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Monday, April 15, 2024
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HomeCOVID-19Sir Jeremy Farrar, caught out in a lie

Sir Jeremy Farrar, caught out in a lie

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IF IT’S true that a lie in the throat becomes, by repetition, the truth in the heart, the corollary must be that until it does, a liar must remember the lie or the tongue will betray him.

From the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the leading propagandists for the biosecurity agenda was Sir Jeremy Farrar, then the director of the Wellcome Trust, a British charitable foundation focused on health research, and now the World Health Organisation’s Chief Scientist. On July 21, 2020, four months after he’d been instrumental in pushing the UK into the ruinous lockdown to wrest money from the public purse for his CEPI vaccine project, Sir Jeremy appeared before the Commons Health and Social Care Committee providing Parliamentarians with testimony on the ‘next steps in managing the coronavirus outbreak’. Alongside him was Sir John Bell, the Oxford University Regius Chair of Medicine and scientific adviser to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,  Sir Paul Nurse, the Nobel laureate and Chief Executive of the Francis Crick Institute, and Professor Devi Sridhar, Edinburgh University’s Chair of Global Public Health and, as of 2021, a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

Farrar began his testimony by chastising the UK government for neglecting public health in the intervening years between SARS1 (2003) and the emergence of SARS-CoV2 in January 2020 and ‘failing to realise the power of infectious diseases’. It was a warm-up before he turned to chastising it for not taking SARS-CoV2 seriously, saying, ‘It was very clear from the middle of January, certainly around 20 January (the date of the World Health Organisation’s preliminary field visit to Wuhan that left them unpersuaded that there was a public health emergency), that this infection was not like SARS 1. By that, I mean that it was transmitting between people who were asymptomatic or with very mild symptoms. That is not like SARS 1. It caused a clinical syndrome that went from very mild or asymptomatic all the way through, tragically, to very severe and death. That range of illness is unusual. It was an animal infection that humans have no immunity to, and we had no diagnostics, no treatments and no vaccines. It was spreading between people: healthcare workers were getting sick and family members were getting sick. There was clearly a very high infection rate.’ (my emphasis)

When Farrar was asked a question about whether the government had a ‘herd immunity’ strategy he repeated the same line about humans having no immunity to Covid-19: ‘None of us could argue for herd immunity. I do not believe that could ever be a public health approach to dealing with a pandemic that we know was already killing a lot of people in China. It was transmitting asymptomatically between people and had led to draconian interventions in much of Asia before it arrived in the UK. Allowing an infection like that, which we have no knowledge of, no human immunity to, and no treatment and no vaccine for, to spread through a community and sacrificing tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people in some sort of idea that we would generate herd immunity is not something that any public health individual or clinician could argue for.’ (my emphasis)

Some ten or fifteen minutes later, Dean Russell, the Conservative MP for Watford, asked Sir John Bell ‘if people who perhaps had SARS in a previous epidemic had some immunity’. Bell’s response contradicted Sir Jeremy’s twice-repeated line about ‘no human immunity’:

‘There is a cellular response, which is due to T-cells. For other SARS viruses, that is much longer lived. In fact, they can last out to the 20 years since the SARS epidemic, so they are a long-lived form of immunity. Then there is a bit in the immune system called innate immunity, which are cells that live in the mucosal surface and actually attack the virus.

‘At the moment, in our understanding, it looks like many people have existing T-cell immunity to peptides – short proteins – that are expressed in a wide range of coronaviruses, including SARS, and that cross-react. Very often when you get a head cold, it is actually a coronavirus. There may also have been other SARS-type viruses circulating that we do not know about because of the asymptomatic frequency. Those generate a T- cell response that you keep for a very long time. That provides you potentially with some form of cross-immunity to Covid.’ (my emphasis)

Russell asked a follow-up question about whether Asian countries seemed to be not so badly hit because they’d previously had SARS outbreaks. Sir John responded: ‘The answer formally is that that is a possible explanation as to why there is quite wide variation in individual bits of the world as to how badly you are hit with the virus. It is whether it is what you have actually done – how tight the lockdown has been and how good your test and trace is – as opposed to how much existing immunity your population might have had to start with.’ 

He then passed the baton to Sir Jeremy saying: ‘Jeremy would be quite good on this because he spent many years in Vietnam. Vietnam is very odd. They did lockdowns, but they did not do a national lockdown. They did regional lockdowns, and they have had only 300 cases and no deaths in a country of 100million people. Work that one out. I don’t get it at all.’

No one on the committee seemed to notice that Sir Jeremy’s next response contradicted his earlier melodramatic pronouncements made to justify the extraordinary responses, (lockdowns, mass PCR testing, and track and trace) proposed by him and his fellow Sage members, that it was a dangerous virus because humans had no immunity to it.

There may be some pre-existing immunity,’ said Sir Jeremy. ‘The data from Singapore that you refer to and that you have read suggests that people who had SARS 17 years ago may have had some protection. SARS was never a widespread community infection. It never reached that level. The background levels of SARS immunity in populations in Singapore and Vietnam, in Hong Kong and in China never reached levels that would protect a population from SARS 2. Other coronaviruses might, and that may explain some of the difference.’ (my emphasis)

As Sir Jeremy himself said to the committee, ‘Consistency of messaging and trust in the message and the messenger are absolutely critical.’

When experts give their opinions, they are treated with deference. If they are wrong, their fall-back is that it was their considered expert opinion based on available evidence at the time. In this case, Sir Jeremy, it is apparent that you told a lie when you said humans had no immunity to Covid-19 and you knew you were telling a lie. 

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Paula Jardine
Paula Jardine
Paula Jardine is a writer/researcher who has just completed the graduate diploma in law at ULaw. She has a history degree from the University of Toronto and a journalism degree from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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