Unanswered COVID questions
As COVID-19 fades as a public health emergency into a more manageable nuisance like seasonal flu, lingering questions about the disease's origin and our health officials' response have come into play. Questions about the role of the Wuhan Lab, effectiveness of vaccines, lockdowns and masks, and the role of politics in our COVID response need to be explored. The recent revelation that both the FBI and the Department of Energy have now publicly stated that the theory that the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan is the most likely explanation for the disease's origin provides a good background for the beginning of House hearings on the origin of the pandemic.
Here are some questions that deserve exploration.
The role of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
- Did the virus result from a leak in the lab?
- Did the virus arise in nature, or was it engineered by scientists working in the lab?
- What is the role of the Chinese military in the work in the lab? Were they using the lab to conduct bio-weapons development?
- Why was the U.S. government funding research at the Wuhan Lab?
- What was the role of the U.S. Intelligence Community, if any, in the decision to fund the research? Were we trying to keep track of a Chinese bio-weapons program?
- Why did the Chinese allow the American scientists access to the lab? What did the Chinese get from this decision? IT CLEARLY WASN'T FOR THE MONEY. China is a wealthy country, and the amounts the Chinese got from the Eco Alliance grants was a pittance for them.
- The Chinese have been notorious for stealing American intellectual property. Was the real reason they allowed Eco Alliance into the lab that they felt that they needed American expertise to conduct gain of function research?
Public Health Policies: What we have learned.
- After three years, what percentage of the U.S. population was exposed to COVID? This figure should include both those who were infected and those who were exposed but never got sick. This asks the most basic question of the mitigation strategies. In the end, did they actually prevent exposure to the disease?
- What were the risks for differing groups of people categorized by age and co-morbidities? Were healthy people under the age of fifty more at risk from COVID than any other flu-like illnesses, for which we impose no mitigation rules?
- Why did we shut down in-person learning in schools? Did the costs of this policy outweigh the benefits? Would we have closed the schools if Deborah Birx's grandmother had not contracted the Spanish flu at school when she was eleven years old and transmitted it to her mother, who died from the disease? Dr. Birx said on several occasions that her concern for the nation's children was that some would similarly catch COVID and bring it home to an older relative and live with the guilt for the rest of their lives. She said her mother never got over her guilt, and Dr. Birx, who was the architect of much of the public policy, suggested that keeping children out of schools was not to prevent them from getting sick, but to prevent them from transmitting the disease to the adults in their home and potentially subjecting them to a lifetime of guilt.
- What has been the impact of natural immunity? What percentage of people were essentially immune to Covid because of previous exposure to corona viruses such as the common cold. Were people with previous infection from covid largely protected against serious illness from future exposures to Covid?
- Is public health policy simply a matter of science, or is it the process of decision making, balancing costs vs. benefits and risks vs. rewards?
- What were the medical costs of the mitigation strategies in terms of putting off concern for other medical problems such as cancer screening and other important preventative measures?
- What were the psychological costs from the lockdowns, including increases in drug abuse, depression, impeded social development of children, and domestic violence?
- How important is joy in ensuring people's psychological health? What were the costs to children of confining them to their homes with little contact with their friends? How were people affected by preventing them from communal religious activities such as weekly church services? What was the cost of eliminating youth sports? How do you measure the cost of denying people traditional family gatherings such as at Christmas and Thanksgiving? And what of eliminating the simple pleasure of sitting down for a meal at the local diner or having a beer with friends at a local bar?
- How effective have the vaccines been?
- Have they limited the spread of the disease? If so, how much?
- Have they mitigated the severity of the disease for those who have been vaccinated? Boosted?
- What have been the side-effects? How are risk/reward calculations affected by age and other conditions of health such as obesity and diabetes? Should healthy children be getting vaccinated considering the potential risk of myocarditis?
- Should vaccines be mandated?
- What do we know about the long-term effects of the vaccine? There is a reason that vaccines take years of testing before they are approved. COVID was an emergency situation. It was an economic and social emergency as well as a health crisis. While we know that myocarditis is a short-term effect for a small percentage of vaccination recipients, are there less dramatic effects for other recipients? Will we see higher rates for coronary disease fifteen years from now among those who have been vaccinated?
This is far from a comprehensive list, but it seems like a good place to start. It will be interesting to follow the hearings on COVID, scheduled to start on Wednesday.