Much of Europe is locking down again. Restaurants closing, bars closing, capacity limits in places like hotels and bars. Avoid your neighbor like the plague because, well, he may just have the plague. (Or what is being portrayed as such.) This in the wake of the World Health Organization’s alleged “backflipping” about this most bizarre practice of quarantining healthy people and destroying the economy in order to delay inevitable infections.
What you may not know is the WHO, which from its record you would think had supported lockdowns and still would be, never has. And the probable explanation will almost certainly surprise you.
“Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders yesterday, telling them to stop ‘using lockdowns as your primary control method’ of the coronavirus,” stated some publications. He also claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved. “Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said.
Nabarro is neither executive director of the WHO nor an official spokesman. He’s just one of several envoys to the organization on COVID-19. Further, in the TV interview where he made his remarks, he actually said in very extreme circumstances lockdowns may be necessary. When you think about it, that’s what everyone says. The question then just becomes what is an extreme circumstance. You can always find an emergency if you look hard enough.
Moreover, the organization never advocated lockdowns per se. You may remember headlines alleging the WHO supported the Swedish approach. That, too, was an oversimplification. In late April Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, stated Sweden had taken steps to mitigate spread (en autre mots, what might be considered a “mini-lockdown”) and “I think if we are to reach a new normal in many ways Sweden represents a future model of, if we wish to get back to a society in which we don’t have lock-downs . . . . ”
So neither Nabarro nor Wolf are official spokesmen for the WHO and neither stated a bright-line position. Nothing is ever as simple as dueling headlines and tweets in a politically-charged atmosphere make it seem.
If you’re looking for lockdown “bad guys,” then look at most governments in the world that implemented them temporarily as a way of keeping health care systems from being overrun and then kept them for various reasons – sheer love of authoritarianism, incredible hubris in thinking a highly contagious airborne disease could somehow be squeezed into extinction (a la rabies in island countries or Hawaii), or simply because of the law of inertia. Once they had moved the goalposts they had no idea to where they should be moved.
What’s important about both WHO statements is that they do indeed recognize that we can’t resort to lockdowns every time coronavirus cases rise, that we pay a terrible price for each lockdown, and that at some point life must go on. And that, actually, is noteworthy in that since the AIDS crisis the WHO has been a font of histrionics that cared for nothing but exaggerating numbers and advocating government sanctions.
Beating Up The Numbers
In 1986 WHO predicted as many as 100 million worldwide AIDS infections by 1990. That’s not a particularly long timeline, so they shouldn’t have been completely shooting in the dark. Yet a later assessment from the Global Burden of Disease Study found the actual number for that year was less than 2 million. How could the WHO be so far off?
Regarding the 2014 Ebola outbreak, “The … crisis we face is unparalleled in modern times,” said the WHO assistant director Bruce Aylward, while its director general Margaret Chan proclaimed it “likely the greatest peacetime challenge that the United Nations and its agencies have ever faced.” This was based on a CDC computer model projection predicting as many as 1.4 million deaths from just two countries. The ultimate death toll was under 8,000,
Again, how could the agency be so far off? These assessments might generously be considered “beat-ups,” as in “beating up the numbers,”6 a term coined by Elizabeth Pisani, a former epidemiologist for UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS), the WHO, and other agencies. In her book, The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS, she says of drastically inflated predictions, “We did it consciously. I think all of us at that time thought that the beat-ups were more than justified, they were necessary” to get donors and governments to care.
Which is probably more or less what the gentle reader of this publication had guessed. As noted, this has just been going on far too long.
Swine Flu Follies And A (Real) Commie Plot
It’s the handling of “Swine Flu” (H1N1) in 2009-2010 that may have proved the WHO’s most shameful episode, regardless that it didn’t use the incredibly exaggerated numbers it has for other diseases. That’s because it actually took it upon itself to change the definition of “flu pandemic” fit the disease, with implications beyond just flu. Now it could declare essentially anything a pandemic.
In a 2010 article I published in Forbes, “Why the WHO Faked a Pandemic,” showing the two definitions as clipped from the WHO’s official site. It also included an assertion from the organization that there had never been any change, that only the second had ever existed. It was like a photo verified as authentic by the FBI and the Pope of WHO with its hand in the cookie jar. I explained why they did this: That they had claimed repeatedly ad nauseam that swine flu would be an absolute disaster and yet evidence from the very beginning was that it was 1) milder than seasonal flu, and 2) more contagious than seasonal flu. This meant that by inoculating people against deadlier strains it was actually saving lives. The raging razorback had proved a pitiful piglet.
Furthermore, henceforth it would be vastly easier to get that “pandemic” label that WHO adores because unofficially when there’s a pandemic of anything world governments tend to let the WHO take charge and pump it full of money to do so. Further, I documented in that article that aside from the obvious desire to fill coffers and play God, the agency had another motivation. It’s Marxist and sees pandemics as a way to implement its political agenda.
I wrote: “In a September  speech WHO Director-General Chan [presumably a member of the Chinese Communist Party since they wouldn’t let a non-member rise to that position] said “ministers of health” should take advantage of the “devastating impact” swine flu will have on poorer nations to get out the message that “changes in the functioning of the global economy” are needed to “distribute wealth on the basis of” values “like community, solidarity, equity and social justice.” She further declared it should be used as a weapon against “international policies and systems that govern financial markets, economies, commerce, trade and foreign affairs.”
Pretty damning stuff, eh? That explains why “Why the WHO Faked a Pandemic” went viral after a decade-long hiatus. And presumably why Forbes yanked it from its website last week. (The link provided is to my own website.) Whether social media or mainstream media, anything even indirectly involving Covid-19 is fodder for censorship. But thanks to The Wayback Machine we know they did publish it in 2010 and views did indeed absolutely explode this year. And fortunately, Forbes’ censorship of my article appears to be going viral.
Mind, I didn’t criticize the WHO in hindsight; I was warning of these gross exaggerations at the time they were made. I simply paid attention to the dispassionate experts and had no agenda other than relaying the truth as best I and my sources could. Sometimes I saw agendas to understate figures and I discounted those as such.
I have tried to do the same with Covid-19. Nobody is perfect; we can only try. That said, the WHO has never rescinded its original 3.4% estimate of the final case mortality rate for the disease, merely issuing a paper in August explaining difficulties in formulating estimates. But the CDC’s most recent estimate of 0.65% is much less than the estimated 1.9% rate of the “Asian Flu” of 1957-1958 (H2N2). That flu, of course, prompted no lockdowns with the inherent physical and psychological damage and no economic devastation.
So why, at least as represented in statements by Nabarro and Ryan, does beating up the numbers no longer seem the only WHO goal?
As we saw from Chan’s rhetoric during the swine flu outbreak, they do not appear to be fake Marxists like Stalin, Mao, Trotsky, or in our own time Castro and Chavez. Pathetically, they are real Marxists. Just as Chan is almost certainly a member of the CCP, the current director-general is a member of Eritrea’s ruling totalitarian Marxist party.
Well, if you’re convinced you’re one of the “good Marxists” then you’re not in the business of devastating them as the lockdowns are clearly doing and as WHO’s sister organization UNICEF has noted has been particularly hard on children. In an October report, UNICEF declared “An additional 1.2 million children and 56,700 mothers could die in 6 months due to disruption in basic interventions, based on the worst-case scenario.” Not, not from Covid-19 but the ill-advised measures to contain it. These data in turn are based on an assessment from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Never trust a “worst-case” scenario from an advocacy group, but let’s just replace the numbers with “It looks bad. Really bad.”
So now one or two cheers for the WHO. After all these years of prevarication, they are finally telling the truth. Late in the game, surely, but hardly too late. Indeed, some have signaled they want the lockdowns to continue past when vaccines become readily available. After all, it took 25 years to wipe out smallpox through vaccinations, never mind that the diseases are incomparable in harm caused.
So, don’t call it “back-flipping” but call it what you want, the WHO is not now nor ever has been a big fan of crushing a virus through lockdowns and has convincingly explained why.
Michael Fumento, a former Investor’s Business Daily National Issues reporter, is an attorney, author, and journalist who has been writing about epidemic hysterias for 35 years. His website is www.fumento.com.