If you thought satire died when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize, think again. According to the bookies, the favourite to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is the WHO. Yes, that’s right, the organisation that initially told us COVID-19 was nothing to worry about – the Chinese had it completely under control. Then changed tack and said, no, actually, we should be worrying about it and we should all do exactly what China had done, i.e., lock everyone in their homes, even though that hadn’t actually succeeded in containing the virus. But then, this is an organisation that is so beholden to the Chinese Communist Party it refuses to recognise the existence of Taiwan.
The only thing that could possibly be worse would be to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Anthony Fauci. Although it’s a close call.
John Tierney in City Journal has suggested a more worthy recipient.
The Nobel jurors in Norway should be honoring the pandemic’s true heroes, starting with an obvious candidate across their border: Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist of Sweden. While the WHO and the rest of the world panicked, he kept calm. While leaders elsewhere crippled their societies, he kept Sweden free and open. While public-health officials ignored their own pre-Covid plans for a pandemic—and the reams of reports warning that lockdowns, school closures, and masks would accomplish little or nothing – Tegnell actually stuck to the plan and heeded the scientific evidence.
Journalists pilloried him for not joining in the hysteria, but he has been proven right. In Sweden, the overall rate of excess mortality—a measure of the number of deaths more than normal from all causes – during the pandemic is one of the lowest in Europe. Swedish children kept going to school and did not suffer the learning loss so common elsewhere. Swedish children and adults went on with their lives, following Tegnell’s advice not to wear masks as they continued going to schools, stores, churches, playgrounds, gyms, and restaurants. And fewer of them died than in most of the American states and European countries that delayed medical treatments, bankrupted businesses, impoverished workers, stunted children’s emotional and cognitive growth, and stripped their citizens of fundamental liberties.
If it hadn’t been for Tegnell and a few other heretics in places like Florida, we would not have clear evidence to prevent a similar catastrophe when the next virus arrives. Politicians and officials at the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control are still promoting useless mask mandates and defending their lockdowns with scientific sleight of hand: cherry-picked data and computer models purporting to show that the measures worked. Those claims have been rebutted in hundreds of studies, but journalists and politicians have mostly ignored that research, preferring to parrot the claims of the WHO and CDC officials who wave away the inconvenient findings.
But they can’t easily dismiss the results in Sweden and other places that followed its strategy. The real world trumps a computer model. Tegnell forced the lock-downers and mask zealots to test their unproven theories by making Sweden the control group in a natural experiment, and he did it in the face of extraordinary pressure, as the Swedish journalist Johan Anderberg recounts in superb detail in The Herd: How Sweden Chose Its Own Path Through the Worst Pandemic in 100 Years.
Tegnell was aided by another worthy candidate to share the Nobel, Johan Giesecke, who had formerly held Tegnell’s job and served during the pandemic as an advisor to the Swedish public health agency. Decades earlier, he had recruited Tegnell to the agency because he admired the young doctor’s willingness to speak his mind regardless of political consequences. In early March 2020, as leaders across Europe were closing schools, Giesecke sent his protégé an email with a sentence in Latin. It was a famous piece of fatherly advice sent in 1648 by the Swedish statesman Axel Oxenstierna to reassure a son worried about holding his own in negotiations with foreign leaders. An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur: “Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?”
Tierney has some other suggestions, too.
Besides Tegnell and Giesecke, the obvious candidates are three experts in public health who led the international effort to restore sanity to their profession: Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard. In fall 2020, they issued a call to end lockdowns and school closures, the Great Barrington Declaration, which won signatures from tens of thousands of fellow scientists and doctors. They marshalled scientific evidence throughout the pandemic to counter Covid hysteria, and they helped persuade leaders in Florida and other places to follow successful strategies like Sweden’s.
That brings us to five worthy candidates for a Nobel, which cannot be shared by more than three people. But given the unprecedented global impact of Covid-19 and the lockdowns, the efforts to prevent that catastrophe deserve more than one prize. When else have so few done so much to help so many? Give the Nobel Peace Prize to Tegnell and Giesecke and the Nobel Prize in Medicine to the Great Barrington scientists. And at the very least, banish the WHO and the rest of the public-health establishment from consideration for any kind of prize. Their chief accomplishment has been to demonstrate a lesson we didn’t need to learn yet again: “Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?”
Worth reading in full.