Day 487: It’s the ideology, stupid!

Richard Horton, Chief Editor of the scientific magazine „The Lancet“

“This word ‘experiment’ that’s been used is a very interesting word because the word experiment starts off from assuming a position of uncertainty. You do something in order to make a discovery or test a hypothesis, but that’s not what we’re doing here. We know exactly what is going to happen, by taking the course that the government is committed to. We know there will be an increasein infections. That’s not an experimental hypothesis to test. We know that hospitalisations are going up. We know that there will be an epidemic of Long Covid. And we know that we’re creating the risks for new variants. That is not indoubt. So what we have is a government that is pursuing an ideologically drivencomittment to force the population to accept a level of mortality and disability in order to release us from the situation we’re in currently. This has got nothing to do with data, nothing to do with experiments. This is ideology from the libertarian Right. And I think, until we confront that fact and explain that clearly to the public, that this is not about data, this is about ideology, then we’re not understanding what this government is about.“ (The Citizens)

Horton refers to the infernal announcement of Boris Johnson to get rid of all measures in UK by 19th July 2021 and letting the Delta wave ripping through the population where large portions are still unvaccinated (including children) or only partly vaccinated which is insufficient against DELTA (Planas et al., 08.07.21). Full immunization is still needed for about 80% of the population including already infected people to built up enough immunity to reduce the spread.

On 13th October 2020 (Day 216) I’ve written an angry text about how Austria fucked up the second wave. There I already assumed that the “Swedish way” – later known under “Great Barrington” and here referred to as “libertarian Right”- could have been a role model for Austria.

“The notorious Swedish Strategy to achieve herd immunity seems to be a role model for the current course of the Austrian government. Prof. Allerberger, Head of the health office AGES, invited the swedish chief epidemioligist Tegnell to Vienna in early 2021. Austria already copied some of their (misleading) strategies: Few tests for children, ignoring people at risk and the elderly. Moreover, schools were re-opened during a time with rapid increasing transmission (community spread).”

On 08th April 2021 (Day 385) I backed up my statements by including the role of scientists and politicians in general. Incompetence and epistemic trespassing will be found in all countries worldwide but this ideology to try herd immunity instead of reducing the number of infections has its origin in Great Barrington. I summed up the involved persons in this piece on 22th June (Day 467). It’s in german but you may easily spot the names and begin your own research.

In fact we deal with ideology in many countries which steep rates of new infections and large numbers of deaths. The evolvement of new and dangerous variants is mainly due to great barrington ideology. Tegnell advised Brazil (Gamma), Great-Barrington-Declaration-Founder Jay Bhattacharya claimed that India would already have herd immunity (Delta) and Whitty, CMO of Johnson proposed herd immunity through natural infection in the first wave (Alpha).

You’re able to spot libertarian right advocacy easily by one of the following expressions:

  • Flatten the curve is the only option
  • Not to overwhelm the health care system should be the primary goal
  • To prevent triage situation should be the primary goal
  • We have to live with the virus (only true after full immunization in the vast majority)
  • As soon as old and vulnerable people are protected, the pandemic is over
  • Individual responsibility
  • Children are not a driver of the pandemic!
  • Herd immunity through natural infection
  • Natural immunity is more effective than by vaccination
  • Travel and border restrictions are useless
  • Lockdowns only shift the number of deaths into the future
  • Lockdowns are totalitarian policy
  • The efficacy of masks and school closings are not confirmed
  • Do you want to have another year of lockdowns? You can’t ban people from living their life

Recently Austria’s Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, give a few remarkable interviews revealing the true nature of his policy. While the position of the green coalition partner appears to sympathize with Great Barrington here (see both of my articles above), the message of Kurz has been a bit more conflicting in the past. In June 2020, Kurz gave an real astounding interview for ‘Addendum’ when he made a lot of statements which have been scientifically quite accurate. His understanding of the pandemic seemed to be quite similar to the leaders of the zero covid strategy in eastern Asian countries. He only underestimated the risk for younger people and for himself which is still true until now. In Mid-January 2021 Kurz invited his own scientists to speak about the strategy for the next months. For a very short time, the Austrian Government tried a low incidence approach (50 per 100 000 inhabitants) but as soon as the gonverment recognized they won’t reach it by the date where the lockdown has been supposed to end, he changed the strategy to open again and get the sympathies of the people.

“It’s the declared goal of the austrian government this lockdown will end at the date we announced.” (former health minister Anschober, press conference, 08th January 2021)

Somewhat paradox in hindsight because in the June 2020 interview Kurz accused this strategy:

You must know if you open up too early and you’re risk is too high…. what will happen? The rate of new infections will immediately rise again and you have to close again. I don’t think that’s pretty popular.”

Despite the temporarily reasonable strategy, the chancellor always made clear what will happen as soon as “the vulnerable people would be protected”:

On 09th January 2021 Chief epidemiologist of the AGES, Daniela Schmid: “Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate… as soon as the vulnerable groups are protected, the situation will relax in general.”

On 13th January 2021, Infectiologist Kollaritsch: “When vulnerable people are protected as much as possible, we can live with corona like with the seasonal flu.” (FALTER, p.42)

Press conference on 17th January 2021:

Oswald Wagner, pathologist: “When vulnerable groups are vaccinated, Covid19 will loose its terror and will become a normal disease”

Chancellor Kurz: “By the date when people older than 65 are vaccinated, the vulnerable group is vaccinated, the hospitals will be overwhelmed substantially less easier, the situation will be substantially easier for all of us and the rate of new infection can be substantially higher without leading into a catastrophy.”

On 1st March 2021, Kurz stated in another press conference: “when older people and vulnerable groups are vaccinated, the entire pandemic becomes more and more a medical problem but won’t be a general problem of the population anymore.”

On 10th July, Kurz corrobated its statement about the transformation of the crisis into an individual medical problem, mainly reducing the pandemic to individual responsibility. (Kleine Zeitung, 10th July 2021)

You may well recognize the typical expressions used by great barrington sympathizers.

I wished we could reduce this ideology to right-wing parties but the truth is much more disenchanting. The libertarian right ideology during the pandemic is well supported by the green politicians, just two examples for it:

In the beginning of December, the Austrian Government decided to open up for Christmas trade and winter tourism, despite of large daily numbers of new infection and still overwhelmed hospitals.

The former green health minister justified the openings in his press release statement:

„Therefore my urgent appeal: the following four weeks will be the most important weeks since the beginning of the pandemic – every single one of us matters to not deepen the covid crisis again with the current ease of measures.”

Individual responsibility during a serous health crisis!

The current green health minister, Mückstein, announced during a press conference on 05h May 2021:

Children up to the age of ten years must not be tested. They can go without an own test with their vaccinated or tested parents for example into a restaurant or to the cinema.”

Accelerating herd immunity and let the virus rip through the younger population. The second wave has been partly caused and certainly increased by lax measures in school and kindergartens. The third wave can be directly connected to the open schools in the eastern region, followed by a “eastern lockdown”.

Evidence is clear. Ideology is mainly driving the pandemic, sadly here in Austria with polite support of the green, the red and the pink party…. our only “hope” to break the current society-dividing people party government. That’s a depressing situation for all of this fighting for low-incidence approach and saving as much people as possible from deaths and longterm disease.

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