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Some Covid Links

Tweet [1]

Mario Loyola writes that it’s time we reclaim from the Covidocracy our right to choose [2]. (HT Iain Murray) Three slices:

But as the months passed, it became clear that lockdowns were of dubious utility. Comparing measures taken around the world, one Stanford University study found virtually no correlation [3] between severity of lockdowns and rates of infection or death.

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But even conceding Fauci’s point that the unvaccinated are “part of the problem,” the principle at stake is one that progressives ignore all the time. How many progressives accuse people on welfare of being “part of the problem” of budget deficits and crime because of the choices they make? Reducing the speed limit to 5 mph on the highway would save perhaps 40,000 lives every year, but how many progressives support that? Prohibiting alcohol could save about as many, but how many progressives would support that?

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The bottom line is this. Given how unevenly the risk of severe disease is distributed in the population, and how unevenly the risk of infecting others is distributed even among the unvaccinated, it makes much more sense for at-risk people to focus on protecting themselves than for everyone else to adjust their behavior. There are things we can reasonably do to reduce the risks to others, but with a virus that has now gone from pandemic to endemic, and which will always be with us, the time has come to learn to live with it.

Reason‘s Nick Gillespie eloquently protests Biden’s vaccine mandate [4]. Two slices:

There is every reason to believe that President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate [5] for COVID-19 will not survive legal scrutiny even as compulsory vaccination [6] for the disease enjoys broad popularity among the public. As former Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.)—like me, a pro-vaccine, anti-mandate libertarian—has bluntly noted [7], “There is no authority for this. This is a legislative action that bypasses the legislative branch.”

The courts will almost certainly strike down this executive branch overreach and the sweeping new rules that wave away longstanding distinctions between public and private spheres of activity. This is what happened to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium [8]. It’s foundational to American life that the president is not a king who can subject citizens to his whims.

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As Jeffrey A. Singer, a surgeon and senior fellow [9] for the Cato Institute, has noted [10], COVID-19 has a “0.2 percent fatality rate among people not living in institutions.” Fully 80 percent of deaths have occurred among people over 65 and just 358 children under the age of 17 had died of the disease as of July 29, 2021. We are not talking about smallpox, which affected all populations and had a fatality rate of 30 percent. COVID, argues Singer, “will not be eradicated” and will become a small-scale, endemic problem that should be minimized by targeted interventions to protect the most vulnerable. From a public health perspective, it should not become the casus belli for a radical restructuring of society and a massive expansion of presidential (or governmental) powers.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board is right to be harshly critical of what it calls “Biden’s vaccine command. [11]” Two slices:

The President blamed unvaccinated Americans for clogging up “emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack, or pancreatitis, or cancer.” This is false. Some hospitals have cancelled elective surgeries, but they’ve done so to ensure that people who need urgent care can get it—whether for Covid or something else.

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These columns have supported the vaccine effort from the start, but we also believe in free choice and persuasion. Mr. Biden’s polarizing commands may stiffen the resistance of many on the political right, and they are certain to cost many people their jobs. They aren’t necessary, and they show again that the progressive policy default is always brute political force.

“Lumping 75 million unvaccinated Americans into one category is wedge partisanship, not science” – so correctly writes Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins [12]. Two slices:

Mr. Biden plays on the trained willingness of Democratic media consumers to believe Trump voters are the vaccine resisters, however oddly this sits with public-service ads in blue states trying to coax minority voters and unionized healthcare workers to accept vaccination.

He plays on the lingering “zero Covid” delusions of the left, which hugged “herd immunity” once vaccines became available and Trump voters could be portrayed as the last obstacle to Covid’s elimination from the earth.

He hopes you will embrace false assumptions: Our vaccines, alas, are not sterilizing—they do not prevent infection, though they reduce the risk of severe illness and death. This attenuates the argument that others’ failure to be vaccinated is a threat to you, and, of course, it negates the zero Covid dream.

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His approach is wedge politics. It will provoke confrontations with red-state governors and old-school civil libertarians. It will rile up anti-vax nuts, who will be portrayed as ordinary GOPers. It does not faintly resemble any strategy you would adopt if your goal was to improve Covid outcomes quickly and efficiently.

David Henderson applauds a government official who has the courage to change his mind regarding Covid restrictions [13].

Silkie Carlo warns that “‘public health need’ shouldn’t be allowed to become the basis on which freedom is meted out by the state. [14]” A slice:

However, the “public health need” is becoming more faith-based than fact. Given the inevitability of new variants, and the minority of people who will always refuse vaccination, the public health need will be cast immortal. At the same time, the performance of public health policies and institutions has become the basis on which freedom is meted out by the state.

The nearly impossible happens: Australia’s Covidocratic tyranny intensifies [15].

Marty Makary on Twitter [16] (HT Martin Kulldorff [17]):

What fear does to our freedom [20].”