Dr. Paul Alexander, PhD
Dr. Paul Alexander, PhD (University of Oxford, University of Toronto, York University, and McMaster University) graduate and postdoc educated in a combination of epidemiology, research methodology, biostatistics, and evidence-based medicine/EBM)
Why did I write this blog? I do not pretend to be more expertized than others and recognize there is so much left to learn on most things and on COVID-19. I have much respect for some global scientists I have had the privilege of working with, under, and for. For others, I no longer regard anything they say with any credence given their reckless behavior and in my view, damage to societies. They do nothing yet sit back and engage in relentless baseless attacks on the administration’s efforts yet do nothing to help. Moreover, what they say is utter nonsense. While my expertise is in evidence-based medicine and research methodology, I also have enough insight given my work on COVID-19 for the last 9 months at various levels of research and government. I do not need to be a vaccinologist or an immunologist or any other type of ‘ist’ to read the data and the science and can do that quite well, I argue even better than many of these talking head inept ‘experts’ blinded by bias and ideologies and not what is best for the people. I felt compelled to write because of the following:
1) I was tired of being on the sideline while many global scientists sat there and disparaged all the good efforts and accomplishments of the current administration in battling COVID-19. This was an emergency yet they allowed their political views to cloud their judgements and humanity. I thus felt I had to step up as these researchers and doctors were damaging societies, recognizing that I am a simple, small part of the discussion yet I wanted to play a contributory role in any way possible and allowable, in trying to help save lives. I wanted to serve my fellow man and woman nationally as well as globally. I felt it is a privilege to play some role and not just be a talking head ‘illogical’ camera preening expert. This is an emergency and those of us who have even a little expertise, had a duty to help. I also grew to support the significant benefits, jobs, and economic prosperity (but for the advent of COVID-19 in March) that minorities and African-Americans and Latinx were experiencing under the current President and administration. This attracted me as an immigrant and person of color, as I understood their situations, particularly since minorities have lived neglected lives for decades under prior administrations. This administration has shown it is willing to try to fix this and I saw clear successes for minorities. COVID has revealed it is a disease of disparity and is tied at least in part to socio-economic status and income and it has exploited the poor eating habits and life style and social determinants of health. Diseases of poverty have plagued racialized communities for so very long. COVID exploits your risks, alike other pathogen, and economic prosperity and employment is a more certain way to mitigate the ravage of COVID and future COVIDs. Minorities have one way out to a better life and to defeat COVID and similar, and this is via jobs. Via economic success. I saw this renewed hope minorities are and were experiencing just before COVID hit. The chance of getting out of the hood with jobs (economic prosperity) that were rapidly emerging for African-Americans and Latinx as well as Asian Americans, and because of the opportunity zones under Tim Scott, and because of the prison sentencing reform with The First Step Act, and because of the HBC funding, I felt I had to blog and move off the sideline. I wanted a role in explaining the strong connection between COVID-19 and social determinants of health (jobs/economic success). I felt that the President had taken steps and made significant benefits accrue for minorities in the US and was very excited at the prospects for black Americans and Latinx etc.
2) there is a war on science and politicization of science. Researchers and medical experts seem driven more by their political ideologies and not on a unison of expertise in saving lives. Moreover, COVID-19 research as it stands is a complete embarrassment for those of us in the research arena. It is of very poor methodological quality and in most instances, inaccurate and flawed in conclusions. The experts in turn spew the junk research. A dangerous set of vocal ‘medical experts’ have done tremendous damage to the American and global societies by the often-baseless statements and positions they hold. They have taken control and are making a complete disaster, as they appear to not be data-driven or evidence-based. They spew utter nonsense. They seem to lack the ability to read the science and do not seem to understand the data, are blinded to it, and what they say at times is unsubstantiated, conflicting, and even foolish. A core set of these experts have exhibited throughout COVID-19, a self-validation of each other as they wink and nod and pat each other on the back in an unspoken understanding of a unified effort to drive fear into the public and mislead the public. These experts appear to stoke false idol worship of themselves and often lack common sense and cite research studies that are often very methodologically flawed and junk science, as is the overall COVID-19 research area. They have worked to drive extreme fear in the public that has left societies devastated and yearning for honesty and facts that could optimally inform their decisions on moving forward. The consequences of the lockdowns and school closures are devastating and especially so on the underprivileged in our societies and our children. For this I decided to write.
3) I also decided to write to help defend Dr. Scott Atlas who has been maligned and smeared by these pompous, over-rated, talking-head experts who in my opinion, cannot shine his shoes. They have zero credibility. In the land of my birth, we call them ‘stiff-necked fools’. They are envious because he has shown more guts and independence and a willingness to do the right thing in an emergency. They have smeared him when if you read and listen to him, you will quickly recognize he is one of the (if not the) most balanced, well-informed, science-based intellect on COVID-19. He has a unique skill (unlike the inane and vacuous talking heads experts) of blending the data to the policy so that the data fits the policy and informs the policy for optimal outcomes. I felt I had to defend him for he is waging a battle to save lives while others place lives at risk and may even cost lives by their pushing for and enacting of lockdowns etc. I also felt a need to recognize the few other giants like Sunetra Gupta (do not confuse the Guptas), Jay Bhattacharya, Carl Heneghan, Tom Jefferson, Martin Kulldorff, Katherine Yih, Ramin Oskoui, and John Ioannidis. These are giants.
4) Also, I understood that this was and is a several-pronged attack to defeat COVID-19 (and similar pathogen that will emerge):
a) gather all the data and information on COVID-19 and bring best experts to the table
b) assess which therapeutics work and ensure they are available, including a vaccine
c) ensure the elderly and higher-risk persons in a society are secured
d) ensure that those with co-morbid conditions are secured
e) ensure that hospitals have the resources (PPE) and staff to not be overwhelmed and overcrowded
f) ensure those not COVID positive still are able to get care at hospitals (clinics)
g) safely and sensibly re-open schools and societies
I end by sharing a statement made by a colleague of mines which captures the mess the talking head scientists have made, para:
“Scientists have no skin in the game and no emotional pain when things don’t go their way. This virus has killed people and it will kill more. The question is, how many more will die unnecessarily due to not getting the available treatment?
How many will die in fear, and how many will die alone?
My final point is this: When you get sick, you do not go to the CDC or the NIH or call the FDA to get diagnosed and treated. You go to your doctor. You go to the people who have seen the disease before and know how to treat it. This virus is no different”.