Columns and Letters

Letter: A response to Mr. Geoffrey May

October 13, 2021

Dear Editor,
     I think it’s only fair, after all the apparent effort he put into his delirious missive in the October 6th edition of The Oran, that we officially recognize Mr. Geoffrey May as the island’s official ambassador to, and proudest spokesman for, the latest tumorous outgrowth of the anti-vax movement.
    Mr. May’s letter to the editor is an unbelievable exercise in hysterics, an awe-inspiring thing, almost a work of art; a bent and berserk framework of ideas only loosely connected to reality, like a Rene Magritte painting except without the colour – a Marilyn Manson album cover copied in brown crayon.
    In just half a page worth of newsprint, Mr. May covers a whole hell of a lot of territory – all of it very near the lunatic fringe, where one suspects he spends a great deal of his time – beginning with the statement that “Nova Scotia’s decision to compel individuals [...] to take the COVID vaccines that offer them no benefit, just risk, is a clear violation of the Nuremberg Code.”
    He goes on: “The Code is a profound statement of medical ethics, and one that is being completely ignored during COVID pandemic [sic].” He equates COVID-19 vaccines with “experimental medicines.” He says fogged-up glasses are proof that masks don’t work. And, to put the cherry on top – or the bottom, since we’re already way far down the rabbit hole – he suggests a corrupt media conspiracy to withhold the truth about the real cure for COVID: Vitamin D.
    This isn’t just factually wrong. It’s wrong at all levels of magnification, on every level and from every angle, like a diseased-looking Mandelbrot Set constructed of false assertions and delusional thinking. Congratulations, Mr. May. It takes a lot of effort to be not just factually wrong, but fractally wrong.
    Mr. May claims the COVID vaccines are “experimental,” and that “none have been tested on non-human animals.”
    Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines rely on messenger RNA. Messenger RNA (mRNA) and mRNA vaccines have been studied for decades. In fact, the first successful research on mRNA-based drug technology was published when I was still in diapers, in 1989.
    The discovery that cellular immunity is inducible by mRNA was made in 1993, by which time, you’ll be happy to know, I was out of diapers and proudly wearing tighty-whiteys like the big boys. I was still wearing tighty-whiteys in the fifth grade, when – oblivious to me and most everyone else – work in the lab showed that mRNA could elicit both a humoral and cellular immune response against viral pathogens.
    (Again, this happened shortly after O.J. Simpson took a merry televised jaunt in a white Ford Bronco, and around the time Seinfeld entered syndication.)
    All of this research was conducted on animals, i.e., laboratory mice.
    Likewise, Pfizer and Moderna did not skip animal trials when testing their new vaccines for COVID-19. The vaccines were fully tested on mice and macaques (a species of monkey) concurrently with tiny preliminary Phase 1 trials in humans.
    All this information is publically available and easily accessible, even to Facebook cranks, Boogaloo Boys, and MAGA-wearing moms who inhale Tucker Carlson broadcasts like they do Vicodin pills and bad country music.
    Ongoing scientific research on the effectiveness of our current crop of vaccines is also freely available, though Mr. May seems completely unaware of it, as he makes the astonishing claim that the vaccines offer “no benefit, just risk.”
    Mr. May, and anyone who accepts this disinformation at face-value, may wish to look into efficacy studies as reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Canada, the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and McGill University’s Office for Science and Society, for a start. (There are many resources, of course. I suggest consulting ones that don’t offer to sell you male enhancement pills and beet juice extract along with their statistics.)
    As just one example, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on the effectiveness of Pfizer’s vaccine in the first two months of the vaccination campaign in Israel – which looked at 600,000 vaccinated people versus 600,000 unvaccinated – revealed that the standard two doses were 92 per cent effective at preventing infection, 87 per cent effective at preventing hospitalization, and 92 per cent effective at preventing severe disease.
    Again, these results are public knowledge, backed by peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trials and concurrent real-world efficacy data, and are as unequivocal as the scientific method allows.
    “But the Nuremberg Code!” Mr. May howls.
    The Code and its 10 major premises were put forth following the 1947 trial of Nazi doctors who’d conducted appalling experiments on concentration camp prisoners, including children, during World War II and the Holocaust.
    Hundreds of inmates, in countless calculated “experiments,” were forcibly injected with malaria, typhus, and tuberculosis, and left to suffer the effects without treatment. Others were disfigured by mustard gas, infected with epidemic jaundice, submerged in freezing water for hours on end, involuntarily sterilized, or forced against their will to undergo unnecessary surgery – Dr. Josef Mengele was fond of sewing children together in an effort to form artificial “conjoined” twins. Untold numbers perished, and the ones who didn’t were often murdered later, succumbing in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Treblinka or starving to death under the gaze of their Nazi captors.
    Conflating that horror story with Nova Scotia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic – and with the global rollout of a life-saving vaccine that underwent rigorous testing and approval procedures by drug administrations around the world – is, to put it frankly, bonkers.
    Actually, not just bonkers. Capital-B Bonkers.
    All-out, unapologetic, unbridled, unattenuated batshittery, if you prefer.
    “But!” Mr. May once again shouts. “I’ve got the secret knowledge, I’ve got the magic cure! I’ve figured out what they’re not telling you! It’s Vitamin D!”
    Again, this is the type of stuff you’d expect to hear screamed at you in a city centre by a man smelling strongly of urine, pluming great hales of phlegm into the air, perched next to his soiled sleeping bag and misspelled cardboard signs.
    By all means, soak up the sun while you can, it does the body good (in moderation and with the appropriate layer of sunscreen). It’s healthy (says my doctor), promotes overall well-being (says my therapist), and comes in pill form if you’re too busy for the outdoors (says my pharmacist). But it is not a cure for COVID-19.
    Central to this “vitamin theory” is the usual media conspiracy – as Mr. May puts it, it’s “science that has been published that the media decided not to share with the public” – and the implication that all doctors and health experts must be ignorant, corrupted by the pharmaceutical industry, or blinded by their own virulent ideology.
    Also strongly suggested in all of this is the notion of a pilfer-and-profit scheme. The vaccine manufacturers, the politicians, the media, they’re all in on it, and they’re all in it for one reason: to scam you and make money.
    A little logic here goes a long way, if you can spare it.
    Pfizer, like most large drug companies, doesn’t just make vaccines, it also sells vitamins and supplements. A dose of vaccine and a bottle of vitamins both cost about 20 – 30 dollars.
    Mr. May could comfortably lay claim not just to being our own local anti-vax spokesman, but a veritable up-and-comer in the pro leagues – a real leader of the pack, holy Jesus! – if he could convincingly confabulate some reason as to why Pfizer would spend $2 billion developing a vaccine, when it could have just sold us vitamins at the same price and made a larger profit.
    Thus, my challenge to Geoffrey. Dig even deeper and go world class. No backing down, no looking back. You’re already an embarrassment (and very likely a health hazard if you’ve decided to skip your shot, which I suspect you have) to the little island you call home.
    Work hard enough, chop your way through enough inconvenient logic, bend the facts till they snap underfoot a few dozen more times, and in today’s social media wasteland – where nothing ever gets deleted from our collective conscience, only stored and kept for later retrieval by Google – you just might be an embarrassment to history, too.
    Alex Poirier













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