Dear Leaders, Councillors and Editors,
I served as a police officer for 30 years in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). I retired from the MPS in February 2020. For the last 10 years of my service, I was an Inspector, primarily managing a Professional Standards department and had responsibility for Borough Health and Safety. I also supported response teams in capacity as Duty Inspector, dealing with and advising on critical and crisis incidents. Being a police officer was a life changing event for me, as it is for many. The friendships and experiences I had were beyond anything I ever thought possible. I was mentally and physically challenged every step of the way in the pursuit of improving my own qualities and delivering a continually evolving better version of myself with every professional and public interaction. The knowledge and calibre of people I worked alongside was nothing short of exceptional in the most demanding of circumstances, at every rank. This rightly, should be the goal of anyone holding public office.
I know from social media that some officers fall extremely short of the behaviour that is expected of the oath we take. I make no excuses for failure of duties and responsibilities, use of excessive force or lacking honesty and integrity. Police officers like this should be dealt with as anyone else for crimes they have committed.
This pandemic has been challenging for everyone in the UK and globally. The police are no exception, further compounded by continuous assault by media. As the pandemic progressed, I began my usual and innate search, out of curiosity for information that was coming from virologists, doctors, scientists and statisticians that believed certain aspects of Covid- 19 were different to those being presented through government briefings and main media platforms. As an investigator of experience, I was able to separate what I believed was fact from fiction and propaganda. I spent more than cursory hours looking into these issues and overtime built a picture of possibly unfathomable errors that have been made in controlling freedoms of UK citizens. I have not heard any great public debate or challenge. Full disclosure is the cornerstone of any investigation. This does not appear to have manifested. A myopic mindset has been adopted throughout. We have trusted some half-truths and stopped searching for the whole truth.
The first few months of the pandemic policies were dictated and enforced based on the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. This diagnostic tool continues to be used as I write in June 2021. This test was invented by Nobel prize winner – Professor Kary Mullis. His views on PCR are documented later in this report. The World Health Organisation in December 2020 published a Product Alert about the PCR process. Testing globally to this point and further had utilised PCR tests as a diagnostic tool. The alert contained direction on PCR cycle threshold and usage of standardised diagnostic criteria. Their guidance is reproduced below. Attempts by fact checkers to misrepresent these issues have been disingenuous at best.
This is what Public Health England has published about PCR tests.
RT- PCR detects presence of viral genetic material in a sample but is not able to distinguish whether infectious virus is present.
What is a CT value?
The cycle threshold (Ct) can be defined as the thermal cycle number at which the fluorescent signal exceeds that of the background and thus passes the threshold for positivity.
A typical RT- PCR assay will have a maximum of 40 thermal cycles. The lower the Ct value the higher the quantity of viral genetic material in the sample (as an approximate proxy for viral load). Ct values obtained in this way are semi-quantitative and are able to distinguish between high and low viral load. A 3-point increase in Ct value is roughly equivalent to a 10-fold decrease in the quantity of viral genetic material.
Ct values are not directly comparable between assays and may not be reported by some RT- PCR platforms in use. Interpreting single positive Ct values for staging infectious course, prognosis, infectivity or as an indicator of recovery must be done with context about the clinical history. Low Ct values (high viral load) more likely indicate acute disease and high infectivity. High Ct values (low viral load) can be attributed to several clinical scenarios whereby the risk of infectivity may be reduced but interpretation requires clinical context. (Author note: ‘is the patient ill in the traditional sense?’)
A worrying tale of clinical diagnostic disaster
In January 2007 an article written in the New York Times entitled ‘Faith in quick test leads to epidemic that wasn’t’, addressed PCR false positives tests. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre believed they were in the grip of an epidemic of whooping cough (pertussis) and turned to PCR testing for health care workers. Approximately 1,000 were given a PCR test and furloughed from work pending laboratory test results. 142 tested diagnosed positive under the PCR, thousands were administered protective drugs which included antibiotics and vaccinations. Medical facilities were taken out of commission, including ICU beds. A year later the outbreak was declared a false alarm after extensive laboratory work determined not a single case was identified as positive. Epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists expressed concern that too much faith had been placed in the highly sensitive molecular PCR test.
Dr Cathy A. Petti, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah, said “The big message is that every lab is vulnerable to having false positives. No single test result is absolute and that is even more important with a test result based on PCR.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) concluded ‘PCR is an important tool for diagnosing individual cases of pertussis in persons for whom a high index of suspicion exists and for whom timely treatment and PEP are essential. However, the positive predictive value can be lower if PCR is used as a screening tool without culture confirmation during a suspected pertussis outbreak. Overreliance on the results of PCR assays can lead to implementation of unnecessary and resource-intensive control measures (e.g., case identification, antimicrobial treatment, furlough of ill persons, and administration of PEP). In outbreak settings, positive PCR results should be interpreted in conjunction with epidemiologic investigation, evaluation of clinical symptoms, and confirmation by culture. CDC recommends timely collection and testing (early in the course of illness and during the initial stages of the outbreak) of nasopharyngeal specimens for culture in at least a subset of persons who are symptomatic to confirm pertussis as the etiology of the outbreak.
During my research I familiarised myself with a diagnostic technical manual, entitled PCR Protocols. This weighty book was advertised by book sellers for several hundred pounds. It was not an easy book to obtain or digest. My primary focus was to seek further clarity on issues surrounding cycle rate threshold and how this specifically related to novel viruses. Professor Kary Mullis (page 8) discusses cycle rate. He states: “If you have to go more than 40 cycles to amplify a single- gene copy, there is something seriously wrong with your PCR.
Plateau Effect This is my summary of what I learned from reading PCR Protocols (A Guide to Methods and Applications). Excessive – amplification cycles can lead to a phenomenon known as the Plateau Effect. Nonspecific background products can result from executing too many cycles. The true ‘gold standard’ to obtain reliable positive results it to progress a ‘viral culture’ in a laboratory. Unfortunately, a diagnosis is usually made entirely on PCR.
A danger of reaching plateau is that low volume nonspecific fragments may continue to amplify preferentially. Optimising PCR cycles rate is the best way to avoid this. The volume of amplified DNA influences amplification efficiency. The cleanest result is obtained by using smaller PCR cycles. Increased cycles often produce nonspecific products. Larger cycles may cause contamination issues. Small amounts of unwanted target sequences may lead to false positives. Detectible results occur after 23 cycles. Optimal amplification is obtained between 20 to 30 cycles. Inverse correlation exists between amplification and size of fragment due to degraded DNA. Novel viral agents rely on substantial number of particles. Mammalian genome presents additional problems and can result in unacceptable backgrounds. Novel viruses should have a total of 32 cycles of amplification depending on target fragment and background.
A number of opposing views have been held by commentators on a statement by Professor Mullis. Many believe he is undermining the PCR process. I think this is a mistake to think this and disingenuous by some. He is just affirming that extended PCR amplification, although useful to discuss, does not mean that meaningful genetic material has been probably found, when it enters extended cycle thresholds. This is what he said:
Professor Kary Mullis (interview- YouTube)
“And with PCR; if you do it well you can almost find anything in anybody. Starts making you believe in sort of the Buddhist notion that everything is contained in everything else- right- I mean cos’ if you can amplify one single molecule to up to something that you can really measure; which PCR can do then there’s just very few molecules that you don’t have at least one single one of them in your body okay. So that could be thought of a misuse of it- to claim that it’s meaningful. It allows you to take a miniscule amount of anything and make it measurable and then talk about it in meetings and stuff like it is important. So that’s not misuse; it’s just sort of misinterpretation. It doesn’t tell you that your sick and the thing that you ended up with really was going to hurt you or anything like that.”
In this explanation, Professor Mullis is referencing PCR in relation to HIV. Sadly, he passed away a number of months before the Covid pandemic. His statement is included here for clarity and completeness.
Surge testing dominated headlines during the pandemic. The UK Government definition is:
‘Surge testing is increased testing (including door-to-door testing in some areas) and enhanced contact tracing in specific locations in England and can look different depending on assessment of local requirements. It involves testing of people who do not have symptoms of Covid 19’
UK citizens have been and continue to be tested in huge number. The glaring question has to be what part does cycle threshold play in the surge testing of the ‘directed worried well?’ Positive PCR has had the enormous propensity to inflate Covid statistical death. The World Health Organisation published a product alert in December 2020 regarding cycle rate and contextual clinical presentation (see below). (Jefferson et al.) found the prevalence of a false positive result increases with each additional cycle after 24. In September 2020 the BBC reported the following: The main test used to diagnose coronaviruses is so sensitive it could be picking up fragments of dead virus from old infections, scientists say. Additionally, Prof Heneghan, spotted a quirk in how deaths were being recorded, which led Public Health England to reform its system. A review of how deaths from coronaviruses are counted in England has reduced the UK death toll by more than 5,000, to 41,329, the government has announced.
A new definition applied to statistical death reduced recording criteria from ‘anytime’ to within 28 days. This review took place on or about August 2020. So why has no review of PCR testing been completed? A focused task force in conjunction with UK labs could have easily addressed this.
World Health Organisation (WHO) – global directives issued 14 December 2020 and 20 January 2021 – Medical Product Alert
Diagnostic Testing for Covid 19 “careful interpretation of weak positive results is needed. The cycle threshold (CT) needed to detect virus is inversely proportional to the patient viral load. When test results do not correspond with the clinical presentation – a new specimen should be taken or retested using the same or different NAT technology. WHO reminds users that disease prevalence alters the predictive value of test results, the risk of false positives increases. This means that the probability that a person who has a positive result (SARS Cov-2) is truly infected with SARS Cov-2, decreases as prevalence decreases- irrespective of the clinical specificity. Most PCR assays are indicated as an aid for diagnosis; therefore, health care providers must consider any result in combination with timing of sampling, specimen type, assay specifics, clinical observations, patient history, confirmed status of any contacts, and epidemiological information. Author note: (Is the patient ill in the traditional sense?)
Public Health England report that a typical PCR will have a maximum cycle rate of 40. PCR protocols do allow for greater amplification up to that value to seek out fragments, but this is a problem area, as the search is based on the perception of viral load and clinical context. A 3 -point increase in cycle amplification is equivalent to a 10- fold decrease in the quantity of genetic fragments. PCR detects sequences of viral genome. It does not detect whole viral particles. It does not tell you what you are finding is live virus, or just non-infectious fragments of viral genome. Viral culture in a laboratory is the ‘gold standard’- not PCR.
When the World Health Organisation published this product alert in December 2020 the damage was already done. A global issue surrounding cycle threshold amplification rate and lacking clinical context, conflated with surge testing had already led to a crisis of shattered clinical diagnostic chaos. Government policies trundled on without in my view any critical analysis of this change in safeguard and the statistical case and death rate reported to the public previously. Nevertheless, further restrictions were imposed. I have not heard any public body in the UK speaking or debating about this glaring anomaly. The PCR process was instrumental in supporting continued deprivation of liberty by adding to statistical case and death number. Fact checkers, I’m sure will jump on their high horse pointing out that cycle amplification can assist with identifying asymptomatic individuals. Whilst this may have some truth, it should not in my view add to the ever- increasing statistical death count.
We are also told that ‘cross reactivity’ is an extremely rare event (a situation where PCR could incorrectly identify unrelated cold and flu viruses). Truth or otherwise, this no doubt added head-count to queues waiting for a PCR test due to cold and flu symptoms. It would come as no surprise that many could test positive because of dead fragment phenomena from previous COVID, reflecting in statistical death rate later.
If proven, multiple failure of duties and responsibilities will abound in those holding public office. It is a weighty thing to hold public office. When basic human freedoms have been withheld because of lacking cognitive insight and transparency, there is a case to answer.
My confidence in ‘public body title’ has been totally undermined in the last 12+ months. The values I held as a police officer; an investigator; and member of a free society have been shaken to the core through the lack of meaningful and effective debate and investigation. Enquiry and integrity have been lost. Disclosure has been stifled and continues to be so. If I am feeling this, I’m sure others are too. I am already aware of class actions being taken against government bodies globally by eminent and professional people. More disclosure and debate are required to restore confidence in the public about this silence. Full and complete investigation into true death rate should be disclosed. A world that has been chastised by terrible disease and terrible fear must be debated and where applicable persons held to account. A more enlightened fortitude is needed in a world that begs for it
Colin Edge BSC (Hons) (Ret. Inspector)
(MPS 1990 – 2020)
Public Health England (what is a CT value?)
New York Times – article ( ‘Faith in quick test leads to epidemic that wasn’t
Dr Cathy A. Petti – (vulnerability of PCR testing)
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (caution on PCR testing)
PCR Protocols – (A Guide to Methods and Applications) (ISBN 0-12-372181-4)
Professor Karry Mullis (Nobel Prize) (inventor of PCR)
World Health Organisation (WHO) – PCR Product Alert – December 2020.
Gov.UK – (definition of surge testing)
Dr. Omar Zaid Newsletter
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