The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic has started to convene on everything from COVID-19 origins to vaccines. Last week, they called in four scientists to discuss policies, including lockdowns. COVID-19 control measures are important to discuss.
Off topic: This is EXACTLY why we need a higher grade of up-to-date health/medical sciences & research taught at the high school level & I'm not talking about AP classes... I mean ALL students with the basics of microbiology, virology, hematology, etc. The younger generations need to learn the what Mother Nature was trying to teach all of us with plagues/pandemics: "What Happens to One of Us on One Side of the World, Happens to All of Us in the World... If one of us is not safe, then none of us are safe." Ignorance breeds & transmits diseases & plagues... not just the viruses...
Thanks for that review - I've often wondered how much of an overshoot some areas did and how much of an undershoot others did. For example, I live in Hawaii, where we went into a significant shutdown ("lockdown" is such a loaded word - people were NEVER "locked" out of anything). We suffered a severe economic impact from the loss of tourism, but our local ecology flourished. And when we did relax our restrictions, our hospitals came very close to being totally overwhelmed. I do think that those who aren't intimately involved involved with the healthcare system just don't understand how close we came to having a collapsed acute care system with horrible downstream impact on the treatment of a host of acute and chronic conditions.
Sweden won. That much is clear. They have the lowest excess deaths in the entire world. Lower than South Korea, Israel, Denmark, and New Zealand.*
Models are only as good as their inputs and assumptions. It is very easy to design your model to show the thing you think is true. It is quite another to apply that model to real world historical data and have it validated.
You cite this model saying "if England did X, then Y would have happened".
This is easily falsified by applying the model to Sweden, or California, or South Dakota, or Bulgaria, or Norway, and seeing the outputs don't match reality. This is basic stress testing. Authors of the model you cite made the mistake of goal seeking. Apply their model to any country now that we have historical and see if you can get desired results.
I mean this with sincerity Katelyn - you are at risk of clutching a failed hypothesis. It has become evident with each day the voices calling for lockdowns, argued for gain of function, wanted us to mask kids were on the wrong side of history.
This doesn't make them bad people anymore than Galen was wrong for advocating ingesting mercury - you use the knowledge available at the time.
If you follow science, then you adjust your hypothesis as facts come in. I understand you have 3 years of social media posts saying how important it was to mask kids, or claiming highly vaccinated countries would have better outcomes, but those theories have now been refuted. It is ok to be wrong. There is nothing shameful about it, being wrong advances science.
It took William Farr 9 years after he had overwhelming evidence his hypothesis was wrong to see his error - and all he had to do was admit his error privately to colleagues - he didn't have the baggage of Instagram and Substack. This is what made Farr more impressive than Snow. It is easy to be right. It is much harder to be wrong and admit you were wrong.
I implore to step back, re-review the evidence at hand, put aside your priors, and reevaluate your hypothesis. See if anything changes.
*excess death analysis for anyone who wants to dive in my claim:
It's not just the GBD physicians providing testimony that's worrisome. Some of the subcommittee members are big offenders in terms of spreading misinformation and lies. Marjorie Taylor Greene compared mask mandates to the Holocaust, saying "vaccine Nazis" are ruining our country. Although the list of ingredients is publicly available, she just recently claimed, "We have no idea what's in Covid vaccines," and in 2021, MTG referred to proposed vaccine “passports” as the mark of the beast.
Debbie Lesko opposed vaccine mandates and passports and raised the issue of vaccine death count theories with the CDC.
Ronny Jackson has publicly stated Dr. Anthony Fauci has “the blood of millions of Americans” on his hands for his management of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rich McCormick, a physician, had a role in the success of Trump's Operation Warp Speed, but pivoted to a position of vaccine skepticism when announcing a bid for Congress in 2021, stating, “If a 12 or 15-year-old doesn't want to get the vaccination, and their parents don't want them to get the vaccination—who really cares?”
Michael Cloud called Covid vaccines “experimental” and derided the Biden Administration for vaccine mandates along wit his quest to end legal protections given to vaccine manufacturers subject to emergency use authorization. This is scary!
It seems like where we've ended up is the era of *personal choice*, which means sometimes healthy people are still opting to be careful, and sometimes vulnerable people are opting to be risky. People, not the government, should decide whether they are willing to bear the individual cost of building herd immunity.
Perhaps the lesson learned is that Public Health's role in all this is to provide the education and information people need to make informed choices. This isn't perfect, but it's preferable to taking away people's civil liberties, livelihoods and hope for extended periods of time.
Part of the problem is Public Health doesn't seem to be giving us all the information we need in a straightforward manner. We are told, for instance "people who are overweight may be at increased risk." May be at increased risk - really? If we were told "overweight people are 10 times more likely to die from covid" (I'm making up numbers), overweight people could understand their personal risk better and decide for themselves. But, for some reason, it's more important not to shame people, so we're fed this wishy-washy language of uncertainty.
When looking at the costs of lockdown, we need to look at *all* the costs, not just the risk of dying from covid. Teen mental health has suffered, and to the extent overdoses and suicides have increased, lockdown has likely played a role.
Fascists generally aren’t too keen on finding, dealing with, or spreading the truth.
The GOP has a huge advantage here: there is almost no constituency for any pandemic measure now ***or in the future.***
Most don’t care—right now, with 500 dying a day. Fascism is merely the organization, cultivation, and weaponizing of sociopathic narcissism. Our country’s hyper-individualist, hyper-capitalist values deeply encourage sociopathic narcissism.
We are all generally fine with 1.5m deaths from mostly acts of omission, the bulk of which were preventable. It’s definitely a step to killing millions by acts of commission, yes.
How short a step? Virtually all of us are completely complacent, whatever we say, about destroying the human future via carbon.
good post; thank you.
Public Health and Libertarianism cannot co-exist, to state the obvious; most critical thinkers knew the GBD codified a limited and inhuman view. The American Institute for Economic Research wants to put an end to all government regulation.
Sadly, it seems likely the people failing to seriously study and implement "lessons learned" from this pandemic will be the same ones blaming everyone else when we're not prepared for the next pandemic.
This is an important observation, analysis and discussion. To this day I have not seen a realistic compilation of how many Americans are "high risk". You cannot just total the prevalence of various conditions as some people fit into several categories. There is obvious confusion, even in the midst of the pandemic I heard Dr. Califf, head of the FDA, say pregnancy was not a high risk condition. Even as the official emergency passes, protecting high risk individuals is important. I know some chronically ill elderly people who have not gone out in 3 years except to get groceries and visit their doctor. Are they more safe now that we think incidence is lower but there are fewer public health measures used in the community? We need to know this!
Thank you and I am still concerned that those in government are still extremely polarized based on political views and not fact-based science. I hope we can bridge the gap and be more prepared and in step with each other. For instance, I feel like there is no discussion on how we are exiting the pandemic and entering the endemic stage. In all your free spare time (wink wink) I would greatly appreciate an article on that subject. I know it is difficult as we all have different health needs and have different risk levels; however, it is important to live our lives and we can do small things to help those that are immunocompromised. Truly appreciate all that you are doing for us!
excellent comment about logistics. I have yet to hear, even once, since GBD was proposed exactly _how_ one would protect the (ill defined) vulnerable population as they claim was needed, when the single biggest risk to the vulnerable individuals seems to be a high level of circulating virus in the general population. It's 'let me just worry about me' libertarianism disguised as a public health policy, and as is typical for those, it actually glosses over the details of how it might actually work. (If we had the ability to effectively shield the high risk, wouldn't we have done so?) It's often typically the same people advocating for GBD that fight every measure that would have actually protected the vulnerable and allowed people to go about their everyday lives.
First, what an excellent summarization! Second, the GBD was an out growth if the Lives vs. Livelihoods debate that has raged during the entire life of the pandemic. But my state's Governor Kate Brown, took the politically courageous step of choosing lives. Her reasoning was correct: lives are required to enjoy livelihoods- a business can be reestablished but a life once lost is gone forever. Third, no one saw long Covid as a significant factor in the equation for half a year into the pandemic and once we knew how large a problem it was, it immediately made the GBD argument obsolete. Fourth and finally, public health became politicized during the pandemic precisely because large economic issues were involved and our two political parties found themselves in opposition, yet again. Economics, rather than ethics seems to drive decision making here more's the pity.
"Can we please have a serious conversation about the COVID-19 pandemic and how to prepare for the future? Our lives depend on it." - Absolutely, but that depends on the participants' willingness to genuinely understand (though not necessarily agree with) others' points of view. How do we get to that place; do we have relevant models to learn from? (What would it take to even agree on what the questions should be?)
Take for example the turbulence following recent publication of the Cochrane report on masking (and other measures) in light of 2 potential questions: (1) Does recommending (or even mandating) masking reduce population burden of Covid under real-world conditions? (2) How much less likely am I to catch Covid sitting on a 4-hour flight next to an unmasked person with Covid if I wear a well-fitted N95 mask vs. no mask? (Yes there are nuances - just want to highlight the importance of knowing the question)
Excellent article! As you point out the purpose of the sub-committee is not to move the discussion forward it is to put a different spin on failed policies. Thank you for the insight
Thanks for this sanity. And we're till learning things that should adjust future policy and behavior.
Thank you. Very timely and very well written. There is considerable "revisionist" history occurring now that ignores key elements of the historical record. As you noted, once folks thought that serious illness or death was around the corner, they self-isolated. As I remember, in some states that opened up early, the hospitals filled up and the only room was in the parking lot. The Phoenix area comes to mind. Congressional investigative time would be better spent on generating better structures and surge capacity to better manage the next health care crisis. For example - how best to manage the trade-off between "protection" and the need for in person classes. Insuring better ventilation in schools. etc. Again - great material.