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Citizen Scientists Picked Up the Slack. Now They're Catching Flack.
Unprofessional Social Media Grudges Distract From Larger Failures
A Short History of “Official” Misinformation
“You can never know where you are going unless you know where you have been.“
Amelia Isadora Platts Boynton Robinson, Civil Rights Activist
On February 11th 2020, Director General Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization (WHO) explained that SARS-CoV-2 is an airborne virus. His boss, WHO Executive Director Dr. Michael Ryan, forced Tedros to retract this statement, insisting that only precautions for droplet transmission were required, and airborne was simply “military” language. SARS-CoV-2 always has been an airborne virus & still is. Not too soon after, countless New Yorkers (and others around the world) died. Many of them healthcare workers who were not provided adequate airborne PPE to protect them from this new deadly & disabling virus whilst on the job.
The next month in March 2020, Trump advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on 60 Minutes that "Right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks. There's no reason to be walking around with a mask.” Now, mainstream media outlets will, in hindsight, claim this was to manage supply shortages - as if this justified lying to the public that in fact, they needed airborne PPE to protect themselves from an airborne, socially transmitted virus that would go on to kill and cripple millions of Americans, with those stuck with Long COVID disability forced to pretend we’re somehow magically “post-pandemic” as they struggle without a real treatment or cure.
In Spring 2021 as the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine just began to roll out, with little to no knowledge about breakthrough infections, death, and Long COVID in the vaccinated, laptop class pundits like Leana Wen took out op-eds encouraging the vaccinated to abandon any and all SARS-CoV-2 precautions, as part of a larger “vaxxed-and-relaxed” strategy coordinated by the Biden Administration’s COVID Czar Jeffrey Zients, a former deli owner with zero medical expertise or experience. Research suggests this has gotten tens if not hundreds of thousands of vaccinated Americans killed (Jinkinson Smith, medRxiv,) not to mention millions disabled by Long COVID.
In Fall 2021 as the Omicron variant emerged in South Africa, a single doctor named Angelique Coetzee would claim “it is a mild disease, but it’s a serious, serious, serious illness in Europe, because politicians want me to say it.” Many anti-vax and pro-viral cranks in America leaped at the opportunity to claim this was “Nature’s vaccine,” and infection was not only inevitable, but also beneficial. As American children were rammed back into schools with no protection, the child death toll doubled from 500+ in August to 1000+ before Christmas 2021. A fifth of all US child COVID deaths occured during the Omicron surge, as a matter of fact (Melody Schrieber, The Guardian.) Perhaps PPE and a vaccine would have saved a lot of those kids’ lives.
On February 21st, 2022 former CDC Director Rochelle Walensky went onto former COVID Czar Andy Slavitt’s podcast, In The Bubble, where he shills unregulated vitamin supplements, to claim “the scarlet letter of this pandemic is the mask…its inconvenient, it’s annoying and it reminds us that we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” as thousands of Americans were still dying daily.
At the time of publication, here in August 2023, the Biden Administration and the newly promoted Jeffrey Zients (from deli owner to COVID Czar to Chief of Staff) alongside new CDC Director Mandy Cohen are crusading to end any and all reminders of SARS-CoV-2 in time for Biden’s re-election campaign - whilst still requiring negative PCR tests to meet with the President. On the August 9th episode of In The Bubble with new CDC Director Mandy Cohen, Host Andy Slavitt blames a hoarse voice on that all-too-familiar “summer flu.” Except the “summer flu” has never been a thing - It’s COVID-19. A voice teacher confirms Slavitt’s voice is suffering from “textbook dysphonia” (@singingsox, Twitter).
Interviewing through an ongoing COVID-19 infection, Slavitt and CDC Director Cohen proceed to ramble off in a daze of toxic positivity - even insisting “natural immunity” is protecting people as many are on their fourth or fifth reinfection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, increasing their risk for long-term health complications and disability. Meanwhile, the CDC is working to weaken infection control guidance, (National Nurses United) putting healthcare workers and patients at higher risk for nosocomial infections.
Meanwhile, cities like Los Angeles are encouraging sick chidren infectious with SARS-CoV-2 to come to school & spread the virus to teachers and other students - because it’s somehow magically “endemic,” after killing thousands of kids, orphaning hundreds of thousands of kids, and disabling hundreds of thousands more - and hey, those are rookie numbers! Endemic’s a good thing, right? Now you have people with severe health conditions begging on social media for people to disregard the guidance of public health officials.
Public health authorities pissed off to brunch and award ceremonies to pat themselves on the back for getting millions killed and disabled, telling you that you have to “learn to live” with a deadly & disabling virus reinfecting you multiple times a year. There’s one small problem with this approach, however:
You’re not “living with COVID.” It’s breeding and mutating inside the bodies of you & your children, as mandated by the Great Bidenton Declaration led by Zients, Walensky, Jha, Cohen - while the corpses continue to pile up and further Americans wind up disabled, with many unable to work, pay bills, buy food, or live “normally” at all.
Rise of the Citizen Scientist
A presentation by molecular virologist Marc Johnson (@SolidEvidence via Twitter) on tracking SARS-CoV-2 via wastewater data for the People’s CDC
As comfortable academics, corrupt government officials, and unqualified opinion editorial writers have gone out of their way to mislead the public and lull them into a false return to a 2019-defined “normalcy,” some members of the public have taken it upon themselves to keep the public informed on latest developments with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Evolutionary Biologist T. Ryan Gregory has compiled a list of over two dozen “variant trackers” that follow the specific evolution of the virus. Notably, high school science teacher Ryan Hisner has been recognized for his work tracking SARS-CoV-2 variant evolution.
Thanks to policy choices that have led to mass, repeated infection of entire populations, the original SARS-CoV-2 virus has been free to develop thousands of mutations from around the world. Some wrongly believe this is a net-positive, in a fictious narrative that this will somehow suddenly make a virus which can cross the blood-brain barrier magically harmless. Viruses are not cognizant, and virology does not operate along the Law of Attraction.
Volunteers from around the world organized and formed their own efforts, including the World Health Network and the People’s CDC to provide reliable information to the public free from ideological influence by wealthy & government interests. As public health authorities have bastardized data reporting into a pitiful and unnecessary silence so Biden 2024 could pretend that they had good cause to end the Public Health Emergency in time for election season.
Boy oh boy, did a whole gaggle of anti-vax, pro-viral, minimizer, and Democrat loyalists all get utterly pissed at the People’s CDC & World Health Network for daring to exist, making volunteer efforts to serve the public during an ongoing disaster! Sadistic rants, angry opeds, just full-blown nastiness all around. How dare these volunteers contradict the sacred declarations from our high viral sages! They demand that you little people shut up and learn to love the virus, because your pesky science is ruining everything!
One notable article by Emma Green for the New Yorker slandering the People’s CDC was titled “The Case for Wearing Masks Forever,” and on August 14th, 2023 she has a new, disgustingly adoring profile of neo-Nazi crank Christopher Rufo. If you’ve been paying attention, a recent theme here has been about how medical contrarianism inevitably embraces anti-Semitism and outright fascism.
With school starting and another wave of COVID-19 clearly on the rise in America, including an uptick of hospitalizations, these citizen scientist variant trackers have taken to nicknaming the latest evolution of Omicron taking dominance as “Eris,” something far easier to communicate to the public with than EG.5, XBB, and XCF. Now whilst the WHO has refused to name a new SARS-CoV-2 variant after Omicron in 2021, the virus has continued to grow and evolve at a rapid pace, thanks to governments throwing plenty of citizens’ flesh into the gaping maw of the virus.
As journalists around the world began to inform the public about this coming wave, surge, or “swell,” whatever you want to call it, some journalists elected to use this “Eris” nickname for the newly dominant Omicron variant. Oddly enough, many “liberal” minimizers who spent years crusading towards a complete and total surrender of the virus took a great deal of offense to this.
In May 2021, Brown University academic Jennifer Nuzzo said child COVID deaths were equivalent to flu. This was always false. In July 2021, Jennifer Nuzzo called for “off-ramps” for SARS-CoV-2 precautions as the Delta variant raged. In 2022, Jennifer Nuzzo claimed that ending PPE mandates was somehow a favor to working class Americans, who have shouldered the heaviest burden of disease, disability, and death.
Joseph Allen is a Harvard academic who spent 2020 insisting that mass infection would lead to “herd immunity” after 43% to 60% to 30% of Americans were infected. This was obviously not to be true. Allen would go on to advise the Biden Administration on air ventilation & filtration solutions for SARS-CoV-2, then proceeded to crusade for the abandonment of any infection prevention measures in schools for an August 2022 OpEd endorsed by Emily Oster, who after taking funding from rightoid billionaires like Koch, Thiel, and Zuckerberg, bastardized and fictionalized data to insist SARS-CoV-2 was harmless in children. Now over 2,000 kids are dead, and many more facing Long COVID disability including cognitive and neurological impairment - not to mention hundreds of thousands of children who lost a primary caregiver after bringing home a SARS-CoV-2 infection from school.
The fearmongering about “learning loss” had nothing to do with children’s education - which is now clearly being harmed by repeated SARS-CoV-2 infections and all of the physical harms they can cause. Wealthy out of touch academics with zero real-world responsibility, funded by right wing billionaires and emboldened by White House “normalcy” cranks like Jeffrey Zients, decided to drown your children in a rising tide of pestilence, no matter the casualty numbers.
In the void of viral depravity where our “experts” destroyed their own reputations as loyalists to a political agenda over giving the public accurate and reliable public health guidance, it was inevitable that citizen volunteers would fill the void to inform and educate the public. Shockingly, they’re actually pretty good at it, too!
How Has the Citizen Scientist Brigade (CSB) Gotten Things Right?
Well, when you’re not desperately trying to make excuses for the Biden Administration’s poor decisions, it frees up a lot of time and resources to actually follow & study the scientific reality. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s around to hear it, it clearly makes a sound - the laws of physics don’t change simply because you’re ignorant of reality.
"Some person on Twitter" who accurately predicted all aspects of the hellscape that has been our COVID encounter. This era will be remembered as the time of the rise of the Citizen-scientist, an actual expert who presents data with expertise and skill exceeding the paid staff.” -Matthew Oliver (@sameo416), November 2nd, 2021
Since the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, countless volunteers have stood up to do the highly technical legwork of uncovering and tracking variants, giving them nicknames, and providing the public with reliable and accurate information. Occasionally, as one variant or another rises to prominence, these variant trackers will convene and come up with a nickname, as it’s difficult to have an encyclopedia knowledge of technical terms like EG.5.1, XBB.1.16.6, etc. Journalists still on the COVID-19 beat will pick up these nicknames and write articles to inform the public about “Eris” and “Pirola.”
Good heavens did this make all the professional “official” experts get very, very upset. All of the pro-infection, throw the kids headfirst into the virus academics, pundits, and minimizers got very upset that people were still taking SARS-CoV-2 seriously! Starting with South African minimizer Tulio de Olivera, who insisted Omicron (which killed the most American kids in January 2022 versus the rest of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic) was “mild.”
Here we have Tulio fearmongering about accurate and easy to communicate scientific information. Tulio’s “vaxxed & relaxed,” accepting all these fancy awards in crowded unmasked ceremonies, and if citizen scientists are contradicting what a great job Tulio did, then they must be wrong! Wrong with their SILLY NAMES! Why haven’t you learned to love the virus yet? Resistance is futile, citizen!
After leaving the White House as the final COVID Czar, Ashish Jha’s tone has taken a turn for the worst, quite nasty at times. In the Boston Globe, he insists that people “ignore” COVID, and immediately rushed to boost Tulio’s message about citizen scientists naming rising variants after Biden ended the Public Health Emergency:
Over a million people saw this painfully out-of-touch public health messaging. No mention of Long COVID, which we don’t have “treatment” for, testing and masking is only “if you wish,” and a total abandonment of protecting yourself, your family, and community from a virus which can attack every organ in the body. Not to mention, Evushield and monoclonal antibodies are no longer effective nor available. After over a million Americans have died and millions have been disabled, Ashish Jha ends on the same message: “Don’t worry,” just keep spending and consuming, and getting repeatedly infected with a virus linked to cognitive and neurological impairment. Of course, Ashish Jha was also on the record misleading the public about airborne PPE to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections back in December 2022.
Our awards-accepting public health academics are more worried about collecting accolades and boosting their own careers than protecting the public’s health. The citizen scientists continuing to do the work and inform the public are a painful reminder that those awards are wholly unearned, and these careerists chose to clock out early and hit Happy Hour whilst tossing public health into the bin. This is why you see pandemic personalities, especially academics, from across the gamut coming down so hard on the volunteer effort.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the private school Ashish Jha and Rochelle Walensky send their kids to in Newtonville, Massachusetts, have received millions in HEPA filtration and air quality upgrades. The Biden Administration and CDC did not ensure schools received these upgrades nationwide - causing a great deal of needless suffering & “learning loss.” Protecting children’s health and public education was never the goal. Instead, academics like Joeseph Allen simply insisted “one way masking works.”
That’s the divide - the “real experts” who prioritize their own careers and ladder climbing over the public’s health, and the kayfabe that these “real experts” would never prioritize political loyalty or personal gain over a commitment to the hard scientific reality. Meanwhile, another new highly mutated variant, nicknamed “Pirola,” is on the rise across multiple continents as “Eris” rips through American schools. Napkin math based on prior waves suggest this will lead to another 1,000+ dead American kids, a solid chunk of kids losing a primary caregiver, and hundreds of thousands of more American children disabled by Long COVID. All of this preventable and accomplishes nothing other than interrupting the Biden 2024 campaign’s fantasy that America “defeated” the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
Once Again, Into the Breach
“Arguing about nicknames is silly. We have a drastic drop in surveillance, no mitigations, boosters that won't be available to everyone, and a largely complacent populace and public health apparatus thanks to constant minimizing. Some renewed media attention isn't the problem.” -T. Ryan Gregory (@TRyanGregory) August 15th, 2023
As America (and the rest of the world) is plunged into it’s first “post-pandemic” wave with Eris and Pirola, with countless children - many unvaccinated or with waning immunity from outdated boosters - being plunged head-first into a pool of pestilence with no protections from a virus linked to cognitive and neurological impairment, amongst many other medical complications, we are all expected to pretend that everything is “back to normal,” and that the Biden Administration ensured “we have the tools” to “ignore” COVID-19. For the eugenicist anti-vax cranks and other creeps that Biden rolled over for, you are expected to suffer in silence for their delusions.
However, not everybody is playing along as we head into Autumn. The Hollywood studio behind John Wick and Hunger Games, Lionsgate, has reinstated a mask mandate. At least one college out of Atlanta has done the same, as well as some hospitals. On the other hand, some schools are already shutting down due to waves of generic “illness.” Turns out mass, repeated infections with a deadly and disabling virus does not ensure any sense of “normalcy.”
Whilst the “real expert” academics are still pissing off to brunch and awards ceremonies, volunteer organizations like the People’s CDC are fighting tooth and nail against the Biden CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee’s effort to weaken infection control measures in hospitals - ensuring more nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infections, which in Australia alone has killed hundreds of patients. Hospitals are supposed to treat patients, not get them killed - even when they’re private for-profit institutions. The fact that CDC/HICPAC needs public commentary to appropriately explain airborne PPE is a staggering failure of public health.
Liberalism as a political ideology has a quasi-religious faith in the State’s institutions to protect the public from harm. As these institutions have repeatedly failed, prioritizing corporate profit and political loyalty over scientific reality - some committed individuals have enjoyed awards, adoration, and career promotions. Meanwhile, those in the general public have been forced to rely on volunteer efforts from their fellow citizens - and those volunteers are now facing backlash from the “real experts,” who refuse to admit their own failures and begin to course correct. A lot of these “real experts” are wealthy and comfortable academics with six figure salaries and private homes in gated communities, experiencing a very different pandemic from working class Americans, most of which struggling to live from paycheck-to-paycheck, unable to save for, say, medical emergencies.
It’s hard to know precisely where we’ll be in the next 12-18 months of mass, repeated SARS-CoV-2 infections - more variants, more disability, and more needless deaths enveloped in further economic disruptions. What we do know is that the public institutions that are supposed to protect public health have failed and surrendered to reactionary movements demanding we “abolish” essential institutions like the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics, as led by dishonest social media cranks like UCSF’s Vinay Prasad.
What we also know, much more than in 2020, is that SARS-CoV-2 can often have destructive and even debilitating effects on one’s health. Instead of preventing infections and protecting children’s health, the Biden administration has demanded we drown America’s children in a rising tide of viral pestilence, the very thing ancient religious texts going back thousands of years have demonized as one of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” In a time long before modern medical science, why would these ancient texts put a giant red warning label over infectious disease? More importantly, do we really want to find out?