A Covid Tragedy: “Wholesale Discrediting of Our Health Science Institutions”

A Covid Tragedy: “Wholesale Discrediting of Our Health Science Institutions” 1

Yves here. Quite a few readers responded strongly to a comment that came late in our post yesterday on Ivermectin, from a reader in despair about what Covid had reveled about the state of health science in America, not just too many signs of weak organizational competence (like the CDC’s test kit fiasco) but also the quiet contempt which too many institutional leaders apparently have for the public at large. Why, for instance, did anyone think it made any sense to tell the Noble Lie about masks? How hard would it have been to promote the purchase and use of cloth masks and discourage buying of medical procedure masks? And now to just expect everyone to forget the deadly flip-flopping on masks rather than taking the adult step of ‘fessing up and apologizing?

I will admit to having low expectations of medical professionals due to a near-lifetime of not-very-helpful care from orthopedists.1 And via one of my former attorneys (also a biomedical engineer), who’d started out at the NIH, later worked for Bristol Myers, and then did intellectual property work with former FDA commissioners as partners, gave me a sense as to how the agency had declined over the years. It’s also hard to miss the regular press discussions of the corruption of medical research, and the resulting high profile drug recalls, like Bextra, Vioxx, Cylert, Accutane, Meridia….and opioid abuses. And that’s before getting to the strong bias in the US to prescribe even when not clearly beneficial, as in the case of statins, and the way stimulants like Adderall are so casually dispensed that upper income kids have ready access to them as study/test performance enhancers.

One would have hoped that the high stakes of Covid would put real scientists, as in academic researchers, at the heart of investigating options. Looking at the confusion and lack of guidance and leadership in dealing with Covid, it’s hard to believe that the US was once capable of the Manhattan Project and sending a man to the moon with 1960s computers. As IM Doc put it:

We have created a world where every side has their own facts. Unfortunately, I believe we are all going to find the hard way that science is not going to work like that.

We have done everything possible to politicize medicine and science this year in this country – and look where it has gotten us. People not just here but all over Twitter and our media screaming at one another about things they have no clue about – just because their side says so. It has been a revelation.

I would also like to echo one of the above commenters – decrying the fact that most practicing physicians have just been cut loose to flap in the wind. Trust me – there are many days when I feel just like that. We have not had time for science in this pandemic to give us real answers – but the more unfortunate thing is that our national agencies have not even tried.

And now to reader vw:

Of so many tragedies to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the saddest to me – and probably the one with the longest-reverberating consequences – has been its wholesale discrediting of our health science institutions.

Here we are, over a year into this pandemic, and we cannot get a straight answer on whether or not this relatively cheap and safe drug saves human lives from COVID-19 or not. Worse, we can’t even seem to properly investigate it. All questions bring hysterics, or hardly-believable obfuscation, or (informed?) outrage, no matter what authority we turn to. The fallout in my own life from watching all this unfold has been… dramatic.

I don’t trust what the CDC says. I don’t trust what the WHO says. I don’t trust what the FDA says. I don’t trust Pfizer and the rest of the pharmaceutical companies any farther than I can throw them. I look with suspicion on my own scientist acquaintances, wondering if they are really following the data, or if they are clinging to a chosen worldview that science in America still works, oh god it still works, oh god it hasn’t been completely discredited, no it cannot be, my life work must have meant something, it must still work, it must still work….??

None of this means that ivermectin works–or for that matter, that it doesn’t work. It means that I have realized, slowly and then all-of-a-sudden, that I cannot know. Nor can any other layperson. We are alone, our economy is collapsing in slow-motion, and our lives are at stake. Or so we think! If we doubt so much, how much more should we really be doubting? I believe, for what it’s worth, that COVID-19 is real and that these experimental vaccines probably won’t kill us. At least… not that many of us.

But I wonder now, in my darker moments, whether the claim of those who don’t believe such things that refusing the vaccination is a “Darwin’s test – pass it and survive” have grokked something that was beyond me, in my previous worldview. How could it have come to this…? And if I am feeling like this, how must people with less scientific background (I attended a science magnet school) be feeling about it all??

Will my children be safe from measles, etc in the years to come? I have vaccinated them with the whole slate, and feel fine about that choice, but will the fallout from this debacle mean the end of herd immunity in America, as trust in the ‘health experts’ collapses into dust? How can we get it back, then – at gunpoint? With all that would imply… is it even worth such a high price…?

NC is doing the Lord’s work in finding the high quality news sources it continually brings forth for our viewing. But – pardon me – this isn’t something that should need to be be argued over in the comments section of a news site. This isn’t something that laypeople should have to suss out, with their own lives on the line. That it has come to this is a shame, and a shame so complete, that every time I really contemplate it I get the shivers. Our government has failed us. It has failed us. Yet we elected it. Oh, the shame…!

Is it my fate to live the rest of my life ashamed, utterly ashamed, of my own country? There has been no feeling reoccurring more regularly over the course of this past dreadful year, than that one. When, if ever, will the day come where I can live free of that dreadful emotion, attacking me every time now when I catch a glimpse of that flag flapping in the wind…?


1 The 50,000 foot version includes having to go to six orthopedists to get a successful treatment for plantar fasciitis, a common problem, that was so severe I was having trouble walking (“Wear a low heel and get orthodics”) and after a knee injury that didn’t resolve quickly, having one of the supposed top knee guys in NYC recommend an unnecessary surgery. I have much more in that vein. This was particularly distressing because orthopedics ought to be one of the most straightforward areas of medicine. If diseases that damage the joints and tissues like cancer are out of the picture, these are comparatively simple mechanical systems. I can only imagine what people with more complex or stubborn conditions must go through.

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