Fear is a dangerous emotion to play around with. What started as fear of the virus back in March has evolved for our leaders into fear of telling voters the truth. Politicians ratcheted up the fear to get everyone on board with lockdown measures eight months ago, and now they use fear to maintain these measures in place. Supposedly temporary measures (do you remember "flattening the curve"?) seem to have become permanent restrictions on our Charter freedoms to move, travel, assemble, associate and worship.
Eight months ago, Canada's federal and provincial governments blindly accepted the predictions of Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, who said that COVID-19 would kill millions of people around the globe. Politicians chose to believe Dr. Ferguson in spite of his abysmal record of making terrifying but wildly inaccurate predictions about BSE (Mad Cow Disease), bird flu, and other illnesses.
Typical of the fearmongering engaged in by government officials, Alberta's Premier Jason Kenney and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw frightened Albertans by claiming that even with lockdown measures in place, as many as 32,000 Albertans would die of COVID-19. As of November 5, this virus has taken the lives of 343 Albertans, not 32,000. To provide appropriate context: every year more than 27,000 Albertans die, more than 2,000 per month on average. The 343 COVID-19 deaths since March are sad and tragic, and so are the other 15,657 deaths from other causes during the same period.
Premier Kenney went so far as to compare COVID-19 to the Spanish Flu of 1918, which was at least 75 times as deadly as today's virus. Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab stated that "COVID does not discriminate by age or other factors — it's a risk for all of us." This statement is demonstrably false; the data released by governments shows that the risk of suffering or dying from COVID-19 is clearly linked to age and other factors, such as heart disease, diabetes and other serious conditions. For example, the median age of death from COVID-19 is 84 in Alberta, and 85 in BC.
In contrast to the real pandemics of 1918 (Spanish Flu), 1957 (Asian Flu) and 1968 (Hong Kong Flu), which killed millions of people around the globe when world population was less than half of what it is today, the death toll of COVID-19 is within the range of an annual flu. Like the annual flu, today's virus targets the same demographic of elderly and sick people.
Today's fearmongering is about COVID-19 "cases," a word that previously referred to people who are actually sick. But today's "cases" include completely healthy people who simply had a positive PCR test, the reliability of which is in dispute , with the number of false positives as high as 90 percent as reported in The New York Times .
According to the National Post the "reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test, or RT-PCR — is so sensitive it can pick up debris from an old infection." The PCR test detects genetic material as well as live virus, meaning it can be positive after the person has cleared the live organism.
This National Post article goes on to claim that "provinces are encouraging mass testing using a hyper-sensitive test that's churning out daily case numbers, the implication being that a case always equals an active infection equals a person capable of spreading to others." Not true, according to Dr. Vanessa Allen, chief of medical microbiology at Public Health Ontario, who stated that "PCR picks up dead organism that is not infectious."
As Harvard University's Dr. Michael J. Mina explains it in the New England Journal of Medicine: "Most infected people are being identified after the infectious period has passed," such that "thousands of people are being sent into 10-day quarantines after positive RNA tests despite having already passed the transmissible stage of infection." According to Dr. Jared Bullard, associate medical director of Cadham Provincial Laboratory in Winnipeg, any virus that is being picked up beyond 25 cycles is probably left-over genetic material from dead virus. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci has confirmed that any PCR test result above a cycle threshold of 35 is too high, and only picks up dead nucleotides.
The New York Times explains the myriad of harms that result from false positive tests.
Politicians and most media continue to hype "cases" and warn of a "second wave." Yet media and politicians don't mention the fact that COVID-19 deaths peaked in April and May, then declined drastically and remained low. Government data tells us that the number of deaths in September and October is nowhere near the numbers we saw in April and May. In every province, the government's own data shows that there is no "second wave" of COVID-19 deaths.
Unsurprisingly, the number of "cases" rises with the number of tests that governments conduct. For example, September saw 28,763 "cases" in Canada, as a result of testing almost two million Canadians. But what really matters is not the "cases" of perfectly healthy people, but rather the fact that 300,000 Canadians die each year, an average of 25,000 per month. In September, 171 Canadians died of COVID-19, while 24,829 Canadians died of other causes.
Politicians claim that the lockdowns saved many lives, but they have yet to put forward actual evidence that might support their speculation and conjecture.
Public policy should be based on facts, not fearmongering. Politicians will continue using fear to violate our Charter freedoms until enough Canadians demand that laws and policies be based on evidence.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
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