“The tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be entering the containment phase. Tens of thousands of Americans have died, and Americans are now desperate for sensible policymakers who have the courage to ignore the panic and rely on facts,” Dr. Scott W. Atlas writes for The Hill. “Leaders must examine accumulated data to see what has actually happened, rather than keep emphasizing hypothetical projections; combine that empirical evidence with fundamental principles of biology established for decades; and then thoughtfully restore the country to function.”
Five key facts are being ignored by those calling for continuing the near-total lockdown.
• Fact 1: The overwhelming majority of people do not have any significant risk of dying from COVID-19.
• Fact 2: Protecting older, at-risk people eliminates hospital overcrowding.
• Fact 3: Vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem.
• Fact 4: People are dying because other medical care is not getting done due to hypothetical projections.
• Fact 5: We have a clearly defined population at risk who can be protected with targeted measures.
The appropriate policy, based on fundamental biology and the evidence already in hand, is to institute a more focused strategy… Strictly protect the known vulnerable, self-isolate the mildly sick and open most workplaces and small businesses with some prudent large-group precautions. This would allow the essential socializing to generate immunity among those with minimal risk of serious consequence, while saving lives, preventing overcrowding of hospitals and limiting the enormous harms compounded by continued total isolation. Let’s stop underemphasizing empirical evidence while instead doubling down on hypothetical models. Facts matter.
MacDailyNews Take: Certainly, given the lack of data, the known results of the Spanish Flu, and the dire early models, the COVID-19 panic was to be expected. As we learn more, some of that panicky feeling has blessedly subsided.
If the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t shine a klieg light on the dysfunction of American media, nothing does. You’ve got headlines blaring “Lockdown Until a Vaccine is Found” right next to “We’ve Destroyed Our Economy Based on Bad Models” all the while, in the real world, Sweden – which did not impose a lockdown – is said to be with weeks of reaching “herd immunity,” yet we do not have good data from Sweden or anywhere else on the extent of COVID infection and recovery (and hopefully long-lasting) immunity to the virus.
“Sweden’s government has advocated working from home if at all possible and to avoid nonessential travel and social contact with the elderly. Meanwhile, restaurants, bars, cafes and nightclubs have been offering seated table service only, and gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned. Yet schools for under 16-year-olds have remained open and life has generally carried on as before, just at a quieter pace,” CNBC reports.
Even experts in Sweden warn that it’s too early to draw conclusions, but given the huge economic damage caused by strict lockdowns, the Swedish approach has drawn considerable interest around the world.
“Sweden’s COVID-19 strategy may ultimately result in a smaller — albeit historically deep — economic contraction than the rest of Europe is now facing, according to HSBC Global Research economist James Pomeroy,” Bloomberg reports. “Pomeroy pointed to some Swedish characteristics that may be helping the country deal with the current crisis. More than half of Swedish households are single-person, making social distancing easier to carry out. More people work from home than anywhere else in Europe, and everyone has access to fast Internet, which helps large chunks of the workforce stay productive away from the office.”
So, we don’t yet have enough data and the data we do have contain too many variables (the makeup of typical households in Sweden are quite different than in Italy, for example), to know what the right course of action is, but one thing is for sure, a functioning economy is necessary and if it is destroyed, it’ll be a helluva lot worse that anything COVID-19 seems capable of doing. Yes, the cure can be worse than the disease. We’ll have to take baby steps to restart the economy, ready to adjust on-the-fly wherever hotspots appear, and we’ll have to take necessary precautions to avoid transmission (masks, hand-washing, social distancing, etc.) until a vaccine is found.
• Apple CEO Cook joins President Trump’s committee on reopening American economy – April 15, 2020
• Apple CEO Tim Cook joins California’s business recovery task force – April 17, 2020
Obviously, the sooner we can find out the COVID-19 infection rates in populations (massive, widespread antibody testing – which is easier said than done) and if immunity is attained by those who’ve recovered and, if yes, how long immunity lasts are three very important pieces of knowledge as we try to get to an effective vaccine without irrevocably damaging the economy. A severe economic disruption will very likely provoke the immeasurable costs of widespread unemployment, social isolation, and increased mental health issues, suicide rates, bankruptcies, civil unrest, crime, and war.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers too numerous to mention for the heads up.]