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Corona vaccine development - they prefer not to ask about risks and side effects
by Jens Berger and Tobias Riegel
Tuesday Oct 20th, 2020 6:51 AM
Thousands or even millions could be vaccinated on the basis of "emergency approval." We will probably have to live with the virus. The current strategy of damaging measures until a vaccine is available is a bumpy path with incalculable risks, side effects and already visible collateral damage. Jens Berger and Tobias Riegel are German journalists who publish regularly on
Corona vaccine development - they prefer not to ask about risks and side effects
By Jens Berger

[This article published on Oct 9, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

Donald Trump wants to approve the first vaccine against Covid-19 by hook or by crook before the presidential elections in the USA on November 3. In Europe, people are only slightly more cautious and still see the first half of 2021 as the deadline. This is astonishing, since the already massively shortened clinical trials of the vaccine candidates in question will only be completed between October 2021 and March 2023. Earlier deadlines are only possible because of "emergency approvals" that make any thoughts of the safety of the vaccination programs ad absurdum. And even if all risks and side effects are ignored, the vaccination will not deliver what the public might expect. The narrative "Soon we will have a vaccine and then normal life will return" is a lie. So we should finally have a debate on how to return to normality with Corona. By Jens Berger.

Anyone speculating on the imminent availability of a vaccine that has been even halfway through safety testing should not look at the overview of the most promising vaccine candidates, which is maintained by the WHO. There you will find ten vaccine candidates that are already in the so-called third clinical test phase, i.e. they are being tested on a larger number of test persons in order to document rare risks and side effects and late effects in the ideal case. If one looks at the study designs of the ten candidates, one inevitably comes across the following timelines when the clinical data of all test persons should be available and thus the third test phase can be completed

AstraZeneca (Oxford, Great Britain/Sweden): October 2021
Biontech/Pfizer (Germany/USA): December 11, 2022
CanSino (China): January 30, 2022
Gamaleya (Russia): May 1, 2021
Janssen (Johnson&Johnson, Belgium/USA): March 10, 2023
Moderna (USA): October 27, 2022
Novoavax (USA): not yet specified
Sinovac (China): October 2021
Sinopharm (China, two candidates): July 15, 2021

Needless to say, these data do not match the dates communicated by governments when a vaccine should be available. Looking at the study information available from the national regulatory authorities, the discrepancy becomes even deeper. For example, a total of 237 of the 243 study sites mentioned by Johnson&Johnson are marked "not yet recruting" or "withdrawn" in the overview. This means that the recruitment of test persons at these sites has not yet begun or the study has already been cancelled. Only six hospitals are already in Phase III clinical trials. Nevertheless, the Johnson&Johnson vaccine candidate is one of the repeatedly mentioned candidates that are already expected to be approved for the U.S. presidential election or at least shortly thereafter in the U.S. Officially, the third test phase of this candidate will end on March 10, 2023 - not in four weeks, but in two and a half years, and this test phase has already been shortened or "telescoped", as the technical jargon goes, by special regulations.

Incidentally, the EU is by no means better at this. Only three weeks ago, the EU Commission concluded a contract with the two pharmaceutical companies Sanofi (France) and GlaxoSmithKline (Great Britain) for the delivery of 300 million vaccine doses. The target is the second half of 2021, which is more than sporty, as the Sanofi candidate has not even passed the second test phase and has therefore not even started the third test phase. A further 400 million vaccine doses have already been ordered from AstraZeneca (Great Britain/Sweden). In the USA, the third test phase has been suspended indefinitely since September 7, after AstraZeneca had to admit, after much to and fro and in camera, that there had already been two serious incidents in the third phase, most likely related to the vaccination. This is called "transverse myelitis", a neurological autoimmune disease that can lead to permanent paraplegia and is known as a "rare side effect" of viral infections or, more precisely, vaccinations with viruses. Normally, this very rare disease occurs less than five times per year in less than one million people, according to the specialist literature [1].

now that it has already occurred in two out of 16,000 AstraZeneca vaccine subjects, this is "very worrying news", as the U.S. National Institutes of Health puts it. In Europe, this is less worrying and has allowed AstraZeneca to continue the study after a two-day cooling-off period; after all, not only has the vaccine already been ordered, but AstraZeneca is also the first candidate to be launched in the UK and the EU.

For both the USA and the EU, however, the question must be answered at this point at the latest as to how it is possible for a vaccine to be approved and administered to the general public long before the completion of clinical trials. The answer is both simple and frightening. This is made possible by so-called "emergency approvals". In the USA this is called an "Emergency Use Authorization", in the EU it is called a "Conditional Marketing Authorization". It means the same thing - if the disease is either very rare or very dangerous, a provisional approval can be granted even if the third clinical trial phase is promising but not yet completed. Certainly, there is now an excellent opportunity to debate whether Covid-19 meets these criteria. More interesting, however, are the criteria that the regulatory authorities have defined as "promising". There are no fixed criteria here and the discretionary scope is just as great as the political pressure on the regulatory authorities.

For example, Pfizer has set itself the goal for its vaccine candidate, developed in cooperation with the German biotech company Biontec, of carrying out an interim test after only 32 - even mild - Covid-19 cases among the test persons. According to Pfizer, if then six diseases fall on vaccinated subjects and the rest on the control group that received a placebo, then this should be proof of the effectiveness of the vaccine and justify emergency approval, according to Pfizer. 32 possibly not even severe diseases among 44,000 test persons of the third test phase should be sufficient to obtain emergency approval. And it is very likely that this will happen. On the same day that Donald Trump announced a vaccine for this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (CDC) has already sent concrete instructions to the states for the administration of the vaccine to certain population groups for late October/early November. It is clear that the official study data, including the duration of the study, will then be a waste of time. By the way, it has not yet been decided how the European authorities will proceed in defining the criteria for their emergency approval. However, it is unlikely that they will take great care in this regard if vaccination is already being administered in the United States and political pressure is growing - mainly due to voter dissatisfaction with the measures.

Admittedly, with such small samples and short periods of time, there is no need to talk about the risks and side effects or even investigations of late effects. These are then published at the end of the study period when many thousands or even millions of people have already been vaccinated on the basis of the "emergency approval". If the vaccine then turns out to be unsafe, the emergency approval will be revoked and the vaccinated people will have to watch where they are left. This is irresponsible.

By the way, it would be wrong to put only the USA and the EU in the dock. In Russia and China, such "emergency approvals" have already been granted - in each case at a time when the third clinical trial phase was either at a very early stage (China) or had not even begun (Russia). In China, by the way, around 400,000 people have already been vaccinated on the basis of the emergency approval there - doctors, soldiers, police officers, scientists, party officials ... there is no accompanying scientific documentation of possible side effects and late effects. In Russia, too, volunteers from special fields - e.g. teachers, doctors, nurses - should have the opportunity to be vaccinated with the Russian vaccine "Sputnik V" outside the clinical test phases - but it is not known whether and how many volunteers have accepted this offer. It would be hypocritical, however, to criticize China and Russia with outstretched fingers now, since exactly the same developments are emerging in the USA and the EU. China and Russia were just a little more hasty.

One should also not fall for the error of thinking and equate the availability of a vaccine with the desired mass immunity through vaccination. Even if one assumes - optimistically, but completely unrealistically - that the vaccine really does make the vaccinated persons both immune and non-infectious, it would be a very long way from the first vaccinations for special groups of people such as risk groups or health care workers to a far-reaching vaccination of the population - especially since it cannot be assumed that enough people will want to be vaccinated at all. Among the doctors and nurses in my personal environment, for example, the willingness to have a vaccine developed under these circumstances remains - to put it mildly - within manageable limits. By the way, these are by no means general opponents of vaccination. If one adds to this the fact that the targeted quantities must first be produced and the logistical and administrative issues are not exactly without problems, the time span between emergency approval and a far-reaching immunity can also last several years. Do we want to send our children to school with masks on, bleed the cultural sector dry and let tourism go to the dogs for as long as that time? But these are only theoretical thoughts anyway, since the expected first vaccines are not expected to deliver what is expected of them.

What can one expect from these first vaccines? Anyone who thinks that the vaccination would prevent infections or prevent the vaccinated persons themselves from becoming infectious is unfortunately mistaken. This is already clear from the targets set by the WHO, which already considers it a success if the vaccine protects 50 percent of people from disease (not infection!). A "confidence interval" is allowed that reaches down to 30 percent. According to WHO guidelines, two out of three vaccinated people could still fall ill. A commentary by the respected scientific magazine "The Lancet" sums up the uncomfortable questions. Primate tests would have shown that the "successful" vaccine candidates minimize the viral load in the lower respiratory tract, but do not produce immunity in the upper respiratory tract. This may prevent more severe disease progression, but since the infection itself occurs via the upper airways, the vaccinated individuals are still infectious and can infect non-vaccinated individuals. So anyone who suggests that the measures could come to an end once the vaccination is available is either ill-informed or lying. Because the vaccination per se does not change the "lockdown logic".

Even the protection against disease is anything but secure. For example, the Lancet authors point out that the body's own immune system builds up immunity for less than a year in the case of "normal" corona infections. Viruses comparable to Sars-CoV-2, such as MERS-CoV, often reappear in their host animals, the dromedaries, even after the disease has been overcome. It is unknown whether this is transmissible to Sars-CoV-2 and humans, and studies on this can only be conducted next year anyway, since Sars-CoV-2 has not been around for that long. In the worst case, the vaccination neither prevents the spread of the virus nor makes the vaccinated person immune to the disease in the long term. Better vaccines of the next or the generation after next could certainly guarantee this - but it is impossible to answer seriously whether and when such vaccines will ever be available.

These thoughts show how foolish it is to bet everything on one vaccine. As the virologist Hendrick Streeck puts it, we will probably have to learn to live with the virus. And why should we not succeed without major cuts? Corona is not a killer virus and, according to current scientific findings, it is not particularly dangerous for a large part of the population. Top scientists from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford are already going one step further and are advising not to harm the general public by taking measures, but to protect the risk groups in a targeted manner and to rely on herd immunity in the medium to long term. This must be taken seriously as an approach for discussion, because the current strategy of damaging measures until a vaccine is available is - as can be seen - a bumpy path with incalculable risks, side effects and already visible collateral damage.

Corona and surveys: The simulated match
October 13, 2020 at 13:51 An article by: Tobias Bars

By Tobias Riegel

[This article published on Oct 13, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

If we believe "the polls", there is a large consensus: "Majority of Germans agree with corona measures", it says, or: "Majority fears second corona wave". Now a survey also confirms to the media: "More people consider media in Germany to be credible". But: How far can these polls be believed? Can opinion polls replace democracy? Do the media profit from the fear they themselves have stirred up? From Tobias Riegel.

A state of emergency is a time when some democratic mechanisms are deliberately suspended. The current situation, which is based on the corona "pandemic", is similar. The democratic basis of many current regulations, which is missing due to the corona practice, should therefore be "replaced" by regularly published surveys. This simulates a "review" of the measures by the citizens, and the measures are considered justified if they are "approved". This practice would already be open to criticism if the surveys could be cleared of any suspicion of manipulation. But this is not the case. And so the questionable practice of a democracy simulated with the means of opinion polling is compounded by the dubious character of many opinion polls, which is illustrated below.

"Majority successfully charged with fear"

On the basis of such "surveys" it is announced time and again: "Majority of Germans agree with corona measures according to survey". Interesting are also results like the following, which does not reflect an opinion of the citizens, but exactly the citizen fears are called up, which media and politics have created before themselves: "Majority fears second Corona wave". This sentence says nothing about the rational basis of this fear of a "second wave"; it only confirms the success that many large media can take credit for in the irresponsible panic-mongering. By the way, this survey was conducted "on behalf of Ergo Insurance". The title of the article could also read: "Majority successfully charged with fear".

Now a new "study" by WDR and Infratest dimap has asked voters in Germany about their trust in the work of the media. According to the study, corona reporting on public radio and in daily newspapers would be judged predominantly positive by the Germans. A total of two thirds would consider the information in German media to be credible - more than ever before. Daily newspapers and public broadcasters would be assessed as credible by three quarters and four fifths respectively. Compared to the previous studies, trust in public broadcasting had increased: 70 percent of those surveyed said they had great or very great trust in public broadcasting.

The number of hits on the thought pages is growing. The work is growing. And so does the effort. We (also) ask our new readers for support.
That goes like this ...

The dubious character of many surveys

If they were correct, these results would be very questionable. However, some limitations have to be mentioned here. First, the general suspicion under which surveys are conducted - the NachDenkSeiten have described the potential for manipulation by surveys, for example in the articles "Interaction of survey institutes, media and politics" or "Targeted manipulation with surveys" or "Surveys - Opinion power and yardstick for opinion making".

On the other hand, if one assumes that the WDR "study" is trustworthy, a well-known crisis effect can be observed: In phases of (also irrational or deliberately stoked) fears, citizens gather around the familiar. This effect is calculable. It should be emphasized that many media have to a large extent produced the crisis, from which they currently benefit in terms of reach and "trust", themselves: Without the accompanying panic reports in many media, the current corona policy would not be possible. Without these panic reports, the (alleged) "approval" of the population for the current and serious events would also be unthinkable. Therefore, this alleged "approval" of the Corona measures is not a value in itself - even if it should be real: it is based on dubious panic-mongering.

One observes a circular reasoning: Many media frighten people, which is why many citizens agree with the government's measures - which in turn means that the media also receive more support because they are perceived as the official defense apparatus of the government line and also function in practice in this way. In this situation, encouragement for the government can also indirectly mean encouragement for the major media, because they have abandoned their distance to politics. This encouragement is based on a self-generated fear. As you can see from the WDR "study", if you believe it, many large media profit from this fear - for this reason they see no reason to take this fear away from the citizens.

One cannot only determine large deficits in the German medium landscape since Corona, but since the proclamation of the "Pandemie" the medial uniformity increased again substantial.

"Science" is being trampled underfoot

One should not oppose the proclamation of crisis measures in principle if there is a serious justification for the danger to society. Also the restrictions of personal liberties are to be accepted - with respectable justified dangers for the society! But just these dangers are not seriously justified so far: "Science", to which the defenders of the Corona measures always refer, is permanently trampled underfoot, among other things by the use of absolute numbers - in order to dramatize a danger, which (allegedly) binds the citizens again to the large media.

Note: The term "state of emergency" has been used in part misleadingly, the passages have been changed.

The yes-men and followers frighten me
Jens Berger
13. August 2020 at 9:00 An article by: Jens Berger

I can't hear all the messages about Corona anymore. From day to day the debate takes on more grotesque features and from day to day the rifts between the camps become deeper. In editorials and comments in the social networks the "strict rules of lockdown" are already being mourned. Many fellow human beings are afraid. Fear of the virus and, more recently, fear of people who do not submit to the hysterical mood and try to maintain as much "normality" as possible. People who "despite Corona" drink a beer with friends or seek cooling on hot days in bathing lakes without mask and without minimum distance. People who even take to the streets against the measures are considered "Covidiot", as confused and a danger to the social consensus. It is not a sign of a living democracy if one prefers to eradicate any opposition to a "healthy popular sentiment" with stricter measures, exclusion and sanctions. This is what frightens me, and not the citizens who, for whatever reason, take to the streets, or bizarre individuals who are hailed by the media as their "masterminds". A very subjective comment by Jens Berger.

But are there any signs that in the shadow of Corona and in the "new normality" even corporate power is being curtailed in the long term? Is it not more likely that negative structures already in place will be reinforced and that protest against them will be made more difficult?

Skeptics are sometimes more responsible than the media

In the case of a serious danger determined on the basis of serious data, measures up to a consistent lockdown can be justified - one can then also demand and enforce subordination of the individual citizen. However, this must be limited in time and the criteria for the beginning and end of the measures must be very clear, so that the impression of an arbitrary prolongation does not arise - justified by "rising infection figures" that have been taken out of context. There are considerable doubts about this data situation and sometimes the impression exists that the danger of corona should be artificially dramatized.

Here no criticism of the initial measures against the virus is to be unfolded, presumably one did not know enough at the beginning for a proportional reaction: Until proof of the contrary is provided, a sincere effort on the part of the responsible politicians and editors-in-chief is to be assumed for this initial period. Likewise, however, it must finally be established: Meanwhile there is a wealth of evidence that the consequences of the measures against corona are not in proportion to the actual danger potential of the virus. These indications have long justified a public, open-ended but critical renegotiation of the way Corona is handled. It should also be emphasized here that only few people "deny" the virus. The vast majority of skeptics are concerned about a lack of proportion, suppressed debates and the feeling of being manipulated with dramatized numbers.

For the blanket devaluation of the Corona skeptics as right-wing egoists, it should be mentioned that their concerns also relate to the future - and not only to acutely annoying restrictions such as the obligation to wear masks: If a state of emergency can be created as quickly and as easily on a presumably dubious basis as one is currently experiencing, then this feeds justified fears among many citizens regarding further developments. The NachDenkSeiten recently described in the article "Corona Demo: Contradiction is demonized in general" that these fears go beyond current restrictions of everyday life and have little to do with antisocial hedonism. According to the article, some of the Corona skeptics are more concerned with the constitution of society as a whole than the majority of journalists and politicians, who remain in an acute state of alarm at the moment. It is therefore also ironic that this majority all too sweepingly describes the skeptics as "irresponsible".
Welcome to the "new normality".

by Tobias Riegel

[This article published on Aug 18, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

A "new normality" is proclaimed by numerous media. The event not only proves a questionable journalistic herd instinct. It also provokes the question: Is this how the Corona state of emergency is to be perpetuated? By Tobias Riegel.

Part of the discomfort that many citizens feel in connection with the Corona episode is due to the behavior of many major media outlets. These do not only turn out to be critical institutions: Neither the political handling of the virus is examined for its proportionality, nor the acting persons for their honesty, nor the announced numbers for their respectability. Many media, however, go beyond this inactivity, which only allows the experienced unscientific handling of "case numbers" etc.: Numerous editors, but also institutions, fit into a dynamic that some citizens perceive as a campaign. A central vocabulary here is: the "new normality". Is this intended to increase the acceptance of a permanent state of emergency?

"State of Emergency as New Normality".

The term was introduced in April this year and is now ubiquitous. Thus the "Zeit" asked: "New normality? What Corona tests do with the vacation feeling". The FAZ stated: "Lockdown light : The new normality". The "Spiegel" describes a "new corona normality". According to "Deutsche Welle" Germany stumbles into a "new normality". The "Tagesschau" described the "state of emergency as the new normality" early on. In a recent example, Deutschlandfunk radio explained to its listeners over the weekend that "we are currently living in a new normality"; some callers rejected the term. Examples for the international spread of the term are given below.

Criticism is appropriate here on two levels: On the one hand, it seems fundamentally disconcerting when numerous major media simultaneously adopt an identical term and use and establish it on a large scale. The impression is created of a herd instinct that is uncritical and jumps to the appropriate emotive words - even if the "new normality" is defined differently in details by the media. On the other level, it is about the contents of this "new normality": Are they to be welcomed and can they still be discussed at all if they have already been declared normal? Apart from internal editorial meetings, has there been a social vote on the introduction of a "new normality"?

"New Normality" as force majeure

The broad establishment of the concept of "new normality" is not a petitesse, it conveys the following aspects: 1. the state of emergency is not an exception, but should be perpetuated, i.e. become "normal". 2. once this view has been established, the individual aspects of the state of emergency no longer need to be debated or examined, because they are then part of a "normality" that should not be repeatedly called into question. This normality has come over us like an act of God. 3 The tone of the term is rather positive, it is supposed to inspire the desire to adapt to this "new normality", everything else would be "abnormal": Jens Berger described how widespread and sometimes exaggerated this desire is in his article "The yes-men and followers of the state of emergency".

As particularly negative side effects of the "new corona normality," many citizens perceive even greater economic inequality in society, even greater self-censorship by many major media, tendencies toward social isolation and a problematic "digitalization" of education, as well as tendencies toward droning, isolation and arbitrariness. Particularly affected by this enumeration are the elderly and children - as well as workers, who could be exposed to a tendency toward surveillance that was unimaginable until recently. Moreover, a tendency toward broad acceptance of surveillance and personal control potentially affects the whole of society. The NachDenkSeiten have described the aspects mentioned here in numerous articles, links to which can be found below the text.

In view of the great potential dangers lurking in an acceptance of the "new normality" that has now been proclaimed, it is worrying that many skeptics of the government's line on Corona automatically find themselves exposed to the criticism that one wants to selfishly and neoliberally protect the economy and "only want to get one's old life back". Defending the current Corona policy is thus indirectly presented by some as resistance to neoliberalism.

The horror vision of the "new normality

The vocabulary "new normality" has been introduced with great media effort, not only in Germany. The article "The Invasion Of The New Normals" by CJ Hopkins, which was published in English, lists numerous US media involved in it, including CNN, NPR, CNBC, the New York Times, the Guardian, The Atlantic and Forbes. International institutions are also included, such as the IMF and the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the UN and the WHO.

According to Hopkins' harsh and pointed polemic, dealing with Corona is "a Trojan horse, a means to introduce the 'New Normal'. According to this, the "New Normality" is a "classical totalitarian movement (albeit with a pathological twist) and it has the goal of every totalitarian movement to radically and completely change society in order to re-create the world in its monstrous image". His outlook is truly gloomy:

"Children will suffer the worst, as always. From the moment they are born, they will be terrorized and confused, thanks to their parents, their teachers and society as a whole. They will be subjected to ideological conditioning and paranoid behavioral changes at every stage of their socialization. (...) This conditioning (or torture) will take place at home, since there will be no more schools, or public schools. The children of the rich will attend private schools, where they will be cost effectively "socially distanced". Children of the working class will sit at home, alone, staring at the screens, wearing their masks, and their hyperactivity and anxiety disorders will be stabilized with antidepressants.

This may (still) sound far exaggerated. But whether Hopkins' possibly exaggerated horror scenario is (or can still become) realistic also depends on the current reactions of citizens to the states of emergency and to any attempts to disguise them as "new normality" and thereby immortalize them.

Corona criticism creates "strange bedfellows
by Tobias Riegel

[This article published on Oct 2, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

As a critic of the Corona policy, one sometimes finds oneself next to "Bild" newspaper and FDP in terms of content. But this is not the merit of the tabloids and the neoliberals; rather, the phenomenon illustrates above all the failure of the critical forces: the defining questions of the time are not posed by them. By Tobias Riegel.

One rubs one's eyes in amazement these days: acquaintances recommend articles from sources that in the past would have been treated at best as objects of harsh media criticism. But the political treatment of Corona, the measures justified by dubious data, the panic-inducing behavior of many journalists and politicians, and the protest against it are now once again stirring up positions. As an English proverb says: politics creates strange bedfellows.

Questionable media ask reasonable questions

Examples of questionable media, but which ask some reasonable questions in individual articles on the subject of Corona (and only there), would be the "Bild" newspaper, the "Welt", the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" or the "Focus".

Examples for blogs would be Boris Reitschuster, whose dubious articles, for example on the subject of Russia, one did not even want to touch with a pair of pliers, but who has already provided one or the other impulse for Corona. Or the right-wing conservative site "Tichys Einblick", which was the first medium to publish the Corona paper leaked from the Ministry of the Interior, which the NachDenkSeiten dealt with in the article "'The state proved to be one of the biggest fake news producers in the Corona crisis' - BMI employees leakt document". On the stages of the "lateral thinkers", people who would not have imagined this before Corona are probably now also meeting from time to time. And on the political stage, too, similar events are taking place. Thus the FDP brought in a legal opinion and a motion to the Bundestag on Corona:

"The Bundestag would decide: The conditions for the statement of an epidemic situation of national importance in the sense of § 5 exp. 1 IfSG are no longer present. The determination of the epidemic situation of national importance of 25 March 2020 is repealed. Berlin, June 16, 2020."

A particularly disturbing aspect of the phenomenon is that the only other voice that expresses itself (audibly!) similar to the FDP, for example in parliament, is the AfD. Once again this gives these two questionable formations an influential stage.

Have ARD, ZDF, FAZ, SZ, Zeit, Spiegel, taz lowered their level again?

The questionable character of the media and parties mentioned here should not be doubted in this text. On the contrary, it laments that these questionable media and parties are being given such a central role by the extensive silencing of the rest of the opposition. And Springer and the FDP are at least asking questions - normal, pressing questions, but which many other media and politicians would already regard as corona heresy. Meanwhile, not long ago, there are also signs in other media of turning away from the all too pure Corona doctrine, as Jens Berger has just described in the article "Media and Corona - Pacemaker with first self-doubts? A question to the topic would be also whether picture and FDP increased their critical level or whether ARD, ZDF, Deutschlandfunk, FAZ, SZ, Zeit, Spiegel, taz, SPD, LEFT and Greens lowered theirs again since the proclamation of the "pandemic". Commented examples of media panic-mongering based on dubious data from the recent past can be found on the "NachDenkSeiten" pages here or here.

On the other hand, the opposition, trade unions and former "left-wing" newspapers have failed to offer adequate resistance to the political and media treatment of Corona - with the exception of a few detailed criticisms that are not penetrating. Conversely, these groups, formerly classified as "leftist," unite to form disconcerting slanders of the demonstrators against Corona politics.

Stop criticism - because of "strange bedfellows"?

The "new bedfellows" and strange political constellations described here should give food for thought. But should one let one's own criticism be silenced because of these - not invited - "allies"? Wouldn't that meet the criteria of the "fool dialectic" that Jens Berger described in this article? On the other hand, the sudden society of neoliberal and questionable media and politicians in the corona criticism supports the slanderous thesis that the criticism of corona politics is itself essentially neoliberal.
The state described in this text is no credit to the right wing and neoliberals who now occupy parts of the critical public. Instead, the phenomenon illustrates above all the failure of the critical and "left" forces: the defining questions of the time are not being asked from this direction at the moment. The right is thus once again given the opportunity to occupy an important topic and even to present itself as the "voice of reason". For many citizens, this behavior will further increase their political homelessness. Where are the "left" voices answering these people?

Corona criticism is much more than a mask

It is a dubious quirk to reduce criticism of the Corona policy to the mask question. Some corona skeptics are not innocent of this, because some of them put the issue very much to the fore. This, in turn, is understandable in moderation, because putting on the mask means public acceptance of an internally strictly rejected policy together with its dubious media justification - this act of symbolic submission should also not be declared a petitesse.

Although the sometimes incomprehensible mask constraints are also among the fault lines of the virus policy, they are only one symptom among many others, some of which are much more serious: there is the current practice of governing by order, the state's data retention by means of restaurant lists, the private surveillance at the workplace, which has been considerably intensified by "Corona"; there is also the treatment of children and the elderly, and the positive invocation of a perspective "New Normality": No more culture, no more protest, no more company communities, instead isolation in the digitalized home office with surveillance and impatient fiddling around in public space - many citizens have a well-founded fear of such visions (which have not yet come to pass), they want to prevent them with their current protest.

To say nothing of gigantic, dubious and with Corona justified current money flows. And of the crises caused by economic liberal forces in recent years, which (so one suspects) could now presumably be booked and hidden under "Corona". However, anyone who had hoped that the "Corona episode" would have positive, stirring effects on the social welfare system or that the state would be recaptured from the hands of the market radicals has been bitterly disappointed so far.

Are these sufficient reasons to temporarily put aside the serious differences with the "comrades-in-arms" mentioned above? And to go together nevertheless a little bit until the acute corona distortions are stopped again and the pre-corona condition prevails again? This demand is often presented as antisocial because the motive (pre-corona state) does not seem noble enough. And it is also true: More than this common denominator of the pre-corona state will not be achieved by the Bild-Zeitung and the FDP.

"They just want their old life back"

"They just want their old life back" - this frequently voiced sentence resonates with arrogance and the fact that the "new" life has better prospects to offer. Which ones (apart from reduced pollutant emissions in air traffic) should they be? And many citizens don't just want "their old life back": As I said, they are also afraid of a New Normality emerging in their eyes, in which workers wear tracking bracelets and the vaccination status determines a mangled, digitized and monitored daily life, while children are masked and the old are isolated. This is why these citizens want to set an example now, before it comes to that.

In the event of a seriously justified danger to life and limb, restrictions on personal freedoms must be accepted! However, these measures would have to be put in proportion to their damage and to non-medical areas of society. In the case of the "Corona Pandemic", however, neither of these is the case. Citizens experience an unacceptable and dubious handling of the numbers by many media and politicians: The current fear campaign based on the "increase in new infections" uses absolute numbers and does not put them into perspective. The measures justified by the campaign, on the other hand, are not put into proportion to their sometimes immense social damage, such as the compulsory use of masks for school children. The last campaign with the "increase in new infections" was discussed in the article "Corona and the media: Is there a rapid 'increase' in new infections"?

Critics are "antisocial" - but collateral damage is ignored coldly
Politicians and the media should be given a certain amount of leeway for wrong decisions at the beginning of the Corona episode - also in order to enable those responsible to leave the current state of affairs as soon as possible and in a way that preserves their faces. At the very latest now, however, this leeway is finally exhausted - at the very latest now the corona policy must finally be discussed appropriately (open-ended but critical).

However, anyone who addresses the (already effective and potentially possible) distortions of corona policy and wants to put it in relation to the risk potential of the virus will be insulted as "antisocial". The astonished question that is often asked at the moment: "What measures then?" illustrates the rapid habituation of many citizens to conditions that were unimaginable just a year ago.

At the same time, the piling up international bad news of the lockdown consequences for the poor and sick, for women, for children and for the elderly is coolly ignored and this heartless attitude is sold as "protection for the weakest".

Propaganda silences "leftists

The currently partly proclaimed "abolition of right and left" seems very questionable. There is additional confusion about the terms and what they still say today in terms of content. Albecht Müller recently coined a definition in the article "The slogan 'neither left nor right' favors right, it favors the neoliberals and the military".

The overlaps with the problematic media mentioned above refer exclusively to the topic of corona measures. On the subjects of war and peace or radical market economic order, they continue to be right-wing agitators. In general - and this must be said again and again in times of conceptual distortion: Springer-Verlag, Focus and the NZZ can be classified as right-wing - in the sense of partly warmongering and neoliberal messages. For the same reasons, the policies of the Federal Government can also be classified to a large extent as right-wing. This is the kind of political right that citizens should first focus their attention on. For these right-wing and neo-liberal forces are considerably more influential and therefore more dangerous than the neo-Nazis in the Internet forums.

The massive propaganda is also to blame for the silencing of the "left". The pressure generated by many media against corona criticism is more dangerous for leftists than for rightists: While some right-wingers can pin the slander by big media to their chest as medals, many "left-wingers" are still very afraid of it. Rightly so: Slander as a "Covidiot" can end badly for those affected in the "leftist camp". In order to get out of the "pandemic" episode, however, at least the "leftist" newspapers and politicians would have to ignite a corresponding mood. But the current development is going in the opposite direction.

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