Jay Bhattacharya, writing in the National Post, applauds the CDC’s eventual (if inexcusably delayed) embrace of essentially the same strategy that is recommended in the great Great Barrington Declaration. A slice:
For those who have followed dissident voices during the pandemic, the broad outlines of the CDC’s new strategy should have been familiar. On Aug. 11,  the CDC eschewed COVID containment as a goal and replaced it with a plan of focused protection of vulnerable people. The CDC cited widespread immune protection provided by recovery from COVID infection and vaccination in the American population as the primary reason for the shift in strategy.
Though it did not explicitly say so, the CDC has embraced the core principles of the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) — a document I coauthored along with Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University and Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford in October 2020. The GBD called for focused protection of vulnerable people (e.g., the elderly) and lifting lockdown restrictions so that the less vulnerable could live more normal lives. The declaration provided numerous concrete suggestions about how to protect the vulnerable until widespread population immunity was achieved.
While commendable, the CDC’s shift in strategy came far too late in the pandemic. In response to the GBD, some in October 2020 argued that we should wait until a vaccine before lifting lockdown. Though the declaration noted that vaccines can “assist” in achieving this immunity, we maintained that keeping lockdown “measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.”
When we wrote the GBD, lockdowns had already caused millions of school children to lose out on education, consigning them to poorer, shorter, and less healthy lives. Millions had already delayed necessary health care, including cancer screening, care for anxiety and depression, and even treatment for heart disease and diabetes. Many have paid the price by preventable death due to deadly but manageable chronic conditions. The economic harm from lockdown policies had already harmed the health and well-being of poor people worldwide in rich and poor countries, impoverishing tens of millions and pushing countless people to the brink of starvation. And these harms were and are unequally distributed, with the laptop class largely shielded.
A friend of mine suffered from cancer early in 2020. She was booked into a hospital for a course of treatment. The prognosis was uncertain, as it usually is, but reasonably good. Then came the pandemic and the lockdown. Her treatment was indefinitely postponed. By the time that the hospital was in a position to reinstate it, tests showed that it was too late. The cancer had developed beyond the point where the treatment had any prospect of success. She is now dead.
Her story is too familiar to be shocking. As government figures released this week show, excess deaths, by comparison with the pre-pandemic years, have reached extraordinary highs. Moreover, only a tiny proportion of all deaths are now due to Covid. The major contributors to death numbers have been cancer and ischaemic heart disease.
It is questionable whether lockdowns avoided any deaths from Covid. International comparisons suggest that, in the medium and long term, there is no significant correlation between the lockdowns and the Covid death toll. But the contribution of lockdowns to long-term excess deaths from other causes is becoming increasingly obvious.
This is, above all, a failure of government. Governments across the world discarded previous plans that had been years in the making and allowed themselves to be panicked into a radical, ill-considered and ultimately unsuccessful experiment with human welfare. Covid was never going to be eliminated and people were infected in spite of lockdowns. In the process, there came a load of other problems that could have been avoided, all of them profoundly destructive and some of them mortal.
The moral is that politicians do not concentrate on the most serious problems but on the ones that they are most likely to be blamed for. Covid deaths were dramatic and newsworthy. Government messaging made them more so. The long-term outcome was subtler, less noticeable and ignored. It is coming back to hit us now.
Art Carden says ‘Bring on the chain stores!’ Here’s his conclusion:
People enjoy quirky, unique, and local places. I know I do. They also enjoy reliable, consistent, and predictable places, which is why chains succeed. As chains expand to new areas, those areas start to look alike. But they’re more alike in their diverse options for reliable, consistent, and predictable cuisine, clothing, car care, and other goods and services. If Bonchon, In-N-Out Burger, and Tim Hortons make their way to my neighborhood, I don’t think I’ll shed any tears, but if I do, they’ll be tears of joy at my new opportunities to get food and coffee I previously wouldn’t have been able to get without getting on a plane.
The GOP’s transformation into the party of big and fiscally reckless government is proceeding apace.