Back in September I wrote WHEN DOES REFUSING TO ADMIT A MISTAKE BECOME EVIL?. Now, with winter approaching, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is making a come back, do I regret that post? No.
WHEN DOES REFUSING TO ADMIT A MISTAKE BECOME EVIL? was about the way Sweden has handled COVID-19. Because the virus is coming back, the Swedes, who apparently thought they had it under control are getting nervous. Why? Well, some of the reasons are silly. Some big wigs have gotten it, Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip and wife test positive for coronavirus (yahoo.com). Happens, but the real problem is so have a lot of other people. So the death total is now around 6,500.
Out of 6,500 COVID-related deaths in Sweden, almost half have been in nursing homes, while a fourth have been of elder people being taken care of at their homes, according to the Mail.Sweden Sees No Signs So Far Herd Immunity Is Stopping Virus | Newsmax.com
Apparently, Swedes have not successfully protected the elderly. Of course, the hospitalization rate is going up too, COVID-19 hospitalizations surging in Sweden amid second wave (nypost.com). So, supposedly, the government has to do something. What?
MCCAMMON: There’s obviously a lot of concern about this. Sweden’s prime minister has announced new restrictions. What do those look like?
SAVAGE: Well, there are two things going on here. There are both tougher voluntary recommendations and changes in the law – basically things like avoiding going to nonessential shops, gyms, museums, things like that. And also, Swedes have been asked to work from home or avoid public transport since March, but that message has been toughened.
Then we’ve got these new laws – a ban on more than eight people sitting together in bars, pubs and restaurants that came in a few weeks ago and, most recently, on Tuesday, a ban on public events of more than eight people – so stuff like sports games, theater performances, demonstrations. And you can be fined or get up to a six-month prison sentence if you break those rules.Swedish Government Rethinks COVID-19 Containment Strategy : NPR
Still, the Swedes persevere.
Tegnell played down the criticism and said the recent lockdowns in Europe, which for the most part have been less strict than those in the spring, showed there was less of a difference in approaches to fighting the virus now.
“Most countries are now trying to do it a bit more like we have done in Sweden. Almost no one is closing schools now, for instance,” he said. “We have also learned a lot (from others), like doing targeted recommendations for different regions.”
Sweden is one of few countries in Europe that does not recommend or demand masks outside hospitals and care facilities. Tegnell said he had yet to see any good studies in favour of masks, despite it being recommended by the European Centre for Disease Control and many other health bodies.Second Wave, Same Strategy: Swedish COVID-19 Czar Defiant Despite Surge | World News | US News
Senator Rand Paul has been rather emphatic about school closings.
Sen. Rand Paul said Dr. Anthony Fauci needs to apologize to parents and school children across the country after reversing course and saying this weekend that schools should open amid the coronavirus.
“No, he owes one to every single parent and school-age child in America,” Paul tweeted in response to a tweet that said, “Dr Fauci owes @RandPaul an apology.”Rand Paul says Fauci needs to apologize ‘to every single parent and school-age child in America’ after saying schools should open (washingtonexaminer.com)
The point is that we have months of experience with COVID-19, and we will get more experience. One thing we have learned is that locking everything down is costly, and we need to be careful not to let our politicians abuse this strategy.
Aside from closing the schools and keeping them closed, what has been the most prominent abuse. Well, it reached the Supreme Court.
- Supreme Court Orders New York To End COVID-19 Restrictions That Discriminate Against Churches, Synagogues | The Daily Caller
- Supreme Court temporarily blocks NYC from setting church attendance limit (nypost.com) and Gov. Cuomo: Supreme Court church ruling ‘irrelevant’ despite decision (nypost.com)
- Supreme Court Backs Religious Challenge To New York COVID-19 Restrictions (npr.org)
- In a 5-4 ruling, Supreme Court sides with religious groups in a dispute over Covid-19 restrictions in New York (cnn.com)
So, what is the lesson we should learn? We need to consider the cost versus the benefit. We at least need to know whether what we are doing is effective.
Lockdowns have yet to be proven as an adequate policy for mitigating pandemics. The late Dr. Donald Henderson, famous for leading the worldwide eradication of smallpox, wrote the following in 2006,
“There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods to slow the spread of influenza.”
Henderson writes the following about prohibiting large social gatherings:
“During seasonal influenza epidemics, public events with an expected large attendance have sometimes been canceled or postponed, the rationale being to decrease the number of contacts with those who might be contagious. There are, however, no certain indications that these actions have had any definitive effect on the severity or duration of an epidemic.”
Furthermore, a recent study published by The Lancet concluded that there is no definitive evidence that can prove the effectiveness of various public health interventions in combating Covid-19.
We have learned Dr. Henderson’s lesson the hard way unfortunately as public health interventions have failed to produce intended results while causing tremendous social strife.
- 90-Year-Old Woman Killed Herself To Avoid Another COVID-19 Lockdown (thefederalist.com)
- England underestimates the costs of lockdown at its peril | Coronavirus | The Guardian
- The Costs and Dangers of the Covid Lockdown | RealClearPolitics
- The human costs of the pandemic: Is it time to prioritize well-being? (brookings.edu)
- Europe is locking down a second time. But what is its long-term plan? (sciencemag.org)
- Sweden to allow more distance learning at high schools as COVID cases rise (reuters.com)