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Two Doctors. Laurels for one and a wreath for the other.
The long good-byes are finally over. A pair of doctors have passed into two separate worlds. Dr Zev Zelenko finally lost his four year battle with cancer on June 30th, and a day later, Tony Holohan, the most powerful doctor Ireland has ever known shuffled into retirement. The same virus cloaked one in fame and the other in infamy. I wonder will history gently swap their capes at some future date.
Regardless of this, hopefully, we’ll soon return to a world where the passing into retirement of a chief medical officer happens without as much as the fluttering of an eyelid. Hope springs eternal on that front.
By and large, Dr. Holohan is an irregular tweeter but marked the occasion of his final day in office with one. His final words generated a flurry of commentary. It’s still ongoing as I sit down here to write. Once you scroll through the ire of the first ten or fifteen tweets, it must be stated, that the content of the majority of the messages are broadly positive and thankful. The bulk of tweeters wish him well in whatever he decides to do next. For the moment, I guess, I’ll just satisfy myself with a morsel of a breadcrumb. At least he’s decided to do something else other than direct the remainder of this pandemic and vaccine response. For good or ill, the future of Irish health belongs to someone else now.
In a different world, the idea that a country could lose a chief medical officer, assistant chief medical officer and the CEO of the Health Service Executive, all at the same time, without the launch of an inquiry would be hard to believe. Especially, if that same world was simultaneously begging the populace to remain vigilant and fearful of the next great wave of pan-dam-arama. Alas though, not many of the Irish work-horses and other farmyard animals seem inclined to question the running of Animal Farm at this present moment in time. Not yet at least. And maybe the “yet” partially explains the stampede for the exit-door. To this end, I have little doubt that Stephen Donnelly will soon join the ranks of the dearly departed too. Perhaps, when the changing of the Taoiseach guard rolls around once more in December 2022 he’ll make his move. We’ll have to wait and see on that one.
Readers with me for more than a New York minute will know that I won’t be down on my knees, clutching rosary beads, and reciting Hail Marys’ by the decade load in mourning over the loss of said individuals. In fact, if you want evidence that this phase of the COVID era is completely over, then these resignations are exhibits A, B & C.
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I suppose, that while the wave of goodwill that still exists for Dr. Holohan strikes me as odd it also engenders in me thoughts of something else. The fickleness of contemporary public opinion and attention. Indeed, many of his most ardent fans have already moved on to pastures new and the next great battle. Gone are the profile photo mastheads of mask covered faces or “ I’m vaccinated “ stickers. Supplanted instead with yellow and blue flags or symbology for Pride month. Or some other binary choice of the modern day warrior. Off on the next great adventure, a new evil to chase away. My intent is not to sniff haughtily down on people that engage with this sort of virtue symbolism on a regular basis but merely to highlight a reason why I think many of them entertain it.
Mostly, regular people want to feel like they are part of the answer to the world’s problems - to signal that they are doing something. Even if it is only a profile picture or a car bumper sticker. That’s all. That’s all it is for most people. It doesn’t make them good or bad. I think they want to feel like they’re contributing to an effort and obviously that the effort is a force for good. But unfortunately it’s not really a contribution because life’s not ever that easy and requires a little more elbow grease.
When all is said and done on this sorry chapter in Irish history I guess that was the point of people like Dr. Tony and bodies like NPHET. As a leading character, Tony Holohan was a perfect fit for this manufactured drama. The daily briefings, the somber tones and lecturing edicts was an ideal fit for Dr. Holohan’s sturdy build. The primary function was not science but rather instead to perform as does a good science fiction movie. By the end of this type of film the movie-goer usually leaves the theater relieved and thankful. Forgetting that it was the manipulation of their fears that prodded them, in the end, to that somewhat happy place. Most of this country were relieved to have a man like Holohan in charge during those early pandemic months. Someone that took control. In my view, he and many others got comfortable with that out-sized power. Too comfortable. In life though, unlike a movie, the camera keeps on rolling. On and on.
Soon, manipulation of power crept in. Media and social media helped by shutting down debate. Promoting and championing a reductive philosophy - that life’s problems can be resolved by simple, obvious binary choices. And that people on the opposite side to your choice are categorically black to your white. And it’s OK to tar them with feathers for the greater perceived good.
Good vs Evil.
Right vs Wrong.
Black vs White.
The real world is much messier and squidgier but the seductive charm of the corona era is that the real world is kept far, far away from the madding crowd along with the ugly truths that lie beneath many of the symbols of virtue. That doesn’t mean that in the end a cause isn’t virtuous or worth pursuing. Just that without critically questioning it you never differentiate between the vagabonds and the virtuous or come to an understanding that people and situations are often a combination of both.
Now, I might even stand accused of promoting a binary choice here myself by writing an article about two very different doctors in Zelenko and Holohan. But the point of the exercise is to highlight how one was critically and mercilessly savaged while the faults and decisions of the other were glossed over and never questioned. One fell inside the prevailing narrative and one did not. Their treatment was entirely decided by where they stood in relation to the overall Covid narrative. The problem with narratives though is that they can change. And change quickly and no doubt Dr. Holohan knows that too. Solid ground can soon turn to quicksand. So, I ask myself now, how long will the following kind sentiments towards the faces of our pandemic response last in the face of a looming and gathering global storm.
“ Thank you, Paul, “
“ Thanks for your outstanding service Dr. Glynn “
“ How can we ever repay you Dr. Tony “
Will the Hip, Hip Hoorays hold past the first raft of multinational lay-offs or the next hike in electricity prices or interest rates. Or the next attempt at labelling social control mechanisms as science or a jigsaw piece of future finance. What then of the next set of upgraded boosters or new experimental anti-viral medications on the horizon. The Pfizer protocol. Maybe a fiver for a loaf of bread might trigger a response. Maybe. My sense is the four horsemen of the coming apocalypse won’t be treated too kindly in twelve months time. Which brings me nicely to Dr Zelenko.
Here was another prominent doctor of those early pandemic months, a man familiar to us by virtue of his early treatment of COVID patients thru a concoction of drugs that became known as the Zelenko protocol.
Dr Zelenko passed from this world yesterday. Vladimir "Zev" Zelenko was a New York based, family physician and author known for promoting a three-drug combination of hydroxychloroquine, zinc sulfate, and azithromycin as part of an experimental outpatient treatment for COVID-19. Zelenko suffered from a rare form of cancer that was described as 100% terminal as far back as 2018. A twice married Haredi Orthodox Jew with eight children. I say all of this just to point out that he could have been forgiven for sitting out COVID to focus on his health and maximize his limited time with family. But of course he didn’t. Instead he tried to make himself useful.
It leaves a vivid streak of color on the Covid canvas that it was an immuno-compromised, dying doctor that managed to treat thousands of COVID-19 patients and develop a strategy to help them fight the disease. A New York Times headline today described him as the promoter of “ an unfounded Covid treatment “ - careful not to use the words unproven or even disproven. For he had proven them to the only people that mattered - his patients. Yet, here we are two years later, with a brand new Pfizer anti-viral rapidly approved. The full red-carpet treatment is afforded the Pfizer protocol. A drug on-narrative and high on profit vs the Zelenko Protocol off-narrative, low on profit and apparently too full of medicines of the tried and trusted variety.
Isn’t it amazing that almost all of the doctors and nurses that have found trouble in the coronavirus landscape, in this age, share one common trait. They all tried to treat their patients. They all attempted to find answers. Of course, Wikipedia, that fountain of knowledge and modern-day history describes Dr Zelenko a little more boldly than the New York Times headline going a step further than promoter of “unfounded” Covid treatments.
He also promoted unfounded medical advice, conspiracy theories, and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccination
Who knows, maybe one day Zelenko and his protocol may fit the narrative a bit better than it does now. And Wikipedia might muster a kindlier update. What can be in little doubt though is that he tried his best to find a solution and didn’t hang around waiting for one to be gift wrapped or served on a silver platter. He probably didn’t handle the type of fame that comes with a Trump endorsement as well as he could have or should have but it is a minor quibble. As the ferocity of that gale of negativity can knock people out cold.
Sometimes, it is easy to reflect on the pandemic era as one whole piece. I think this is a mistake. The first three months of it, from March to the end of May 2020 are a separate, key entity as I look back at it now. A phase when both Holohan and Zelenko came to prominence. It saw the first and least talked about vaccine of this whole era. An experimental fear vaccine was subliminally injected into the biology of the nation and the western world that shows no sign of leaving the populace’s body. The fear antibodies show no clear sign off tapering off. At the first sign of questions or courage the production line re-activates.
What our government and government agencies learned from that period of time should not be underestimated. They observed how easily psychological fear can be used as a mechanism of control. I would go as far as to say they were shocked by the initial results of this clinical trial. Who needs science when social control is at your fingertips. Think about what our government and public health officials managed to achieve during this period:
Eradication of all forms of socializing
Shutdown of almost every indigenous retail business in the land
Restriction of people to a five kilometre existence zone
Removal of touch, intimacy and community from everyday life
None of this is science. Unless you want to classify it as some form of social science. Every measure and government intervention that has been taken to address pandemic upsurges in this country since May 2020 increasingly utilized the surprising results of those first three months. The tool-kit is being now expanded to realms outside health. While Zelenko mixed drugs our health and political leaders experimented with the levers of fear and social control. Once over the shock of the initial results the powerful began to use the fountain of fear knowledge against the citizenry. They became comfortable with its power, seduced by it even, before losing themselves to the corruption of it. I won’t get into a lengthy listing of those abuses as we are long familiar with them at this stage of the game. Suffice to say, manipulation of fear has seemingly become part of government policy and more insidiously part of institutional operation.
You might argue that Dr. Holohan and Dr. Zelenko took different approaches to the virus from what they learned in those uncertain first months of the pandemic. One led to the laurels of Freeman of Dublin city and an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. The other lead to a ostracization and an early grave. Although it was that old devil cancer as opposed the new age Lucifer of coronavirus that finally brought his life to an end. Chances are, if one of those twin imposters snatches the life of anyone reading or writing this piece, it will be cancer that gets us too.
The full might of the scientific world tried to destroy the Zelenko protocol in those early summer months of 2020. I often wondered why at the time. I assumed it was in someway related to removing Donald Trump from the White House. However, on reflection, and with the benefit of even more hindsight, I can see it was most probably because Big Pharma and Big Government already had a solution. Vaccines. It seems to me that Operation Warp-speed that god awful terminology used to describe the drive to find a cure for the dreaded coronavirus was actually erroneously titled. Operation Slow-down would have been a more apt title. For indeed, it seems, the solution was already well developed and just needed a little extra re-warming in the oven. A pinch of time added with a heavy sprinkling of fear in order to fully capture a global audience. For they needed to be ravenous for a solution when the time came.
Of course, the general Irish GP world seemed to care little about treating patients and providing innovative care to its patients. Incredibly, they stopped meeting the troublesome COVID sufferer almost altogether. A “ take a paracetamol and get back to us when you’re a lot sicker “ approach to doctoring ensued. A novel approach to a novel virus I suppose. At any rate, the reward for all of this doctoring culminated on June 16th 2021. As Dr. Holohan accepted the aforementioned Freedom of the City of Dublin on behalf of all healthcare workers. More laurels, handclapping and back-slapping. A good time to unleash some new “science” on the population. Domestic Covid passports. Or, as the kids might say, some more…Science.. Not Science…doh...
So, a year on from the March-May 2020 clinical fear trial, in a country with all the vulnerable groups already vaccinated, our institutions and government decided that what Ireland really needed was a little more fear porn and control. What matter if a little outright discrimination and complete destruction of human rights and dignity was required to pull off the trick.
A six-month punishment beating to whip the doubters into line. Again, not only did it work, it worked easily enough. The attempted punishment beatings got ever more brutal as the weeks and months ticked by. So successful was it that much of the fury, implementation and condescension came not from government but from the general population. Livelihoods and ex-communication threatened. As the evenings of 2021 began to darken, earlier and earlier, only a small rump remained. Fortunately as moods blackened it was the skies that began to clear. Funny enough, I remember December 2021 as some of the happiest days of my life. Supporting evidence and expert invisible defence witnesses started pouring into every home in the land. In a weird sort of way the virus pitched in and lent a helping hand. Temperatures began to rise on thermometers and drop-off from our television screens and smart phones. I stopped explaining myself to people and instead started listening to more music. Life’s wonders and answers are often found in art and music I suppose.
But I know I'm on a losing streak
As I pass down by your street
And if you wanna show, then just let me know
And I'll sing in your ear again
Now the drugs don't work
They just make you worse
But I know I'll see your face again
- The Verve
The beatings stopped almost as suddenly as they started. The world opened up little by little. Curiously, the people most addicted to exercising control and power struggled most with this new wind of glasnost. It’s amazing that the lifting of restrictions in late January 2022 has almost brought about a collapse of our entire civil service sector. They seem unable to cope with being asked to function again. Indignant about it even.
Leaving aside, the obvious dangers and health risks now associated with entering our national health service, the queues of sick people on waiting lists now stretching for miles, bizarrely, it seems public service Ireland can’t issue a passport or even organize a queue at an airport anymore. Never mind any of the complicated stuff like building adequate social housing or a children’s hospital. In fact, our current bureaucratic branches of government display all the same hallmarks of dysfunction as the Soviet Union before its collapse. Apathy, arrogance and delusions of grandeur.
The era had a wildly different effect on Zelenko and people of his ilk. Invigoration and zeal was order of the day. Even up the end, as the below letter shows, he was full of his usual fire and brimstone.
We should denounce the worship of false gods, the gods of technology, the gods of science, the gods of corrupt governments, of money, power, fame, and we should reconcile our hearts with our Creator who is making us anew, every instant in time.
The world has now chosen sides. Those that will worship the machinations of man and those that will bow down to the Creator.
So let the culling begin.
The world needs a cleaning. And when the process is done, the world will be filled with the knowledge of God, just like the waters cover the seas.
And the sociopaths, they have a big thing coming for them. They think they are gods, they think that they’re ruling the world.
So let the games begin. And I have no problem falling in battle. This is a hill that we need to die on, die for.
Because, otherwise, our progeny will have nowhere to breathe free.
I suppose this will be the final piece I ever write about Dr. Holohan as he moves off the public battlefield into a taxpayer funded private retirement. I try to make myself conscious every-time I sit down to write critically about individual people, especially persons I strenuously disagree with, about why I do it and ensure its for a valid reason. Even if the validity isn’t order of the day in the minds of many. In any healthy democracy the powerful must be held to account for their decision-making and often their motives. Otherwise the democracy doesn’t remain in any way healthy for too long. The people asking the questions cannot merge in happy harmony with those tasked with providing the answers. Not even for the greater good. Actually, most especially when the greater good is the casino chip in the center of the poker table.
Dr Tony Holohan was the most powerful and influential public official in modern Irish history. And as we are now living in the most unhealthy democracy of my lifetime he must bear some of the responsibility. He and NPHET instigated many of the decisions that led to the path we are on today. It remains to be seen how well those congratulatory tweets will age. Not for much longer is my tuppence ha'penny worth.
For now, Dr. Holohan walks off the stage to a coronation of laurels while Dr. Zelenko leaves to a simple wreath. An Irishman born in the home of the reigning All-Ireland champions and a Ukrainian man, born in Kiev, a homeplace raining now in tears and death. Beginning places that fit a certain current narrative of both men’s end. Narratives change though. I have feeling the sun won’t forever shine on Limerick hurlers and hopefully too Ukrainians won’t forever walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
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