• February 1, 2023

Opinion: Lessons of the Long Covid Year

When the spread of a SARS-like virus was reported in Wuhan in late 2019, most Americans never imagined that their own government would soon be closing schools, churches and businesses, ordering people to stay home and spending more than 5 trillion US Spending dollars to make up for the damage. But a year later we are here.

The anniversary is a moment to ponder what started the pandemic and how well the US responded. The healthcare workers were brave, the pharmaceutical companies were brilliant, and the average American was resilient. The political class and health professionals? Not as much.

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Start with China and the World Health Organization, which is supposed to patrol for global health threats. China lied and WHO played along. Following medical censorship, Beijing denied there was any evidence of human-to-human transmission until just before Hubei province was locked down with 60 million people. Many Chinese had already left the country for the New Year celebrations.

The delay cost the world important weeks in preparing for the virus, but the WHO praised China for its transparency. We now know that the virus spread undetected in the US and Europe in late January. China’s ability to manipulate WHO shows that the free world has placed too much trust in multilateral institutions with authoritarian governments as members.

Accuse President Biden and Democrats

Donald Trump

for 530,000 American deaths, even though every government would have been tested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention botched development of a Covid test, and the Food and Drug Administration has been slow to approve private alternatives. The US had a shortage of protective equipment and ventilators, although it was quick to mobilize with both.

Population-adjusted deaths in the United States are comparable to those in Western Europe. Asian countries also saw an increase, although there were fewer deaths due to healthier populations. The island nations Australia and New Zealand have closed their borders. Mr. Trump has downplayed the virus too many times, and his compulsion to make himself the center of Covid history is a main reason he lost the presidency. But most politicians and public health officials also minimized the virus early on because they didn’t want to panic.

Mr. Trump’s biggest mistake was placing too much trust in health professionals and their lockdown models. When hospitals in northern Italy were full of patients, epidemiologists predicted that US hospitals would soon be overwhelmed. On March 16, Mr. Trump ordered a 15-day national lockdown to “slow the spread,” which he later extended through April.

Lockdowns were understandable in the northeast a year ago as little was known about Covid. But as we warned at the time (“Reconsider shutting down the virus, March 20), “No society can long protect public health at the expense of its macroeconomic health.” As the state shutdowns continued, they increased the virus damage.

The tragedy is how badly we adjusted as we learned more about the risks. Studies from Europe showed that almost half of deaths occurred in nursing homes and that children rarely transmitted the disease or became seriously ill. Treatments improved as doctors learned more, but government regulations didn’t change. As Philippe Lemoine argues nearThe accumulating evidence is that lockdowns do not reduce virus spread in the long run.

Lockdowns became an ideological struggle, however. The media became lockdown cheerleaders as they attempted to defeat Mr. Trump, with tragic consequences for lost businesses, lost livelihoods, and damage to health from late diagnoses, untreated conditions, and mental illness that will intensify over the years.

Children have lost a year of learning that many will never make up for. The lockdown recession has hurt low-income workers the most, while wealthy Americans have been able to work from home. While it is impossible to quantify the social harm, last summer’s unrest and deepening political discord did not take place in a vacuum.

There was an alternative. Tens of thousands of doctors signed the Great Barrington Declaration, which recommended that the government minimize deaths and economic damage by protecting the vulnerable and allowing most Americans to return to normal life. Individuals and companies could adjust to the virus and social distance at their own discretion. The media and progressive elites rejected these votes and refused to drop their lockdown dogmatism.

The Covid pandemic saw the greatest loss of American freedom outside of the war. Politicians closed places of worship regardless of the first change. They ordered arbitrary closings that favored some businesses but punished others. Politicians and governments have used the pandemic to justify an enormous increase in state power. The government had to act in March to avoid economic disaster from the lockdowns it had ordered. But politicians continue to gather power even as vaccines are introduced.

Government spending and deficits as part of the economy have reached unprecedented levels since World War II, and taxes are likely to follow. The Federal Reserve has in fact become an arm of the Treasury Department to fund deficits with unknown future consequences.

***.

The pandemic is now subsiding thanks largely to the ingenuity of American drug and biotech companies. The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed ​​made the inspiring decision last year to invest $ 20 billion in the development of six vaccine candidates. This is the best decision the government has made. Vaccines typically take a decade to develop, but years of private investment and innovation have paid off in advanced technologies that have cut the time to a year.

The pandemic was evidence of American strength and resilience – but an undeserved godsend for the government. We will pay the lockdown excesses for generations.

Wunderland: Today we are on the way to normality, not because of politicians and media representatives. Our thanks go to the medical staff who treated patients and discovered treatments during ongoing operations. And private vaccine developers. Images: Reuters / AFP via Getty Composite: Mark Kelly

Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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