We are doing all of this for nothing. Seriously.
ASTORIA, New York- I’m trying to play nice and just sit in my NYC apartment and finish up a book so that when this quarantine is over I’ll be ready to roll. I’m trying to make this into a good thing. I try to ignore the fearmongering MSM and I attempt to reports from “experts” with agendas. I do my best to avoid the moral mob on Twitter who are bullying people who express takes on the pandemic that are different than their own. I try not to react when I see the damage that’s being done by the lockdown far exceeding that of the virus itself … a virus that, according to Stanford University, is proving to not really be any more deadly than the seasonal flu.
But then I start writing … because that’s just what I do.
When we first began this lockdown in New York City it was touted to be for the purpose of giving the medical system time to prepare. That made sense — we’d shut down for a week or two and allow our hospitals to prepare. But then two weeks became a month. Then a month became two months … which became three months.
Meanwhile, hospitals were never overburdened, there were more than enough ICU beds, and more than enough ventilators. At the height of the crisis in NYC, thousands of ventilators were sitting unused in a warehouse. Some weeks ago Washington State, who had the most cases early on in the crisis, has returned 400 non-Covid-19 ventilators to the national stockpile as they were no longer needed. Covid-19 wards and emergency rooms in hospitals all over the country are reportedly sitting half-empty and doctors, nurses, and other medical staff are being laid off. Some hospitals are actually shutting down.
These are all ultimately good things. We engaged in draconian lockdown measures to buy ourselves time to organize and prepare for the Covid-19 pandemic, and it worked. The USA has WAY more ICU beds and ventilators per capita than any other country on the planet (3x that of Italy). We got this. Now let us get back to our lives.
But they said no.
And then they shifted the narrative.
I am not alone in stating that I am unwilling to sit inside for a year or two on the hope that some pharmaceutical company is going to produce a miracle.
All of a sudden we’re no longer being told to stay home so that the hospitals don’t get overburdened but to avoid transmitting the virus altogether. It’s as though we believe that if we tuck ourselves away in our rooms long enough with our blankets over our heads that the virus will magically just go away. But it doesn’t work like this. According to pretty much any epidemiologist there’s only three ways out of this:
1) We find a cure. This would probably mean new drugs, which means that it will take a long time.
2) We develop a vaccine. Scientists have been trying to come up with a vaccine for coronaviruses since the before first SARS outbreak in 2002. They haven’t been successful yet — and some have actually killed people — and, while over 90 vaccines are being rushed into developement around the world, we may have to conclude that an effective vaccine may never be available. But even if one is, the amount of time to get it approved and out to market is going to take more time than we can lockdown for.
3) We acquire herd immunity, which means that roughly 60% of the population acquires the infection and recovers, thus giving them a certain degree of protection from it and the ability to limit its transmission.
I am not alone in stating that I am unwilling to sit inside for a year or two on the hope that some pharmaceutical company is going to produce a miracle. It seems as if #3 is our only option.
Hiding inside your home doesn’t make a coronavirus outbreak go away. Whenever we re-emerge, Covid-19 will inevitably be there. The question is how long do we want this to last?
According to most epidemiologists, social distancing does not lower the number of cases, it just spreads them out over a longer period of time to keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed. When we say “stay home, save a life” what we mean is “stay home and reduce social contact so as not to send too many people to the hospital at once.” The lives that are saved are the ones that would have access to medical care who theoretically wouldn’t otherwise. But now that we’ve clearly seen that our hospitals in the USA are more than equipped to handle this pandemic, it’s not clear to me whose lives are being saved by staying home.
Read more: Covid-19 Isn’t The Black Death But From The Way We’re Acting It May As Well Be
Regardless if we re-open tomorrow or six months from now, there is going to be a resurgence in cases. We’re not looking at a situation where we can say, “If we just wait a little longer nobody will die from this.” Hiding inside your home doesn’t make a coronavirus outbreak go away. Whenever we re-emerge, Covid-19 will inevitably be there. The question is how long do we want this to last?
We took draconian action to curb the spread of a virus and harmed way more people than the virus ever could.
In the USA, most states made a decision to lockdown, destroying local businesses and livelihoods, violating the constitutional rights of its residents, mortgaging all of our futures. Governors said things about how their states were “paused,” denying millions their right to earn a living but oddly still permitting landlords to collect their dues. It was a scorched earth policy that put a virus that impacts a relatively small portion of the population above everything else.
In this fray, nobody gave a shit about the people living in discomfort or potentially dying for want of surgeries that they cannot receive because hospitals were ordered to make more room for Covid-19 patients. Nobody gave a shit about all of the people who will die sooner as a result of not being able to be properly screened for cancer or have tumors biopsied (we have already created a “catastrophic cancer crisis“ due to all resources pivoting to Covid-19). Nobody gave a shit about the mentally ill, the physically handicap, the drug addicts, the homeless, or the poor who struggle to pay rent even in the best of times. Nobody gave a shit about all of the additional heart attacks, suicides, victims of domestic violence, families torn apart by divorce, and mass unemployment that a one size fits all lockdown would bring.
While we vilified millennials for going on spring break here in the USA, Sweden turned them into viral shields.
At that time it wasn’t completely clear how many people Covid was going to kill, but we knew very well that for every one percentage point that unemployment increases 37,000 people die, we knew that isolation, fear, and stress can compromise the immune system and lead to premature death, and since the 1800s we’ve known that a lack of sunlight increases our susceptibility to viral infections. We took draconian action to curb the spread of a virus and harmed way more people than the virus ever could.
Think about that for a moment: more people are going to die because of the lockdown than Covid-19. Your fathers, mothers, and grandparents are not receiving the medical care that they need because we’ve been brainwashed by coronavirus hysteria. The fallout from this will be magnitudes worse than anything this virus can do. Hospitals will be backed up for years and our loved ones will suffer tomorrow because of our stupidity today.
Meanwhile, Sweden took another route. They looked at the situation, did their own math, and decided not to play follow the leader — or, in this case, follow China (since when does Beijing inform how we do things in the West?). They came to terms with the reality that locking everyone down and tanking their economy would be more of a health threat than the virus itself and enacted a strategy to shelter and protect at risk individuals while allowing the virus to rapidly spread through the strong and healthy sects of their society.
While we vilified millennials for going on spring break here in the USA, Sweden turned them into viral shields. Perhaps we should have been applauding the young people on the beaches of Florida doing jello shots off each other’s stomachs rather than attacking them. They were spreading the virus fast and subsequently developing the immunities, rapidly moving us closer to the herd immunity that we inevitably need for everybody to be able to go out into society safely.
And it wasn’t as if Sweden was especially equipped to deal with a crisis like this, as the country has the second-lowest number of ICU beds per capita in Europe and six times less ICU beds per capita than the USA.
As of now, a little over 2,500 people have died of Covid-19 in Sweden, which is significantly higher than in other Scandinavian countries who chose to lockdown. However, we cannot yet make a like-for-like comparison, as Sweden opted to sprint through a pandemic that its neighbors decided to wallow in. While Norway, Finland, and Denmark have a fight ahead of them that’s going to last for months, if not years, Stockholm is mere weeks away from herd immunity:
“In major parts of Sweden, around Stockholm, we have reached a plateau (in new cases), and we already see the effect of herd immunity, and in a few weeks, we’ll see even more of the effects of that. And in the rest of the country, the situation is stable,” Dr. Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency, said in a statement.
In the end, the per-capital number of Covid-19 deaths in all of Scandinavia will more or less equal out, regardless of strategy, but Sweden’s economy will remain in-tact and the country won’t experience the collateral damage of lockdown-related illnesses and fatalities.
Most of us didn’t even know we had it because Covid-19 isn’t nearly the deadly disease that it was touted to be. Standford University’s recent antibody study showed that the actual infection fatality rate of Covid-19 is between 0.1 an 0.2%. That’s in the ballpark of the death rate of the seasonal flu.
While China claimed an early victory over Covid-19, they are now dealing with fresh outbreaks — such as the one that happened last month in Guangzhou and the one that is happening right now in Manzhouli — and will be long into the future. Their extreme lockdown methods didn’t allow the virus to adequately spread, and now most of the population is still susceptible. Don’t be fooled, China’s fight has just begun.
The countries that will emerge as the true early victors of this pandemic will be those like Sweden and Belarus, who didn’t lockdown and are getting close to being finished with the crisis. They will be able to maintain open borders without fear, their tourism industries can full function, and people can hang out and socialize with each other without hesitation. They will emerge from this mess far ahead of most of the planet who will eventually come to similar conclusions and concede to a herd immunity strategy … but only after the damage of this short-sighted, foolish lockdown has already been wrought.
However, I am hopeful that the USA is farther along than we think. We discovered from antibody tests that around 25% of the people in NYC have already been infected with Covid-19. That’s around two million people in this city alone who had it and have fully recovered and now have some degree of immunity. Most of us didn’t even know we had it.
Most of us didn’t even know we had it because Covid-19 isn’t nearly the deadly disease that it was touted to be. Standford University’s recent antibody study showed that the actual infection fatality rate of Covid-19 is between 0.1 an 0.2%. That’s in the ballpark of the death rate of the seasonal flu. What’s more is that in NYC the death rate for people between the ages of 18 and 45 who get infected is one in 10,000. For those under 18, the death rate is a statistical 0. If we dig deeper we will find that out of the 6,570 confirmed Covid-19 deaths in NYC that had been properly investigated, 99.2% had an underlying illness. This isn’t an illness that’s wiping out large amounts of young, healthy people.
However, it is an illness that is dangerous for the elderly, with people over 60 years old having a 4.25% infection fatality rate. Sweden realized this and took a targeted approach, understanding that isolating those who are at risk and allowing everybody else to rapidly spread and recover from the virus was key to actually protect vulnerable populations. We don’t get this concept in the USA. Instead, we purposefully stave off the natural process of herd immunity to the detriment of those who are vulnerable to this infection.
We are not saving lives here, we are risking them.
About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3657 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York
May 5, 2020, 2:11 pm
A temporary lock down I could understand and live with, draconic social distancing measures being in place for 6-18 months is just insane. Many of my favourite bars around the world can’t afford to reopen with the crazy restrictions currently being touted in countries like my own, overnight people have lost their livelihoods and businesses. The ‘new normal’ we’re being sold sucks. I’m definitely not going to live in a country where I can’t sit at the bar and have a drink for over a year. Fuck that.
May 5, 2020, 4:17 pm
Where my family lives they shut all the mom and pop stores and kept Wal-Mart open. How is that not unfair competition? This whole thing is a massive gift to big business. Instead of enjoying the satisfaction of creating and establishing your own business, you are going end up working double shifts at Amazon.
Everything you said in the article is spot on. The narrative has completely shifted and I really believe people are making decisions because :
A) They have a vested interest in maintaining the narrative they’ve created
B) Whatever Trump does I have to do the same or the exact opposite
Instead of laying out logical arguments (like you’ve just done) it is just the “politics of scolding.” You are selfish or an asshole for wanting to work, not wanting a tracking app on your phone, or just simply wanting to live your life and not be afraid.
I am hoping we get past this, but this whole thing is a new religion to many people. Emerge from you cocoon into a ‘new normal’ and purify yourself by washing your hands and covering yourself. Giorgio Agamben wrote a great essay called “Medicine as Religion” and is worth a read. COVID zealots.
Although, if I am being honest, this lockdown has been great for me personally. Saved a bunch of cash and found a cheap place to live. I feel sorry for everybody stuck in limbo and I am not so sure the economy is just going to magically start back up in six months. Hopefully I am wrong, but this rocky road may just be getting started.
May 6, 2020, 11:20 am
I love this. “B) Whatever Trump does I have to do the same or the exact opposite” In one sentence you described the political and personal world as it currently is.
The world, or at least the media driven US world, has become binary. I used to try to discuss actual (or probably) facts with people I know on both sides. For my own mental health I have decided to stop doing this.
- May 6, 2020, 11:20 am
May 5, 2020, 9:48 pm
Right on! I’ve been expressing similar sentiments (privately via email, especially to family in NZ) since the lock-down begun here in China. And as we all now know, it’s a highly-contagious flu that – mostly – enjoys taking-down oldies (my Mum), and those already suffering.
NOW: Just as I’m writing this in the van looking to a meadow below sharp snowy peaks – a police car has pulled over … They check our papers, we joke around, and they leave without issue.
Anyway, back to this article.
People seem to forget / remain in ignorance that hunger, the shits, malaria, cancer, conflict, etc, claim way more than the CV will each year. The WHO estimates something like 350,000 to 650,000 die globally each year from the flu, and that a billion are infected.
But, this is not to say that it won’t mutate into something more deadly? (Then the panic, really begins!)
Global economic wreckage – now, that has a good ring about it 😉
Here in China, along with ubiquitous CCTV everywhere, wherever you go – public toilets, supermarkets, an entrance to an ancient town, etc, you must scan-in with your mobile. Basically, this is ushering a complete Big Brother system, faster.
And all this – health – monitoring across the world … What next?
National crypto-currencies imposed – cos paper money is deemed dirty; infectious. Digital health–status passports. Online-lottery, safe tourism zones. Conspiracy-theorists might start getting excited.
Over the past months CV headlines have the dominated media – on BBC it was 10/10 for ‘most read’ or ‘latest’ articles. Sometimes on the front-page that was all the news was: C-fuckin’-V.
So many spammy, dickhead articles like: How to manage stress during CV; best diet during CV; how to to tie your shoe-laces during CV (- actually, I made that last one up). But you get the idea. Hype and shit for the masses.
And now I wonder when the media will run this headline: Coronavirus: Did the World Overreact?
Regards – MRP ( Enjoying being free in China – while it lasts! )
May 6, 2020, 10:04 am
Interesting points Wade. Going to digest this a bit and mull it all over. What i worry about is how you put the thing back in the box. So for example, imagine the first Bills game at home after this is somewhat over. You’re going to be there of course ! what does that look like to you? How does that feel to you? and more importantly. Are you going to bring your wife and girls to that first game? and if so, how are they going to feel after all this? will they feel safe and carefree like they should at a Bills football game. and if not, how long before they feel safe to go and do the tailgate thing? however we got ourselves in all this mess. how do we start over?
May 6, 2020, 11:32 am
One of your best posts yet Wade.
This is a dilemma that we all face, and more so for the officials making decisions. Lets say Wade goes. He gets sick, so does his wife. They are fine, but the kids visit grandma, and she gets really sick. Should Wade have gone to the game? Probably yes, but will Wade feel guilty? Maybe.
Now imagine you are a Governor. Your state closed based on earlier information. Probably was the right thing to do based on the info you had at the time. Now you want to open up. There is very little plus side here. Plenty of downside. You have to open up eventually, but no matter when you do it you will be vilified by both sides of the argument. One half will say you opened too soon and killed my granny. The other side will say you opened up too late and killed my livelihood.
I am retired and an introvert. I don’t have to go anywhere. I have a few friends that I see and many that I communicate with. There seems to be two camps, each of which are absolutely sure of their opinion. One side is afraid, and do not want to go back to work, and think it is too soon. The other side feels there is no danger and are planning on going any place they can. It will be interesting times seeing how this all shakes out.
- May 6, 2020, 11:32 am
May 6, 2020, 12:23 pm
Good piece, another bit of data to back you up (NYTimes no less):
Except apparently a nationwide lockdown does save lives by stopping traffic accidents. Anyway, I agree with you, and am not looking forward to the long term political/social/economic fallout from that. That said, I have seen some rather troubling things about possible long term affects of Covid 19, even on those who had no outward symptoms (of which I believe I am one, though the shortage of antibody tests in my area makes this impossible to confirm currently).
May 6, 2020, 1:00 pm
I did the math for the virus death rate. The ‘official’ total (dead) divided by the population of the whole country. I used https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6 to get the numbers for the victims.
My main interest was comparing Sweden with other parts of Europe (France, Italy, GB). The Swedish numbers are way better that those of the European places I checked…
May 6, 2020, 3:59 pm
Everyone is cheering right on, right on, so I guess that means that I have to be the dissenter. Let me do my best with it. It’s gonna be tough.
This disease is deadly. There is a lot we don’t know about it. How does that sound?
More seriously, I suggest listening to Dr. Scott Gottlieb and what he has to say. I’ve been listening to his voice on CNBC and Twitter since January. I love the doom and gloomers because they are so much fun, but this guy has been right more than most and he should be making policy instead of Fauci….don’t get me started about him.
Dr Gottlieb, in February, said that the likely true death rate for this virus was going to be between 0.5% and 1%. The recent NYC antibody study put the death rate right in the middle of that range. He advocates smart social distancing. He even said that if you take precautions then flying is safe. He also brought up the good point that there really are no confirmed cases of people catching it outside and that restaurant and bars should open up with outside seating.
I am in favor of the social distancing measures, but I think it needs to be voluntary, but how can it be voluntary when rent needs to be paid and food needs to be bought?
Anyways, you were on the cusp of this in your piece, let me take it all the way there: They lied to us. They got us all to think the shutdown was a good thing because it was to flatten the curve so that the serious cases wouldn’t overwhelm our system. We needed to keep the serious cases below what our health system could handle. Ok, that makes sense. I didn’t expect it to be 2 weeks, but I figured by my calculation that 6 weeks should just about do it.
But they lied or they just changed course. They decided that they weren’t going to minimize the number of severe cases to a level below our health care system capacity. No, they changed the goalposts. They changed it to: Let’s reduce the case count to zero. That is f*cking impossible. Can’t be done.
And they made a second error, and this one no one is talking about. In short, and sorry if there are women around, the politicians blew their load. They didn’t look at previous pandemics that started in the spring. What has happened in the past? The first wave consists of clusters here and there(look familar?). The second wave, the one in the fall, is the one that does the most damage. It is not clustered but widespread sickness.
So they pull this crap in the Spring to try to cut things to zero, but that can’t work and come fall when it surges again, everyone is going to think it’s nothing and they are going to fight the measures needed because Fauci blew his load too early.
And if those politicians really care about the health of the people they would give science back advice to mitigate the spread. (All of these are backed by research!)
1) 2000 IU of Vitamin D daily (No most Americans dont get enough sunlight anyways)
2) Eat green leafy vegetables daily(high in the flavonoid Quercetin which is a Zinc Ionophore)
3) Take a good multivitamin with A, K, and Zinc
4) Wear a mask in public
5) Stay out of crowded places
6) Wash your hands
Just do those 6 things, there is no need to shutdown and lock everything down. If people did those 6 things, the curve would be flattened and we wouldn’t be having this crap at all. Heck, if people just did the first 3, there is evidence that the death rate could fall to the same level as the flu.
But I guess there is no money in healthy people….
and yes it sounds like a conspiracy theory so I will make a reply to this comment with some links. It might be automoderated since it has links.
May 6, 2020, 4:08 pm
Here are the links:(they are all high quality links)
Vitamin D Insufficiency is Prevalent in Severe COVID-19
Eastern Virginia Medical School Critical Care Covid19 Guidelines(Notice Quercetin is listed under Prophylaxis)
Coronavirus (COVID-19), First Indication of Efficacy of Gene-Eden-VIR/Novirin in SARS-CoV-2 Infections
- May 6, 2020, 4:08 pm
May 10, 2020, 10:54 am
One of the things that hit me rereading these comments is that we are all having a different experience depending on where we are and that peppers what we are seeing. I know I’d look at things differently if I was somewhere else than rural Iowa.
Except for waiting on the damn passports, my life is pretty much unchanged. The only changes I can see are ones that personally benefit me and my family.
One thing I like about traveling is to find interesting people and things but back in the US, I’m like a fish out of water and frankly I don’t like dealing with people. This pandemic has normalized that behavior. I can talk to the neighbors across the street from my own yard…and before that would have been distant but now it’s polite.
I wonder if this attitude/feeling is driving many to want the lockdowns to continue?
May 10, 2020, 11:28 am
Agree our situations and personal preferences are most definitely colouring our attitudes towards extending/relaxing lock down and our interpretations of data. I have a good friend who is autistic, he said he’s spent the last 30 odd years preparing for social distancing, loves working from home and is excited about a future where social hugging/kissing/handshakes aren’t a thing. He is certainly championing an extension of lock down and will push to avoid commuting and continue WFH as long as he can. But equally, loves travel so would happily get on a plane again. People are complicated.
- May 10, 2020, 11:28 am
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