If every movement has a manifesto, then Spike vs The People: The Inside Story is a 21st century Mein Kampf meriting the same notoriety and opprobrium.
The book, published last year, is Dr Jeremy Farrar’s insider account of the coronavirus pandemic, ghost-written by the Financial Times science writer Anjana Ahuja. Farrar, is a clinical scientist, infectious disease expert, director of the Wellcome Trust, co-founder of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), and one-time Sage adviser to the Government. He was knighted in the 2019 New Year’s Honours just as China was advising the World Health Organisation (WHO) that amongst its population of 1.4 billion it had detected 44 pneumonia patients, 11 of whom were seriously ill.
Sir Jeremy is a British General waging America’s War on Microbes which has supplanted the War on Terror, unnoticed and unannounced. Spike is his call to arms. ‘There is no peacetime any more,’ says Farrar. ‘Preparedness and readiness is a constant and needs to be part of the fabric of society.’ (p233)
Covid-19 is to be the catalyst for a re-ordered world. ‘My preference would be to streamline the architecture of global health with the WHO in the middle of the web, convening, advising, guiding and providing an emergency response . . . Crumbs from the table will not cut it in the era of pandemics.’
A $100 billion pandemic war chest for the WHO to spend as it sees fit would suffice, dwarfing the sums spent on Covid-19. With CEPI becoming the WHO’s research and development arm for vaccines and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, or the Global Fund procuring and delivering these ‘countermeasures,’ private pharmaceutical interests would be well looked after.
‘Just as you don’t wait until war has broken out to assemble and train an army, the radar must function continually,’ says Farrar, envisioning an ‘advanced pathogen surveillance network’ to identify variants and new pathogens. It was launched in 2021 as the Global Pandemic Radar.
A combination of ‘smart’ real-time data, artificial intelligence and ‘non-traditional sources of information like rumours on social media’ could help identify threats needing countermeasures, he explains. Farrar’s conscience is untroubled by the intrusiveness of the surveillance required for the biothreat track and trace systems for microbes, or for sick people for that matter.
Suitably forewarned, he hopes, new genetic ‘plug and play’ vaccines could be injected into human arms in as little as a month. The United Nations Immunization Agenda 2030, published in April 2020, calls for 500 deployments of new or under-used vaccines by the end of the decade.
A new legally binding Pandemic Treaty is still under discussion and a WHO director general would be given greater freedom to act independently. Farrar fails to acknowledge the obvious risk that this system facilitates the creation of captive markets for the pharmaceutical companies. The world has already seen Covid-19 vaccine passes being used to compel people to submit to vaccination in order to participate in society.
Overseeing this new global health system would be a ‘truly independent monitoring board,’ speaking truth to power and reporting directly to the United Nations Security Council or alternatively a new Global Health Threats Council. A prototype, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), co-convened in 2018 by the director general of the WHO and the president of the World Bank, arrived in advance of the pandemic. Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Farrar’s old friend Dr George Gao, the former head of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control, sat on its board. Farrar is currently its interim co-chair.
The story Farrar is selling in Spike is that of an earnest scientist struggling to save a gravely imperilled United Kingdom, and indeed the world, from a dangerous new virus in the face of political indifference and an ignorant and misguided Health Department. In detailing his quest to save humanity from viruses, an altogether different picture of Sir Jeremy emerges.
In January 2020, to get the great Covid game in motion a declaration by the WHO of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) was needed. Farrar tried to help by passing information suggesting early evidence of human-to-human transmission, an indicator used to trigger PHEICs, to Dr Marion Koopmans, a member of the Emergency Committee that must make the recommendation to the director general.
‘A declaration gets things moving, unlocks funds, galvanises leaders – ultimately it saves lives,’ says Farrar.
While the PHEIC was still a work in progress, the GPMB met on January 27, 2020 to rally the global community to commit resources and take action against the novel coronavirus. It knew the playbook, having presciently issued a report in September 2019 warning of the theoretical risk of a new high-impact respiratory virus that could spread asymptomatically. Among the ‘key informants’ for this report were Farrar, Koopmans and Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the UK’s deputy chief medical officer. It was written by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health which hosted the pandemic tabletop Event 201 the following month.
Efforts to secure a PHEIC succeeded only at the third attempt on January 30. CEPI then issued an ‘urgent funding call’ for $2 billion to finance its Covid vaccine portfolio.
Sir Jeremy was on advance manoeuvres on the home front in January, contacting both the UK chief medical officer Dr Chris Whitty and the chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance. He recalls that Whitty was mindful of the backlash against Dame Sally Davies, the CMO during the 2009 swine flu response and was wary of overreacting, while Vallance was more deferential.
‘Patrick took our worries seriously because he knows my background in emerging infections. He knew I would not overplay something that was not worth worrying about. There was no human immunity to this new pathogen,’ writes Sir Jeremy.
Vallance organised a ‘precautionary’ Sage meeting for January 22, 2020, prior to a Cobra meeting on the 24th, apparently in the expectation of a PHEIC being declared at the first time of asking. Sir Jeremy became an unpaid and ungagged adviser. The narrative framed for Sage was of a novel virus of animal origin which caused an unusual disease because it had a wide spectrum of severity and humans had no immunity to it.
The day after the PHEIC declaration, the UK’s first two Covid-19 patients, newly returned from Wuhan, were hospitalised in Newcastle. Both recovered after mild illness.
Sir Jeremy missed most Sage meetings in February. The ‘back channel’ through which he kept tabs on it were the modelers, Professor Neil Ferguson, director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases, and Professor John Edmunds.
Following a three-week absence, Sir Jeremy returned to Sage on February 25, when a paper modeling the impact of closing schools, home isolation, quarantining entire households and social distancing was discussed. Sir Jeremy told the meeting about a ‘tearful call’ he’d received from an unnamed contact at Medicins Sans Frontiers (MFS) Italia, the charity appointed to help manage Italy’s Covid outbreak on February 12, who told him that the Italian healthcare system was collapsing around her.
February 25 is the day Dominic Cummings said ‘very smart people’ started coming to him saying ‘America is completely screwing this up. You should be really aggressive. Don’t listen to all these people saying that there’s no alternative to this. I personally am starting to take preparations. I’m buying things. We’re going to have to lockdown, etc, etc.’ (Cummings’s Parliamentary testimony)
What is evident from his account of the month leading up to the UK lockdown is that Sir Jeremy subscribes to the view that advisers advise and ministers co-operate. Concern over the damage to the economy was, he says, ‘misguided’ when lives needed to be saved.
The UK Coronavirus Action Plan (CAP), based on existing government contingency planning for epidemics, was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the two co-chairs of Sage, Dr Chris Whitty and Dr Patrick Vallance, on March 3. Cobra, to whom Sage provides advice, signed it off but it displeased Sir Jeremy. ‘The government sprang a surprise,’ he says.
Professor Edmunds appeared on Channel 4 News after the CAP announcement saying, ‘If we’re right, indications for this virus are that this could be a very serious incident. Much more serious than we’ve had for many, many years.’ He was shaking his head from side to side as he spoke, contradicting himself with his body language. (timestamp 20:20) Other more stringent measures would be needed in the weeks to come, he suggested.
Sir Jeremy defended Dominic Cummings against Boris Johnson’s charge that he manipulated Sage. He should know. Credit where credit is due, it was Sir Jeremy doing the manipulating of Cummings.
‘He devised his own deliberate behavioural strategy in Sage meetings, which was to look political advisers directly in the eye while repeating the phrase, “We are talking about hundreds of thousands of deaths.” He just wanted a reaction, an acknowledgement, that those in power understood what was coming,’ writes Sir Jeremy.
Cummings did his due diligence, seeking advice from outside experts who confirmed the modeling. Modeling is the new statistics. You can prove anything with modeling, depending on the inputs and underlying assumptions.
The pressure tactics worked. ‘Something must have percolated through; however, Number 10 advisers Ben Warner and Dominic Cummings showed signs of increasing unease at the Sage meetings they attended. Patrick Vallance was becoming anxious too,’ says Sir Jeremy.
Some gaps in Sir Jeremy’s account require filling in. Cummings recalled Ben Warner told him on March 7, ‘It seems to me this [CAP] plan could easily be mad. It could be extremely destructive,’ and suggested pulling together a Plan B.
The real problem Sir Jeremy was addressing was CEPI’s need for money to implement its business plan. Despite the PHEIC declaration, the global response to CEPI and the GPMB’s Covid clarion call was tepid. On March 6, the UK government announced a £20 million contribution to CEPI’s coffers, chicken-feed compared with its $2 billion request.
CEPI’s chief executive Dr Richard Hatchett, appearing on Channel 4 News following the announcement, said: ‘Completely dispassionately, without elevating the temperature or speaking hyperbolically, this is the most frightening disease I’ve ever encountered in my career and that includes Ebola, it includes MERS, it includes SARS. It’s frightening because of a combination of infectiousness and a lethality that is many times higher than flu.’ (timestamp 18 min)
The GPMP began calling on the G7 and G20 to find $8 billion. On March 14, two days before a scheduled G7 Covid-19 fundraising teleconference, Sir Jeremy emailed Whitty and Vallance. ‘I felt action was needed within 24 hours, basically lockdown, plus all the other measures that had been modelled, like Italy and other European countries,’ he told them, implying it would be very brave to continue with Plan A.
Cummings is not the Machiavelli of this story, but in the end he was the one primed to deliver the ‘very courageous speech’ to the Prime Minister that resulted in the lockdown. According to Sir Jeremy, Cummings told Johnson that if he didn’t impose a lockdown, the NHS would collapse, he’d kill half a million people, that there wasn’t even a plan to bury all the dead, and that ‘in the chaos the whole grip of government might collapse and all sorts of other terrible consequences.’
The day after the lockdown began, Sir Jeremy wrote to his Wellcome colleagues that ‘the UK Covid-19 policy finally aligned with global efforts.’ The UK government announced an additional £210 million in funding for CEPI.
Dr Hatchett called Covid a watershed that would lead to a very different world. The reordered world he, Farrar and their associates want is no utopia. It is an outline for supranational biosecurity fascism and the infrastructure required for it is now in place. As Spike shows, some smooth-tongued, cold-eyed, hard-nosed people orchestrated a policy coup to realise this dark future. It is they who imperil humanity, not the microbes. This nightmare vision needs to be staked through the heart.
Republished from The Conservative Woman