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Opinion

When Battling Covid-19 Becomes a National Policy Disaster

The writer is a social and medical anthropologist.

The COVID-19 vaccine administered through the COVAX Facility. Credit: PAHO/Karen González

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, May 19 2021 (IPS) - We went to the Kanatte cemetery, Sri Lanka’s largest, where most of us, residents of the capital city, would end up sooner or later. But it was deserted, and so we had time for a leisurely chat with some of the helpful staff there, albeit after admiring some of the grave sites and remaining beautiful trees.

As good social scientists and medical anthropologists, we were on a mission to do some qualitative research and cross-check Covid-19 quantitative data, to see if there was an increase in deaths, in the biggest city and population hub of the country.

Colombo’s cemetery was quiet, calm, green and monsoonal. It was a far cry from the overflowing cemeteries, floating bodies and weeping masses we have encountered on our television screens in narratives from New York, Sao Paulo or New Delhi, where the global Covid-19 media show has gone to town.

We were shown the red log books with the names of the deceased. We learned that over the last two weeks, there was less business, fewer funerals than in January and February this year, as there had been fewer bodies coming for burial and/or cremation during the current month of May 2021, although the country is in lockdown.

This was also corroborated by interviews at A.F Raymond Funeral Parlour, which also had less business and fewer funerals in the past couple of weeks – since May 1, 2021.

There had been a total of 35 Covid-19 positive bodies that came to Kanatte during recent weeks from May 1 to May 13 for cremation. But overall, there were fewer deaths and bodies in the current month of May than in January and February on an average day.

Yet the whole of Sri Lanka is in full blown Covid-19 lockdown at this time and arbitrary regulations are in play until the end of the month: People may go out of their homes based on their Identity Card numbers starting Monday next week.

Interviews with Senior Doctors

Although Colombo has the largest population in the country and urban areas get affected first in epidemics due to population density, a surgeon at the biggest hospital in the country – Colombo General Hospital – said in an interview they did not have a Covid-19 ward until relatively recently as PCR tested Covid-19 patients were sent to the IDH – Infectious Diseases Hospital.

In recent times PCR testing has been increased there are more people identified as Covid-19 positive in hospitals, but almost half are asymptomatic. However, PCR tests recommended by WHO deliver a high number of false positives and hence any ascription of positive results to a COVID-19 diagnosis should require the occurrence of clinical symptoms and further evaluation and confirmation by physicians, including the appraisal of distinct laboratory parameters.

About 45-50 % percent of those who test PCR positive and are kept in hospitals in Sri Lanka at this time are asymptomatic. That is, they may be hospitalized based on false positives and filling up the wards and hospitals — so what we have is a PCR pandemic?

Indeed, PCR tests for Covid-19 are now the subject of court action by a team of international lawyers challenging the test’s validity and the WHO ‘s Covid-19 ‘pandemic’ narrative, in courts in Germany and the USA.

The current much hyped “third wave” of Covid-19 in Sri Lanka at this time appears to be due to a couple of factors: 1) increased testing with PCR tests that deliver a high number of false positives and/ or asymptomatic patients. 2) the arrival of seasonal flu caused by monsoon and inter-monsoon rains which bring “flu season” in the Tropics.

PCR test positive folks who are asymptomatic are filling up hospital beds. At this time there are about 100 PCR positive patients with what are often termed co-morbidity factors or tertiary cases such as diabetes, heart disease, Kidney disease at the General Hospital of Colombo.

There are also many empty beds at the General hospital of Colombo because many people with serious illnesses do not want to go to hospital because of Covid-19 hype and fear psychosis.

What Sri Lanka has at this time appears to be a WHO recommended PCR test induced crisis and pandemic, as in other parts of the world even though PCR tests are known to be flawed and a team of international lawyers have challenged in court in Germany and the US, the WHO leader Tederos Adhanom, and the use of the PCR test to diagnose Covid-19.

No Doctors, nurses, PHIs, have died of the so called deadly Covid-19 in Sri Lanka en masse, unlike in India and some other countries. Yet, Sri Lanka is in lockdown and economy, livelihoods, and poor people’s access to wages and food and nutrition has been compromised based on dubious PCR tests.

At this time, a comparison of Sri Lanka country data, both qualitative and quantitative. show that Covid-19 is milder than seasonal flue. Over the past year there have been 850 Covid-19 deaths, ever since the World Health Organization (WHO), declared a so-called ‘pandemic’ in March 2020, after changing the definition of the word.

However, in an average year between 4,500- and 7000 die of seasonal flu in the island, according to National Data and WHO data. On an average year the highest number of deaths in the island are caused by heart attacks and the second highest number of deaths are due to Cancer in Sri Lanka. Upper respiratory tract infection due to influenza are the third highest cause of deaths in the island.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, (IHME), at the University of Washington in Washington DC, has made projections designed to trigger a fear psychosis in Sri Lanka and predicted a daily death count over 200 by June and a total death toll of 20,000 by September 1, without any data to show how it came to such conclusions about Sri Lanka.
http://www.dailymirror.lk/news-features/Covid-number-crisis/131-211845Covid

The US Government’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has meanwhile issued a travel warning on Sri Lanka.

At this time, Sri Lanka has been shut down and citizens deprived of their collective right to assembly and education, while religious communities, Muslims and Buddhists are deprived their right to worship and celebrate Ramazan and Vesak in the month of May, based on epidemiology models devised in Washington DC at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

It bears repeating that a country’s policy should be made on analysis of national Data, rather than based on images and narratives and epidemiology models of another country- where the US or India.

Meanwhile, certain local and national medical associations, such as the GMOA and Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) and an outfit called the Institute for Health Policy, have echoed the IHEM’s fear psychosis inducing narrative by calling for island wide shut downs., although national data and the Covid-19 IFR and CFR reveals a different story – that over the last year since WHO declared a global “panicdemic” – Covid 19 is milder than flu in Sri Lanka.

It is increasingly apparent that that there is NO Covid-19 Health Emergency in Sri Lanka at this time, but there is a livelihood, poverty and inequality emergency as a result of unscientific and wrongful policies based on Covid-19 hype and misinformation by Health Authorities influenced by the WHO and Center for Disease control (CDC) and IHME in Washington which has effectively locked down large parts of the country.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s economy shrank 3.5 last year due to Covid-19 lock downs.

At this time the question arises: Why is the Sri Lanka government (GoSL) following mysterious epidemiology models generated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) of the University of Washington?

Why is the GoSL, MOH and Covid-19 Task Force, headed by two Sri Lankan-US citizens making policy that is NOT based on national and local data and evidence, but epidemiology models developed in the US?

These so called Covid-19 policies and WHO recommended PCR testing policies and lockdowns that are also causing a plastic pandemic, medical garbage and environmental crisis are gravely detrimental to the livelihoods, economy, society and well-being of Sri Lankans, particularly poor and vulnerable communities and increasing economic inequality.

There is also the related phenomenon of LAWFARE – where law and justice systems and institutions are weaponized against core principles of justice and equality and democratic rights to assembly and free speech curtailed in the name of emergency.

Finally, questions arise as to why are the so-called opposition political parties – the United National Party, Samagi Janabla and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (UNP, SJB and JVP), which love to attack the Government policy so incapable of national data analysis and evidence -based Covid-19 policy recommendations? Are they also reading from Washington’s playbook?

 


  
 
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