But over the past month or so, it has become inescapable that sheer incompetence and ignorance can no longer be the sole explanation for two years of bungled policies. Rather, the craven mindset of many of our leaders in both parties (albeit primarily Democrats) is manifest. They are using our bodies to score cheap political points, impervious to the injury they are inflicting upon us.
Worst of all are the vaccine mandates, which come in countless forms. Universities, including public ones, are requiring faculty, staff, and students to vaccinate against COVID-19 in order to remain employed or enrolled. Many, for example Washington and Lee University in Virginia, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the CUNY and SUNY state schools in New York, are now requiring boosters.
As an attorney who has filed a number of lawsuits challenging vaccine mandates coming from both public university employers and the federal government, I am contacted every day by myriad students, faculty and employees at these universities. Many now are double-vaccinated and COVID-19 recovered. A significant portion had recent bouts with COVID-19, which is unsurprising given that Omicron swept across much of the nation in a very brief time period. Yet, for students to continue their education at the universities they may have invested significant time, emotional energy and resources into attending, they are being coerced into getting a useless medical procedure that many legitimately fear could harm them.
Surveying the long-term consequences of Covid restrictions reveals a bleak picture of collateral damage. The toll from borrowing mountains of debt, closing schools, disrupting social interaction, shutting hospitality, skipping cancer screenings, and reducing access to preventative medicine will hurt us for generations.
A fierce debate over whether the UK response was executed effectively or proportionately will rage, perhaps for decades to come, but one thing should be obvious to everyone. In 2021 – our fightback year – circumstances changed dramatically enough to warrant a total change of direction.
From a policy perspective, it should mean an end to all legal restrictions on social and economic interactions, and rebalancing medical services back towards the many other causes of suffering and death. The Coronavirus Act 2020 should expire. The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 which was the enabling act for lockdowns should be revisited, allowing for emergency mechanisms in future pandemics but with greater parliamentary scrutiny.
It is also vital that SAGE and other modellers conduct a post mortem to evaluate their performance. This would enable lessons to be learnt and inform a revamp, including more focus on forecasts (not just pessimistic scenarios), diversity of experts, and “red teaming” to peer review major analysis.
Vaccine passports should not be countenanced further, as they amount to state-sanctioned discrimination and undermine the basic medical principle of informed consent. The unvaccinated should no longer be treated as an underclass, subject to disproportionate punishments such as their 10-day isolation period for travelling, while recently-infected people are only required to isolate for half that time.
The continuous and often arbitrary regulatory tinkering during the pandemic must end, allowing businesses to make investments confidently, without sudden changes. Our overall virus response should change from law to guidance – no compulsion to isolate, wear masks, or the “rule of six” – but trusting in ordinary Britons to do what is right and take sensible precautions.
In the recent Adam Smith Institute paper, ‘Life with Covid’, we outlined how to develop society’s defence against the ongoing threat of variants (and other diseases) while still protecting liberty. Key recommendations include reviewing regulatory processes to accelerate the generation and distribution of new vaccines. Expanding human challenge trials would also help speed things up.
Gov. Ron DeSantis ended pandemic restrictions last spring and refuses to impose new ones. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” he said. Lockdown states let “hysteria drive them to do really damaging things.”
The media hate him for saying things like that.
“Some governors are putting their own political gain ahead of children’s lives,” said CNN anchor Don Lemon.
If you watch most TV news, you’d think the rules, bans and shutdowns really save lives. Florida killed people because Florida didn’t impose tougher rules, we’re told.
“Florida leads the nation in new COVID cases,” says Action News in Tampa.
“Florida has the worst rate of coronavirus anywhere in the country!” rants “The Young Turks” host Cenk Uygur.
But it’s not true.
Florida has had fewer deaths than 16 other states.
Mississippi, Arizona, Alabama and New Jersey had the most deaths per capita. New York, where most TV anchors and I live, had the sixth most deaths.
Florida did better even though Florida has more high-risk old people.
What’s going on?
The media rarely just lie. Most simply cite Florida when deaths are high and ignore the state when deaths fall. They deceive by omission. Florida’s good numbers just don’t fit the reporters’ biases.
“Pfizer’s New Covid-19 Pill Works Against Omicron in Lab” – so reports the Wall Street Journal. (DBx: I wonder how much this development, and similar ones, will temper the Covidocracy’s mania for vaccine mandates. I predict not by much – a prediction that I intensely hope turns out to be incorrect.)
None of this is to say that COVID-19 is not very real or very deadly. It clearly is.
The point is, the data we’re collecting are giving us a distorted representation of COVID-19 realities. From the beginning of the pandemic, some epidemiologists sounded the alarm on this issue.
In a March 17 STAT article, Dr. John Ioannidis, the C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention at Stanford University, warned that COVID-19 could turn into a “once-in-a-century evidence fiasco.” Ioannidis worried central planners were making sweeping and reflexive changes while relying on data that was flawed or insufficient.
There also appears to be signs the CDC is finally acknowledging the deficiencies in its own reporting.
“Do you know how many of the 836,000 deaths in the U.S. linked to COVID are from COVID or how many are with COVID, but they had other comorbidities? Do you have that breakdown?” Bret Baier asked Walensky on “Fox News Sunday.”
Walensky did not, but after some hemming and hawing she offered a notable response.
“Those data will be forthcoming,” she told Baier.
This is good news. The only question is, why didn’t public officials listen to Elon Musk two years ago?
“WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said Tuesday ‘there’s no evidence right now” that suggests healthy children and adolescents need booster shots to supplement their Covid-19 vaccinations.'” (HT Jay Bhattacharya)
Toby Green tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)
Moral certainty was very appealing – it always is. So many times in history, moral certainty produced immoral outcomes.
Few experts see Covid/lockdown as a morality play – but it has been that.
We can’t just “follow the science” – we must consider philosophy, history, ethics…
(DBx: The only thing about which I am reasonably morally certain is that it is nearly always immoral to initiate coercion against anyone – an offense made worse by using your moral certainties in an attempt to justify such coercion.)
Take a look at what is becoming of science in our age of Covid hysteria: The editor-in-chief of Science Magazine, Holden Thorp, tweets out this speculation…
… in response to which Jay Bhattacharya quite reasonably asks…
Is the editor-in-chief of @ScienceMagazine (@hholdenthorp) conducting séances to divine MLK’s thoughts on the @gbdeclaration?
… and also in response to which Martin Kulldorff tweets:
Does @hholdenthorp think he is the editor-in-chief of Séance Magazine, not @ScienceMagazine?
For evidence of just how incapable many people have become of thinking straight, check out this tweet from a clueless parent in Arlington County, Virginia… (HT my intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy)
Governor Youngkin talks about parental involvement in schools. The overwhelmingly majority of Arlington parents want masks worn in schools. Does parental involvement only matter if the Governor agrees?
You can still make your kid wear a useless mask. But the school can’t force me to mask my kids. Why is this hard?
OSHA’s indiscriminate approach failed to account for this crucial distinction – between occupational risk and risk more generally – and accordingly the mandate takes on the character of a general public health measure, rather than an ‘occupational safety or health standard’. As such the mandate failed.
This is a significant victory for bodily integrity and medical freedom and privacy. However, it was disappointing to see that the narrower vaccine mandate for healthcare workers was left in place. In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court maintained the ‘healthcare worker rule’ which requires vaccination for about 10.3million workers at 76,000 healthcare facilities. Those healthcare workers who do not want to be vaccinated, having worked throughout the pandemic, now face forced jabs or unemployment.
This is also a huge victory for our friends at the Daily Wire, who were among the first to challenge this outrageous tyrannical law. While some so called centre-Right commentators here in the UK, no, I mean the South of France, sought to ‘punish five million vaccine refuseniks’, those with decency sought to stand up to the Covid tyranny. Ben Shapiro, who once came off the loser in debate with Andrew Neil, certainly is the winner when it comes to what matters: fighting for freedom, limited government and what kind of society we want to leave to our children. Shapiro, leading the Daily Wire, put his money where his mouth is in challenging this law. And won. It was also, as Shapiro pointed out, a huge victory for the Trump-appointed justices who handed down this decision.
At the end of the Second World War, Gaullists and Communists insisted that the majority of the French people had played a part in the Resistance. Actual figures for those who actively opposed the Nazis vary between 400,000 and 75,000. Something not entirely dissimilar is happening now as the Government prepares to lift Plan B restrictions next week, and fervent advocates of lockdown try to distance themselves from its dire consequences. Scientists whose mathematical models persuaded anxious ministers to impose drastic restrictions on human freedom not even seen during the Blitz are suddenly keen to emphasise that these were merely worst-case “scenarios”, not something on which you’d want to base actual policy.
Did they mention that at the time, I wonder? Or has the Eddie-the-Eagle reliability of their predictions given rise to a certain hasty revisionism? Sorry, that’s unfair. Eddie the Eagle never predicted up to 6,000 Covid deaths a day this winter (actual number: 250).
For those who were part of the lockdown Resistance, it is gratifying, but also oddly unbearable, to see the people who attacked us admitting that the “misinformation” we were accused of spreading 18 months ago turns out to be remarkably close to the truth. I am not a particularly rebellious person, and certainly not a brave one, but if I encounter any kind of injustice, my inner Welsh dragon starts breathing fire. I can’t help it. During the lockdowns, Idris the Pearson dragon seldom stopped fuming at the thousands of harrowing stories which readers shared with me. Like the lecturer who emailed about one of his students, a glorious young man, who fell to his death after hiding on the roof when police raided his house because a small party there breached lockdown regulations and the lad didn’t want to get into trouble. He paid with his young life for the stupid rules that were made – and repeatedly broken, as we now know – by middle-aged men in Westminster.
When the Resistance dared to suggest that some lockdown measures were disproportionate, crazy and unsupported by science, let alone common sense, we were reviled. That is no exaggeration. I regret to say your columnist was called, in no particular order, a Covid denier (I nursed my entire family through the virus), a granny killer (I didn’t see my own mother for 18 months) and a spreader of disinformation. When I protested on social media that putting padlocks on the gates of playgrounds was a terrible idea, back came a fusillade of vicious accusations: “You want people to die!”
To question the official narrative that nothing mattered except keeping people safe from Covid was heresy. Witches like me had to be burnt at the stake before we could spread our subversive ideas to all Sage-fearing people. Funny how things turn out, isn’t it? It is now widely acknowledged that the NHS was never overwhelmed (that’s why the Nightingales were shut without being used). And even those prophets of doom at the BBC finally acknowledged this week that half of “Covid deaths” since Christmas are not actually “from” Covid but “with” Covid.
On top of vaccine and booster mandates on health-care workers and SUNY students, Hochul threatens to impose one on K-12 students, even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits that the vaccines don’t prevent infection or transmission. They do reduce severity of illness. But simply put: Your vaccination status affects only you and your health, which is why I and many others support COVID vaccines as a matter of personal choice.
I agree. And on Day One as governor, I will lift all mandates because I’d deal with COVID using data-driven and common-sense strategies.
I would bolster hospital capacity by rehiring the nearly 34,000 health-care workers forced out by Hochul’s mandate. I would also ensure that doctors have the discretion to treat patients and prescribe medicine they deem necessary, not handcuffed by politics.
We would shift to a focused strategy aimed at reducing COVID mortality by better protecting high-risk populations such as the elderly. We would make available the vaccines and boosters, but no one would be coerced into getting them to work, attend school or participate in our free society. We would target outreach at people over 65 who are neither vaccinated nor COVID-recovered, especially those harder-to-reach lower-income seniors in rural areas and inner cities. And available treatments will be based on need, not skin color, as it is with Hochul’s team.