Special Notice 32

By William J. Dodwell    April 28, 2020

·As new Chinese coronavirus infections decline, Democrat governors take victory laps for their successful containment policies. But in a recent essay I cited an Israeli study that concluded that lockdowns are not effective because the virus independently and instinctively infects according to a genetically determined eight-week life cycle. See https://lnkd.in/geDmhWj   This might suggest the current tapering off of the virus is occurring largely on its own as it approaches natural expiration.  Does this mean the virus is unresponsive to social distancing and masks as well, thus rendering them unnecessary, like lockdowns?  Or, how effective is mitigation in light of the inherent behavior of the virus? Also ignored by media is a recent article in The Wall Street Journal about a study that documents the ineffectiveness of lockdowns.  See  https://www.wsj.com/articles/do-lockdowns-save-many-lives-is-most-places-the-data-say-no-11587930911

Misguided decisions

If the coronavirus independently runs its course in only about eight weeks, the severe economic and social consequences of mitigation have been for naught.  This is because the virus is not responsive to lockdown, and because infection abates and stops fairly shortly anyway.  The same applies to  the current effort to test and contact-trace as many as possible to detect and isolate the infected in order to curb the spread of a waning virus.  Nonetheless, many support continuing lockdown until far-reaching testing, and even re-testing, show a sustained decline in all infections, not just symptomatic ones recorded thus far.  

Besides controlling the spread of the virus, the testing is done to establish the number of total infections (the denominator) and thereby the real death rate that enables a determination of the seriousness of the coronavirus relative to other pandemics.  If the true COVID-19 morbidity rate is comparable to that of other pathogens, a do-nothing approach that relies on herd immunity would have be justified.  However, conditioning the re-start of the economy on this testing is unnecessary as it can be conducted independently of mitigation.  In fact, it can continue after the virus passes.

Additional testing to identify antibodies from the infected with which to immune others is also independent of mitigation protocol. So why delay re-opening the economy?  The effects of a possible resurgence do not outweigh the costs of lockdown, which studies show is ineffectual anyway.

The coronavirus expires naturally        

Both new infections and hospitalizations, grossly overestimated at the outset, are declining as the coronavirus nears the end of its life cycle.  This suggests that both its quantity and severity are attenuating, consistent with any dying organism.  Is this diminution independent of mitigation?  If so, restrictions should end.  A possible new outbreak that may ensue might just be a last DNA-driven gasp rather than a response to renewed human activity. If not, re-starting the economy is worth the risk.

Lessons learned

In the final analysis, government has mandated extensive mitigation that ruined the economy in order to safeguard against a death rate that tests indicate is likely a fraction of 1%, comparable to the seasonal flu and other pandemics.  What’s more, among those infected, some 80% displayed no symptoms.  This relative innocuousness could justify a do-nothing response to an outbreak with its benefit of herd immunity, as originally entertained in some quarters. Also buttressing inaction is a better understanding of the nature of the coronavirus in respect of its reported independence from mitigation practices.  

In any case, the onus is on the vulnerable population to self-quarantine with accommodations from government, or risk infection on their own. Those at risk are mainly the elderly, especially those in nursing homes.  One should not expect other populations to sacrifice on their behalf through unnecessary mitigation that devastates the economy and quality of life.        

The left is determined to hurt Trump and government tightens the noose

The limits of mitigation notwithstanding, Democrats and the media are hellbent on promoting hysteria aimed at garnering support for prolonged lockdown and social distancing.  The object is to ensure that resultant economic damage and social discord hurt President Trump’s reelection chances. Mainstream media have ignored studies that document the ineffectiveness of lockdowns because they undermine their anti-Trump objective.  The left conditions the lifting of restrictions on the completion of overly extensive testing and impracticable contact-tracing as a means to prolong the shutdown. 

Liberals uniformly have downplayed the promising curative prospects of hydroxychloroquine, as that might end the crisis a little too soon.  And one has to wonder about the motive for expanding the definition of a coronavirus death.  Accordingly, in some quarters health officials inflate the body count by ignoring comorbidity factors and classifying death on the basis of symptoms without a positive test result.  And many talk about a “new normal” by which certain mitigation will continue indefinitely beyond the life of the virus.  Why would COVID-19 be a permanent threat?

The newfound power of governors to control lives through mandates at the expense of constitutional rights marks a godsend to leftist Democrats and their media allies.  Many acquiesce to their tyranny out of hysteria conjured by media.  In addition, generous economic stimulus programs ingratiate the public to the federal government.  These policies set the stage for further intrusion as people accept behavior modification directives, and become inured to growing dependency on government.  This incrementalist move toward socialism is another reason why the left wants to sustain state lockdowns.    

   The path forward

Austere mitigation was predicated initially on highly erroneous projections of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.  But as a result, the country is well stocked with supplies for the next pandemic and higher on the learning curve.  But now that reality is becoming clear, it is time for serious adjustments.  The coronavirus life cycle is nearing a natural terminus, its potency diminished. Prolonged restrictions are not necessary, if ever effective in the first place.  Re-open the economy now.

©2020 William J. Dodwell

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