By Arjun Walia
Mon Nov 23 2020, 8:41:12
What Happened: The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test “is unable to determine, beyond reasonable doubt, that such positivity result corresponds, in fact, to the infection of a person by the SARS-CoV-2 virus”, said the Lisbon Court of Appeal. (source)
A Portuguese appeals court has ruled against the Azores Regional Health Authority, declaring the quarantining of four individuals unlawful. One of them tested positive for COVID using a PCR test, and the other three were deemed to be high risk due to exposure and as a result the regional health authority forced them to undergo isolation. The appeal court heard scientific arguments from several scientists and doctors who made the case for the lack of reliability of the PCR tests for detecting the virus.
The court found that, based on the currently available scientific evidence, the PCR test is unable to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that a positive test actually corresponds to a COVID-19 infection for several reasons, two of the main reasons were that the test’s reliability depends on the number of cycles used, and the test’s reliability depends on the viral load present.
This was also brought up recently by tech mogul Elon Musk who recently revealed he had four tests completed in one day. Using the same test and the same nurse, he received two positive results and two negative results, causing him to state his belief that “something bogus” is going on here. He then asked his twitter following, “In your opinion, at what Ct number for the cov2 N1 gene should a PCR test probably be regarded as positive? If I’m asking the wrong question, what is a better question?”
In the Portuguese appeal hearing, Jaafar et al. (2020) was cited, stating that “if someone is testing by PCR as positive when a threshold of 35 cycles or higher is used (as is the rule in most laboratories in Europe and the US), the probability that said person is infected is <3%, and the probability that said result is a false positive is 97%.” The court further noted that the cycle threshold used for the PCR tests currently being made in Portugal is unknown.
They also cited Surkova et al. (2020), stating that any diagnostic test must be interpreted in the context of the actual probability of disease as assessed prior to the undertaking of the test itself, and expresses the opinion that “in the current epidemiological landscape of the United Kingdom, the likelihood is increasing that Covid 19 tests are returning false positives, with major implications for individuals, the health system and society.”
The court also made the point that a medical diagnosis is a medical act, thus only a physician can determine if a person is ill, no other person or institution has a right to do that.
The court concluded that “if carried out with no prior medical observation of the patient, with no participation of a physician certified by the Ordem dos Médicos who would have assessed symptoms and requested the tests/exams deemed necessary, any act of diagnosis, or any act of public health vigilance (such as determining whether a viral infection or a high risk of exposure exist, which the aforementioned concepts subsume) will violate [a number of laws and regulations] and may configure a crime of usurpação de funções [unlawful practice of a profession] in the case said acts are carried out or dictated by someone devoid of the capacity to do so, i.e., by someone who is not a certified physician [to practice medicine in Portugal a degree is not enough, you need to be accepted as qualified to practice medicine by undergoing examination with the Ordem dos Médicos, roughly our equivalent of the UK’s Royal College of Physicians].”
In addition, the court rules that the Azores Health Authority violated article 6 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, as it failed to provide evidence that the informed consent mandated by said Declaration had been given by the PCR-tested persons who had complained against the forced quarantine measures imposed on them….From the facts presented to the court, it concluded that no evidentiary proof or even indication existed that the four persons in question had been seen by a doctor, either before or after undertaking the test. (source)
According to Vasco Barreto, a researcher at the Center for the Study of Chronic Diseases (Cedoc) of the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, it was irresponsible the way two magistrates dealt with the case. “PCR tests have a specificity and sensitivity greater than 95%. That is, in the overwhelming majority of cases they detect the virus that causes covid-19,” he said. This is indicated in a scientific article that is cited in the judgment, but that is read “completely wrong” by the magistrates, according to Germano de Sousa, former President of the Ordem dos Médicos and owner of a network of laboratories. You can read more on why this judgement was “unscientific” according to them, here.
Why This Is Important: When it comes to the testing used to detect a COVID-19 infection, there is a wealth of information making it quite clear that the (PCR) tests are inadequate and unreliable for determining who is infected and who isn’t. As a result, there seems to be a strong possibility, according to many experts, that the number of cases recorded around the globe probably include a great number of false positives, meaning people who tested and do test positive for the virus don’t actually have it.
But is this true?
There is also a great deal of information making it quite clear that the PCR tests being used are indeed accurate, and very accurate. So, ask yourself this, how can there be “clear” information on both sides? What’s the correct information? How do we know what to believe? Are you open to consider another perspective about this pandemic, one that opposes what you believe? Can you see from the perspective of another person even though they may disagree with you?
There are many examples to choose from that reflect the idea that PCR tests are not accurate, and that they are. For example, the Bulgarian Pathology Association claimed that they are “scientifically meaningless.” They cite an article published in “Off Guardian” that makes some very interesting points.
It’s been a common theme. Well after this, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated that:
“The false positive rate is very high, so only seven percent of tests will be successful in identifying those that actually have the virus.”
In July, professor Carl Heneghan, director for the centre of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University and outspoken critic of the current UK response to the pandemic, wrote a piece titled: “How many Covid diagnoses are false positives?” He has argued that the proportion of positive tests that are false in the UK could be as high as 50%.
Former scientific advisor at Pfizer, Dr. Mike Yeadon argued the proportion of positive tests that are false is actually “around 90%”.
How declaring virus pandemics based on PCR tests can end in disaster was described by Gina Kolata in her 2007 New York Times article Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t.
On the other side of the coin, According to Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist at the McGill University Health Centre and the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal:
”The rate of false positives with this particular test is quite low. In other words, if the test comes back saying positive, then believe it, it’s a real positive.”
According to Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing.
False negatives – that is, a test that says you don’t have the virus when you actually do have the virus – may occur. The reported rate of false negatives is as low as 2% and as high as 37%. The false positive rate – that is, how often the test says you have the virus when you actually do not – should be close to zero. Most false-positive results are thought to be due to lab contamination or other problems with how the lab has performed the test, not limitations of the test itself
It’s also seems to be accepted by many scientists in the field that the number of infected persons is much higher than what we’ve been made to believe from testing, thus driving the infection/fatality rate even lower than what we are seeing. Estimates of infection fatality rate are on par with seasonal flu from this perspective according to many scientists and health professionals.
For example, Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician and epidemiologist created The Great Barrington Declaration opposing lockdown. Approximately 45,000 doctors and scientists have now signed it. The compares COVID -19 to the seasonal flu.
The Physicians For Informed Consent (PIC) recently published a report titled “Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC) Compares COVID-19 to Previous Seasonal and Pandemic Flu Periods.” John P. A. Ioannidis, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Stanford University has said that the infection fatality rate is close to 0 percent for people under the age of 45 years old, explaining how that number rises significantly for people who are older, as with most other respiratory viruses. You can read more about that and access that here.
These are a few of multiple examples.
Is There Conflicting Info Due To The Politicization of Science?
Kamran Abbas is a doctor, executive editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), and the editor of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. He has recently published an article about COVID-19 in the BMJ, the suppression of science and the politicization of medicine.
In it, he offers some food for thought,
Politicians and governments are suppressing science….Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science.
Globally, people, policies, and procurement are being corrupted by political and commercial agendas…The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines. Government appointees are able to ignore or cherry pick science—another form of misuse—and indulge in anti-competitive practices that favour their own products and those of friends and associates.
The stakes are high for politicians, scientific advisers, and government appointees. Their careers and bank balances may hinge on the decisions that they make. But they have a higher responsibility and duty to the public. Science is a public good. It doesn’t need to be followed blindly, but it does need to be fairly considered. Importantly, suppressing science, whether by delaying publication, cherry picking favourable research, or gagging scientists, is a danger to public health, causing deaths by exposing people to unsafe or ineffective interventions and preventing them from benefiting from better ones. When entangled with commercial decisions it is also maladministration of taxpayers’ money.
The Takeaway: Politicization of science was enthusiastically deployed by some of history’s worst autocrats and dictators, and it is now regrettably commonplace in democracies. The medical-political complex tends towards suppression of science to aggrandize and enrich those in power.”
Are we really going to get anywhere if we are constantly polarized with regards to what we believe about this pandemic? More important than information and facts is our ability to empathize with another person who does not share our own beliefs and try to understand where they are coming from and why they feel the way they do. It’s also important for them to empathize with you, and at the end of the day we all must do this with each-other if we want to move forward. Polarization and separation, constantly arguing and fighting with one another will never get us anywhere at all, and simply leaves us open as a collective to harmful responses by governments.
Why is so much information being censored? Why is everything that’s controversial these days deemed a “conspiracy theory” and not really explored by a large majority of people? Given we are deeply feeling the need to make sense of our world, is it time we begin to look at developing the inner faculties necessary to move beyond ideology, limited thinking patterns and truly begin looking at what evidence around us says?
If there’s anything this pandemic has taught us, it’s that we need to change the way we think and how we relate with one another. Obviously the measures being forced upon us are difficult, and may be causing a lot more harm than good, if any good at all.