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Some Covid Links

The first line of Andrew McCarthy’s January 1st, 2022, National Review essay, “The Covid Insanity Has to End,” is “The illogic of the Pandemic Reign of Error is long past the point of too much to bear.” Indeed (although “reign of terror” would not have been too much of an exaggeration). Here’s another slice:

As Covid infections have surged beyond control — breaking through vaccines and boosters — the CDC now says that we have to reduce the number of isolation days for people who test positive for the virus but are basically asymptomatic. Our Phil Klein has elaborated on the arbitrariness of it all. Naturally, leave it to our Janus-faced megalomaniac, Dr. Anthony L’Science C’est Moi Fauci, to supply the risible rationalization du jour: “If you are asymptomatic and you are infected, we want to get people back to the jobs, especially those with essential jobs.”

If we were dealing with a real plague, the insanity of this would be so obvious even the media-Democrat complex would not be able to speak of it without snickering.

With an infectious disease that posed a serious threat of lethality to the average person, a credible positive test would call for isolation until the person was certifiably cleared of infection. Here, by contrast, the government is now saying that the certifiably infected need to get back into the general population faster. This, even though the government (a) insists on treating non-vaccinated people as if they were lepers (including those who have had Covid, even though their natural immunity makes their risk comparable to that of vaccinated people); and (b) has been coercing even people who are “fully” vaccinated (whatever that means from moment to moment) to mask up and take other precautions because being vaccinated and asymptomatic is no guarantee against transmitting the virus.

We’ve lost our minds.
By nature, liberty entails risks, an enormous number of which are more perilous than Covid. Freedom is America’s foundation, but it necessarily involves no small amount of annoyances and inconveniences, aches and pains, large and small. A risk-free society is stifled and inert. It is no society at all.
Having finally discovered federalism, perhaps President Biden could take the next step and discover liberty. If he did, he’d accomplish more of what he wants — higher vaccination rates and lower incidence of serious illness and death, fewer disruptions and better economic performance — by trusting Americans to care for themselves. Trying to strong-arm reluctant people into compliance with increasingly irrational protocols is not working on them, and it is strangling all of us.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, University of California at San Francisco medical professors Maria Raven and Jeanne A. Noble explain that “Draconian Covid policies are creating staff shortages that endanger patients.” Four slices:

The U.S. has a severe shortage of nurses, and healthcare workers are suffering from significant burnout, compounded by understaffing. As the Omicron variant spreads, outdated Covid-19 testing and quarantine policies are exacerbating healthcare worker shortages.

For nearly two years hospitals have subjected doctors and nurses to mind-numbing symptom and exposure checklists each day, without any evidence that they reduce hospital-based Covid-19 transmission. Healthcare workers live in fear of possible exposures, stuffy noses or positive tests that will keep them from being able to care for patients.
Data indicate that Omicron replicates best in the upper airways, not the lungs, making Covid infections in most vaccinated people akin to bronchitis or the common cold, not pneumonia. Despite this knowledge, hospitals are clinging to policies designed to avoid Covid transmission at almost any cost.
During the past two years, Covid-19 policies have pushed other important health issues to the side. Nonemergency surgeries have been canceled. Clinic visits have occurred virtually, depriving patients of the benefits of in-person observation. Emergency healthcare workers are routinely pulled off duty for low-risk exposures and minimal symptoms out of an abundance of caution—at the cost of longer wait times that can cause sick patients to leave the emergency room without care. The cost of these policies is high, while the benefit, measured in reduced hospital transmission, is small.
And hospitals should abandon perfunctory employee symptom screenings that result in immediate disqualification from work when a single low-risk symptom like nasal congestion is reported. Currently, healthcare workers, even when confident that familiar symptoms are due to allergies, may be taken off duty and forced to await clearance from occupational health officials. In 2022, healthcare workers with minimal symptoms should be eligible for real-time work clearance with on-site rapid antigen testing, repeated daily until symptoms resolve.

Re-evaluation of Covid-19 restrictions in healthcare is long overdue. It is critical that policies undergo rigorous cost-benefit analyses, using updated risks and consequences of infection, with the goal of improved patient safety. By implementing policies commensurate with the actual risks of Covid-19, we can better protect the healthcare workforce and its patients.

Also writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mark Brilliant and Steven Davidoff Solomon identify what would be – should it actually occur – an unmistakable and significant silver lining around the dark cloud of Covid and Covid hysteria – namely, a reduction in the monopoly power of K-12 government “schools,” as well as in the influence of the “teachers” unions for which those schools are operated. A slice:

Unfortunately, teachers unions and others with a vested interest in the existing system, such as suburbanites who want to keep city schoolchildren out, have fought back against vouchers by characterizing them as a conservative trope only about the marketplace. The teachers unions’ stance isn’t surprising as vouchers threaten to break the monopoly public schools have on students without the means to choose to go elsewhere, as the protracted and calamitous pivot to “remote learning” during the pandemic so painfully revealed.

Newman Nahas tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Let’s not kid ourselves that kids & teachers are any safer with schools closed—they’re not.

Let’s also not kid ourselves that it’s morally permissible to suspend the essential service of school in violation of the rights of kids, simply to scratch the itch of our action bias.

Robby Soave reports that “61% of Teenagers Hospitalized for COVID-19 Had Severe Obesity.” A slice:

It’s important to perform this reality check—the more healthy and active kids are, the less COVID-19 threatens them—given just how much the lives of young people were upended by pandemic mitigation efforts. In the name of slowing COVID-19’s spread, public health authorities closed schools, shuttered extracurricular activities, and instructed young people to remain by themselves, indoors. Even benign activities like playing at the park were discouraged for the first few months of the pandemic. And while many activities have resumed, some college campuses (for instance) would rather their student populations quit sports than dare to do them unmasked.

Those who have rule-making power over young people would be well-advised to consider whether the purported cure is worse than the disease—and whether it actually makes the disease more dangerous for some. Young people need socialization and activity. They need a reason to put down their smartphones and venture out into the world. It is not in the interests of public health to keep them shut up in their bedrooms and dormitories for long periods of time.

Wall Street Journal columnist James Freeman is rightly critical of the officious political animal Anthony Fauci, even though Fauci occasionally stumbles into reality. Two slices:

For the government disease doctor who once dismissed the economic and societal impact of pandemic lockdowns as merely “inconvenient,” last week’s self-discovery represented a stunning breakthrough. Alas, it appears that the good doctor has since lost some confidence in the validity of his finding, following the discovery of a new strain of public criticism.
Science is so exciting, with one innovation in Washington consensus-building following another at breakneck speed. Wherever America’s favorite government disease doctor ends up positioning himself in the isolation debate, let’s hope that he is finally beginning to understand that the U.S. economy is the most powerful man-made force in the world for sustaining life.

Dr. Fauci, who has focused for much of the pandemic on one public-health threat to the exclusion of all others, also recently revealed that, believe it or not, sometimes Covid risks to children are even smaller than they appear…. This too is progress for the celebrated doctor, who has generally failed to recognize the importance of non-Covid threats to human health. This recent discovery seems to place Dr. Fauci in good company, because it is echoed even by some doctors who focus on medicine rather than politics.

Also rightly critical of the officious political animal Fauci is el gato malo. A slice:

if you have not yet decided that this man [Fauci] is a complete and total fraud, making up facts and theory as he goes and tossing them out as tawdry tactical tinsel to blind and confuse our societal radar, what would it actually take to convince you he’s a charlatan?

how many reversals, reversions, and flat out inversions would it take? how badly would tony need to tank a prediction, reverse a claim, or disavow a claim he boldly portrayed as “settled science”?

is there anything he could do that would finally make you throw in the towel?

because if there is not, then you are in a cult.

David Stacey ponders The Economist‘s lamentable role in fueling Covid derangement. A slice:

With its data analysts, its unquestionably talented writers and economically literate worldwide readership the Economist was surely well placed to rise above the global Covid hysteria and rigorously pursue its masthead ambition of “taking part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress”.

From the start, however, it has, along with the rest of the legacy media, been consumed by an ostensibly virtuous but myopic fixation on “death with covid” mortality figures to the exclusion of all else. At the same time as Andrew Lewis observed in a letter to the magazine on July 24th 2021, portraying those who oppose lockdowns as “crackpots motivated by conspiracy theories”. Each week the Economist’s pages have been filled with the evidence of the disastrous costs of lockdowns (which it unfailingly refers to as the “cost of covid”) and the economic and social crises they have created, while failing to show that the lockdowns made any material difference to the spread of the virus. The Economist had the opportunity to provide serious, fearless, real-world, data-driven coverage that challenged the official “truth”, shone a light on the unprecedented vested interests and explored other strategies, the economic impact of which might have been less disastrous, not least for developing countries. Countries with whose welfare the magazine has previously aligned itself, where tens of millions have been plunged into poverty.

By as early as April (or even March) 2020 it was very clear that it was the very old and those with underlying health problems, including obesity, that were most at risk of hospitalisation and death. By May 2020 it was equally clear that Professor Ferguson’s dire predictions that shaped the government response were not going to materialise. It was surely time to take stock and review strategy. The Great Barrington Declaration of October 2020 was a beacon for those who wanted a debate. It should have been a catalyst to scrutinise the effectiveness of lockdowns, to calculate the cost of their economic, social and political consequences and to discuss whether the benefits outweighed those costs. It was a tailor-made opportunity for the Economist to support a constructive analysis of this important attempt to find less damaging strategies (and they had the heft to stand up to the orchestrated campaign led by Fauci and Cummings to shut down discussion by discrediting the Great Barrington Declaration and its authors). A saving of even £100 billion of the total UK Covid borrowing requirement of £400 billion (and rising) would, after all, pay for a lot of public services. And surely avoiding damage to a generation of school children merited serious editorial attention.

In [Zanny] Minton Beddoes, daughter of a Shropshire farmer (albeit a posh one), you would expect to find an editor equipped with the unsentimental attributes needed to lead the Economist’s editorial team in a pandemic. Given the publication’s title, you might also have expected the economy to be at the heart of the magazine’s coverage and yet it was not. The Economist failed to acknowledge the significance of Sweden’s approach to the pandemic. Its instinctive distaste for policies that had the fingerprints of Trump or Trump supporting Republican states such as Texas, South Dakota and particularly Florida (where Governor de Santis did pursue a policy of focused protection) meant that the magazine has failed to fully acknowledge the economic and social gains made by Sweden without driving up Covid mortality rates.

Alex Story decries the authoritarian mania for vaccine mandates. A slice:

The intellectual virus of vaccine compulsion hasn’t only manifested in Europe – it is now spreading through the United States. While Joe Biden recently stated that the virus would have to be “solved” at a state level and talked of reduced quarantine times, America’s most recognised infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci suggested vaccine mandates should be considered for air travel. Among other restrictions on their freedom, the unvaxxed are to be grounded.

Certain States seem poised to go much further. The New York State Senate is currently discussing laws that would have raised eyebrows only a couple of years ago. These include forced vaccination to attend school, university and day care and, tellingly, the removal of parental consent when a child reaches 14 years of age (respectively New York Senate Bills: A8378; A7829/S6495; A2240/S45; A3091/S3041).

Perhaps the most surprising is Bill A416. It was sponsored by Senator Nick Perry and “relates to the removal of cases, contacts and carriers of communicable diseases that are potentially dangerous to the public health”. In another words, it grants authorities the power to “remove” people deemed a health threat.

“UAE bans foreign travel for citizens without booster jab.”

The editors of the Toronto Sun sensibly ask “What’s the end point to all of this?” Two slices:

We know that the Omicron variant is fast spreading, but everyone now agrees it’s much milder. The risk we’re facing as individuals from COVID-19 has gone down. So why on earth are we in lockdown?

The answer, according to officials, is due to concerns around hospital capacity. Guess what? That’s not the problem of regular folks. They pay a whole lot of tax dollars for what should be a world-class healthcare system.

It’s rather scary to see this happen for the third year in a row now. It doesn’t bode well for next year and the year after that.

COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. It’s anticipated to always surge during traditional virus season.

Do we lockdown every winter? That’s a serious question. Because the way officials are talking, they don’t seem to have a plan.

They said vaccines were the ticket out of this thing, but that’s clearly false.
Enough is enough. This can’t go on and people are within their right to say no.

Prompted by the above Toronto Sun editorial, Newman Nehas tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

There is no ulterior end point. Mitigation measures are their own end points. They are not a tunnel to somewhere, but a cave with no way out. So, just get in there and enjoy!