21st Century Wire
by Brian Berletic
If official numbers are to be believed, the United States is one of the worst hit countries in terms of COVID-19 infections and deaths. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at the time of writing, there are supposedly 19 million COVID-19 cases with an alleged 300,000+ deaths suggesting between a 1-2% chance of dying from COVID-19 if infected by it.
However, these numbers are problematic – even before questioning the validity of the statistics themselves leading to them.
For example – asymptomatic cases will likely go both untested and unreported, meaning many more people are actually being infected by COVID-19, exhibiting no symptoms, receiving no treatment, and most certainly not making it into the CDC’s “cases” statistics.
This means that your chances of being infected by COVID-19 and dying are actually much, much less than the often touted claim of 1-2%. Only those who exhibit severe enough symptoms to be tested and/or treated will make it into the statistics of “cases.”
In terms of framing any pandemic, an exaggeration of the lethality of the virus becomes a fundamental issue. If this information by itself is carelessly or dishonestly presented to the public without mention of the many more people likely being infected and exhibiting no symptoms at all, panic can, and clearly has been spread across society and the world, enabling extreme policies to glide through approval, beginning the process of disfigurement society now suffers today.
This was a fact highlighted by the work of Dr. John Ioannidis who, even at the onset of COVID-19, attempted to raise the alarm about needlessly stoking public hysteria, the folly of driving public health policy without proper data, and the catastrophic impact it would have – and is now clearly having – on society if this trend isn’t reversed.
A video interview conducted by Journeyman Pictures from April 2020 noted Dr. Ioannidis’ breakdown of data and the results of his own studies conducted to illustrate exactly this. His study included widespread serological (antibody) testing in Santa Clara County, California to see how many individuals may have been infected by COVID-19 but simply never exhibited symptoms, or symptoms serious enough to seek medical attention and be tested for COVID-19.
Dr. Ioannidis would note:
“If you compare the numbers that we estimate to have been infected, which vary from 48,000-81,000, versus the number of documented cases that would correspond to the same time horizon around April 1st, when we had 956 cases documented in Santa Clara County, we realize that the number of infected people is somewhere between 50 and 85 times more compared to what we thought, compared to what had been documented. Immediately, that means that the infection fatality rate, the chance of dying, the probability of dying, if you are infected, diminishes by 50-85 fold, because the denominator in the calculation becomes 50-85 fold bigger. If you take these numbers into account, they suggest that the infection fatality rate for this new coronavirus is likely to be in the same ballpark as seasonal influenza.”
Dr. Ioannidis also noted that there was a large gradient regarding death rates based on age and underlying medical conditions, with the risk of death for people under 65 with no underlying medical conditions being virtually negligible.
The need for wider testing to fully establish mature datasets – as Dr. Ioannidis and his team at Stanford illustrated – and efforts to communicate to the public the difference between the infection fatality ratio (IFR) and the case fatality ratio (CFR), have been neglected by Western governments and even more so by the Western corporate media. In some cases, efforts appear to be being made to deliberately obfuscate or confuse this crucial information in order to continue stoking panic and hysteria.
But in addition to this, there is the fact that governments – particularly in the West – have been caught using dubious or disorganized methods to tally COVID-19 deaths – meaning that both IFR and CFR numbers could be easily skewed.
For example, British state-funded media outlet, the BBC in an August 2020 article titled, “Coronavirus: England death count review reduces UK toll by 5,000,” would admit:
A review of how deaths from coronavirus are counted in England has reduced the UK death toll by more than 5,000, to 41,329, the government has announced.
The article also noted that:
The new methodology for counting deaths means the total number of people in the UK who have died from Covid-19 comes down from 46,706 to 41,329 – a reduction of 12%.
The article revealed that Public Health England had “included everyone who had tested positive [for COVID-19], even if they died months afterwards and their death may have had another cause.”
Similar statistical gymnastics are being performed in the US. Even the New York Times raised the issue fairly early on in article, “Is the Coronavirus Death Tally Inflated? Here’s Why Experts Say No,” clearly inferring that there may be a problem with the official methodology, and went on to explain throughout the article how it is impossible to ever know since accurate counts – or even accurate systems to use in counting – may not presently exist in the US.
In other words: the current systems are less than perfect and vulnerable to systemic distortions in the presentation of data. Again, this is a fundamental issue when public health policy is based on the perceived severity of the epidemic.
The Real Impact of COVID-19
Based on what were clearly misused and incomplete statistics, the US, the UK, and much of Western Europe have led the world in stoking unprecedented hysteria, enforcing travel restrictions and lockdowns, including the closing of businesses and schools, and grinding the economies of the world to a halt either directly or indirectly – in a manner similar to but with an impact much greater than the US-led global “War on Terror” starting in 2001.
Pressure from “international organizations” like the World Health Organization (WHO) using its UN-affiliated platform to declare a “global pandemic,” along with Western governments and the corporations that dominate foreign and domestic policy, has created a global crisis – not in terms of human health, but in terms of socioeconomics.
Businesses are closed – not because those who regularly run or patronize them are in hospital beds or dead – but by order of governments, and with official policy backing from organizations like the WHO.
The mainstream media has played a key role in this – not only repeating narratives provided by governments and healthcare institutions uncritically, but refusing to fulfill their role as watchdogs and investigators searching out impropriety.
It is a state of hysteria that is crippling small and medium-sized businesses (SME), but a boon to big-business.
Headlines from papers like the Wall Street Journal admit, “Big Tech Companies Reap Gains as Covid-19 Fuels Shift in Demand,” or as the Guardian reported, “Amazon third-quarter earnings soar as pandemic sales triple profits,” make it clear that some big-businesses are profiting from the hysteria.
Moreover, the Guardian report, “The mystery of which US businesses are profiting from the coronavirus bailout,” reveals how struggling big-businesses are being bailed out by government money – while the SME sector, the real pulse of any vibrant economy and society – is being left behind.
But there is one industry who stands out above all others to benefit, an industry notorious for its deeply rooted corruption, and an industry that has already been caught using its ties with international organizations like the WHO to declare pandemics, stoke hysteria, and profit handsomely from the resulting chaos.
It’s the West’s pharmaceutical industry.
At no time in human history has it been more powerful and influential than it is now. And at no other time in human history has it been so dangerous.
Big-Pharma: The Least Trustworthy Pandemic Partner
Western Big-Pharma’s profiteering and corruption under ordinary circumstances is already shocking. The current climate of public confusion, panic, and growing socioeconomic desperation only invites the industry’s impropriety to new levels.
Pharmaceutical corporations like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and Moderna – having received billions of dollars directly or indirectly from taxpayers to develop COVID-19 vaccines – have long, documented histories of corruption, including bribing regulators, doctors, and governments.
They have also been caught falsifying safety and efficacy data. They have promoted the use of their products for patients in cases not approved of by regulators, including on children.
They have even been caught knowingly selling products they knew were dangerous or even deadly – withholding critical information from both regulators and the public.
Pfizer alone – as its COVID-19 vaccine began rolling out publicly – was under investigation this year, according to its own Security Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, for its Greenstone generics business over antitrust concerns, for manufacturing issues regarding Quillivant XR, regarding quality issues over the manufacturing of auto-injectors, over corruption inquiries regarding its Russian and Chinese operations, and in regards to lawsuits in Mexico over the manufacturing of Zantac and a cancer-causing chemical called N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) found in the product.
The investigation regarding Zantac finally prompted the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – who had originally approved the drug – to request it be pulled from the market after finding it is indeed linked to an increased likelihood of causing cancer.
The Wall Street Journal in a 2020 article titled, “Pfizer Receives Inquiry From SEC Bribery Unit,” would note of Pfizer’s past scandals that:
Pfizer has had past run-ins with U.S. authorities over allegations of bribery among its operations abroad. The company in 2012 agreed to pay $60.2 million to settle investigations by the SEC and the Justice Department into alleged violations of the FCPA in several countries in Europe and Asia, including China and Russia.
The US Department of Justice in its own statement regarding part of the 2012 payout by Pfizer would note:
According to court documents, Pfizer H.C.P. made a broad range of improper payments to numerous government officials in Bulgaria, Croatia, Kazakhstan and Russia – including hospital administrators, members of regulatory and purchasing committees and other health care professionals – and sought to improperly influence government decisions in these countries regarding the approval and registration of Pfizer Inc. products, the award of pharmaceutical tenders and the level of sales of Pfizer Inc. products. According to court documents, Pfizer H.C.P. used numerous mechanisms to improperly influence government officials, including sham consulting contracts, an exclusive distributorship and improper travel and cash payments.
Such bribery might help explain why Pfizer and other pharmaceutical corporations are able to sell dangerous products like cancer-causing Zantac or – in the case of fellow COVID-19 vaccine producer Johnson and Johnson – cancer-causing baby powder – for years before mounting lawsuits and public outrage spur regulators to finally do their job properly.
In Johnson & Johnson’s case, a Reuters investigation would note (emphasis added):
Facing thousands of lawsuits alleging that its talc caused cancer, J&J insists on the safety and purity of its iconic product. But internal documents examined by Reuters show that the company’s powder was sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and that J&J kept that information from regulators and the public.
What this illustrates is a consistent pattern of corruption stretching across Pfizer’s (and Johnson & Johnson’s) manufacturing process to their business practices and spanning years. It is an entire industry that repeatedly engages in dangerous impropriety, is repeatedly investigated and fined, but allowed to not only continue conducting business – but is still entrusted with matters critical to public healthcare.
The implications it has for the process of developing, approving, producing, and distributing vaccines for COVID-19 should be obvious.
The 2009 H1N1 “Heist”
Despite the immense amount of publicly-known corruption engaged in by the Western pharmaceutical industry and the obviously troubling implications it has for the current COVID-19 vaccine rollout – it is only one dimension of a much wider problem.
There is also the Western pharmaceutical industry’s known history of creating public scares to attract massive government contracts and wield power and influence over public discourse regarding human healthcare issues.
The same large corporate media outlets today helping fuel public hysteria regarding COVID-19 and promoting big-pharma’s vaccine rollout had previously reported on past instances of big-pharma crying “pandemic,” using its influence over international organizations like the WHO, and securing massive government contracts worth billions of dollars for unnecessary and ineffective medication and vaccines.
Think back to 2009 and the H1N1 “Swine Flu” scare. Following the WHO’s dramatic declaration of a “global pandemic,” the headlines and articles from the mainstream Western media read almost identical to those being circulated today regarding COVID-19.
NPR in a 2009 article would claim:
Seven months into the flu pandemic of 2009, North America leads the world in cases, the WHO says.
Unlike elsewhere, the new H1N1 never exited stage left after its debut appearance in late April. In fact, it’s making more noise than ever. Mexico has experienced more cases of pandemic flu since September than it did over the first four months of the pandemic this spring.
The ratcheting up of hysteria continued both from the WHO and across the Western media, accompanied by drives to fund vaccine development and stockpile medication like Roche’s Tamiflu.
The UK Daily Mail in a 2009 article titled, “Tamiflu: What you MUST know as swine flu threatens to strike,” would claim:
The Government has announced that stocks of drugs – known as antivirals – to fight the imminent threat of a swine flu pandemic are being built up to cover more than 50million people – or 80 per cent of the country’s population.
But as hysteria faded, the truth emerged. Articles began to appear like this one from Reuters in 2014 titled, “Stockpiles of Roche Tamiflu drug are waste of money, review finds,” which noted:
Researchers who have fought for years to get full data on Roche’s flu medicine Tamiflu said on Thursday that governments who stockpile it are wasting billions of dollars on a drug whose effectiveness is in doubt.
The article also pointed out:
Tamiflu sales hit almost $3 billion in 2009 – mostly due to its use in the H1N1 flu pandemic – but they have since declined.
There were also Roche’s financial ties to WHO experts who designated the appearance of H1N1 as a “pandemic,” helping pave the way for the public hysteria required to fuel Roche’s profits from selling what was essentially a useless drug to government stockpiles.
The BBC in their 2010 article, “WHO swine flu experts ‘linked’ with drug companies,” would report:
Key scientists behind World Health Organization advice on stockpiling of pandemic flu drugs had financial ties with companies which stood to profit, an investigation has found.
Roche was mentioned by name by the BBC (emphasis added):
The advice prompted many countries around the world into buying up large stocks of Tamiflu, made by Roche, and Relenza manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.
Despite these revelations post-H1N1 after 2009, the very same actors have taken the stage for a repeat performance in 2020 – with little to no alarm from the same media organizations who ignored the H1N1 “heist” in 2009 and reluctantly reported on it only long after the damage was done.
Big-Pharma’s Pandemic Industrial Complex
Over the past ten years – big pharma’s control over the WHO and its influence over both the media and Western governments has only grown.
Powerful organizations like the Wellcome Trust – which claims to be an “independent foundation” funded through an investment portfolio – counts several large pharmaceutical corporations – Novartis, Roche, Johnson & Johnson, and Abbott Labs – on their list of “significant directly held public equity holdings.”
Its governance includes representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, various Western governments, academia, the media, and of course the WHO itself.
It is an institutionalization of the conflicting interests that have tolerated, accommodated, even helped expand the unwarranted power, wealth, influence, and corruption of big pharma.
And while Wellcome Trust claims to be “independent” of corporate and government ties, alongside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – it has helped create another front organization called The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) – through which it accepts and disperses huge amounts of Western taxpayers’ money.
The work of CEPI directly impacts the business prospects of many of the corporations Wellcome Trust owns stocks in – with its investments paying off above average amid this most recent round of public hysteria and government spending on this latest declared pandemic.
International Publishers Limited in an article titled, “Wellcome Trust ‘prospers’ under COVID-19 fallout with 12.3% return,” would report:
Wellcome Trust’s portfolio has not just survived, but prospered, in the highly volatile environment following the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Eliza Manningham-Buller, the charity’s chair, introducing its annual report which unveiled a 12.3% return for the year to 30 September 2020, up on the 6.9% of the previous year.
The trust, which supports medical research worldwide, is the UK’s largest charity, with a £29.1bn (€31.9bn) portfolio at end-September 2020. Wellcome’s investments have returned an average 12.1% a year over the past decade.
It’s worth noting that back in March, both Wellcome and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided $125 million in “seed funding” to accelerate certain pharmaceutical products claiming to treat COVID-19, including Gilead Science’s antiviral Remdesivir. Despite failing repeatedly in clinical trials, and after the National Institute of Health (NIH) was exposed attempting to rewrite the rules in their attempt to salvage the drug’s reputation as a viable therapeutic for COVID-19 – Remdedivir was continually hyped in the media by Bill Gates and NIH Director Anthony Fauci, and is still defended by the WHO to this day.
It’s also important to note that as of 2020, the number one funder of the World Health Organization is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who supplied the WHO with approximately $531 million in its 2018-19 biennial budget, roughly 12% of WHO’s total budget.
Unlike the H1N1 scare and multiple scandals that emerged out from behind the smokescreen of public hysteria deliberately created around it, the COVID-19 crisis has been sustained for now nearly a year with enduring regiments being put in place to condition and control the public – and to control the flow of information through traditional channels as well as online and particularly across US-based social media platforms, and direct public funding into the coffers of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry.
At the same time, other major industries are either being spared the same regulations and restrictions strangling smaller businesses out of existence, or being bailed out by public funding.
It has gone from the “H1N1 Heist” of 2009 to what appears to be a “Pandemic Industrial Complex” taking shape today.
How far this goes in shaping – or more accurately – disfiguring society, is up to those people who can clearly see public and private sectors conspiring together and consisting of the least reliable partners for actually taking on a real pandemic and protecting the public from it – if that is truly what we are facing.
On one hand, even if we believe the statistics and claims being made on a daily basis by the mainstream media and government representatives, we can see for ourselves the corporations elected by the government to create the solutions claimed are needed to end the crisis, are guilty of serial abuses including the production and distribution of entirely unsafe products – products developed and “approved” of by government regulators under normal conditions that would go on to making people ill or even killing them.
But the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out now aren’t even going through that process. They have instead been rushed through approval and unpredictable results and adverse effects are already emerging.
It harkens back to another chapter involving a novel virus – 1976’s Swine Flu – where vaccines were rushed into production and resulted in mounting adverse effects, particularly paralyzing Guillain-Barré syndrome in over 400 individuals. And these were only the cases that were reported, as the true total of those who suffered varying degrees of complications will never be fully known.
In 1976, the vaccination program was abandoned and the government’s response deemed a failure of historic proportions. But apparently the lessons learned then, or in 2009, have been lost entirely today – and in some cases – deliberately buried by a complicit media.
If COVID-19 is the crisis we are told it is – why isn’t there a greater demand for more trustworthy and transparent partners to work with to face it? These would be partners capable of acknowledging past mistakes and explaining how their plan today differs from those in the past.
But unfortunately, history has already taught us that pandemics can be declared – not because they actually exist and/or pose as grave a threat as government, media and corporate stakeholders claim – but because profits are to be made by big pharma, in connection with those in organizations like the WHO who have the unique power to declare pandemics, and perpetuate them regardless of the truth.
We watched for two decades as the West orchestrated an entirely false “War on Terror” around the globe, justifying actions as extreme as invasions, wars, and illegal occupations of other countries and the expenditure of trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.
Is it really that hard to imagine as possible, this formula being reworked atop the 2009 H1N1 scandals and pushed forward aggressively?
Author Brian Berletic, formerly known under his pen name Tony Cartalucci, is Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher, writer and special contributor to 21st Century Wire. See more of his work at Tony’s archive. Over the last decade, his work has been published on a number of popular news and analysis websites, and also on the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. Also, you can follow him on VK here.
CDC – United States COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by State:
Journeyman Pictures – Perspectives on the Pandemic | Dr. John Ioannidis:
MedRxiv – COVID-19 Antibody Seroprevalence in Santa Clara County, California:
WHO – Infection fatality rate of COVID-19 inferred from seroprevalence data:
BBC – Coronavirus: England death count review reduces UK toll by 5,000:
NYT – Is the Coronavirus Death Tally Inflated? Here’s Why Experts Say No:
Coronavirus outbreak declared a pandemic: what does it mean, and does it change anything?
WSJ – Big Tech Companies Reap Gains as Covid-19 Fuels Shift in Demand:
Guardian – Amazon third-quarter earnings soar as pandemic sales triple profits:
Guardian – The mystery of which US businesses are profiting from the coronavirus bailout:
Pfizer SEC Filing For the quarterly period ended September 27, 2020:
FDA – FDA Requests Removal of All Ranitidine Products (Zantac) from the Market:
WSJ – Pfizer Receives Inquiry From SEC Bribery Unit:
Reuters – Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder:
NPR – North America Leads Swine Flu Pack:
Daily Mail – Tamiflu: What you MUST know as swine flu threatens to strike:
Reuters – Stockpiles of Roche Tamiflu drug are waste of money, review finds:
BBC – WHO swine flu experts ‘linked’ with drug companies:
Wellcome Trust – Directly held public equity holdings:
Wellcome Trust – Board of Governors:
CEPI – Who We Are:
IPE – Wellcome Trust ‘prospers’ under COVID-19 fallout with 12.3% return:
Gates Foundation and Wellcome set up $125m coronavirus drug fund:
New data on Gilead’s remdesivir, released by accident, show no benefit for coronavirus patients. Company still sees reason for hope:
Inside the NIH’s controversial decision to stop its big remdesivir study:
‘Big concerns’ over Gates foundation’s potential to become largest WHO donor:
Discover – The Public Health Legacy of the 1976 Swine Flu Outbreak: