How many COVID deaths were caused by government suppression of market forces in finding treatments that worked?
2022-02-20, by Barry Brownstein. Emphasis added.
As an economist, my job is not to help you make health decisions about Covid vaccines. Your health history, age, subjective evaluation of risk, and many other factors make recommendations from me meaningless. I can, however, increase your awareness of distortions that lead to poor decision-making.
Liability Shields Distort Decisions
...Insurance companies not captured by government bureaucrats are the best regulators, because insurers are best at assessing risk... When pharmaceutical companies are subject to the discipline of obtaining insurance coverage, the companies are highly incentivized to produce the safest vaccines.
The case against liability shields is not a case against vaccines; it is a case against the distorted production and promotion of vaccines. Limits on liability override the risk-reducing incentives provided by having to pay insurance premiums. The result is that vaccines are less safe than they would otherwise be.
In summary, the best way to ensure vaccine safety is to expose pharmaceutical companies to the full costs of any mistake, and not let any company without proper insurance near a human body.
Insurance companies are impartial regulators that do not cut corners. There is no revolving door between insurance companies’ employees and Big Pharma employees. Company shareholders and bondholders, too, are regulators. Without liability protection, a vaccine with a poor safety profile is a poor investment, so it is less likely to come to market.
My essay of 2020 warned of possible vaccine mandates, and many economists rightfully opposed them. As late as 2021, warnings of coming mandates were called disinformation. Yet, warnings of the consequences of shielding Big Pharma from liability went unnoticed.
Crony interests capture government regulation and oversight. Well-documented are financial ties of government officials and pharmaceutical companies as well as the revolving door between government officials and employees of pharmaceutical companies.
Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, recently revealed Moderna’s close relationship with the CDC: “[There’s] always been a great partnership between public health experts, the regulators and the vaccine makers, to figure out what’s the best path. As Tony said, for two years we’ve all worked literally seven days a week together to figure out how to fight this common enemy of the virus.” The “great partnership” benefits pharmaceutical companies because it is cheaper to capture regulators than to manufacture a safe vaccine that insurance companies would underwrite.
...Cloaked in the mantle of “the science,” regulators and Big Pharma have subjected the public to continuous misstatements. Tony Fauci’s 2021 whopper declared that the vaccinated are “a dead end to the virus.” In 2021, the CDC director Rochelle Walensky was still spreading Big Pharma’s propaganda: “vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick.” Dr. Fauci was still holding out the promise of “elimination” of Covid.
Let’s pursue the unanticipated effects of shielding Covid vaccine manufacturers from liability. Enshrining vaccines as the way to deal with the pandemic shut down discovery of alternatives. Enshrining ineffective remdesivir as one of the only treatments for hospitalized Covid patients also blocked the discovery process.
When Covid vaccines, shielded from liability, were brought to market, research and development dollars went into vaccines rather than therapeutics. Again, my job as an economist is not to evaluate the evidence for and against ivermectin, fluvoxamine, hydroxychloroquine, and even over the counter remedies such as Pepcid. My job is to show you how your health decisions are being distorted.
...In short, the market process reveals more than what is known by us or any group of us. As Drs. Martin Kulldorff and Jayanta Bhattacharya, two of the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration recently wrote, “Unfortunately, sitting atop the world’s largest stash of infectious disease research money, with an annual NIAID [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] budget of over $6 billion, Dr. Fauci was able to command the nation’s pandemic strategy with little opposition from other infectious disease scientists.” Healthcare innovation under command and control doesn’t work.
The Market Process Reveals What is Needed
It is an error to believe the government backed vaccines over therapeutics because everyone knew vaccines would work better. Voices warned that vaccinating in a pandemic was not wise, since doing so creates variants. British Medical Journal editor Peter Doshi was among those who warned against accepting Pfizer’s claims of efficacy. Alternative views have been ignored, if not silenced.
The market process doesn’t care what “everyone knows.” Everyone at Blockbuster knew Netflix wasn’t a threat to their brick-and-mortar store model, until the market revealed it was. Everyone knew AOL was the future, until the market showed it was a poor imitation of the Internet.
Kirzner explains, “The competitive market process is needed not only to mobilize existing knowledge but also to generate awareness of opportunities whose very existence until now has been known to no one at all.” Throughout this crisis, many have acted as though the science is settled. Kirzner has pointed words for those who claim they know the best way:
The process itself is a continual one of the discovery of opportunities. The discoverer of these opportunities himself, at least, has had no inkling whatever of their very existence. The market, in other words, is not merely a process of search for information of the need for which men had previously been aware; it is a discovery procedure that tends to correct ignorance where the discoverers themselves were totally unaware that they were ignorant.
Let Kirzner’s words sink in. Throughout this crisis, those who have claimed to know what needs to be known have been lionized. Those brave frontline physicians, known and unknown, such as Dr. Pierre Kory, Dr. Paul Marik, and Dr. Peter McCullough, who have embarked on a discovery process to save the lives of their patients, have been vilified. Dr. Byram Bridle, himself a heroic Covid physician describes his brave colleagues this way:
While so many of their colleagues succumbed to public pressures and failed to follow the science, they demonstrated real commitment to the Hippocratic oath. They used their in-depth clinical training to do what they do best in times of medical crises; they assessed the situation, rapidly identified the key mechanisms driving COVID-19, and repurposed readily available safe drugs to effectively treat this novel disease. These past two years have identified who the real medical heroes are.
No wonder this crisis is never-ending. When we believe experts have all the knowledge needed, the resulting human suffering is not the result of Covid but of our ignorance of the market discovery process.
Can the Market Process Fail?
You might say the pandemic is a dire emergency and left to its own, the market discovery process would have failed. Kirzner cautions us to check our assumptions. Without engaging in the market process we do not know what knowledge is undiscovered or lost...
...We need to ask this question: Are better results likely under the direction of Dr. Fauci or the market discovery process?
If you think the best experts get on top of agencies such as the CDC and FDA, question your assumption. The lionized who are setting policy are often invincibly ignorant.
Out of the Unknown
Centrally planning for health means selecting the lowest common denominator plans that appeal to the masses. Officials largely ignored the relationship between obesity and Covid. Under our current sick care system, where personal responsibility is eschewed in favor of one-size-fits-all solutions, many cannot be induced to take responsibility to eat well and exercise. Yet, government can induce the masses to take a shot.
Some people may have more faith in Dr. Fauci than the market process, but their mistrust is based on an ignorance of economics. To remain ignorant of economics is to destroy the health and well-being of millions...
In its desire to promote vaccines, the government has denied there are effective therapeutics for Covid. Indeed, the issuance of Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccines depended legally on there being no approved treatments. Ignorance, corruption, and arrogance cost lives... Instead of therapeutics, resources are diverted to endless vaccines...
...Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, President Trump, President Biden, and all those who followed their dictates believe the limited minds of anointed experts are superior to a market process of discovery. Their hubris and arrogance are being substituted for an impersonal market discovery process that would produce magnificence.
...Like former communists, those who believe they are masters of the universe will reject the idea that out of the unknown can come richer, more nuanced solutions than their minds could ever hold or conceive. The anointed promoted fear in the population because minds clouded with fear comply with their dictates. Dr. Peter McCullough puts it this way @AMAZON: “The public had to be held in fear and pay a heavy price with hospitalizations and deaths to fully accept vaccines that were not fully evaluated or safe, and were promoted coercively with full indemnification to the manufacturers and those administering the injections.”
WIND: little of the population could comprehend this essay I suppose, or would care to. So here we are.
The parallels between COVID policies and renewable energy hysteria/idiocy are striking. They both ignore economics and reality.