I have never posted a “my thoughts“ narrative on Facebook before, and I hope never will again, but the hysteria, political posturing, and unreasonable virtue signaling stemming from the current coronavirus pandemic has compelled me to do so￼￼ - so here goes:
What is most needed is to analyze what we know about the virus and it’s effects, how to minimize it spread (within reason and social acceptability), assess our relative risk as individuals, look at collective characteristics for group risk determination, and balance our response within a cost/benefit framework.￼￼
With that approach in mind, I offer the following (my thesis is derived from a cross-section of sources, and I recognize the data is in flux, but the reasoning I have used is sound):
— The risk of death to healthy individuals under the age of 50 is extremely low, even if one contracts the virus. People over 60 and those with underlying health conditions are the most vulnerable, but over 90% of them are not going to die from this virus.
— The death rates reported are not reflective of the actual number of cases out there, just the number that are confirmed. Thus, it represents a maximum rate of death, not the actual rate of death. Since this virus is often undetected, and many cases go unreported, the actual death rate is almost certain to be well under 1% when all the data is collected. There is good statistical evidence to suggest that the rate of infection is much higher than has been assumed. It is not unreasonable to anticipate that we will learn the death rate from this virus is much closer to a conventional flu death rate than it is to the current stated rate of 1.4% in the U.S. ￼￼￼￼￼ Keep in mind that this is the death rate for those who are infected. The death rate for the entire population will be less than 1/10 of 1%. So the absolute risk of death for a US citizen is￼ EXTREMELY low. And the relative risk for healthy, young individuals is virtually zero. And that is the best news we could hope for, as children die from conventional flu at much higher rates than they do from covid 19. That is a bright spot that is too often overlooked as we deal with this pandemic.￼
I suspect we will develop an accurate test for antibodies that will at some point in the future determine the death rate to be much lower than the current rate stated in the media, and we will become fully aware that the media fueled panic was extremely overdone.
Given these facts, why aren’t we focusing on isolating/quarantining the most at risk individuals, with measures as extreme as necessary to prevent them from being infected? If one is at high risk, their self interest should make them much more amenable to extreme measures, and much more likely to follow recommended protocol than is the general population.￼ Keeping them protected would have the greatest likelihood of preventing the healthcare system from being overwhelmed when the viral peak occurs since they are the ones being hospitalized most frequently. Self interest and the will to survive are great motivators, and the most vulnerable have the most at stake. Let’s harness that rather than relying on the non existent wisdom and understanding of a younger population who simply are not at risk of death from this virus. Their sense of invincibility makes them poor allies in the effort to fight this virus in the current approach. The existing shut down of business and industry across the board will be less effective in protecting the most vulnerable than what I propose. In terms of protecting the most vulnerable, it doesn’t matter what the infection rate is among the younger and healthy population if we keep the vulnerable isolated and protected from them. If this were the focus of our efforts it would allow a more rapid peak of the virus and allow the vulnerable to return to normal life more quickly in a controlled manner based upon their level of vulnerability.￼￼ This approach would prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, which is the fundamental purpose behind our efforts.
The continued shut down of our economy will have cascading affects resulting in more overall harm to our society then will the health effects from the virus. These effects happen to be diffuse and not transparently linked to the shut down, and are too easily ignored in the calculus of a cost/benefit analysis￼￼￼. But they are real and quantifiable with close scrutiny and study. I know I set myself up for criticism as a cold, heartless person to state this, but the emotionally appealing mantra of “anything it takes to save even one life is worth it“ is simply intellectual fraud, usually invoked as a virtue signal to rally others￼￼ to embrace a course of action that may not be the best when viewed through a broader and deeper perspective. Our real world experience is based upon trade offs that frequently accept a level of lives lost. We are dealing with a novel virus that is forcing us to confront this harsh, painful reality. A prolonged economic shutdown could easily be more deadly and more painful than the approach I am suggesting.
Finally, there is the danger of losing something that is as precious and valuable as life itself, something that can be easily lost in the “fog of war” that the fight against the virus has caused to descend upon us. That “something” is the ability to live our lives as free people, protected by the United States Constitution from the tyranny of unrestrained government. Restrictions on our freedom of movement, our right to assembly, the use and control of our property, and the ability to provide for and defend our families and loved ones are all at stake in our response to this virus. The risks to our health are real and must be addressed, but let’s do so without fear, panic, and devoid of reasoned analysis. We have much more at stake than we can readily see.￼
I loved that and agree with it and it’s pretty much what I’ve been saying. That in every decision we make in life we do a cost/benefit analysis. We’ve done it so often, thousands of times a day, that it’s almost done by rote. The rush to shut down the world over this virus seems like an over reaction to me. We’ve never done this before yet we’ve had serious pandemics before. Why then are we doing this now?
I certainly agree that the challenge to save every life is a noble one and worth pursuing but at what cost? I think that the combination of economic hardship that will be with us for years after this pandemic is over plus the emotional scars and other real illnesses and deaths from dealing with the isolation, job loss, school loss and huge financial losses is a far bigger threat to us than the virus itself.
I'm in no way saying that we shouldn't take this virus seriously. But what both the gentleman who wrote the email above and I am saying is that like in all existential events, we must consider all options, calmly and rationally and then act. This mantra ties back to my previous post 'We Must Dig Deeper'.
Stay safe and don't panic!