"Ironically, the lesson learned from this pandemic appears to be that individual freedoms trump public health." - On the contrary, the lesson is that when draconian public 'health' measures are imposed top down, in spite of obvious trade offs, and without proper acknowledgement of those trade offs, for too long, and at too great cost, there will be significant blowback.

The public health leaders and politicians only have themselves to blame for what you describe well as a 'libertarian left hook.' When you push people too far, when you cross internationally agreed ethical lines, people will naturally come out swinging. Everyone with their eyes open saw this coming. The only ones who didn't foresee it are those whose are so arrogant that their heads are somewhere we don't talk about in polite society.

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 26, 2023

I’m not aware of any country that stopped the virus. Some were able to slow the spread until the vaccines, or omicron came along.

I also think public health cannot recover without complete disclosure of what was going on in the Wuhan laboratory. There used to be a major corporation called Enron. It no longer exists. Officials were caught destroying e-mail evidence. Destroying evidence is a crime. The Chinese destroyed evidence of what the lab was doing. That is a crime in itself, and until someone in the public health community raises this issue, no respect is due.

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PO: "Studies have now convincingly shown that masks and vaccines dramatically lessen the risk of catching and transmitting SARS-CoV-2 virus."

To defend the mask hypothesis, you offer up a link to Your Local Epidemiologist as evidence masks work.

Dr Offit, Katelyn Jetelina is a very nice person, she means well, and I have supported her publication for 2 years.

But she got Gish Galloped by the mask zealots, not realizing she was getting bombarded with hundreds of bad studies.

It all started when she read a tweet by the ironically named user "nuanceORDEATH" and uncritically regurgitated his collection of studies which she felt was clear evidence masks worked [1]

As a young epidemiologist whose career was focused studying domestic violence, it could be that she wasn't aware that social science isn't a real science, [2] which is why rather than critically review each and every study she posted, or realize that the fallacy of "counting your hits and forgetting misses" was at play (only studies pro mask included - even the meat analysis included in the list would "double dip" by including the sub studies again - but only if pro mask), she was so easily duped by an impressive number of studies. You see this all the time in other pseudoscience fields, to the skeptic this isn't something new.

Now, what seems more likely:

1) We had a simple tool to prevent millions and millions of deaths for over a hundred years we simply never bothered to use (20 million worldwide flu deaths in 21st century alone; uncountable deaths from the much larger TB bacteria in 20th century) - even though we knew of the tool and tried it out in 1918 to no effect


2) Just as we found in 1918, just as we found in the studies checking if masks reduce bacterial infections in surgical wounds, and just as we found in 2020-2022 where no matter how much you masks Covid spread anyway - masks make no difference in viral transmission.

#2 seems most plausible. The question we should be focused on is why they are useless. Is it because the micropore of even the n95 could fit 3,000 virions side-by-side? Is it because trapped virions get nebulized and pushed through the mask anyway? Is it because the virions are even smaller than we thought? Could it be because airflow follows the path of least resistance and no matter how well you think your mask fits the invisible virions just travel freely through the small gaps anyway? Would a PAPR work? Would a pressurized space suit work?

You are showing me how it could be that 200 years after William Harvey described the circulatory system we clung to bloodletting anyway - even the top physicians of that era - clung to pseudoscience.

I read through all the studies Katelyn posted 3 years ago. It took me months and months to sort through. Then I continued to add another 200 or so as I came across more studies. [3]

What I found is that the way we organized scientific discovery has flaws still allowing pseudoscience to infect us.

You don't need to take my word for it. Go through the studies and make a simple graph.

X axis plot study quality, Y axis plot effect.

You will find that the weaker the study, the stronger the mask effect.

Models find masks 100% effective

Anecdotes like Missouri Salon find them 100% effective

Controlled lab experiments find them 90% effective

Observational studies find them 80% effective and it's clear that they data drudged to get those results (always studying mask use when seasonal peaks are ending)

RCT like Bangladesh find them 1% effective but the authors get to push the 10% relative difference instead, ignoring the confounders, and no one calls them out in MSM

Imagine I gave you 100 studies showing a Rabbits Foot on my rearview mirror reduces car crashes significantly and you find that the RCT shows 1% and the time I heard about two ladies in missouri not getting in a car crash 100% of the time when having a Rabbits Foot on their mirror.

You would rightfully laugh at me.

You should be laughing at this nonsense too.

Especially having 3 complete years of never ending failure of masks.


[1] https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=202002698114314&id=101805971467321

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWr39Q9vBgo

[3] https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ahaJui6Af0kGYMwHgAtnKCE6-bHbCLxnrQxuMC0kygA/edit?usp=sharing

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the cochrane review begs to differ about masks...despite the editor trying to undermine the conclusions...the meta analysis' lead authors used other Cochrane reviews as precedent to guide the language used in the review which stated: wearing a mask probably makes little to no difference in lab confirmed covid infection prevalence. Which also aligns with its 2020 results, which were strangely delayed for a reason still to be discovered.

and the mayo clinic study of personnel showing the more shots one has taken the more covid infections one has suffered differs from the vaccines reduce transmission & duration of illness. then there is the real world example of you know: AFRICA and most of ASIA & Latin America which did not vaccinate and had better outcomes than the USA and other rich, 1st world nations.

the loss in trust in public health is self-inflicted. Offit is committing hari-kari by continuing to push failed policies while ignoring the risks+harms of the policies pushed by these institutions:

masks: look at "long covid" symptoms & compare them to adverse effects of prolonged mask use. the Ven diagram is almost a perfect overlap. even cnn docs are acknowledging delayed speech and the american academy of pediatrics adjusted their speech & language adoption guidelines amidst the covid nonsense...just a coincidence for sure ;)

covid shots: rapidly wanning efficacy, IGg4 antibody priming risk, poor quality control of 100% intact mrna in the vials, adverse reactions to the shots, among other issues.

go read news in Germany, they are reckoning with the damage the mrna shots have caused. even the UK is paying out damages to the vaccine injured.

then there are the twitter files exposing public (biden admin: whitehouse, DHS, FBI, among others) private (Twitter we know, but likely google/youtube, facebook among others) partnerships to censor US citizens.

The latest piece of the propaganda puzzle we are learning is by Lee Fang who discovered Pfizer covertly funding non-profits pushing for vaccine mandates.

Offit has been better than the worst - but still bad on covid. we are not worse off for the next pandemic. we are in the same place because the incompetent operators of the failed policies remain in place with 0 accountability.

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hey Paul, even Fauci disagrees w/ you about masks...

“From a broad public-health standpoint, at the population level, masks work at the margins — maybe 10 percent.”

– Anthony Fauci


the fitting & popular onomatopoeia with the kids these days is: OOF!

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You are right. This is a serious problem. But you should place the blame fairly on the unfair, inconsistent, and arbitrary diktats by politicians and bureaucrats. Their bullying, lying, and censorship showed that they had contempt for the public. E.g. churches, synagogues, and mosques were unfairly singled out for closure, while casinos, pot shops, liquor stores, and abortion mills stayed open. Outdoor church services were banned while mass protests were encouraged.

Even before that, bureaucrats delayed approval of testing, and your hero Fauci lied that masks were ineffective. Once the public knows that somoene is prepared to lie, the public is going to be very slow to trust him again.

Leftist doctors like Eric Topol fought to delay approval of Covid vaccines, when Covid was killing 1,000 people per day. But what is 30,000 unnecessary deaths compared to the vital need to stop Trump from having a political win just before Election Day?

So of course, the public returned the contempt, fought back, resulting in all these laws to prevent such practices in the future.

The pendulum of course swung too far in the other direction, with the problems you note.

See The Pandemic Public-Health Disaster

How and why it all went wrong

by James B. Meigs

Commentary, Feb 2022


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Only a fool that never learned from history would "look to the government to protect us". 2020 just proved that history repeats and governments' response to a pandemic ALWAYS causes more harm than the pandemic itself.

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Hi Dr. Offit. I am honored to see that you are recommending my Substack! As a long-time admirer of your work, I am *beyond* grateful for your support. Thank you for being a voice of reason and sanity throughout the pandemic! Respectfully, Lucy McBride, MD

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Dr Offit, I urge you to embrace skepticism as you are repeating demonstrably false ideas which I confident if you stepped back and re-appraised from a disinterested point of view you would realize are pseudoscience.

>>"First, this won’t be the last pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus. Pandemic coronavirus SARS-1 appeared in 2002, MERS in 2012, and SARS-CoV-2 in 2019. That’s three pandemic viruses in the last 20 years."<<

What happened when South Korea in the late 90's started as mass screening program for thyroid cancer? They started finding thyroid cancer everywhere. A 15 fold jump in under 2 decades. Surgery for thyroid quintupled. Suddenly, thyroid cancer was everywhere.

Why? Was it just luck that South Korea started testing everyone *at the exact moment* thyroid cancer exploded in the population? That would be incredible luck!

No, it was an instance of overdiagnosis, which you are intimately familiar with as a physician. This wasn't the first time we got fooled by our new found diagnostic powers, and it won't be the last. What is important is that there was a (mostly) dispassionate appraisal of the evidence and South Korea recognized there was a problem and rathe than double down on mass testing and surgery, they scaled back diagnosis [1]

Likewise, you point to us "discovering" 3 new novel coronaviruses in under 2 decades, as some sort self evident proof that coronaviruses are an emerging threat that deserve huge budgets and a global apparatus of health bureaucracy to track, monitor, and battle.

I suspect it's just the modern retelling of the "snake in the tree" parable from Genesis - here, we get a taste of knowledge - and immediately find something terrifying with that knowledge - and rather than consider that perhaps what we are scared of was always there, we just didn't the knowledge to know it - we panic and insist it's just a coincidence that we happened to find this scary thing at the exact moment we obtained the knowledge to see it.

No different than Adam being ashamed of his nakedness, not considering he had always been naked - it was just the apple from the tree of knowledge that let him realize it.

Coronaviruses have been on this planet for 300 million years (per Ralph Baric). Bats for 50 million years. Our earliest ancestors 3 million years, and they often lived in caves, among bats. Homo sapiens 350,000 years ago.

For 2.9998 million years, we don't even know about viruses. When we discover Coronaviruses some 60 years ago, we realize they aren't a threat, they just cause the common cold. We ignore them.

But then in the 80's, Ralph Baric gets convinced Coronaviruses are just a few steps away from evolving to become super viruses. Never mind they had between 3 and 300 million years to do this and hadn't, Ralph says our days are numbered.

Not realizing he sounds identical to your run-of-the-mill crazy cult leader who believes *they* arrived just in time to save us from <choose card: aliens, Jesus, race war, nuclear apocalypse>, Ralph preaches his gospel for 20 years and converts many others to his sect of scientism.

And then, in 2003, he feels vindicates with the discovery of SARS, Ralph says "ah ha! This is what I warned of!" and he and his disciples race to combat SARS only to find it faded away before he they could do anything.

Now, a skeptic may think "perhaps a virus that causes pneumonia killing 400 people out of the annual 4,000,000 pneumonia deaths has always been happening and we just didn't have the tools to know which exact virus?"

But instead Ralph preaches that this was just a warning, and we only got lucky. Next time we wouldn't be so lucky!

When MERS hits, history repeats. It fades away before Ralph et al could fight it, and rather than concede we probably don't need to overreact to 500 deaths out of a yearly 60,000,000, Ralph says "No, *this* was the last time we will get lucky! What we need to do now is make the next deadly viruses in a lab before nature does it for us!"

(All of this is laid out in defense of Ralph Baric in "The Invisible Siege". I just can't tell if the author realized how batshit crazy Ralph was when he told he explained his sect of Scientism).

[1] https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1507622

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Apr 26, 2023·edited Apr 28, 2023

Hi Dr. Offit, Thank you for being a steady and balanced voice during this pandemic. Without another way to message you, this question is off topic, but I would love it if you would address it here. I am wondering about the long term health risk of repeat infections. Is there a cumulative damage that can take place on the immune system? I am a fifty year old woman who has followed the vaccines guidance of the CDC. I took the initial series of Pfizer plus the Bivalent booster Sept. 1, 2022. I then got covid October 30, 2022 when my husband contracted it at a conference. Thankfully it was a mild infection- basically like a common cold for me and my family. It was our first infection 2 1/2 years into the pandemic. Masking with KN95, good hygiene, in addition to vaccines is what kept us in the clear for so long, but now I am wondering how to proceed going forward. Is it time to move on from masks and not worry about reinfection? When I get the flu shot every year, I just go on with my life without concern for infection. Is it the same with covid? I haven’t had the question answered to my satisfaction, and the data out there is confusing. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you in advance. The following is an article I found this morning that addresses my question, but again left me without a firm conclusion. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-01371-9

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The “public health” authorities have not instilled a lot of confidence from their handling of Covid 19. Why should we be forced to take a vaccine that was not tested like any other vaccine would? No blind studies ? Everyone got the “shot” in early trials? And where is the data ? What does the government have to hide?

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Public health authorities lost a lot of credibility, because they didn't deserve credibility. The over-reaction and poor decision making was appalling.

Dr. Offit, these "libertarian" leanings are due to the fact that these mandates simply didn't make sense. It was not an overreaction of a bunch of mouth-breathing fascists, as some might argue.

Covid is a disease that is devastating to the elderly. Under 50, mortality rates plummet. Yet we treated it as the bubonic plague, even shutting down schools. Completely nonsensical. Vigorously protect those over 50. Let the rest live their lives.

The vaccine mandates were similarly absurd. A mandated vaccine for a respiratory virus? And for those who were not at risk (e.g. college students)? And while effective in reducing mortality in the early waves, very weak evidence that the vaccines would stop transmission. So what was the point?

Public health measures must make sense. These measures made about as much sense as the animal cullings in Australia to combat Covid.

It was all theater and virtue signaling.

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you might like this recent interview given by John Ioannidis-


John did the seroprevalence study w/ Jay Bhatacharrya in spring 2020 which provided empirical data that the 3% + infection fatality rate megaphoned by the press was likely way too high. their subsequent re-analysis published in early 2022 even lowered the IFR predicted in 2020 (both of which highlighted the age based risk factor as paramount seconded by comorbidities including obesity). they used the diamond princess cruise ship outbreak among other data to compile their results.

In my opinion, John is far too kind. He's just not a political animal and gives the benefit of the doubt (relating to good intentions) to those who do not deserve it. he's a stickler for the truth and the interview is a great listen.

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