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Some Covid Links

el gato malo reports the good news that many influential people, including even Fauci, are no longer seizing every opportunity to be as hysterical as possible about Covid-19….

…. while Jack Butler reports that bad news that Washington, DC’s, temporary bout of sanity has come to an end. A slice:

But now the D.C. city government, led by [Mayor Muriel] Bowser, has thrown all that out the window in the face of Omicron panic and is set to head into 2021 as one of the most biomedically tyrannical environments in the nation. On December 21, Bowser announced a reimposition of a citywide indoor mask mandate, about a month after lifting the previous mandate. And starting on January 15, “restaurants, bars, gyms, and music venues, and certain meeting spaces” will require proof of vaccination to enter. Moreover, Bowser stated yesterday that “we expect that schools and classrooms will need to transition to situational virtual learning throughout the semester, especially in the coming weeks” (with additional testing rigmarole merely to allow students back into the classroom in the meantime). Translation: Expect a return of remote learning en masse sometime soon.

A Wall Street Journal headline: “South Africa Says Its Omicron Wave Is in Retreat.”

Philip Klein ponders the pros and cons of refusing to comply with Covid diktats. Two slices:

In my own case, I have chosen to be vaccinated and receive a booster, because I believe the shots are perfectly safe and there is ample evidence that they reduce the risk of getting severely ill. I am perfectly comfortable with that being the extent of the precautions I take against Covid. So I struggle with how to respond to mask mandates that I deem to be oppressive and unnecessary. I don’t really care if some people are “used to” masks. I hate wearing them, they fog up my glasses, and they are an added inconvenience in daily life. We have blown past so many off-ramps to this policy and some are trying to turn it into a permanent fixture of public life.

I have, at various times, embraced the “Do Not Comply” approach. But in practice, what it means is that if I have a limited amount of time to run errands, I have to budget extra time to deal with protesting masks in an area where I know I will be the only one raising a fuss. That has involved: arguing with people in stores about mask wearing; being told to leave stores for not wearing a mask; and going to multiple stores for the same product until I find a retailer that doesn’t enforce the mask mandate. So at a certain point, I have found that jumping through so many hoops becomes more of a burden than simply slapping on the mask.


Put another way, you can let Anthony Fauci run your life by slapping on a mask when you go grocery shopping. Or you can let him alter your life by having to take extra time to do errands, to keep your kids home from school, to live in a place you wouldn’t have otherwise wanted to live, or budget time for long road trips to avoid airplane travel.

Criticizing California strongman Gavin Newsom and praising Colorado governor Jared Polis, Steven Greenhut applauds federalism. Here’s his conclusion:

It’s time for Americans to grow up. If you refuse a vaccine, that’s fine. Just deal with any consequences. To be clear, I have taken the COVID-19 situation seriously since the outset—especially given that I have an elderly mother who lives in an independent-living facility with other older people. I definitely don’t want to be Typhoid Mary, who spreads a potentially deadly disease to vulnerable people.

Some pushback against vaccines and masks has been zany, but I can’t blame people for skepticism at this point, as evidence pours in about the mental-health and economic effects of the lockdowns. Fortunately, 50 states are free to chart their own post-pandemic future. Colorado proves even Democratic states can try something different.

Dr. James Kildare decries the pandemic-era self-inflicted damage suffered by the medical profession. A slice:

As a society, we must ask ourselves how we will gauge the efficacy of a policy, be it vaccines, masks or lockdowns. By making such things mandatory, it becomes very difficult for us to critique them impartially. If we have destroyed the lives of millions of people by lockdowns, how will politicians be able to be honest if it is discovered they don’t work? For us as medical professionals, if we endorse vaccine mandates, how will we be able to impartially discuss the risks of such interventions?

What is more, the fact we have belittled and silenced minority voices means that we are setting up a scientific paradigm within which we stop questioning ourselves. Similarly, we stop addressing patient concerns, and our studies run the risk of confirming their own biases. Indeed, if we cannot make the case for a voluntary intervention, it should be an indication that we are doing something wrong. Such changes undermine the moral basis for the medical profession.

This happens directly, as we are externally pressured by government agencies to be vaccinated ourselves, as well as indirectly when our sense of moral self-righteousness is given free rein to belittle people who disagree with our advice. In this, we forget the fact that because someone may have a medical degree that doesn’t give them a greater morality in weighing public policy.

(DBx: I think that the author of the above is really named “James Kildare” – a fact that is notable by Americans my age and older.)

Scott Morefield tweets out a clip of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor Marty Makary describing the response to omicron as an overreaction. (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Writing in the Telegraph, Robert Taylor says that “[t]he recent push to rebrand Covid restrictions as ‘protections’ is just the latest in a long line of linguistic ‘nudges’.” A slice:

In fact, the entire language of Covid has changed in a more fundamental way, even as the threat of the virus diminishes. When the Alpha variant arrived a year ago, followed by Delta, we carried on talking about the more generic Covid. But if you’re in government, and need people to steel themselves for another round of restrictions – sorry, protections – then you might want to shake things up. Covid was frightening in March 2020. But 20 months later, familiarity, while not quite breeding contempt, has certainly created a shrug and a ho-hum.

So, once a new variant came along, the language changed. Now we rarely hear Boris Johnson and his ministers talking about Covid. It’s always Omicron, in a way that never happened with Alpha or Delta. And where the government leads, the big broadcasters follow, with the rest of us tagging along behind. A friend of mine here in Kent contracted Covid last Christmas. A year on, and several more friends speak of picking up “Omicron”.

Also writing in the Telegraph is Jonathan Sumption, who argues that “[i]t’s time to question the sacred cow of modern Britain: that controlling Covid to protect the health service trumps everything else.” Three slices:

The “precautionary principle” is essentially a principle for making decisions radically affecting people’s lives without adequate evidence. Its rejection was a heartening development from which other European governments could learn.

There is just one problem. We are still being told that the Government will do whatever is thought necessary to “save” the National Health Service. The idea that we must – at whatever human cost – keep the transmission of Covid at a level within the NHS’s capacity to cope is taken for granted by many people. It is one of the sacred cows of modern Britain. It is time that we started questioning it.


Epidemics of respiratory disease have regularly exceeded hospital capacity before anyone had heard of Covid-19. Asian flu (1957-8) and Hong Kong flu (1968-9), although less serious than Covid-19, swamped the NHS. Ordinary winter flu regularly overwhelms it. It happens roughly every two to three years, most recently in 2014-15, in 2016-17 and again in 2017-18. People died, sometimes in large numbers.

So when governments tell us that we must behave in a way that “saves” the National Health Service, what they really mean is that we, the healthy and the vulnerable alike, must “save” it from the choices made by those same governments.

Of course, we are where we are, and many people will say that we have to address the current health emergency regardless of how it came about. But that is only a rational point of view if one accepts its implications.

Of course we should spend more on the NHS, but spending more will not avoid the dilemma. Either we must prioritise health spending over everything else, to a degree which no government in the world has ever attempted. Or else we must allow governments to put our lives on hold with annual lockdowns and the like as a way of limiting public expenditure on emergency facilities in the NHS. The rational alternative is to do what human beings have done from time immemorial, namely to take periodical epidemics of potentially mortal diseases on the chin.

An overwhelmed health service is a bad thing. We can all agree on that. But it is not the worst thing that can happen to a society.

The worst thing that can happen to a society is that its members use the coercive powers of the state so as systematically to stunt their own lives and those of their fellow citizens.


The economic implications of lockdowns and other measures of compulsory distancing will be with us for many years. In the long run, no country ever improved human welfare or even public health by making itself poorer.

The NHS is a facility, not a regulator. It is there to enrich and not to impoverish our lives. It exists to serve us, and not the other way round. We need not blame the epidemiologists. It is their job to think about nothing but epidemics. But this is not a sensible priority for government or for the rest of us.

We have lives to live, and there is more to life than the avoidance of death.