Covid-19: The Perfect Storm | Cassandra Voices

Covid-19: The Perfect Storm


Paying the piper?

When a researcher publishes a research paper he or she is obliged to state clearly any funding source. The reasons for this are entirely obvious. Most ‘bad’, ‘faulty’, or ‘unreliable’ research is tainted by the interests of those who have provided financial support.

There is nothing new in any of this, and scientific literature is replete with examples – from the use of Thalidimode for morning sickness to Andrew Wakefield linking the MMR vaccine to autism etc. – of bad or biased science. That is not to say necessarily that a scientist or expert offering scientific guidance has been influenced by the overt or covert desires of his sponsors; however, to preserve impartiality he must declare any sponsors before ‘expert’ or ‘scientific’ conclusions are tendered.

Unfortunately, the same rigorous insistence on transparency in respect of funding does not extend to appearances on TV or Radio. Thus, if an ‘expert’ appears to promote a particular therapy, vaccination, or social behaviour, he is not obliged to declare a vested interests or private sponsorship.

It falls to the media source itself – the newspaper or interviewer – to ascertain the affiliations or funding of a particular ‘expert,’ either prior to or during the delivery of scientific conclusions or guidance. This process is integral to maintaining ethical standards within journalism. It is particularly incumbent upon-state funded media, whose income is derived from mandatory licence fees that such standards are not compromised. Without this the general populace could find itself following faulty advice or guidelines to the advantage of ‘he who pays the piper.’

This is precisely the dark territory we have entered in respect of public health guidelines on masks, lockdowns and vaccinations in response to Covid-19.

Obligatory Mask-Wearing

The Irish government has recently made it compulsory to wear surgical face masks on all public transport and inside shops.[i] If a person refuses to comply, without providing a ‘valid’ medical reason, he or she faces a fine of €2500, or a prison sentence of up to six months. The Gardai are to police the validity of such medical reasons. The ethics of a law requiring a Garda to question a member of the public on his or her medical condition in a public places has yet to be discussed in a meaningful manner, despite the clear infringement on an individual’s constitutional right to privacy.

In respect of masks, there are indeed many strong counterarguments, drawn from respectable scientific literature,[ii] against the anti-viral efficacy of masks, the safety of prolonged mask use; besides the social division they create, pitting advocates on both sides against one another.

Indeed, the near pointless nature of mask-wearing has been pointed out to the Oireachtas by its own commissioned expert witness: Professor Carl Heneghan director of University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine.

Cloth masks are likely to do more harm than good, as it has been stated in many sources that viral particles are so small that the protection offered by most masks is analogous to ‘keeping flies off ones property with a chain-link fence.’ The plastic welder type face shield, in vogue among hotel staff, can reasonably be described as ridiculous in terms of its potential to protect against this virus, or anything at all for that matter. They are, like most masks, little more than a placebo.

Masks afford wearers the delusion of protection. If one wishes to become aware of the appropriate attire to wear to effectively limit transmission of an aerosol or airborne virus from one person to another, there are plenty of images available online showing what ‘medical-grade’ protective attire and masks looks like.

Hazmat suit.

The serious question then arises; ‘when will the population be released from an obligation to wear masks?’

There is no disputing that Covid-19 remains in circulation in Ireland: cases are detected daily and a small number of deaths continue to be reported. There are reasonable concerns that there will be an uptick in cases during the winter months. Historically, coronaviruses cause 30-40% of the common cold which peaks in winter and ‘dies off’ in the summer months. The natural history of coronaviruses is extensively described in the literature.

I suspect the mandatory wearing of masks among the general public is motivated by two quasi-political aims. The first is to distract from what is best described as the ‘incompetent manslaughter’ of several hundred elderly care home residents at the height of the crisis.[iii] Secondly, to pave the way for mandatory vaccinations, the legal case for which has already been set out by Sarah Fulham-McQuillan, Assistant Professor in UCD’s Sutherland School of Law,[iv] despite such an intervention not even existing. Such an unprecedented law would obviously be to the direct financial benefit of select pharmaceutical companies.

Therefore, the end game for public mask wearing, the ‘get out of jail card’, or release from the ’duty to mask’ has little to do with the mask itself, which in practical terms is little more than more symbolic; informing or even indoctrinating  an awareness of the ‘danger’ of the virus. The public can only stop wearing masks once the virus is no longer circulating in society. The only mechanism by which it can disappear is through the development of immunity within most of the population.

Mandatory masks imply ‘mandatory’ protection for elderly vulnerable people and for young, healthy, non-vulnerable alike. Yet young healthy people have practically nothing to fear from Covid-19, again this is repeatedly cited in almost all available literature. Therefore, when the majority of healthy people within society are ‘protected’ from exposure by masks they are compelled to be protected from developing a natural-immunity through an otherwise natural exposure to the virus. This crucial point has been missing from the non-existent debate in the Irish media on the issue of mask wearing.

When the state makes mask-wearing mandatory, the state has formally rejected natural-immunity among the non-vulnerable.

When the State rejects ‘natural-immunity,’ indeed when it wilfully or legislatively deprives the non-vulnerable individual of opportunities to acquire natural immunity, the State is then compelled to adopt the only alternative to natural-immunity, and that ‘only alternative’ is a vaccine.

We can assume that the lockdown and ongoing prohibitions on large social gatherings and social distancing have worked to an extent – albeit perversely not for the most vulnerable – and that those measures have ‘protected’ healthy young people. This means that only a low number of people have been exposed to the virus across society. This point is apparently confirmed by antibody surveys, showing that less than 5% of the population had antibodies,[v] although this survey was not extensive, and antibodies appear to fade rapidly in persons with mild Covid-19,[vi] which gives way to other forms of immunity.[vii]

Thus, if the only means of eradicating the virus is reaching a herd immunity threshold – assuming we do not reach zero Covid and hermetically seal our borders indefinitely in a new Tír na nÓg – it follows then that the majority of society must eventually be vaccinated in order to achieve immunity. Given that masks have been mandated, it is entirely consistent with government policy that the ‘eagerly’ awaited vaccine must also be mandated.

Warp Speed

Perhaps the foremost expert who has been advocating compulsory mask-wearing in the general public has been Professor Luke O’Neill, a Trinity College biochemist, and head of its immunology department. Professor O’Neill is not a Medical Doctor, nor has he a qualification in public health or epidemiology. Most recently he has been to the fore in insisting mandatory masks should be extended to secondary school students.

As an advocate of compulsory mask wearing, it follows that Professor O’Neill should be a proponent of a universally administered Covid-19 vaccine. Notably, Professor O’Neill’s Twitter feed has included enthusiastic countdowns for the vaccine being rushed through clinical trials at ‘warp speed.’[viii]

There is nothing new here, and nothing is being uncovered or exposed. Professor O’Neill’s position is neither unusual nor indeed unreasonable. It is entirely expected. Any proponent of universal mask-wearing cannot avoid being a proponent of vaccination as the means of escaping the imposition of the mask – universal vaccination is the only escape from the universal mask.

The relevant question may be whether Professor O’Neill is a proponent of compulsory masks because compulsory masks may only be escaped via compulsory vaccination?

The subtle shift, lost on many, is that the current measures have transformed the positive anticipation of a vaccination for those at risk, into a formal obligation for universal vaccination.

Mask wearers (in theory at least) remain ‘potential hosts’ for Covid-19; natural internal immunity having been officially avoided; immunity can only come from the pharmaceutical industry. Failing to make this connection is a failure of simple logic.

If universal vaccination is the logical conclusion of mask-wearing, and if indeed members of the public are threatened with jail if they fail to comply; it would seem entirely reasonable to establish any potential conflicts of interest that might exist between any scientific proponents of masks, and the manufacturers of a vaccine, very likely to be compulsory for all; a proposal also mooted in other jurisdictions.

One does not wish to focus upon Professor O’Neill unduly; however, as he has been perhaps the most publicly visible scientist to promote masks for all it is not unreasonable to examine his relationship with vaccine manufacturers, and operation ‘warp-speed’.


In 2018 Professor O’Neill, along with five others[ix], founded a private biotech firm called Sitryx. The company develops therapeutic agents that modulate the immune system. Agents that modulate the immune system or immune response, are essential ingredients to many if not most vaccines available on the market today.[x] It is therefore unsurprising to learn that the largest investors in Prof O’Neill’s firm are indeed vaccine manufacturers.

GlaxoSmithKline[xi] and Lilly Pharmeceuticals[xii] Sitryx’s biggest sponsors, are currently developing potential vaccines for Covid-19. GSK has invested some $30 million into Sitryx[xiii], and also provided Professor O’Neill with a laboratory and assistants to facilitate his research. All of this information is in the public domain, and indeed is published on Sitryx’s own website:

Sitryx was founded in 2018 with seed funding from SV Health Investors and raised $30 million Series A funding from an international syndicate of specialist investors including SV Health Investors, Sofinnova Partners, Longwood Fund and GSK. In 2020 Sitryx formed an exclusive global licensing and research collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company. Lilly also became an investor in the company.[xiv]

What we can at least say is that a cautionary approach to vaccination would be antagonistic to Sitryx’s primary funders. Whilst mandatory vaccination could result in a transfer of enormous tax revenues into the coffers of those companies fortunate enough to win the ‘race’ for the vaccine.

It is interesting to note that at the outset of the crisis, Professor O’Neill was interviewed on the Late Late Show. At that time he declared that masks were ‘pointless’, if not ‘dangerous’. He described the new coronavirus as an “evil virus” that could get into people’s bodies “through their eyes.” When asked why he thought people were wearing them he replied good humouredly they had watched “too many horror movies”.

Strangely, however, within a matter of weeks the good professor had entirely changed his mind on the issue and continues to assert that masks are indeed entirely essential and should be mandated for almost everyone.

Through no fault of his own, Professor O’Neill’s potential conflict of interest has been wilfully ignored in the national and mainstream media. To my knowledge, he has not once been asked about the relationship between his biotech company, and his sponsors at GSK or Lilly pharmaceuticals, having appeared on almost every talk show on radio and television in the land.

An Alternative?

Partiality towards the bio-tech agenda and public health guidance, might be in the public interest, if masks and subsequent vaccine were in fact the only option available. The general public have been led to believe that mask wearing regulations are ‘for the greater good’, and that those who object are reckless, anarchic, or simply ignorant.

They are not. Mask-wearing policies differ across Europe, mandatory in some countries optional in others. Most Scandinavian countries have resisted the compulsion to the extent that is seen elsewhere. Norway only recommended their use on August 14th whilst using public transport in and around the capital Oslo.[xv]

Throughout the pandemic the Swedish approach has been far less draconian than in most European countries, permitting (without encouraging) it’s healthy non-vulnerable citizens to be exposed to the virus within the community setting, and thereby developing natural immunity, a policy that is somewhat in keeping with the natural cycle of viral colds and flues. This takes advantage of natural processes to encourage its natural extinction or diminished severity.

This reduces the potential hosts within society and the attendant risk of the virus spreading to vulnerable or elderly communities. In the face of widespread international criticism[xvi] the country has persisted with the closest model to the much maligned notion of ‘herd immunity.’ Recently the UK press, including the Financial Times[xvii] and Daily Telegraph[xviii], have awoken to the relative success of the Swedish approach, media sources are increasingly joining the ranks of the ‘converted’.

The same model that the UK initially opted for, but later dismissed based on defective modelling from Imperial College, which suggested that a ‘herd immunity’ approach would lead to half a million deaths in the UK,[xix] a model that has since been shown to have been deeply flawed, and based on flawed epidemiology.[xx]

The Swedish approach by avoiding compulsory mask-wearing is not entirely dependent upon universal vaccination as their only ‘end game’. That is not to say that the Swedes will avoid or decline a vaccine when or if it arrives on the market; it is merely that their approach is not locked-into a vaccine as the principal source of immunity for the population. The Swedes have maintained the right to ‘opt’ for a mask and, as such, and have preserved the right to ‘opt’ for a vaccine too.

Regardless of what a country may choose in respect of vaccination, the Swedes will certainly have more of a ‘choice’ relative to those countries that continue to more actively avoid exposure among their healthy non-vulnerable citizens.

Social Division

The recent transformation of many aspects of the external environment, into something of a hospital ward, through the wearing of masks by many, and avoidance by many more, is certainly a new departure in the social habits for most people in Ireland and beyond.

Many are under the impression that mask wearing either in public, in shops or on public transport, is not simply ‘a good idea’ but integral to saving lives. Battle lines have been drawn between the ‘sensible’, and the ‘reckless’.

The state and national media are on the side of the ostensibly sensible, and mainstream media is presently flooded with a positive insistence upon masks. Regardless of the government’s insistence, and the concurrence of mainstream media, large numbers of people refuse to comply, and social division is apparent on the streets, among neighbours and even within families.

This division is a consequence of government policy, and that policy is not based upon any agreed international standard. Interestingly, however, there is little evidence of debate on the subject. This lack of dialogue, and indeed the active suppression of views contradicting the official line, is a very worrying development within a supposedly democratic society, where a diverse range of opinions should be heard.

The present social policy of mandating compliance is a difficult road to navigate without infringing human rights, as members of the public who choose not to wear a mask must disclose their most intimate and private medical details to members of An Garda Síochana in public places, if they are to avoid arrest, fines or imprisonment.

In the recent past an individual’s personal medical details were entirely private and a doctor might be struck off the medical register or sued for sharing this information, without informed consent. Under the current emergency legislation a member of the Gardaí must elicit a quasi-medical history from a non-mask wearer and be satisfied as to its reliability if the non-mask wearer is to avoid arrest. Inalienable human rights to privacy, have been entirely brushed aside.

Unfortunately the consequence of current policy is leading to what might be described as the most divisive situation in Ireland since the civil war. There are those who believe that they are ‘saving lives’; their own, their countrymen and the vulnerable. Opponents believe that wearing a mask is harmful to one’s health, will do nothing to save lives and that there are sinister, political and even corporate motives behind the directives.

Each side of the divide is ostensibly concerned about public welfare. However, those conforming to the narrative are generally presumed correct, whilst nonconformists are readily dismissed as wearing ‘tinfoil-hats’, or being conspiracy theorists, or even ‘anti-vaxxers.’

Presently, the division within society is only simmering. There have been occasional incidences of angry exchanges between both sides, yet these are mostly confined to the zones where mask wearing and other guidelines are compulsory; public transport, and social settings where other guidelines such as social distancing within pubs, restaurants or social venues also apply.

For most of us, wearing a mask on the bus, in the shops, or having the local publican issue a dodgy food receipt so that we can have a pint without fear of being arrested, may not be insurmountable limitations. If we are compliant we are unlikely to be questioning the guidelines, and will be looking forward to a return to normality. Fortunately, for the government it is difficult to look forwards and backwards at the same time. Sure enough, dialogue pertaining to mistakes, missed screenings, deaths in nursing homes etc. are all rather conveniently eclipsed by the current political mask wearing debate. It might be argued that there is indeed a malevolent purpose to this.

If a division erupts into violence or aggression, the parties involved are generally on the extremist fringes of either side of the divide. This is unlikely to remain the case.

I believe we have been led here by motives that are not in the interests of the greater public. The social division that is being fostered, may (for the present time) be manifest only at the level of ‘wearing the jersey’ and shouting up for one’s team. Yet this relatively benign manifestation is likely to evolve into a more sinister version of itself. This is perhaps inevitable as the associated stresses upon either side will undoubtedly increase in the coming months.

Second Wave?

At the time of writing deaths from Covid-19 have declined to almost nothing in Ireland and throughout most of Europe. The question that is in most people’s mind is whether or not this decline will continue throughout the autumn and winter months?

Covid-19 is member of the coronavirus family, responsible for some 30-40% of the yearly or seasonal ‘colds’ that affect almost all nations.[xxi] With it still circulating, we can expect a seasonal increase in cases in the coming months. Our normal or historical experience with the cold and flu viruses each year sees their arrival some time in Autumn, peaking around March or April, and then waning before generally expiring in late Spring or early Summer.

There are two significant factors influencing this process. The first being the natural immunity that develops within society as most people are exposed to and recover from the cold virus. The second factor being the increase in the length of daylight and the effects of daylight (UV-light) upon aerosols, droplets or viral particles on external surfaces. There is nothing new in any of these assertions, which are basic tenets of microbiological science.

Therefore, we can conclude, that as the virus is still here, and as the measures to date have been moderately effective in preventing a build-up in natural-immunity within the population, as the days shorten, a resurgence seems inevitable.

Stress and Disease

In my twenty years of experience as a physician I have noted what many doctors have observed since the dawn of medicine itself. This is the simple empirical truth that psychological stress is a major factor in the subjective evolution or pathogenesis of ALL disease. This truism applies more for some diseases, less in others, but is indeed true for all disease. In many cases psychological stress is the sole factor that pushes the generally tolerable symptoms of minor illness, firmly and definitively into the realm of significant pathology. Indeed, the NHS advise that loneliness can make the symptoms of a cold virus feel worse.[xxii]

Today, the language of psychological and emotional pain has been almost entirely medicalised. Now when one is talking about one’s ‘medical’ illness or one’s ‘diagnosis’, it takes the skill of a competent psychoanalyst to uncover the subjective psychological truths that invariably unite one’s medical ‘pain’ to a deeper insecurity – its emotional or psychological fountainhead. The process is an introspective one, and nowadays most of us are cut off from making these connections.

For some it may be a simple lack of emotional-intelligence, for many more it is simply easier to run with the medical diagnosis, and just take the pill.

I am not asserting that pain is ‘caused’ by emotion or psychology. It is not; it is caused by disease. However, emotion or psychology will determine the tolerability of pain and can push the sub-clinical pain into the realm of clinical manifestation. It will and does make almost all disease worse.

An Honest Version of the Self

Likewise too, when people become angry, on either side of the mask wearing-divide, there is a history to that anger, one that connects it to deeper and more profound frustrations. This is an important factor, rarely considered by a medical establishment that is in thrall to the idea of the human subject as a ‘biological machine’. One where symptoms are mechanical faults, requiring mechanical or physical remedies. Almost all of these remedies must then be purchased. Modern cures are rarely derived from nature, from introspection or the pursuit of an honest version of the self.

This is entirely relevant to the subjective ‘deeper’ angers, insecurities and frustrations that are easily brought to the surface in many people, when the scapegoat of an inferior or non-compliant ‘other’ is provided or even offered up by the powers-that-be. History is our teacher here, and as usual she is wilfully ignored.

I mention the influence of psychological stress to highlight the observation that it is a major determinant in one’s experience with Covid-19 as with any dis-ease. Psychological stress is (medically speaking) a self-fulling prophecy. People who are most anxious about becoming ill are most likely to become ill. If you ask yourself often enough whether or not you have a headache, you will eventually experience one.

The same applies to Covid-19. Most people who are exposed to the virus do not even know they have been exposed. Many experience little more than a common cold or flu like illness, many more experience nothing at all. As is the case with the common cold, the crucial factor that determines where one is likely to fall upon the spectrum of suffering, is not simply the cold-virus itself, but rather the physical and importantly the mental health of the ‘victim’. There is no individual more acutely aware of his symptoms, than someone who is most anxious about his health.

Back to School

Psychological stress for some members of our society has an equally seasonal component. Each September when Irish children return to school, the stress levels within many Irish families, (particularly those with young children) begin to rise.

There are immediate demands for uniforms, books, lists, shoes, sportswear, transport etc, all of which place a significant burden on parents, especially mothers. Returning to school this year for most families will be fraught with many additional anxieties.

Children may have to wear masks, visors, social distance in the classroom and the playground, be prevented from bringing lunch boxes, and perhaps have their uniforms washed daily. Schools may not be able to accommodate required classroom sizes and schedules for attendance may have to be altered. The familiar routine is to be a ‘thing of the past’ – the implications for increased stress upon parents and children are incalculable. Let us organize all of this into a list of observations

An elevated number of potential viral hosts, which is a consequence of suppression of natural-immunity.

Increased life of the virus in the external environment due to decreased daylight

Raised levels of social anxiety and subsequent susceptibility to illness/infection

Continued persistence of the virus at low levels within Irish society

These factors suggest a resurgence of the virus this winter, and taken in context with the existing level of social stress, and the inevitable increase in those stresses next month; it is not unreasonable to suggest a ‘perfect storm’ is gathering.

It is highly likely that the present level of bitterness or anger between both sides of the mask wearing divide willl be where that stress and pain becomes publicly manifest. The deeper tragedy at play, is the fact that each side of the division will be seen as the aggresor. Yet those who have fostered the division remain immune to any degree of scrutiny for past mistakes, while dark clouds are on the horizon.

[i] Orla Dwyer, ‘Explainer: Everything to know about new face covering regulations’,, August 10th, 2020,

[ii] David Isaacs et al, ‘Do facemasks protect against COVID‐19?’, Journal of Paediatric Child Health, June 16th, 2020,

[iii] Catherine Fegan, ‘’Many in nursing homes died deaths that certainly could have been prevented’’, Irish Independent, June 13th, 2020,

[iv] Sarah Fulham-McQuillan, ‘Strong legal basis for making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory’, Irish Times, June 27th, 2020,

[v] Simon Carswell, ‘Coronavirus: Ireland has ‘no significant’ herd immunity, study shows’, July 20th, 2020,

[vi]F. Javier Ibarrondo, Ph.D. et al, ‘Rapid Decay of Anti–SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in Persons with Mild Covid-19’, July 27th, 2020, The New England Journal of Medicine.

[vii] Katherine J. Wu, ‘Scientists See Signs of Lasting Immunity to Covid-19, Even After Mild Infections’, New York Times, August 16th, 2020,


[ix] Sitryx, ‘Founders’

[x] ‘Adjuvants help vaccines work better’


[xii] ‘Lilly Initiates Phase 3 Trial of LY-CoV555 for Prevention of COVID-19 at Long-Term Care Facilities in Partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)’

[xiii] ‘New biopharmaceutical company Sitryx launches with $30 million fundraising to develop disease modifying therapeutics in immunometabolism’, October 8th, 2018,

[xiv] Sitryx ‘Founders’

[xv] VOA News, ‘Norway Makes First Face Mask Recommendation Since Pandemic Began’, VOA, August 14th, 2020,

[xvi] Peter S. Gordon, ‘Sweden Has Become the World’s Cautionary Tale’, New York Times, July 7th, 2020,

[xvii] Richard Milne ‘Sweden’s pandemic no longer stands out’, Financial Times, August 9th, 2020,

[xviii] Allister Herd, ‘Sweden’s success shows the true cost of our arrogant, failed establishment’, The Telegraph, August 10th, 2020

[xix] Mark Landler and Stephen Castle, ‘Behind the Virus Report That Jarred the U.S. and the U.K. to Action’, New York Times, March 17th, 2020,

[xx] See: David Richards and Konstantin Boudnik, ‘Neil Ferguson’s Imperial model could be the most devastating software mistake of all time’, The Telegraph, May 16th, 2020,
And: Freddie Sayers, ‘Nobel prize-winning scientist: the Covid-19 epidemic was never exponential’, Unherd, May 2nd, 2020,

[xxi] J. Black, Micriobiology Principles & Applications, (1993) p.580

[xxii] ‘Loneliness may make cold symptoms feel worse’, NHS, March, 2017,


About Author

Dr Marcus de Brun is a General Practitioner based in Dublin. He has completed Memberships to the New Zealand College of General Practice & The Irish College of General Practice. Prior to medicine, he completed a Degree in Microbiology at TCD. He also holds a diploma in Philosophy from the University of London. In April 2020 Dr De Brun resigned his seat on the Irish Medical Council in reaction to the Government handling of Nursing Home fatalities.

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