The disease isn’t over, but the hysteria is. For many, the turning point came when public health “experts” who had bitterly denounced demonstrations against shutdowns as health hazards, responded to the Black Lives Matter riots with silence and, often, enthusiastic endorsement. That lasted until President Trump announced his intention to resume holding rallies. Once again, we are told that public gatherings are a vitally important health threat. It isn’t hard to understand the game that is being played here.
As one state after another has lifted shutdown restrictions, some have seen increases in the number of Wuhan virus cases. Which should surprise no one: if one assumes that the shutdowns had at least some effect in slowing down the virus’s spread, ending the shutdowns will naturally lead to more cases. The mystery is why, in some states, transmission doesn’t seem to have accelerated. In any event, the shutdowns couldn’t be maintained 1) forever, or 2) until a vaccine is developed, proved safe and effective, and distributed. This is why I always thought the shutdowns were more or less useless.
Most now agree, I think, in part because of data like this, from a Swiss study:
New seroprevalence study from Switzerland:
Among ~36,000 sero positive cases in people under 50 years old in Switzerland, 2 deaths were detected (neither below 20 years).
That’s a 0.005% mortality rate in those under 50.
3 orders of magnitude lower than people over 65 years. https://t.co/WHth2CojEr
— Michael Mina (@michaelmina_lab) June 13, 2020
The coronavirus has had different impacts in different countries, for reasons that are still not well understood. But it is obvious (my state, Minnesota, is an excellent example) that the Wuhan virus is a worse than average flu, but one that is dangerous mostly to the elderly and the infirm. That knowledge will guide future responses to the virus everywhere, including states like Minnesota and Michigan, whose governors seemed gleeful as they ordered their citizens to give up their normal lives.
On Friday, a World Health Organization executive said that shutdowns may need to be reimposed in the Fall if a second wave of infections materializes, as it almost certainly has, or will, in some areas. This strikes me as sheer fantasy. The public won’t stand for it. Wrong predictions and the blatant hypocrisy of many public health “experts” are two reasons, but the more fundamental point is that most people understand the shutdowns have done enormous damage and can’t go on indefinitely. The coronavirus is here, and for the foreseeable future we will have to take our chances with it, as we do with other diseases and with the countless risks of daily life.