Episode 270 – Sky News, Rowan Dean and Hydroxychloroquine

In this episode, we briefly discuss shutdowns before moving on to discuss media bias at Sky News and The Spectator and the difficulty of finding trustworthy news sources.

Guess what?  – lockdowns work

You can argue they are not worth the economic cost, you can argue they are not worth the lifestyle cost, you can argue that other measures are better, you can argue that after an initial wave they are less influential on death rates but the purpose of lockdowns is to reduce infection rates and given humans transmit the virus to each other and lockdowns reduce human interaction they must work to reduce infection rates – and they do – and Victoria is exhibit A to that argument.

Sweden

Lockdown deniers may have an argument in relation to herd immunity.

If you are prepared to suffer a big hit then the aftermath may me a lot easier than previously thought.

From The Australian

up to now there have been 5838 deaths. In per capita terms this is the fifth highest death rate in Europe, behind only Belgium, Britain, Spain and Italy, but it has also fallen substantially since the northern summer. Only seven people died with the disease in the past week. …

Sky News and Hydroxychloroquine

Rowan Dean and Andrew Bolt

Clip – Rowan Dean and Bolt on Hydroxy

Rowan Dean’s Twitter – 117 comments of which 99% positive.

The link on Palmer’s site.

https://www.palmerfoundation.com.au/hydroxychloroquine-is-effective-and-safe-for-the-treatment-of-covid-19-and-may-be-universally-effective-when-used-early-before-hospitalization-a-systematic-review/

Meanwhile

National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce

Recently, the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce updated the strength of its recommendation against the use of the drug, stating definitively that “it should not be used as a treatment for anyone with COVID-19”. The Taskforce also recommends against the use of hydroxychloroquine for post-exposure prophylaxis.

Royal Australian College of GPs

And On Tuesday (11 August 2020?) , RACGP Victorian Chair Dr Cameron Loy reminded Australian patients that the drug should not be used in preventing or treating the COVID-19 virus.

“The pandemic is causing a lot of anxiety and many people are looking for a ‘magic bullet’ that will keep us safe. There are several trials featuring this drug occurring across the globe, including an Australian clinical trial featuring 2,000 frontline healthcare workers,” said Dr Loy.

“However, the evidence base is simply not there to say that hydroxychloroquine can be used to prevent the COVID-19 virus or treat it.

“The results of trials so far have proven inconclusive or found the drug to be ineffective as a treatment. It can also have severe and even deadly side effects if used inappropriately.”

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine pose well-known serious risks to patients including cardiac toxicity -potentially leading to sudden heart attacks; irreversible eye damage; and severe depletion of blood sugar- potentially leading to coma, explains the TGA.

From Deep Throat

Essential Evidence Plus website.

The Covid-19 section of that site

Prevention 

Researchers randomized 821 persons with a moderate or high risk exposure to someone with confirmed COVID-19 within the previous 4 days to receive HCQ or matching placebo. The primary outcome was laboratory confirmed or clinically suspected COVID-19 (testing was not yet widely available) in the next 14 days. There was no difference between groups in the primary outcome, with 49/414 (11.8%) reporting infection in the HCQ group and 58/407 (14.3%) in the placebo group (risk difference -2.4%, 95% CI, -7.0 to 2.2). The findings were the same at 5, 10 and 14 days.

Treatment 

There was initially interest and widespread use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for COVID-19. However, randomized trials to date have all been negative, with no effect on mortality, viral shedding, or symptom duration. 95 and well-designed observational studies have also failed to find any benefit. However, they do find harm, primarily prolonged QT intervals and cardiac arrhythmia and in some cases increased mortality.

From Wikipedia

The retrospective cohort study compares groups of individuals who are alike in many ways but differ by a certain characteristic.

This is fundamentally the same methodology as for a prospective cohort study, except that the retrospective study is performed post-hoc, looking back.[3] The prospective study looks forward, enrolling patients unaffected by the outcome and observing them to see whether the outcome has occurred.[3] However, both kinds of cohort studies share the same starting point (considering data from before the occurrence of the outcome). The first objective is still to establish two groups – exposed versus non-exposed – which are then assessed retrospectively to establish the most likely temporal sequence of events leading to the current disease state in both the exposed and unexposed groups.

Retrospective cohort studies require particular caution because errors due to confounding and bias are more common than in prospective studies

 

The distinguishing feature of a prospective cohort study is that at the time that the investigators begin enrolling subjects and collecting baseline exposure information, none of the subjects have developed any of the outcomes of interest.

case–control study (also known as case–referent study) is a type of observational study in which two existing groups differing in outcome are identified and compared on the basis of some supposed causal attribute. Case–control studies are often used to identify factors that may contribute to a medical condition by comparing subjects who have that condition/disease (the “cases”) with patients who do not have the condition/disease but are otherwise similar (the “controls”).[1] They require fewer resources but provide less evidence for causal inference than a randomized controlled trial. A case–control study produces only an odds ratio, which is an inferior measure of strength of association compared to relative risk.

randomized controlled trial (or randomized control trial;[2] RCT) is a type of scientific (often medical) experiment that aims to reduce certain sources of bias when testing the effectiveness of new treatments; this is accomplished by randomly allocating subjects to two or more groups, treating them differently, and then comparing them with respect to a measured response. One group—the experimental group—receives the intervention being assessed, while the other—usually called the control group—receives an alternative treatment, such as a placebo or no intervention. The groups are monitored under conditions of the trial design to determine the effectiveness of the experimental intervention, and efficacy is assessed in comparison to the control. [3] There may be more than one treatment group or more than one control group.

The trial may be blinded, meaning that information which may influence the participants is withheld until after the experiment is complete. A blind can be imposed on any participant of an experiment, including subjects, researchers, technicians, data analysts, and evaluators. Effective blinding may reduce or eliminate some sources of experimental bias.

The randomness in the assignment of subjects to groups reduces selection bias and allocation bias, balancing both known and unknown prognostic factors, in the assignment of treatments.[4] Blinding reduces other forms of experimenter and subject biases.

A well-blinded RCT is often considered the gold standard for clinical trials. Blinded RCTs are commonly used to test the efficacy of medical interventions and may additionally provide information about adverse effects, such as drug reactions.

Deep Throat

I did go through the Clive Palmer study and this is my take on it.

First step – is it peer reviewed  

No, it is a preprint.

Who are the authors. 

I am sure their families love them but all his research is in orthopaedics and quite possibly and likely excellent work, and suddenly out of the blue a systematic review on hydroxychloroquine and Covid-19. ??? His area of expertise is anterior cruciate ligament and he does appear to be an expert in this.

Chadwick C Prodromos, MD Foundation for Orthopaedics and Regenerative Medicine

Tobias Rumschlag, BS

On sabbatical working as a research associate at the Foundation for Orthopaedics and Regenerative Medicine

What level of quality is the Systemic Review. 

On quick perusal I noticed that most of the studies were retrospective observation studies. There were a few prospective randomized. One of 62 patients only. Three were prospective observation not randomized.  Why is he mixing poor studies with good studies? This is not how to do a good systematic review.

The best study was prospective randomized controlled trial of 667 patients. Now I am getting impressed and taking notice. Result: no significant difference. The next best prospective randomised controlled trial. Result: no difference. Next prospective randomized controlled blinded trial was stopped because of lack of efficacy.

The biggest prospective randomized controlled trial of 4686 patients showed no difference in 28 day mortality but worse rates of requiring ventilation.

Okay enough time spent on this. Deep Throat over and out.

Ahmad 2020

Importance: Patients in long-term care facilities (LTCF) are at a high-risk of contracting COVID-19 due to advanced age and multiple comorbidities. … Setting: Three (3) LTCFs in New York. Participants: From March 19 to March 30, 2020, fifty-four (54) patients, residents of three (3) LTCFs in New York and diagnosed (confirmed or presumed) with COVID-19, were included in this analysis. Exposure: All patients who were diagnosed (confirmed or presumed) with COVID-19 received DOXY-HCQ combination therapy along with standard of care. …  and 85% (n=46) patients showed clinical recovery … A total of 11% (n=6) patients were transferred to acute care hospitals due to clinical deterioration and 6% (n=3) patients died in the facilities. Naive Indirect Comparison suggests these data were significantly better outcomes than the data reported in The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report  MMWR (reported on March 26, 2020) from a long-term care facility in King County, Washington where 57% patients were hospitalized, and 22% patients died. Conclusion: The clinical experience of this case series indicates DOXY-HCQ treatment in high-risk COVID-19 patients is associated with a reduction in clinical recovery, decreased transfer to hospital and decreased mortality were observed after treatment with DOXY-HCQ.

Arshad 2020

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Tables showing positive result for HCQ

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Summary tables

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The Spectator compares BLM with the Nazis

Declan Mansfield

What Black Lives Matter shares with the Nazis is a worldview that blames others for real or imagined injustice, an economic philosophy that is essentially socialist, and, most importantly, the reintroduction of race as a determining factor in the historical processes that govern the world.

White men, who are evil, because of a lack of melanin in one iteration, are the cause of the world’s suffering. Aboriginal Australia, for example, did not experience domestic violence until the arrival of white men caused black men to beat their women. Matriarchies existed throughout the world in peaceful coexistence before white patriarchal norms destroyed a feminine paradise. Environmental degradation is caused by white men who rape the planet with their insatiable greed. Even the achievements of Western civilisation are tools to privilege white male domination. The wonders of Renaissance art, which are the result of a confluence of factors unrelated to race, are white males imposing their subjective taste on aesthetics. Recently 2 + 2 = 4 was portrayed as a way to belittle minorities with white logic.

This is not reality. It’s left-wing mystical mumbo jumbo. It contains nothing as insightful as the wisdom of the world’s great religions. It’s meagre fare compared to the great socialist thinkers of the past, who, although they were wrong about many things, were at least intelligent. It’s bad philosophy. It contains no common sense. It’s bereft of logic. It’s what the Irish call craw thumping, beating one’s chest in an elaborate display of piety. It is, to put it bluntly, virtue-signalling at its most indulgent. What Black Lives Matter shares with every destructive movement in history, including Nazism, is envy and hatred disguised as compassion. It also shows, paradoxically, a deep-seated inability to accept difference.

Nothing but injustice follows the reintroduction of race into politics, which is what the great champions of racial equality like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela knew and tried to instil in their disciples. Whenever we privilege the collective over the individual – tribe, culture, sex, class, nation, or race – injustice in all its dreadful manifestations follows. This does not mean that the little platoons – our family, our friends, the place where we live – that Edmund Burke evoked are not necessary. It means that pride in what is familiar should not breed hatred towards those who are different, or, through sheer cosmic luck, have a better life than we do.

Were the Nazis socialists?

From the ABC

Nazism, socialism and the falsification of history

 

Matthew Fitzpatrick is Associate Professor of International History at Flinders University. A. Dirk Moses is Professor of Modern History at the University of Sydney, and the author of German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past.

 

Matthew Fitzpatrick and A. Dirk Moses

At a time when conservative governments, the Murdoch press and their corporately funded think-tank supporters run down university departments of history in this country, the need for careful interpretations of the past has never been more evident.

At stake is nothing less than the meaning of twentieth-century history and the historical origins of modern ideologies.

Whether out of ignorance or on political grounds, the shape of the political spectrum – from left to right – is being challenged by revisionists backed by vested interests that seek to undermine the welfare state.

This revisionism has been gaining ground for years in the right-wing parallel universe in the United States. It is now going mainstream in Australia courtesy of Sky News, which recently hosted a self-identified Nazi, instigating a predictable controversy.

But now it is Sky‘s own journalists who are rewriting history – this time, by insinuation rather than outright scandal.

Thus, last week, Paul Murray complained that young people tempted by left-wing politics fail to understand that the Second World War was waged against socialism. Presumably by this he meant the Axis powers, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

This bizarre view fails to consider the inconvenient fact that the Allies included among its number the communist Soviet Union, the state that bore the brunt of the conflict in lives and domestic destruction. But inconvenient facts should not get in the way of a convenient narrative. “The modern culture doesn’t understand WWII,” lamented Murray. “Too many of this generation want socialism and don’t understand what their relatives fought for and that’s why we speak up about it.”

Murray – himself no historian – seems not to understand the war, yet his erstwhile Sky News colleague, political scientist, Australian columnist and now ABC commentator Peter van Onselen, leapt to his defence on Twitter late on 16 August. “There have been plenty of criticisms of Paul I’ve been reading on social media, pointing out Hitler was a fascist not a socialist,” he wrote, adding: “Nazism is national socialism which is considered a branch of socialism.” Claire Lehmann, founder of the Quillette magazine, fashionable blog of the right-wing commentariat, chimed in: “I thought everybody knew this already.” The Australian parallel universe was coming into view.

Well, thankfully, not “everybody” is an adherent to the jejune News Corp view of history, despite the fact that Sky News streams into public places across the continent. Van Onselen’s cavalier tweet provoked a firm Twitter response from over 1,500 people (including us). Feeling exposed, he quickly composed an opinion piece on the “Socialist Roots of Nazism” for the Australian, which duly appeared online the next day.

Emboldened, van Onselen also took to Twitter to promote his intervention, but confused readers by sending mixed messages: “This piece explains how the Nazis turned on the socialists in their own ranks in the 1930s” (actually, it was much earlier than that, as we detail below). And in another tweet agreeing with a U.S. think tanker that fascism “is a fatal combination of nationalism and socialism,” he added: “I know, but I am blown away by the hostile abuse I’ve received. I’m not defending it, I’m not linking it to democratic socialism. People are reactionary and vile. I’m done engaging on twitter, this is it. Only posting links from now on, not reading or engaging with mentions, ever”.

But is it really fair to call the response van Onselen received “hostile abuse”? His position was criticised, to be sure – and for good reason. He blamed “mainstream socialists” for misconstruing his words. He then went on to note that the left-right spectrum is actually “more of an incomplete circle,” with the extremes of both ends almost connecting with one another. As a rarefied theory of political science, such sweeping revisionism might pass muster somewhere, but it has nothing to do with the history of Weimar or Nazi Germany, where both Nazis and socialists understood perfectly well where they stood in relation to one another.

Put bluntly, van Onselen’s position not only confuses history, it also echoes some of the broader, more malign attempts at historical falsification abroad at present.

The spectre of “Judeo-Bolshevism”

Peter van Onselen’s error is one of fact, not interpretation. Any analysis of the electoral platforms, internal party dynamics and political actions of the Nazis between 1921 and 1945 makes this clear. Perhaps the German Workers Party – the party of around 100 members led by Anton Drexler that preceded the Nazi Party (NSDAP) – might have sought to cobble authoritarian anti-capitalism (which is not the same as socialism) onto biological racism. The early, pre-Nazi party that Hitler joined toyed with forms of market control to benefit small businesses and to halt ostensible “foreign” – that is, Jewish – control over markets. But such dalliances would not last long. Yes, Mussolini had been a socialist early during the First World War, but broke with his comrades to support Italian expansionism, and then formed his fascist party to crush them. As in fascist Italy, Nazi ideas were self-consciously formulated to negate those of the left, not to imitate them. When Hitler took over the party in 1921, he shredded the anti-capitalist parts of the old party’s platform.

This was a politics forged in the late days of the German revolution, when Hitler began to imagine Germany assailed by a double threat of Jews and Bolsheviks emanating from the Russian east: “Judeo-Bolshevism.” This position would undergird the foreign policy aspects of Mein Kampf. Far from supporting anti-colonial movements at the time, as did socialists around the world, he admired the British Empire as a paragon of “Aryan” rule over inferiors, and hoped to cooperate with the British in rescuing Western civilization from Soviet “Asiatic” barbarism.

Under Hitler, the party looked squarely to the middle classes and farmers rather than the working class for a political base. Hitler realigned it to ensure that it was an anti-socialist, anti-liberal, authoritarian, pro-business party – particularly after the failed Beerhall Putsch of 1923. The “socialism” in the name National Socialism was a strategically chosen misnomer designed to attract working class votes where possible, but they refused to take the bait. The vast majority voted for the Communist or Social Democratic parties.

Sir Humphrey Appleby East Yemen, isn’t that a democracy?

Sir Richard Wharton Its full name is the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of East Yemen.

Sir Humphrey Appleby Ah I see, so it’s a communist dictatorship.

 

The minority anti-capitalist strand of Nazism (Strasserism) on which van Onselen fastens was eliminated well before 1934, when Gregor Strasser and the Storm Trooper (SA) leader Ernst Roehm were murdered with over eighty others in the “Night of the Long Knives.” In fact, Strasserism had already been defeated at the Bamberg Conference of 1926 when the Nazis were polling under 3% of the vote. Here, Hitler brought the dissidents back into line, denouncing them as “communists” and ruling out land expropriations and grassroots decision-making. He heightened the party’s alliance with businesses small and large, and insisted on the absolute centralisation of decision-making – the “Fuehrer (leader) Principle.”

When the already isolated Strasser brothers tried to reinvigorate their project one last time in 1930, Hitler and Goebbels banded together to force Otto Strasser to leave the party and Gregor Strasser to publicly recant. When the first electoral breakthrough to a popular vote of 18% came in 1930, the Nazi party’s anti-capitalist minority were well and truly defeated. The “Night of the Long Knives” purged the old SA, not because they were a hidden vestige of socialism, but because Roehm’s army of street thugs were a potential threat to Hitler’s personal consolidation of power. A struggle over socialism in the Nazi party played absolutely no role in the purge of 1934.

For their part, businesses welcomed the Nazis’ promises to suppress the left. On 20 February 1933, Hitler and Goering met with a large group of industrialists when Hitler declared that democracy and business were incompatible and that the workers needed to be dragged away from socialism. He promised bold action to protect their businesses and property from communism. The industrialists – including leading figures from I.G. Farben, Hoesch, Krupp, Siemens, Allianz and other senior mining and manufacturing groups – then contributed more than two million Reichsmarks to the Nazi election fund, with Goering tellingly suggesting that this would probably be the last election for a hundred years. Business leadership happily jettisoned democracy to rid Germany of socialism and to smash organised labour.

After fighting four elections between 1930 and 1933 on an anti-left and anti-Jewish platform that pledged to slay the mythical beast of “Judeo-Bolshevism,” Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 and made good on his promises to business and his voters to destroy socialism in Germany. Most of 1933 was spent persecuting socialists and communists, liquidating their parties, incarcerating and in numerous cases killing their leadership and rank-and-file members.

Trade unions had been in Hitler’s sights since a general strike paralysed a right-wing-coup (Kapp Putsch) in 1920. He had witnessed the striking workers and vowed that never again would organised labour prevent the right coming to power. It was the left (trade unions and Jews), after all, that he and others on the right thought had “stabbed” the nation in the back on the home-front to cause the loss of the First World War. By early May 1933, the trade unions had been destroyed. German socialism was in tatters. Not for nothing did Nazis say that the “ideas of 1933” (their national-racial “revolution”) had vanquished those of “1789” – namely, the French Revolution and its ideals of equality, fraternity and liberty that have animated the left ever since.

For all the Nazi talk of “four-year plans” and the “guidance of the state,” the sanctity of private property and freedom of contract was always preserved under the Nazis, even during the war years. Socialism – in particular, Bolshevism – on the other hand, were pernicious, “Jewish” imports that threatened the vitality of the German Volk.

Liberal fascism?

So if the Nazis were so obviously anti-socialist, and believed so ardently in the virtues of private property and entrepreneurship, and if socialists were among the earliest and hardest hit victims of the Nazi party prior to the Second World War, why is Hitler being proclaimed by some as a socialist?

Peter van Onselen may not equate democratic socialism with national socialism, but his argument makes precisely this association: they are both different “branches” of the same family – “socialism” – thereby making the Jewish Democrat Bernie Sanders an ideological cousin of Adolf Hitler.

If the absurdity of this style of reasoning is all too apparent, it is nonetheless widely believed. Already in 2007 in his book Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg ran the line that “the original fascists were really on the left, and that liberals from Woodrow Wilson to FDR to Hillary Clinton have advocated policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler’s National Socialism and Mussolini’s Fascism.” Ever since, conservatives charge “liberal fascism” when their views and behaviour are challenged.

The current revisionist bible is Dinesh D’Souza’s The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left published in the United States last year to predictable applause from the right-wing parallel universe. It inverts the left-wing case that Trumpism is an incipient form of fascism (a view with which neither of us agrees, and that Dirk Moses has explicitly criticised) to argue that the Democrats and left in general are the true heirs of fascism. Not Trump but Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are Mussolini or Hitler’s ideological offspring.

D’Souza stands in the tradition of neo-liberals like the Austrian economist F.A. Hayek, who conflated fascism and communism as forms of collectivism inimical to the market economy and freedom it claims to represent. Peter van Onselen makes a related point by trotting out the venerable theory of totalitarianism to equate fascism and communism as similarly illiberal. In D’Souza’s rendering, the American New Deal that rescued millions of Americans from poverty after the Great Depression was a form of fascism because it entailed state intervention. (Was the much greater state economic planning during the war effort that aided Hitler’s defeat also a form of socialism/fascism, one wonders?)

Herewith we come to the effect, if not the point, of the revisionist exposition: it is not only to transfer the stigma of the Second World War’s genocidal violence from the right to the left, so that criticisms of racialized populism can be dismissed as “leftist fascism.” It is also to suggest that the war was a crusade against state collectivism of all types – including the welfare state for which many Westerners, in fact, fought. They reason by means of a simplistic, ahistorical syllogism: since socialism is statism/collectivism (like public health and public transport), and Nazism was statist/collectivist (and promoted public health and public transport), social democratic public health and public transport measures must be fascist.

The war against welfare states

Needless to say, this is a perverse and pernicious misinterpretation of historical facts. The Atlantic Charter, declared by U.S. President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill in 1941, set out the principles of the post-war order, which included the “advancement of social welfare” and working “for a world free of want and fear.” A year later, the British Beveridge Report on social welfare met such popular support that a reluctant cabinet felt compelled to accept it. When the war ended, the people promptly replaced Churchill’s government with a Labour one to implement its recommendations.

Three years later, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, inspired by the Atlantic Charter, reflected the Zeitgeist in Article 25: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and his family including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood.” Welfare states were thus established or extended after the war. They have now been under concerted attack since the 1970s. Governments across the Western world are still deregulating, imposing austerity and attacking unions to further increase business profit margins. The emergence of leaders like Trump around the globe signals an intensification of this tendency.

Worried by the popularity among young people of politicians like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders who oppose these tendencies, however, the corporate and media sponsors of the attacks on the welfare state now seek to discredit the social democratic platform by disparaging it as historically fascist. That is also why they attack reputable sources of news like the ABC, and why they seek at once to discredit universities as “politically correct” and to pervert their mission by inserting into them privatised think thanks espousing Hayakian ideology. So, too, they proffer the perverse thesis of fascism-as-socialism, finding ready adherents in right-wing corners of the twittersphere and in business circles.

The collective ignorance displayed by this revisionist commentariat is proportionally related to the outlandishness of its historical interpretations and its sophomoric ignorance of the recent history of Western civilization.

The revisionists likely neither know nor care that the monument erected to the German strikers who lost their lives confronting the Kapp Putsch was ritually destroyed by the Nazis in 1936. But others do. Whether those who remember the past can confront the slow-motion putsch against welfare states and the historical experiences of the catastrophic twentieth century that spawned them remains an open question.

Matthew Fitzpatrick is Associate Professor of International History at Flinders University. A. Dirk Moses is Professor of Modern History at the University of Sydney, and the author of German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past.


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