Letter to the Lebanese Minister of Public Health Mr Firas Abiad to protect children and young people in Lebanon from the COVID-19 response
04 October 2021
I write to you to share my deep concerns. As a public health professional, a psychologist and an educator, it is clear to me that children and young people, although practically unaffected by the virus, have been the biggest victims of the response.

Dear Mr Firas Abiad-Minister of Public Health for Lebanon,

I would like to take this occasion to congratulate you on your new role as the Minister of Public Health for Lebanon and thank you for your commitment and efforts throughout the Pandemic.

I write to you to share my deep concerns. As a public health professional, a psychologist and an educator, it is clear to me that children and young people, although practically unaffected by the virus, have been the biggest victims of the response. The Declaration for the Protection of Children and Young People from the COVID-19 Response reviews the massive harm inflicted upon children and young people as a result of school closures, social distancing, isolation and masking.

The unprecedented pandemic response measures mark a drastic departure from pre-COVID-19 public health guidelines. It is now evident that these measures have caused more public harm than public health. Several of these measures, in accordance with global directives, are not based on any scientific evidence.

  1. All pre-COVID-19 Pandemic preparedness plans acknowledge that respiratory viruses can not be eradicated. Any policy with that objective is bound to fail.
  2. Lockdowns are ineffective at stopping transmission or reducing deaths from an airborne respiratory virus. Study after study has confirmed the immense collateral damage they cause.
  3. Reviews by the CDC, the WHO and the Center of Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, among others, show that masks are ineffective at stopping the spread of a virus which is transmitted through aerosols – the virus is much smaller than the openings in the mask and can pass through with every breath.
  4.  A systematic review and meta-analysis from 2020 showed that asymptomatic spread is not a key driver of disease.
  5. The PCR test is not designed to diagnose infectiousness or illness. It merely detects SARS-CoV-2 genetic material, dead or alive. Testing asymptomatic individuals and using very high cycle thresholds above 30 leads to many false positives (which leads to misattribution of deaths). Mass testing and contact tracing of asymptomatic people is a waste of resources. Only high-risk patients with symptoms should be tested to inform their treatment.
  6. The Conditions for Emergency Use Authorization of the vaccines include:
    a) The disease caused by the virus is life-threatening (This is only the case for a small section of the population. The average mortality with COVID is similar to the flu at around 0.15%, globally and 99.95% of individuals below 70 survive if infected – including those with comorbidities.)
    b) There is no treatment for the disease (Treatment of COVID-19 has been available since August 2020 (home-based early treatment protocol, IVERMECTIN, monoclonal antibodies), so EUA is invalid). The COVID-19 vaccines should be studied further in randomised controlled trials. Several medical groups have raised concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  7. Vaccination should be based on individual medical needs. The vaccination of children and young people is unnecessary and potentially harmful. Here are 10 reasons why children and young people should not get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  8. Natural immunity is broader and longer-lasting than vaccine-induced immunity. Vaccinating recovered individuals is contraindicated as studies show higher reporting of adverse events following vaccination in recovered patients (1, 2, 3). The vaccination of recovered individuals is unnecessary, and therefore the imposition of any vaccine risk cannot be justified.
  9. Although vaccines are not mandatory in Lebanon, coercion by requiring PCR testing for work or to access schools/universities is being widely used. Medical interventions require voluntary informed consent without “any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion”.
  10. Differential treatment of people based on vaccination status is discriminatory and against The Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. “No individual or group should be discriminated against or stigmatized on any grounds, in violation of human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms”. There is further no scientific justification for such treatment. The vaccinated can get infected, they can spread the disease and they have a similar viral load as the unvaccinated. Here are 10 reasons against the use of vaccine passports.

A proportionate and well-balanced response must take into account all of the above facts, otherwise, resources are wasted, fear remains rampant in the population and unnecessary pressures hinder people’s wellbeing and economic recovery.

I urge you to return normality to the lives of children and young people, to protect them from harm and allow them to recover.

“In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”

The UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1989)  (Article 3, Para 1)

ACTION 1: Measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing and testing and contact tracing have not been shown to have any beneficial effect in the management of the pandemic. Lifting such measures in educational institutions will improve the physical and mental health of children and young people, as well as facilitate their learning and cognitive development.

ACTION 2: Halting the vaccine rollout for children and young people on the basis of the precautionary principle is safer for our young at this point, given the lack of data on the long-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. High-risk individuals are free to opt for the COVID-19 vaccines.

ACTION 3: The use of coercion in vaccination is unethical and unscientific. Upholding freedom of choice and human dignity is crucial to achieving public health. All entities coercing individuals to take the vaccine against their choice must be held accountable. See my letter to the president of the American University of Beirut and to the president of the Lebanese American University.

I am sure you agree that children and young people are our most valuable treasures. They should not be sacrificed for any imagined ‘good’. They should be cherished and protected from all harm, now and into the future.

I urge you to put our children and young people first.

I remain at your disposal to discuss the concerns I raise in this letter and am prepared to collaborate with the Ministry of Public Health to develop a holistic solution that takes physical, mental and social wellbeing, as well as economic flourishing into account, while reducing total harm to society

Yours sincerely,

Abir Ballan
Twitter: @abirballan


Photo by Charbel Karam on Unsplash

Publisher’s note: The opinions and findings expressed in articles, reports and interviews on this website are not necessarily the opinions of PANDA, its directors or associates.

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