Some Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on October 14, 2021

in Current Affairs, Education, Risk and Safety, Science

Noah Carl – quoting Russ Roberts – dissects a new report from Britain’s House of Commons on that country’s lockdowns. (HT Dan Klein) Two slices:

I would agree that the UK’s initial policy was “wrong”, but only in the sense that it did not put enough emphasis on focused protection. In the early weeks of the pandemic, we should have emphasised things like: expanding hospital capacity; securing PPE for frontline healthcare workers; separating COVID and non-COVID patients in hospital wards; implementing daily testing for care home staff; and helping elderly people in multi-generational homes to self-isolate.

Of course, when the report says, “It is now clear that this was the wrong policy”, they mean it was wrong in the sense that it was not lockdown. This claim is of course highly contested. The fact that the authors were nonetheless confident enough to write, “It is now clear” (rather than, say, “We believe”) simply shows that they didn’t speak to anyone with the opposite view. Note: I say “anyone” (rather than “any scientists”) quite deliberately. One of the biggest mistakes of the pandemic has been to assume that only scientists are qualified to speak about pandemic policy. As the economist Russ Roberts observes, “Knowing a lot about the human body does not make you an expert in risk analysis, tradeoffs, or unintended consequences.”
The authors might reply that a large majority of British people supported the lockdowns, which is true. However, this is partly because their perceptions of the risks of COVID were so skewed. As David Spiegelhalter and George Davey Smith noted last year, “the notion that we are all seriously threatened by the disease” has led to “levels of personal fear being strikingly mismatched to objective risk of death”. (People overestimating the risks of COVID is much bigger problem than people assuming it’s “just the flu”.) And I would conjecture that part of the explanation lies in the government’s policies and messaging.

Commenting on the graph seen here, Jay Bhattacharya writes on Twitter:

There is a lot to learn from this graph, but most obviously, the COVID vax does not stop infection.

The vax provides a private benefit (protection vs. severe disease), but limited public benefit (protection vs. disease spread).

So what is the argument for mandates?

John Stossel writes that “we have vaccines. We don’t need pandemic restrictions.”

Pierre Lemieux understandably worries about the now-eager resort, by oh-so-many people on the political left and on the political right, to dirigiste tactics. (And Pierre is correct to criticize Texas governor Greg Abbott’s prohibition on private businesses mandating vaccines for their employees.)

Jamie Walden decries Covid hysteria’s corrosion of liberal values. Here’s his conclusion:

There does not seem to be anything authoritarian enough that the virus cannot excuse it. A door has been opened and we have walked into a place in which our health and well-being is worse, we are poorer, and we are less free, in exchange for dubious claims of safety. The more people who realise that the damage done by many of the interventions should be regarded as unpalatable and the benefits illusory, the more likely we are to salvage something from this crisis and do better for the vulnerable next time.

Here’s a report from the Philippines of the Covidocracy’s cruelty toward children. (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Writing at Spiked, Jennie Bristow calls for a restoration of normalcy for children.

Allison Pearson rightly criticizes the groupthink on Covid vaccination. A slice:

The ‘groupthink’ among ministers, scientific advisers and civil servants, heavily criticised in the report, is still far too much in evidence. Just look at the official response to the low uptake of vaccines among younger teenagers. Instead of conceding that the public may well have a point – a mere 11 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds have taken up the offer of a Covid jab so far – Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, and Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, yesterday wrote a joint letter to parents which has an unpleasant, even bullying, tone. Children, they warn, could “lose out on face-to-face learning” unless the vaccine take-up improves.

Why should that be? The virus is currently racing like a forest fire through secondary schools. Being vaccinated would not always prevent students being infected or stop them passing it on. With any luck, most kids will have had Covid before half-term and the rest by Christmas. That should give them excellent, long-lasting immunity, which some studies suggest is superior to any bestowed by a jab.

Joy Pullmann rightly praises Martin Kulldorff’s defense of the great Great Barrington Declaration against a recent scurrilous attack. A slice:

The scientist refutes both falsehoods and innuendo from the medical journal, saying he does so because the process of scientific advancement developed over many centuries of human experimentation cannot exist without open inquiry, disagreement, questioning, and debate. These have been so damaged by the political and social response to COVID, Kulldorff says, that it’s an open question whether the human advances these hard-won scientific practices lead to can continue.

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