Panicked by fears manufactured by the ruling class, the American people assented to being put essentially under house arrest until further notice, effectively suspending the habits, preferences, and liberties that had defined our way of life. Most Americans have suffered economic damage. Many who do not enjoy protected status have had careers ended and been reduced to penury. Social strains and suicides multiplied. Forcibly deferring all manner of medical care is sure to impose needless suffering and death. In sum, the lockdowns’ medical and economic dysfunctions make for multiples of the deaths and miseries of the COVID-19 virus itself.
Bad judgments and usurpations—the scam, not the germs—define this disaster’s dimensions. The COVID-19’s devastating effect on the U.S. body politic is analogous to what diseases do to persons whom age (senectus ipsa est morbus) and various debilities and corruptions had already placed on death’s slippery slope.
Outside of the few who have gained (and are still gaining) power and wealth from the panic, Americans are asking what it will take to end this outrage—not to modify it with any “new normal” decided by who knows whom, on who knows what authority. Since no one in authority is leading those who want to end it, Americans also wonder who may lead that cause. What follows suggests answers.
What history will record as the great COVID scam of 2020 is based on 1) a set of untruths and baseless assertions—often outright lies—about the novel coronavirus and its effects; 2) the production and maintenance of physical fear through a near-monopoly of communications to forestall challenges to the U.S.. ruling class, led by the Democratic Party, 3) defaulted opposition on the part of most Republicans, thus confirming their status as the ruling class’s junior partner. No default has been greater than that of America’s Christian churches—supposedly society’s guardians of truth.
Since obfuscation, pretense, and lies concerning the COVID-19 are the effective agents of the panic and of the seizure of arbitrary power, truth and clarity about it are the foundational requirements for escaping its effects. Here is a dose.
From early March 2020 on, the best-known authorities on epidemics—the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control—presented the COVID-19 respiratory disease to the Western world as a danger equivalent to the plague. But China’s experience, which its government obfuscated, had already shown that the COVID-19 virus is much less like the plague and more like the flu. All that has happened since followed from falsifying this basic truth.
Our “best and brightest,” at first having minimized fears of person-to person contagion during January and February, during which the disease spread from China to the West, then declared that the virus is unusually contagious, and posited—on zero factual basis—that it would kill up to one in twenty persons it infected—5% infection/fatality rate (IFR). Based on that imagined fatality rate, they adopted mathematical models from Britain and the University of Washington that predicted that up to two million Americans would die of it.
The U.S. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) modeled the authoritative predictions on which the U.S. lockdowns were based. Its model also predicted COVID deaths for un-locked-down Sweden. On May 3 it wrote that, as of May 14, Sweden would suffer up to 2800 daily deaths. The actual number was below 40. Whether magnifying this falsehood was reckless or willful, it amounted to shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater. What justifies listening to, and paying, people who do that kind of science?
Establishing any infectious disease’s true lethality is characteristically straightforward: test a large sample of the population proportionately representative of location, age, sex, race, socioeconomic categories. Follow up with the subjects a month later to add up the rate of infections and learn the results thereof. Period. Today, we still lack this definitive, direct knowledge of COVID’s true lethality because bureaucrats have prevented widespread testing for the purpose of firmly establishing the one figure that matters most. That is because that figure’s absence allows them to continue fearmongering.
In May the Centers for Disease Control, by then discredited professionally (though not, alas, in the mass media), was forced to conclude that the lethality rate, far from being circa 5% was 0.26%. Double a typical flu. The CDC was able to keep the estimate that high only by factoring in an unrealistically low figure for asymptomatic infections—never mind inflated figures for deaths. But the U.S. government, instead of amending its recommendations in the face of reality, tried to hide reality by playing a shell game with the definition and number of COVID “cases.”
During March and April, the authorities had defined as “cases” people sick enough to be hospitalized, who also tested positive. Whoever divided the number of reported deaths (a number inflated by a CDC directive to count deaths due to other causes as being due to COVID) by the number of cases thus defined, was predictably scared and willing to heed “the best advice”—namely societal lockdowns—on how to stay safe. That turned out to be ruinous in and of itself. At the time, they defined the number of these “cases” as the “curve” which we were supposed to sacrifice so much to “flatten,” lest the wave of hospitalizations overwhelm our health care system. Because their premises were wrong, that wave never came.
Instead, in May, as various non-official surveys were published showing that the majority of those who tested positive for COVID either barely knew that they had been infected or had not known at all, these very authorities doubled down their dishonesty. They began labeling mere infections as “cases.” They divorced reporting of these “cases” from reporting of the number of deaths, and warned the inattentive public about “spiking COVID cases” as if infection carried a serious risk. They also promoted widespread testing of wholly asymptomatic persons for current and past infections, the results of which tests were sure to produce a surging number of new “cases” thus defined.
And they toyed with reporting deaths by attributing to COVID any that “involved” or looked as if they might have involved it. They then included pneumonia, influenza, and COVID into the category PIC. That is how the death figure came to exceed 100,000. But if the CDC had used the same criterion that it did with the SARS virus, namely “severe acute respiratory distress syndrome,” the figure by the end of June would have been some 16,000.
Such naked ploys could succeed only because the media colluded in them. The New York Times’ May 27 lead story ominously blared: “California is the fourth state with more than 100,000 known cases.” Meanwhile, the number of deaths attributed to COVID continued dropping from ever-lower bases. By the July 1, even using the CDC’s inflated figures for COVID-responsible deaths, COVID-19’s Infection Fatality Rate for people under 70 was 0.04%. But rather than ask how clarion calls of danger comport with decreasing reports of deaths that may somehow be associated with it, the ruling class agitated to reverse returning to normal life. Be afraid, be very afraid. Heads the House wins, tails you lose.
Irrefutable if indirect indication that COVID is no plague also comes from comparison between the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 during any given period with the number of deaths due to all causes for the same period—despite official inflation in the number of deaths attributed to the virus.
The Imperial College, London’s tally for Great Britain, broken down by age of death, shows that the chances of dying from COVID-19 infection roughly track the chances of death from all causes at any given age, except for the very young. For men, the chances of death co-incident with the virus don’t exceed 1%, or the average death rate, until age 70. For women, they don’t exceed the average death rate until close to age 90. In Spain, the death rate for infected persons over 90 years old was 10%.
The measure of “excess deaths” tells a similar story. During the six-week peak of the COVID event in 2020, deaths in the U.S. exceeded deaths during the same period in the previous year by 82,000. Considering that, concurrently, the 2020 flu season was one of the worst on record (typically the flu is responsible for some 50,000 deaths during the season) and given the CDC-mandated conflation of COVID numbers with others, the COVID-19 pandemic in and of itself did not amount to much—except in New York City, for reasons only partly known. By the week of June 20, 2020 the CDC was reporting ZERO excess deaths—meaning that the figure for weekly deaths was within the long-term normal curve for that time of the year.
Not incidentally, in 1957 some 116,000 Americans (out of a population two thirds of today’s size) died of the flu. Ten years later, the toll was 100,000 and in 2019 it was 61,000. By June 2020 the (inflated) toll from COVID-19 stood at 100,000.
In short, COVID-19 is not America’s plague. It did not shake America. The ruling class shook it. They have not done it ignorantly or by mistake. They have done it to extort the general public’s compliance with their agendas. Their claim to speak on behalf of “science” is an attempt to avoid being held accountable for the enormous harm they are doing. They continue doing it because they want to hang on to the power the panic has brought them.
BTW: Whenever you hear someone claiming to speak on science’s behalf, referring to authorities rather than to facts and logic, you may be sure that person is a fraud.
Falsehood extorted shutdowns, which caused deaths and ruined lives.
“Lockdowns” of the general population had to be based on the premise that everyone is, if not equally vulnerable, then equally responsible, and hence that everyone must stay cooped up to contribute to everyone else’s safety. But because every word of that is contrary to reality, false, a lie, applying the lockdowns’ force to society has caused needless deaths and suffering.
Prefatory to considering the lockdowns’ specific effects, we must be clear about what separation of infected or possibly infected persons from presumably un-infected ones can and cannot do. This has been known to whomever wished to know it since the Middle Ages, and repeated even in the humble 1956 study guide for the Boy Scout Public Health merit badge: protecting the un-infected from infection by limiting their contact with those who may be infected depends on knowing that the people to be protected really are un-infected.
Medieval Venetians, to make sure that no one coming from places infected by the plague would bring it into the city, prevented debarking from ships coming from such places for forty days (quarantine). By the same token, quickly finding the few infected among the many un-infected, and removing them even faster along with those with whom they had been in contact (known these days as contact tracing), is effective only to the extent of the bulk of the population’s near-virginity.
But, once an infectious disease has spread within a population, quarantines and associated measures are a waste at best. Personal hygiene and minimizing contact (what we now call social distancing) retain all their natural importance for reducing any given individual’s chances of infection to some extent—perhaps even delaying chances of exposure until the disease has run its course. But, once a contagion is rooted in a population, these measures make no difference to general public health. The disease running its course means, in part, that enough people have been infected and hence will have developed immunity, that they can no longer transmit it to others (herd immunity).
That is how human communities have lived with and through history’s countless epidemics. We have seen this once again in how COVID-19 affected Sweden and U.S. states (e.g. South Dakota and Arkansas) that never did shut down. When COVID-19 hit Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that, regardless of what anyone did, some 70% of Germans would eventually become infected. And that would be that.
Isolation makes the biggest of differences, however, to sub-categories of the population that may be especially vulnerable to the disease. The Bubonic Plague was an equal-opportunity killer, as was Smallpox. COVID-19, however, seems to discriminate a lot. Yes, all diseases are most noxious to those already most debilitated. But this one seems to have done so more than most.
In Italy, 99.1% of those who died with or of COVID-19 also suffered from other diseases. But this virus obviously has a special predilection for those with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, compromised lungs, and most of all for the very old—to the point that a study by Germany’s Ministry of the Interior asked whether it made any sense to ascribe to any cause the deaths of persons whose bodies were in the process of shutting down anyhow. By contrast, COVID-19’s effect on ordinary healthy persons is considerably milder than those of ordinary respiratory diseases. What sense, then, could general isolation ever have made in the context of COVID-19?
It made some sense in the context of the U.S. ruling class’s (tragically wrong) assumptions/pretenses/convictions (take your pick) that the COVID-19 is so infectious as well as plague-like in its lethal danger to the general population, that a wave of desperately ill and dying patients would submerge American hospitals unless its natural course were slowed. Hence all medical decks had to be cleared of all other activities, emergency hospitals had to be constructed in the parks, and the Navy’s hospital ships had to be brought in.
As we have seen, there was never the slightest evidence that the COVID-19 virus could produce mass casualties. From the first, all evidence pointed in the opposite direction. Even in New York, where Governor Cuomo hyperventilated panic, the hospitals in the park and the Navy’s hospital ship were virtually empty.
But the ruling class’s attachment to its assumptions/pretenses/convictions overrode the obvious truth that the elderly and infirm should have special isolation from contact with persons possibly infected with the virus and that the rest of the population should go about its business.
The U.S. authorities, the “experts,” the ruling class, chose to do precisely the opposite. They “locked down” a general population that is at virtually no risk, thereby delaying the virus’s spread to people it could not harm and whose infection would build herd immunity. Keeping millions of people indoors also worsened their health. Keeping people from interacting and working normally wrecked economic and social life.
Worst of all, these authorities, these experts, transferred elderly persons known to be infected with the virus into nursing homes. In Michigan, the authorities even assigned to a nursing home an aide known to be infected with the virus. As a result, the as-yet fully uncounted deaths in these facilities, which house about 1.3 million people (about 0.39% of the population) come to about half of the total U.S. death toll. That is what happened, and it is perverse. It deserves punishment.
Doubly so because of the cruelty with which it was done. As known virus carriers and unscreened persons were moved in, as the contagion raged, the debilitated, powerless inmates were prohibited visits from their families. These, being nearly all uninfected, would have posed no danger. Had the families been allowed to visit, they might have become aware of what was happening. As it was, they were powerless to save these innocents who, without advocates, were effectively condemned. One New York nurse was fired for objecting. Triply perverse, because some of the officials responsible—e.g. Pennsylvania’s Secretary of health—knew what they were doing enough to pull their own relatives out of danger.
Others, e.g. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who sent 4,500 COVID-infected patients from hospitals to nursing homes and blew off his responsibility for over 5,000 deaths with the words “people die,” later deflected responsibility onto what legitimately may be deemed to be national policy. He cited guidance from the Centers for Disease Control: “’Nursing homes should admit any individuals from hospitals where COVID is present.” Both the lockdown for ordinary people and the transfer of COVID carriers to nursing homes, said Cuomo, followed CDC recommendations. Cuomo did not resist the recommendation. He was occupied trying to score political points on Donald Trump.
In May Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal COVID team’s most influential MD, explained the counterproductive national lockdown of healthy people on national television. Earlier, he had said lockdowns were needed to preclude the overcrowding of hospitals. That having proved to be his gross professional error as an epidemiologist, he now said that extending the lockdowns was necessary to prevent so many apparently healthy young people from eventually infecting the old and infirm.
But there is zero evidence that apparently healthy (i.e. asymptomatic though infected) people infect others with the COVID-19. The evidence is that only symptomatic people (ones with coughs and sniffles) do, and that not through casual contact. Moreover, if separating known spreaders had been Fauci’s intention all along, why had the CDC ordered known COVID carriers to be shifted to nursing homes? At the very least, the man who drove the COVID team did it in a reckless manner that killed people. He too had other things on his mind—political ones.
Similarly, Governors from New York to Michigan and Illinois, to California, Oregon, and Washington have ordered citizens to stay indoors—which always was and once again proved to be the ideal environment for the transmission of respiratory viruses. Illinois’s governor criminalized more than two people in any boat. Californians have been arrested for walking on the beach, and New York City’s mayor threatened to pull swimmers out of the sea. All in the name of Science. Online searches find no science that shows viruses thriving in fresh air and sunshine, never mind in salt water. The mayor of Los Angeles ordered residents to wear masks at all times outdoors, though there is no evidence that this virus transmits through casual proximity anywhere, but especially outdoors.
In July, Anthony Fauci said that masks are necessary. But in March the same Fauci had said they did more harm than good—equally without the slightest scientific proof. Surreally, the L.A. Health Department specified that persons should wash their hands after putting on unwashed face coverings, and refrain from touching their faces—except to put on the face coverings that were supposed to make their hands dirty to begin with! Science, anybody? Fauci also guided governors to permit people to congregate by the hundreds at Walmart and Costco, but to forbid them to do so in churches. This fount of Science also gave his imprimatur to sex among strangers but advised Christians to refrain from Communion. Too intimate. What level of partisan credulity does it take to believe any of that?
One may also ask what level of partisan credulity it takes to take seriously such personages as the governors of New York, Michigan, and California and the mayors of Chicago and Los Angeles, who personally flout the regulations they try to impose on others. Restrictions for thee but not for me!
The answer really does lie in the depth of political party/class solidarity. The governors and officials who imposed, maintain, and rationalize the lockdowns are all but one (Ohio’s) Democrats. Their counter-factual assumptions/pretenses/convictions, their misrepresentations, their falsehoods and outright lies, are all about their social class’s effort to secure their privileges against an increasingly recalcitrant general population.
We begin by focusing on how seamlessly the Western world’s ruling class has translated the COVID-19 event into yet another of its weapons in the fight it has been waging this century against voters’ growing disaffection. Support for the lockdowns has become as integral to the American Establishment Left, i.e., to the Democratic Party, as belief in abortion, global warming, open borders, and censorship of whatever they choose to call “hate speech.” To understand this, one must realize that the ruling class’s campaign regarding public health, global warming, race, the rights of women, homosexuals, micro-aggressions, the Palestinians, etc. etc. have far less to do with any of these matters than with seizing ever more power for itself.
We note that the language, the attitudes, by which the ruling class have hyped COVID’s health challenge have been integrated into the identities of its constituency’s manifold components so as to add force to the longstanding demands of each. How readily—how naturally—activists for Black Lives Matter, Feminism, Global Warming, etc. have adopted support of all manner of socioeconomic restrictions on the pretend-basis of saving lives from the COVID as if it were their own cause, is yet another practical manifestation of the latter-day Left’s theory of “intersectionality.” As the activists of Black Lives Matter burn down buildings, they also wear masks supposedly to show their commitment to social responsibility for public health. Nor incidentally, they also tout their commitment to LGBTQ sexuality, for abortion, and against the nuclear family. The same may be noted about every component’s support of every other.
By the same token, every one of the ruling class’s constituencies, the disparity of their foci notwithstanding, has adopted as its own the demand that voting in American elections must henceforth be “from home,” with ballots collected or “harvested” by third parties. That would shift electoral power from those who vote to those who process and count the votes—i.e. to themselves. Hence it would set the entire ruling class free from the voters.
Each sub-constituency translates the accusation into its own idiom. In America, accusations of racism are the lowest (alas the most common) form of political pandering and intimidation. Securing over 90% of the black vote being the sine qua non of the Democrat Party’s electoral successes, no one was surprised when the New York Times, followed by the rest of the major media, noted that, the COVID-19 having struck African Americans proportionately harder than other races, proves American society treats them despicably and must submit to reform.
Yet at the Times, CNN, etc. they know that this is a lie and that, regardless of race, adverse outcomes of COVID-19 infections go along with obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc. And they know as well as anyone precisely to what extent African Americans exhibit these very conditions proportionately more than other races, and that these conditions have more to do with calories today than with slavery two centuries ago.
The COVID event has also made the face mask into a physical badge of tribal identity, common to all the sub-constituencies. Wearing the mask is now about publicly distinguishing the virtuous and deploring the deplorables. North Carolina’s Democrat Governor Roy Cooper said that “A face covering signifies strength and compassion for others” and “wearing one shows that you care about other people’s health.” On the same day, New York’s Andrew Cuomo put it this way: “Wearing a mask is now cool, I believe it’s cool…. Wearing a mask is officially cool.”
Anthony Fauci, who in March had told 60 minutes “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” in May gave his scientific judgment that masks are “a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing you should be doing,” while admitting that they are “not 100% effective.” He could hardly have done otherwise since the New England Journal of Medicine had said: “wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers [the wearer] little, if any, protection from infection,” and is irrelevant to others in casual contact. Such a symbol of intersectional identity has it become that, as rioters were burning Minneapolis, its Democrat mayor urged the rioters whom he let burn parts of his city to make sure they wore masks while doing so.
In sum, the lockdowns have been perpetuated and prolonged by people who care more about your compliance than your health.
Regime of Fear
They are about increasing the Democratic Party’s chances in the 2020 election.
The 2016 U.S. election confronted the U.S. ruling class with the possibility that the presidency’s enormous powers might be used to dismantle its network of prestige and privileges. The public is just beginning to understand the extent to which all manner of bureaucrats and allies used their powers to try defeating the challenge of 2016, and then instituted the socio-political equivalent of basketball’s “full court press,” treating anything and everything about the Trump administration as illegitimate, running official investigations not to gather information but as pretexts for feeding slander to their media associates. They tried to catch Trump in perjury traps. They toyed with the idea of leading him into statements that might be construed as bases for removal from office. But the U.S. economy boomed. Trump’s ratings rose. As 2020 dawned and Trump seemed a cinch for re-election, the Democratic Party et al. were grasping at straws for ways of getting at him.
By the time COVID came over the horizon, thought of using it had already crossed ruling class’s minds. No conspiracy was necessary or possible. The existing party sentiment and like-mindedness were enough to produce the unanimity and uniformity with which the ruling class has used the COVID-19 event to produce, stoke, and maintain fear, to energize its constituencies’ agendas in pursuit its power.
In January 2017 Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking at Georgetown University, said he had no doubt that the Trump administration would face a “surprise outbreak” of “infectious diseases.” A few days earlier, The Atlantic published an article titled “How a Pandemic Might Play Out Under Trump,” which wished out loud that Trump’s handling of such an event would undermine his presidency. Yet earlier, NYU professor Arthur Caplan had published an article along the same lines: “The End of Civilization and the Real Donald Trump.” In short, weaponizing a public health event had crossed eager minds.
The prospect of locking down the country, ostensibly to save it from COVID-19, offered a near monopoly of communications. Trump’s rallies were shut down. Above all, churches were shut down, as well as the countless meetings of clubs, businesses, friends, etc. that are the lifeblood of what one might call the country class. Nor may people congregate as they wish for political purposes: the strictures that North Carolina’s Democrat governor put on the Republican National Convention made it impossible to hold it in that state.
Without face-to-face contact, television became the chief means by which communication took place—but it was one-way communication, whose programming and corporate advertising—immediately—began telling the people the joys of obedience: “we are all in this together,” “ Alone, together.”
It reeks of Orwell. The companies whose advertising pays for this are household names: Adidas, Amazon, Airbnb, American Express, Bank of America, BMW, Burger King, Citigroup, Coca Cola, DHL, Disney, eBay, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, IBM, Mastercard, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Netflix, Nike, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Sony, Starbucks, Twitter, Verizon, Walmart, Warner Brothers and YouTube. The ruling class.
Driven by the politics of partisan identity, the ruling class used the COVID-19 event to collapse American life.
A glance is enough to reveal the perverse enormity of what it caused.
Because the lockdowns closed most restaurants and hotels, where about half of the nation’s calories were consumed, demand for food shifted in ways that made it impossible for distribution networks and processing plants to adjust seamlessly—especially as the government limited their operation and paid workers to call in sick. Millions of gallons of milk have been poured down drains, millions of chickens, billions of eggs and tens of thousands of hogs and cattle have been destroyed, acres of vegetables and tons of fruit disked under. Vineyards have been ripped out. This scrambled allocation and waste of food resulted in shortages. Prices in the markets rose. In some places, meat and eggs were rationed. Persons deprived of work have less money with which to pay these prices, and struggle to feed their families. This reduced countless self-supporting citizens to supplicants at food banks.
Who could produce surplus and scarcity simultaneously except sorcerers’ apprentices wielding government power? That’s expertise for you. By intentionally reducing the supply of food available to the population, the U.S. government joined the rare ranks of such as Stalin’s Soviet Union and Castro’s Cuba.
But no sane person had ever imagined the near-shutdown of a whole nation’s entire medical care except for one disease. The U.S. government did that, on the advice of its very best experts. Between mid-March to July hospitals stood nearly empty, having cleared the decks for the (ignorantly) expected COVID flood. Patients having been discouraged or forbidden to come in for other reasons, doctors and nurses were idled. Not a few were furloughed. Emergency rooms were closed to most of their customers—the poorer people who routinely get routine care there. Private clinics and practices—where most Americans get most medical care—practically shut down. Many will never reopen. Forget about dentistry. This has meant that most Americans have been left essentially without medical care for about a third of a year.
Tests missed, conditions not diagnosed, treatments forgone or delayed. Human bodies’ troubles not having taken a corresponding holiday, it is impossible to estimate how much suffering and death this lack of medical care has caused and will yet cause—all while the U.S. government was making it happen. Officials who claim to be smarter than we ordered it—for our own good, they claim.
More than forty million Americans have filed claims for unemployment assistance since the shutdowns began. To this number one must add the as-yet unknown tens of millions owners of small businesses which were forced to close or radically to reduce activity. Add to that the uncountable millions not directly affected—farmers, professionals—whose products and activities the shutdowns de-valued. Imagine the millions of careers wrecked, the shattering of dreams that had been realized by lifetimes of work, and you search for words to describe it: Catastrophe? Tragedy? Man-made, for sure.
The experts who made this happen stigmatized, tried to silence, and effectively criminalized dissent as dangerous to health and, of course, as racist. But there is zero evidence that all or any of the above measures increased anybody’s life expectancy, and plenty to the contrary. They wronged America. But why? and cui bono?
All of the above served the ruling class’s overarching interest in its own power. Are there any categories of people who benefited from the shutdowns? Government gained. We know of no employee of federal, state or local government who was furloughed or had his or her pay reduced. On the contrary, all got additional power. The federal government created trillions of dollars, the distribution of which is enriching the usual suspects involved in administration. The teachers’ unions gained the power to extort concessions as a price for reopening schools. Among them, restrictions on or elimination of charter schools.
And as independent businesses were throttled, big ones grew. The biggest, Amazon, was the biggest winner. The news media, unrestricted and at the service of the powerful, themselves exercised unprecedented power. The social media platforms seconded the coup by censoring dissent from the “line” of their own most aggressive bureaucrats and officials. Try getting figures for COVID deaths and how they are counted from Google. YouTube deleted a video gone viral of two medical doctors who pointed out the truth about the COVID-19’s true lethality as dangerous disinformation, and Twitter appended a note to President Trump’s objection to voting by mail for facilitating fraud, accusing it of falsehood.
Prohibitions such as of playing in the park or swimming in the sea are mere devices to train the public to accept unlimited bureaucratic discretion. You may congregate at Costco, but not at church. Failure to obey regulations will land ordinary citizens in jail, while the jails release robbers and child molesters. You may not exceed limits on occupancy or fail to wear a mask. You may not even sing in church. But if you and friends loot and burn the neighborhood store, the police will just stand by. Yet all Democrat governors celebrated and some joined masses of “protests”—forget about masks and social distancing. They did this not for anybody’s health but to to secure another few percentage points of the black vote for their party and to leverage their seizure of power over police forces.
We are supposed to believe that all this is dictated by “Science.” In June, 1,200 “health experts” signed a letter approving the BLM protests because, it said, “white supremacy is a lethal public health issue.” But it cautioned that “this should not be confused with a permissive stance on…protests against stay-home orders.” In short, Coronavirus restrictions, like the rest of political correctness’s commandments, are pure political weaponry—nothing short of an inversion of the American people’s priorities, accomplished by nobody’s vote. Ruling class presumption. In short, we are living through a coup d’état.
Declaring emergencies to excuse taking “full powers” is the oldest of ploys. Does anybody remember the Reichstag fire? The prospect of similar things happening in America had been rising along with the ruling class and the administrative state. The authorities’ seizure of arbitrary power in the name of expertise is the deadliest strike at our way of life. Suspending law and rights, issuing arbitrary rules of behavior, has been mostly the doing of Democrat-controlled state and local government. But the lead came from the Democrat-controlled Federal bureaucracy, empowered by a president elected as a Republican, and with the silent complaisance of perhaps a majority of Republican politicians.
The ruling class’s gains of power and money have been at the country class’s expense, and have depended on suppressing truth.
An egregious example of forcible official lying is the ruling class’s political campaign against the drug Hydroxychloroquine. President Trump had pointed to the truth that this standard treatment for malaria for more than a half century is effective against the early and mid-stages of the COVID disease. This fact had been discovered accidentally and confirmed by studies and practices in France, Spain, India, and South Korea. In April, U.S. doctors started prescribing it widely, reported good results, and took it themselves prophylactically. The ruling class found this intolerable because it contradicted its narrative that nothing could prevent the sky from falling, but above all because its success might cast a favorable light on Trump. Hence it set about canceling truth about drugs from public consciousness and substituting its own narrative.
The ruling class machine began by labeling reports of the drug’s success as “anecdotal.” Then, the Veterans Administration gave the drug in small doses to some 380 elderly patients dying with/of the COVID. Every major media outlet touted their deaths as proof of its ineffectiveness and danger. On May 22, the Lancet, arguably the most authoritative medical journal, published what it called an analysis of the world’s biggest medical data base showing, definitively it claimed, that Hydroxychloroquine is ineffective, counterproductive, and dangerous. The Yale School of Medicine officially concluded that the drug is bad stuff, despite a study to the contrary by its own professor of epidemiology, Harvey Risch. The great Anthony Fauci who, when pressed hard, had said that he would take the drug were he to be sick of the COVID, then backed the political narrative by quipping that, as of now there is no treatment for COVID illness. The U.S. food and Drug Administration stopped clinical trials, pharmacy boards refused orders from physicians and retailers, and hospitals around the country required their physicians to stop treating their patients with it.
It turns out, however, that the Lancet study’s database was part of a fly-by-night, strictly political operation, and that its details are literally incredible—e.g., the number of reported Hydroxy deaths for one Australian hospital exceeded the number of total deaths for the entire country. In short, the report was another professionally unsustainable hit job. The New York Times reported that “More than 100 scientists and clinicians have questioned the authenticity” of the database as well as the study’s integrity. The Lancet withdrew it in shame.
But it was too late. Fauci and the medical establishment did not apologize. For the media and for headline-readers, the case was closed. The lie stood. Then, on July 1, Michigan’s Henry Ford health system published a peer-reviewed study that shows Hydroxychloroquine significantly cut death rates even in mid-to-late COVID cases. Again, the ruling class machine ignored the truth. Again: all mainstream news about the COVID affair is related to health only incidentally. Be very afraid.
Nor has the COVID affair to do with any emergency—except possibly the 2020 election. Democrat politicians and the stream of public service TV advertising have left no doubt that the ruling class’s objective is to establish “a new normal” by extending into the indefinite future the powers by which bureaucracies have eclipsed America’s laws and way of life.
But, as the Authorities toyed too openly with the truth, they impeached themselves and lost authority. Fewer and fewer believe what they hear from on high. As Russians under Communism learned, the truth is usually the opposite. Whenever the government reported bountiful harvests, they stocked up on potatoes.
Default, and Consequences
Fairness requires noting that, regardless of whatever America’s ruling Left has done, whatever its hopes, plans, or coordination, what actually happened to the United States of America consequent to COVID could not have happened had President Donald Trump, much of the Republican Party, and America’s religious establishment not concurred in its happening.
This is another way of saying that the ruling class rules by size and seduction, as well as by intimidation. It did not rush into imposing the shutdowns, or even into making too big a deal of COVID. Its parts and personages did not fully commit themselves until after they had convinced president Trump to give them the preclusion of opposition without which inflicting so much pain on so many would have exposed them to official and popular retribution.
President Donald Trump, having cut travel from China on January 31 and from Europe on March 12 had maintained his grip on public opinion while pointing to the evidence that that COVID is not catastrophic. He sustained accusations of xenophobia. But, as the virus took root in America, the opposition shifted to blaming him for doing nothing in the face of a plague. Countering that would have required standing on the truth, attacking the central falsehood that the COVID is a plague, and its purveyors as liars. Since the experts had been wrong again and again, this was doable.
But on March 15, Trump asked the country to shut down for fifteen days to slow the spread of the disease—to flatten the curve. Then, on March 31 the New York Times crowed victoriously that the previous week, President Trump had been stampeded to abandon his goal of restoring normal life by Easter: “The numbers the health officials showed President Trump were overwhelming. With the peak of the coronavirus pandemic still weeks away, he was told, hundreds of thousands of Americans could face death if the country reopened too soon.” Also, poll questions that framed the choice just so had helped produce another set of numbers. Said the Times: he was told that “voters overwhelmingly preferred to keep containment measures in place over sending people back to work prematurely.” Trump let himself be scared into sheltering politically under what he supposed would be the protective professional wings of Dr. Anthony Fauci and the CDC.
Trump believed that Fauci would cooperate in a plan for reopening, and counted on the Democratic Party sharing credit for providing near a trillion dollars in relief to the people who the lockdowns were depriving of livelihood.
But, once Trump let go of the truth, he ceded control and entered a political blind alley. Trump was giving the de facto alliance between the Democratic Party, Fauci et al., the press, and a host of profiteers public credit even as they discredited him in every way possible. They had him where they wanted him. As the lockdowns throttled America, they used the political leverage to raise demands. They aimed at his political demise as well as at economic, social, and political transformation.
The guidelines for “Opening Up America Again” that Trump unveiled on April 17 resulted from that imbalance of political credit and leverage. Far from returning the country to what it had been, the “data-driven” process they outlined, written by Fauci’s CDC, would make sure that state and local officials so inclined now have top-level, pseudo-legal cover for keeping or reimposing whatever arbitrary restrictions on opponents they think they can get away with, with whatever data they can manipulate to that purpose.
The Guidelines “advise” (that means “mandate” for officials who so choose) opening only to a percentage of capacity, and with restrictions—e.g. no singing in church,—that counter their reason for being. But churches and small business cannot survive at less than at full capacity. Schools set up other than for maximum concentration on the stuff to be learned are counterproductive. In short, the guidelines give federal sanction to choking America’s “main street” sector.
The guidelines’ arguably most dangerous legacy may be their recommendation/requirement that governments certify persons’ safe status for work and public interaction by tracking and isolating persons infected with the virus—or said to be. This involves hiring hundreds of thousands of persons to enforce compliance with decreed regulations on personal behavior—effectively a “lifestyle police,” empowered at the very least to declare anyone the equivalent of “medically untouchable.”
The governors of Michigan and California (there is no dissent among Democratic Party officials) have already defined “racism” as a major health hazard. Is there any doubt that these police will be less concerned with health as ordinary people understand it than with enforcing their chiefs’ will on political opponents? Thus, without law or trial, anyone could be separated peremptorily from job, business, or family, pending redress in the courts—which most people cannot afford.
Were this practice adopted nationally, it really would be the centerpiece of a “new normal.” By May, New York’s mayor had already deputized hundreds of (arguably former) gang members and criminals, paying them to circulate among the general population to “encourage”—dare we say, intimidate?—citizens to follow the Mayor’s orders. He also offered rewards for reports on neighbors’ violations of those orders. This is the beginning of explicitly partisan policing more as in China than in the America in which we grew up. Not incidentally the World health Organization—an extension of China’s government, formally recommended that nations “observe active surveillance and tracing of their populations.” Presumably, when the next virus comes along, the ruling class’ arbitrary powers will ratchet up yet another notch.
Sadly Anthony Fauci, whose reputation could not withstand any sort of scrutiny, retains the capacity to mislead because no one with a major national audience has publicly scrutinized it.
All of this, one must keep in mind, is so because President Trump’s complaisance with the ruling class’s falsehoods about the virus precluded high-level affirmation of the truths that negate the COVID Coup lies and pretenses. That he gave that complaisance contre coeur is beside the point. When pressed, Trump stuck by the falsehoods, as he did on April 22, after Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, who had opposed the lockdowns, announced that he was lifting them in his state. Trump chastised him publicly in the strongest terms, prompting the media into an orgy of accusations that Kemp was turning Georgia into a death camp. As it happened, Georgia got healthy. But that did not matter.
The biggest and most significant default however, has been that of America’s Christian churches—all of them—from their hierarchs to their priests, pastors, and ministers. Their complaisance with the lockdowns set aside a truth far more important to human dignity than anything having to do with any physical ailment—the one truth that puts all human power in proper perspective, the truth on which our civilization itself rests: that no human power can manufacture true and false, right and wrong, any more than we can make ourselves, and that, therefore, we are obliged to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Jewish congregations have been similarly craven.
The churches’ agreement to suspend public worship and the distribution of sacraments also contradicted their duty. Until 2020, Christian clergy felt obliged not just to offer public worship to whomever, but also to search out the sick, to offer sacraments to the dying, especially in places where victims of plagues lay between life and death—regardless of consequences. Because surrendering to secular dictates concerning how congregants should behave, even in church cannot be justified in Christian terms it would not have crossed previous generations of churchmen’s minds.
Had this generation of church leaders simply practiced their faith, even by merely keeping silent about the ruling class’s claims about the COVID-19 rather than ignorantly, submissively endorsing them, they would have preserved their intellectual and moral credit to help the general population to deal with the growing realization that they had been duped. Instead, they chose to be complicit with tinpot Caesars. Hence, as Americans face the bitter fact that we have been hurt worse than for nought, the churches have largely disqualified themselves as arbiters of truth.
Truth and clarity about what history will record as the 2020 COVID coup is the necessary condition for the American people to overcome its effects. Overcoming those effects must begin with discrediting those pretenses and the reputations of those who made them.
Who Will Lead Us?
Uncompromised leadership is in short supply because few prominent persons have resisted ruling-class pressure to join its COVID narrative. But so anxious are Americans for truth about what happened, what is happening; so substantively thin are the lies on which the scam has been based, and so abundant are the resources for establishing the truth; so hungry are Americans for examples of successes in countering the scam, that a few courageous leaders in key places may suffice.
The following outlines how the U.S. Senate can function as a truth commission concerning the COVID coup’s several aspects, and how state governors so inclined can provide practical leadership to motivate, guide, and legitimize life independent of our dysfunctional ruling class.
With regard to the latter, we note that the manner in which states and localities run by Democrats have managed the COVID event differs from that of places otherwise governed as if they were from regimes, countries, even civilizations, alien to one another. This is yet more evidence that American society has largely broken into incompatible pieces, and that avoidance of civil war may hinge on mutual tolerance of parting ways. More on that below.
In the past, as the misbehavior of important persons confused and divided Americans, wise senators summoned to public hearings those involved in the controversies, put them under oath and hence possible penalty for perjury, and established the often-uncomfortable truth on which the country came together. In 1948 Senator Richard Nixon’s (R-CA) hearings showed beyond doubt how deeply Soviet intelligence had penetrated our government. Between 1951 and 1957, Senator Estes Kefauver (D-TN) exposed and hence dismantled the mafia’s control of the U.S. labor movement. In 1974 Senator Sam Ervin’s (D-NC) hearings left no doubt about President Nixon’s role in the Watergate coverup. Today, the COVID scam being based on lies and misrepresentations by countless important persons, rigorous public testimony under oath can expose them and those who spread them.
Because of jurisdictions and/or of particularly able chairmen, the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Oversight, on Health, Education and Labor, on Finance, and on the Judiciary, each can shine their particular lights on specific aspects of the problem.
Senator Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) Committee on Government Affairs, with oversight over the Centers For Disease Control, can set the record straight about how its relationship with China’s laboratories, with the World Health Organization and with the Chinese government itself has shaped how the U.S. government has dealt COVID. The CDC having grasped enormous powers over American life, the Committee can inquire about the level of expertise it has brought to its task. What, if anything, justifies its claim to scientific management? The Committee can also audit how the CDC’s expenditure of funds and efforts among a variety of political, non-health topics affected its readiness to deal with the recurrence of viruses from exotic places.
Its subcommittee on Oversight and Emergency Management, under Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), himself a physician, is well placed to expose who knew what about the COVID-19 virus, when they knew it, who told the public what, and on what basis. The public has noted with dismay the discrepancy and contradictions about COVID-19 from supposedly medical experts, most prominently by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
At different times, these experts told us that the virus posed very little danger, and that it was a mortal threat to us all, that masks were useless, and then essential. On the basis of their many statements, hundreds of millions of American lives were wrecked, and millions continue to languish under “guidelines” that make no sense on their face. Expert questioning under oath in front of the cameras can let the American people judge for themselves what sense they make. The experts will have to reveal what medical expertise might have led them to stigmatize young people relatively unaffected by the COVID for going to the beach while not objecting as greater numbers of higher-risk black Americans rioted in the streets.
The jurisdiction of Senator Charles Grassley’s Finance Committee (R-IA) includes unemployment compensation, social services, and Medicare/Medicaid. The COVID event having caused some forty million persons to file for unemployment, having placed unusual burdens on all manner of government services, and having roiled food markets in ways harmful to health as well as suggestive of possible price fixing, this Committee is well placed to unravel the causal threads between the strictures that governments have placed on the population and the troubles that ensued. Grassley, one of the Senate’s better investigators, can showcase categories and individuals hurt by the lockdowns and call governors to square the harm they caused with the benefits they claim they achieved. Who lost my job? Who destroyed my business? where do I go to rebuild what I lost? These are some of the questions that the committee can put to officials on the American people’s behalf. Grassley and ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (D-OR) can also bring to bear their staff’s expertise regarding nursing homes to probe how government policy brought about the holocaust that the COVID-19 wrought in them.
Parents all over America wonder about the basis on which the 2019-20 school year was cut in half and the bases on which the 20-21 year was compromised. Senator Rand Paul’s Subcommittee on Children and Families can put such questions authoritatively to the officials who made that call, confront the projected risks with reality, and weigh them against the results of lost education and social disruption.
Americans ask by what right governors and mayors essentially put people under house arrest without due process, and had them arrested for such activities as playing in the park or paddling in the sea; by what right they shut down religious services, etc. What else may government do in violation of the Bill of Rights? Under the U.S. Constitution, what limits are there on a citizen’s obligations and rights? These are some of the questions with which Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) can confront federal, state, and local officials summoned before Senate Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution. Cruz would also summon officials of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and ask why they have not treated state and local officials’ denial of the free exercise of religion and of freedom of assembly as violations of the First Amendment. What is their understanding of civil rights?
The American people have an interest in knowing how the mentality of current officials is changing the practical meaning of the Constitution’s words. Cruz might well ask, government officials having changed the meaning of the basic bargain between people and government, what remains of the people’s obligation to obey the government?
Publicly contrasting the thoughts, deeds, and consequences of the officials and professionals who made the COVID event such a tragedy with those of the officials and professionals who led in opposite directions would not be the least of the beneficent results from serious hearings. Most Americans don’t know, but should, that several U.S. States never did shut down, while others reduced activities far less than the likes of California and New York. Like Sweden’s government, these states’ officials never saw reason to believe that the COVID was the plague and believed that individual persons’ exercise of responsibility for themselves is the surest guarantee of safety for all.
But the differences in what happened in California and Florida, in New Jersey and South Dakota do not speak for themselves. That is why the public would benefit by seeing these states’ governors defending their widely different perspectives on the COVID, and their results.
It should be clear that the COVID event in America is only tangentially about health. It is essentially a political campaign based on the pretense of health. Mere perusal of news from abroad is enough to see that this is true as well throughout the Western world. Throughout, the campaign by governments and associated elites has essentially smothered social and economic activity. Not least—and by no means incidentally—it has smothered the overt political opposition which had increasingly beleaguered said governments and elites throughout the Western world.
Through the previous decade, the various failures and inadequacies of these governments and elites, of “Davos Man,” had become the prime subject of public discourse. At the very least, the COVID campaign changed the subject to physical safety and economic survival. Davos Man tightened control by using the state’s coercive power more forcefully than in wartime, covering its class by claiming to speak for “science” in a manner that precludes counterargument.
In America as elsewhere, there was no doubt about which sectors of society were on what side, who were the campaign’s protagonists, winners, and losers. The governments, their bureaucracies, the major legacy political parties, the celebrities and the media, Davos Man, were on one side. On the other were middle class people and their “populist” representatives. As the northern hemisphere’s summertime was banishing the latest respiratory virus, Davos Man strove to make as many restrictions as possible part of a “new normal.”
In Europe as in America, the COVID affair was but the latest round in which the very same protagonists had faced off. There as here, the language and attitudes with which Davos Man denigrated its supposed inferiors in the COVID affair fit seamlessly into previous patterns of the larger, long-term struggle.
Had there been any doubt that the COVID-19 virus was more an occasion than a cause, it vanished at the end of May as, on both sides of the Atlantic, Davos Man switched to berating ordinary people and their civilization and ginned up yet another campaign to beat back challenges to its power.
Diamond Prices Are Crashing, Forcing Russian Mining Giant To Halt Sales
Diamond Prices Are Crashing, Forcing Russian Mining Giant To Halt Sales
A surge in lab-grown diamonds flooding the market, coupled with a…
A surge in lab-grown diamonds flooding the market, coupled with a decline in luxury spending, has forced Russian mining giant Alrosa PJSC to temporarily suspend rough diamond sales to prevent prices from crashing further.
Bloomberg obtained a memo from Alrosa addressed to its customers, explaining rough diamond sales for September and October have been suspended as the company "strives to reverse the existing trend of diminishing demand."
Diamonds, watches, and other jewelry soared during the pandemic and peaked in the first half of 2022. We have covered the Rolex boom and bust extensively and have turned our attention to crashing diamond prices in 2023:
Besides the luxury spending slowdown due to tapped-out consumers, man-made diamonds have been all the rage because these gems are only a fraction of the cost. The big fear of the natural diamond industry is starting to be realized as consumers accept lab-grown diamonds in rings.
Edahn Golan, an independent diamond industry analyst, told CNN Business consumers are flocking to man-made diamonds because the most popular one-carat round man-made diamond for an engagement ring in March was $2,318. He said that's 73% cheaper than a natural diamond of the same size, cut, and clarity.
The latest data from the Diamond Index via the International Diamond Exchange shows prices have crashed well below pre-Covid levels.
Alrosa competes with De Beers, the biggest producer of diamonds, both of which have been rocked by a rough diamond sales slowdown this year after a massive boom during the pandemic.
Last week, Reuters reported the Group of Seven (G7) nations might be preparing to reshape the global diamond supply chain by placing restrictions on Alrosa.
Mark Velleca takes over at Black Diamond; Verve Therapeutics separates CMO, CSO posts
→ David M. Epstein is out as CEO of cancer player Black Diamond Therapeutics, which is putting chairman Mark Velleca in charge. This is…
→ David M. Epstein is out as CEO of cancer player Black Diamond Therapeutics, which is putting chairman Mark Velleca in charge. This is Velleca’s third CEO post in less than a decade after running G1 Therapeutics (2014-20) and StrideBio (2021-23). Epstein will still be on the board at Black Diamond, a company that hit the scene in 2018 with $20 million from Versant and quickly followed that up with an $85 million Series B in January 2019. Co-founded by Epstein (not to be confused with Seagen’s David R. Epstein) and Elizabeth Buck, Black Diamond made an impressive Nasdaq debut with an IPO that exceeded $200 million in 2020, but layoffs affected 30% of the staff two years later.
→ Verve Therapeutics has made an adjustment to the team as Andrew Bellinger concentrates on his CSO duties and Fred Fiedorek steps in as CMO. “Now is the right time to split the CMO and CSO roles with two, complementary industry leaders,” Verve CEO Sek Kathiresan said in a statement. “Verve’s tremendous progress over the last five years has been made possible by Andrew’s significant contributions in his joint role.”
Fiedorek held a series of executive positions in a 13-year span at Bristol Myers Squibb, culminating in his promotion to SVP and head of cardiovascular and metabolic development. He has previous CMO credits at Intarcia — where he also led global regulatory affairs — and Rhythm Pharmaceuticals. While Verve’s base editor VERVE-101 for heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia is stuck in neutral with a clinical hold in the US, Kathiresan’s crew inked a gene editing deal with Eli Lilly in June. Bellinger had been effectively juggling the CSO and CMO roles since “they started planning their Phase I studies,” a spokesperson tells Peer Review.
→ Rezo Therapeutics, a UCSF spinout chaired by ex-Biogen and Vir Biotechnology CEO George Scangos, has tapped Nadir Mahmood as CEO. Interim chief and co-founder Nevan Krogan, the director of UCSF’s Quantitative Biosciences Institute, will shift to the role of president. Mahmood became SVP, corporate development at Nkarta in 2018 and would later be promoted to chief financial and business officer for Paul Hastings’ crew before his first CEO job at Rezo, which made its debut in November 2022. SR One, a16z Bio + Health and Norwest Venture Partners helped lead the $78 million Series A, and Rezo’s co-founders also include Kronos Bio chief Norbert Bischofberger and UCSF’s Kevan Shokat.
→ Vir Biotechnology COO Johanna Friedl-Naderer is stepping down on Sept. 29, and an SEC filing says that Vir won’t be looking for a replacement. Friedl-Naderer is a 21-year Biogen veteran who started out as Vir’s CBO, global in March 2022.
→ Shares of Bausch Health $BHC dropped by as much as 9.5% after the announcement that CFO Tom Vadaketh will resign on Oct. 13. In the event that Bausch Health comes up empty in its CFO search, controller and chief accounting officer John Barresi will take over as finance chief.
→ Elahere maker ImmunoGen has recruited Lauren White as CFO. Peer Review regulars will know that White recently left C4 Therapeutics and Kendra Adams took over as finance chief on Sept. 18. Before she took the C4 job, White had a 10-year career with Novartis and was VP & global head of financial planning and analysis with the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research from 2017-21. ImmunoGen is hoping its Phase III data for Elahere in the MIRASOL trial will be enough to cross the finish line in the European market.
→ BeiGene isn’t the only one that’s reclaimed the rights to a drug involved in a partnership with Novartis. Pliant Therapeutics and the Swiss pharma giant had teamed up on the NASH asset PLN-1474, but Novartis signaled that it was moving away from the indication before it officially pulled the plug on the alliance in February. As Pliant moves forward with its lead program bexotegrast in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis, Minnie Kuo has joined the team as chief development officer. Kuo is a Nektar and Gilead clinical operations vet who spent the last six years at Vir; she was promoted to SVP of translational and clinical development operations in 2021.
→ Pablo Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma has tapped Eric Schneider as chief technology officer. The Moody’s and Barclays alum held several leadership positions in his 11 years at Verisk, where he was recently chief data officer and chief technology officer. Royalty took a dip in the gene therapy pool when it forked over $300 million upfront for a 5.1% royalty on net sales of Ferring’s bladder cancer med Adstiladrin. “We’ve always got questions of: ‘When are you going to ever make a gene therapy investment?’” Royalty CFO Terrance Coyne said at the Morgan Stanley Global Healthcare Conference. “And what we said is: We’re going to be patient there. There’s a lot that we still need to understand. But this opportunity came along. The data is really remarkable.”
→ Paris-based gene therapy developer Coave Therapeutics has named J&J’s Lolita Petit as CSO. Petit just finished a two-year stint as director of gene therapy and delivery at Janssen and led the ocular platform team while she was with Spark from 2018-21. Coave is testing an AAV-based gene therapy for eye diseases like retinitis pigmentosa with PDE6b mutations. Spark’s Luxturna, on the other hand, was approved for a rare retinal disease that goes after mutations in the RPE65 gene.
→ Sticking with the theme of gene therapies for eye diseases, Nanoscope Therapeutics has introduced Samuel Barone as CMO. Barone had the same gig at Gemini Therapeutics before it merged with Disc Medicine last summer, and he’s the ex-SVP, clinical development for Adverum Biotechnologies. In March, Nanoscope unveiled Phase II data for its retinitis pigmentosa gene therapy MCO-010 that didn’t reach statistical significance.
→ In a double whammy, Lonza lost two execs this week. Amid a drop in sales growth, CEO Pierre-Alain Ruffieux said Monday that he is waving goodbye to the CDMO at the end of this month. Chairman Albert Baehny is taking over for Ruffieux in the interim. Ruffieux spent nearly three years with the company, having jumped aboard in November 2020 from Roche. Meanwhile, Catalent also swooped in and nabbed David McErlane as its new biologics lead. McErlane had served as Lonza’s SVP and business unit head for the company’s bioscience business.
→ Little-known in vivo gene editing biotech CorriXR Therapeutics has appointed Deborah Moorad as CEO. The Dentsply Sirona alum has been a chief executive at Lincoln, NE-based Nature Technology Corp, which was purchased by Aldevron, which was then acquired by Danaher. Moorad’s predecessor, co-founder Eric Kmiec, slides into the role of CSO at the ChristianaCare spinout.
→ Atreca president and CEO John Orwin is replacing Frazier managing partner Jamie Topper as chairman of the board at San Diego-based AnaptysBio. Orwin, the new chairman of CARGO Therapeutics, will also be principal financial officer for Atreca after CFO Herb Cross headed for the exit. Topper is giving up his seat on the board after nearly 16 years, eight of those as chairman, and he’ll be an advisor until the first quarter of 2024.
→ Marie-Louise Fjällskog is leaving her role as CMO of Faron Pharmaceuticals, but she will stay with the company as a board member. Longtime J&J vet Birge Berns is succeeding Fjällskog as interim medical chief and will work out of the UK for the Finnish cancer biotech. Fjällskog came to Faron from her CMO post at Sensei Biotherapeutics in January 2022.
→ Ipsen’s acute myeloid leukemia partner Accent Therapeutics is putting an emphasis on three new execs this week: Jason Sager (CMO) is the ex-medical chief at Ikena Oncology — back when it was known as Kyn Therapeutics — and has also worked for Genentech, Novartis and Sanofi; Steven Mennen (VP of preclinical development) is a 10-year Amgen vet who left Fulcrum Therapeutics in April after four years as head of CMC; and Bayer alum Stuart Ince (VP of program leadership) has served as VP of program management with Tango Therapeutics.
→ Chaired by Gossamer Bio CEO Faheem Hasnain, Ann Arbor, MI-based thyroid eye disease biotech Sling Therapeutics has selected Raymond Douglas as CSO. Douglas is familiar with the area from his eight years at the University of Michigan as an ophthalmology professor and director of the school’s thyroid eye center. He’s an oculoplastic surgeon who has a private practice in Beverly Hills and was in charge of the orbital and thyroid eye disease programs at Cedars-Sinai.
→ While we’re thinking of thyroid eye disease, Tourmaline Bio is testing its lead candidate TOUR006 in the same indication and has welcomed Gerhard Hagn as SVP, head of commercial and business development. Hagn had a scrollable list of positions in a 20-year period at Pfizer before he moved to Gilead in 2019 as VP, head of inflammation, global commercial strategy. Starting in 2021, he expanded his role by leading Gilead’s liver franchise as well.
→ Tempest Therapeutics CMO Sam Whiting has taken on the additional role of R&D chief. Peer Review informed you about Whiting’s original appointment back in the fall of 2020, when he succeeded Tom Dubensky as Tempest’s medical leader. The California biotech touted Phase Ib/II data in April that showed seven of 40 patients had a confirmed response to its liver cancer treatment TPST-1120 in a combo with Tecentriq and Avastin, while only three of 29 patients had a confirmed response to Tecentriq and Avastin alone.
→ Daybue maker Acadia Pharmaceuticals has picked up Albert Kildani as SVP, investor relations and corporate communications. At Halozyme, another San Diego biotech, Kildani was the investor relations and corporate communications leader for nearly four years. Daybue made history in March by becoming the first-ever drug to receive an FDA approval for Rett syndrome.
→ John Yee has been named SVP, medical affairs at Apnimed, the sleep apnea biotech that rang in 2023 with a $79.7 million raise that was stapled on to the original $62.5 million Series C in May 2022. The AstraZeneca and Vertex medical affairs vet is coming off a six-month sabbatical after three years as CMO of Sobi North America.
→ The CRO Parexel has rolled out the welcome mat for Gwyn Bebb as SVP and global therapeutic area head, oncology. Bebb joins the Durham, NC-based team from Amgen, where he was clinical research medical director in early- and late-stage oncology drug development. Bebb’s résumé also sports a stint as a professor at the department of medicine at the University of Calgary.
→ ImmunOs Therapeutics, an immuno-oncology player that bagged a $74 million Series B in June 2022, has enlisted Constanze Guenther as SVP, CMC and technical development. Guenther ends her 13-year run at Novartis, where she was global portfolio head, cell therapy and also oversaw the manufacturing of Kymriah in Europe.
→ Amgen sales vet Marc-Andre Goldschmidt has landed at Amsterdam-based Avanzanite Bioscience as country manager of Germany. Goldschmidt was elevated to national sales manager of neurology during his six years at Alexion.
→ After disappointing data for its Dravet syndrome drug STK-001 caused its shares $STOK to sink in July, Stoke Therapeutics has added former Vertex CFO and COO Ian Smith to the board of directors. Smith chairs the board at Solid Bio and is a senior advisor for Bain Capital Life Sciences.
→ Flare Therapeutics president and CFO Daphne Karydas has picked up a pair of board appointments at Mineralys Therapeutics and Compass Pathways. Glenn Sblendorio, the former CEO of Astellas sub Iveric Bio, will join Karydas on the board of directors at Mineralys, the hypertension biotech that made a February debut on the Nasdaq in a once-barren IPO environment. New listings are popping up as market conditions gradually improve, like the ones we’ve seen with Neumora, RayzeBio and others.
→ Ex-Kymab CEO Simon Sturge has clinched a spot on the board of directors at Galapagos that was vacated by Mary Kerr. Sturge chairs the board at MoonLake Immunotherapeutics, the maker of an IL-17 inhibitor for hidradenitis suppurativa that has shown some promise in Phase II.
→ J&J’s bispecific partner Xencor has elected Barbara Klencke to the board of directors. Klencke was the CMO and chief development officer for Sierra Oncology until it was purchased by GSK for $1.9 billion, a deal that’s bearing fruit with the approval of JAK inhibitor Ojjaara, formerly known as momelotinib.nasdaq treatment testing fda preclinical therapy european europe uk germany
“That 70s Show”
The hit TV series "That 70s Show" aired from 1998 to 2006 and focused on six teenage friends living in Wisconsin in the late 70s. The irony was that the…
The hit TV series “That 70s Show” aired from 1998 to 2006 and focused on six teenage friends living in Wisconsin in the late 70s. The irony was that the actors playing the teenagers were not born in the late 70s and had never experienced life during that period. Many alive today cannot fathom a lifestyle devoid of the internet, cable television, mobile phones, and social media. Oh…the horrors.
Yet, today, almost 50 years later, financial commentators, many of whom were not alive at the time, suggest that inflation and yields will repeat “That 70s Show.” Understandably, the increase in inflation and interest rates from their historic lows is cause for concern. As James Bullard noted, “Inflation is a pernicious problem,” which is why the Federal Reserve lept into action.
“When the US Federal Reserve embarked on an aggressive campaign to quash inflation last year, it did so with the goal of avoiding a painful repeat of the 1970s, when inflation spun out of control and economic malaise set in.” – CNN
That concern of “spiraling inflation” remains the key concern of the Federal Reserve in its current monetary policy decisions. It has also pushed many economists to point back at history, using “That 70s Show” period as the yardstick for justifying their concerns about a resurgence of inflation.
“The chair of the Federal Reserve at the time, Arthur Burns, hiked interest rates dramatically between 1972 and 1974. Then, as the economy contracted, he changed course and started cutting rates.
Inflation later roared back, forcing the hand of Paul Volcker, who took over at the Fed in 1979, Richardson said. Volcker brought double-digit inflation to heel — but only by raising borrowing costs high enough to trigger back-to-back recessions in the early 1980s that at one point pushed unemployment above 10%.
‘If they don’t stop inflation now, the historical analogy [indicates] it’s not going to stop, and it’s going to get worse,’ said Richardson, an economics professor at the University of California, Irvine.”
However, such may be an oversimplification to suggest Burns was wrong and Volker was right. The reason is the economy today is vastly different than during “That 70s Show.”
Today Is Very Different Than The 1970s
During the 70s, the Federal Reserve was entrenched in an inflation fight. The end of the Bretton Woods and the failure of wage/price controls combined with an oil embargo sent inflation surging. That surge sent markets crumbling under the weight of rising interest rates. Ongoing oil price shocks, spiking food costs, wages, and budgetary pressures led to stagflation through the end of that decade.
What was most notable was the Fed’s inflation fight. Like today, the Fed is hiking rates to quell inflationary pressures from exogenous factors. In the late 70s, the oil crisis led to inflationary pressures as oil prices fed through a manufacturing-intensive economy. Today, inflation resulted from monetary interventions that created demand against a supply-constrained economy.
Such is a critical point. During “That 70s Show,” the economy was primarily manufacturing-based, providing a high multiplier effect on economic growth. Today, the mix has reversed, with services making up the bulk of economic activity. While services are essential, they have a very low multiplier effect on economic activity.
One of the primary reasons is that services require lower wage growth than manufacturing.
While wages did rise sharply over the last couple of years, such was a function of the economic shutdown, which created a supply/demand gap in the employment matrix. As shown, full-time employment as a percentage of the population fell sharply during the pandemic lockdown. However, with full employment back to pre-pandemic levels, wage growth declines as employers regain control over the labor balance.
Furthermore, the economic composite of wages, interest rates, and economic growth remain highly correlated between “That 70s Show” and today. Such suggests that while inflation rose with the supply/demand imbalance created by the shutdown, the return to normalcy will lower inflation as economic activity slows.
With a correlation of 85%, the inflationary decline will be coincident with economic growth, interest rates, and wages.
Unlike “That 70s Show,” where economic growth and wages were rising steadily, which allowed for higher levels of interest rates and inflation, There is a singular reason why a repeat of that period is quite impossible.
The Debt Burden And Economic Weakness
What is notable about “That 70s Show” is that it was the culmination of events following World War II.
Following World War II, America became the “last man standing.” France, England, Russia, Germany, Poland, Japan, and others were devastated, with little ability to produce for themselves. America found its most substantial economic growth as the “boys of war” returned home to start rebuilding a war-ravaged globe.
But that was just the start of it.
In the late ’50s, America stepped into the abyss as humankind took its first steps into space. The space race, which lasted nearly two decades, led to leaps in innovation and technology that paved the wave for the future of America.
These advances, combined with the industrial and manufacturing backdrop, fostered high levels of economic growth, increased savings rates, and capital investment, which supported higher interest rates.
Furthermore, the Government ran no deficit, and household debt to net worth was about 60%. So, while inflation increased and interest rates rose in tandem, the average household could sustain its living standard. The chart shows the difference between household debt versus incomes in the pre- and post-financialization eras.
With the Government running a deep deficit with debt exceeding $32 trillion, consumer debt at record levels, and economic growth rates fragile, consumers’ ability to withstand higher inflation and interest rates is limited. As noted previously, the “gap” between income and savings to sustain the standard of living is at record levels. The chart shows the gap between the inflation-adjusted cost of living and the spread between incomes and savings. It currently requires more than $6500 of debt annually to fill the “gap.“
It Is Not The Same
While the Fed is currently engaged “in the fight of its life,” trying to quell inflation, The economic differences are vastly different today. Due to the heavy debt burden, the economy requires lower interest rates to sustain even meager economic growth rates of 2%. Such levels were historically seen as “pre-recessionary,” but today, they are something economists hope to maintain.
This is one of the primary reasons why economic growth will continue to run at lower levels. Such suggests we will witness an economy:
- Subject to more frequent recessionary spats,
- Lower equity market returns, and
- A stagflationary environment as wage growth remains suppressed while the cost of living rises.
Changes in structural employment, demographics, and deflationary pressures derived from changes in productivity will magnify these problems.
While many want to suggest that the Federal Reserve is worried about “That 70s Show,” we would be lucky to have the economic strength to support such a concern.
The Fed’s bigger worry should be when the impact of higher rates causes a financial break in a debt-dependent financial system.unemployment economic growth monetary policy fed federal reserve spread lockdown pandemic interest rates unemployment oil japan france germany poland russia
Elon Musk Says “Strange Almost No Legacy Media Coverage” On Worsening Southern Border Crisis
Softer UK CPI Weighs on Sterling and Lifts Gilts, while Yen Slumps to New Low for the Year, Ahead of the FOMC
Government Shutdown Risk – The Sequel
With Cushing Hitting “Tank Bottoms” Goldman Hikes Oil Price Target To $100
Hilton’s Chief Brand Officer just told us about the chain’s newest one
Higher for Longer Lifts the Dollar, while SNB Surprises Many by Standing Pat–Over to the BOE
Sunak should be wary of backtracking on net zero – what history tells us about flip-flopping on the environment
Escobar: Russia, North Korea Stage ‘Strategic Coup’ Against Western Hegemony
Wildfire risk is soaring for low-income, elderly and other vulnerable populations in California, Washington and Oregon
Lesson Of The Day: Sanctions Don’t Work Because They Create New Markets
Uncategorized21 hours ago
NFT Collector: William Mapan explains generative art using a crayon and dice
International20 hours ago
A top airport is close to fully scrapping passports (even for international travel)
Uncategorized22 hours ago
Reality TV show contestants are more like unpaid interns than Hollywood stars
International15 hours ago
Domino effect: A tourist tax is coming to another country many want to visit
Uncategorized9 hours ago
‘End of an era’ — Consensys sunsets Truffle, Ganache amid shift to Metamask Snaps
International17 hours ago
EUR/GBP: Pound falls to 2-month low against euro as BOE rate hiking cycle likely over
International22 hours ago
BOE Surprises Markets By Keeping Rates Unchanged For The First Time In Two Years
Uncategorized14 hours ago
Bond Bloodbath Trounces Tech; Batters Bitcoin, Banks, & Bullion