You’d have to be entombed along with Radames and Aida not to know what’s happened to the world secondary to a virus that found its way out of Wuhan China to the farthest reaches of the planet. My purpose is not to rehash the facts of the pandemic, but rather to consider why the world responded the way it did and to how we may progress from here on. That the response was poorly conceived and executed is so obvious as to need no documentation beyond the simple statement of its massive deficiency. Reread the articles posted here in March of 2020 that argue against the policy we have fruitlessly and even ruthlessly pursued.
The reasons for our misadventures are several. So many missteps were taken that they can be given no rank order. Accordingly, do not assume relative importance from the order in which I present them. What makes our errors particularly egregious is that it didn’t take long for the nature and characteristics of the viral pandemic to be reasonably well understood. That the disease was likely to be lethal only for a particular set of the population was apparent in March 2020. This population consisted of the elderly and the ill. In fact, the preponderance of deaths among the old was probably the consequence of them being more likely to be sick prior to infection compared to their younger counterparts. Being old, but in good health appears to have conveyed no extra risk of dying as a consequence of the infection.
Yet the actions of those in power were directed at the entire population without distinction of risk. This failure of judgment persists even now when the stratification of danger is understood by almost everyone. The performance of the medical profession was bad. Part of its untoward actions was the result of being taken as the final word on how to combat the unexpected appearance of a new and widespread infection. In other words, too much import was given to medical advice. The blame for this tunnel vision belongs to our political leaders.
Their mistake was twofold. They listened only to a very small group of doctors expert in a sliver of medicine when they should have consulted a wider spectrum of the profession. Having made an error of selection they added one of omission. They examined a complex problem that had implications on the entirety of society without consideration of the effects of their actions on the economy, education, the livelihoods of millions of workers and small business owners, the health of myriads of people denied regular medical care because of the near exclusive focus on the new infection, the constraints on individual liberty imposed by the government in the name of public health, the wellbeing of children, and a host of other issues wantonly disregarded.
So bad was the response to this infection that a case could be made that we would have been better off if the germ theory of medicine had never been accepted and if we had done nothing to combat the pandemic. I am not proposing either of these two counterfactuals, rather we should have analyzed the problem and proposed, rather than imposed, a set of remedies suitable to the problem. Instead the disease was politicized beyond imagination and the public scared out of its wits – literally, frightened to the point of insanity. This state of unreason persists in a sizable proportion of the population and may be permanent.
The report from the CDC that there have been over 1 million excess deaths in the United States since February 2020, the onset of COVID-19 pandemic reveals one of the unintended consequences of leaping before you look. Many of these deaths have not been due to the infection. They likely were the result of inappropriate use of medical resources during the pandemic such that needed treatment was not available for the host of diseases that bedevil mankind irrespective of epidemics or government misdirection of resources.
Perhaps the most disturbing reveal of the pandemic was that at least half the population of the supposedly liberal democracies valued safety, at least what they perceived it to be, over liberty. The successful censorship of opinions labeled as misinformation and imposition of restrictions clearly in violation of law by those at the top of the power tree all in the name of the public good was a reincarnation of the Comité de salut public. Little Robespierres trod across the public square to the approbation of many. Fear was more epidemic than any virus could be. Masks, mandates, and lockdowns were the sour fruit of surrender.
A word or two about children. They have been treated like sows in a pen. Forced to wear masks when at school, assuming they could attend one. Their social and educational development was hindered, perhaps irrevocably, beyond reason or kindness. Vaccinations with virtually no therapeutic effect, but with side effects is being imposed on them. Pfizer just delayed their application for vaccine approval for very young children from the FDA because almost none of the controls were contracting the virus thus making the effectiveness of a vaccine impossible to evaluate. There’s no way to protect against something that doesn’t happen.
When the world goes mad, as it does with distressing frequency, there’s no cure but hope and tincture of time. The problem is that many of us will run out of time before the tincture kicks in.