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Public Health

Why Covid lockdown might be bad for our dental health – and the unlikely solution

By now, we are all well-versed in the health problems associated with Covid-19. But the knock-on effects in other areas of healthcare are only beginning to become clear more than a year after lockdown became the new normality. From difficulties faced by cancer patients to the mental health consequences of being confined to our homes, the fallout from the pandemic has been deeply harmful in a whole range of areas.

But one of those areas has been largely neglected so far. The effects of Covid and lockdown on our dental health have been almost entirely absent from the public forum. Thanks to the cancellation of practically all non-emergency healthcare in order to focus finite resources on fighting coronavirus, the normal routine of regular check-ups and quick diagnoses has disappeared, which could have a very serious effect in the longer term.

As a result, a vast array of minor oral health conditions have probably gone unnoticed in the last year. They have therefore been allowed to fester and when they are eventually discovered once normal healthcare service has resumed and they have to be treated, much more serious and extensive procedures might be required.

The problem goes far beyond your teeth. Countless serious medical conditions start in the mouth and are first picked up on by dentists. Periodontitis, for instance, is a bacterial inflammation of the gum tissue which can cause bleeding. If left untreated, periodontitis can go on to cause other serious issues in a domino effect when that bacteria contaminates the bloodstream. Heart valve infections, abscesses and even life-threatening sepsis, which sometimes causes damage to multiple organ systems, can all come about because of an unaddressed problem in the gums.

Present this information to a politician – especially one in the current government – and their response would be quite predictable. On health policy, Boris Johnson’s nominally Conservative government has embraced the interventionist doctrine of the nanny state. Tax this, ban that. From advertising restrictions to sin taxes, ministers’ instinct when they identify what they deem to be a public health problems seems to be to interfere.

But the hidden dental health pandemic is a perfect example of why the free market, not the state, is best placed to tackle these kinds of problems. Cutting-edge scientific research is suggesting that the simple act of chewing can single-handedly solve a great deal of oral health problems, meaning that a product as simple and innocuous as sugar-free chewing gum might be a silver bullet to this whole category of issues.

When you chew, you produce saliva, which has myriad positive consequences including rebalancing the pH in your mouth and churning out countless healthy minerals like calcium and phosphate ions. Chewing sugar-free gum has other positive effects, too, from helping people quit smoking to reducing appetite, resulting in less snacking and therefore weight loss.

In other words, pioneering research is showing us that accessible, everyday products which are already on the market can address underlying public health concerns, without the disadvantages of a clattering intervention from the state.

The government likes to talk up post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ as a world leader in scientific research. If that is to be the case, it’s time to abandon the nanny state mindset and allow the free market – and our world-class universities and research institutes – to take up their rightful place on the front line of any and all public health battles. In the case of dental health, that is already happening – let’s just hope the government don’t take it upon themselves to interfere.

Originally published here.

The global organizations and populists who aim to seize COVID vaccine tech and IP

When Donald Trump claimed in September 2020 that every American would have access to vaccines by April 2021, his comments received scorn. The Washington Post said his claims were “without evidence,” CNN quoted health experts who said it was impossible, and The New York Times claimed it would take another decade.

Now, a year into this pandemic, nearly half of the eligible population has received at least one vaccine dose in the U.S., and distribution has been opened to every American adult.

Operation Warp Speed, which invested tax dollars and helped reduce bureaucracy across the board, has contributed to what has truly been a miraculous effort by vaccine firms.

While Trump’s proclamations eventually become true and the question of vaccine ability has been settled, there is now pressure on the Biden administration to turn over domestic vaccine supply to countries with skyrocketing cases.

On Sunday, the U.S. declared it will send additional medical supplies to India, currently experiencing the largest global spike in cases.

But at international bodies, countries and activist groups are petitioning for far more: they want to force biotech companies to waive intellectual property rights on vaccines and COVID-related medical technology.

Along with nearly 100 other countries, India and South Africa are the architects of a motion at the World Trade Organization called a TRIPS Waiver (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights).

If the waiver is triggered, it would ostensibly nullify IP protections on COVID vaccines, allowing other countries to copy the formulas developed by private vaccine firms to inoculate their populations and play into the hands of future governments more hostile to private innovation.

This week, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with the heads of the various vaccine makers to discuss the proposal, but it is uncertain if the Biden administration will support the measure at the WTO.

While many companies have voluntarily pledged to sell them at cost or even offered to share information with other firms, this measure would have more far-reaching implications.

This coalition seeking the TRIPS waiver includes Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and World Health Organization Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who first backed this effort in 2020 before any coronavirus vaccine was approved.

They claim that because COVID represents such a global threat and because western governments have poured billions in securing and helping produce vaccines, low and middle-income countries should be relieved of the burden of purchasing them.

Considering the specialized knowledge needed to develop these vaccines and the cold storage infrastructure required to distribute them, it seems implausible that any of this could be achieved outside the traditional procurement contracts we’ve seen in the European Union and the U.S.

That said, rather than celebrating the momentous innovation that has led to nearly a dozen globally-approved vaccines to fight a deadly pandemic in record time, these groups are trumpeting a populist message that pits so-called “rich” countries against poor ones.

Intellectual property rights are protections that help foster innovation and provide legal certainty to innovators so that they can profit from and fund their efforts. A weakening of IP rules would actively hurt the most vulnerable who depend on innovative medicines and vaccines.

If the cost of researching and producing a COVID vaccine is truly $1 billion as is claimed, with no guarantee of success, there are relatively few biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies that can stomach that cost.

BioNTech, the German company headed by the husband-wife team of Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci that partnered with Pfizer for trials and distribution of their mRNA vaccine, was originally founded to use mRNA to cure cancer.

Before the pandemic, they took on massive debt and scrambled to fund their research. Once the pandemic began, they pivoted their operations and produced one of the first mRNA COVID vaccines, which hundreds of millions of people have received.

With billions in sales to governments and millions in direct private investment, we can expect the now-flourishing BioNTech to be at the forefront of mRNA cancer research, which could give us a cure. The same is true of the many orphan and rare diseases that do not otherwise receive major funding.

Would this have been possible without intellectual property protections?

Moderna, for its part, has stated it will not enforce the IP rights on its mRNA vaccine and will hand over any research to those who can scale up production. The developers of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have pledged to sell it at cost until the pandemic is over.

While this should smash the narrative presented by the populists and international organizations who wish to obliterate IP rights, instead they have doubled down, stating that these companies should hand over all research and development to countries that need them.

If we want to be able to confront and end this pandemic, we will continue to need innovation from both the vaccine makers and producers who make this possible. Granting a one-time waiver will create a precedent of nullifying IP rights for a host of other medicines, which would greatly endanger future innovation and millions of potential patients.

Especially in the face of morphing COVID variants, we need all incentives on the table to protect us against the next phase of the virus. 

Rather than seeking to tear them down those who have performed the miracle of quick, cheap, and effective vaccines, we should continue supporting their innovations by defending their intellectual property rights.

Yaël Ossowski (@YaelOss) is deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group.

Like Greta Thunberg, the WHO values virtue-signaling over policy outcomes

Teenage climate protester Greta Thunberg seems to have grown bored of skipping school to hold up placards about the death of the planet. Last week, she found a new pet cause: “vaccine equity.” Addressing “governments, vaccine developers, and the world,” she joined forces with the World Health Organization to blast “rich countries” for offering their populations too many vaccine doses.

You might not think that the WHO and an 18-year-old Swedish eco-truant would have a great deal in common, but Thunberg and the WHO do share one passion: virtue-signaling. Both have a strong track record of issuing diktats to sovereign governments around the world and telling elected politicians what to do.

In Thunberg’s case, that led to the rise of the hard-left Extinction Rebellion group and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, which has just been revived. In the case of the WHO, which is funded by nearly $5 billion over two years to safeguard our health, an unrelenting focus on virtue-signaling led to an appalling negligence of vital pandemic preparations, leading to the deaths of more than 3 million people from the coronavirus.

But the problems with the WHO began long before the first case of the coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Most fundamentally, it has lost sight of its purpose. It has enlarged its operations far beyond the reason it was created. For decades, the WHO has been quietly expanding its responsibility to include much more than health emergencies. It now routinely wastes time and money by interfering in domestic politics through regulatory interventions designed to change the way people live their lives.

When it should have been focusing on communicable diseases, the WHO was instead spending its time and vast resources campaigning on lifestyle issues — and flagrantly undermining the sovereignty of national governments in the process. From tobacco taxes to alcohol laws, from sugar and salt taxes to vaping restrictions, the WHO seems to greatly enjoy lecturing us about everyday indulgences and making it harder for us to access products we want.

The default position of statist bureaucrats who run unaccountable international governing bodies such as the WHO is to deny people the right to manage their own health and lifestyle, calling for effective harm reduction products to be banned and instead insisting on authoritarian measures such as mandatory health warnings, prohibition legislation, advertising bans, and excise taxes.

Half the time, the arbitrary positions adopted by the WHO (“you drink too much,” “salt is bad for you”) are factually incorrect. Take e-cigarettes, for example. Last year, the WHO laid the groundwork for its new vaping policy strategy with a briefing on its website, along with a splash of publicity. The problem was that the briefing seemed to contain a plethora of basic scientific errors. It was panned by experts in the field, leading the WHO to edit it quietly without telling anyone.

Even putting apparent scientific inaccuracies to one side, where does the WHO derive the legitimacy to tell us how to live our lives? Perhaps more importantly, what gives it the right to instruct democratic governments on domestic politics? Unlike Thunberg, the WHO cannot be dismissed with a photo opportunity or two. It demands action, even when it has no right to do so.

When President Donald Trump moved to withdraw the United States from the WHO last year, there was a great deal of squealing and squawking from people who apparently believe that the WHO provides citizens and governments with an invaluable service. New Jersey Democrat Sen. Bob Mendez of the Foreign Relations Committee said at the time that distancing from the WHO “leaves Americans sick and America alone.”

Besides cozying up to the Chinese Communist Party, it is unclear what service the WHO provides to America. Its leadership on COVID-19 has been nonexistent; the tragic 3 million deaths are evidence of that. Its interventions against harm-reduction policies are actively damaging to public health outcomes. If it is to justify its funding, the WHO must dispense with the Greta-esque virtue-signaling and instead refocus on positive health outcomes, especially on communicable diseases, which is where international guidance is truly needed.

Originally published here.

After Covid disaster surely game’s up for pitiable World Health Organizaton COMMENT

SINCE the first case of Covid was detected in Wuhan in December 2019, the coronavirus has infected more than 130 million people across the world, killing almost three million.

Many thousands of words have been written about the failures of local health authorities like Public Health England in preparing us for a pandemic, but perhaps the most important body of all has still not been properly held to account: the World Health Organization. Before 2020, most Brits probably didn’t know very much, if anything, about the WHO. It’s an arm of the United Nations, like the International Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organization, spending most of its time working away in the background to safeguard against health emergencies, leaving the rest of us to get on with our lives.

Except, of course, as we have now learned, the WHO was wilfully neglecting its duties and generally doing a terrible job, at enormous cost.

The WHO was wildly unprepared for the pandemic – with tragic consequences – because it spent much of its time playing politics rather than serving its purpose.

It failed to do any of the things it should have done when the virus first broke out, even those as fundamental as being transparent about what was going on.

It wasted valuable time before declaring a pandemic. It cosied up to China rather than tracing the origin of the virus. It issued actively harmful advice against masks.

Put simply, it is hard to imagine how a well-funded body charged with protecting people’s health could possibly have performed any worse.

Even putting aside its appallingly close political relationship with the dictatorial, genocidal Chinese Communist Party, the WHO failed to perform its most basic function, tripping up at every hurdle.

If the world had been better prepared, perhaps Covid would not have resulted in the unnecessary deaths of millions of people.

The WHO has form when it comes to mishandling epidemics. During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, and again during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, it came in for widespread criticism.

One of the factors singled out as a cause of its mismanagement of these crises was an aversion to offending member states, in exactly the same way that it is now loath to offend China.

There’s no reason why these awful failures should be the new normal. In the 20th century, the WHO was effectively responsible for eradicating smallpox. But since then, things seem to have gone drastically downhill.

The WHO has patently failed to adequately address the scourge of anti-vaxxers leading to diseases like measles, which were all but eradicated, but which are now making a comeback around the world.

The WHO also received widespread criticism from animal conservation groups for recognising traditional Chinese medicine in its international guidelines after lobbying by Beijing, despite its role in driving the illegal trade and poaching of endangered species including pangolins and tigers — a trade that might ironically have contributed to the coronavirus’s outbreak in the first place.

The problems with the WHO run deep. It should not have taken a once-in-a-generation health disaster to expose them.

It’s time to ask some existential and probing questions. What is the WHO? What is it for? Where are its vast funds coming from? At the moment, it is trying to pretend it is both a humble, do-gooder charity which just has our best interests at heart and an all-powerful supranational organisation. It wants to be the undisputed centre of power for healthcare around the world, but without ever being held accountable for its actions. If the WHO is a charity, it should not be playing politics and cosying up to dictatorial regimes. If it’s not a charity, it must be subject to proper democratic oversight.

The WHO has not expressed any hint of remorse over its failures. There is no reason to think it is going to voluntarily change the way it operates. It’s high time for the rest of us to stand up to it and demand some answers.

Originally published here.

Obesity has made Covid deaths worse – but let’s not learn the wrong lessons

Whichever way you look at it, obesity is on the rise in Britain. By 2018, the proportion of British adults classified as obese had reached 28 per cent. Deaths attributed to obesity and excess body fat are climbing with each year that passes.

In fact, a recent study went so far as to claim that obesity is now responsible for more deaths than smoking. Smoking-related deaths have been falling in recent years and as of 2017, 23 per cent of deaths were linked to obesity, versus just 19 per cent for smoking.

As we know all too well by now, this seems to have contributed to the UK’s disproportionately high Covid-19 death toll. Obesity is one of the key coronavirus risk factors identified by the NHS early on in the pandemic, for good reason. Even setting aside other risk factors like diabetes and heart disease, from the data we have so far, obesityappears to have an additional effect of its own.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, public health nannies have leapt on these facts to push their extraordinarily damaging political agenda. From sugar taxes to food advertising restrictions, this Conservative government looks as though it has been well and truly conquered by those who want to see enforced plain packaging on crisps and chocolates and calorie counts on pints in pubs.

That might sound like hyperbole – but it isn’t. Enforced calorie counts are on the agenda, according to documents leaked to the Sun. And the idea of plain packaging for unhealthy foods, like we already have on cigarettes, is a real, straight-faced proposal from the Institute for Public Policy Research, a left-wing think tank, and has been publicly endorsed by the nannies-in-chief at Public Health England.

Sugar might well be the new tobacco – and these campaigners want to see us repeat all the harmful mistakes that were made when trying to regulate smoking out of existence.

Sadly, the fact that this proposal comes from the left doesn’t mean that we don’t have to worry about it becoming a reality under a Tory government. Just a few years ago, those same groups of fringe lobbyists were the only ones campaigning for advertising bans on junk food and taxes on soft drinks – but now, ad bans have been embraced as government policy and the sugar tax is already in force.

Neither of those policies work, and both have disastrous side-effects. The so-called “sin taxes” are ineffective – the evidence shows that when confronted with taxes on sugary drinks, people either pay the inflated prices, switch to other high-sugar, high-calorie options like fruit juices, or buy cheaper own-brand soft drinks to offset the price difference.

In other words, they don’t have an impact on the amount of calories people consume – as we can see from the fact that obesity rates continue to climb.

These regressive taxes also make the poor poorer. Analysis has consistently shown that making essential items like food and drinks more expensive hurts the poor more than anyone else.

Advertising restrictions have similar problems. The government’s ad ban policy – whichappears to have been axed at the eleventh hour, but given the lack of official confirmation, could rear its head again any second – is to restrict advertising of what it deems to be “unhealthy foods”. The immediate issue with that is that the government’s definition of unhealthy foods which cause obesity and must be restricted apparently includes honey, yoghurt, mustard and tinned fruit.

Even more damningly, the government’s own analysis of its policy, which it stuck by for many months despite universal industry outcry, concludes that it would remove an average of 1.7 calories from children’s diets per day. For context, that is the equivalent of roughly half a Smartie. And that’s to say nothing of the immense cost of hamstringing the advertising industry, precisely when we are relying on private sector growth to revive the post-Covid economic recovery.

Government interventions are always going to be short-sighted and ineffectual by their nature. We should not ignore obesity – but the way we confront it must allow people to retain control over their own lives. Rather than taxing or regulating obesity in the hope that it goes away, government policy should create an environment which can facilitate weight management.

For instance, recent research found that a diabetes drug can do wonders for weight loss. People who took semaglutide suddenly found the pounds dropping off, with many losing 15 per cent of their bodyweight. 

And health innovation goes far beyond the lab and the GP surgery. Studies have, shown, for instance, that the simple act of chewing gum can help people lose weight. “Chewing gum had a dual effect on appetite,” said researchers at the University of Liverpool and Glasgow Caledonian University. “It reduces both the subjective sensations associated with eating and the amount of food eaten during a snack… leading to an 8.2 per cent decrease in appetite for sweet and salty snacks.”

Instead of giving public health nannies free rein to govern our diets and shopping habits, the government should be investing in pioneering research like this to find free-market answers to obesity. If sugar really is the new tobacco, let’s not resort to excessive state meddling once again. Let’s instead harness the power of innovation and let our world-class scientific research institutions do the hard work for us.

Originally published here.

14 розвинутих країн розкритикували Всесвітню організацію охорони здоров’я

Цього разу ВООЗ критикують через сумнівний звіт щодо походження коронавірусу. Але експерти також зауважують: ВООЗ “збилася з дороги” – замість протидії пандеміям організація все більш займається боротьбою з дитячими кашами, солодкими газованими напоями і тютюновими виробами.

США, Велика Британія та ще 12 країн висловили занепокоєння через доповідь експертів Всесвітньої організації охорони здоров’я (ВООЗ) щодо походження коронавірусу.

Про це повідомляє прес-служба Державного департаменту США.

Уряди Австралії, Канади, Чехії, Данії, Естонії, Ізраїлю, Японії, Латвії, Литви, Норвегії, Республіки Корея, Словенії, Великої Британії та США розкритикували Всесвітню організацію охорони здоров’я за те, що міжнародне експертне  дослідження джерел походження вірусу SARS-CoV-2 «було значно затримано, не мало доступу до повних, оригінальних даних та зразків».

Речниця Білого дому Джен Псакі закликала ВООЗ активніше «ставити питання людям на місцях»: «У цьому процесі є другий етап, який, на нашу думку, повинен здійснюватися під керівництвом міжнародних і незалежних експертів. У них повинен бути безперешкодний доступ до даних».

Держави закликають ВООЗ продовжити дослідження та наголошують, що необхідно зміцнювати «потенціал, аби підготуватися до можливих майбутніх спалахів інфекції».

Нагадаємо, це не перший випадок критики на адресу Всесвітньої організації охорони здоров’я. Минулого року за попередньої адміністрації США навіть оголошували про вихід з цієї міжнародної організації через її неефективність.

Як повідомляв Wall StreetJournal, «з самого початку позиція ВООЗ дозволила політичним міркуванням взяти гору над об’єктивною реакцією громадської охорони здоров’я. Рішення виступити проти ранніх заборон на поїздки і відкласти оголошення «надзвичайної ситуації у сфері охорони здоров’я, що має міжнародне значення», призвело до жахливих результатів».

Більше того, на думку оглядачів Wall Street Journal, «в останні десятиріччя ВООЗ менш зосереджена на своїй первісній місії, вона даремно витрачає гроші на підтримку державної охорони здоров’я та на війни з тютюновими компаніями».

New York Times цитує старшого наукового співробітника Центру безпеки охорони здоров’я ім. Джона Хопкінса, доктора Амеша Адалжа, який заявив, що «є підстави для критики Всесвітньої організації охорони здоров’я». Він навів приклад попередньої епідемії Еболи, коли ВООЗ не змогла оперативно зреагувати на надзвичайну ситуацію. 

Британська Guardian також нагадувала про вкрай незадовільну реакцію ВООЗ на епідемію еболи в 2013-2015 рр. «ВООЗ вкрай повільно реагувала на спалах Еболи, який почався у віддаленій лісовій частині Гвінеї. На той час, коли ВООЗ почала діяти – лише через6 місяців після першого спалаху –  ебола вже досягла великих міст. Наслідки для ВООЗ були серйозними та підірвали її авторитет».

Заступник директора глобальної групи захисту прав споживачів Consumer Choice Center Єль Островський у своїй статті для Washington Examiner частину провини за зниження ефективності ВООЗ покладає на приватні фонди (передовсім, на фінансові організації екс-мера Нью-Йорка Майкла Блумберга), які своїм фінансуванням впливають на напрямки роботи організації.

«ВООЗ збилася з дороги. Замість того, аби організовувати роботу із покращення обладнання для лікарень, підготовки лікарів і всієї системи охорони здоров’я до можливих нових епідемій, «глибокі кишені» Блумберга перетворили ВООЗ на глобального «поліцейського» для країн, що розвиваються, – проти дитячих каш, солодких газованих напоїв і тютюнових виробів», – впевнений Єль Островський.

Originally published here.

Germany’s Vaccine Drive Problems

Fred Roeder went on TalkRadio’s Mark Dolan Show to discuss the shortcomings of the German Government around the COVID19 vaccine procurement.

Originally published here.

LIBRE CHOIX : LES CONSOMMATEURS ADULTES DOIVENT PRENDRE LEURS PROPRES DÉCISIONS

Le gouvernement ne veut que votre bien – et il vous le montre… en vous traitant comme un enfant et en vous empêchant de faire vos propres choix, même dans les plus petites choses.

Il ne se passe pas un jour sans qu’un militant de la santé publique ne vienne frapper à notre porte (bien qu’actuellement il s’agisse plutôt d’un courriel) pour nous expliquer quel produit devrait être interdit ou taxé.

Auparavant, il s’agissait principalement du tabac, en raison des risques évidents pour la santé associés au tabagisme. Mais avec l’augmentation du nombre de consommateurs qui se tournent vers des alternatives plus saines comme le vapotage, d’autres produits sont devenus la cible des moralistes de la santé.

Qu’il s’agisse d’alcool, de sucre, de graisse ou de viande, aucun vice n’est laissé de côté dans l’éternel effort visant à punir les consommateurs pour les choses qu’ils aiment.

Evidemment, je ne défends pas l’idée que ces aliments ne soient pas dépourvus d’inconvénients. Ce n’est un secret pour personne que toute consommation doit être modérée et que cette dernière est une norme subjective que chaque individu doit s’approprier.

« 54 000 écoliers obèses » était le slogan scandé par les politiciens irlandais qui ont fait pression pour une nouvelle taxe sur le sucre en 2017. Les opposants à cette mesure étaient également préoccupés par la santé des enfants… mais peut-être qu’ils comprenaient qu’augmenter le prix du Coca-Cola n’allait pas résoudre le profond problème de cette maladie.

Des mesures absurdes

La mesure irlandaise s’est alignée sur l’augmentation française de la taxe sur les boissons gazeuses, il y a quelques années. Le président de l’époque, Nicolas Sarkozy, avait introduit cette mesure, qui a ensuite continué à être exploitée pour augmenter les recettes de l’Etat. La taxe initiale s’élevait à 7,53 € pour 100 litres de soda, soit 2,51 centimes pour une canette de 33 centilitres.

Depuis le 1er janvier 2021, la taxe est mesurée par quantité de sucre, donc entre 3,11 € par hectolitre pour un kilo de sucre et 24,34 € pour 15 kilos. Au-delà de 15 kilos, l’augmentation est de 2,07 € par kilo.

La situation est d’autant plus absurde que la France subventionne également le sucre par le biais de la politique agricole commune de l’Union européenne. Se voir demander de payer deux fois, une fois pour la subvention du sucre, et ensuite pour sa consommation, est probablement une ironie difficile à avaler pour les consommateurs français.

Lors d’une conférence du Fonds monétaire international l’année dernière, l’ancien candidat démocrate américain Michael Bloomberg a abordé la question des taxes sur les péchés « régressifs ». Il a déclaré :

« Certaines personnes pensent que taxer (la consommation) est une régression. Mais dans ce cas, oui, ça l’est ! C’est justement ce qui est bien, car le problème se situe chez les gens qui n’ont pas beaucoup d’argent et qui changeront ainsi leur comportement. »

Christine Lagarde, directrice générale et présidente du FMI, a rajouté un mot à la fin de la conférence :

« Il y a beaucoup d’experts fiscaux dans la salle… Et ils disent tous qu’il y a deux choses dans la vie qui sont absolument certaines. L’une est la mort, l’autre est la fiscalité. Donc votre idée est d’utiliser l’une pour reporter l’autre. »

« C’est exact. C’est tout à fait exact. C’est joliment formulé », a conclu Bloomberg.

Condescendance et paternalisme

On ne saurait être plus clair. Le principe de cette politique condescendante est le suivant : le consommateur pauvre est fondamentalement trop ignorant pour prendre des décisions concernant sa propre vie. Aveuglé par l’irrationalité de son esprit et ses pulsions instinctives, seule la bienveillance de la politique publique moderne peut le sortir de sa détresse. C’est littéralement la pensée de nos dirigeants actuels.

La vérité, cependant, est d’un tout autre genre.

Bien qu’ils ne soient pas particulièrement bruyants dans leur opposition aux taxes sur leurs soi-disant vices, les consommateurs s’expriment clairement lorsqu’il s’agit de prendre des décisions de tous les jours. Les gens veulent fumer ou vapoter, manger des aliments gras ou bio et boire du soda ou des jus de fruits… et les politiciens devraient commencer à accepter leurs décisions.

Ce sont tous des produits que nous devrions consommer avec modération et avec des informations transparentes en matière de santé, mais nous devrions cesser de pénaliser le citoyen pour l’exercice de son libre arbitre.

Nos Etats modernes semblent avoir créé un monstre bureaucratique qui s’est donné le rôle de tuteur venant nous taper sur les doigts lorsque nous regardons une boîte de biscuits du coin de l’œil.

Cette politique paternaliste dénote la déshumanisation qui régit les politiques publiques actuelles. Montrant un véritable mépris envers le libre arbitre des citoyens, les gouvernements pourraient un jour se retrouver avec une réponse de même ampleur.

Originally published here.

Michael Bloomberg turns the dial on Indian health policy

By Shrey Madaan

Large sodas, alcohol, vaping devices and the Internet are just a few of the things the World Health Organization wants to keep us away from.

Lawmakers say it is safeguarding its subjects from evil elements in order to protect them. But many critics also believe Indian sensibilities are composed of graver stuff and are concerned about India’s transition to a “Nanny State”.

The Nanny State is the idea of a government or authorities behaving too protective for their constituents, i.e interfering with their personal choice and hindering their liberty and right to life. 

This is something we have seen Bloomberg Philanthropies try to establish here in India. For years, Bloomberg Philanthropies has bestowed billions of dollars to global issues close to the billionaire’s heart such as education, environment and public health, transforming Bloomberg into a sort of flamboyant private government. 

This is evident when he began the Anti-Tobacco Campaign in India, causing a drastic boom on tobacco products, laying a strong foundation for intellectual precision on imposing bans on vaping devices and persuading the Health Ministry to adopt larger health warnings on various consumer goods

Thanks to his Nanny State mission, Michael Bloomberg was named as World Health Organisation’s “Global Ambassador For Non-communicable Diseases and Injuries,” a mission funded by himself for many years.

While it’s noteworthy to appreciate Bloomberg’s recent expenditures into Covid-19 research, his prolonged mission to spread the nanny state overseas via the soft power of the WHO is not only paternalistic but derogatory as well. This emphasis on soft power and negligence towards substantive reforms highlights the inefficiency of WHO. 

Their focus on soft power is evident from foisting soda taxes, imposing bans on e-cigarettes and vaping devices in third world countries and initiating Anti-Tobacco campaigns like here in India. Because the WHO and Bloomberg put so much emphasis on these various issues, it is not too difficult to draw a line between those activities and the failure of the WHO to help contain the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in China. 

These lapses in Covid response, together with WHO detracting from its mission to safeguard us from pandemics, is a principal reason for opposing the global Nanny State expansion by people like Bloomberg. The recent channelling of funds into Indian non-profit agencies in exchange for a strong lobby against tobacco products and safer alternatives have called the credibility of Billionaire’s influence in question and has brought them under scrutiny. 

In response, the Indian government increased surveillance of non-profit groups, stating their actions to be against national interests. The Indian government tightened the scrutiny of NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The action has been opposed by critics claiming the use of foreign funding law by the government as a weapon to suppress non-profit groups concerned about social repercussions of Indian economic growth. 

The note drafted by the Home Ministry’s Intelligence wing raised concerns about targeting Indian businesses and its aggressive lobby against them. The three-page note acknowledged Bloomberg’s intention to free India from tobacco and other products but also elaborated upon the significance of the sector bringing revenue of 5 billion dollars annually for the governments, and employment generated for millions. The note also highlighted the negative implications of aggressive lobby against the sector and how it threatens the livelihood of 35 million people. 

The steps to promoting soft power Nanny State are not only appreciated but are aided by WHO. That is where WHO is pushing us into the abyss. Instead of providing doctors and health care workers with necessary supplies and honing the health care systems, the opulence of Bloomberg has commissioned the WHO as a “Global Police” enforcing taxes and bans on a plethora of consumer products around the world. 

Bloomberg’s Nanny Missions emerged as a grim threat to the health care sector, making the current pandemic more threatening. Let us hope we do not feel the repercussions here at home. 

Originally published here.

Bloomberg’s misguided push to outlaw vaping in developing nations

Since the fallout from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a renewed focus on improving global health, and that’s been a welcome sign.

study produced by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that nearly three-quarters of hospitalized COVID patients were either obese or overweight. At the same time across the European Union, health ministries have put more resources into keeping their populations healthy, using education and incentive programs to encourage children and youth to exercise, eat healthy foods, and more.

Several of these initiatives have been funded and promoted by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the chief charity vehicle of American billionaire media executive Michael Bloomberg. His charity focuses on causes Bloomberg passionately has championed for years: climate change, public health, education, and the arts.

In October of 2020, Bloomberg’s charity partnered with the Brussels-Capital Region Government for an initiative on air pollution and sustainability, boosting his role as the World Health Organization’s “Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries.”

And while most of Bloomberg’s efforts to improve public health are well-intended, there are cases when the groups he funds are pursuing policies that would be detrimental to the health outcomes of ordinary people, especially when it comes to tobacco control.

Though there is a commitment to reduce tobacco use in middle and low-income countries, a significant part of Bloomberg’s philanthropic fortune has ended up going to global efforts to clamp down on novel vaping products, which do not contain tobacco, and have been proven to be instrumental in getting smokers to quit.

Across the globe, as the use of vaping devices has become more widespread, the number of daily smokers has continued to decrease, hitting low teen digits in many developed economies. This is an amazing achievement. Regardless of that, many of these charities are still dedicated to their destruction.

The conflation between vapers who use non-tobacco-containing vaping devices, mostly fabricated by small companies out of Asia and Europe, and the tobacco industry, however, has shifted the focus of these billion-dollar health efforts.

In direct competition with the all-powerful tobacco industry, independent companies have created alternative devices that are cheap, less harmful, and provide the real potential to quit. The vast majority of vapers use open-tank devices and liquids that do not contain tobacco, a point that is often glossed over in the debate.

Despite the rise of a technological and less harmful method of delivering nicotine through vaporizers, the well-funded tobacco control complex has retooled its efforts to ban vaping outright, using a series of drafted bills, gifts to health departments, and questionable foreign funding of domestic political campaigns.

This has been aided by Michael Bloomberg’s $1 billion global initiative on tobacco control.

In the Philippines, a federal investigation revealed that health regulators received hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Bloomberg-affiliated charity before they presented a draft bill to outlaw vaping devices. Congressional representatives have complained that the law was presented with no debate, and came only after the large grant was received by the country’s Food & Drug Administration.

In Mexico, just this past week, it was revealed that a staff lawyer for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, one of the largest global tobacco control groups funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, drafted the law to severely restrict imports and sales of vaping devices. It is alleged that Carmen Medel, president of the health committee of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, contracted the charity to “advise” on the law, but ended up submitting a draft bill that still contained the name of the NGO lawyer who wrote the law.

This is compounded by ongoing investigations into foreign NGO influence on similar policies in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi severed ties with the Bloomberg charity after his domestic intelligence services raised concerns.

What makes all of these efforts a tragedy is that a real victory for public health is being stifled in countries that cannot afford it.

In nations where vaping is endorsed and recommended by health authorities, such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand, real reductions in the number of smokers can be seen.

Unfortunately, though Michael Bloomberg’s charitable giving has been significant and well-intended, the groups that receive that money for tobacco control have made the deadly mistake of equating the cigarette to the real alternative of the vaping device. And that will be to the detriment of global health on a massive scale.

Originally published here.

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