Credit: Gardai via Twitter

Last weekend the beaches were crowded – but maybe that’s the right strategy

The media was predictably full of images of crowds of young people in parks and on beaches again last weekend. The narrative is that they are somehow exposing the vulnerable to risk by this- but is that really true?

I am a vet based in Co. Kildare. Like many, I was quite content to go along with the initial Coronavirus lockdown last year in the face of a largely unknown pathogen.

As the year went on the strategy began to seem a bit strange. From “three weeks to flatten the curve” to some kind of elimination strategy, from “masks are not useful” to compulsory mask wearing, from “asymptomatic transmission has never been the driver in outbreaks of respiratory infections” (Fauci) to huge media campaigns about infecting others unknowingly, to banning outdoor activities, public health advice seemed to keep changing.

Added to that was a worrying trend of shutting down debate. Dr Martin Feeley seemed to me to make excellent sense on Prime Time only to vanish from mainstream media. Doctors who questioned the strategies of NPHET had their HSE contracts revoked and were suspended by the Medical Council.

In my undergraduate training we learned plenty about viral disease epidemiology and the immune system. Everything I thought of as settled science seems to have been changed in the past year: how respiratory viruses are seasonal, spread uncontrollably through populations every year, how we gradually acquire immunity, how they mutate and we adapt, until the recent virulent strains are rendered relatively harmless as our fantastic immune systems do their job.

This year, the virus must be stopped circulating by artificial human interventions such as standing six feet apart, wearing cloth masks and washing our hands (for an aerosolised respiratory agent). I can’t be the only person with a scientific or medical training who is baffled by all of this.

I can cope with all the above, mainly by shutting it out and hoping that the madness will eventually cease. What worries me far more, however, is the current drive to vaccinate the healthy young.

The IFR for healthy people under 70 is 0.05% as per John Ioannidis. This , in my view, makes it highly questionable whether even this cohort need vaccines against this disease. When it comes to young people and children, the benefit to them is practically zero: if they get the disease, it is usually very mild, so to expose them to the unknown medium- and long-term risks of a novel medical treatment is unethical.

It is being sold as something they need to do for the benefit of the whole population, but this is a fundamental misunderstanding of how viruses work: vaccination won’t make the virus disappear- it will keep infecting people, even those who have been inoculated, but their symptoms will be mitigated by the immunity stimulated by the vaccines, if they are effective. In fact, regular challenge (i.e. exposure) to the virus will help their immune systems stay vigilant in the face of new mutations over the years.

Healthy young people getting exposed and dealing with the virus with their own immune systems is therefore a desirable situation. Once all our vulnerable people are vaccinated, the young should be allowed to resume their lives unfettered and not be asked to expose themselves to unknown risks for no benefit to themselves.

After a year of being unjustly singled out for opprobrium for merely wishing to live normally, I hope they have the courage to say to the authorities- we will not submit to this.

 


 

Denis Beary is a vet living in Kildare

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