A view of covid and the left in 14 points

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This is a guest article from Mike Haynes, a socialist who blogs and tweets as the Jobbing Leftie Historian. All guest articles express solely the views of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Left Lockdown Sceptics editorial board. Other articles published on this site should not be taken to represent the views of Mike, either.

I am part of what Owen Jones has called ‘the wonderful and weird extremely niche world of left lockdown sceptics’.  I don’t believe that Bill Gates is at the centre of a global conspiracy nor do I follow Piers Corbyn. My own niche is to think that we need a serious socialist analysis of what is going on. Yet the left has all but collapsed into the welcoming arms of statism, nationalism and even racism. To explain my position I am not going to offer a big theory of capitalism and the pandemic but simply take you on my journey in 14 basic points.

In February and March 2020, I felt in a privileged position. I had written on public health, disease and capitalism. I am certainly not a ‘scientist’ but I like to think I could pass a general first year course in epidemiology. I was also very strongly aware that the burden of disease falls more heavily the further down the social scale you go, while the opportunity to get care and support rises as you go up it. I thought then, and think now, that this should be central to any left response

In the face of a degree of panic and left hysteria, I posted various links to academic papers, Sage reports on Facebook only to be told that I was selling out by not having a political faith that covid could be smashed.  I lost count of the number of times people shouted Test, Test, Test or responded to a link to scientific paper with a piece from the Metro.

I understand the fear. What I do not understand is why hardly a single leftist I know in a good job, able to work from home on a protected salary, has reflected for a moment on their privileged position and what lockdowns have meant for others who are less fortunate. Elsewhere I have called these people the labour zoomocracy – a self-obsessed layer that has hung like a dead weight over the covid debate – gesturing to collective solidarity while supporting the most reactionary positions and waiting for the next home delivery.   

But how do we distinguish good science and politics from bad science and bad politics? I am going to simply state my first 4 points:

1. Covid is a serious infectious disease that is mild for many but kills vulnerable people
2. Long Covid too exists but is exaggerated by fear, self-report and advocacy groups
3. There are more dangerous diseases than covid
4. In absolute, and possibly relative terms, covid will kill more in poor countries

For me good politics and good science then feed off one another. But you have to make an effort to find out. At the start I listened to carefully to i-Sage but then I noticed weird things.  One was the disappearance of Allyson Pollock from it. I knew of Pollock from her work in defending the NHS from privatisation so how could they fallen out? Years before I had heard Margaret McCartney, a Glasgow GP and writer, speak. Her book The Patient Paradox: Why Sexed‑Up Medicine Is Bad for Your Health (2012) is a real eye opener. Where was she in the debate? Then I discovered George Davey Smith. The name was familiar to me from the work of Danny Dorling but I didn’t realise that this leading epidemiologist was also a strong socialist. Soon I was on the track of a whole number of serious scientists and public health specialists (most of whom had not signed the Great Barrington Declaration) who had deep misgivings over the nature of the debate and who also felt undermined by what so many on the left were saying.

I mention this not to impress (well partly) but because while the labour zoomocracy was tailing i-Sage, the Zero Covid Action group and a motley collection of medical-political figures trying to make a big name for themselves by playing on fears, these people were also trying to organise scientific discussions of covid’s unknowns. I began to learn more about the often hidden complexity of infectious diseases. This led me to my next 3 points

5. All epidemiology is about complexity and uncertainty with unexpected feedbacks
6. The nature of covid as a respiratory disease is that it will become endemic
7. The UK government has some terrific but fallible advisors. The government itself is useless and led by a charlatan

I have no time for Johnson but had Corbyn been in power as likely as not he would have been being given the same advice by the same advisors.

But I also think we need evidence-based medicine and evidence-based policy. The idea of EBM is that what works in theory may not work in practice. In the 1960s the child care specialist Benjamin Spock argued that babies would be safer if they were laid on their tummies. If they vomited, they would not choke and sudden infant death syndrome would decline. It seemed to make perfect sense. But it proved tragically wrong. Even so faith in ‘logic’ over evidence continued to prevail for far too long. Good people doing what they thought made sense caused perhaps tens of thousands of babies to die unnecessarily. Sadly, the history of medicine is often the story of good intentions leading to bad results.

Spock’s advice was an example of what today we call a non-pharmaceutical intervention. When the pandemic began it seemed that NPIs were the way forward – lockdowns, bubbles, masks, Perspex screens, work from home, border controls and so on. I perfectly understand this. But a year and a half on we still have no idea which, if any of these, work in practice. We are expected to accept them as a matter of faith. The next step is then to say that if they are not  working this is probably because we are not doing them hard enough – so what we need is more of the same. So, strong is the faith that the left has fallen  for the argument that all that matters is NPI policy.  Every variation in the number of covid cases and mortality is then simply a product of government’s not having the will to impose the harshest restrictions.

Some will say that even if NPIs don’t work they are not necessarily making things worse. The Spock example shows that to be a dangerous logic. And even if the effect of a NPI is neutral in itself   it may crucially misdirect us from finding out what does. So this takes us to points 8 and 9.

8. The role of policy in the pandemic is usually exaggerated
9. All interventions should be evidence based. This is not being done for non-pharmaceutical interventions.

There is something else. We cannot all lockdown. Someone has to keep things going – actually quite a lot of people. We know that covid strikes poorer communities who tend to do the work which cannot be done from home and in which people live on top of one another. We know too that if a school is closed poor children are the most disadvantaged. So we are absolutely not in this together.  Some of us have been doing very nicely thankyou while others have served and continue to serve us. Covid and its mitigation is a class act. It is not enough to say: ‘well, we have argued that these people need decent sick pay’. We all need to reflect on how our protection is someone else’s risk. So this is point 10.

10. Covid and non-pharmaceutical interventions fall unequally and that the middle classes use their position to off load risk onto others.

Maybe some NPIs too are just a step too far for other reasons? I do not think a border can ever keep out an infectious disease but I am part of that socialist tradition that believes all border controls are racist. I am horrified that people I used to respect now chase the mirage of zero covid, defend red list, amber lists etc, demand more state controls and celebrate state repression in the name of public health.

11. The left compounds its failures by supporting reactionary covid nationalism, racist border controls, zero covid fantasies

What we should be doing is engaging in a sustained social critique that looks at how both covid as a disease and our response to it is moulded by capitalism and its inequalities and campaigning for change in something more than zoom meetings.

12. A radical programme would look beyond lockdown sticking plasters at structural factors in housing, work, income and at the scale and nature of health service provision

We are now at important place where we have vaccines that work. I think they need careful monitoring but so far there is nothing to suggest that we should not persuade people to have them. But I say persuade. I do not believe we should force people. Indeed, I think force is counter-productive because it will be used by the repressive state against the most oppressed people. I would have thought that this was left politics for dummies. Yet it seems for many on the left the highest form of class struggle is condemning Boris Johnson while demanding that the state he runs takes more decisive action to coerce people.

There is something worse. Many on the left demand ‘save our kids’ by jabbing them. But we know that children are at minimum risk. Yet there are people who need vaccines today who are at much greater risk. The trouble is they are in Latin America, Africa and Asia and they need more than the cheap solidarity of a zoom meeting. So these are my final two points.

13. Vaccines work and adults should be encouraged but not forced to have them
14. Global vaccine inequality is a disgrace made worse by demands to prioritise low-risk rich world kids

Is this view niche? If it is the shame perhaps lies with those imagine that they can use covid to fight a proxy war against capitalism from behind their own sofas.

36 thoughts on “A view of covid and the left in 14 points

    1. Indeed. A ludicrous position. I did continue reading after that, however. There’s a lot more nonsense. He then goes on to say the world’s focus should be on vaccinating the Third World and, no doubt, continuing to vaccinate and re-vaccinate ad infinitum. Big Pharma’s got to have its profits, after all!

      1. Covid vaccination for the poorest countries is as much an abusive clinical corruption as trying (and succeeding too often) to shove AVT, Nevrapine & other toxic drugs down these peoples throats when the absolutely overwhelming causes of death are hunger & lack of access to clean water. That kills 100k a day. Even here in Europe & North America the average age of death is STILL over 80, 18 months on.

    2. Well, Bill, I am a Rightie, though like most here I oppose the appalling statist, totalitarian behaviour of the current dreadful government {not That Starmer should hold his head up high over his approach to covid}. I came here because of a link at lockdownsceptics.org, and, not surprisingly, share a great deal with this article (indeed almost all the ideas expressed here). It is, however, surely clear that SOME border control scenarios could have racist effects (with or without intention), but that comment about ALL border controls strikes me as pretty offensive and, in at least many cases, simply ridiculous.

      My only other serious reservation about the author’s suggestions relates to the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines. There is much doubt on the latter, given the UK yellow card reports and the American Vaers reports and there is now great doubt about the effectiveness of the vaccines because of the delta variant (see for instance https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/08/10/delta-variant-has-wrecked-hopes-herd-immunity-warn-scientists/ or possibly the Guardian or Times has now reported on this).

  1. Some good stuff in there but some misconceptions also. Vaccines don’t “work”. There might be a temporary respite but it’s being proven that they don’t stop transmission and don’t stop you catching it. More hospitalisations now coming from the vaccinated. Reports now out of Israel showing people who have had the THIRD jab are getting covid.

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/tv-14-israelis-who-got-3rd-shot-later-infected-with-covid-19/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

    Adverse reactions are in the millions, deaths in the tens of thousands. Every vaccine in history was pulled long before the numbers got this high. Long term adverse reactions won’t be known for a long time. Funny that.
    Sadly there is no “left” anymore. That means there is a void. The latte sipping zoomocracy as you nicely describe them, are going to get a nasty shock when those who genuinely are left, and not just faux left, faux concerned wannabe liberals – decide to organise. The zoomocracy will be rightly remembered as traitors to their class.

    1. I agree with you Kay. The vaccines are causing a lot of problems. With every leader in the world demanding we all get vaccinated, or else we’re selfish, then I simply smell a rat. We don’t have any control groups left in the trial, every last one of the control groups were given a different shot, now where’s the science in that? They want us all vaccinated as even if 30% of the world population were not vaccinated that control group could not be ignored, and I think that’s what the leaders are scared of.

        1. I just have, I haven’t found much other than discussion of lab Vs natural Origen’s for C19 and attacks on anti vax movement
          Dr McCullough is a senior doctor in the FDA and we’ll positioned to assess vaers data. Dr Malone is well qualified to talk about vaccine and gene therapy development within us and military circles, as well as possible behaviours of spike proteins. His assessments of those behaviours have much common ground with assessments by many eminent doctors.

    2. Well said Kay.

      It’s becoming very clear that these ‘vaccines’ do not work – how ridiculous it is a vaccine that does not prevent infection nor spread of a disease but merely lessens the severity.

      1. Get bent Ron, the vaccines are savings lives. Maybe you don’t think lives are worth saving but many of us do. What a ridiculous position to hold.

    3. FFS will you use your brain and at least read the articles you post?

      “It was not immediately clear whether the 14 contracted the virus before or after receiving the booster. Such sporadic instances would not be enough for medical officials to draw conclusions as to the third dose’s general effectiveness in fighting off the Delta variant of the disease.

      Eleven of the 14 cases were over the age of 60, and the remaining three were immunocompromised individuals under 60, the network said. The two that were hospitalized were over 60.

      Some 420,000 Israelis have been administered a third booster shot so far, in a drive that began last week.”

      And you think this is enough for you to say the vaccines don’t work? Give me a break.

      1. These “breakthrough events” fit with ADE, partly because they are occurring in the vaccinated disproportionately, even after allowing for a high proportion of the elderly ( and closer to age of mortality) being vaccinated. The average age of death from covid before vaccines was nearer 80 than 60 and includes 2.8 serious comorbidities on average. The “breakthrough cases” are also out of character for the disease in terms of seasonality as well as the age of the patients.

  2. “Covid will kill more in poorer countries”
    Not so sure about that
    Have you looked at the population and death numbers for the whole of Africa throughout the Scamdemic

  3. The Left are basically following the edicts of the Davos billionaires and multinationals. Bill Gates is not a socialist. The population, including the Left, are inclined to believe what they are told because of the furlough. This has genuinely helped millions. The question arises is what will happen when the funding is withdrawn and we are asked to pay for it? Many minds will change.

  4. Solid article, thank you. Have you looked into early treatment protocols with repurposed drugs? There is a growing swell of evidence, Both in trials and observational studies and on the ground experience with thousands of patients around the world, for impressive efficacy, safety, and affordability. Truly, a peoples response, a socialist response, would be to make cheap, safe, and effective treatments available for everyone, minimizing hospitalizations, and saving Hundreds of thousands of lives.

  5. It is simply not factually true to claim that this virus is a “serious infectious disease”. Stop right there. That is not a supportable statement. This is and has been a racket. Using high PCR to amplify viral load and projecting it as pathogenic. False death coding. Until such are reckoned with the whole narrative is undermined. You build an argument past that and you get called for it. Stand and deliver!

      1. Do you know about the remdisevr and midalzolam accusations, and the Indian Barr suing the WHO, for preventing use of ivermectin? https://odysee.com/@Fazenda.Mondego:5/IQ:a
        PCR testing is thoroughly discredited being recalled in the US, as has the lateral flow testing been
        PCR testing as used gives circa 97% false positives due to a combination of Bayes theorem and misuse. Established in several courts now, the first was Portugal, but also Austria and Belgium.

    1. “It is simply not factually true to claim that this virus is a “serious infectious disease” ”

      Precisely. All-cause mortality shows no inflection attributable to this virus. This is ABC stuff that any alleged ‘leftist’, grovelling at the feet of the panic myth induced by capital, should have grasped. It’s really not difficult – this was a totally unexceptional year historical terms, lying at the 75th centile for mortality over the last quarter of a century.

      Even a dozy brainwashed public sussed the uselessness of the alleged ‘left’ when push came to shove – preferring a patent liar and narcissist to a self-seeking funny hair-do that was the Labour Party’s latest offer.

      To state that

      “we have vaccines that work”

      … when (the largely unpublished) absolute risk reduction is around 1%, and adverse events are startling in proportion, shows a massive ignorance. And that’s before taking on board that the testing program for the snake oil has been trashed, so that no statement on safety can be made, by definition; there is no worthwhile medium or long-term data that indicates a safe concoction.

      The only remarkable feature of the wider ‘left’ (particularly unions) in this debacle is it’s total uselessness and lack of intelligence, supporting stupidly unscientific NPIs (just ‘more’ and ‘more often’ in a failed attempt to best a corrupt government). Even universal child abuse is OK, it seems, with school closures and unnecessary physical assaults with gene therapy welcomed.

      Doh!

  6. “We are now at the important place where we have vaccines that work.”

    Whoops! Back to school, Mike. 0/10.

    As soon as you look **in depth** at the rushed in poison-stabs, three things become quite clear about them:

    Unnecessary, ineffectual, and lethal.

    Look at the European Medicines Agency’s EudraVigilance figures for deaths and total adverse effects in the EU – about half of them seriously life-changing – that the poison-stabs have caused already. Officially-admitted figures in Europe are already over twenty thousand dead of the stabs, over a million adversely affected, half seriously. See also ONS Yellow Card system in Britain; and the VAERS system run by the US CDCs. Officially admitted figures, Mike!!! Definitely dangerous. Realistic death tolls already in the scores of thousands (admitted) and pretty certainly at least one order of magnitude above the recorded, admitted figures. Definitely lethal.

    Lots of people whom I know personally have had what’s purported to be covid – a flu-like slight illness – including me. None has been seriously ill. All, without exception, have recovered swiftly, especially if taking helper-treatments such as vitamins C and D, ivermectin, or the hydroxychloroquine-based cocktails used by Drs. Didier Raoult in Marseilles and Vladimir Zelenko in NYC, to mention just two of the many frontline doctors who’ve actually been treating covid patients. Hundreds of people, who recovered pretty easily in most cases. Virtually no deaths. I do know people who’ve been seriously ill with the disease, and though I know of none personally, I believe that a small minority of seriously vulnerable people have died of if it. But the fake ‘vaccines’ do nothing to help them. Poison-stabs totally unnecessary.

    Lots of poor suckers who’ve accepted two doses of the stabs now turning up in hospital with worse-than-ever covid. Manufacturers of the poisons **specifically state** that their junk doesn’t prevent infection, doesn’t prevent infectiousness to others, and doesn’t immunise you to covid long-term – or even at all. All they claim is that the junk will lessen the severity of symptoms – which also seems to be false. In the meantime, lots of doctors and other professionals in appropriate fields point out that if you get covid and defeat it with your own immune system, maybe assisted by genuine treatments, you’re pretty nearly certain to be immune thereafter for life. If you won’t believe the horses’ own mouths about the poison-stabs, who will you believe? Ineffectual.

    How can you accuse other leftists of being blinkered to the realities, Mike, when you can make a truly elementary gaffe like this? Please do educate yourself out of any trust at all in the deadly gene-tampering injections falsely called ‘vaccines’. And when you have, please spread the word!

    1. Suggest for this aspect; research Dr Tess Lawrie, who has done meta analysis of ivermectin studies, as well as in depth analysis of the adverse events to the vaccines. She has done many interviews. Eghttps://covidcalltohumanity.org/2021/06/14/dr-tess-lawrie-covid-vaccines-unsafe-for-human-use/

  7. A lot of misconceptions. There’s plenty of evidence that lockdowns work and many countries have halted altogether the advance of difficult to control variants. Also, it’s “cool” to think that vaccines should be a choice, but if there’s a lot of people that are not fully vaccinated yet, and a lot of people who aren’t going to get vaccinated, there’s the perfect environment for a deadly virus to evolve. If we are to remain as a race, we need to take health measures as a group or else diseases will evolve in the unvaccinated and will lead to damage to all groups. The virus has no prejudice for right or left wings.

    1. Explain Texas, Florida, north Vs South Dakota, and Sweden then… Lockdown has little effect on the disease but is bad for most people.
      ..

    2. Lots of misconceptions in your text, Christian.

      First, this COVID-19 virus is NOT “deadly”; wait: “deadly” in the common meaning of the word: its IFR (infection fatality rate) is very low, and we know it since the beginning (since the first Chinese scientific publications; since J. Joannidis paper published on 26 March 2021): not very different from common flu.

      Another misconception that I usually call “Darwinism from Readers Digest” is what you call “the perfect environment for a deadly virus to evolve”. Almost all studies (I mean by “studies” real research work producing conclusions that have been re-observed or replicated) on the evolution of _pathogens_ (caution: pathogens are NOT parasites! Models like “lynx eats hare” DO NOT apply in epidemiology of _diseases_) were performed on diseases caused by _organisms_, i.e., bacteria, fungi, protozoa; NOT on things that when are outside a diseased cell are nothing but physico-chemical particles, are are viruses. Even regarding those pathogens, the take-home lesson is, the best pathogens are those that do not kill their host; and so, when they evolve, their descendants will have a _lower_ virulence, i.e., they will be NOT more contagious, lethal, whatever, as the mainstream media always headline regarding C19.

      Third misconception: “If we are to remain as a race, we need to take health measures as a group or else diseases will evolve in the unvaccinated”. Or they won’t evolve, who knows? There is immunity, and this word encompasses several very different physiological processes of defence of the organisms. Influenza is evolving possibly since a few millennia, and the last time I have checked, it seems it has not become worse and worse, i.e., new more virulent mutations did not build upon the previous deadliest, they just occurred randomly, by chance: a few mutations were bad, they have caused epidemics, but we have “remained as a race”, and increased in numbers, and learned how to feed those numerous new mouths sustainably, even reducing the area occupied by the production of foodstuffs. And we learned a lot about how to treat diseased people and mitigate the development of their diseases: half a century ago, TB patients were sent to special hospitals, isolated from their families, but now they are treated without separation from their families, even from work! Another fact, perhaps half of the dead people from the influenza epidemic one century ago actually died from complications, secondary bacterial infections; but all over the rest of the 20th century complicated flu cases were treated with antibiotics that prevented those secondary bacterial infections and reduced enormously the fatalities subsequent to influenza.

      So, calm down, don’t take the path that the ruling class and the dominant ideology are pushing you, forcing you to follow. If you are a true progressist, please do as all our predecessors have done to build the welfare we enjoy: be rational, chose science and avoid superstition.

    3. If the virus evolves it becomes weaker… Virology 101, it tries to survive.
      Sweden, Nicaragua, Belarus did great without lockdowns.
      Lockdowns cause low vitamin d levels which most of us are deficient in… Perhaps that’s why those who locked down did worse?

      The Delta variant is 99.97% identical. But somehow the vac doesn’t work on that?

      However SARS 1 is 80% identical and they found those immune to it are immune to cov2.

      But that’s never going to be reported.

    4. “There’s plenty of evidence that lockdowns work”

      Nope. It’s that simple.

      … but there’s a lot of evidence that they cause massive collateral harm. Any defender of the NHS should see the damage that’s been done to it by the panic meme, as waiting lists rocket and undiagnosed/untreated disease heads skywards – for no observable gain.

  8. A very good but flawed article.

    Still does not quite answer why the overwhelmingly those of my former tribe, The Left & the socially liberal, and not just those active in politics but also most of my friends support/believe/promote and do not question The Narrative? How did The Right have champions of liberty among them but yet so nearly completely lacking among us? Do we not value liberty or it something that we are too willing to trade for the promise of security and the badge of social cohesion?

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