The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at U of Minnesota states that the COVID-19 pandemic could well be with us for another two years. Their main recommendations are:
- States, territories, and tribal health authorities should plan for the worst-case scenario, including no vaccine availability or herd immunity.
- Government agencies and healthcare delivery organizations should develop strategies to ensure adequate protection for healthcare workers when disease incidence surges.
- Government officials should develop concrete plans, including triggers for reinstituting mitigation measures, for dealing with disease peaks when they occur.
- Risk communication messaging from government officials should incorporate the concept that this pandemic will not be over soon and that people need to be prepared for possible periodic resurgences of disease over the next 2 years.
Scary stuff, huh?
The response of most politicians in the U.S. has been to flatten the economy with a hammer and sickle. We cannot tolerate this for another two years. Thirty million Americans have lost their jobs in the last four weeks. Make no mistake, our economic malaise has been caused by politicians, not a virus. Elon Musk recently referred to the ongoing government-mandated lockdowns as fascist. Benito Mussolini would agree with that. Others disagree.
We start by allowing the younger, low-risk people to go back to work. (Older and infirm people should take the recommended precautions of self isolating as much as possible.) That allows the economy to restart while the virus spreads among a segment of the population that is least likely to die. If you’re under 40, your chances of dying are near zero, so it shouldn’t be a huge concern.
Also, you open up restaurants, primary schools, parks and some retail shops while–at the same time–monitoring the rate of new Covid-positive cases. If it looks like the health care system is going to be overwhelmed, you pull back by implementing new guidelines and restrictions on public activities and get-togethers. You don’t just send everyone back to work on Day 1 announcing “The coast is clear”. The coast is not clear and it’s not going be clear for quite a while, but at least the new policy will get us to where we want to go eventually. And that’s the point, because if we don’t chart a new course, we’re definitely not going to reach our destination.
What we need is immunity, which comes through human interaction. An infected person passes the infection along to a healthy person who develops the antibodies to fight the virus now and in the future. When the majority of the population develop these antibodies, they achieve “herd immunity” which is “a form of protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune through previous infections.”
I posted a similar proposal a month ago, on April 2. Agreed, the coast is not clear in New York City or New Orleans, but it is clear in many other places. We need to quit hiding under our beds from the bogeyman virus.
Steve Parker, M.D.