Lockdown or no lockdown? That is the question…

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These are interesting times and have been since 2020 reared its infamous face. Not to be outdone, 2021 is striving for the title of most interesting year in the past century. Case in point, check out this bit of news from Bloomberg.

A top health adviser to President Joe Biden warned Sunday that a new variant of the coronavirus circulating in the U.K. will likely become the dominant strain in the U.S. and may lead to future restrictions on in-person gatherings.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the nation’s health care system must prepare for a surge in serious cases such as the one experienced recently in England.

“What we have to do now is also anticipate this and understand that we’re going to have to change quickly,” said Osterholm, who’s a member of Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board. “As fast as we’re opening restaurants, we’re likely to be closing them in the near term.”

More lockdowns. Really? Is that what is best for our country? Is that what is best for the world? I have heard arguments both pro and con. Last year, scientists said that lockdowns saved many lives and easing them was risky. Reuters reported on 2 international reports that made those claims. Here are some quotes from that article.

The Imperial team estimated that by early May, between 12 and 15 million people in total in Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland – around 4% of their combined population – had been infected with COVID-19.

By comparing the number of deaths counted with deaths predicted by their model if no lockdown measures had been introduced, they found some 3.1 million deaths were averted.

A second study by scientists in the United States, published alongside the Imperial-led one in the journal Nature, estimated that lockdowns in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States had prevented or delayed around 530 million COVID-19 cases.

The article I just quoted was from June 8, 2020 and the science around Covid and how we should be reacting to it has varied since, to put it mildly. As a reminder of what has been reported by medical experts since the Coronavirus pandemic erupted on the world stage, check out this video and be amazed by how much science has changed on the efficacy of face masks. Once done, click this.

Since those 2020 reports, there have been several reports arguing against lockdowns. In October 2020, the World Health Organization’s special envoy on COVID-19 urged world leaders this week to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method.”

In November 2020, 44,000 scientists, public health experts and clinicians signed a declaration stating that lockdowns don’t work. Its called the “Great Barrington Declaration” and more have signed it since November 2020 – lots more (as of this writing, 95,464 and climbing). Here’s a quote from it.

Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice. Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

I read an article recently that quoted the statistician William Briggs who argued that “lockdowns don’t work because they force people to gather in fewer places like supermarkets and therefore spread viruses faster than if people were allowed to spread out.” Although Briggs is not a infectious disease expert, what he said sounded logical to me. That not withstanding, there are more, more and more scientific studies that argue against lockdowns. They are not hard to find. I’ll share links to just a few more.

It is certainly prudent to be careful when engaging the unknown. It is quite another to continue a course of action that has been rebutted soundly by scientific research. I think it becomes irresponsible veering towards the criminal when all the factors are not considered or if they are, summarily dismissed. In other words, if the cure is worse than the disease, why continue with the cure? There is ample proof that lockdowns cause more harm than they were intended to prevent. The Foundation for Economic Education laid out 4 life threatening unintended consequences of the lockdown back in August 25, 2020. In a nutshell they were:

  1. Massive Spikes in Suicide Rates and Mental Health Crises
  2. Uptick in Drug Overdoses and Substance Abuse
  3. Economic Devastation Leads to Hunger
  4. Surge in Domestic Violence Under COVID-19 Lockdowns

All of which, and then some, turned out to be verifiably true. So, with so much evidence to the contrary, why even the speculation of more lockdowns, as Biden advisers caution? It feels like some people want a permanent lockdown for some ulterior motive. I don’t want to go tinfoil hat on this yet, it sure seems like it. Case in point, Karol Markowicz of the New York post made a very salient point in her article, “Beware the experts who want lockdowns to go on forever.

In December, a New York Times piece, “Here’s Why Vaccinated People Still Need to Wear a Mask,” kicked off the perma-gloom. Vaccinated people will still need to wear masks, because those with high viral loads could be “even worse spreaders,” the paper quoted Dr. Yvonne Maldonado of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Even worse spreaders!” That’s horrible. It’s also horribly misleading. I know this, because I read the rest of the article. 

The fear arises from studies on monkeys, which found that some vaccinated monkeys didn’t get sick but still carried the novel coronavirus in their noses. 

But wait: “Those monkeys were intentionally exposed to massive amounts of virus and still had less virus than unvaccinated animals,” Weill Cornell virologist John Moore told the Times. Ah. Well, maybe don’t intentionally expose yourself to “massive amounts” of the virus, then. 

I really appreciated how she ended her piece with, “We’re nearly over the hill. It’s time to turn down the volume on the voices who insist we never get over it.

Well said. And the only thing better than “well said” is “well done;” something exemplified in a recent tweet by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Thanks for reading this far. More news and commentary tomorrow.

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