The present Covid-inspired forced lockdowns on business and school closures are and have been counterproductive, not sustainable and are, quite frankly, meritless and unscientific. They have been disastrous and just plain wrong! There has been no good reason for this. These unparalleled public health actions have been enacted for a virus with an infection mortality rate (IFR) roughly similar (or likely lower once all infection data are collected) to seasonal influenza. Stanford’s John P.A. Ioannidis identified 36 studies (43 estimates) along with an additional 7 preliminary national estimates (50 pieces of data) and concluded that among people <70 years old across the world, infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.57% with a median of 0.05% across the different global locations (with a corrected median of 0.04%). Let me write this again, 0.05%. Can one even imagine the implementation of such draconian regulations for the annual flu? Of course not! Not satisfied with the current and well-documented failures of lockdowns, our leaders are inexplicably doubling and tripling down and introducing or even hardening punitive lockdowns and constraints.
I have watched my kids adapt, with an almost seamless ability, to online learning and no indoor playdates. We have grown accustomed to barely leaving the neighbourhood and not seeing family for over a year; and, on the rare occasions when we have a babysitter, to wearing masks inside the house. Meanwhile, we are unmoored from all but a handful of close friends. If it is fine – and it is largely fine, or at least it is this week – I also wonder if some social muscle has atrophied and we have become weird. A year ago, it was weird having to stay in all the time. Now the idea of going out, going anywhere, seeing anyone or doing anything, fills us in the first instance with dread.
It is uncomfortable to think about, but it seems quite clear to me that when you examine the “quality of life years” lost as a direct result of lockdowns, and compare them to those which would have been lost to the virus had we done nothing at all (which, for clarity, I am not advocating), the former is far greater. This is because you don’t have to die to lose quality of life. Being unable to function properly because of depression, for example, or untreated cancer, or a postponed operation, still results in loss of quality of life – as does merely being confined to your house. Surely no reasonable person can disagree that this loss must be considered when evaluating the appropriateness of society-wide measures that affect all individuals?
Quite contrary to the name-blackening from people and organisations who really should know better, scepticism IS science. Scepticism is a thoughtful, open-minded approach to life. It does not deny truth, it seeks it. It categorically refuses to accept handed-down authority, no matter how powerful the authority and no matter how personally dangerous it might be to question its validity. Scepticism is the exact opposite of carefree denial. It is faith in the importance of thinking for oneself, of coming to one’s own conclusions about the evidence, as a free person.