The following interview with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya has been several years in the making. In the early days of the pandemic I thought it a good idea to google COVID and see what popped up. To my utter delight, Dr. Bhattacharya appeared on an interesting show called UnCommon Knowledge, hosted by Peter Robinson. I couldn’t believe my ears. Robertson was interviewing this calm, intelligent, experienced individual (he’s been in public health since H1N1). What he was saying was indeed uncommon!

He was suggesting that the strategy of locking people down to avoid transmission of the virus amounted to little more than a trade off. Lockdowns would produce a loss of life just as the virus was taking lives. Lockdowns would inevitably cut off the poorest people from their sources of income in developing countries as well as in lower socioeconomic areas within developed countries. Loss of quality of life would also occur in families where much needed breaks ceased for those at risk of physical and emotional abuse by a family member. In many instances, being cut off from one’s community resulted in higher rates of depression, and suicide. He went on to say that there was an alternative that would help both groups: those affected most by the lockdowns, and those affected most by the virus, and it was called focused protection.

Aside from being measured and reasonable in his analysis based on the data, what struck me about Dr. Jay’s analysis and alternative strategy was that it was not being heard. After watching several more of his interviews, I thought I would write him and ask him to come to Canada to talk about his ideas. He agreed to be part of a panel discussion at a conference that was scheduled in the summer of 2022 at UBCO in Kelowna, BC. When it became clear to Dr. Jay that Canada was still randomly testing and that even though he had 2 shots of a vaccine for COVID, testing positive would mean he would need to quarantine. He could not miss his next trip to Rome.

As disappointing as this turn of events was, it was my good fortune to be able to visit him at Stanford University and do what I have wanted to do for the past 3 years namely get him a wider audience! I am hoping that everyone in the Okanagan will watch this interview. As you will discover in the video, powerful people succeeded in curtailing his point of view. And for that very reason, Conversation Café was birthed. Why would anyone want to silence this incredible human being, or anyone like him? You could say that what others meant for ill, has transformed many of us into participants on the most important issues of our day. Everywhere, people in Canada are emerging to exercise their citizenship. A fire is being lit in many to pursue truth and promote solutions that benefit not only the “laptop class” but the rest of society as well. Whatever you find yourself doing to invest yourself in a better and more just society, keep doing it! Do it with love and like Dr. Jay, do it with integrity.