Archive | De Ole Dawg

The-originally-proposed-Sea-Port-development

Seaport project woes

Contribution, Part 116 (‘21 # 09)

Have we cut down our CIPREG seaport project to inadequacy, by eliminating the breakwater component?

The proposed cut-down seaport development with a shortened jetty – yes, with no breakwater (so no ships can dock if “North Seas” decide to kick up some rough waves)

BRADES, Montserrat, July 8, 2021 –  In a presentation for the social/environmental impact assessment townhall meeting held on June 29th, the Montserrat public saw the “finalised” [?] cut-down, no-breakwater seaport development that is currently contemplated.  The obvious question, is whether we are again being forced to accept an inadequate, cut-down port project, similar to the bitter pill up in Geralds.

For, without a proper breakwater, it is obvious that we are back to the same problem of having to turn away ships when seas are rough that has plagued our current jetty. This has meant, for example, that tourist and cargo ships would have to turn back when seas become rough.

The proposed, cut-down seaport development, with a shortened jetty – yes, with no breakwater

Indeed, when the Port Project was officially launched on Friday, May 17, 2019, then Premier Donaldson Romeo noted that, 

“due to rough seas…out of a total of 478 calls [for 2018?], vessels were unable to berth 58 times…one vessel out of every eight had to turn back. “Yes, that is not sustainable. We had to fix the problem . . .”[1]

So, we may compare the proposed breakwater-based development at that time:

The originally proposed Sea Port development, as was publicised when the project was launched, May 17, 2019. Notice the then identified costing, which was later found to be faulty

Of course, we later heard that a Programme Management Office [PMO] review found that the cost of this general design was significantly low. While no detailed documentation or explanation of the under-costing has been given to the Montserrat public, officials in the know have suggested that the cost may have been double or more the £21.4 million identified in the chart issued on May 17, 2019. Something, that needs to be properly explained, as experienced consultants were used to developing the general design and so too to give its cost estimate. In that process, £14.4 million was found to be inadequate relative to needs and so £7 million more were transferred by the EU. Where, that obviously means our regional development bank, CDB, and the EU as well as DfID and GoM were involved in evaluating design and costs. What went wrong with the port costing, why, and why was it missed until a PMO review was undertaken? 

So, the immediate question is, are we being forced to accept another inadequate, economy-choking port? One, that will instantly cripple our tourism prospects? And if that is so, why is that being imposed now by FCDO?

After all, doesn’t the relevant clause of the legally binding UN Charter, Article 73[2] require the UK to “promote to the utmost . . . the well-being of the inhabitants of [non-self-governing] territories,” to “ensure . . . their political, economic, social, and educational advancement,” and to “promote constructive measures of development”?

In a day when, in response to pandemic, the UK will cumulatively invest over £ 300 billions in internal Covid-19 stimulus and where it spent some £300 millions on an airport for St Helena (promoted as a yardstick of what they were willing to invest), are we to seriously believe it cannot find a further £20 – 30 millions to fund an adequate sea port here? Especially, when apparently DfID, EU and CDB were all caught on the back foot (as well as GoM) on the initial costing? Is Montserrat’s vital first growth driver – tourism – to be held hostage to what seems to be a consultancy blunder?

Something, does not add up.

At minimum perhaps, we will indeed be forced to accept a grossly inadequate sea port to go with our coerced acceptance of an inadequate airport, with its far too short runway, in the wrong place.  This means that just as we have to bear in mind that Thatch Valley is the site to beat for a 5,000 foot, jet plane ready airport, Carrs Bay would be the reserved site for the “real” sea-port development, later on. But, economy-choking ports are going to make that future date shrink even further into the distant future.

Not good.

Far better would be to frankly face whatever errors led to a problem with costing, then seek a solution. Where, no, in a pandemic age we need an adequate hospital so, rob Peter to pay Paul won’t work. Nor can we continue to neglect the social housing challenge nor the needed upgrade to our only high school. Thank God, after a decade of struggle with a clearly reluctant DfID, we now have restored fibre optic digital access and Flow and Digicel are undertaking fibre to the home, school, office, and factory initiatives. Digitalisation is of course, our second obvious growth driver. Likewise, we have had 250 kW of Solar PV capacity installed, with 750 kW and 1 MWhr of storage being further added. Likewise, we are at least hearing talk of follow-up on geothermal energy. Geothermal, arguably, is our third growth driver.

While we are at it, those who were so busy denouncing the EC$ 200 millions of funded development initiatives as a deceitful election gimmick, have some explaining and public apologising to do. That includes – having already publicly dismissed the CIPREG, UKCIF, and EU initiatives and funding – presenting a 2021/22 budget where every capital initiative of consequence came from that derided EC$ 200 million. . . without even generically acknowledging the work of previous administrations in putting that funding in place.

Where, no, long-term development project funding is not a piggy bank to be raided at will and used to do whatever one wishes. Projects are specifically developed, justified, negotiated to obtain funding, then are implemented under close monitoring and audit. If something goes wrong, they can be terminated for cause. Public rhetoric that has suggested otherwise actually undermines confidence in our project governance capability and makes it even harder to negotiate for future projects.


[1] TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/new-port-development-launched/

[2] See UN https://legal.un.org/repertory/art73.shtml

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Columns, De Ole Dawg, Featured, Features, International, Local, Regional0 Comments

Dr-John-Campbell-of-the-UK-summarises-how-degree-of-use-of-Ivermectin-across-Peru-Mexico-and-India

Compulsory Jabs vs the Nuremberg Code

Contribution Part 115 – 2021 # 08)

Have our authorities overstepped their bounds by moving towards compulsory vaccinations? (What does the post-WWII Nuremberg Code have to say?)

BRADES, Montserrat, July 7, 2021 –  A recent Government of Montserrat Human Resources circular of June 30th entitled “Updated Guidance on Discretionary Leave Provisions” has come to our attention here at TMR. In key parts, it reads:

“Public officers who apply for and are awarded Government Scholarships to study at institutions  abroad  will,  from the academic  year  2021/2022  be  required  to  be vaccinated before traveling to take up these awards . . . . It will also be a requirement for public officers attending training courses abroad to be fully vaccinated.”

Of course, given the third jab proposed for Autumn this year and reports of a train of onward booster shots every year or even every six months (as TMR has already reported[1]), “fully vaccinated” is a meaningless, dead term.  No, given what officials and even BBC[2] have said, it’s not “two jabs plus two weeks and you’re good to go.” BBC: “[p]lans for a Covid booster jab programme in the autumn will be set out in the next few weeks, [now former UK Health Secretary] Matt Hancock has said.”

Now, given utterly unnecessary sharp polarisation and accusations such as “incitement,” a point of clarification: there is evidence that vaccines can be effective and fairly safe. However, as risk is not evenly distributed in the population, if one has a significant medical history, consult a physician before any serious medical intervention. Where, too, if a train of treatments is in view, overall risks obviously can rise with such repeated exposure.

However, the bigger question raised by the circular is compulsory treatment – “required,” “a requirement” –  in the context of rushed experimental vaccines that to date only have emergency or contingent authorisation, not full approval. Tests for long-term effects and risks cannot be rushed.

Where, this obviously means – never mind objections by officialdom – they are still experimental and of course, there are significant concerns about risks.  Also, after the horrific Nazi medical experiments,[3] the Nuremberg Courts that judged war criminals issued a code for experimental medical treatments, which was then embedded in international and national law as well as in ethical standards for medical and research practice. This Nuremberg Code reads, in key parts[4]:

“[C]ertain types of medical experiments on human beings, when kept within reasonably well-defined bounds, conform to the ethics of the medical profession generally . . . certain basic principles must be observed in order to satisfy moral, ethical and legal concepts . . . The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have the legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior[5] form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision.”


A statement by Frontline Doctors group on Ivermectin

This is already decisive.

For, this means, sing- off- the- same- hymn- sheet PR talking points that suppress or stigmatise significant alternative views held by qualified people or simple concerns raised by the public are unethical and create liability. This includes marginalising concerns on risks of treatments,[6] the manifest fact that we are dealing with an unprecedented rushed global vaccination experiment, and issues regarding unduly sidelined evidence[7] that treatments such as Ivermectin-based cocktails can be effective. 

In short, it is arguable that we have not been given a balanced briefing that includes a true and fair view of reasonable alternatives, concerns, and risks.

Even if one could argue that we are increasingly or already beyond “experimental” treatment, a fortiori logic applies.

That is, if coercion, manipulation, hidden motives, and suppression of reasonable alternatives and/or concerns are improper for medical experiments, for cause – “how much more”  or “just like that” – they are also equally unacceptable for treatments in general. So, denial of the experimental status of the rushed vaccines does not allow one to wriggle off the hook.

The Nuremberg Code continues:

“[B]efore the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment . . .”

With a third jab and onward train of booster shots already being on the table, with emerging issues and concerns on risks (think, blood clots and heart issues for young men) and more,  it is simple fair comment to note that such informed consent has long since been undermined. Obviously, informed consent applies “just as much” to more or less established treatments.

Then, we see:


“The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature . . .”

Dr. John Campbell of the UK summarises how the degree of use of Ivermectin across Peru’s 25 states [33 million population] is linked to a reduction in Covid-19 deaths, there are similar results in Mexico and India

So, if there is reasonable access to and evidence of plausibly effective, less risky treatments (such as Ivermectin), then that should be fairly investigated and frankly disclosed.

Similarly, naturally acquired immunity is known to be highly effective. Some even suggest that it can be superior to that from many vaccines. So, why aren’t we testing for natural immunity before vaccinations and insisting on vaccinating people who have had and recovered from Covid-19?

The other methods or means test is also significant.

For, why are we using “gold standard” criteria for “evidence” that block the voice of otherwise valid “real-world evidence” and rule out otherwise plausibly credible treatments?

This lends added force to our next snippet from the Nuremberg Code:

“Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability or death . . .”

That speaks for itself, especially when we see:

“During the course of the experiment, the human subject should be at liberty to bring the experiment to an end if he has reached the physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems to him to be impossible.”

Resort to compulsion cannot be justified. The circular above is ill-advised and the precedent it may set is dangerous.

Accordingly, we find a final duty of those in charge of medical interventions:

“During the course of the experiment the scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate the experiment at any stage, if he has probable cause to believe, in the exercise of the good faith, superior skill and careful judgment required of him, that a continuation of the experiment is likely to result in injury, disability, or death to the experimental subject. “

Where, for cause, the attempted defence: “We were following the orders of legitimate authorities” was rejected by the Courts at Nuremberg.

This you will find does have some bearing to the United Nations “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)”


[1] TMR, June 25, 2021:  https://www.themontserratreporter.com/the-emerging-covid-vax-booster-shot-train/

[2] See BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-57570377  and  https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-57548796.amp

[3] See https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/nazi-medical-experiments

[4] See, http://www.cirp.org/library/ethics/nuremberg/

[5] That is, hidden.

[6] TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/facebook-fact-check-fallacies-and-pandemic-panics-2/

[7] TMR, https://www.themontserratreporter.com/ivermectin-and-the-vaccine-debate/

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Columns, Court, COVID-19, De Ole Dawg, Education, Featured, Features, Health, International, Local, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

COVID-19-or-COV-convirmed-illness

The emerging Covid Vax Booster Shot train

Contribution, 2021 # 07)

Are we facing an “endless” train of Covid-19 strains and booster shots as SARS-COV-2 goes globally endemic, as “the new normal”?

A long freight train (commonly up to 1.5 to 2 miles long)

BRADES, Montserrat, June 16, 2021 –  Last month, officials in the UK announced[1] “The Cov-Boost study,” a “World-first COVID-19 vaccine booster study,” which “will trial seven vaccines and will be the first in the world to provide vital data on the impact of a third dose on patients’ immune responses.” Its aim is to “give scientists from around the globe and the experts behind the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme a better idea of the impact of a booster dose of each vaccine in protecting individuals from the virus.”

As usual, we need to look for the other – usually more telling – half of the story.[2] 

It turns out, that the second “jab” for two-shot vaccinations such as Astra Zeneca, is now being regarded as a first booster and there is a contemplation of an advisable third shot ten to twelve weeks after the first,[3] in a context where the duration of immunity is still an open question for these experimental, emergency use, not yet fully approved vaccines. (And, for every official or Government media voice who will howl “deliberate misinformation” and “conspiracy theories” at such words, there is at least one credible source to substantiate each of the terms just used. It is high time for sobering truth.)

That’s our first, vital clue.

It already tells us that “fully vaccinated [after two shots and two weeks after the second one]” is not the full story. Worse, there is a clear fear of further strains that break out of the immunity envelope of the vaccines, such as was recently suggested regarding the unofficially termed, Nepal strain.  It’s therefore, no surprise to see already talk[4] of not only a third shot but also of annual or six-monthly booster shots on an ongoing basis; perhaps even starting in the fourth quarter of this year.  In case you doubt such “conspiracy theories” or “misinformation,” here is UK Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi, back in February[5]:

  • ‘We see very much probably an annual or booster in the autumn and then an annual (jab), in the way we do with flu vaccinations where you look at what variant of the virus is spreading around the world, rapidly produce a variant of vaccine and then begin to vaccinate and protect the nation,’ he told BBC One’s, Andrew Marr Show. [“Third vaccine may be needed ‘by autumn’ to stop South African strain,” UK Metro, February 8, 2021.]

Hence, the concern about an “endless” train.

We clearly need a better alternative, a way back to reasonable normality.

To get there, let us build on Minister Zahawi’s use of the flu as a model.

The flu is endemic globally, it is effectively always there, lurking. Various new strains emerge and tend to spread each year, some more virulent than others. Complications can and do cause dozens to hundreds of thousands of deaths in flu season, but there is no global panic, no major lockdown of the economy, no talk of flu passports, quarantines for travel, expensive testing, breathless, panic-feeding loaded headlines,  etc. Special measures are indeed taken to protect vulnerable, especially elderly people, but something like Tamiflu[6] as an early treatment often stops it cold. Over in Asia, many people tended to wear face masks in flu season, never mind lingering debates on how well they work. Yes, there is an annual guessing game as to the next fast-spreading strain and a flu shot is prepared. However, despite the usual Official “get your flu shot” recommendation, it is sometimes notoriously more of a miss than a hit and some people view it with suspicion, fearing adverse reactions or simple ineffectiveness.

That gives us a start-point for suggesting a different approach to the onward Covid-X challenge.

It seems, pretty much, that the get your two jabs, be “fully immunised,” we can get “herd immunity” and go back to “normal” story is pretty much dead; whether our Officials publicly admit it or not. The issues of third shots and annual booster shots with questions on potential strains that escape the umbrella of immunity kill it.  We, therefore, have to find “a new normal” we can live with without handing over prolonged emergency powers into the hands of officials, clamping down our volcano-damaged economy into an artificial depression and without having Covid-X come through to devastate us all over again every few years.

Tamiflu gives the key clue.

It is oseltamivir, a specially targeted “antiviral medication that blocks the actions of influenza virus types A and B.” The idea is to hit the flu within the first couple of days, stopping the process that leads to complications, etc. (Regrettably, it does not work on the common cold.)

In short, what we need is an effective early treatment for Covid-X, which will likely need to be a cocktail, based on say, Ivermectin and Azithromycin, zinc, vitamins C and D, or the like, etc. We have already discussed this, here at TMR.[7]  Of course, Ivermectin has also shown that it credibly can pull people out of ICU. Unfortunately, it is the subject of a needless purposeful controversy that has sought to discredit or dismiss it.

If you are tempted to do so, kindly, take time to see the work of Dr. Peter McCullough of Baylor University:

1] 109 min vid [worth every minute]: https://assets.infowarsmedia.com/videos/3591d3f8-029f-4ba2-889b-88fa417ca297.mp4

2] Treatment protocol presented to the US Senate:

3]  Paper behind that protocol: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7410805/pdf/main.pdf

So, it is time for a fresh conversation. And, we see yet again why we need independent media, and why such media should be valued and supported by our public, in the national interest.


[1] See, UKG, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/world-first-covid-19-vaccine-booster-study-launches-in-uk

[2] See, TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/facebook-fact-check-fallacies-and-pandemic-panics/

[3] See, LBC https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/thousands-to-get-third-covid-19-jab-in-new-cov-boost-trial-matt-hancock-announce/

[4] See https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2021/06/15/uk-expands-trials-on-third-jab-coronavirus-vax-booster-shots/

[5] See https://metro.co.uk/2021/02/08/third-covid-vaccine-may-be-needed-by-autumn-to-stop-new-strains-14039536/

[6] See https://www.drugs.com/tamiflu.html

[7] TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/ivermectin-and-the-vaccine-debate/

Posted in Columns, COVID-19, De Ole Dawg, International, News, Opinions, Technology0 Comments

FB-treatment-may-cause-serious-harm

Facebook fact-check fallacies and pandemic panics

Are FaceBook’s “Independent Fact-Checkers” the last word on the Covid-19 vax facts?

BRADES, Montserrat, June 5, 2021 –  Obviously not. But, why that is so important, is especially if we value our freedom (and so, too, the independent media).

Yes, the Facebook warning label we can see was recently used to dismiss the sober concerns by New Zealand Doctor, Damian Wojcik; which  TMR brought to the attention of Montserrat and its huge global readership, hence their effort. So, it is time to use the right of reply to set the matter straight.

See: https://www.covidplanb.co.nz/data-science/an-open-video-from-nz-gp-damian-wojcik/?fbclid=IwAR1CcGR9BhcQk09_luX5Xvrr-v1qPHdC1BAeEysS2ELepDS0ntAUh5jduBU

As, whenever there is a crisis, officials and other power brokers try to keep a lid on it.

As part of that, they establish a dominant narrative, put out by their favoured voices.  And, yes, historically, you can safely bet your last $5 in your back pocket, that that narrative will at most give half the truth, will promote power agendas, typically reflects someone’s business selling point, and too often will be dangerously manipulative. If they can get away with it, anyone who refuses to toe the line will be smeared as an irresponsible, incompetent misleader of the public, etc, etc. And, far too often, that is utterly unfair to voices trying to warn about overlooked issues and concerns.

Another direct Facebook attachment to (vaccine) video posted

Montserrat’s history since 1989 is littered with cases in point, but that’s just because we have been hit, literally, by crisis after crisis since Hurricane Hugo struck thirty-two years ago.

TMR response: Ah yes! Hmmm, the lack of announced ‘Treatment’ and lack thereof? Consider how this fact has been suppressed and scandalised for over a year, and then ask yourself the question why? That note by Facebook should direct to their claim comparing the “harm” from the vaccine i.e. number of deaths therefrom and the number of “harm” specific caused from the treatment of Ivermectin. Recall their famous ploy of benefits vs risk – where do they bother to apply that? The absence of that answers any suspicions.

A glance at scripture, say, Acts 27 will show this problem is as old as the hills. As regular TMR readers are doubtless familiar with, Mr. Moneybags had his bought-and-paid-for “techie” persuade the Centurion and the passengers to ignore that crazy Jew in chains over there muttering about dangerous sailing conditions. All that was needed to slip forty miles down the coast to a fine harbour was a good afternoon’s breeze. 

Ah, there it is, a gentle South wind. Let’s go.

Halfway there, of course, a wicked nor’easter struck, instantly reducing the ship to sinking condition. By the time it was over, it was through intercessory prayer and the grace of God that they were glad to shipwreck at St Paul’s Bay, Malta.

That’s a bit of history that needs to be regularly expounded from our pulpits.

For sure, Dr. Damian Wojcik deserved a fairer hearing for his sober, quietly presented fifteen-minute, well-researched word of counsel[1]:

  • He is a General Practitioner with twenty-seven years of experience in a practice that includes nutrition and environmental medicine. He is also a Forensic Physician, trained to give expert testimony, and having twenty-seven years’ experience as a Police Doctor.
  • He speaks as spokesman for a circle of other doctors concerned about how the vaccines for Covid-19 are being rolled out; they shared their concerns through an open letter to the NZ Medical Council, Medsafe, and the Royal College of GP’s. (So, yes, this is a case where experts disagree, so it is unjustified to claim that the voice of officialdom and its favoured spokesmen decisively represent THE Science.)
  • He speaks in the name of the famous Hippocratic Oath,[2] which constituted Medicine as a responsible, trustworthy profession, 2400 years ago. The key ethical commitments are, first, do no harm; next, cure if you can; and last, care for always. (Our own doctors take that same oath. If they haven’t our Governments are committing a travesty and worse)
  • He counsels that “there is emerging evidence that Covid-19 vaccines carry a risk of severe adverse reactions and death.” He points to over 4,000 deaths listed by the American registry for such over the past five months, relative to 259 million vaccinations (most vaccines require two “jabs”). This is a fact from a standard source; the issue is the balance of risks and benefits, as well as reasonable alternatives.
  • He then highlights that CDC calculations show this exceeds the total for vaccines over the preceding ten years and it is also over a hundred times higher than the rate for influenza vaccines, signs that this is significantly riskier than is generally acceptable for vaccines.
  • He is concerned that patients are individuals, not Lab Rats to be “sacrificed in a global vaccine experiment,” at least, not on his watch for his patients. This is controversial of course but it is a values statement informed by the fact that the vaccines were sharply expedited and would normally require several further years of tests before general approval.
  • He cites the conceded point as of May 2021, that there is no conclusive evidence that the vaccines prevent infection or transmission of the disease. The hope has been that they will reduce the intensity of disease, hospitalisations, and fatalities.
  • He speaks to the Nuremberg Code,[3] created in 1947 after Nazi Doctors abused patients through dangerous or often fatal medical experiments. This requires that participation in medical experiments must be based on voluntary informed consent.
  • The pivot here is that in his opinion [which is a matter of ethical judgment], the emergency approvals and riskiness of the vaccines constitute a global experiment that requires balanced informed consent rather than coaxing. (Fair comment: if there are significant, widespread long-term problems from the vaccines this may become a serious legal issue.)
  • He specifically speaks of mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna, as gene therapy, a controversial opinion, but one linked to the role of mRNA as carrying the genetic code out to cellular machinery for building protein molecules, etc, here, viral spike proteins intended to spark an immune response. (However, on fair comment: there are concerns tied to earlier animal trials with adverse outcomes and even to apparent damaging effects caused by spike proteins in the body.)
  • [AstraZeneca inserts spike proteins into a Chimpanzee virus which is injected to spark an immune response, however the spike protein itself apparently can cause damage to the lining of blood vessels. We all know of the blood clotting concerns.]
  • Again, he speaks to a climate of fear, pressure, and state over-reach, having already noted that vaccine manufacturers are indemnified and insurers will not pay out in case of vaccine-related adverse events. These are again summaries of fact and statements of linked controversial but legitimate opinion or concern.
  • He goes on to call for respectful, courteous dialogue.
  • He reports the current global fatality rate as 0.15%, comparing to the typical infection [not case] fatality rate for seasonal influenza, 0.10%. Such rates seem to be responsible estimates and are clearly comparable. We do not go into a global lockdown with a “warp speed” operation to provide vaccines for the annual flu. Similarly, he suggests that over the past year, as physicians have learned what treatments work, hospital fatality rates have fallen. In this context, he pointed to supplements such as Zinc, Vitamins C and D, adding that “there are at least eighteen randomised clinical trials to support the use of oral Ivermectin in hospitalised patients; which results in significantly reduced mortality.” He suggests that “this information should be more widely applied and not suppressed.”

There is, again on final fair comment, manifestly nothing in this that warrants branding his remarks as “False Information.” Facebook’s fact-checkers themselves need to be fact-checked.


[1]See https://vimeo.com/553855810

[2] See https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/greek/greek_oath.html

[3] See http://www.cirp.org/library/ethics/nuremberg/

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Columns, COVID-19, Crime, De Ole Dawg, Environment, Health, International, Local, News, Opinions, Regional, Scriptures0 Comments

FB-false-information

Facebook fact-check fallacies and pandemic panics

Contribution, Part 113

Are FaceBook’s “Independent Fact-Checkers” the last word on the Covid-19 vax facts?

BRADES, Montserrat, June 5, 2021 –  Obviously not. But, why that is so important, is especially if we value our freedom (and so, too, the independent media).

The Scarlet Brand used by Facebook to try to discredit Dr. Damian Wojcik of New Zealand and others






Yes, the Facebook warning label we can see was recently used to dismiss the sober concerns by New Zealand Doctor, Damian Wojcik; which  TMR brought to the attention of Montserrat’s public. So, it is time to use the right of reply to set the matter straight.

See: https://www.covidplanb.co.nz/data-science/an-open-video-from-nz-gp-damian-wojcik/?fbclid=IwAR1CcGR9BhcQk09_luX5Xvrr-v1qPHdC1BAeEysS2ELepDS0ntAUh5jduBU

As, whenever there is a crisis, officials and other power brokers try to keep a lid on it.

As part of that, they establish a dominant narrative, put out by their favoured voices.  And, historically, you can safely bet your last $5 in your back pocket, that that narrative will at most give half the truth, will promote power agendas, typically reflects someone’s business selling point, and too often will be dangerously manipulative. If they can get away with it, anyone who refuses to toe the line will be smeared as an irresponsible, incompetent misleader of the public, etc, etc. And, far too often, that is utterly unfair to voices trying to warn about overlooked issues and concerns.

Montserrat’s history since 1989 is littered with cases in point, but that’s just because we have been hit by crisis after crisis since Hurricane Hugo struck thirty-two years ago.

A glance at, say, Acts 27 will show this problem is as old as the hills. As regular TMR readers are doubtless familiar with, Mr. Moneybags had his bought-and-paid-for “techie” persuade the Centurion and the passengers to ignore that crazy Jew in chains over there muttering about dangerous sailing conditions. All that was needed to slip forty miles down the coast to a fine harbour was a good afternoon’s breeze. 

Ah, there it is, a gentle South wind. Let’s go.

Halfway there, of course, a wicked nor’easter struck, instantly reducing the ship to a sinking condition. By the time it was over, it was through intercessory prayer and the grace of God that they were glad to shipwreck at St Paul’s Bay, Malta.

That’s a bit of history that needs to be regularly expounded from our pulpits.

For sure, Dr. Damian Wojcik deserved a fairer hearing for his sober, quietly presented fifteen-minute, well-researched word of counsel[1]:

  • He is a General Practitioner with twenty-seven years of experience in a practice that includes nutrition and environmental medicine. He is also a Forensic Physician, trained to give expert testimony, and having twenty-seven years’ experience as a Police Doctor.
  • He speaks as spokesman for a circle of other doctors concerned about how the vaccines for Covid-19 are being rolled out; they shared their concerns through an open letter to the NZ Medical Council, Medsafe, and the Royal College of GP’s. (So, yes, this is a case where experts disagree, so it is unjustified to claim that the voice of officialdom and its favoured spokesmen decisively represent THE Science.)
  • He speaks in the name of the famous Hippocratic Oath,[2] which constituted Medicine as a responsible, trustworthy profession, 2400 years ago. The key ethical commitments are, first, do no harm; next, cure if you can; and last, care for always. (Our own doctors take that same oath. If they haven’t our Governments are committing a travesty and worse)
  • He counsels that “there is emerging evidence that Covid-19 vaccines carry a risk of severe adverse reactions and death.” He points to over 4,000 deaths listed by the American registry for such over the past five months, relative to 259 million vaccinations (most vaccines require two “jabs”). This is a fact from a standard source; the issue is the balance of risks and benefits, as well as reasonable alternatives.
  • He then highlights that CDC calculations show this exceeds the total for vaccines over the preceding ten years and it is also over a hundred times higher than the rate for influenza vaccines, signs that this is significantly riskier than is generally acceptable for vaccines.
  • He is concerned that patients are individuals, not Lab Rats to be “sacrificed in a global vaccine experiment,” at least, not on his watch for his patients. This is controversial of course but it is a values statement informed by the fact that the vaccines were sharply expedited and would normally require several further years of tests before general approval.
  • He cites the conceded point as of May 2021, that there is no conclusive evidence that the vaccines prevent infection or transmission of the disease. The hope has been that they will reduce the intensity of disease, hospitalisations, and fatalities.
  • He speaks to the Nuremberg Code,[3] created in 1947 after Nazi Doctors abused patients through dangerous or often fatal medical experiments. This requires that participation in medical experiments must be based on voluntary informed consent.
  • The pivot here is that in his opinion [which is a matter of ethical judgment], the emergency approvals and riskiness of the vaccines constitute a global experiment that requires balanced informed consent rather than coaxing. (Fair comment: if there are significant, widespread long-term problems from the vaccines this may become a serious legal issue.)
  • He specifically speaks of mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna, like gene therapy, a controversial opinion, but one linked to the role of mRNA as carrying the genetic code out to cellular machinery for building protein molecules, etc, here, viral spike proteins intended to spark an immune response. (However, on fair comment: there are concerns tied to earlier animal trials with adverse outcomes and even to apparent damaging effects caused by spike proteins in the body.)
  • [AstraZeneca inserts spike proteins into a Chimpanzee virus which is injected to spark an immune response, however, the spike protein itself apparently can cause damage to the lining of blood vessels. We all know of the blood clotting concerns.]
  • Again, he speaks to a climate of fear, pressure, and state over-reach, having already noted that vaccine manufacturers are indemnified and insurers will not payout in case of vaccine-related adverse events. These are again summaries of fact and statements of linked controversial but legitimate opinion or concern.
  • He goes on to call for respectful, courteous dialogue.
  • He reports the current global fatality rate as 0.15%, comparing to the typical infection [not, case] fatality rate for seasonal influenza, 0.10%. Such rates seem to be responsible estimates and are clearly comparable. We do not go into a global lockdown with a “warp speed” operation to provide vaccines for the annual flu.
  • Similarly, he suggests that over the past year, as physicians have learned what treatments work, hospital fatality rates have fallen.
  • In this context, he pointed to supplements such as Zinc, Vitamins C and D, adding that “there are at least eighteen randomised clinical trials to support the use of oral Ivermectin in hospitalised patients; which results in significantly reduced mortality.”
  • He suggests that “this information should be more widely applied and not suppressed.”

There is, again on final fair comment, manifestly nothing in this that warrants branding his remarks as “False Information.” Facebook’s fact-checkers themselves need to be fact-checked.


[1]See https://vimeo.com/553855810

[2] See https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/greek/greek_oath.html

[3] See http://www.cirp.org/library/ethics/nuremberg/

Posted in Columns, COVID-19, De Ole Dawg, Health, International, Local, Regional0 Comments

vaccine-graph-dod-112

Ivermectin and the vaccine debate

Is “Follow the [Official] Science” the last word on the Covid-19 vaccine debate?

Part 112/2021 (Contribution)

Mrs. Judith Smentkiewicz,

BRADES, Montserrat, May 31, 2021 –  Freedom is always “noisy,” sometimes “complicated” and often “messy.” So, while there is generally good evidence of vaccine efficacy and safety, vaccines are not the whole reasonable, responsible story on the pandemic. Especially, for people with medical histories who should consult their doctors before taking any serious medical action.

That’s why we need to hear other sides of the story. 

Accordingly, let us pay close attention to the Judith Smentkiewicz story. For, at age eighty years, she was on a ventilator at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Buffalo, New York; due to Covid-19 complications, and her family was desperately seeking treatment options. 

As The Buffalo News reports[1]:

The patient’s son, Michael Smentkiewicz, said hospital officials had told him and his sister, Michelle Kulbacki, on Dec. 31 that their mother’s chance of survival – as an 80-year-old Covid-19 patient on a ventilator – was about 20% . . . .  “We did a lot of our own research, we read about Ivermectin  . . . The results sounded very promising, and we decided we had to try something different”[2] . . . On Jan. 2, Smentkiewicz was given her first dose of Ivermectin, and . . . “In less than 48 hours, my mother was taken off the ventilator, transferred out of the Intensive Care Unit, sitting up on her own and communicating” . . . But after [being] transferred to another hospital wing away from the ICU, doctors in that unit refused to give her any more doses of the drug, and her condition quickly declined . . .

Understandably, having seen what a single dose of treatment often dismissed as a mere worm medicine did, the family took the hospital to court. New York State Supreme Court Judge Henry J. Nowak then sided with them, and “ordered the hospital to ‘immediately administer the drug Ivermectin’ ” He also told the family that the “family doctor would have to write a prescription for Ivermectin,” which he did. The result was again successful. That’s significant, let’s summarise the case:

PHASE 1: in ICU on a ventilator for CV-19, 80-year-old, 20% chance of survival
PHASE 2: One dose of Ivermectin, in 48 hours, out of ICU
PHASE 3: New doctors refuse further Ivermectin, deterioration, back to ICU
PHASE 4: After a lawsuit, Ivermectin again, and recovery.

So, is this a mere isolated anecdotal account, or is it yet another case of accumulating “real-world evidence” that we need to listen to? 

A key step is to see that her family members say that they “did a lot of [their] own research . . . read about Ivermectin.” So, if that is so, why is it we have repeatedly, overwhelmingly heard dismissive remarks about it from various officials and experts, as though yes it might fix some cases of worms but is all but utterly dubious conspiracist speculation when it comes to Covid-19?

Something does not add up.

For example, it is commonly reported that up to a fifth of prescriptions in the leading medical country, the USA, are for “off-label use” of drugs.

That is, once a drug has been certified as safe and effective for one condition, it may be found to have other credible medical benefits. Accordingly, qualified medical doctors often responsibly use their own personal knowledge of such useful side effects to prescribe the drug for other complaints; even without going through the multiplied millions or even billions required to get an additional on-label certification. That is how low dose aspirin came to be prescribed for heart or circulation conditions and it is how another “controversial” drug, Hydroxychloroquine, was found to be effective for arthritis and lupus. 

In addition, it is clear that real-world experience or even traditional lore can and do provide useful evidence that various substances have good medicinal effects. Hence, the rising global market for natural remedies, supplements, “superfoods” – including mangoes, pomegranates, the sweet potato – and nutraceuticals, etc.

So, perhaps we should hear out what Dr. Joel Hischhorn of the Frontline Doctors group (which includes the Cameronian-Texan Dr. Stella Immanuel) has to say about Ivermectin (IVM) in his recently released book, Pandemic Blunder:

 “IVM is a medication used to treat many types of parasite infestations and came into medical use in 1981. It has been used about 3.8 billion times worldwide, and its success resulted in a 2015 Nobel Prize in medicine. It is also considered an antibiotic and antiviral drug. Like HCL [Hydroxychloroquine] it is a cheap generic requiring a prescription. It is believed that it prevents the coronavirus from entering host cells to stop replication . . . .  In recent years IVM has been found effective for a number of RNA viruses, including Zika, yellow fever, West Nile, and avian influenza A. COVID-19 is also an RNA virus. So, the repurposing of IVM for the current pandemic makes much sense. But it has not precipitated media attention, thus allowing some doctors at the forefront of the early home/outpatient movement to use IVM effectively.”

So, the last word has yet to be spoken on Ivermectin, etc., or even on the full story on vaccines.  For, full development and testing require four to seven years, typically, including giving time for long term side effects to emerge[3]:

Perhaps, then, it is time for a more balanced, open discussion on public health, treatment options, and onward possibilities for the ongoing pandemic?


[1] See https://buffalonews.com/news/local/after-judge-orders-hospital-to-use-experimental-covid-19-treatment-woman-recovers/article_a9eb315c-5694-11eb-aac5-53b541448755.html

[2] E.g., see references linked here https://covid19criticalcare.com/videos-and-press/flccc-lecture-for-ypo-gold-on-ivermectin/

[3] See https://www.uh.edu/engines/epi3044.htm

Posted in Columns, COVID-19, De Ole Dawg, Education, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Big-brother-fromOrwell

Freedom is FREE-dom

Freedom is FREE-dom

Contribution, Part 111

Are we under Big Brother’s watching eye?

Big Brother from George Orwell’s novel and 1884 movie

BRADES, Montserrat, March 15, 2021 –  The other day, the regional news proudly announced how the very first “secure” d-cash transaction happened in St Lucia as someone bought a meal at a local restaurant. How it could be that knowing that much about who was where, when, and bought what from whom is “secure,” is of course a big question. Similarly, some are proposing that vaccine passports would allow tourism to come back from its death-bed, revitalising our pandemic-shocked economies.  (Apparently, tourism-dependent Caribbean economies shrank by about 9% but the commodities ones by only 0.2%.)

Somehow, an ages-long, grim warning on the dangers of the surveillance state has seemingly escaped our decision-makers, publicists, media, and even many pulpiteers:

Rev. 13:16 Also [the Second Beast, from the land] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the [First] beast [from the sea] or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666 [= numerical value of the name, Nero Caesar].

It is not mere conspiracy theory scare-mongering to point out that it is exceedingly dangerous to cede centralised control over our day-to-day lives, buying, selling, and economies to any centralised or monopoly body. Worse, to turn submission to that control into an imagined test of loyalty or good citizenship. Even more dangerous, to give such a body monopoly licensing power to determine who can buy or sell. 

For, history has given us many examples of ruthless evil such as a Hitler, or a Stalin or a Mao, or a Robespierre, or a Torquemada, or a Nero Caesar, or a Nimrod.  Beyond doubt, there are ruthless men who — given the opportunity — would rob those who dare to dissent of their daily bread, or the means to earn it.  Worse, some such men did not start out that way, they were corrupted by the power they had.  So, let us note a lesson from history, one bought with blood and tears: we must be ever-vigilant concerning anything that potentially opens the door to iniquitous control over economy and society. (Over 100 million ghosts of those murdered by power-mad states and ideologies since 1917, nod their heads in solemn agreement.)

However, despite such grim history, for many decades, there has been an unmistakable,  persistent push towards a “cashless society.”  Why?

The usual story is that cash is expensive to create, prone to being counterfeited, costly to move about, germ-carrying, provides a platform used by criminals. You name it, there are ever so many disadvantages to cash. Surely, it is outdated and almost barbaric. So, why not replace it with a clean, cheap, secure electronic system?

Likewise, wouldn’t a vaccine passport system stop Covid-19 transmission and allow us to get back to tourism, travel, and trade as usual?

In the name of bloodily bought history, no, and no.

Electronic accounting systems indeed may be convenient, until they are hacked.  Or, until we find ourselves locked out by a surveillance state or its crony capitalist partners who hold monopoly power over the electronic cash network.

Vaccine passports, similarly, are obvious euphemisms for licences to travel, trade, buy and sell. Again, a dangerous centralisation of power.

Repeat: any centralisation of power can and will be eventually abused, regardless of assurances, guarantees, and laws to the contrary. For, power is just too addictive, and “never let a crisis go to waste,” carries a chilling message.

Is there an alternative?

Yes, the obvious.

While credit and debit cards are useful, the power of cash to limit centralised surveillance and control must also be recognised, respected, and acknowledged. So, any “digital cash” card or the like must be freely convertible into cash. Convertible, at sites that are so diverse that they, too, cannot be controlled by some future Orwellian Big Brother who – as the novel 1984 warned — is always watching us.

Similarly, we must not create, implement or accept any system that can become an economic licensing system. This includes, that national identification cards, social insurance numbers, and systems must never become monopolies.  Already, in Jamaica, there was a hot controversy over just such a centralised ID system.

Coming close behind, we should be very concerned about any dominant concentration of media power in any government media house or any private entity. In a day where social media have become the new town square, that means that Big Tech should not be ceded censorship power. If censorship power in the hands of Torquemada et al of the notorious Spanish Inquisition was dangerous, similar censorship power in the hands of the Big Tech CEOs and their cronies is just as dangerous.

For that matter, the concentration of education at any level in state hands is dangerous. This includes, that teachers and lecturers should not be civil servants, especially under the sort of rules we find in the infamous General Orders. While we are at it, state monopoly control of the health care system and health service professionals is also dangerous.

Here in Montserrat, we also need to ponder carefully the following provisions of the 2010 Constitution Order, among others:

22(3) Subject to this Constitution and any law by which any functions are conferred on the Governor, the Governor shall perform all his or her functions (including functions which are expressed by this Constitution to be exercisable in his or her discretion or in his or her judgment) according to such instructions, if any, as may be given to him or her by Her Majesty; but the question whether or not the Governor has in any matter complied with any such instructions shall not be enquired into by any court.

39(6) Where the Governor, acting in his or her discretion, determines that the exercise of any function conferred on any other person or authority (other than the Legislative Assembly) would involve or affect any matter mentioned in subsection (1) [(a) defence;  (b)external affairs; (c)the regulation of international financial services; (d)internal security, including the police service; (e)the functions conferred on the Governor by this Constitution or any other law in relation to the public service], the Governor may, acting in his or her discretion, give directions as to the exercise of that function, and the person or authority concerned shall exercise the function in accordance with those directions . . .

(8) The question of whether a matter falls within the scope of subsection (1) shall be determined by the Governor acting in his or her discretion.

114(2) The Premier, if authorised by resolution of the Legislative Assembly adopted by a two-thirds majority of the elected members of the Assembly, shall request discussion of amendment of this Constitution with Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom.

None of this is rocket science. Freedom is FREE-dom.

Posted in Columns, COVID-19, De Ole Dawg, Health, International, Opinions, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Daniel-actually-in-539-BC-an-older-man-interprets-the-writing-on-the-wall

The “noise” of freedom

Contribution, Part 110

Are we to be reduced to the clash of rumour, gossip, slander, and “official” talking points to make up our minds on Covid-19 and other public issues?

BRADES, Montserrat, March 9, 2021 –  Freedom is “noisy.” That was so in the 1930s–60s when Marse Bob Griffith, Ole Marse Willie Bramble, Mrs. Ellen Peters, and others stood up for an oppressed colonial people in a tiny corner of the British Empire. It remains so today in Montserrat as we try to understand and figure our way out of the COVID-19 crisis, the underlying Volcano “Chronic Malaise” and many other challenges we face as an Afro-Caribbean nation rooted in the wickedness of kidnapping, enslavement, rape, and the plantation system.

With such a heritage as a common lot of the Caribbean, it is unsurprising that the ordinary Mary or Joseph struggling to deal with a full year of Covid-19 emergency measures will question the voice of authorities.

At the same time, the very name Cudjoe Head tells us what used to happen to slaves uppity enough to think they had a right to be free in heart, mind, and body. Today, officials and others are not likely to literally mount our heads on a cotton tree as a warning to others, but they may well slander, financially lockout, and victimise those who dare to speak their minds. (Indeed, a fair number of businesspeople whisper about their fear that if they or their family members displease the lords and ladies of the political class or the civil service, they too will be victimised.)

Let us say it straight, from the outset: freedoms of conscience, expression, and the press are rights, not privileges granted or withdrawn at the whim of officialdom.

More recent painful history is also helpful. We can point back to the crisis stage of the lingering volcano malaise: it is clear that officials – and too often, Scientists here at the pleasure of the officials –  told only a quarter of the truth and that we were “a year behind the curve of the crisis.” People were therefore frustrated and angry, desperate. People died, horribly, needlessly. There has never been a serious reckoning with the findings of the forensic inquiry.

Maybe, we need to pause and look at the “curve of the crisis.”

Consider a “U” and an “L.” Both have a falling arm, but only one turns back up while the other has gone “flatline.” A crisis is like that: there is a rapid fall into trouble or distress, and we come to the pivot. That turning-point – the actual crisis-point –  is where either we get chronically locked into a disaster, or we begin to turn back up and recover. With the volcano, we clearly flatlined because of poor decisions, and we are struggling to turn back up again, over twenty-five years later. On top of that, bang, we are falling again due to Covid-19.

We cannot afford to flatline again!

That’s why politicians and their publicists who have spent years on melee and slander tactics to gain power must realise that if “Cretans are liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons,” then they will have no credibility in a crisis as speakers of truth, sound decision-makers or fair dealers. [See, Titus 1:12, ESV.]  Likewise, the Apostle warns the corrupt that “. . . the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” [See, 1 Tim 6:10.] But, shouldn’t we add today the old-age scourge of sex and power…?

Daniel (actually, in 539 BC, an older man) interprets the writing on the wall: £2 /1s / 6d

Similarly, our electorate must realise that when we vote for political leaders or champion people for promotion based on anything but Daniel’s “understanding and wisdom . . . an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems” we are buying trouble or even disaster when the ghostly hand begins to write £2 /1s / 6d . . . what “mene, mene, tekel, uparsin” literally means. [See Dan 5:11 – 12, 22 – 28.] Yes, for, those we elect and those we promote to senior positions are those we choose to manage when crises inevitably arise.

As for scientists, experts, educators, public health policymakers, medical spokesmen, and others speaking with the voice of Big-S Science, they too must reckon with the same issues. Namely, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Yes, prudence, security, confidentiality, etc. count, but in the end, if you have built a reputation for want of truthfulness, your voice will fail in the face of crisis. (Never mind they merely just go along with their, Well superiors, masters or their poor consciences.)

So, if for twenty-five years we have persistently failed to have well-earned credibility and have too often failed in the face of crises and disasters, that is a sign. So, too, the “noise” some complain of, is a warning we should instead be paying close attention to. It is not merely the distress or demand of spoiled brats and ‘riff-raffs’ or those who “bang water come ya” crying out nonsense.

As for the bitter hostility, vicious gossip, and slander that target voices we don’t even want to hear (not even to say a polite “Good Morning,” in some cases), we might be well advised instead to ponder how “with the judgment, you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” [Matt 7:2.] Likewise, “where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” [James 3:16 – 17.]

Then, we are counseled in the Sermon on the Mount, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” [Matt 5:37.]

Where this is the actual context of the Golden Rule: “You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people . . .  You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Lev 19:15 – 18.]

So, if we are at a crisis of confidence in official talking points during the Covid-19 crisis, it has not come out of anywhere, for no reason.  Therefore, while in general there is quite a good reason for the average adult to be vaccinated, it is wise for those with preconditions to take advice from their doctors, and we must have a balanced, well-informed discussion as a community. We must also refrain from shaming or pressuring people to be vaccinated.

Peace through truth in love, ‘till next time.

Posted in Columns, COVID-19, De Ole Dawg, Health, International, Local, Opinions, Regional0 Comments

Covid-19 vaccination challenges

Covid-19 vaccination challenges

Should we shame and pressure people to take the [“experimental”?] Covid vaccine?

Part 109/2021 (Contribution)

BRADES, Montserrat, February 28, 2021 – On Wednesday, February 23, Montserrat’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Greenaway-Duberry unexpectedly appeared in our media. She announced that based on new findings, it is now recommended that the second dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for Covid-19 should be taken eight weeks after the first dose, as that gives a superior result to the previously recommended four-week point. This puts several questions on the table, starting with: just how experimental is the cluster of emerging Covid-19 Vaccines?

A key clue is found in a February 12, 2021, Gina Hawkins report on Military dot com, “Navy Will Make COVID-19 Vaccination Mandatory ‘As Soon as We Can:’ 3-Star Admiral” which cites Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis, U.S. Second Fleet Commander and US Defense Department Officials:

“ ‘We cannot make it mandatory yet,’ [Admiral] Lewis said. ‘I can tell you we’re probably going to make it mandatory as soon as we can, just like we do with the flu vaccine’ . . . . Defense Department officials have previously said that the COVID-19 vaccine would remain voluntary while it’s under emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. That designation is expected to last up to two years while the FDA assesses the vaccination’s efficacy and side effects.”[1]

Taking account of testing already undertaken in recent months, this tells us that it may take up to two or three years “[to] assess . . . efficacy and side effects.” That easily explains why our CMO has had to make a change in the recommended waiting time to take our booster shots: globally, we are still studying and learning about the vaccine, the “science” has not settled down yet.

In a related Defence dot gov  report, “Military, Medical Leaders Discuss COVID-19 Issues With Service Members,” Terri Moon Cronk cites[2] US Army General and then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark A. Milley, who:

“. . . noted that the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration have declared the vaccines as “safe and highly effective” but he acknowledged that getting the vaccine is a personal decision. “We . . .  encourage you to consult your primary care physician to address any concerns . . .  so you can be well-equipped to make the right decision for you and your family,” Milley said. “Protect yourself, protect your families and protect our communities. Together, we can all lead the way for the nation in the fight against COVID-19.”

We see here a clear recognition that while there is good evidence of vaccine effectiveness, we are responding to a global, fast-moving pandemic and are strictly speaking still in a somewhat exploratory phase of testing and evaluating the vaccines. The challenge being faced by officials here and overseas is that the epidemic is outracing the usual pace of new drug development, testing and certification so it is necessary to act on good enough but not complete evidence, in hopes of saving lives, net.

But what about the AstraZeneca vaccine in use here?

A copy of the official “Product Information as approved by the CHMP on 29 January 2021, pending endorsement by the European Commission,” tells us:

“COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is indicated for active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2, in individuals 18 years of age and older.  The use of this vaccine should be in accordance with official recommendations . . . . The safety and efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in children and adolescents (less than 18 years of age) have not yet been established. No data are available . . . .Appropriate medical treatment and supervision should always be readily available in case of an anaphylactic event [i.e. strong allergic reaction] following the administration of the vaccine. Close observation for at least 15 minutes is recommended following vaccination. A second dose of the vaccine should not be given to those who have experienced anaphylaxis to the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca . . . . The duration of protection afforded by the vaccine is unknown as it is still being determined by ongoing clinical trials . . . . Currently available clinical trial data do not allow an estimate of vaccine efficacy in subjects over 55 years of age.” 

In short, the AstraZeneca vaccine is also still being evaluated through “ongoing clinical trials.” It is credibly effective but clearly, points of concern remain. Therefore, we should recognise that while it is generally advisable to take it, any significant medical treatment should be taken under the advice of a doctor familiar with one’s medical history and current circumstance. That is simple, basic medical ethics and professional standards. (That’s part of why when we first go to a doctor she or he will normally take our general medical history, blood pressure etc. and will set up a patient file.)

Similarly, it is common sense that people prone to strong allergic reactions or who have significant medical challenges should be extra careful to get advice from their doctor.

Finally, what about “herd immunity”?

It is commonly reported that the AstraZeneca vaccine is about 70% effective.[3]  Where, we can see from a Healthline dot com article by Noreen Iftikhar, MD, “What Is Herd Immunity and Could It Help Prevent COVID-19?”[4] that:

“For some diseases, herd immunity can go into effect when 40 percent of the people in a population become immune to the disease, such as through vaccination. But in most cases, 80 to 95 percent of the population must be immune to the disease to stop its spread.  For example, 19 out of every 20 people must have the measles vaccination for herd immunity to go into effect and stop the disease. This means that if a child gets measles, everyone else in this population around them will most likely have been vaccinated, already have formed antibodies, and be immune to the disease to prevent it from spreading further.”

“Herd immunity” happens when on average an infected person is so unlikely to pass the disease on to someone without antibodies that it begins to “die out.”  That can come from enough people catching then recovering from a disease, or from vaccination. Now, we know that Covid-19 is fairly contagious so the 80% estimate some have suggested is reasonable. But if 100% of our population is vaccinated with a vaccine estimated to be 70% effective, then by simple Arithmetic we cannot make the 80 – 95% of population threshold; herd immunity may not be achievable using AstraZeneca, not only from “doing our sums” but especially as we can see that it is not recommended for children under 18

Where, too, the other vaccines that are said to be 90+% effective in immunising (Moderna, Pfizer), are based on novel technologies never before used with people. That means they are far more experimental than AstraZeneca.

Obviously, there is room for different opinions and for different people to make up their minds on the balance of medical risks they face given issues such as allergic reactions.


[1]           See: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/02/12/navy-will-make-covid-19-vaccination-mandatory-soon-we-can-3-star-admiral.html

[2]           See https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2493366/military-medical-leaders-discuss-covid-19-issues-with-service-members/

[3]           For example, see https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/covid-vaccine-how-effective-astrazeneca-pfizer-moderna-vaccination-efficacy-compared-what-meaning-845136

[4]           See https://www.healthline.com/health/herd-immunity

Posted in COVID-19, De Ole Dawg, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

02dod-Picture2

Premier Taylor-Farrell’s 15-year time-frame for economic independence

Part 01/2020 (Contribution)
January 24, 2020

What can we do to move beyond 60% dependency on the UK for our recurrent budget?

BRADES, Montserrat, January 17, 2020 – In his Monday, January 13th opening remarks for the annual DfID Financial Aid Mission (FAM), Montserrat’s new premier, Hon Mr Easton Taylor-Farrell, announced a policy goal that by 2035 (i.e. in fifteen years), Montserrat should be able to pay its own way. That is, he hopes that by that time our economy will have grown sufficiently strong through tourism, trade and investment that we will no longer need the current 60% UK subsidy to carry our recurrent budget; without, over-burdening our economy through over-taxation.
What would that take?

For one, Government and our economy are largely continuous (never mind what politicians tend to say around election time). So, let’s look at a January 2017 article in this series:
“[I]f we are to soundly rebuild Montserrat’s economy we need to soundly understand what happened to us. This makes the December 15, 2017, Mott-MacDonald Draft Economic Growth Strategy document[1] doubly important. Here, let us look at an adjusted version of one of their tables, with some additional calculations:

[ . . . ]

[Due to the volcano crisis and UK aid under the UN Charter, Article 73, the public sector has more than doubled as a percent of our economy, moving from 19.3% in 1994 to 45.8% in 2016 . . .

As a result, our GDP is not a “natural” one driven by a buoyant private sector, it reflects this annual support to our economy. Such is not sustainable

In simple terms, if we are to return the . . . public sector to being 20% of our economy in 20 years, our economy would have to more than double, from EC$153 million to EC$ 350 million . . . this requires an average growth rate of 4.2%.

So, it is reasonable for Mott-MacDonald to target a 3 – 5% annual GDP growth rate. ECCB would prefer to see 5 – 7%.

However, if Montserrat is to move ahead, we must put in place key infrastructure, build our productive capacity,[4] provide incentives and reassurance that will rebuild investor confidence, and support a wave of enterprises that take advantage of our major opportunities: tourism, geothermal energy, the rising global digital services economy, and the like.[5]”

Of course, to do that in fifteen years instead, we would have to grow even faster, 5.7% on average.

What about tourism (and the digital sector)?

That is a bit complicated. As, while we can see that we are surrounded by several islands with 600,000 and more tourists per year, so there is obvious room for growth, in the longer term, the main-spring of global economic growth is shifting to Asia.

As this series noted on July 5th 2018, “China and India . . . combined will contribute over forty percent of global economic growth this year, 3.3%.  By contrast, the UK contributes only 1.4% and the US only 12.3% to current global growth.  By 2023, the UK may contribute 1.3% and the US, 8.5%.”

Where, “Chinese and Indian tourists will find it far more convenient to go to neighbouring destinations, instead of regularly flying to the Caribbean. So while slow-growth Europe and North America will still be prosperous and will be sources for tourism, the North Atlantic Basin is gradually turning into a low-growth, already-been-there, saw-that, got-the-tee-shirt, mostly cruise-ship visitor driven tourism market. So, it would be a mistake to put all of our economic eggs in the tourism basket. Yes, tourism is indeed Montserrat’s fastest “quick win” driver for growth, but we have to be realistic about setting up our strategic moves beyond tourism.”

That points to the digital sector, and to the significance of the sub-sea, terabit per second class fibre optic cable project, for which the contract was signed by former premier Romeo on October 24th – which is why we just saw a visit by RV Ridley Thomas, which surveyed the proposed route for the cable. We can catch a glimpse into the significance of this by eavesdropping on what St Helena is saying about their own fibre optic cable. As TMR recently reported:
“According to the Government of St Helena, ‘[c]onnecting to Equiano meets SHG’s timing and budgetary requirements for the European Development Fund and supports the Digital ICT Strategy for St Helena.’

According to their Financial Secretary, Mr Dax Richards: ‘[s]ignificant additional economic development on St Helena is conditional on improved connectivity and accessibility, and therefore the delivery of the Fibre Project is crucial to economic growth . . . The delivery of the Fibre Project is a key action in the Sustainable Economic Development Plan – in order to develop the satellite ground stations, financial services, work from home, academia research and conferences, film location and tourism sectors.’”
All of this calls for long-term, consensus based national strategic planning. Such should build on the Mott-McDonald Economic Growth Strategy (EGS) that was recently shepherded through by consultant economist Mr Raja Kadri, on the 2008 – 2020 Sustainable Development Plan, the current 10-year Physical Development Plan, the past two energy policies and other similar initiatives.

Perhaps, it would also be helpful to again look at the SWOT chart for the EGS, as a reminder that a balanced growth framework has been put on the table for over a year now, through a process of national consultation:

Perhaps, then, a very good place to begin building on the foundation that is already in place would be with the successor Sustainable Development Plan, which is technically due this year. (It may be wise to extend the current SDP for a year or so, to give us time to build its successor.)

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, De Ole Dawg, Elections, International, Local, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Please Support The Montserrat Reporter

This is bottom line for us! Unless we receive your support, our effort will not be able to continue. Whatever and however you can, please support The Montserrat Reporter in whatever amount you can (and whatever frequency) – and it only takes a minute.
Thank you

TMR print pages

Newsletter

Archives

CARICOM – Staff Vacancy

CXC HEADQUARTERS - Executive Search

https://indd.adobe.com/embed/2b4deb22-cf03-4509-9bbd-938c7e8ecc7d

A Moment with the Registrar of Lands