Bret Weinstein: I will be vindicated over Covid
Hello and welcome to UnHerd Ideas. I'm Freddie Sayers. Biologist Bret Weinstein was, until not very long ago, admired across party lines as an independent thinker. He was profiled in the New York Times, and together with the likes of Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, and his own brother, Eric, he was a founding member of the so-called intellectual dark web. Then COVID happened and his scepticism about some elements of the pandemic response, including the vaccine programme, and his interest in potential other treatments for COVID was deemed to have crossed a line. He was denounced by erstwhile friends like Sam Harris, and his massively popular podcast, the Dark Horse, was demonetized on YouTube. Well, this week, he was
in London, and he came into the studio to talk. I wanted to find out and probe where he had got to in his thinking and what kind of world he now feels we live in. Whether you think he went too far over the pandemic, or not far enough, whether you strongly agree with him or strongly disagree with him, I hope you'll see that he gives an honest account of his experience, and a sincere expression of what he thinks went wrong, and what he thinks might be coming next. Enjoy. Welcome, Bret.
Glad to be here; thanks for having me. So let me start with a impossibly broad, grand question, which is two years on from the start of this pandemic, what do you feel you have learnt about the way the world really operates that you didn't know before? That's an interesting question. I feel like the general role that I played during COVID is one that I'm familiar with, but that this particular iteration was remarkable and that many of us who actually have been practised at being nuanced in the face of power, and bringing along an audience, faced an enemy with much more powerful tools. And so I think one has to
be – I'm not sure how much we know about what we succeeded at and what we failed that, but we do know that we got chewed up in a way in this battle that was most unfortunate. So I think we've learned something about the power of the enemy and what it will do when the chips are down. Do you know who that enemy is or what that enemy is? How would you characterise it? I'm not sure. We know many things. There are entities that we can point to – we can point to Gavi and the Trusted News Initiative, the AP and Reuters, and many different organisations that played a role in, frankly, slandering us and misleading the public with respect to what the reliable information was, and therefore what the good advice was. There's, of course, also the CDC, and the WHO and Anthony Fauci. But my model –
So you consider them the enemy at this point? Well, here's the problem. I don't want to consider them the enemy. But what we got during COVID was not an inept response. It was the inverse of a good response. And you can't get there through incompetence. Had they simply failed, that would
be one thing, but what they gave us was a recipe for disaster and to the extent that they were willing to do that, for whatever reason, and allow the harm to flow from it that did, I have to think of them that way. These people must be removed from power lest this happen again. And I would point out, this is evident – even just step back and recognise that the same person was responsible for sidestepping the ban on gain of function research that the United States wisely enacted and offshoring that work to China, that same person was the person at the forefront of our disastrous COVID response, including both the application of vaccines in a completely un-nuanced way, and the sidelining of repurposed drugs that turn out to be highly effective. So let me ask you to just summarise that for us: what do you think the mistake was? Well, I don't know. At some level, the policy appears optimised for delivering the maximum number of doses of an experimental treatment based on a completely novel approach to disease. That is not a rational thing to do. It was not the right tool to apply and to become so obsessive about it that no other tool was allowed – in fact, they were actively disallowed – This is vaccines you're referring to? Yes, the vaccines appeared to be the one-size-fits-all solution, which is preposterous at a number of levels. For one thing
epidemiologically it was not wise to mass-vaccinate in the face of an ongoing pandemic. That's very different than vaccinating in advance of a disease outbreak. And this also was not done in a way that was risk-stratified. There were lots of people – even if these vaccines had been excellent with no known hazard associated with them – there were lots of people who simply didn't need them. People who were safe from COVID,
by virtue of the fact that they were young, and healthy. People who should have been kept away from those things because they were more vulnerable in light of the fact that they were pregnant or nursing, or even simply because they were female and we hadn't tested the question of what the effects were on the female reproductive apparatus. All of those things could have resulted in a much more nuanced application of those tools if we indeed believed in them. But somehow the policy was the more
vaccination, the better. So I'm kind of fast-forwarding here to the central question in a way, but I feel like it's almost the the fundamental one, which is, do you see that – as you describe it a mistake or incorrect tool usage, or however you want to characterise it – do you see it as some sort of hysteria or mass event that people just encouraged each other into a certain state where that happens almost by accident? Which, I feel, is quite a different view of the world to actually feeling like there are malevolent powers somewhere out there, that we're somehow steering this into existence? Where do you fall on that spectrum? I would like to leave open every possibility that is still live. I think one of the most important things to do in a case like this, where you know that you don't have good information about what went on behind the scenes, is not to jump to conclusions. And so I tend to think in terms of setting a floor, right? What is the least bad interpretation of the response that we got? And I'll give you the least troubling interpretation. I will say, I don't quite believe it. But it is this. Pharma, every day of the year, for decades, has
corrupted our system. That's what it does. It's its business model. It does all sorts of things in this regard. It incentivizes academics to say things they would not otherwise do. It writes papers, and it seeks out authors after the fact
to advance those papers into journals. It corrupts our public health structures. It does all of these things as a matter of course, because at the end of the day, what Pharma is, is a business that needs to have a medical need that can plausibly be associated with some compound over which it has intellectual property rights. And so how can you increase your profit in such a world? Well, you might manufacture a disease, you might broaden the definition of a disease so more people appear to have it. You might adjust the way trials reflect on the
efficacy of the particular compound at your disposal. You might sabotage a competing molecule over which you don't have intellectual property rights. There are lots of ways to increase your profit. But the point is, this was all well understood before COVID. It wasn't widely understood at a
high level of detail but people studied the question and Pharma – this is this is how it behaved. And so what I'm saying in terms of the least troubling interpretation is that Pharma has a mechanism by which it profits. That mechanism is not public-spirited. It may be in the interests of the shareholders, but it's not in the interests of patients. And it operates all the time. And when COVID hit, there was no mechanism to turn it off. In other words, it viewed
everything through the same lens that would normally have been used in the context of a more mundane disease and more normal pharmaceuticals. And that could have produced the response we got. In other words, we saw very good drugs that weren't under patent demonised in order to remove the obvious competitor, in order to facilitate the acquisition of the emergency-use authorization. And then we saw the product that was the the
first one in this new market sector pushed through all sorts of mechanisms, through PR campaign, through mandates, all sorts of ways of getting people to accept them, and we saw the demonization of anybody who looked at this and said it doesn't add up. Is there not a danger of crediting Big Pharma with too much power in this scenario? You've described it as the floor, I feel like we could potentially go lower and even less troubling than what you have said, which is that actually, during a time of crisis, governments that now talk to each other so closely via social media, and so on, and movements that have so much power, encourage a kind of herd mentality and that can make people somewhat blinkered. Most people are wise to these facets of Big Pharma and have been for a long time. Is it not maybe closer to the truth that this was just a sense of the best solution out there, everyone wanted to win the prize and solve this and get the virtue points, and therefore, maybe some mistakes were made in the process? I feel certain that that didn't happen. That is below the floor of plausibility, and I know that because I watched myself and others demonised by what was obviously a coordinated campaign to take our perspective off the table. And so I guess what I
would say is, people need to consider the question of what is a scientific consensus? What we got was a phoney one. We got coercion that caused anybody who saw a different picture to be marginalised so that only one interpretation would remain. That one interpretation happens to fit exactly what was best for Pharma, and especially certain companies. We tend to talk about
Pharma as if it's one thing, but it isn't. It's multiple, competing corporations and the response just so happens to have matched what was in the best interests of Pharma, and turns out to have been a disaster for people, turns out to have been a disaster for people in a way that many of us saw. So the fact that we were predictive about many of these things is vital. It tells you that this was visible from a year ago and a year and a half ago. So spell that out: what as you see it is this disaster, because most people, if you polled them on the street, would feel like, overall, the vaccine programme has been very helpful and it has prevented older and vulnerable people from getting sick with COVID and allowed us to reopen society. That's what most people
believe. What is this disaster? First of all, that's far from clear. We are not out of the woods. We have seen a proliferation of disease variants which was predicted by Geert Vanden Vossche, who incidentally believes that proliferation of variants is going to continue. If your argument is that it prevented vulnerable and infirm people from going into the hospital, then the question is, why didn't we vaccinate those vulnerable people and leave others out of it given how little we knew about the effects. When Heather and I started reacting – Heather's my wife, she is another evolutionary biologist and my fellow podcaster – when we started talking about our concern that it was clear that these vaccines could not possibly be safe in the way that we were being told – that doesn't mean they were harmful– but when we say safe: if you walk into a room, and there is a gun on the table, and you pick it up, and you put it to your head, and you pull the trigger, and it goes click, you may not have been harmed, but it was not a safe behaviour. Safe means it is known to be harmless. These
vaccines couldn't possibly have been known to be harmless when they hadn't been around for even a year. There was no way to know what they would do to people five years out and ten years out. So we needed that caution. In order to have informed consent, we needed to have awareness about what risks and unknowns we were facing. And a rational policy in the face of the risks and unknowns that existed even before any harm was in evidence would have involved being sparing with these things for people who were safe from COVID by virtue of the fact that they were young and healthy. That would have been at a minimum. So to sum up your position on this vaccine question, is it that you do think it was worthwhile to vaccinate older and vulnerable people even despite the risks because of the apparent risks of COVID, but as you go down the age spectrum, it became less of a good risk-reward ratio, and we should have not done it for younger people, or what is your your take overall? It's not my role to say what the policy is, but I can tell you that what we did wasn't rational word. In my opinion, I don't
think we should have vaccinated anyone because the risks and unknowns were too great and we had alternatives which then brings us to the next topic, which is did we really have alternatives. And the campaign that was deployed to derail the out-of-patent drugs that really do work, to derail those things so that we would have no choice was in many ways the most unconscionable thing that happened. So this is principally ivermectin? Not principally. I would say those two: hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. Both appear to work. That is surprisingly clear. It's clear in the data; it is not clear in the papers in
which the data was presented. In other words, someone sought to obscure the efficacy of these compounds. So this is the most controversial topic that you have tackled during this pandemic. You're still in the same place, you still feel that the evidence is on your side. Is there anything around this whole question that you regret saying or – give us give us a summary: do you feel vindicated at this point? I feel the evidence has vindicated us. I don't think people understand that we were vindicated. In other words, I
frequently am accused of failing to admit that I got this one wrong. Now, I know the evidence in detail. I didn't get it wrong. The evidence is still emerging, but do I have regrets? Yeah, I have one important regret in this regard. Which is that I put too much weight on the Carvallo study. And it
turned out that the Carvallo study, which, at the point that it became clear something wasn't right with it I pursued the data. I asked Hector Carvallo to give me the data so I could scrutinise it and figure out how good it was. And in the end, I believe what happened is that this Argentinian professor ran a study, and it was sloppy. It wasn't fraudulent, as far as I can tell, but it was sloppy. It reflected high efficacy, but at the point that I discovered that the dataset wasn't forthcoming because it had been done as a tally instead of a spreadsheet that collected all of the data that you would want in a way that it was possible to recreate what had taken place, at the point that I discovered that the dataset wasn't up to snuff, I went public and I said, "Look, I am taking my confidence in this study, and I am saying it should have a zero weight." But putting
that study at zero, changed my confidence in ivermectin slightly, but not much. And the reason is because the sum total of the data still tells the same story. It adjusts the strength slightly, but it doesn't change the outcome.
Let me just push back, if I may. I guess the bigger picture is the part that I find harder to go along with, which is that in order for the picture you're painting to be correct, the world's governments, each individual government, which has within them individuals such as you or I who can look at these data points and draw their own conclusions, would all have to have willfully ignored these conclusions in order to deny their people a cheap and free and available cure to a disease. And to my mind, that is above the ceiling of plausibility.
Yes, I agree. It's above the ceiling of plausibility the way you've just described it, but I don't think that's the way it unfolds. In other words, there's an awful lot of emergent phenomena here. And I would point out, the way to see what has happened requires us to step into another part of COVID to understand how these processes unfold. Let's take a look at the vaccine mandates. The vaccine mandates required people to accept a product about which little was known and a product that was entirely novel in terms of its mechanism of action. That
is a violation of Nuremberg. Informed consent was impossible because people don't know what was in these vaccinations and they don't have enough information to understand what risks they may be facing. Those who did not accept these mandates were removed from many of these institutions. Doctors lost their professions and their licences. People were purged
from government. And in the aftermath of that, we've had a violation of Nuremberg, and those who did not accept that violation of Nuremberg have now been removed from their positions of power. Our system has just become much more amenable to violations of Nuremberg. Now, does that mean
that the people who are left in the system, the people who accepted these mandates and did what they were told, are bad people? No. Does it mean they're inclined towards violating Nuremberg? No. But it means that a process of effectively natural selection has produced a system that is now much more compliant. And the question is, who was going to stand up and and say, "Actually, we should be applying these medicines." Did people stand up, and if so, what happened to them? I can tell you that there was an extremely aggressive campaign to demonise these compounds, to portray them as dangerous, and to portray those who talked about them as reckless. So a system of
incentives causes people who do know not to say what they know, and causes many people to reject that knowledge because they know that if they accept that knowledge, it will result in a catastrophe in their own lives. It will result in the elimination of their ability to earn, for example. Is it not much easier to get to that point, that same atmosphere which – personally, I go along with you some of the way here, I feel like the process was far from perfect, there was a certain very intense mood that could be called hysterical, it was a lot of sort of moralistic judgement of anyone who dissented, and that the whole period is regrettable in a lot of ways, and we should hopefully learn from it – you don't have to actually posit a kind of malign power that is somehow bringing all of these forces together. I guess that for me is the big jump that it's hard to follow you down. Here's the problem. Have you heard that 'the great reset' is a conspiracy theory.
I have heard it described as such. It has a website. It's not a secret. It's a real thing. And so somehow we are living in an era where something that isn't even hiding itself, a plan to accomplish something, is dismissed as a wild-eyed conspiracy theory by those who wish not to talk about its implications. I don't know how that works. To me, the fact that it has a website you can go to
is highly suggestive of the fact that it exists. Let's get back to vaccines for a moment. So one of the reasons you're here in the UK, you've attended this conference that's been taking place in Bath. Alongside you on the panel is
Bobby Kennedy Jr., Maajid Nawaz is in the chair, I believe, or he was also on the panel, Robert Malone, who is one of these slightly more controversial vaccine – let's say vaccine sceptics – Well, 'vaccine sceptic' – he also holds the patent on the core technology of the mRNA vaccines. He's a vaccinologist. We had two vaccinologists there: Geert Vanden Vossche and Robert Malone. That group that's been around for really – some of them have been around for many years, Del Bigtree was also at this conference – they were members of – they're called anti-vaxxers, let's not use that term, I'm sure they would reject that – but they were involved in this whole MMR autism controversy in previous years. It is a long standing lobby against vaccine use in different respects. Do you now find that you have common cause with them? Or do you still have important points of distinction with that group? Well, you're you're lumping them oddly. Del Bigtree was there, as
was Robert Malone, and Geert Vanden Vossche. Geert Vanden Vossche, Robert Malone, and I tangled with Del Bigtree publicly and actually the audience responded very positively to us doing this in public so they could see what the disagreement was. The fundamental piece of it was that Robert Malone, Geert Vanden Vossche and myself believe that vaccines have an important role to play in public health and Del Bigtree doesn't. And there was a lot of conversation around this.
So it wasn't an anti-vax conference. I'm not sure I like the term anti-vax, because it's now been pointed at me so many times despite the fact that I regard myself as a vaccine enthusiast. But I will tell you, what I have seen happen with the COVID vaccines has me very concerned that although vaccination itself is an extremely important and precious technology, that we are deploying recklessly, and that the mechanism that we are using to join or to produce these products is simply not capable of doing it responsibly. And is it at the end of the day, the Big Pharma that we started off talking about that is ultimately benefiting from and therefore pushing along this erroneous use of vaccines? Or is it even worse than that? How do you view the world that is pushing us in this direction? Well, I don't know, again, this is an issue of the floor. I can definitely be certain that Pharma has a tremendous amount to gain by pushing these products and in fact getting them mandated.
Take us to the ceiling in that case. What do you see as the worst case, but still plausible scenario? I won't do it because the fact is the way to do this responsibly is to have open everything that's still possible. I don't want to induce some kind of paranoia in people: Dr. Bret Weinstein says, "It is possible that...", and then some very nefarious thing. So I try to be very cautious. I try to
stick with the floor and say, "Look, there are worse possibilities. It's possible that somebody wanted us trained to accept vaccination whenever it was that they wish to give us one." That could be for purely economic reasons or it could be that they have some other purpose. But I don't think we
need to go there. We know that the vaccines did harm to people. We actually know that we're effectively – I don't know how it works behind the scenes – but we are effectively gaslighting people who have been injured. There were quite a number of people associated with this conference who have experienced this and their stories are horrifying.
We've literally injected, I don't know whether it's been a billion people or not, certainly many hundreds of millions of people with this – if this kind of level of gravity of damage was happening to people taking these particular vaccines, where is the real world evidence of it? Yes, there are there are certain numbers of vaccine injury reports. But at that kind of scale, you feel like if what you're hypothesising was actually happening, we'd see more by now. Well, I don't know more, because we're not doing a good job of keeping track. We're not doing the autopsies that we should be doing. We are not – the VAERS system is a very difficult system to submit a report to. So these things are being misfiled. We do see, and believe me, I don't know what the normal rate of people dying on the football pitch is. We want that number so
that we understand whether we are seeing something anomalous. I don't know what the number is, so I can't tell you if what seems like an alarming number of people collapsing on the football pitch really is alarming. But it does seem rather conspicuous. So maybe we're seeing it. Maybe we are
seeing more of it than we think elsewhere and seeing it in other tissues where the problem is less critical. But the key thing is this: you have a lifetime's worth of capacity in your heart. If you treat your heart well, it lasts a lifetime. It's a marvel in this way, as an organ that does not have a capacity for repair, that it can do this. If you damage it, and then it
scars, you don't necessarily expect to have that show up as a pathology, but you might expect to have it show up as a big increase in people dying of heart disease earlier in their lives than they otherwise would have. In other words, if it knocks the last 15 years off your life, we wouldn't be seeing that yet for most people. So ultimately, in 30 years or 40 years time, we will get the dataset to know whether this hypothesis is right or not? A generation that would have a decreased lifespan. Even hearing you ask that question actually gives me chills for the following reason. Again, and again in this pandemic, we have the problem that we are running one of the largest experiments in human history, except that we're not running it, because we're not collecting the data. You have an
industry that has everything to lose in that information, if in fact, the damage that some of us believe is accumulating is accumulating. And there are mechanisms whereby you can make it impossible to discover what happened. We are seeing bizarre claims about children get strokes and things like this. This is a strange environment to be trying to figure out whether something has changed. We also have the problem that you have
COVID in 2020 and COVID plus vaccines in 2021. One has to be very careful to compare those two environments in order to figure out what the added harm of the vaccines on top of the added harm of COVID will ultimately be. And we don't know. If I thought that we were seeking to collect the information that would allow us to actually know in the end whether we had made this colossal error or not, then I would be much more comfortable that this was an honest mistake.
But I will tell you, the the most ominous thing about the pattern that we've seen appears to be an obsession with vaccination. And that obsession, one interpretation is that what it does is it eliminates the control group which eliminates the possibility of us saying how much harm was done. If everybody is vaccinated, and people's longevity plummets, it might well be something else. Let me ask you to turn the table and look forward instead of back now. Because here in London, I expect you've observed, it feels kind of like COVID is over. People are not wearing masks – very, very little anyway – it feels pretty much back to normal. And there were a lot of people who feared that would
never happen and happily, it has. And yet there are stories that are coming every day or every week about what might be coming down the track. So I'm going to ask you about a couple of them. The Pandemic Treaty. This is something coming out of the World Health Organisation, it's a movement to build some sort of protocol for future pandemics. Some people I've
spoken to who are in a good position to know the legal framework are not especially worried about it. They think it's more of a kind of collaborative tool and not going to be the new world constitution, and yet other people are very worried about it. Where do you stand and what do you think the truth is? The truth is it is ambiguous how dangerous it is. I have the sense that it is a Trojan Horse of some kind. I certainly am
against providing any more power to coordinate and to dictate to the same people who so thoroughly botched the response to COVID-19. My feeling is – even if in principle in a well-governed world this is exactly what we would want, and, believe me, I'm a liberal, I know that we need governance at every scale, that is important – and that means that ultimately, you would want some authority capable of coordinating a global response to a pandemic. But I don't want these people anywhere near that kind of power. They have demonstrated they are incapable of wielding it responsibly. So I'm very concerned about this treaty. And I'm concerned that in effect,
the way one operates in this environment is you deliver something that can be viewed in two different ways. There's a benign interpretation, there's an aggressive interpretation, and it functions as a Motte and Bailey. You say, "Look, you're freaking out over nothing." But then, again, we don't want to
find out too late once the provisions are already there, when sanctions are already loaded in the chamber, we don't want to find out that yes, in fact, this treaty is capable of, in some way compromising the sovereignty of our nations and dictating mandates, or whatever else. There's quite a plausible halfway house there also where, even though it might not have direct executive power, the fact of it existing will allow groups in the media and lobbyists who are strongly on one side to refer to it and call on it as a kind of authority, even though it might not have the ability to dictate to national governments. I feel like organisations like the WHO play that kind of role as well in the discourse.
I agree. I'm loath to find out where the bodies are buried here. My feeling is given that the bodies, the governing bodies, that are being handed these new provisions are manifestly untrustworthy, it's obvious that we should shut this down and do so quickly. I'm certainly open to, hopefully as soon as possible in a world in which we have addressed the core issue, talking about what we do, because frankly, I think we are paying an insane price, and were long before COVID, for the way our novel travel habits are circulating pathogens around the globe, without any sort of real mechanism to tamp down this very destructive process. So, anyway, in a better world, I would be open to hearing that this was a benign phenomenon. But these people can't handle the responsibility. They're not good
at managing a complex system and they've shown us that again, and again. When I started thinking about COVID, when Heather and I started our livestreams in which we, as biologists, started just trying to understand what was taking place because so many people didn't know and needed somebody with a biological toolkit to translate it, when we did that, and then lab leak became an obvious question, we started unpacking these things. Something came back at us on lab leak, and it was unnatural. I think we have now all come to an understanding that lab leak was plausible all along. For many of us, as I have said, from very early on, all of the evidence that points in one direction points towards the lab. And we have now gotten to a place where
it is impossible to deny that. But I thought from the beginning this wasn't really about COVID. That failure on lab leak illustrated a deeper problem, that we are now deploying technologies that are capable of doing humanity tremendous harm, without the mechanisms in place to manage those risks, and in fact, mechanisms in place that amplify that. So I thought, if we could reach clarity on the lab leak, on early treatment, and on vaccine safety and effectiveness, if we could get those stories out so that people understood what they had been told and how it compared to what was actually the case, that we would be in a position to then discuss what was true of our system. And unfortunately, what is true of our system is it is captured from one end to the other. We saw failures here of journalism, we saw a failure of the academy, we saw a failure of government, we saw the public health apparatus all the way through the international version of it. We saw the
complicity of our social networks, and the tech sector. All of these things failed us simultaneously. And although I don't like to be the bearer of this news, I do think that we in the West have to look at this and say something has gone wrong and it absolutely requires us to fix it otherwise it will continue to put us in danger with respect to technologies of greater and greater destructive potential. So that was my hope. Now, we haven't gotten there. I think we have reached a kind of
clarity on the lab leak. We have actually reached a strange kind of clarity on the vaccines. Although reasonable people can differ over whether or not those vaccines were worth the risk for some people, it's hard to argue that they were safe and effective. We are being asked to get a fourth booster shot. This is obviously not a highly effective vaccine. This is at
best a very weakly effective vaccine. It doesn't prevent the acquisition of the disease or the transmission of the disease, and we all know that they cause myocarditis in some people. So we were told they were safe and effective. They weren't. How dangerous they are is still an open question. How effective they are – still an open question. But what we were told
was wrong. Ivermectin is the sticky wicket, or ivermectin, and hydroxychloroquine, and other repurposed drugs. I don't know why exactly that's the hardest case to make, because in some ways, the data is best. We have a lot of information on
this and what we have is a propaganda campaign that prevents us from looking at it. But I do hope that ultimately, we reach a place where we evaluate who got this right. And then we ask them, "What is it that you saw? Why did the rest of us not see it? And what does it mean for the future?" And if we do that, then maybe we can start recapturing our system and returning it to a public-spirited mission. What do you think is coming down the track in the months or years before that might even be possible? Will there be new pandemic panics in short order? Monkeypox is already on our shores here in the UK. It's getting more and more air time. The people who are infected or have come close to an infected person are already required to self isolate. There are the
beginnings of a similar kind of sequence of actions. What is your fear or what is your assessment of what comes next? I'm very concerned, and I'm concerned about several things. I'm concerned about the meaning of the monkey pox outbreak. And the reason I'm concerned is because we really shouldn't be having an outbreak. This is a disease that's actually
traditionally relatively difficult to transmit. And that doesn't mean you won't see little outbreaks here or there, but in general, what happens is, there is sufficient immunity to prevent such an outbreak. There can be things that cause the level of immunity to drop below herd immunity, the accumulation of enough immunologically naive people in a population that an outbreak can get itself started, but in general, this is a self-regulating process. In other words, because monkeypox
exists, it circulates in reservoirs and doesn't cause these large outbreaks. It's basically a background phenomenon, something that we don't have to worry about. Why is it circulating now around the world? Is that a matter of greater surveillance? Possibly, but probably not. Is that a matter of something having changed in our level of immunity? So for example, a mass vaccination campaign could have altered people's immunity to that disease. In other words, the process that kept it under control might have been changed by the intervention in the immune system that we made. That's one possibility. I don't know if that's what's going on.
I don't know if a new strain of monkeypox has shown up, though it would be awfully odd for it to have shown up now. One hypothesis I heard was that the cohorts of people who were vaccinated against smallpox has shrunk and shrunk and in fact, very few people under-50 are now vaccinated against smallpox. And that it may be that we've reached a tipping point in terms of immunologically naive people who never got the smallpox.
Right. And that's possible, it could be that this is just another crazy coincidence, and that the fact that this is happening in 2022 doesn't have a special meaning. In other words, that explanation doesn't predict this kind of precision with respect to happening just on the heels of COVID. Or maybe we only notice it because we're now hyperaware post-COVID, and small little outbreaks like this happened all the time prior.
Well, they do happen here and there. We're seeing something circulate at a greater level, and I said, it could be that it's greater surveillance, and it's really nothing to worry about, because this is a self-regulating, not very dangerous disease epidemiologically. But I'm concerned that something else may be going on. And it is
certainly the case that we have seen diseases change their penetrance on the basis of things that have happened surrounding COVID and or the COVID transfection agents, the vaccines. So we've seen Epstein-Barr Virus, for example, we've seen people have episodes of shingles triggered, and really, this was another message that Heather and I have been imploring people to absorb: you're intervening in a series of nested complex systems. That is not a winning formula. One should be extremely cautious intervening in a complex system, let alone a complex system where you have the immune system inside of a population experiencing a pandemic. The chances that we know enough to do that well, are pretty low. We should be very careful.
I want to try to reach the end with a little bit of a bigger sense of where you think we are, and also where you are, because this past couple of years must have been pretty intense for you. You both had a great increase, I would say, in your public profile, but also an increase in how controversial you were viewed. Your name in polite society is a lot more nuanced than it was before. I wouldn't know that; I'm not welcome there anymore. So where does that leave you, and what is your plan for the next period? Well, I don't know where it leaves me. I have to say, I'm not happy with the way the world dealt with this. It basically
attempted to strongarm a consensus into being in a place where that was completely inappropriate. A consensus in science arises out of clarity; people arrive there naturally. The fact is, colleagues have discussions, they have disagreements, they have arguments, and it resolves into a picture that we all accept. That's the natural process. A consensus in the face of an emergency like this, that is so complex, that has so many facets that are not well understood, one should not expect a consensus. What should have
happened here is doctors should have been left to their own devices, treating patients. They should have exchanged information about what worked and what didn't work. And the picture of how to address COVID should have emerged naturally from clinicians. Instead, it was handed down, it was preordained.
And that is completely unnatural. It was extremely dangerous. It resulted in a serious violation of the Nuremberg Code, and I suspect if we do manage to somehow collect the data that allows us to evaluate what happened in this period, we're going to see that not only was there large scale harm, but that there was an completely unnecessary reduction in human longevity. That's not a positive note to end on, so I'm guessing if we look at where you think we're headed, and your role in it, there's not a sense that we've survived this, we've got through it, even though mistakes were made and things are going to be okay, your sense is that maybe worse is still to come? I believe worse is still to come until we understand what has happened to our system. An evolutionary process has captured our system, and it has removed it from the control of people who had the public's interest at heart. We are on a plane. It is not in the control of the pilot, it is on some kind
of autopilot, and it is headed somewhere for its purposes and not ours. Now, I do know that it would have to get bad for people to see it. And my hope was that COVID – given that we had multiple topics on which our system told us exactly how captured it was – my hope was that this would reveal the level of capture, and although that wasn't going to be an enjoyable discovery, to me, it is the basis for hope. We're not going to fix the system until we spot how corrupted it has become and – So you think it needs to get worse in order to get better? I don't want to say that because it is still possible – look, we've gotten almost all the way there on lab leak. We have
gotten enough of the distance with respect to these vaccines and their actual safety and effectiveness. And then on ivermectin I think people are still quite confused. But in principle, the information is there for us to get clarity on those things, and if we had clarity on those things, I do think that is the point at which we hit bottom and we start to go up.
Bret Weinstein, thank you so much. Thank you. That was evolutionary biologist Bret Weinstein talking about what he thinks happened during the COVID era of the past two years. Whether you think he is completely wrong or completely right, or somewhere in between, hopefully, it is at least a value to see how such an evidently intelligent person is brought to those kinds of conclusions. None of us can know exactly how the history books will treat this strange period. But Bret is now part of that story. Thanks to him for his
time, and thanks to you for tuning in. This was UnHerd Ideas.