Some Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on August 21, 2021

in Country Problems, Current Affairs, Risk and Safety, Seen and Unseen

Judging from media reports, Australia and New Zealand daily become more dystopian as their governments pursue the impossible goal of zero Covid. A slice:

New Zealand has extended its national Covid-19 lockdown as case numbers continued to rise and a Delta variant outbreak spread from Auckland to the capital Wellington.

The number of cases rose from 21 to 31 today, three days after the country – which has the second lowest vaccination rates in the developed world – had its first case in the community in six months.

Ardern, who is trying to sustain a ‘Zero Covid’ strategy through strict border controls and lockdowns, initially announced the national shutdown would last three days but on Friday had to succumb to the inevitable and extend it to at least a week.

Vast swathes of Australia are also under ‘Zero Covid’ lockdowns and residents of Sydney were told they will have to stay home until at least October under strict lockdown rules that will not be lifted until at least 70 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated.

Ramesh Thakur writes about Australia’s descent into tyranny. Two slices:

Instead, people must learn to live with the virus as an endemic disease that will keep circulating and mutating over time. But Australians find themselves mouse-trapped in an endless cycle of lockdowns by governments mesmerized by the idea of “zero COVID-19.”

Consequently Australia has morphed from being the envy of the world last year for its incredible pandemic management to international incredulity at the brutality of its authoritarian measures to “crush and kill the virus.”
…..

The authoritarian streak has seen various instances of what some people would call inhumane treatment. At a time of zero active cases in Canberra, a woman was denied permission to fly to Queensland to see her dying father. A mother from across the border in New South Wales lost her baby last year after being unable to get timely treatment in Brisbane because of the time it would have taken to fill out the paperwork to cross the state line and enter the hospital to receive emergency care.

A fully vaccinated Sydney grandmother was also recently denied a permit to go to Melbourne to help care for her grandchildren while her daughter battles advanced breast cancer. And in a country town in February, a pregnant woman posting on Facebook to support a peaceful protest against Victoria’s lockdown was handcuffed and arrested in her house in the early morning hours, still in her pajamas.

Abroad, thousands of Australians remain stranded and unable to come home because of government limits on daily arrivals. During the last wave in India, citizens attempting to return were threatened with hefty fines and imprisonment. Now the government has decreed that Australians who live overseas and come home for whatever reason, including emergencies, must apply for special exemption to fly out again. Try to make sense of that.

Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins continues to write wisely about Covid. A slice:

This chosen myopia about unseen spread has proved costly but in ways that hint at its political utility. In January 2020, we could tell ourselves Covid wasn’t here because we hadn’t detected any cases. Later, when the pandemic was in full swing, overplaying the death risk and underplaying natural immunity helped to rally support for lockdowns, masking and vaccine rollout compliance.

Still, why would scientists like Anthony Fauci and CDC leaders be satisfied with inadequate data? One reasonable presumption is that people don’t ask questions they don’t want the answers to. From the start, our public-health experts were realistic, not to say fatalistic, about the virus. The CDC on its webpage for months advised that every American should expect to be infected eventually. This advice disappeared only as political messaging became paramount. Accentuating how much viral spread remained unobserved and unmeasured apparently did not fit the agenda.

Also writing wisely – specifically about Covid vaccines and mandates – is Joel Zinberg. A slice:

The GMU policy [of mandatory vaccination] exemplifies the type of rigid, irrational rule-making that has characterized much of the pandemic response. If an individual can demonstrate immunity via circulating antibodies after a previous Covid infection, there is no compelling reason to require him to undergo an invasive vaccination.

The CDC acknowledges that reinfection of recovered Covid-19 patients is rare. Nevertheless, it still recommends that recovered patients be vaccinated. The agency cites two reasons: first, that experts don’t know how long natural immunity protection lasts; and second, that vaccination provides a strong boost to natural immunity. The first— uncertainty about the duration of protective natural immunity—is not, by itself, a convincing reason for vaccinating previously infected individuals. The second, while true, does not provide a rationale for a vaccine mandate.

A morsel of freedom, then we’ll be drowned like rats“.

David Zweig looks carefully at the evidence on masking children. A slice:

While the protective value of a mask mandate for children in school seems, at best, uncertain, experts have concerns about the potential downsides of them in a learning environment.

“Mask-wearing among children is generally considered a low-risk mitigation strategy; however, the negatives are not zero, especially for young children,” said Lloyd Fisher, the president of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “It is important for children to see facial expressions of their peers and the adults around them in order to learn social cues and understand how to read emotions.” Some children with special needs, for example those with articulation delays, may be most affected, he suggested.

Here’s a report, in the Washington Examiner, on masking. I wonder if the final paragraph shared below, verbatim, contains a misspelling:

The number of children who died from COVID in 2020 was less than died from the flu,” said Bhattacharya. He also noted that masks can cause problems for children with learning and emotional development.

Bhattacharya and Neera Sood, a public policy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, recently laid out their case against masks in schools in the Orange County Register, writing that “the onus is on proponents to show that the benefits of masking kids outweigh the costs.”

But Dr. Danny Benjamin, a distinguished professor of pediatrics at Duke University, disagreed.

“Universal masking policy has clearly been shown to interrupt transmission in schools in eight different pee-reviewed publications,” Benjamin said.

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