When it was revealed that an American general acting within the statutory limits of his position and as a public service to humanity responded to Chinese anxiety by calling his Chinese counterpart to reassure him that the United States would not suddenly attack China, his court martial was proposed. It transpired as President Trump left office, and the President has the sole authority to order American military officers to conduct lethal strikes, including nuclear strikes. When UNESCO examined philosophy it did so through the prism of scholasticism. When WHO issued reassuring statements about radiation fallout it probably involved scientists selected as a result of pressure from the world’s nuclear powers and some who had concluded that there was no association between Chernobyl and the rise in non-cancerous diseases such as circulatory or autoimmune disorders. They recommended a dramatic increase in the guideline for “safe” lifetime doses of radiation. Ivermectin (which has some dermatological uses in humans but is mostly for veterinary purposes) has not been shown to be at all effective against COVID, yet its use has soared, fueled in part by rampant misinformation.

In Yerevan, 2004, I said that we should worry much more about the hole in the heavens above (the ozone layer) than any hole in the ground that awaits us all. I also heard a priest’s ode (circa 1600) to tobacco, which remains a major killer, and I rubbed shoulders again with Dr. Donald A. Henderson, a giant in public health who orchestrated a massive international campaign to eradicate smallpox. His still pertinent goal of ‘target zero’ can be applied to COVID today. I’ll never know why he didn’t receive the Andrija Stampar medal. He demonstrated that infectious disease can be stopped with vaccination alone and on a global scale, without vaccinating everyone, using the tools of coordination, cooperation and science. Complex problems such as COVID call for interdisciplinary strategies with improved communication, better cooperation, and unimpeded collaboration among scientists; preserving nature, redirecting and strengthening healthcare systems towards prevention and adding decibels to the voice of public health in three directions. One formidable problem area is the worldwide growth of denial and the idea that COVID is fictitious and contrived for sinister motives, while applied science is false and we the people are easily beguiled.

Tear gas has been used to disperse anti-vaccine protests. When it happened in Athens we turned on the air-conditioning and sealed the house as gas wafted up from Constitution Square to irritate eyes and throats. I did wonder; if anti-vaxxers succeed in keeping the global vaccine rollout falling short of targets, whether next year it will be worth being vaccinated. Then I thought, let me get a booster into my arm and rethink. Let me say once again that since no country has reached the threshold of herd immunity and the world’s poorest countries are furthest from it, humanity may have to face an additional existential threat in coming years. This coming winter we will have to deal with a heavy caseload of respiratory infections, including from new variants of COVID. To protect against what’s coming, public health will have to become more and more philosophical.

Today, I say masks are no protection against nuclear radiation. Social distancing will not halt climate change. Lockdown won’t stop rushing waters or extinguish forest fires. Applied hygiene can diminish but not block the ravages of disease. All four stated measures however can blunt COVID and should not be abandoned. In parallel, vaccines reduce damage from COVID if caught by the vaccinated; if the population is well covered (at least 70%) the spread of COVID will be halted by herd immunity. Someday, natural immunity may be significant. The immune system of a well-nourished child will deal with measles better than an emaciated one. A well nurtured and nourished society will do better than a weakened one. The affluent and educated fair much better to accessing medical services than do the poor.

In a crisis, recklessness of one that puts others in danger is a threat to all (such as a party in COVID). Deliberately done, it is worse (such as arson). If patent suspension for all things COVID does not occur it will be reckless. Assistance in reducing misery in the poorest countries will provide knock-on benefits for the richer ones. My gardyloo alarm system was activated to check what might be falling from above, but in the hope of manna from heaven. It is a sin to dampen hope. We have to insert as much certainty into life as we can. In public health we have a distinct advantage. Although COVID is an extremely clever virus (like AIDS), I believe vaccines will stand up well to all variants including omicron. The fly in the ointment may well be human behaviour. The blind spot is insufficient information about COVID's origins.

At this moment in time we need the philosophy implicit in the founding of the Toronto School of Public Health by John G. FitzGerald. He devoted his life to people’s health to provide life-saving products free to all, one of those being a diphtheria antitoxin. Thus diphtheria cases dipped! It is useful to recall the words of Nobelist Charles Nicolle, “man carries the louse, a parasite on his skin, civilization rids him of it.” He directed the Pasteur institute, Tunis whose mission was to develop public health, vaccine and sera production and the place where he isolated typhus. When American Natives with no natural immunity died from smallpox they cried out for a vaccine, which at that time was colonialists go-to. Now, what a great shame, we have mass graves of indigenous children in Canada, a country that has done so much for health; crimes against children; and lives under the control and care of church and state. Another blot on Canada decried by John Last, a Socratic learner to the end, was the closing of the Toronto School of Public Health.

Dear Dr. Angela Durante, I have made unsuccessful efforts to reach you directly (greetings from Greece, where you have certainly raised international vibrations) as well as through the platforms of Global Research and Ontario Civil Liberties Association. In these attempts I have received one response and another (I keep the distance from this declaration and its content) from a similarly named scientist. My advice would be that you ensure vaccination of more Canadians. In your ‘open letter to the unvaccinated’ you say that 29% of Canadians have not received a COVID-19 vaccine, and they are not alone! There are also many unanswered questions. Can a vaccine train a virus to evolve variants that escape the immune response? Will the well-heeled elite always sidestep the nastiness of crises, until they can’t? If someone wants to rule the world, money invested in vaccine trainers may be a good start. And what about the claim that public health is participating in genocide of a people by blocking vaccination in another group? COVID deaths and cases among its unvaccinated are low and declining, while among the people they are exploding. By default is Israel’s COVID policy going to kill off the Israeli population?

Most of the world’s population has not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine, and according to you, although they are the lucky ones, they will be scapegoated for taking the trouble to say no as they remain free and unequal. Haven’t they always been scapegoated? Even as the delta variant surges (or doesn’t according to some), global vaccine rollout and distribution is dangerously unequal, which from your perspective must be good? Over a period of eighteen months lockdowns have occurred, fear-mongering and much more has taken place. Profits have been made legally, not so legally and illegally. I have spent more than a year locked down as a protective measure. During lockdown, time became distorted with Monday becoming Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday, and the week seemed like a month of Sundays. You may wish to read my poem referenced below. You can take your choice. While I am still staggering and see many problems, I am vaccinated and I encourage Angela’s unvaccinated to take the jab of jabs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have no reason to think that either one of us is reckless, it is certainly time to set the record straight! But how straight? Arrow straight or the shortest distance between two points straight? Or will it be the sum of all the straightest lines between points in a system of many points, unevenly distributed in a large volume of space? And who’s record? Government that have allowed safety nets to fall and safety shields to fail, Big Pharma that benefits greatly from public sector research, colossal foundations that bankroll the media and the international community and influence choice of leadership, or the international community that has greatly benefited humanity (men, women and children) but is sidetracked by self-interest. Is it those who avoid too close of an examination, misrepresent, mystify or cover up events? My vote is for government and the international community, with transparency. Health governance globally and health disaster preparedness are mandatory.

My simplistic perspective on COVID-19 is that it did not create a new reality, but aggravated what already existed, contributing to the growing social dementia or global madness seen today where economic systems rejuvenate better than social systems, and public health constitutes one fundamental element and practical ingredient for mankind’s hope for the future. A society thrives when its talents strive and create. It can direct children to greater fulfillment when wise words and the wise hand prevail over all those invisible and frivolous ones.

Closure is not easy, but let me end with a quote from Vienna-born Peter Safar, nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in medicine, who founded the first academic anesthesiology department in Peru and co-founded the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM), dedicated to saving lives in major disasters. When asked why he does it, he answered “to make the world a better place, to make life richer, because we care, because we are human beings.” The Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER), WADEM, Henderson, Stampar, FitzGerald, Last, Nicolle and Safar have all changed the world for the better. We now need a reconstructed flowering of imagination overflowing with empathy, where the unvaccinated and vaccinated, black and white, those in the center field and periphery are seen as people just like ourselves, and where the poor are not washed away.

Dear Dr. Angela Durante, ladies and gentlemen, I have no reason to question your noblesse oblige. I am sure that you are hearing distress signals coming from the many troubled waters of our world. More recently, Denis G. Rancourt, Dr. Marine Baudin, and Dr. Jérémie Mercier, have concluded in Nature of the COVID Era Public Health Disaster in the USA that:

a pandemic did not occur; but an unprecedented systemic aggression against large pools of vulnerable and disadvantaged residents of the USA did. We interpret that the persistent chronic psychological stress induced by the societal and economic transformation of the COVID-era converted the existing societal (poverty), public-health (obesity) and hot-climate risk factors into deadly agents, largely acting together, with devastating population-level consequences, far beyond the deaths that would have occurred from the pre-COVID-era background of preexisting risk factors.

By the way, I had my third COVID shot a month ago, three weeks ago I scribbled a poem during a youth forum which took me back to Yerevan and holes in the earth and in the ozone layer, while two weeks ago Chancellor Angela Merkel dined with my neighbor. I could not get close enough to hand her this article. But I did get my flu jab!