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Multiple Stanford Medical Professors Question If COVID-19 Is Really “As Deadly As They Say”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Three Stanford professors of medicine has chimed in on the current coronavirus crises and share their expert opinion that extraordinary claims require extraordinary data.

  • Reflect On:

    Is what is happening around the world really necessary? Why aren't the same measures taken for diseases or viruses that may have a large infection/fatality rate that have been in existence for years? Is it better to be safe than sorry in this case?

Right now, tensions are high as several countries enforce strict lockdown measures, closing all non-essential businesses and encouraging or mandating that people stay in their homes unless they need to step out for something essential, like food. According to the the numbers coming daily from the media, the death rate from COVID-19 is quite high, having recently passed the 4% mark. Given the infection rate and how fast it’s spreading, it’s not surprising that many people are concerned, and lockdown measures are being enforced.

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But what are the experts saying? Well, opinions seem to differ. And as this outbreak continues, some interesting points are being made. One of the latest comes from Dr. Eran Bendavid and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, two professors of medicine at Stanford University who recently published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Is the coronavirus as deadly as they say?”

They make it quite clear that if the projections being given by the World Health Organization are correct, then “the extraordinary measures being carried out in cities and states around the country are surely justified.” But they also make the point that “there’s little evidence to confirm that premise – and projections of the death toll could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high.”

“Fear of Covid-19 is based on its high estimated case fatality rate – 2% to %4 of people with confirmed Covid-19 have died, according to the World Health Organization and others. So if 100 million Americans ultimately get the disease, two million to four million could die. We believe that estimate is deeply flawed. The true fatality rate is the portion of those infected who die, not the deaths from identified positive cases.”–Dr. Eran Bendavid and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya

Insufficient Data

The means that right now we don’t have enough data to make a fatality rate claim. The number of infected people has to be larger than the current denominator of the fatality rate (number of confirmed cases), especially given that some people with the disease are asymptomatic. And if the number of infections is larger than the number of cases, and it could be a lot larger, then “the true fatality rate is much lower as well. That’s not only plausible but likely based on what we know so far.” The professors go on to provide examples for their claims:

Population samples from China, Italy, Iceland and the U.S. provide relevant evidence. On or around Jan. 31, countries sent planes to evacuate citizens from Wuhan, China. When those planes landed, the passengers were tested for Covid-19 and quarantined. After 14 days, the percentage who tested positive was 0.9%. If this was the prevalence in the greater Wuhan area on Jan. 31, then, with a population of about 20 million, greater Wuhan had 178,000 infections, about 30-fold more than the number of reported cases. The fatality rate, then, would be at least 10-fold lower than estimates based on reported cases.

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Next, the northeastern Italian town of Vò, near the provincial capital of Padua. On March 6, all 3,300 people of Vò were tested, and 90 were positive, a prevalence of 2.7%. Applying that prevalence to the whole province (population 955,000), which had 198 reported cases, suggests there were actually 26,000 infections at that time. That’s more than 130-fold the number of actual reported cases. Since Italy’s case fatality rate of 8% is estimated using the confirmed cases, the real fatality rate could in fact be closer to 0.06%.

Experts who are making these claims may be attacked, but it’s important to note that this does not mean they are saying Covid-19 is not an issue. Obviously, what’s happening all around the world, especially in Italy, with regards to overwhelmed health systems and more, is quite an eye opener. It highlights how our healthcare systems are not designed to respond to such a crisis. I believe this is because they are predominately based on a for-profit model. If instead they were based on a for-health model, this type of crisis would have been better prepared for and measures would already be in place to tackle such issues.

Proper Forecasts Are Of Critical Importance

Despite the seriousness of the issue, the professors make the point that “a 20,000- or 40,000-death epidemic is a far less severe problem than one that kills two million. Given the enormous consequences of decisions around Covid-19 response, getting clear data to guide decisions now is critical. We don’t know the true infection rate in the United States. Antibody testing of representative samples to measure disease prevalence (including in those who have recovered) is crucial. Nearly every day a new lab gets approval for antibody testing, so population testing using this technology is now feasible.”

If we’re right about the limited scale of the epidemic, then measures focused on older populations and hospitals are sensible. Elective procedures will need to be rescheduled. Hospital resources will need to be reallocated to care for critically ill patients. Triage will need to improve. And policy makers will need to focus on reducing risks for older adults and people with underlying medical conditions.

A universal quarantine may not be worth the costs it imposes on the economy, community and individual mental and physical health. We should undertake immediate steps to evaluate the empirical basis of the current lockdowns.

Another Stanford Professor Causes A Stir

John P. A. Ioannidis, a professor of medicine and epidemiology, recently published an article entitled “A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data. In the article, he also argues that there is simply not enough data to make claims about reported case fatality rate.

He states that rates, “like the official 3.4% rate from the World Health Organization, cause horror — and are meaningless. Patients who have been tested for SARS-CoV-2 are disproportionately those with severe symptoms and bad outcomes. As most health systems have limited testing capacity, selection bias may even worsen in the near future.”

He states that the real death rate of this virus could be five or more times lower, at 0.025 percent to 0.625 percent.

In the most pessimistic scenario, which I do not espouse, if the new coronavirus infects 60% of the global population and 1% of the infected people die, that will translate into more than 40 million deaths globally, matching the 1918 influenza pandemic.

The vast majority of this hecatomb would be people with limited life expectancies. That’s in contrast to 1918, when many young people died.

One can only hope that, much like in 1918, life will continue. Conversely, with lockdowns of months, if not years, life largely stops, short-term and long-term consequences are entirely unknown, and billions, not just millions, of lives may be eventually at stake.

Ioannidis also recently published an article in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation titled “Coronavirus disease 2019: the harms of exaggerated information and non-evidence-based measures.” In it, he also provides evidence and figures for the fact that existing coronaviruses already infect tens of millions of people worldwide every single year, and that some of them may have a higher infection rate and mortality rate in the elderly than what we are seeing happening now. You can access a version of the full paper here.

But, Better Safe Than Sorry?

With limited data, we don’t really know. What if things turn out really bad, and this pandemic is indeed as bad as some are making it out to be? Would we not be relieved that such measures have been taken? I for sure would be glad, and with such a pandemic, better safe than sorry always seems to be the right choice, no matter what the cost. That being said, what about the consequences of what we are doing, how many lives these lockdowns have and will disrupt? What about people and their ability to provide for their family, or even go outside and socialize? The thought that there are already existing diseases and viruses that may pose a greater threat really gets me thinking.

Futhermore, there are some more controversial opinions out there that are being flagged as false news, despite the fact that they’re only opinions. Why are fact-checkers flagging opinions of people as false news? One of the latest examples I recently wrote about comes from Dr. Ron Paul, physician and long time politician, who stated the following:

People should ask themselves whether this coronavirus “pandemic” could be a big hoax, with the actual danger of the disease massively exaggerated by those who seek to profit – financially or politically – from the ensuing panic.

That is not to say the disease is harmless. Without question people will die from coronavirus. Those in vulnerable categories should take precautions to limit their risk of exposure. But we have seen this movie before. Government over-hypes a threat as an excuse to grab more of our freedoms. When the “threat” is over, however, they never give us our freedoms back. (source)

In today’s day and age when we are so misled by our governments and health-regulatory agencies, it’s only natural for more and more people to start asking these questions. It really gets interesting when experts in the field, like the three Stanford medical professors cited in this article, start to express the same type of sentiments, that this outbreak is likely not nearly as bad as it’s being made out to be.

Treatment?

For anyone looking for a high-quality vitamin C, we have been using and recommending liposomal vitamin C. There are many brands out there. We are using this one from PuraThrive as it is very high quality and has an incredible clinically proven absorption rate.

Researchers at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University have launched a clinical trial with 140 patients in February to test whether ultrahigh doses of vitamin C, delivered intravenously, could treat the viral infection more effectively than a placebo. The test group will receive infusions twice a day for seven days, with each infusion containing 12g of vitamin C. (The daily recommendation for an adult man is only 90mg.) The trial will be completed in September, and no results are yet available, according to ClinicalTrials.gov.

 Dr. Richard Cheng, MD, has been updating everyone via his YouTube channel about vitamin C treatment cases out of China. We have been covering his updates as he is in direct contact with this treatment and isn’t simply an armchair scientist at the moment. We feel at this time this is a very important detail as he is seeing and hearing results first hand, not simply theoretically. Dr. Cheng is a US board-certified anti-aging specialist. He claims that vitamin C is now in the Shanghai Government treatment plan.

Dr. Cheng was paramount in bringing high-dose vitamin C to the table as part of potential treatment and prevention measures. Unfortunately in the West, this option is still being denied by much of mainstream media and governments are not talking about it. Instead, it’s fear and chaos which we do not feel helps anyone to stay healthy or get better.

According to Cheng, 50 moderate to severe cases of Covid-19 infection were treated with high-dose IVC. Dosing of IVC ranged from 10,000 – 20,000 mg a day for 7-10 days, with 10,000 mg for moderate cases and 20,000 for more severe cases. The first bit of good news was that all patients who received IVC improved and there has been no mortality. Secondly, as compared to the average of a 30-day hospital stay for all Covid-19 patients, those patients who received high dose IVC had a hospital stay of about 3-5 days shorter than the other patients.

In one particularly severe case where the patient was deteriorating rapidly, an extra dose of 50,000 mg IVC was given over a period of 4 hours and it caused the patient’s pulmonary (oxygenation index) status to stabilize and improve as the critical care team observed in real time. You can watch all of the updates from Cheng via his Youtube Channel.

New York hospitals are now using vitamin C treatment with success as well. (source)

 

The Takeaway

I can see both sides of the coin, and at this point it’s hard to know what to believe. At the end of the day, lives are being impacted in a great way from lockdown measures, and that’s not to say that lives aren’t being affected by COVID-19. If you are experiencing fear and anxiety, it’s a great time to reflect on your life, and perhaps try to maintain a calm state within yourself despite the chaos happening outside of yourself. This is easier said than done.

Furthermore, it’s a great time to reflect and be grateful for your health, because you never know when it can be taken away from you. We take so much for granted here on planet Earth, and a crisis like this always serves up multiple lessons for the human race to learn from.

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Opinion

John Whitehead: The Attack on Civil Liberties in the Age of COVID-19

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You can always count on the government to take advantage of a crisis, legitimate or manufactured.

This coronavirus pandemic is no exception.

Not only are the federal and state governments unraveling the constitutional fabric of the nation with lockdown mandates that are sending the economy into a tailspin and wreaking havoc with our liberties, but they are also rendering the citizenry fully dependent on the government for financial handouts, medical intervention, protection and sustenance.

Unless we find some way to rein in the government’s power grabs, the fall-out will be epic.

Everything I have warned about for years—government overreach, invasive surveillance, martial law, abuse of powers, militarized police, weaponized technology used to track and control the citizenry, and so on—has coalesced into this present moment.

The government’s shameless exploitation of past national emergencies for its own nefarious purposes pales in comparison to what is presently unfolding.

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Deploying the same strategy it used with 9/11 to acquire greater powers under the USA Patriot Act, the police state—a.k.a. the shadow government, a.k.a. the Deep State—has been anticipating this moment for years, quietly assembling a wish list of lockdown powers that could be trotted out and approved at a moment’s notice.

It should surprise no one, then, that the Trump Administration has asked Congress to allow it to suspend parts of the Constitution whenever it deems it necessary during this coronavirus pandemic and “other” emergencies.

It’s that “other” emergencies part that should particularly give you pause, if not spur you to immediate action (by action, I mean a loud and vocal, apolitical, nonpartisan outcry and sustained, apolitical, nonpartisan resistance).

In fact, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been quietly trotting out and testing a long laundry list of terrifying powers that override the Constitution.

We’re talking about lockdown powers (at both the federal and state level): the ability to suspend the Constitution, indefinitely detain American citizens, bypass the courts, quarantine whole communities or segments of the population, override the First Amendment by outlawing religious gatherings and assemblies of more than a few people, shut down entire industries and manipulate the economy, muzzle dissidents, “stop and seize any plane, train or automobile to stymie the spread of contagious disease,” reshape financial markets, create a digital currency (and thus further restrict the use of cash), determine who should live or die…

You’re getting the picture now, right?

These are powers the police state would desperately like to make permanent.

Bear in mind, however, that these powers the Trump Administration, acting on orders from the police state, are officially asking Congress to recognize and authorize barely scratch the surface of the far-reaching powers the government has already unilaterally claimed for itself.

Unofficially, the police state has been riding roughshod over the rule of law for years now without any pretense of being reined in or restricted in its power grabs by Congress, the courts or the citizenry.

This current pandemic is a test to see whether the Constitution—and our commitment to the principles enshrined in the Bill of Rights—can survive a national crisis and true state of emergency.

Here’s what we know: whatever the so-called threat to the nation—whether it’s civil unrest, school shootings, alleged acts of terrorism, or the threat of a global pandemic in the case of COVID-19—the government has a tendency to capitalize on the nation’s heightened emotions, confusion and fear as a means of extending the reach of the police state.

This coronavirus epidemic, which has brought China’s Orwellian surveillance out of the shadows and caused Italy to declare a nationwide lockdown threatens to bring the American Police State out into the open on a scale we’ve not seen before.

Every day brings a drastic new set of restrictions by government bodies (most have been delivered by way of executive orders) at the local, state and federal level that are eager to flex their muscles for the so-called “good” of the populace.

This is where we run the risk of this whole fly-by-night operation going completely off the rails.

It’s one thing to attempt an experiment in social distancing in order to flatten the curve of this virus because we can’t afford to risk overwhelming the hospitals and exposing the most vulnerable in the nation to unavoidable loss of life scenarios. However, there’s a fine line between strongly worded suggestions for citizens to voluntarily stay at home and strong-armed house arrest orders with penalties in place for non-compliance.

More than three-quarters of all Americans have now been ordered to stay at home and that number is growing as more states fall in line.

Schools have canceled physical classes, many for the remainder of the academic year.

Many of the states have banned gatherings of more than 10 people.

At least three states (Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania) have ordered non-essential businesses to close.

In Washington, DC, residents face 90 days in jail and a $5,000 fine if they leave their homes during the coronavirus outbreak. Residents of Maryland, Hawaii and Washington state also risk severe penalties of up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine for violating the stay-at-home orders. Violators in Alaska could face jail time and up to $25,000 in fines.

Kentucky residents are prohibited from traveling outside the state, with a few exceptions.

New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., is offering its Rikers Island prisoners $6 an hour to help dig mass graves.

In San Francisco, cannabis dispensaries were included among the essential businesses allowed to keep operating during the city-wide lockdown.

New Jersey’s governor canceled gatherings of any number, including parties, weddings and religious ceremonies, and warned the restrictions could continue for weeks or months. One city actually threatened to prosecute residents who spread false information about the virus.

Oregon banned all nonessential social and recreational gatherings, regardless of size.

Rhode Island has given police the go-ahead to pull over anyone with New York license plates to record their contact information and order them to self-quarantine for 14 days.

South Carolina’s police have been empowered to break up any public gatherings of more than three people.

Of course, there are exceptions to all of these stay-at-home orders (in more than 30 states and counting), the longest of which runs until June 10. Essential workers (doctors, firefighters, police and grocery store workers) can go to work. Everyone else will have to fit themselves into a variety of exceptions in order to leave their homes: for grocery runs, doctor visits, to get exercise, to visit a family member, etc.

Throughout the country, more than 14,000 “Citizen-Soldiers” of the National Guard have been mobilized to support the states and the federal government in their fight against the coronavirus.

Thus far, we have not breached the Constitution’s crisis point: martial law has yet to be overtly imposed (although an argument could be made to the contrary given the militarized nature of the American police state).

It’s just a matter of time before all hell breaks loose.

If this is not the defining point at which we cross over into all-out totalitarianism, then it is at a minimum a test to see how easily we will surrender.

Generally, the government has to show a compelling state interest before it can override certain critical rights such as free speech, assembly, press, search and seizure, etc. Most of the time, it lacks that compelling state interest, but it still manages to violate those rights, setting itself up for legal battles further down the road.

These lockdown measures—on the right of the people to peaceably assemble, to travel, to engage in commerce, etc.—unquestionably restrict fundamental constitutional rights, which might pass muster for a short period of time, but can it be sustained for longer stretches legally?

That’s the challenge before us, of course, if these days and weeks potentially stretch into months-long quarantines.

At the moment, the government believes it has a compelling interest—albeit a temporary one—in restricting gatherings, assemblies and movement in public in order to minimize the spread of this virus.

The key point is this: while we may tolerate these restrictions on our liberties in the short term, we should never fail to be on guard lest these one-time constraints become a slippery slope to a total lockdown mindset.

 

What we must guard against, more than ever before, is the tendency to become so accustomed to our prison walls—these lockdowns, authoritarian dictates, and police state tactics justified as necessary for national security—that we allow the government to keep having its way in all things, without any civic resistance or objections being raised.

Most of all, don’t be naïve: the government will use this crisis to expand its powers far beyond the reach of the Constitution.

That’s how it starts.

Travel too far down that slippery slope, and there will be no turning back.

As I make clear in my book “Battlefield America: The War on the American People,” if you wait to speak out—stand up—and resist until the government’s lockdowns impact your freedoms personally, it could be too late.

Just because we’re fighting an unseen enemy in the form of a virus doesn’t mean we have to relinquish every shred of our humanity, our common sense, or our freedoms to a nanny state that thinks it can do a better job of keeping us safe.

Whatever we give up willingly now—whether it’s basic human decency, the ability to manage our private affairs, the right to have a say in how the government navigates this crisis, or the few rights still left to us that haven’t been disemboweled in recent years by a power-hungry police state—we won’t get back so easily once this crisis is past.

The government never cedes power willingly.

Neither should we.

Feature Photo | A member of the Maryland National Guard in a Humvee outside a COVID-19 testing facility in a parking lot of FedEx Field, March 30, 2020, in Landover, Md. Andrew Harnik | AP

John W. Whitehead is a constitutional attorney, author and founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His book “Battlefield America: The War on the American People” is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

This article was originally written at and published by MintPressNews.com, posted here with permission.

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The Seeds Of Suicide: How Monsanto Destroys Farming

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“As part of the process, they portrayed the various concerns as merely the ignorant opinions of misinformed individuals – and derided them as not only unscientific, but anti-science. They then set to work to convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that GMOs were safe.” – Jane Goodall, in the forward about the book mentioned below.

In 1996, Steven M. Druker did something very few Americans were doing then — learn the facts about the massive venture to restructure the genetic core of the world’s food supply. The problem of unawareness still exists today, but it’s getting much better thanks to activists like Druker.

Druker, being a public interest attorney and the Executive Director of the Alliance For Bio-Integrity, initiated a lawsuit in 1998 that forced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to divulge its files on genetically engineered foods.

He’s recently published a book on the lawsuit (2015). In the book, Druker provides details of his experience, and he’s also released the documents on his website showing the significant hazards of genetically engineering foods and the flaws that the FDA made in its policy.

It’s called Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public.

The book has some very impressive reviews. For example, David Schubert, Ph.D., molecular biologist and Head of Cellular Neurobiology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies said that this “incisive and insightful book is truly outstanding. Not only is it well-reasoned and scientifically solid, it’s a pleasure to read – and a must-read.”

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You can click on the link to read more info. Apart from efforts like this from Druker, there is a wealth of science that has also emerged detailing various concerns. This science, both health and environmental, has been cited by more than 35 countries that have now completely banned the growing and import of GMO crops. Many also have severe restrictions on them, as well as the pesticides that go with them. There are also concerning Wikileaks documents pertaining to GMOs…

The Seeds Of Suicide: How Monsanto Destroys Farming

Below is an article written by Dr. Vandana Shiva,   trained as a Physicist at the University of Punjab, and completed her Ph.D. on the ‘Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory’ from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She later shifted to inter-disciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India. In 1982, she founded an independent institute – the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun – dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, working in close partnership with local communities and social movements. In 1991 she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – especially native seed – and to promote organic farming and fair trade. For last two decades, Navdanya has worked with local communities and organisations, serving more than 500,000 men and women farmers. 

You can learn more about her, and what she is doing by visiting her website HERE.

Article, as posted by multiple research outlets. The original source of this article was The original source of this article is Asian Age and Global Research, it also appeared on Aljazeera

The general gist of the article is about Monsanto putting vast amounts of articles to debunk all of the suicides that have been committed by farmers in India, due to the company’s control over the cotton seed supply. It goes into the idea that, when a corporation controls seed, it controls life, including the life of farmers worldwide. It was written and published in 2013. 

Monsanto and its PR men are trying desperately to delink the epidemic of farmers suicides in India from its growing control over the cotton seed supply. For us it is the control over seed, the first link in the food chain, the source of life which is our biggest concern. When a corporation controls seed, it controls life. Including the life of our farmers.

The trends of Monsanto’s concentrated control on the seed sector in India or across the world is the central issue. This is what connects the farmer suicides in India, to Monsanto v Percy Schmeiser in Canada, or Monsanto v Bowman in the US, to farmers in Brazil suing Monsanto for $2.2 billion for unfair collection of royalty. Through patents on seeds, Monsanto has become the “Life Lord” on the planet, collecting rents from life’s renewal and from farmers, the original breeders. Patents on seed are illegitimate because putting a toxic gene into a plant cell is not the “creation” or invention of the plant. They are seeds of deception – the deception of Monsanto being the creator of seeds and life, the deception that while it sues farmers and traps them in debt, it is working for farmers’ welfare and “improving farmers lives” – the deception that GMOs feed the world. GMOs are failing to control pests and weeds, and have instead led to the emergence of super pests and super weeds [PDF].

In 1995 , Monsanto introduced its Bt technology in India through a joint venture with the Indian company Mahyco.

In 1997-98, Monsanto started open field trials of its propriety GMO Bt cotton illegally, and had announced it would be selling the seeds commercially the following year.

India has had rules for regulating GMOs since 1989 under the Environment Protection Act. Under these rules, it is mandatory to get approval from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee under the Ministry of Environment for GMO trials.

When we found out that Monsanto had not applied for approval, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology sued Monsanto in the Supreme Court of India. As a result, Monsanto could not start commercial sales of its Bt cotton seeds until 2002. But it had started to change Indian agriculture before that.

‘Seeds of suicide’

The entry of Monsanto in the Indian seed sector was made possible with a 1988 Seed Policy imposed by the World Bank, requiring the government of India to deregulate the seed sector.

Five things changed with Monsanto’s entry. First, Indian companies were locked into joint ventures and licensing arrangements, and concentration over the seed sector increased. In the case of cotton, Monsanto now controls 95 percent of the cotton seed market through its GMOs. Second, seed which had been the farmers’ common resource became the “intellectual property” of Monsanto, for which it started collecting royalties thus raising the costs of seed. Third, open-pollinated cotton seeds were displaced by hybrids, including GMO hybrids. A renewable resource became a non-renewable patented commodity. Fourth, cotton which had earlier been grown as a mixture with food crops now had to be grown as a monoculture, with higher vulnerability to pests, disease, drought and crop failure. Finally, Monsanto started to subvert India’s regulatory processes, and in fact started to use public resources to push its non-renewable hybrids and GMOs through so-called public private partnerships (PPP).

The creation of seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides, and agrarian distress.

I have always been critical of reductionism. I look at systems, and at contextual causation. It is this system that Monsanto has created of seed monopoly, crop monocultures and a context of debt, dependency and distress – which is driving the farmers’ suicide epidemic in India. This systemic control has been intensified with Bt cotton. That is why most suicides are in the cotton belt. The highest acreage of Bt cotton is Maharashtra, and this is also where the highest farm suicides are. According to P Sainath, who has covered farmer suicides extensively: “The total number of farmers who have taken their own lives in Maharashtra since 1995 is closing in on 54,000. Of these, 33,752 have occurred in nine years since 2003, at an annual average of 3,750. The figure for 1995-2002 was 20,066 at an average of 2,508.” Suicides have increased after Bt cotton was introduced. The price of seed jumped 8,000 percent; Monsanto’s royalty extraction and the high costs of purchased seed and chemicals have created a debt trap.

According to data from the Indian government, nearly 75 percent rural debt is due to purchased inputs. Farmers’ debt grows as Monsanto profits grow. It is in this systemic sense that Monsanto’s seeds are those of suicide. An internal advisory by the agricultural ministry of India in January 2012 had this to say to the cotton growing states in India: “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.”

Moreover, after the damning report of the parliamentary committee on Bt crops, the panel of technical experts appointed by the supreme court has recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of all GM food and termination of all ongoing trials of transgenic crops.

And the ultimate seeds of suicide are Monsanto’s patented Terminator Tecnology that create sterile seed. The Convention on Biological Diversity has banned its use, otherwise Monsanto would be collecting even higher profits from it.

Seed Sovereignty

“Monsanto is an agricultural company. We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more.”

“Produce more. Conserve more. Improving farmers’ lives.”

This is the announcement on Monsanto India’s website. All the pictures are of smiling prosperous farmers from the state of Maharashtra. However, we see that the reality on the ground is completely different. Farmers are in debt and in deep distress, and have become dependent on Monsanto’s seed monopoly. Most of the farmers who have committed suicide in India did so due to being trapped in debt and are in the cotton belt – which has become a suicide belt now: The highest suicides are in Maharashtra. Monsanto’s talk of “technology” tries to hide its real objectives of ownership, where genetic engineering is just a means to control seeds and the food system through patents and intellectual property rights.

A Monsanto representative admitted that they were “the patient, diagnostician, and physician all in one” in writing the patents on life sections in the TRIPS agreement of WTO. Stopping farmers from saving seeds and exercising their seed sovereignty was the objective. Monsanto has gone very far down the road of destroying biodiversity and seed sovereignty. It is now extending its patents to conventionally-bred seed – as in the case of broccoli and capsicum, or the low-gluten wheat it had pirated from India, which we challenged as a biopiracy case in the European Patent Office.

That is why we have started Fibres of Freedom in the heart of Monsanto’s Bt cotton/suicide belt in Vidharba. We have created community seed banks with indigenous seeds and helped farmers go organic. No GMO seeds, no debt, no suicides. We save and share seeds of life and freedom – diverse, open-pollinated, GMO-free, patent-free seeds.

Dr Vandana Shiva is a physicist, eco-feminist, philosopher, activist, and author of more than 20 books and 500 papers. She is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, and has campaigned for biodiversity, conservation and farmers’ rights – winning the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1993. 

Follow her on Twitter: @drvandanashiva

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Opinion

Coronavirus Deaths May Be Miscalculated

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    There's a lot of information hinting to the idea that we may not have the exact number of people who have passed away as a result of the new coronavirus correct.

  • Reflect On:

    Could infection rates be higher, and mortality rates be lower than the numbers we are seeing? Who knows, when this is all over we may have a better idea.

As the lockdown measures in multiple countries, including here in Canada, continue to become more intense, it raised many red flags for a number of scientists. For me, it also raised a red flag given what we’ve seen from global pandemics of the past, like the swine flu, which infected more than a billion and killed more than half a million around the globe. I am not comparing the new coronavirus to the flu, I’ll leave that to the scientists. According to an article recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Dr. H. Clifford Lane, and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the case fatality rate may be less than one percent, and the clinical consequences of COVID-19 may be more similar to that of a severe seasonal influenza. You can access that study and read more about it here, but at the end of the day we really don’t know yet, and with screwed numbers, we may never know for sure.

Dr. Eran Bendavid and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, two professors of medicine at Stanford University recently published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Is the coronavirus as deadly as they say?” In it, they provide reasons for why the fatality rate might be significantly lower than the projection given by the World Health Organization (WHO).

John P. A. Ioannidis, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Stanford, recently published an article entitled “A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data. In the article, he also argues that there is simply not enough data to make claims about reported case fatality rate. He states that rates, “like the official 3.4% rate from the World Health Organization, cause horror — and are meaningless.

A paper recently published in The International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents titled “SARS-CoV-2: fear versus data claims “that the problem of SARS-CoV-2 is probably being overestimated.” (source)

There is information going around the that infection rate of the new coronavirus is most likely higher than what the data we have so far has shown. That opinion is being shared quite a bit, which would ultimately drive the death rate down. But what about deaths?

An article published in Psychology Today written by Robert Bartholomew Ph.D, points out that,

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Professor Walter Ricciardi, an advisor to the Italian Health Ministry, observes that the high death rates there may reflect the way that deaths are recorded. “The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die … with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus,” he has said.  “On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 percent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 percent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity—many had two or three” (Newey, 2020). Pre-morbidity refers to having serious health issues prior to the onset of a disease.

According to another study out of Italy, 99% of Italy’s coronavirus fatalities that were examined specifically for this study were people who suffered from previous medical conditions. More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease. The study provides inside as to why their death rate may be much higher compared to other countries.

That being said, in the hardest-hit area around the city of Bergamo, some 4,500 people died of coronavirus in March, according to data analysis firm InTwig, while only 2,060 were included in the data provided by the Civil Protection Agency. (source)

An article recently published by the Financial Times points out,

In the UK, about 150,000 people die every year between January and March. To date, the vast majority of those who have died from COVID-19 in Britain have been aged 70 or older or had serious pre-existing health conditions. What is not clear is how many of those deaths would have occurred anyway if the patients had not contracted COVID-19. Speaking at a parliamentary hearing last week, Professor Neil Ferguson, director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, said it was not yet clear how many “excess deaths” caused by coronavirus there would be in the UK. However, he said the proportion of COVID-19 victims who would have died anyway could be “as many as half or two-thirds”.

It’s interesting to note in the quote above that Professor Ferguson pointed to the fact that there could be many “excess deaths” as a result of COVID-19 that have gone, and will go undocumented. But again, that being said, the number of COVID-19 victims who would have died anyway could be “as many as half or two-thirds.”

The idea that deaths may also be more than what we are getting, may also be a possibility. Again, who really knows?

This idea was also recently echoed by Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, a specialist in microbiology and one of the most cited research scientists in German history who refers to the measures being taken governments around the world as “Draconian.” You can read more about that and watch what he has to say about the new coronavirus, here.

Some influencers on social media are also raising concerns with regards to what’s happening. Candace Owens, for example, is calling into question the decline seen in pneumonia an flu deaths during the time of this pandemic. She is questioning whether or not these are cases that can be lumped into the concerns listed above, that some deaths are wrongfully being attributed to Covid19 when Covid19 is the for sure cause, despite that many who are dying may be testing positive for the virus, or one of the coronaviruses that have been circling the globe for years.

Apart from what’s discussed above, some physicians are taking to the internet to emphasize that even with the current numbers as they are, the panic and hysteria that seems to be taking place doesn’t seem to be justified. Perhaps they are wrong, perhaps they are right?

Here is a video of Dr. Wolfgang Wodargm, a well known pulmonologist sharing his thoughts on the new coronavirus. In it, he questions the current lockdown measures being taken by governments worldwide .

Dr. Martin Dubravec, an allergist-immunologist, wrote an article for the  Association of American Physicians and Surgeons published on March 29th, in it he states the following in an attempt to provide people with perspective.

Of all the deaths reported in the United States as of today, only 2 have been in patients under 18 years of age.  Currently, our death rate (deaths/confirmed cases) has been as high as 2.3% and as low as 1.1% over the past 2 weeks.  The President’s COVID-19 Taskforce estimated that as many at 1/1000 New Yorkers may have the virus.  If this were projected to the entire United States (population 328,239,523), then the total number of COVID-19 would be approximately 328, 239 and deaths from COVID-19 (1.8% death rate) at 5,909.  Even if this ends up being wrong by 1,000 percent, the death rate would still be 59,000, i.e., within range of the estimates for influenza deaths.  You can look at it in another way.  98% of people who get COVID-19 fully recover!

As of today (March 29, 2020) there are 123,828 confirmed cases and 2229 deaths (1.8% death rate) from COVID-19 in the United States.  Compare that with the influenza estimates so far this year:  29,000 deaths!  And the flu season is not yet over, with the CDC estimating as many as 59,000 will die of influenza by May of this year.

The CDC estimates a death rate of 7.4% for influenza like illnesses and pneumonia this year.  This death rate is similar to previous years.  Who in the media is discussing this? (source)

At the end of the day, we don’t know, we don’t have all of the data and we won’t for some time. But there is nothing wrong with questioning what we are getting from the mainstream media. That seems to be a duty these days.

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