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The Key Is to End the Obsession

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:


Megan McArdle wisely counsels that, in responding to the omicron variant of the Covid virus, we use measures other than lockdowns (“The U.S. must defend itself from the omicron variant – without resorting to lockdowns,” November 27). Yet while many of the measures she does recommend make sense – for example, speedier FDA approval of antiviral treatments – she disappoints by failing to mention the “Focused Protection” recommended in the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD). This failure is curious given that the recommendation offered by the three public-health experts who in late 2020 wrote the GBD reflects the public-health consensus that prevailed until early 2020 – when China’s authoritarian government then blazed the terrible trail of locking down large populations.

Heeding the counsel of the GBD would of course free us from the specter of lockdowns. But it would also free us from a flawed mindset, as well as an unnecessary ordeal, that Ms. McArdle mistakenly treats as unavoidable in the Covid age – the mindset being that each of us, regardless of age, health status, or personal circumstances, is at serious risk of suffering from or dangerously spreading Covid, and the ordeal being incessant testing for Covid.

Life cannot return to normal as long as everyone is obsessed with avoiding exposure to this one pathogen – a pathogen that, fortunately, focuses the overwhelming bulk of its dangers on the elderly and very ill. In response, we should in turn follow the advice of the GBD’s authors and focus our efforts on protecting this vulnerable group while encouraging the great bulk of the population to return to life normally, without fear and the debilitating anxiety about Covid that is bound to be fueled by incessant testing.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030