You’re too close!
New York Post has an article addressing the U.S. cultural reaction to 1969’s Hong Kong flu as compared to our hysterical over-reaction to COVID-19. The Hong Kong flu (is that racist?), also known as H3N2, killed between one and three million worldwide, and over 100,000 in the U.S. So, not just a typical flu season. Influenza typically kills between 12,000 and 61,000 annually in the U.S.
What I found interesting was the apparent origin of “social distancing,” a term that had never been part my medical vocabulary despite practicing medicine for over three decades.
From New York Post:
Much of our current thinking about infectious diseases in the modern era changed because of the SARS outbreak of 2003, which “scared the hell out of many people,” said Poling. “It’s the first time I recall people wearing masks and trying to distance themselves from others, particularly in situations where someone might cough or sneeze.”
The idea that a pandemic could be controlled with social distancing and public lockdowns is a relatively new one, said Tucker. It was first suggested in a 2006 study by New Mexico scientist Robert J. Glass, who got the idea from his 14-year-old daughter’s science project.
“Two government doctors, not even epidemiologists” — Richard Hatchett and Carter Mecher, who worked for the Bush administration — “hatched the idea [of using government-enforced social distancing] and hoped to try it out on the next virus.” We are in effect, Tucker said, part of a grand social experiment.
But the differences between how the world responded to two pandemics, separated by 50 years, is more complicated than any single explanation.
“If I were 48 in 1968, I would have most likely served in World War II,” said Moir. “I would have had a little brother who served in Korea, and possibly might have a son or daughter fighting in Vietnam.” Death, he said, was a bigger and in some ways more accepted part of American life.
The New York Times has a related story.
I wonder if any of us living through this Coronavirus pandemic will ever forget social distancing.
Steve Parker, M.D.
PS: Pepe Escobar writes that Dr Hatchett was a proponent lockdown earlier than 14 years ago:
Enter Dr. Richard Hatchett, a former member of the National Security Council during the first Bush Jr. administration, who was already recommending obligatory confinement of the whole population way back in 2001. Hatchett now directs the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a very powerful entity coordinating global vaccine investment, and very cozy with Big Pharma. CEPI happens to be a brainchild of the WEF [World Economic Forum] in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
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