We Are Not Just Bags of Germs Infecting One Another

We are not simply just bags of germs infecting one another – we are human beings” — Dr Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician, epidemiologist, health economist, and public health policy expert focusing on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations (one of the three amigos).

The lockdowns across the world are increasingly becoming unpopular. OMG, who would have guessed?

What a conundrum. Generalised lockdowns don’t work. You either have to lock everybody up and weld their doors closed until the virus disappears from the area, like in Australia, or operate like Sweden or Japan/Korea/Taiwan. But the half way approach happening in much of Europe and the US gives us the economic and collateral damage with a gallimaufry of confusing results.

But is it practical to go for full on lockdown?

I am no expert but I ask the question: what is realistic? It completely goes against human nature to be effectively nailing everyone into their homes.

In Australia, where I am residing, there are currently a handful of cases per day — that’s cases not deaths. The problem is the way the Premiers of the states have been playing politics with it all — locking up the borders like their constituents are in a prison, pitching state against state. Politicians never let a crisis go to waste (see **footnote) as they rally support injecting fear into the community.

The three radical amigos

Three respected epidemiologists have come out recently saying there is another way — Focused Protection. You can read their thrust here at UnHerd (and sign a declaration if you like).

Here is what the three radical amigos say on Focused Protection: “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk“.

Such a view is intriguing because it’s thinking differently about a problem and I am always interested in the outlier’s view. While it’s a compelling argument it’s also very risky as the consequences of being wrong are massive. Also many epidemiologist say that herd immunity simply does not work without a vaccine.

Supporting Focused Protection, The City Journal’s John Tierney calls the lockdowns “A Failed Experiment” that must be ended (Note: Be aware of the ideological bias coming out of the City Journal). Tierney writes:

While the economic and social costs have been enormous, it’s not clear that the lockdowns have brought significant health benefits beyond what was achieved by people’s voluntary social distancing and other actions. Some researchers have credited lockdowns with slowing the pandemic, but they’ve relied on mathematical models with assumptions about people’s behavior and the virus’s tendency to spread—the kinds of models and assumptions that previously produced wild overestimates of how many people would die during the pandemic. Other researchers have sought more direct evidence, looking at mortality patterns. They have detected little impact.

The lockdowns may have been justified in the spring, when so little was known about the virus and the ways to contain it. But now that we know more, there’s no ethical justification for continuing this failed experiment“.

Peter Singer the highly respected philosopher and professor of bioethics at Princeton University, has thrown in his two cents worth. This is what he had to say about lockdowns: “Even if lockdowns do save lives in the countries that institute them, that isn’t sufficient to show that it is the right path for a government to take.”

  • “First, an adequate assessment would not disregard the difference between dying at 90 and at 20, 30, or 40…we should be counting years of life lost or saved, not simply lives.
  • Second, the impact of lockdowns on quality of life matters, too. Lockdowns cause widespread unemployment, for example, and that sharply reduces life satisfaction. Difficult as quality of life is to measure and quantify, a proper accounting of the costs and benefits of lockdown cannot just wave it away.
  • Third, and perhaps most important of all, we must consider the impact of lockdowns on people who even in normal times are struggling to meet their and their families’ basic needs. Governments of countries where many people live in or on the edge of extreme poverty have particularly strong reasons to avoid lockdowns, but governments of developed countries also ought not disregard altogether the fact that a recession in the advanced economies jeopardises the very survival of people in other countries.”

Anyway the world of biology is always self correcting so we will adapt and move on from this virus as humanity has done in times past.

**Footnote (and it’s a big one)

Now I would hate to be a politician in the best of times acknowledging that it’s a tough job to please people and if I was to find the politics unbearable in my country or state I will go and live somewhere else.

We all know the repercussions of handing over more and more power to governments — the broad effect is to slowly and surely chip away at people’s freedom.

A colleague sent me a couple of bits of information and at first I thought it was a joke. Due to the coronavirus the Victorian Government in Australia has expanded its emergency legislation.

If you’re not familiar with how Australia runs: Victoria is a southern state nearly 7 million people; the capital is Melbourne, around 5 million. The state government just passed this expanded legislation and it seems to have snuck it through quietly while everybody was locked inside watching Netflix.

The legislation basically means that in a state of emergency (governments love emergencies) the government can appoint an ‘authorised officer” to arrest and detain a person they don’t like the look of, is a bit weird, is not kosher, is wearing a funny hat, who thinks of six impossible things before breakfast….

That authorised officer can be anyone — a council worker for instance. Goodness gracious.

In addition here are some other powers of the appointed anointed ones:

  • close any premises;
  • direct a person or group to enter, not to enter, to remain at, or to leave, any particular premises;
  • without a warrant, enter any premises and search for and seize any thing;
  • request information, including names and addresses;
  • inspect any premises;
  • require the destruction or disposal of anything; or
  • direct the owner or occupier of any premises, or any other person, to take particular actions.


Categories: Culture, Science

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