For me, G20 summits were always interesting occasions as the leaders of the world’s strongest economies gather to discuss plans to move forward. This year, however, it was the first time that I was quite reluctant to follow the summit (despite the 2022 edition being organized on the Indonesian island of Bali).
How come? Well, having closely followed the COVID-19 pandemic – implying that I am not solely dependent on mainstream media reports and statements expressed by leading politicians, but have engaged in some extensive research by downloading many reports and data from various international organizations (which includes the World Health Organization, or WHO) and government institutions over the past two years, while at the same time following specific (high-quality) social media channels where virologists, medical experts, economists, psychologists, and other experts are free to ventilate their finding and opinions, I noticed that there is a huge difference between what is presented to us through the mainstream media (and by politicians) on the one hand, and (what I perceive as) reality, on the other hand.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of how I encountered data that have never been presented in mainstream media and are rarely mentioned by politicians.
In March 2020 the WHO said that “3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died globally” (referring to the virus’s infection fatality ratio, or IFR). This message immediately became headline news in mainstream media across the globe, and triggered great concern. However, analysts on certain social media platforms argued there is reason to assume that the number of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases is much higher than estimated (which would imply that the IFR of COVID-19 is actually much lower than the WHO’s 3.4 percent), and that it is therefore extremely irresponsible of the WHO to make such an unfounded statement.
Interestingly enough, I stumbled upon a report on the official WHO website in late-2020, entitled ‘Infection fatality rate of COVID-19 inferred from seroprevalence data’ (by John P.A. Ioannidis), in which the conclusion reads that the “median infection fatality rate might even be substantially lower than the 0.23 percent observed in my [Ioannidis] analysis”; a statement that refers to the global IFR of COVID-19. In fact, more reports surfaced toward the end of 2020 arguing that the median IFR of COVID-19 was around 0.20 percent (‘median’ meaning that for younger generations the IFR is significantly lower than 0.2 percent, while for the older generations the IFR is significantly higher than 0.2 percent).
I never read or saw this in mainstream media. It seems their interest was to keep panic and fear ongoing for as long as possible. And did the WHO ever retract its 3.4 percent IFR estimate that triggered panic around the world (which is a good example of misinformation)? No. In fact, those who criticized the WHO or criticized policies taken by governments were accused of spreading misinformation. In this context it is also worth mentioning that there have been many examples of academics (and other experts) who were banned from platforms like LinkedIn as they dared to criticize the WHO or government policies, while – in retrospect – these critics were actually correct. What does that tell us about those who are in charge when facts (or criticism) are not allowed to be expressed? Or, to put it differently, when were it the good guys in history who used heavy forms of censorship?
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