Although free speech has a central role in the scientific process, many experts have been purposefully muted during the Covid-19 pandemic. Yesterday NZDSOS published a position statement in which we call on the New Zealand government to engage in open, meaningful scientific discussion and debate. Erasing free speech from public health as a discipline is catastrophic to public health as an outcome.
Award-winning docuseries Headwind gives a voice to international experts who have found themselves in the eye of this storm. Exquisitely filmed amidst backdrops of whitewashed cobblestone villages and parched craggy landscapes in Andalusia, southern Spain, the viewer travels to another dimension visually and intellectually.
Series One features six European academics, each interviewed in separate episodes, followed by a shared roundtable discussion in Episode 7. Only three of these episodes so far have English subtitles (Sam Brokken, Mattias Desmet and the roundtable). All episodes are available at Headwind.tv.
Available at the same link, Series Two consists of four episodes, only three of which have so far been released. A separate interview each with vaccinologists Dr Robert Malone and Dr Geert Vanden Bossche, are followed by a shared debate between the two. The unreleased fourth episode is a roundtable between Dr Vanden Bossche, Dr Malone and Professor Desmet.
Experienced specialists with unique perspectives, Doctors Malone and Vanden Bossche provide insights during Episode 3, into current day politics, agencies and power as they relate to global health and specifically infectious epidemics. The systematic incompetence of World Health Organisation is described, caused by layers of bureaucracy, dysfunctional policies and inadequate funding which has resulted in corporate monopolisation and a distortion of public health.
Their discussion on the science of immunology and vaccinology is as sophisticated in content as it is in their communication of the subject. The ability to convey complex information in such an accessible way is testimony to their expertise.
When asked if he agrees with Dr Vanden Bossche’s theory about the risks of using “leaky” vaccines in a pandemic, Dr Malone replies that he strives to learn from Dr Vanden Bossche, and that to have scientific integrity, scientists must always have “dynamic tension with each other and within ourselves”. This reinforces the point that free thought and free speech are integral to authentic science.
For anyone with an interest in the subject of open and meaningful debate within science and its relevance to public health, another excellent resource is Scientists and Doctors with a critical view on the corona crisis. An hour-long documentary, it features interviews with a range of experts who have all experienced silencing during the pandemic. NZDSOS join in the call for a return to democratic values and free speech at this crucial time in history.