The Dark Ages are back. We live in times when questioning the questionable Covid narrative is treated as blasphemy. It is in these dystopian times that a book has come out that confronts the pandemic’s rigged narrative and swats a few myths.
Dr Amitav Banerjee’s ‘Covid-19 Pandemic: A Third Eye’ only runs into 107 pages. But the lean book is mean enough to deal multiple blows to the popular storyline carefully scripted by interest groups, namely: WHO, CDC, FDA, Lancet, BMJ, EU, pharma giants, GAVI, social media platforms, foundations, MNCs, governments, monarchies, and the mainstream media.
Dr Banerjee is a retired epidemiologist who now teaches at Dr DY Patil College in Pune, where he’s the head of community medicine. He spent his lifetime as a field epidemiologist with the Indian army. Despite having worked for the state at one stage in his life, the critical-thinking doctor openly questions the government’s role in the handling of the pandemic. Of course, he also lambasts Big Pharma and the mainstream media with no less intensity for fanning the popular and misleading Covid narrative.
The book is a collection of published articles in which Dr Banerjee cites facts and government data to string together his arguments. In this against-the-tide work, questions jump out of every page, exposing holes in the narrative, such as the media-led fearmongering, the justification for draconian lockdowns, the need for unproven physical distancing (misleadingly called ‘social distancing’), the harmful mask mandates, the illegal vaccine mandates, and the urgency to jab children.
FEAR IS THE KEY
The writer slams administrations around the world, especially the Indian government, for resorting to mass scaremongering when news of the coronavirus outbreak broke in early 2020. Instead of cautioning and educating the public about the discovery, the WHO (World Health Organisation) pushed governments from east to west to scare the living daylights out of people.
Dr Banerjee’s book finds this phenomenon odd and counterproductive. “The pandemic of fear is reminiscent of a mediaeval era. Hasty decisions were taken giving and maintaining an illusion of control. These crude and clumsy measures fractured society,” he writes.
He also recounts that back in March 2020, the Lancet journal had suggested that the case-fatality rate from the new flu could be as high as 20%, which infamously turned out to be a false alarm, going by subsequent serosurveys.
In another chapter, he writes, “The one single theme in the pandemic was ‘fear is the key’. Citizens of almost all countries, including major democracies, complied with measures that deprived them of their fundamental rights, driven by the common denominator of panic.”
While calling the worldwide hard lockdowns unprecedented, the veteran of outbreaks and disease control points out that Covid-19 was overnight turned into the only disease that the entire world should worry about, all other ailments can be ignored. The book recalls how escalatory news about the outbreak dwarfed all other health crises, engineered through fearmongering on TV, newspapers, magazines, radio and social media.
The book cites a certain instance of misreporting in the summer of 2021 that wrongfully triggered strict outdoor rules around the world. The New York Times had cited a guideline from the US-based CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) on May 26, 2021, saying the risk of outdoor transmission of the virus was 10%. Later, after many countries acted on the alarming guideline and banned outdoor activities, the CDC admitted that it had mistakenly said the risk of outdoor transmission was 10% – it was actually 0.1%!
This scandalous episode, not reported widely by the mainstream media because of its over-respect for the CDC, WHO and Big Pharma, is among many other interesting anecdotes the book rolls out in its mission to wake people up from slumber.
“In this crisis, we’ve had the worst of communism emulating repressive measures such as the lockdowns in China, and the worst of capitalism with market forces hijacking the narrative,” the professor aptly writes.
An interesting point he raises is the government-guided mainstream media’s dedicated focus on only Covid deaths and nothing else, even though TB is known to kill about 1,500 people in India daily and the country loses around 2,000 children to preventable diseases every single day.
VACCINE, A BIG GAMBIT
The doctor, despite his optimistic outlook about vaccines, calls the Covid-19 vaccine’s roll-out too hasty and a “big gambit”. He cites the example of the TB vaccine in India, which has hardly made the disease’s impact diminish even after so many decades.
The writer warns in the book that any vaccination drive in the middle of a pandemic can be counterproductive and give rise to mutants. That’s exactly what we saw with the Omicron, Deltacron, Lambda and XE variants of the virus.
Dr Banerjee is perplexed over the unexplained urgency to vaccinate children against the new flu. “Young adults without comorbidities rarely landed up in hospitals or died from the infection… What needs to be done was to prevent deaths, the majority of which occurred in the older age groups,” he argues on the basis of official data.
The book lauds Sweden as an example on this front. The Nordic country’s government was the only one in the world to keep schools open throughout the pandemic and even during the peak of the global lockdown fever. Notably, Sweden has seen way fewer Covid-related deaths as compared to several other European countries that followed strict mask mandates, hard lockdowns and physical distancing norms – France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Czechia, Belgium, Hungary, to name a few.
Coming back to the topic of vaccinating children, there’s ample government data that shows the new flu is less harsh on kids. As the author points out in his contrarian work, as much as 99.67% of deaths among children during the peak of the pandemic happened due to reasons other than Covid-19.
WHO CARES FOR SEROSURVEYS?
Yet another front on which the book raises a pertinent question is the unexplained lack of focus on serosurveys conducted from time to time between the start of the pandemic and the launch of the mass vaccination drive.
A serosurvey conducted by the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) in June 2021 is aptly cited by Dr Banerjee. It showed that 67.6% of Indians had Covid antibodies, which means 82 crore Indians at that time had already developed natural immunity against the disease either due to Covid infection or due to vaccines.
Now, at the time of that ICMR serosurvey, only 20% of Indians had taken a single shot while just 5% were doubly jabbed. So, going by the math, about 75 crore Indians at that time had already developed natural immunity against the new flu through natural infection from the virus.
This hardly advertised instance points to an argument presented by many critical-thinking doctors, who say that herd immunity is the best answer to this disease, not a hurriedly rolled out untested vaccine.
Among many other persuasive arguments put forth in ‘A Third Eye’, the author slams what he calls modern-day “mouse-click epidemiologists” who are relying on data on computer screens to make wild, inaccurate claims of projected Covid death tolls. “Human beings were taken as inert units in the model rather than social beings,” he laments.
The writer also criticises India’s mainstream medical community for living under an “illusion of control” over the virus by simply “mass copying” the western model of handling the pandemic. The result? Measures such as hard lockdowns failed to fully contain the pathogen while the country’s fragile economy bottomed out from the collateral impact of the shutdown.
SUN TZU’S TEACHINGS
The book, despite being written by a seasoned field epidemiologist, hardly annoys the average reader with scientific and medical jargon. Instead, Dr Banerjee presents his case on a persuasive and even cajoling note by quoting interesting people and citing historical anecdotes to drive home his message.
Sun Tzu’s words of wisdom, Marie Antoinette’s let-them-have-cake story, parallels with Twenty20 cricket, the David-Goliath duel, lessons from military strategy, Hippocrates’ philosophy, David Deutsch’s writings – these elements elevate the book’s readability and they make it an engaging read for folks from all walks of life.
The handy book perhaps deserved a more aggressive title. In its forthcoming revised editions, adding some footnotes where data and research is cited will make the stellar work all the more bulletproof to keep agenda-driven fact-checkers at an arm’s length (read: social distancing!).