By : Rebekah Barnett New paper by Dr Aseem Malhotra for the Journal of Insulin Resistance This is pretty stunning. Dr Aseem Malhotra, preeminent cardiologist and public medical expert, is calling for mRNA Covid vaccination to be suspended world wide until the raw trial data has been released and analysed by independent experts, and safety signals have been addressed. In a twopart peerreviewed article published today in the Journal of Insulin Resistance, Malhotra provides a review of the evidence from both randomised trials and real world data pertaining to Covid mRNA vaccines. The results are sobering: ”In the nonelderly population the “number needed to treat” to prevent a single death runs into the thousands. Reanalysis of randomised controlled trials using the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology suggests a greater risk of serious adverse events from the vaccines than being hospitalised from COVID19. Pharmacovigilance systems and realworld safety data, coupled with plausible mechanisms of harm, are deeply concerning, especially in relation to cardiovascular safety. Mirroring a potential signal from the Pfizer Phase 3 trial, a significant rise in cardiac arrest calls to ambulances in England was seen in 2021, with similar data emerging from Israel in the 16–39yearold age group.” (emphasis mine) Malhotra concludes that, due to the persistent and widespread misinformation about risks and benefits of these products, even in medical professional circles, ”It cannot be said that the consent to receive these agents was fully informed, as is required ethically and legally.” For this reason, he says that, “a pause and reappraisal of global vaccination policies for COVID19 is long overdue.” The two article parts are linked at the end of this post. Meanwhile, for the elevator pitch version, watch here: Remember, Malhotra went on Good Morning Britain to promote Covid vaccines during the initial rollout. He was one of the first to roll his sleeve up to take the primary series of Pfizer shots in January 2021. He regarded criticism of Covid vaccines as antivax propaganda. He has done a complete 180. I have great admiration for Malhotra’s intellectual courage and humility in publicly reversing course on this. Unfortunately, it was the sudden and inexplicable cardiac death of his 73 year old father in July 2021 that planted the seed for Malhotra’s line of enquiry into Covid vaccine safety, particularly pertaining to cardiac health, which is his area of expertise. Malhotra’s father had received two of Pfizer’s mRNA shots within the six months prior to his death. Other than that, he was in excellent health when he died, and Malhotra could not make sense of his post mortem results, which showed severe blockages in two of his three major arteries. Several months later, Malhotra came across a peerreviewed abstract which showed strong correlation between mRNA vaccines and significantly increased the risks of a coronary events. This made him wonder if his father’s inexplicable death could be related to the mRNA vaccine, and thus he began a systematic review of the data. PART ONE Key findings:
“One has to raise the possibility that the excess cardiac arrests and continuing pressures on hospitals in 2021/2022 from nonCOVID19 admissions may all be signalling a nonCOVID19 health crisis exacerbated by interventions, which would of course also include lockdowns and/or vaccines.” It made me think of this ludicrous clip from April of this year, in which QLD Minister for Health Yvette D'Ath claimed that a sudden 40% rise in code 1 emergency ambulance calls definitely could not be explained: “I don’t think anyone can explain why we saw a 40% jump in code 1s… I’ll walk into an ambulance service and they’ll say, we had a 30% increase in code 1s yesterday. Can’t tell you why. We just had a lot of heart attacks and chest pains and trouble breathing, you know, respiratory issues. Sometimes you just can’t explain why those things happen.” She even closed with a tidy little ‘it’s not the vaccines though’ rejoinder. Clown World. I covered it a few months ago HERE.
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A new report from Australian think tank The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) calls Australia’s zerocovid strategy and its associated lockdown measures, “a humanitarian disaster.” It’s easy to understand why the authors (Morgan Begg, Director of the IPA’s Legal Rights Program, and Daniel Wild, Deputy Executive Director of IPA) came to this conclusion. They found that Australia's Covid response, which involved some of the longest lockdowns in the world, cost $934.8 billion and resulted in 31 x more life years lost than were saved. Australian federal, state and territory governments threw out the evidencebased Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza (written in 2014 and updated by the federal department of health in August 2019) in favour of an unscientific, costly, and frankly cruel zerocovid approach. It was an abject failure. IPA’s Hard Lessons reports quantifies just how much this failure cost Australia in life years, economic terms, and in educational losses. KEY FINDINGS 1. The direct economic, fiscal and inflationary cost of pandemic measures stand at $938.4 billion as at the end of the 202122 financial year. The authors calculate the total cost of Australia’s pandemic response by assessing net direct economic cost ($2.49 billion), government spending ($595.8 billion), and the cost of inflation arising from zerocovid measures. This estimate is conservative, as it only accounts for direct costs. Examples of costs not included: extra policing resources to enforce public health directions, and costs of transitioning public sector workers to work from home. This estimate accounts for the period from March 2020 to June 2022. Australia can expect to surpass the trillion dollar mark as the Covid response continues, which the trending hashtag #covidisnotover (favoured by Twitter white coats and health policy spokespeople) indicates that it will do for some time yet. 2. The costs of joblessness and not working on life expectancy as a result of the first nationwide lockdowns in March and April 2020 were 31 times greater than the maximum possible benefits of all lockdowns. The authors calculate the maximum number of life years saved due to Australia’s Covid lockdowns (Mar 2020  Jan 2022) to be 57,300.1. This is a generous estimate that encompasses life years saved by lockdowns not just in terms of Covid outcomes, but also due to concomitant factors such as reduced road traffic (and therefore fewer road deaths). My only query is over the estimated life years lost due to long Covid effects, for which the authors defer to UNSW Professor of Economics Gigi Foster’s Cost Benefit Analysis of lockdowns. Given that there is widespread disagreement about the frequency and severity of long Covid, I would like to know how Foster arrived at her figure, and how variations might affect the overall calculation of life years saved. The authors reference an international body of literature detailing the negative effects of unemployment on life expectancy, largely due to stress (which induces cardiovascular disease); illicit substance and alcohol abuse; and suicide. Loss of life expectancy is a permanent effect  research shows that even when the person becomes employed again, the life expectancy lost is never recovered. The total number of life years lost just in the initial nationwide lockdowns of March and April 2020 was almost 1.8 million years due to job losses alone. 3. Students have suffered significant setbacks, particularly in Victoria where Year 9 students reading and numeracy skills have fallen behind by 12 weeks and 17 weeks, respectively. The authors highlight that Covid is an illness that primarily affects the elderly, and yet Australian children copped the frontline effects of our zerocovid measures. As early as April 2020, experts warned that young Australians were at risk of adverse effects on their educational outcomes, nutrition, physical movement, social, and emotional wellbeing by being physically disconnected from school. While students from all states and territories fell behind in educational outcomes, those with longer lockdowns suffered the worst (See: Victoria). The authors note that Sweden did not close schools during the pandemic, and subsequent research has shown no learning loss. OTHER TAKE AWAYS Mental health Researchers have found that:
Sporting clubs have seen declines in participation, membership, volunteers, and revenue. In total, Australia’s 70,000 community sporting clubs have lost a combined $1.6 billion due to restrictions. The authors point out that sporting clubs are just one node in our network of community life. This area demands further research to ascertain the full effects of lockdowns on the social fabric. Decline of physical health and fitness As obesity is a key comorbidity for poor Covid outcomes, it was striking that Australian zerocovid policies so aggressively restricted opportunities for exercise and physical fitness. 35% of Australians gained weight during the pandemic, according to a survey by the Royal Association College of General Practitioners. Victoria took the hardest hit Victoria bears the brunt of the losses detailed in the report. Melbourne had the longest lockdown of any other city on earth, and has paid a steeper price in monetary, life year and educational losses than any other state or territory as a result. #sackdanandrews There’s no other way to characterise the zerocovid policies of Australia’s federal, state and territory governments. The harms were extraordinary and grossly outweighed any benefits afforded. Almost a trillion dollars has been spent to achieve a loss of life years in the order of 31 times any life years saved. Children have suffered disproportionately, with those being locked down the longest experiencing the most severe educational setbacks. Australians’ health has been compromised, and our social fabric has been sorely damaged. It’s a hard lesson.
Thanks to the IPA for taking pains to produce this comprehensive report. It’s the kind of thing our governments should have done before they threw all pandemic plan wisdom out the window in favour of the failed zerocovid approach. With independent think tanks like IPA stimulating public discussion of what went wrong, we have the opportunity to learn, and to never repeat these mistakes again. A recent study found that 99.5% of medical specialists can't calculate a basic probability equation. That's not good news for patients. ‘Of the many “how did this happen???” questions that swirl around the manufactured COVID crisis, one of the most troubling has been, “How did doctors fall for all of this?” We’ve come to expect politicians to lie to us, in order to serve the interests of their real constituents (who plainly do not include you and me). And Yes Minister taught us that we should expect “public servants” to lie to us, either by commission or omission, because it ain’t the public that they’re serving: But doctors? Aren’t we supposed to be able to trust them to make decisions in the best interests of their patients? And aren’t they supposed to be highly educated men and women of science, deeply versed in the scientific method, and wellequipped to dissect studies and spot their flaws?
My previous article, Your doctor is not your doctor, answered the first question. As I wrote in that article: “The line between public health and the practise of medicine – a line that has become increasingly blurry over the past decades, as Dr Mukesh Haikerwal tacitly acknowledged when endorsing the Declaration of Geneva as a reaffirmation of the role of doctors as independent professionals who owed a duty of care to their patients – has now been completely erased, and the manufactured COVID19 crisis was the implement used to erase it. Now, when you go to see the person whom you think of as ‘your doctor’, there’s an extra party in the consultation room: the state, which has inserted itself into the doctorpatient relationship without your consent. In fact, it’s fair to say that the forced incorporation of health practitioners into the apparatus of public health has for all intents and purposes destroyed the doctorpatient relationship.” Your doctor is not your doctor An article recently published in JAMA Network Open provides at least a partial answer to the second question: over 99 per cent of doctors can’t do basic probability calculations required to assess the likelihood of a particular diagnosis, or the likely success of a treatment, when two or more independent events are involved. The study, ‘Analysis of Physicians’ Probability Estimates of a Medical Outcome Based on a Sequence of Events' surveyed 215 specialists in the fields of either obstetrics and gynaecology or pulmonology, and asked them to estimate the probability of success of each of two components of a diagnostic or prognostic sequence, as well as the overall probability of success of the twostep sequence1. The conjunction fallacyThe authors were interested in finding out whether the conjunction fallacy – that is, the misestimation of the overall probability of success when two or more independent events are involved – is a likely source of the errors that doctors make in both diagnosis and prognosis. As they explain: “The probability of a conjunction of 2 independent events is the product of the probabilities of the 2 components and therefore cannot exceed the probability of either component. A violation of this basic law of probability is called the conjunction fallacy.” Analysis of Physicians’ Probability Estimates of a Medical Outcome Based on a Sequence of Events To illustrate with an example that is highly relevant to me right now, if I wanted to calculate the probability that I will be sitting down to a big bowl of lovely ripe mulberries from my mulberry tree tomorrow, I would need to estimate a) the probability that enough of the currently almostripe mulberries will be fullyripe by tomorrow to warrant a mulberrypicking excursion and b) the probability that the birds don’t get them first, and then multiply the two figures by each other. Don’t be fooled by their adorable faces and technicolour clownsuits; these are highlytrained and utterly ruthless mulberry marauders Check out this rogues galleryAs anyone with even the most tenuous grasp of mathematics will quickly realise, the overall probability of me getting to enjoy my mulberries tomorrow cannot exceed the probability of either of the independent factors. For example, assuming a 60 per cent (0.6) probability of rapidaction ripening, even if I deploy enough birdnetting, Mylar ribbons and propanepowered cannons (yes, they’re a thing) to deter all but the most badass birds, thus preserving 90 per cent (0.9) of the berries, there still cannot be a greater than 60 per cent probability of me feasting on ripe mulberries tomorrow. In fact, the overall probability of me getting a bowl full of ripe mulberries tomorrow is 0.9 x 0.6 = 0.54, or 54 per cent. OK, back to the study. The ob/gyns were given the scenario of a brow presentation discovered during labour (that is, the baby’s neck is somewhat arched so that the widest part of the head is trying to fit through the birth canal, which is impossible in the circumstances described in the scenario), and asked to estimate the probability that the patient would convert to occiput posterior (a birth position in which the baby’s head is facing forward rather than backwards, rendering vaginal delivery possible but risky) and deliver vaginally. In order to calculate the probability of a vaginal delivery, the doctors needed to estimate the probability of the two conjuncts: a) that the brow presentation would convert to occiput posterior and b) that the delivery of the nowocciput posteriorpresenting baby would be vaginal, and multiply them by each other. The pulmonologists were presented with a scenario in which a nodule was incidentally discovered in the lung of a female longterm smoker, and asked to estimate the overall combined probability that the nodule is cancerous, and that the cancerous condition would be detected via a properlyconducted needle biopsy. Once again, to derive the correct answer, the lung specialists needed to multiply the probability of the two conjuncts: a) that the patient had lung cancer and b) that the cancer would be detected by needle biopsy. Remember, by definition, the probability of the combined event cannot be greater than the probability of either of the two component events. So how did they do? “A total of 168 physicians (78.1%) estimated the probability of the 2step sequence to be greater than the probability of at least 1 of the 2 component events.” Analysis of Physicians’ Probability Estimates of a Medical Outcome Based on a Sequence of Events Uhoh. How bad were their maths skills? Compared with the product of their two estimated components (i.e. component a) multiplied by component b)), the pulmonologists’ estimates of the combined probability of a biopsy revealing cancer in the putative patient were over by 19.8 per cent, while the ob/gyns overestimated the combined probability of a vaginal delivery after conversion of a brow presentation to an occipital posterior presentation by 12.8 per cent. Neither the respondents’ sex nor the time since obtaining a medical degree were correlated with the magnitude of overestimation; whether green or experienced, male or female, these highlyqualified specialists were similarly likely to commit a basic mathematical error. When the researchers gave the ob/gyns a chance to identify and correct their own calculation errors by specifically requiring them to consider the conjunction’s components before estimating the overall probability, they did even worse, overestimating the combined probability by 18 per cent. “Because the 2 component probabilities were clearly relevant to estimating the overall probability, we concluded that the physicians did not know (or did not recognize when to use) the multiplication rule for probability. Because our third substudy [the ob/gyn doover] asked for the estimates of the components first and because these estimates were often provided in round numbers (eg, 30% or 40%), calculating the conjunctive estimate should have been relatively easy if physicians were aware of the multiplication rule.” Analysis of Physicians’ Probability Estimates of a Medical Outcome Based on a Sequence of Events Almost 80 per cent of the highlytrained respondents gave answers which were, in the restrained language of scientific studies, “mathematically incoherent (ie, formally illogical and mathematically incorrect).” In fact, out of the 215 respondents, “only 1 physician in these 3 substudies correctly estimated the conjunction probability to be exactly equal to the product of the components’ estimates.” Or, to put it another way, 99.53 per cent of doctors got it wrong. Thank you for reading Empowered! This post is public so feel free to share it. Why does it matter?Especially if you’re a little mathematically challenged yourself, you might be wondering at this point, “Does it really matter if most doctors are innumerate? How much does it affect their clinical judgment, and the advice they give to patients?” A lot, as it happens. As the authors of the study note, “The impetus for this research project was a real case involving a medical tragedy. In that case, patient counseling related to probabilities was misguided in a way consistent with the conjunction fallacy, resulting in the loss of a child due to injuries sustained during prolonged labor.” Analysis of Physicians’ Probability Estimates of a Medical Outcome Based on a Sequence of Events In other words, a baby died because the mother was not given sufficient information on the chances of her baby surviving if she continued to attempt vaginal delivery. She declined a caesarean section, which, in this case, would probably have saved the baby’s life. Basic maths skills really do matter: “Overestimation has the potential to reduce the quality of medical care in any of the myriad scenarios in which decisions depend on probability estimates.” Analysis of Physicians’ Probability Estimates of a Medical Outcome Based on a Sequence of Events The authors reference other studies providing evidence that – as they delicately put it – “many physicians may not be facile in the calculation of probability or even basic numeracy”. For example, when provided with all the information that they required to calculate the probability that a woman had breast cancer based on a positive result on mammography screening, “95% of physicians responded with a probability that was 10 times higher than the correct answer”. Take a moment to imagine the consequences of this miscalculation to the woman sitting in the doctor’s office, and you won’t be surprised that a false positive on mammography screening (that is, being recalled for further investigation after something abnormal shows up on your screening mammogram, but then finding that you’re cancerfree) is associated with elevated anxiety up to 18 months after getting the allclear. Now, think about how these findings relate to the behaviour of doctors since the outbreak of covidiacy. Many of my clients and subscribers have tried to discuss the serious limitations of PCR tests, the uselessness of face masks, and the unfavourable riskbenefit ratio of COVID19 injections, with their doctors, often taking scientific papers to their appointments in hopes of eliciting a rational discussion. Needless to say, this has not gone well. The most common response is angry dismissal, closely followed by stonyfaced repetition of the COVID catechism. Not one of my contacts has found a doctor willing to engage in discussion of research. Whilst the serious conflicts of interest that I discussed in Your doctor is not your doctor provide a large part of the explanation for this phenomenon, the finding that most doctors are disturbingly innumerate also factors in. If your sense of legitimacy and authority rests on being smarter than the average bear, it’s intimidating to be confronted by a patient who seems to have a better grasp of basic mathematical concepts than you do. What should we do with this information?The authors of the study echo other researchers’ calls to include “greater emphasis on numeracy as well as statistical and probabilistic reasoning in medical education”. Sounds like a good plan, but even if it were implemented, it’s not going to help the patients who are currently receiving inferior care because their doctors are innumerate. For the foreseeable future, if you or someone you’re responsible for is in need of medical care, it’s going to be up to you to develop some basic mathematical competency so that you can compensate for your doctor’s deficits when it comes to selecting or rejecting tests and treatments. You could:

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April 2023
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