A year ago, there was no evidence that lockdowns would protect older high-risk people from Covid-19. Now there is evidence. They did not.
With so many Covid-19 deaths, it is obvious that lockdown strategies failed to protect the old. Holding the naïve belief that shutting down society would protect everyone, governments and scientists rejected basic focused protection measures for the elderly. While anyone can get infected, there is more than a thousand-fold difference in the risk of death between the old and the young. The failure to exploit this fact about the virus led to the biggest public health fiasco in history.
Lockdowns have, nevertheless, generated enormous collateral damage across all ages. Depriving children of in-person teaching has hurt not only their education but also their physical and mental health. Other public health consequences include missed cancer screenings and treatments and worse cardiovascular disease outcomes. Much of this damage will unfold over time and is something we must live with – and die with – for many years to come.
The blame game for this fiasco is now in full swing. Some scientists, politicians, and journalists are complaining that people did not comply with the rules sufficiently. But blaming the public is disingenuous. Never in human history has the population sacrificed so much to comply with public health mandates.
Strangely, lockdown proponents are also trying to blame the scientists who opposed lockdown measures. Though she has repeatedly argued for better protection of the elderly, with specific suggestions that could have saved many lives, Oxford professor Sunetra Gupta, one of the world’s pre-eminent infectious disease epidemiologists, has been attacked with particular viciousness.
Wall Street Journal columnist Allysia Finley reminds us that, to the extent that the details of pandemic responses are imposed by governments – especially by governments run by megalomaniacs – pandemic policy will be driven far less by science and far more by politics (for the latter is, after all, what politicians specialize in). A slice:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo turned out not to be the hero the media hailed early in the coronavirus pandemic. His administration’s March 2020 directive that nursing homes admit Covid patients likely cost hundreds if not thousands of lives. A year later, his policy of prioritizing vaccine distribution based on “social equity” and interest-group lobbying again proved dangerous for the oldest New Yorkers.
Vaccine supplies are now sufficient that every adult in every U.S. state is eligible to receive a shot, but three months ago officials had to ration them. “New York is mandating social equity and fair distribution,” Mr. Cuomo declared Jan. 11. At first, vaccination was limited to anyone over 65 and workers Mr. Cuomo deemed “essential,” including police, firefighters, bus drivers, grocery clerks and teachers. A large share of the supply was allocated for government unions and their members.
Although unlike Andrew Sullivan I will avoid wearing masks wherever I am allowed, as soon as I am allowed, and for as long as I am allowed, I find much insight in this essay of his. (HT Peter Minowitz) A slice:
I mention this because we are in a similar phase in which reasonable people are being irrationally demonized for going back to normal and going mask-free. It makes no sense, but the truth is we get attached to rituals of safety, even after they have become redundant. Look at airport TSA screening, twenty years after 9/11. We so identify with safety protocols that it can feel dangerous simply to follow reason when circumstances change. The fear of Covid somehow gets internalized and perpetuated, just as HIV was. Even today, for example, a diagnosis of HIV feels far more terrifying than, say, diabetes. But diabetes is much, much more problematic now than AIDS, over a lifetime. Covid now seems much scarier than the flu. But if you’ve been vaccinated, that’s exactly how we should think of it. Nasty, but not fatal. So live!
Newsom’s surprise decision to lift his regional stay-at-home order—which required Californians to stay in their homes unless engaged in a few essential activities—in late January was largely attributed to the order’s unpopularity. Earlier this month, the governor said that pandemic restrictions on businesses would be lifted come June 15.
With all of that time in front of a camera, it might make some wonder if the celebrity bureaucrat has time to actually follow the latest data and statistics on the pandemic. Given his routine blunders, his lack of transparency, and his advocacy for continued shutdowns (there are now over 50 published scientific studies that show lockdowns don’t work), it’s safe to say that the NIAID director is either ignorant and clueless and/or purposely advocating for measures that do not work to “stop the spread.”
Good news doesn’t control people, which is why Fauci has become exclusively known as the bearer of bad news. Good news is not particularly good for ratings, nor is it good for the prospects of another exclusive appearance with Brian Stelter or Chuck Todd. He prefers to keep viewers afraid, malleable, and on edge. In media hit after media hit, Fauci predictably reminds viewers that there is supposedly an active or imminent crisis in the works. Without a perpetual crisis to shine a light on, the cameras may turn in another direction. Fauci, a seasoned operative, wants the show to continue. When the virus wasn’t scary enough, surely, the “double mutant” virus would keep people compliant. When people started accommodating the COVID vaccine, Fauci pulled the rug out from under them and openly speculated about the possibility of “variants” avoiding the vaccine, thereby making you “vulnerable” once more.
Fauci is having the best year of his life. It has become clear that he desperately wants the show to continue, even if that means demanding that tens of millions of people suffer by conforming to his pseudoscience-based edicts. The TV doctor sure knows how to drive ratings, with the hopes that this is just Season One of his long running hit pandemic series.
As Phil Magness would say, Cypriots are about to be stomped on by a straw man. This same straw man is also again stomping through Perth, despite Australia having, allegedly, beaten away the Covid beast with its draconian restrictions.
Those of you who trust government officials to act reasonably in a crisis might want to check out this report in today’s Wall Street Journal, which is titled “Covid Unemployment Relief Makes Help Impossible to Find” and subtitled “Congress’s enhanced benefits make it more remunerative not to work. Employers are struggling.” A slice:
Some workers still fear they’ll contract Covid if they return to the workplace, and some parents are unable to take on full-time work because their children’s schools remain shut. But there’s another reason for the acute labor shortage: It pays to stay on the couch.