Could Today’s COVID Surge have been Avoided?
As the holiday season approaches, Americans are being served a dollop of misery atop their Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. COVID cases are “surging,” resulting in new mandates essentially closing businesses, restaurants, health clubs, and other personal services.
Is this necessary or could this second lockdown have been avoided if we treated COVID as we did previous viral pandemics or seasonal flu which reappears like clockwork at this time every year? Or was this the plan all along, the “dark winter” Joe Biden warned of? Sowing the seeds of the globalists’ “great reset”?
When the Wuhan virus emerged last winter, the White House recommended “15 days to slow the spread.” This was not a cure, but only a mitigation effort to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system and keep our most high-risk populations safe.
This was a reasonable approach in the face of an unknown virus that could infect many, some badly, overwhelming the healthcare system. Makeshift hospitals were built in many cities and two massive military hospital ships docked outside of New York and Los Angeles, all of which were largely and fortunately unneeded and unused.
Despite these efforts, Americans got sick, some were hospitalized and some died. Testing was available only for those sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. Businesses closed and workers stayed home. Life became a dystopian world of face coverings, distancing, and quarantines.
By summer, things eased a bit with a partial easing of business restrictions, yet we still were told to wear masks, stay at least six feet apart from each other, and to not gather in groups to celebrate newlyweds or mourn departed family members.
Were these measures effective? Did they alter the course of the Chinese virus pandemic or simply prolong everyone’s misery?
“Flattening the curve” became a popular phrase but all it did was delay the inevitable, the virus spreading as viruses do. Why was this the first time that we shut down the country in the face of a viral pandemic?
America faces influenza every fall and winter, with tens of thousands of fatalities, and many more sick and hospitalized. Although interestingly there are few flu cases this year, but that’s another story. In the past we protected the elderly and those more vulnerable with medical comorbidities, but let the healthy continue their lives, albeit with common sense precautions of frequent hand washing and staying home when ill.
Mask use was rare outside of a healthcare setting. Social distancing was a term known only to public health experts. We quarantined the sick, not the healthy. Testing was performed only on the very ill when a test result, positive or negative, would change clinical management.
Now we are testing everyone, on demand, with PCR tests so sensitive that most positive results are clinically meaningless. As the New York Times reported,
The standard tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus.
Most of these people are not likely to be contagious and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time.
Dr. Fauci agrees that the PCR test is being run, per FDA recommendations, at five orders of magnitude higher sensitivity than it should in order to be clinically relevant.
What if after the initial wave of cases last spring we protected the vulnerable and let everyone else live their lives, attending school, church, family gatherings, and so on? What if testing was only performed when a physician deemed it necessary? What if the media and politicians did not obsess over case counts, death counts, and Trump’s tweets on a daily basis?
Could we have reached “herd immunity” by now? That is the only way viral pandemics end, when enough people have been infected or vaccinated that there are not enough susceptible for the virus to infect. Vaccines, despite “Operation Warp Speed,” take time to develop, proving both safety and efficacy, earning FDA approval. Then there are the logistics of producing, distributing, and vaccinating enough Americans, each needing two doses, to create herd immunity.
Viruses die off in the heat and sunshine, both of which were abundant in the summer. Could we have been encouraged people to be out and about, passively spreading the virus, which has a death rate of a fraction of a percent among the general population, getting the country closer to herd immunity?
Instead, the weather has now turned chilly, the days shorter, and people are indoors where viruses spread more easily. Did we miss an opportunity to let the virus run its course burning itself out as other viruses do?
We ran from the Chinese virus all year, but we didn’t hide, as rising case numbers now suggest. We continued trying to hide from the virus by wearing masks, which provide no evidence-based benefit, as the Danish mask study demonstrated.
Similarly, lockdowns also prolong the misery by delaying the inevitable. The Committee to Unleash Prosperity summed it up succinctly,
Lockdowns are NOT associated with lower death rates. They are NOT associated with lower hospitalizations. Their only effect is to bankrupt small businesses and destroy millions of jobs.
The 10 states with the strictest lockdown policies -- I.e., New York, New Jersey, Illinois -- still have substantially higher death rates than the 10 states with no or minimal lockdowns -- i.e., Georgia, Nebraska, Utah, South Dakota. (Even with some of those midwestern states now being hit hard, it is unlikely they will reach the totals of the lockdown states.)
It is one thing to have supported shutting down the economy nine months ago when we didn’t know if this would work. But to continue to promote ideology over facts and evidence will make America poorer and will lead to more death and despair.
Absolute safety is unobtainable, whether from a virus, while driving, or while living life. Yet there is a cost for attempting to achieve ultimate safety. For the Wuhan virus the costs include delayed medical care -- cancer screenings, vaccinations, biopsies, cardiac stress tests, emergency room visits -- all put off with for many, fatal consequences.
Would we as a country be better off now if we treated COVID as we did all previous viral pandemics, letting it run its inevitable course that we are largely unable to alter? Should we have treated COVID as we did past viral pandemics rather than as a political issue fanned by an irresponsible and partisan media?
Instead, America has been decimated socioeconomically, with no end in sight. A helpless and hopeless population entering what used to be a joyous holiday season. Was that the goal all along?
Brian C Joondeph, MD, is a Denver based physician and freelance writer for American Thinker, Rasmussen Reports, and other publications. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Parler, and QuodVerum.