The healthcare industry can no longer stand by silently on the sidelines. Covid’s real danger now lies in the crippling damage our failed responses are inflicting on our societies. We need to speak out now. Our consciences should dictate it. Lockdowns are not solutions, they are in fact a crime against the innocent and the vulnerable. There are alternatives.
Wave 1, Wave 2 and so on, or just all the same wave with peaks and troughs? Covid hasn’t just exposed flaws in countries health systems, it’s also highlighted our global inability to deal with a pandemics at a governmental level. Part of the problem is the Covid virus itself and its severity.
Yes, Covid can kill you, but the odds, if you’re healthy, are massively in your favor. Even if you are old. The virus, although deadly to certain groups, isn’t that dangerous to the general population. I’m not going to delve into the aspects of comorbidities and quantifying risk, there’s more than enough written on that topic already. This article will instead look at possible solutions moving forward and why our current strategy (we really only have lockdowns) is fundamentally flawed and often deadly in it’s own right to our societies.
What has become clear is that our lockdown mentality and isolating entire cities, communities and even countries hasn’t and isn’t working. If anything, we may simply have prolonged the pain.
Yes, you can argue lockdowns slow the spread of the virus and allow hospitals the opportunity to provide beds and respirators for the seriously ill and that is wonderful, if that were all lockdowns did. But that isn’t the actual result of lockdowns. Their consequences and impact on our communities have been immense and have and will result in massive damage to mental health, societal health and fiscal health. We are engaged in digging a bottomless pit.
I have medical associates and friends who work on the front lines of Covid. They experience the horrors of the pandemic first hand. They get to see the really ugly side of a disease that kills slowly, suffocating its victims as it overpowers their lungs and attacks other organs. With limited treatment options, these doctors are forced, day after day, to watch patient after patient die. These doctors are angry, frustrated and many feel abandoned to their lots. Justifiably so.
There are NO BULLETPROOF TREATMENTS FOR COVID! That is an indisputable fact. Lets get that out the way first. If you are hospitalized and you take a turn for the worse, it is still a crap shoot as to whether or not you survive, and then, the odds we mentioned earlier are no longer in your favor. You may or may not respond to a variety of treatments your desperate doctor is going to ply you with to try and save your life. Like I said, its a crap shoot.
There are two important take-aways from this paragraph.
For patients it is this. Seek medical attention early if you suspect you are infected. Existing treatment protocols seem most effective if delivered early in the life cycle of the infection. Wait too long and, well, you may not be around for too long. Sorry to be blunt, but that’s the truth of it. Covid is not something to be trifled with. Ask the millions of grieving family members.
The second point to be drawn from the above is directed at health care workers embedded on the front lines. It may not be a popular view but I believe it to be the truth. The health of your patients matters as does your ability to provide them with the best care possible. The cost of that life and that care however, cannot be exacted from the innocent casualties of lockdowns. Every life has value and this is where the crux of our societal problem starts to rear it’s ugly head.
If you are a doctor on the front lines of Covid, you are engaged in a war, one you’ve been poorly equipped to fight and your batting average ain’t great right now. It is human nature to want to do everything you can to improve that batting average, to ensure that you are able to save more lives than you lose.
That desire to improve the lot of your patient cannot however outweigh the social wellbeing of the society outside of the doors of your hospital. Cutterntly it does.
A life for a life
What is the value of your patient’s life as he lies gasping for air in an isolated ward, cut off from his loved ones? What if the indirect cost of treating that patient comes at the expense of a child’s life, three blocks away. A child who has starved to death in her cot, abandoned and alone. Her young mother, recently unemployed, lies motionless beside the cot, having taken her own life. An eviction order lies unopened on a small battered table, the only remaining piece of furniture in the families cramped lounge. They are victims of the lockdown policy and their lives have been lost to Covid, as surely as if the disease itself infected them.
All across the length and breadth of our planet the fictitious scenario I’ve outlined above is played out again and again in real time as millions suffer, not from the virus itself, but from our ill-conceived responses. There is no daily list broadcast across the planet publicizing these deaths. They are the silent victims of Covid-19 and our flawed policies and their numbers cannot be quantified. Not now and perhaps never. Pre-Covid we already had nearly 28 million homeless children globally according to Unicef. It’s safe to assume that number will double by the time the pandemic passes.
This inability on our part to put numbers (quantify) to the lives we are destroying or losing from lockdown is one of lockdowns greatest immediate strengths. History will show it up for the flawed response it has been, but for now, it continues unabated as our sole management strategy; a reflection of just how powerless we are in the face of an unknown enemy against which we have no defenses.
Another inescapable fact of the Pandemic is this. Millions are suffering and the cost in human life is unacceptable. Children literally starving to death, widespread hunger, even in first world countries, as unemployment soars and levels of depression and suicide skyrocket. Solutions, always, should be commensurate with the problems they attempt to resolve. Lockdowns are clearly not fit for purpose. They never were. What good saving the few at the expense of the many?
Are there alternatives?
There is no sense in criticizing a woefully inadequate solution without offering viable alternatives. Until recently, there wasn’t much on the table and those with alternate mindsets had been vociferously silenced by the majority. That is gradually changing and it is thanks to members of the scientific community who have chosen to take a moral stand on the damages enforced lockdowns are having on our societies. An example of this is the Great Barrington Declaration, more on them below.
Before we examine their suggestions in more detail, lets quickly recap. We know now that we aren’t dealing with an extinction level pandemic here. Far from it. Covid is, as I have stressed above, a dangerous and nasty virus that can kill you, but it is, based on statistics you can freely google, only marginally more fatal than influenza. It is also more targeted in the individuals and groups it poses a real threat to, which makes it eminently manageable. We know WHO to protect.
These facts would suggest that our current lockdown strategies and their debilitating and often fatal outcomes, warrant an immediate alternative. Clearly we cannot simply end one response without something to offer in its stead and one such alternative has been tabled by a group of concerned scientists and doctors.
Who or what is the Great Barrington Declaration?
Who better to explain this than the founders, The following statement is taken directly from their website.
Great Barrington Declaration — As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.
So what exactly is Focused Protection and who supports it? To answer the second question first, their website currently displays the following information regarding signatories to the declaration.
The three primary signatories listed are
Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist with expertise in detecting and monitoring infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine safety evaluations.
Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, vaccine development, and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician, epidemiologist, health economist, and public health policy expert focusing on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations.
The list of medical figures that have signed this document is impressive and growing daily. Let me be the first to admit that I have no way of currently validating these numbers. The signatures are however of secondary concern. We don’t live in a democratic world where the public get to decide global health protocols. These are decided for us on our behalf by governments who supposedly take into consideration the voices of their experts and the numbers. Numbers matter, statistics matter and our ability to quantify something influences our decisions. We use numbers as yardsticks.
Lockdown uses the table of Covid infections and deaths to justify itself. It is aided in this process by the media. It is the only table of numbers ever presented to the public and in much the same way we buy into it, so do the politicians. Projection, projections, projections. It’s what drives our policies and decision making processes.
As stated earlier, the silent victims of the pandemic, those who suffer the consequences of lockdown, have no public face, they are legion, but as of now, exist as an unquantified force with little or no voice. The real gravity of their situation in the aftermath of global lockdowns is only now starting to emerge, months after the initial strategies were implemented. It may take years to fully understand just how wrong we got it.
These emergent consequences have not however stopped countries from seriously considering and even implementing new or secondary lockdowns. There are no countering numbers to provide to the strategists, so lacking in the basic tools they depend on for policy, they ignore the plights of their societies and forge ahead with yet more destruction.
I have written articles before on this topic and have been an outspoken critic of the lockdown strategy. Anyone with a modicum of foresight could see the consequences of lockdown unfolding in real time and the actual risk posed by Covid NEVER warranted our lockdown response.
It still doesn’t and even less so now that evidence of lockdown’s failures are beginning to emerge. We can no longer ignore that evidence. It is no longer convenient or politically expedient to do so, not at the expense of innocent lives.
Examining the Focused Protection strategy
For those who don’t wish to move between browsers windows, I have reproduced sections of the basic premise of the strategy below, but to read the full version, please visit this link. It should be noted that their concerns raised are made from a medical perspective and largely avoid issues such as rampant poverty, unemployment and hunger, all of which can be directly ascribed to the current lockdown policies.
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.
Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.
As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all — including the vulnerable — falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity — i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable — and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.
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. We call this Focused Protection.
I can hear the moans and groans relating to the use of the term ‘herd immunity.’ This overly politicized term and its inclusion in their statement may yet come to haunt them. It is indicative of how we have allowed volatile language and the appropriation of medical terms by the lay community to affect our decision making processes when it comes to Covid. My advice to the Great Barrington group would be the removal of this term in favor of less contentious English.
Strictly speaking, in medical terms ‘herd immunity’ refers to a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached. You can read more about this term and its appropriate scientific use in this brilliant thread on Twitter by Dt Tedros, Direct General of the WHO. Read the thread for the correct use of the term herd immunity.
Just how practical is Focused Protection?
The logic underpinning their solution is sound and sensible. We have a known pathogen with a clearly identified target. Protecting entire populations when only segments are at risk makes no sense, especially not when this “protection” is detrimental to the wellbeing of said populace.
Imagine if the trillions of dollars poured into US public spending to support the public and the economy during lockdown had instead been spent on buffering healthcare and protecting the at risk. Only a fraction of the money would have been required and would have returned far more beneficial results, immediately in terms of quality of care and in the long term, medical healthcare in the US would have been revolutionized.
Instead we are now left with growing numbers of infected faced with ever shrinking numbers of hospital beds in hospitals that are short staffed and manned by exhausted, disheartened personnel. Then there’s the flu season, about to kick into full swing in the US.
Reapportioning support to where it is most needed and shifting the public mindset may by now be impossible. The hole we’ve dug may already be beyond the scope of our abilities to escape it. Should we be able to acknowledge the mistake of lockdown and look to embrace new solutions, one of which may very well be Focused Protection in one form or another, the media will be integral to the success of any future Covid campaign.
Their desire to protect and promote the health of their audience through honest, unbiased reporting that isn’t politically or financially motivated may yet still determine how many people die from Covid-19. In the meanwhile I’m off to sign a certain document. feel welcome to add your voice.
On a political note. I await with interest the Biden camp’s official plan to combat the pandemic. Vocal criticism of Donald Trump and the Republicans, mostly deserved, does not obviate the Democrats need for a clear and transparent Covid policy. They seem to awfully quiet on that front. Perhaps, they too, along with Trump, are praying for that miracle respite that wont come.
We need to deal with this, humanely this time, with due concern for all segments of our society, particularly the segments we are tasked with protecting…