CovidRational: back to sanity

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Interview with Bernard Rentier

How was the association created? 

Informally, the founding members contacted each other because at the time, in mid-2020, after being consulted by the mainstream media, we began to be confronted with a quasi-evangelical message that we could no longer debate. We all began to understand that there was no room for differing opinions. We called each other and concluded that we could not continue to let the official story run unchanged. Then we chose a name. In the beginning we were all academic, now we are not. But rigor and rationality remain academic. 

Did you find the debate lacking in rationality? 

Initially, with the support of Marius Gilbert, I criticized Sciensano because there were essential data missing. It was picked up by the press. Such a crisis could not be managed on the basis of unconsolidated data. The problem has been largely resolved. Secondly, we also protested against the hype of anxiety-provoking information. The number of « cases » (in fact, contaminations) was mentioned without mentioning the number of tests performed. Of course the number of cases is important, but it must always be accompanied by the positivity rate, neither of which is sufficient. It caused a stir. There was no debate, but successive interviews on RTBF, including mine and that of the director of Sciensano who denied me. Fortunately, since then Sciensano provides the positivity rate. But it is important to understand that if a bias is created by the testing policy (who is being tested and why?) the positivity rate no longer means much. I advocated for the testing of a representative sample in order to know the precise prevalence of this disease in the Belgian population, according to proven methods in epidemiology. As far as I know, this has still not been done one year later, although it is simple: just commission a study from academics. Today, we still don’t know the real prevalence of Covid in Belgium… 

So health measures are based on sand? 

They are based on models, which are extrapolations that have often been shown to be fanciful and alarmist, but those that have been disproved by the facts have never been questioned. 

How do you explain this? 

I don’t know, I’m overwhelmed! I think there is a desire not to hear from experts in various fields who have things to say. The experts chosen have the sole aim of eradicating the virus, an illusory goal. I have a problem with the fact that the « corona commissioner » Pedro Facon is a political scientist. It seems to me that this would be more the place of a scientist. A political scientist like Vincent Laborderie is able to understand science as well, which is fortunate. But when P. Facon claims that the danger for the population is in the elementary school, it is very exaggerated. No one has ever demonstrated that schools are a greater danger than other potential sites. There is a clear need to justify vaccinating children to reach a record level. We have been stunned by unfounded statements since the beginning of the crisis, and when people like us go in another direction, we are quarreled over our sources. At least we have them and communicate them. 

This is rhetoric… 

Following an attack that reproached us for having co-signed a Flemish petition that did not cite its sources, we did a lot of work to take up point by point all the accusations and to support them scientifically. Few people will have read it to the end and it is exhausting to be put in the situation of proving the slightest reference, but it is even worse to be reproached by people who themselves do not show the same scientific rigor! 

We are wasting your time and energy… 

It’s not really a waste of time because we’re learning a lot and we’re picking up concepts that we probably wouldn’t have picked up if we hadn’t been pushed. What disturbs us is to fight on equal terms with people who do not do this work but who are listened to because they have the official label. 

Your opponents come from science, politics and the media?
Yes, the media relays the scientists and the politicians. Some journalists or presenters on « mainstream » channels take the liberty of « taking over » scientists in their field of competence and are systematically hostile. They confuse « conspiracy » with « verificationism », after all. 

Do you still go to media like RTBF? 

Later on, I am invited to Vivacité, because one of its journalists has woken up. I also received invitations that I was cancelled for at the last minute. The last few times I went to RTBF, it didn’t go well, I was regularly cut off. It doesn’t make you want to go back. 

Is there anyone who stands out from the crowd? 

In the supposedly neutral media, it’s hard to tell. I don’t quite understand what their policy is, the influence of the editors… Some journalists support me wholeheartedly, such as Luc Widant of the Journal du Médecin , but also of Biotempo, which is considered an « alternative » press, a label that sticks to us and tends to discredit us. So the interview I’m giving you will discredit me even more, but certainly not in the eyes of everyone! 

Is it an information war? 

Absolutely! The most edifying document, which stands on its own, is the now famous lecture by Marc Van Ranst in January 2019 in England available on the web. A model of its kind, well constructed, a masterpiece of communication of absolute cynicism: it announces how one can screw the public. This presentation anticipates everything that has happened in Belgium over the past 21 months(1).

And this does not discredit him? 

At all, it is still in place. And then we say to ourselves « do we have the capacity to resist this? Aren’t the dice completely loaded? We can only fall into conspiracy, admitting that there is at least one conspiracy, that of Big Pharma. Considering the pots and pans this one is dragging, I have a hard time swallowing the way the current vaccination was set up. 

Do you have any contact with Didier Raoult? 

No. I don’t totally agree with him, finding for example that his media communication is counterproductive, and that he made major mistakes at the start of the epidemic and has now plunged into a form of unnecessary provocation. Having said that, I think he was a great virologist, of exceptional stature, a man of the field and not only of the lab. I can agree with him 80%. He was invited to the Grandes Conférences Liégeoises in 2020. He didn’t show up because of the lockdown, but even before he was cancelled, there was a barrage, including from colleagues at the University. However, it would have been an interesting figure to invite. 

What is the purpose of the association? 

Seize upon anything said about the health crisis that is not scientifically rigorous, such as the assertion that a third dose of vaccine is necessary. If it didn’t work the first two times, why would it work better the third time if nothing is changed in the vaccine? More and more people are saying that they have had covid or have been vaccinated and have no antibodies left and that worries them. There is no reason for it. Immunology has taught us for ages that after a primary response, antibody levels drop. In the event of a subsequent encounter with the virus, a secondary, stronger and more rapid response occurs. What amazes me is that everything is happening today as if this coronavirus was an alien when it does nothing else than what its congeners have always done, except that it is more dangerous for some categories of people. If there is a fourth wave, it is also due to the sanitary measures that were intended to « flatten the curve ». A successful gamble, of course, but at what price in terms of collateral damage? When we flatten the curve, we extend it in time, with the break of the seasons. 

Is this a perverse effect of health policy? 

This is a logical, predictable effect. By prolonging the epidemic, we give ourselves time to have a vaccine, I was told. Everyone thought it was the Holy Grail, underestimating the problem of variants, a phenomenon already known, more or less, with the flu. The vaccine, 95% effective last January, is only 45% effective today because of the Delta variant. What is being proposed is no longer the appropriate vaccine because it was developed from the Wuhan strain. Vaccinated people are therefore not protected against the current strain, let alone the one that will appear in 2022. One could say: let’s give a third dose specifically against the current variant. It is technically possible, we just need to adjust the sequence of the variant, which takes 5 minutes, it is known! The rest of the production is unchanged. But this is not the case, the old vaccine is still being administered. Why? I don’t know, but officially they say that this is the first vaccine that has been licensed and if they produce a new one, they will have to go through all the steps again. But it is more likely that since states have already purchased the third and fourth doses, they may want to sell them first. As for the pharmaceutical companies, they would not agree to provide free updated vaccines to replace the old ones that would be considered outdated. 

Moreover, these vaccines are of a new generation, with messenger RNA…
The idea of messenger RNA is in itself brilliant, except that we do not know the medium and long term effects, it is experimental, even if, in the short term, we now know that the side effects seem limited. The manufacturing companies are currently preparing a messenger RNA vaccine against influenza, so I expect pressure for this vaccination next January, since seasonal influenza causes about 3,000 deaths each year in Belgium, which is not insignificant. An « Influenza Safe Ticket » will certainly be concocted to ensure that everyone obeys, as will be the case in the future for all viral diseases. We are in for an endless process, with 3 or 4 doses per virus per year until the end of our days. This is what worries me the most: the lifelong dependence without even knowing if there will not be undesirable effects due to the repetition of the injections. 

What a dystopia! 

Yes, it is frightening. Many believe that everything will be solved with messenger RNA vaccines. Even if the idea is theoretically very interesting, I think that the precautionary principle must be applied. Are they vaccines? Not strictly speaking, it is genetic information that, once entered into our cells, transforms them into vaccine production factories over which we have no control. Are they gene therapy tools? No more. Therapy consists of treating patients, so before producing this vaccine, messenger RNA had practically only been tested to treat certain cancers, with varying degrees of success but without any notable side effects. But this is compassionate therapy, which has nothing to do with vaccinating healthy people. This should be called « gene prophylaxis ». GMO technique, one might say? Not really because the genes are not modified, it is rather an intervention on the expression of the genes and it is new in humans. We are playing a bit of a sorcerer’s apprentice, and what amazes me is that the whole planet is participating in a human experiment. Beware, saying this is considered blasphemy! After a few months, certain effects are known, including micro-thrombosis, which can potentially pose major health problems, as well as vascular problems, pericarditis and myocarditis, which are seen in young people in particular. This is something to be concerned about and I don’t understand why so many physicians don’t take it into account. 

Aren’t they also victims of a politics of fear? 

Probably, as well as the habit of automatically following the recommendations of pharmaceutical representatives, who are champions of propaganda. Just look at the size of Pfizer’s advertising budget, for example. 

If I tell you the terms eugenics and transhumanism… 

Transhumanism reminds me of the many people who think that technology will make them immortal or give them perfect health for a very long time. This is similar to technological solutionism, such as claiming that the vaccine alone will solve everything, which is false, as almost everyone admits today. For the flu (and, yes, I know it’s another virus!) the vaccine protects for one year, the natural immunization, for 7 years on average. I was accused of eugenics when I said that the virus should be allowed to circulate as much as possible among young people, who are not affected by severe forms of the disease, unlike other age groups. It is a good way to get rid of epidemics and it implies to protect the fragile people, but less to worry about the others, who will acquire a better immunity than the one induced by the vaccine, except obviously if they have particular fragilities. Eugenics being a political will to eliminate the « unfit » in order to « improve the race », I obviously do not recognize myself in the least. On the other hand, I can be accused of being a « Darwinist ». I offered to live with the virus and was set on fire. So I say live with the virus, which is the same thing but better understood. The only way to resist is not only with a vaccine. Today, everyone, without exception, admits that we will have to live with it, therefore, despite the virus. 

Pan-medicalism?

We’ve been at it for a while, but now it has become disruptive and excessive. Let’s face it, there are advantages, fewer children dying in infancy, for example, but we have to ask ourselves how far we want to go and what dependencies we are willing to accept. 

Do you share the idea that we are in a(2) syndrom? 

Yes. A virus never does its damage alone, it takes advantage of an already degraded terrain. Sars-cov‑2 does not kill on its own, but it triggers abnormal immunological phenomena in some people, and it is this reaction that kills them, or the microbial superinfections. So, let’s always think about all these aggravating elements. At the planetary level, it is clear that everything is coming together to make the situation worse: pollution, junk food, endocrine disruptors, etc. 

What political regime are we sliding into? 

For me, this is unprecedented, we become neither Chinese nor Soviet. I don’t think of a classical dictatorship in the African sense, for example, because a special personality would have to emerge. What we are facing is a weakening of the parliament, which would leave the management of the country to the executive alone. This is what we have been experiencing in recent years with the special powers against 

terrorism. The Pandemic Act does not clearly define when it should be activated. For example, at the moment, we are not in a position to do so. It is activated, however, not on the basis of key figures, but on the basis of models which one may wonder why they would be a better indicator than the previous ones. The models frighten the public and prepare minds for restrictions. Are we doing this to enslave the population? I don’t think so, rather out of an excess of caution. If you lock up everyone, the voter won’t like it; if you don’t lock up enough, the virus circulates and causes a lot of deaths, the electoral risk is the same. It is a difficult position to be in, admittedly. 

Is the « Covid Safe Ticket » a good idea? 

Not at all. And if we follow the logic of its use as a security tool, it can even be dangerous! Not just for freedoms, but in a room full of people with their STC, only those who have been tested are safe for others, unlike the vaccinated who receive an automatic safe-conduct even though they can transmit the virus. Less than 

others, but the risk exists and has already been verified during several events. Whoever enters the theater after having been tested takes the risk of being contaminated, while everyone thinks that he or she is the one who represents a danger! When the Prime Minister says we are in an epidemic of unvaccinated people, that is incorrect. I object to people who claim to know. I admit that I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I do say that this CSE is anything but safe. 

Interviewed live by Bernard Legros, October 2021. 

* virologist, professor emeritus at the University of Liege and founding member of CovidRationnel 

Gabrielle Lacombe
Notes et références
  1. Conférence traduite et portée à la connaissance du plus grand nombre par nos soins : https://www.kairospresse.be/les-bons-conseils-de-marc-van-ranst-en-cas-de-pandemie/
  2. NDLR : Une syndémie définit une conjonction de facteurs environnementaux et biologiques qui concourent ensemble à aggraver les conséquences d’une maladie (ex. stress, pollution de l’air, malbouffe, sédentarité ; obésité, hypertension, diabète…).
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