  • Reflect On:

    Are people aware of the physical and emotional torture the majority animals we eat go through? Are people aware that a diet free of animal products can be very beneficial for human health. Are people aware that animal agriculture is destroying Earth?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

At the beginning of March, Hayek Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon became the first hospital in the world to serve 100 percent vegan only meals. Prior to this change, patients had a choice between animal based meals and vegan meals, and included with that was information about the health benefits of choosing plant-based foods versus the dangers of consuming animal products. The hospital made the announcement via their Instagram page, stating that “Our patients will no longer wake up from surgery to be greeted with ham, cheese, milk, and eggs…the very food(s) that may have contributed to their health problems in the first place.”

When the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as a group 1A carcinogenic (causes cancer) same group as tobacco and red meat as group 2A carcinogenic, then serving meat in the hospital is like serving cigarettes in a hospital. When the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) declare that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious disease comes from animals. When adopting a plant based exclusive diet has been successfully proven not only to stop the evolution of certain diseases but it can also reverse them. We then, have the moral responsibility to act upon and align our beliefs with our actions. Taking the courage to look at the elephant in in the eye.

Their various statements also point to the role that animal agriculture plays in spawning infectious diseases, citing the Centers for Disease Control’s estimate that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals. “We believe it’s well about time to tackle the root cause of diseases and pandemics, not just treat symptoms,” they note.

This was a great statement. The modern day medical industry only seems to be focused on medications, and only medications that can turn a hefty profit, to treat and cure disease instead of addressing root causes. It’s good to see things changing, but a big problem remains. If a plant that grows in abundance, for example, has the potential to cure a disease, will we ever hear about it? Will the medical industry be interested in it? Probably not, but when a drug is made and patented from that plant in a specific way, that’s when we will. This is not to say that modern day medicine is useless, but today now more than ever a big problem exists, and this problem may be killing more people than it’s helping.

Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), a Harvard professor of medicine and also a former Editor-in-Chief of NEMJ, was frustrated that “the medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” (source)

According to Forks Over Knives,

While Hayek is the first hospital to completely purge animal products from its menu, a number of hospitals have begun offering more plant-based options in recent years. Both New York and California have enacted laws requiring hospitals to offer a plant-based option with every meal. In 2018 NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue launched the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program to help patients transition to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.

The American Medical Association passed a resolution in 2017 calling on U.S. hospitals to provide healthful plant-based meals to promote better health in patients, staff, and visitors. The American College of Cardiology has issued similar recommendations.

In my opinion, “veganism is a very fine form of nutrition” (Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, heart surgeon), and as mentioned above, there is plenty of science to back up that statement.  I’ve written about it many times before from a health perspective.

Here’s an article that goes into more detail and science if you’re interested, it also addresses history, and how our teeth and guts are designed and more. Here’s another one regarding a study that found a strong association between eating animal protein and a premature death from all causes, including multiple cancers and type 2 diabetes.

The studies cited in that article note that meat eating is strongly associated with up to a 75 percent increased chance of early mortality, and that protein from animals may cause harm, while protein from plants may help reverse disease and have a protective effect.

There are hundreds of these studies, and the ones I cite are just a few examples.

This is obviously a very controversial topic in the eyes of many, and it’s not hard at all to find conflicting information on the subject. I am no doubt bias in my beliefs and opinions here.

One thing is for certain, the way we treat animals on this planet is extremely heartbreaking and unnecessary. Animals are separated from their families, raised for slaughter and are kept in torturous conditions on a daily basis. It’s truly unbelievable and horrific. It’s the biggest genocide and example of both physical and emotional torture the world has ever seen. I don’t think anybody can witness what really goes on in most slaughterhouses can come out not being impacted.

On top of this, animal agriculture is one of, if not the greatest contributer to environmental degradation and pollution on our planet. Animal agriculture is actually the leading cause of deforestation. Every single day, close to 100 plant/animal/insect species are lost because of this practice.

Final Thoughts: At the end of the day it seems that, from a health perspective, processed meats, and other meats are no doubt harmful to human health. People can make the argument that other animal products may not be and that we are meant to consume them. People can also make the complete opposite argument. One thing that can’t be argued is, again, the torture, physical and emotional abuse that comprise the source of where animal products come from for the majority of people who eat them.

There is a big split, as with many other topics, amongst people on this issue. There are even vegan influencers who are creating splits within the ‘vegan community’ itself, which is unfortunate. I personally believe that, from a health perspective, animal products are not at all required for anybody and are again, overall, harmful to human health.

The more pressing issue, again, is the treatment of our animal brothers and sisters, and how we are constantly using and abusing them. It’s indicative of world that lacks empathy, compassion, understanding and love, as well as our inability to see ourselves in another. This can be seen in many aspects of the current human experience, be it war, human trafficking and more. That being said, it’s great to see human consciousness shifting towards a more compassionate, empathetic type of awareness. This is evident by the “vegan” movement alone, as it’s become quite large over the past few years and will continue to grow. Some of the biggest animal food producers have already gone out of business, and it’s great to see more people in the health community as well recognize that it’s a win for health, a win for environment, and most importantly, a win for the very emotional, intelligent, animals, who are similar to us in so many ways. We have so much to learn from them.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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Awareness

Caloric Restriction vs. Fasting: Why One Can Result In Weight Gain While The Other Helps Burn Fat

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CE Staff Writer 3 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In the video below, Dr. Jason Fung explains the difference between caloric restriction and sending the body into "starvation" mode compared to fasting.

  • Reflect On:

    Fasting has been used as a health intervention for thousands of years, and is being used today by doctors who are educated on the topic. Why is it completely ignored by mainstream medicine? Is it because "big pharma" can't make any money off of it?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Some would say that the best solution to weight gain is eating right and exercising. I couldn’t agree more. Obesity is one of the deadliest problems humanity faces today, and just as important as diet and exercise is for addressing this issue, even more important are the emotional and personal reasons as to why so many people damage themselves and make themselves more prone to serious disease.

Apart from diet and exercise, initiating a proper fasting regimen can have tremendous health outcomes, especially for overweight people. It wasn’t but a decade ago when fasting to lose weight was considered unhealthy and dangerous. Today, we have a tremendous amount of science that’s been published clearly showing that fasting can be an effective health intervention for people of all body types, especially for people who are overweight and suffer from certain diseases. It’s an excellent way to help your body burn fat. Fasting has been used and is currently being used as an intervention for type two diabetes, cancer and more. Fasting has been shown to trigger stem cell regeneration, autophagy, which in turn can help clear out toxins and damaged cells, repair DNA, improve metabolism, lower blood sugar, boost brain function, reduce the risk of age related disease, lessen inflammation which improves a wide range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma and more. It’s no wonder why so many ancient cultures from different parts of the world used fasting as medicine and as a health intervention.

As shown in the science, fasting is generally safe for everybody. This many not be true if you already have underlying health conditions or are taking certain medications. This is why it’s important to consult a health professional about it, but the issue is, the majority of health professionals are not well educated in fasting interventions. Those who have educated themselves have been treating their patients with fasting and are drawn to it due to its ability to provide so many benefits.

One of these doctors is Dr. Jason Fung, who on his blog and his YouTube channel, as well as the books he’s written provides a wealth of information and science regarding fasting. I often refer people to the work of Fung, or others like Dr. Valter Longo if they want to begin their own research about fasting. Again, there is a wealth of science and “scholarly” articles available on the subject for anybody who wants to search for it as well. It’s not heard to find.

In the video below, Fung explains why fasting is much different from caloric restriction or having your body go into “starvation mode.”  You can also check out his article, “The difference between calorie restriction and fasting” for some great information as well.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

Continue Reading
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