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What We Should Have Learned From this Epidemic, but Probably Won’t

By December 12, 2021Commentary

I am going to pretend that people have come to their senses and realized that we have to live with CV-19 and stop obsessing over it.  And as part of my effort to do that, I am going to write my initial retrospective on the epidemic now.  After any great event in human history, we should attempt to step back and evaluate what the dimensions of the problem actually were and how effective our responses were, always mindful of human thinking process biases.

1. All people are human.  That tautology is important because if we think that scientists, public health experts, politicians or anyone else is somehow not human, is above human frailties, we are wrong and we will suffer the consequences of giving greater credence to the pronouncements of these particular humans than they deserve.

2.  The bigger the “title” or “role” certain humans have, the more likely they are to be unaware of their biases or to engage in constant questioning of their own beliefs and conclusions.  And therefore the more likely that they will make mistakes.

3.  A corollary to the first two points, and an important check upon these potential sources of policy error, is that all data and information should be completely, immediately and accurately disclosed to the public and any person who seeks further information for the purposes of analyzing and understanding such data should be encouraged and assisted.  The role of citizen analysts should be highlighted and encouraged, as these persons often have perspectives that are more accurate than those of officials.

4.  Those first three points are what I would call process ones.  And they really apply to issues beyond how we responded to this epidemic.  They are fundamental to good government.  They should be embedded in the very structure of government.

5.  With all due respect to the idiot hack Dr. Fauci, no one person is or represents science.  Science is an ongoing process of discovering relevant facts and logical relationships between events.  It constantly changes as new data and research emerges.  It needs constant challenge, constant new ideas, to improve understanding.  At no time can anyone claim that “the science tell us to do this” or “the data say we must adopt this policy”.   Anyone who makes such statements should be immediately fired from any post in which they can influence policy.  Unfortunately but realistically, knowledge and the guidance from knowledge is fluid; this should be acknowledged and accepted and the public should be told that we are taking the steps we take based on our current understanding, but we are constantly seeking new data and research and we will change our policies if that new information suggests it is appropriate to do so.

6.  All data, analysis and research should be presented with full caveats that may affect its credibility.  Weaknesses of a chosen experimental design and statistical analysis plan should be disclosed and potential alternatives and the results using those alternatives should also be given.

7.  The big picture must always be kept in mind.  What is the policy which advances the overall general welfare.  We cannot be myopically focused on solely the current problem; we must consider what the consequences of policies to address the problem will be and we must weigh all of those consequences against any potential benefits.  All potential consequences should be explicitly presented to the public.

8.  In regard to a respiratory virus epidemic in particular, and really any epidemic, the following principles should be foremost:

A.  Disturb normal life as little as possible–don’t close businesses, don’t close schools, don’t tell people to avoid health care, don’t tell people to stay home.  There is little evidence that any of these measures have any meaningful impact on transmission.

B.  Protect those who are most vulnerable as we can identify who those groups are.  But respect the autonomy of individuals in those groups.  Locking away nursing home residents, for example, against their wishes, deprives them of the few social contacts they may have and leads to more deaths from isolation and loneliness.

C.  Do not politicize mitigation measures.  This can be avoided by not invoking states of emergency and ensuring that any policies to fight the epidemic must have super-majority support among the political representatives making these decisions.

D. Develop and only use tests which are actually capable of determining that someone has an active infection and is infectious.  Limit testing to symptomatic persons and limit quarantines to symptomatic persons.  Excessive testing and tracing wastes resources and places a burden on healthy persons.d

E.  Vaccines are likely to be the most effective measure to limit transmission and morbidity and mortality, so the emphasis should be on rapid vaccine development and deployment.  But the public needs to be educated to have realistic expectations about the effectiveness of a respiratory virus vaccine.  They cannot stop exposure and they likely cannot stop all infections.

I don’t know if anyone will pay any attention to these, and others may have other lessons learned that are equally valuable.  But I also am keenly aware of human limitations and our clear inability to learn from the past when it comes to large-scale problems and issues, so I have no hope that the next epidemic will be handled better.  Politicians will make the same stupid mistakes, think they need to assert their power and do something, anything, no matter what the consequences, and will ignore the damage their actions will cause.

I probably won’t be here, so good luck to all of you and all the future humans who have to live not just with our inherent weaknesses, but with our inability to recognize and correct for those known weaknesses.

 

 

Join the discussion 19 Comments

  • Richard Allison says:

    Kevin,

    To brighten up your excellent post:
    Ron DeSantis, Rand Paul, Scott Atlas, Kristin Noem, Greg Abbot, Tom Cotton, Chris Sununu, Doug Ducey, Harvey Risch, signers of the Great Barrington Declaration Sunetra Gupta, Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff and many others. In other words “The Truth is Out There.” Eventually that truth will become self evident to the many.

    Oh, and add your name to the above list. MerryChristmas!

  • James L. Edholm says:

    Succinct and to the point … but you’re right. No way is a power hungry bureaucrat gonna pass up the opportunity to be king for a day.

  • joseph Kosanda says:

    A) I concur with being realistic about understanding the limitations of humans and the mitigation

    b) Fauci may be a great scientists, but he had virtually zero comprehension of how the “science” interacted with human behavior and the resulting effect along with any rational assessment of the relative risks

    C) I made multiples statements in March/April 2020 that the mitigation protocols were basically advocating that the human race evolve to a point that the human race can only survive in a sterile environment (that was pre vaccine) . Whether policy makers such as Fauci, waltz, newman, the biden administration etc realize it or not, they are effectively continuing to advocate for the evolution of mankind to where humans can only survive in a sterile environment. Granted the vaccines have changed the dynamics somewhat,

  • Bill says:

    Thank you so much for that. And all that you do. Helps to keep me sane.

  • MLR says:

    Kevin, you are spot on! Our nemesis is the Marxist/Democrat/Hate America Party and it’s propaganda arm that is the MSM.

  • Kevin Rademacher says:

    Right on Kevin! Well said.

  • Txcon1 says:

    But would our public health agencies have to do if they followed these guidelines? They can’t all be diversity officers.

  • Mhopp says:

    I urge you to read Robert Kennedy’s new book. It is shocking to say the least. Even you, Kevin, might learn something……

  • Paul I Hyland says:

    The politization of medical care is due to government having control of a very personal and sensitive aspect of human existence.
    The response to the CCP virus has been a disaster and a major contributor has been Obamacare and its related functions.
    Government involvement in medical services has led to many problems. Apparently, from the contribution to creating a deadly virus. Then prioritizing who gets treated, and what the treatment will be without regard to the patient’s needs or wishes. Issuing mandates for who must wear a mask to who can work and under what type of conditions. And on it goes.
    Get the government out of medical delivery and controlling treatment.

  • Abhijit Bakshi says:

    I agree with a lot if it, but you lost me here:

    “E. Vaccines are likely to be the most effective measure to limit transmission and morbidity and mortality, so the emphasis should be on rapid vaccine development and deployment. But the public needs to be educated to have realistic expectations about the effectiveness of a respiratory virus vaccine. They cannot stop exposure and they likely cannot stop all infections.”

    With all due respect, the chapter on vaccines is still being written. The ones we have so far not only don’t stop all infections, but after 6-8 months they show so little efficacy at stopping infections that they actually have negative efficacy.

    Its not just crazy nutjobs like myself coming to this conclusion (negative efficacy). It is government statistics agencies and scientists. A person with any critical analysis skills can’t miss it.

    Meanwhile other governments are using the negative efficacy of vaccines to scapegoat those who don’t take them.

    So the chapter on vaccines is still being written and we don’t know whether rushed vaccines are a great idea for next time or not.

    Something missing for on your list: repurposed medicines may be the key. They already exist so don’t need to be invented, already have a known side effect profile, and are often off-patent and consequently dirt cheap. We should stand ready to run as many large scale trials of repurposed medicines showing any clinical promise as possible in order to use what we have immediately instead of putting all our eggs in the basket of experimental injections. Kind of like we didn’t do this time.

  • Paul I Hyland says:

    We should have learned that government control of one of our most precious creator endowed rights is the right to life. And that right MUST NOT be infringed by limiting another endowed right, the right to liberty.
    Get the government out of controlling every aspect of medical care delivery. Obamacare / CMS has been a destructive force contributing to a disastrous response to the CCP virus disease. Then added are other government bureaucracies, FDA, NIH, CDC, and HHS, gone bonkers.
    Stop it, Stop it!

  • Kevin Roche says:

    That guy has led to death of children due to his idiotic insanity about vaccines, he is a disgrace

  • J. Thomas says:

    The experimental [vaccine] strategy is just delaying and perverting the inevitable. All susceptible people are going to get this and those who have weakened immune systems or multiple co-morbidities may die. Variants will come and go, lessening in severity. Virology hasn’t changed, just government’s responses, arguably coordinated by the WEF’s goals and Gate’s money) to an aggressive respiratory infection. It’s kind of like the “Truman Show” with Christof played by Fauci. We all need to wake the F up and find our sailboats !! “In case I don’t see you… good afternoon, good evening, and good night” to this pandemic stage show.

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  • Joseph+Lampe says:

    Excellent analysis.

    Since spring of 2020 I have been reflecting on how to prevent another system
    meltdown when the next epidemic arrives.

    Seems that emergency policies and protocols have to be embedded in law
    that would require substantial consent from legislative bodies, and prohibit
    unilateral totalitarian decrees from incompetent, ignorant and malevolent “elites.”

    Three Blind Mice destroying the country:
    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/2021/12/04/covids_three_blind_mice_558084.html#!

    Fortunately we had sane folks in charge in 1957 and 1968 during Asian and Hong Kong flu.
    I will be sharing the Scott Atlas book with folks.

  • Abhijit Bakshi says:

    Let’s suppose for the sake of argument a person is idiotically insane about a particular topic and you are non-idiotic and fully sane on that topic.

    – Is it possible the idiotic insane person can still make legitimate points?
    – Should we, as adults, be able to note and agree on the idiotic insane person’s legitimate points, if any, without endorsing the idiotic insane person’s idiotic insanity on other points that are not legitimate?
    – Is just dismissing a person as idiotically insane without looking into what the person is saying a form of argumentum ad hominem, and a source of logical fallacy?
    – Is it or is it not idiotically insane if a state government is forcing children to take a vaccine they don’t need which may lead to their death?

  • Kevin Roche says:

    I am literally done arguing about vaccines with people who are only trying to defend their own irrational fears

  • Abhijit Bakshi says:

    As I understand it (haven’t read the book), not all the points Mr. Kennedy Junior is making are about vaccines. You might even find some common ground if you tried.

  • Aaron Goldberg says:

    You failed to mention mask mandates. No one outside of a healthcare facility (and maybe not even then) should be required to wear a “flu mask” at any time, for any reason.

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