– by Basil Smallwood –
i·at·ro: [adjective] a combining form meaning healer, medicine, healing.
arch-y: [noun] a combining form meaning rule, government.
i·at·ro·garchy: [noun] rule by medicine or by medical means.
Maybe we should ask the Iatrogarchs for our lives back. Nearly 50 years ago, Ivan Illich, author of the Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health wrote these words: “The most profound iatrogenic effects of the medical technostructure result from its non-technical social functions. The sickening technical and non-technical consequences of the institutionalization of medicine coalesce to generate a new kind of suffering – anaesthetized and solitary survival in a world-wide hospital ward.”
Illich was writing about how the biggest threat to human health was the system we set up to provide medical care. That seemed both preposterous and unlikely, but the closer you get to knowing the inside of medicine, the tenuousness upon which many medical therapies – such as prescription drugs – rest, and the frequent guesswork that constitutes medical care, the more you realize that Illich was onto something. No doubt in the search for health, the process can be dehumanizing. Our lives have been expropriated and the normal means that humans have relied on to face sickness, aging and ultimately death since the dawn of humanity have been slowly stripped from us. Our care is handed off the “experts” who are there to do what they assure is in our best interest – as if they knew what that was.
The problem is that the medical experts formerly delegated to look after human healthcare have now been, de facto, given the reins of government. A Pandemic? Indeed, say the people we actually elected to run our societies – as they hand the keys to government over to the medical experts because they are so much more knowledgeable than anyone else.
The daily bombardment of scary statistics is so daunting we willingly surrender our freedoms. All for a better cause, of course. And so, scared by all the apparent death, we all jump into it to do our part. We follow the orders, even the irrational ones, because hey, better safe than sorry, right? We chomp down and consume public health pronouncements as if they were words straight from God himself, asking us to obey his commandments.
In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic with the Iatrogarchs running the show, we should not be surprised that if feels like we are living in the ultimate medicalized world, where the most dominant modality is the singular avoidance of a virus. Cut off from our family and friends and the normal swirl of face-to-face human social contact that makes life worth living, no one seems to be seriously challenging the Iatrogarchs to ask: Is it really worth it? Yet we are being assured hundreds of times a day, isolate ourselves, keep our distance, wash our hands, and dutifully wear our masks so we don’t get infected or spread infection. Soon, added to the list of demands will be demands for everyone to get the vaccine because, we’re told, that’s the only route back to normality. It’s what we need to do to protect humanity.
But what is dominating the news these days is nothing but the saviour, the new vaccines, dressed up as miracles ready to swoop in and return our lives to normal. It’s time once again to listen to the Iatrogarchs who tell us not to be “vaccine hesitant” (a vile and dehumanizing expression), and to get out there and get the shot.
Vaccines, saviours…We hope.
As I write, there two shots have recently been approved. One by Pfizer-BioNTech, and one by Moderna. The first out of the gate, the Pfizer vaccine, is said to be “95 percent effectiveness” – a number as dangerously misleading as it could possibly be. Many people will say: Why wouldn’t you get the vaccine? Ninety five people out of 100 benefit? That’s awesome.
Then you’d be misled. Here’s what 95 percent means in real terms: In a trial of about 40,000 people, the two-month study reported that there were 92 people per 10,000 who developed Covid-19 symptoms.
For every 10,000 people vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, four people developed mild Covid-19 symptoms. For every 10,000 given a placebo shot, 88 developed mild Covid-19 symptoms. Get it? Since 88 is “95 percent less than” 92, the vaccine is then said to be “95 percent effective”.
So, to put those numbers in perspective, the Covid-19 vaccine reduced 84 cases of mild Covid-19 per 10,000 vaccinated, or about eight per thousand. But what it also means is that most people – in this case, 9,916 vaccinated people (out of 10,000) – saw no benefit. Will they be harmed? We don’t know.
Here’s what else we don’t know about the vaccine:
We don’t know if it’s safe beyond the 2 months it has been tested.
We don’t know if it can be used in children, teens or pregnant or breastfeeding women because it wasn’t studied in these populations.
We don’t know how long the protection might last. There is no data on how long the immunity extends.
We don’t know if the virus will mutate, thus rendering all the vaccines in development worthless.
We don’t know how it works for people from the vulnerable groups we really want to protect, ie: the aged, those with asthma, emphysema-COPD, diabetes, hypertension, heart problems, etc.
We don’t know if the vaccine prevents people from getting very sick, dying, or being hospitalized from Covid-19. In other words, we can’t yet say if the vaccine is “lifesaving”.
In other words, we are hanging the future of our society on whether the vaccine works or not. We all hope so, and certainly the Iatrogarchs will tell us it’s the only way out.
But no one is seriously challenging this. And maybe we should. If the vaccines they develop don’t work out, then what is Plan B? Is there even a Plan B? Stay tuned.