Singapore Singlehandedly Ends Expert Narratives

Why does the media keep listening to them?

I’ve been traveling for the past week or so, which these days is a reminder of just how pointless and nonsensical COVID “mitigation” measures actually are.

In many areas of the United States, there are no mask requirements anywhere. Tens of thousands of people are packed into arenas, maskless. They dine indoors, walk through crowded indoor malls, gather for conferences and meetings, work in offices, have face to face conversations…all unmasked.

But then. BUT THEN. They call an Uber to go to the airport.

And the world changes.

Uber requires each customer to wear a mask. If a driver reports that a passenger did not properly wear a mask during the entirety of the trip, that passenger is required to take a photo of themselves wearing a mask and upload it in the Uber app before their next ride. An Uber driver explained to me that with particularly annoying or obnoxious passengers he would vindictively report to Uber that they weren’t wearing a mask just to make their future trips more difficult.

Compliance among drivers varies widely from trip to trip. While loading luggage into the trunk of *insert silver or black sedan here*, you’ll find yourself trying to furtively steal glances at the driver’s face, in a desperate attempt to see how bad your upcoming experience will be. Unmasked? There’s hope for a pleasant ride. Mask fully tightened around the nose and the unmistakable expression of fear? Oh boy.

You arrive at the hotel, even in a city without a mandate, where signs are still posted: “Masks required in public spaces.” But the employee behind the desk has the mask on her chin, and you see a guest walk by, maskless. Relief. Sanity has prevailed. Except there are still plexiglass dividers, ignoring the fact that they may actually make things worse. You want to ask why they are still requiring this, but exhaustion and the desire to retreat to the mask-free sanctuary of your room prevails.

While on vacation some businesses may have different mask rules depending on their location. A running shoe store in one mall does not require masks, but the same store in a different mall does require masks. Why? How does it make sense for the exact same store to “safely” serve its customers in one location without masks, but a few miles away, forced masking is necessary for a “safe” experience?

In a Starbucks located in say, Anaheim, California, you can walk in, order, sit down and enjoy your drink without ever wearing a mask. Yet in a Starbucks located down the street in Anaheim, but at the Downtown Disney shopping district, masks are required to walk to the counter and order, but not while seated. No one questions why this is the case. When employees are asked why masks are required here and not within walking distance at the same brand, their face betrays confusion and surprise, as if no one has ever thought to question such obvious absurdity.

After a week of nearly maskless life, the same process repeats in reverse on the way back to the airport. You arrive at the terminal and are immediately bombarded with announcements that it is “federal law” to wear a mask properly covering your nose and mouth while in the airport. Gate agents repeat the same message. Flight attendants threaten and demand compliance. You sit in your monstrously uncomfortable seat and marvel at the insane, performative stupidity of the entire experience and tell yourself it’s just not worth doing it again.

There is no end in sight to the theatrical experience of modern “safety.” Sure, the CDC’s current airport authoritarianism ostensibly expires in January, but does anyone really believe it won’t be extended again for another six months? And then another six months after that? We can never be too sure that the pandemic has “ended,” you see, even though an endemic virus will never actually “end.”

“We wear masks for your safety,” the signs say. How can we ever return to a world in which every surface is not sprayed with disinfectant, or customers are “unsafe” because employees are unmasked? How will corporations return to pre-Covid normalcy without endlessly repeating that pointless, pseudoscientific measures have been taken to ensure absolutely nothing?

I don’t have the answer. Traveling these days makes the likelihood of our formerly free existence feel impossible. The world has been reorganized into a state of safetyism, possibly permanently, by the CDC.

Yet each day, we have more and more examples of just how discouraging and pointless their obsessive authoritarianism actually is.

And one of the latest and greatest examples is Singapore.


“COVID-19 in Singapore: Another story of success”

Singapore, like so many others, has been repeatedly described as a COVID “success” story.

This paper, published in August 2020, nicely summarizes the prevailing attitude of experts and social media personalities who have lavished praise on Singapore’s ability to “control” COVID:

We conclude that Singapore has been doing extraordinarily well on epidemic prevention and control. Finally we discuss the specific measures in Singapore’s success, and suggest other countries to learn from the Singapore’s style, so as to be well prepared in the future.

Learn from Singapore!

Prepare based on Singapore’s example!

Listen to The Experts™ and The Science™!

They weren’t the only ones — many, MANY other publications and “experts” echoed similar sentiments about Singapore’s COVID “success.”

It truly would not be a retrospective examination of remarkably misleading COVID analysis without old friend and obsessive Great Barrington Declaration conspiracy theorist Gavin Yamey from Duke University. Yamey’s made frequent appearances based on his woefully inaccurate assumptions, so it should come as no surprise that he praised Singapore too.

As a predictable contributor of media misinformation, Gavin published a piece in Time earlier in 2021 where he specifically referenced Singapore’s distribution and usage of supposedly higher quality masks as key to their success:

We can learn from the remarkable success of South Korea and Singapore, where governments early on manufactured and distributed high-filtration masks (e.g. K-94 masks, the Korean equivalent of N95 masks) to all at no cost to its citizens. In Singapore, you can even get a high-filtration mask for free from vending machines. Why can’t the U.S distribute masks in this way to Americans too?

Unsurprisingly, Yamey never updated the article or his assumptions as more data emerged highlighting how N95 mandates have made absolutely no difference to the spread of COVID:

Yamey referenced Singapore again in the article, explaining how they have “successfully controlled viral transmission”:

The nations that have successfully controlled viral transmission, like Australia, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan, have at least one thing in common: they have systems in place to efficiently identify infected and exposed people.

See how simple it is to keep numbers low? Simply distribute free N95 masks and use test and trace, and you control viral transmission!

Let’s see how controlled viral transmission currently is in Singapore:

Well. That does not appear to be under control, but then again I don’t work for Duke, and I didn’t have a mask on in my Twitter profile picture for most of the past eighteen months.

Singapore was averaging roughly 5 cases per million people in January when Yamey wrote that article excoriating the U.S. for not providing free N95 masks. They are now averaging roughly 580 cases per million, an 11,500% increase. This comes with one of the world’s longest uninterrupted mask mandates, now over eighteen months of devotion to The Science™.

And yet, they went from 5 cases per million - the equivalent of 1,650 cases per day in the US - to 580 cases per million, or roughly the equivalent of 190,000 per day. Imagine if Scott Atlas had praised the US for controlling COVID with masks and testing, but just a few months later cases were reported to have risen from 1,650 to 190,000. Do you think the media would have been relentlessly hounding him to explain what happened? Do you think they would have used it in frantic attempts to discredit his ideas and policy suggestions?

Has any of that happened to Gavin? Of course not. Because the media doesn’t really care about accuracy when it comes to COVID reporting, they care about advocacy. They care about influencing public opinion, as they have in Australia, with disastrous results:

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And so the media-promoted misinformation proliferates, leading to the public acceptance of wildly inaccurate assumptions and pseudoscientific travel “interventions” mandated by the CDC, and other hopelessly inept corporations.

Another frequently discredited COVID “expert” is Dr. Peter Hotez, who somehow manages to maintain a steady stream of media appearances despite his unhinged rants on Twitter.

In late-August, Hotez appeared on CNBC and issued this definitive statement:

85-90% of the U.S. must be vaccinated ‘if we’re going to get past this,’ warns Dr. Peter Hotez.

According to Singapore’s Ministry of Health, 85% of the entire population in the country is at least partially vaccinated, with 84% fully vaccinated.

Cases are at their highest level ever:

Nailed it!1

Despite the unequivocal failure of Hotez’s assertions, he continues to be given large platforms to spread his unique brand of misinformation and authoritarianism. This horrifying passage comes from The Daily Beast:

Other steps required include maximizing employer mandates and those for federal agencies, and, as I have been working to do for months, being more aggressive in combating disinformation. We should consider potential sanctions against members of the U.S. Congress who deliberately promote dangerous health practices, to take just one example.

Even these measures may not get us to the last mile. It’s hard to estimate the number of last holdouts who are deeply suspicious and resentful of vaccinations, but we must recognize that this group will likely become the ones responsible for both continuing this current surge and even the potential evolution of new virus variants, and that some might even act on their anger and resentment. While we need a more assertive White House making the case to the American people that full and complete vaccinations are essential to our safety, we also need to brace for an even uglier wave of pandemic backlash.

I do agree that we need to be more aggressive in combating disinformation, especially when it comes from people like Hotez, who uses credentialism to spread inaccurate propaganda and advocate for penalties for those who do not fall in line behind his desire to control discourse and personal decision making.

But another key passage of inaccuracy in his angry, woefully misguided piece is where he blames the unvaccinated for “continuing this current surge and even the potential evolution of new virus variants.”

Singapore has 85% of the entire country vaccinated, and not just the eligible population, but the entire population. Yet they’re reporting more population adjusted cases than the European Union has ever reported.

Incredibly, in this piece, published on September 7, 2021, Hotez stokes fear and resentment of the “unvaccinated” by claiming they’ll be responsible for continuing the current surge, while in another piece on September 9, 2021, Hotez is quoted:

“We can say that the virus has reemerged in the southern United States, primarily among unvaccinated people, but it doesn’t mean we have to blame the unvaccinated,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said.

Emphasis mine.

Dizzy yet? I wonder if The Daily Beast will be following up with the good doctor to see if he’d like to revise his conflicting statements.

So within just the past month and a half, Hotez claims 85% vaccination rates will “get us past” COVID, and says that the unvaccinated will be responsible for surges until we reach that target, then willfully ignores a country that immediately disproves his assumptions.

Perfection.

Importantly, and surprisingly, Singapore’s Ministry of Health also used to provide detailed breakdowns of hospitalizations by vaccination status, but naturally transitioned recently to more broad and simplistic statements.

Their latest update, gives only raw percentages of vaccinated cases in the ICU:

Amongst those who required oxygen supplementation and ICU, 48.8% were fully vaccinated and 51.2% were unvaccinated/ partially vaccinated.

While obviously implying some level of vaccine efficacy given Singapore’s high rates, 49% fully vaccinated - 51% unvaccinated in the ICU clearly does not match Hotez’s inflammatory rhetoric.


Reuters also went into great detail on Singapore, describing how remarkably successful their response had been:

Singapore has managed to mitigate the spread of the virus via early detection using aggressive contact tracing and testing that won praise from the World Health Organization

Testing and tracing is always key — just ask California, where an “army” of contact tracers was able to completely prevent cases from rising in the winter of 2020:

You can see why Singapore did so well, with how incredibly important and effective mass testing and tracing obviously is.

But naturally, no premature COVID success story would be complete without crediting masks, and Reuters, and their associated experts did not disappoint:

The city-state made masks mandatory in public in April. While experts have said more studies need be done, there is growing evidence that wearing masks helps reduce the prevalance and severity of the virus. The WHO has recommended the use of masks in combination with other social distancing measures.

“We have adopted a good mask culture in Singapore. This makes the disease milder,” said Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases expert at the city’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

I wonder if anyone is going to follow up with the “infectious diseases expert” quoted here to see if he’d like to revise his statement on “good mask culture,” given what’s happened since:

Somehow I doubt anyone will even think to question the assumptions about “mask culture” impacting COVID.

Now, to be fair, the article is mostly focused on Singapore’s low death rate. While cumulatively and comparatively, Singapore’s death rate has been low, it has unfortunately been rising rapidly of late:

And just as one example, their recent death rate has outpaced Sweden:

Truly bizarre how masks only keep death rates low periodically, isn’t it?


Singapore is yet another entry in the endless list of expert overconfidence. They make concrete predictions and statements, see their assertions proven conclusively wrong, and then move on to the next example.

There’s never any self-doubt, humility, or mea culpas, no matter how often they’re wrong and how may people they mislead. It’s just repetitive gaslighting with their proclamations treated as gospel by an adoring press.

They are determined to sell an impossible scenario where COVID could just be “controlled” if we all would just pipe down, listen to them, and do what we’re told.

It’s a relentless and extremely predictable, tiresome gaslighting program, promoted and encouraged by media outlets who continue to give tremendous platforms to sentient credentials who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

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Our World in Data has a different vaccination rate for Singapore than the Ministry of Health, which is why the number is different on the chart than the one referenced afterwards.