I have been a little distracted by real work, so am behind, especially on the research papers. Here are some quick summaries of news articles and op-ed type columns. These I generally select because if you want the hell scared out of you about how you are going to sick and die, while ignoring the economic havoc we are wreaking on ourselves, you can get all you want of that on cable and network channels and in the mainstream newspapers. I focus on a different perspective that is more based in fact and logic. So here we go.
This story suggests, which I believe, that the current lockdowns are actually worsening the ultimate outcome of the battle with coronavirus. (Spiked Column) The author is a professor of Medicine at Harvard, need I say more, and he starts from the premise that given the nature of the virus it isn’t going to be eradicated, so population immunity is the only sensible strategy. A vaccine is some time off, if one that works well can be developed at all. And the risk to the general population from becoming infected is miniscule. Meanwhile, people are so frightened that they aren’t seeking health care they need and our health system is withering away. He then makes a key point I am working on in a longer post, that the best protection for the vulnerable–older, infirm people, those living in LTC facilities and those with pre-existing conditions–is for enough of the rest of us to have developed immunity so that the virus isn’t transmissing actively in the population. You can accomplish this by isolating those vulnerable groups, while others go about their business as usual with appropriate hygiene and social distancing tactics. This is the kind of opinion that needs to be heeded by policymakers.
Next up, Thomas Friedman, who we haven’t heard from in a while, has another column in the New York Times. (Friedman Column) Mr. Friedman was an early doubter of the wisdom of extreme shutdowns. In this column, he discusses Sweden’s approach, with more moderate mitigation of spread measures deployed in that country. Well worth a read as he suggests that there has to be a more sustainable approach than the extreme lockdowns we are deploying, which only leave us vulnerable to ongoing waves of infection.
Next up another depressing story about what we are doing to our health care system. (Federalist Column) Health care is almost 20% of our economy and employs tens of millions of people. So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that when you shut down business and terrorize the population about their risk that health care providers are suffering as well. This story is written by a physician whose own practice has been severely impacted. The practice was told to stop doing elective procedures and to restrict office visits. He details the harms to the health of the practice’s patients being done by the shutdown. He also expresses the fear many providers have about lawsuits relating to coronavirus.
Notwithstanding the extreme shutdowns that are supposedly saving lives, we are doing a terrible job of protecting the elderly, especially in long-term care facilities. My home state of Minnesota leads the way, but an Atlantic article details how it isn’t alone. (Atlantic Story) The article faults governments for failing to have an early focus on and dedication of extra resources to the long-term care facilities in particular. One problem is that public LTC’s in particular are underfunded in general and tend to have staff who are lowly-paid. The author is far too sensationalist for my taste, but the article does point out the deficiencies in how we have addressed this crisis in LTCs.
Another story focuses on letting students return to school. (Reason Article) As I pointed out in a post earlier this week, the risk of serious illness and death among the 104 million Americans aged 24 and under is almost non-existent. If you had two million of them in a room, maybe one would have died, and that one would have some serious pre-existing health condition. So why are we keeping them from going about their normal lives–why are we depriving them of the educational experiences that are so important to success in life and the all the extracurricular activities that develop strong social and other skills. Distance learning is no substitute and the current approach is decimating college budgets.
And finally, one more depressing story about a study in the UK finding that delayed cancer treatment will cause 18,000 additional cancer deaths in a year, thanks to the fearmongering and the shutdowns. (ZeroHedge Story) For anyone who thinks this is made up, but believes epidemic models, you can be assured that at the end of the day, the economic and non-economic harms from the lockdowns will far exceed whatever the toll of the epidemic is. This isn’t the only study warning that many patients are not getting needed care. So if you think that it is “lives” versus “money” in the debate over appropriate mitigation of spread tactics, you are dead wrong.