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Flawed Fiat: Challenging Adrian Gore (Part 6)

Part #6 – An open letter to Discovery founder and CEO Adrian Gore

(Read Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 and Part 5)

Adrian Gore has mandated thousands of people get a specific medical treatment. That demands a bulletproof justification. I’d like to challenge him on that. I argue that his “six-point rationale” is flawed.

Many will follow his ruling by reason of his formal source of power as leader of Discovery. Many will follow it because of the high esteem they justifiably hold him in.

In a series of pieces, I will press Gore on many of his premises. My goal is healthy debate. This is important for the precedent it can set and the impact a vaccine mandate will have on lives. I heartily invite your response and a good-spirited debate. 

My Part #6 challenge to Adrian:

  • “Overwhelming”?
  •  Seven problems, and they’re all deep.
  • “Everything possible”?

Dear Adrian

You say, “The law is an enabler of our policy, and not an impediment to it.”

First: Caveat author

I’m not a lawyer. I’ll avoid attempting to be one in this letter. Where I rely on the Bill of Rights, I’ll be treating it as a fantastic set of rules that demand a high burden to justifiably limit. And while I appreciate that these rights primarily place obligations on the state, I’ll treat them as principles that private entities like Discovery ought to live up to, regardless of any technicalities around how a court would apply them. I leave the hard legal arguments to the jurists.  

Overwhelming proof?

Adrian, you argue there is “overwhelming proof that vaccination is the single most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and others against Covid-19.”

Over the last five letters I have shown evidence questioning and contradicting the efficacy of Covid vaccines. We can have a quality debate about the merits on both sides. But that is difficult if you think you have met the burden of “overwhelming proof”.

That is an unsustainable claim that derails good debate.

Vaccines are not effective at preventing transmission; they have substantial ability to limit symptoms and prevent death; they only last a few months; natural immunity is stronger on all accounts.

Vaccines are also not completely safe. As for their long-term side effects, we necessarily don’t know.

For the above, I reference letters #1 to #5 for full evidence and argument. And I add one more.

A study in the European Journal of Epidemiology has found no correlation between the uptake of vaccination and cases.

The chart below is striking. The trend line actually goes upwards. That is, slightly more cases as vaccination rates get higher. However, the authors do not claim this positive relationship is statistically significant. It sure looks it.

In short, across 68 countries and 2947 US counties vaccinations are not stopping cases. They may be causing them.

As the authors put it, “At the country-level, there appears to be no discernible relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days”. And the same applies to countries: “At the country-level, there appears to be no discernible relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days (Fig. 1). In fact, the trend line suggests a marginally positive association such that countries with higher percentage of population fully vaccinated have higher COVID-19 cases per 1 million people. Notably, Israel with over 60% of their population fully vaccinated had the highest COVID-19 cases per 1 million people in the last 7 days”.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford tweeted regarding this study: “There is a lot to learn from this graph, but most obviously, the COVID vax does not stop infection. The vax provides a private benefit (protection vs. severe disease), but limited public benefit (protection vs. disease spread). So what is the argument for mandates?”

Adrian, I ask that you revise use of the term “overwhelming proof”. I’d suggest that even a “balance of probabilities” is a standard you have not met. But at least that is something we can debate around. “Overwhelming” suggests you’re not open to new data that contradicts your position.

A high threshold

[As above, I will treat the Constitution as a good set of rules and avoid a strict legal argument which is out of my wheelhouse.]

All human rights can be limited. Section 36 of the Constitution manages that. And we have plenty of laws of general application that legitimately do just this. But they can also be illegitimately infringed upon. And the burden for showing a limitation is not an infringement is a high one.

You speak only generally about constitutionality. I argue that your duty to staff is to address rights individually. Each right needs to be shown to be appropriately treated, and each time the burden is high.

I submit that all seven of the following need your full attention and sound evidence that limiting each one is justifiable:

  1. Human dignity (the “death penalty case”, S v Makwanyane, shows just how broadly and robustly this right is applied by the Constitutional Court).
  2. Freedom and security of the person. Specifically, “12(2) Everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right- (a)… (b) to security in the control over their body; and (c) not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without their informed consent”.
  3. Privacy.
  4. Freedom of religion, belief and opinion.
  5. Freedom of movement and residence.
  6. Freedom of trade, occupation and profession
  7. Fair labour practices.

“Everything possible”?

The law does not compel you to do “everything possible to protect [your] employees from harm and ensure a safe workplace”.

This is not an acceptably framed claim. It reduces too easily to absurdity. “Everything possible” incorporates hyperbolic extremes. In fact, you’ve given yourself no limit to your duty to keep staff safe. “Everything possible” makes hazmat suits insufficient. In fact, it rules out nothing. It is consistent with putting all of your staff in self-contained breathing bubbles for the rest of their lives. #AdAbsurdum 

It also begs the question. If you have to do everything possible but with limited (albeit vast) resources, where do you deploy your time and money? Have you somewhere demonstrated your claim that “vaccination is the single most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and others against Covid-19”? Can you save more lives by banning staff from eating unhealthy foods and mandating jogging? I would hypothesise yes.

This standard of “everything possible” provides us with no useful guidance. I can say it in casual conversation. But in the space of life-and-death policymaking, it does more to obscure than to guide.  


I’m not just breaking down your approach. I propose a solution.

Science is about ruthlessly and bravely questioning everything. Discovery is a place that I have long thought to be scientific. This provides what I reckon is an irresistible way forward:

  1. Review the science and the arguments;
  2. Conclude that a vaccine mandate is wrong;
  3. Scrap your mandate;
  4. Be bold about it. You are following science;  
  5. Reap the rewards of brave leadership.

Next: Faulty Fiat #7

  • Recap of major evidence.
  • Summary of the most aspirational mandate-free solutions from around the world.

Chart of the day:

I’m repeating the one above. It is staggering.

Recommended reading: Social Isolation May Increase Susceptibility to Covid-19, Scientist Claims

Many of our responses to Covid have made the problem worse. This heightens the need for a return to the tried-and-tested precautionary principle and individual healthcare decisions based on good information and your own doctor’s advice.

Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University has spent decades researching how stress and social isolation boost vulnerability to upper respiratory infections. This is why we get sick after that big marathon or too many long nights closing a big deal.

“He believes there is a possibility that the psychological effect of stay-at-home measures, adopted by countries around the world to slow down the spread of the virus by minimising contact between people, might play a similar role by increasing a person’s susceptibility to Covid-19 illness.

“He said stay-at-home measures can increase interpersonal stressors, such as loneliness, loss of employment and familial conflict, which may be “powerful predictors of how a person will respond if exposed to coronavirus”.”

Video of the week

Vaccine mandates are fuelling devastating personal choices around world. Here’s an example from police in Chicago. 64% are vaccinated. The rest face dismissal.

Firing someone is always ugly. Firing someone for not taking one of these rapidly produced vaccines with such dubious effectiveness and no long-term studies on safety strikes me as a grotesque situation to be in.

I wonder if you’ll be in the room when that inevitably has to be done to some members of your staff. Will you?

If you are mandating thousands of people get a specific medical treatment, your argument should be bulletproof. On my analysis, yours has meaningful faults that deserve fuller consideration before the rule takes effect on many lives.

Adrian, I would hugely appreciate your engagement on this. Despite my strong conviction one way, I endeavour to be open-minded and ready to change my mind if persuaded. Despite your decision, and I imagine an equally potent yet polar conviction to mine, I do hope you’ll do the same. 


Ian Macleod

Ian Macleod

Ian Macleod

Ian Macleod studied business science at the University of Cape Town, and journalism at Rhodes University. He completed his MBA at the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in 2017. Ian's career has spanned from feature writing for magazines to consulting at a big four professional services firm. Currently he divides his time between two consulting roles, one in a quasi-academic capacity and the other to investment firms in the novel field of narrative economics.

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