You have to hand it to them. As the world fell into sustained panic over Covid-19, a group of scientific advisors in Stockholm were looking beyond the terse soundbites and limited data of the WHO, plotting a careful course through an international crisis that has caused paralysis for those nations who took the sensationalism at face value.
By doing what they could to quarantine older and at-risk groups, whilst letting everyone else function as normally as possible without a lockdown, Swedish leaders have not only ensured their economy can remain healthy, but they have also managed to maintain a lower death rate per million than countries like the Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, the UK and Ireland.
Like a lot of people, I thought a lockdown was the only way to handle a virus portrayed as an apocalyptic event, one that would change the world forever. What the fall-out will be is unknown, but we can now say with quiet confidence that a lockdown was not necessary, if only our “experts’ analysis” of the disease had been more level-headed.
Following an Oxford study suggesting millions of people in the UK had already contracted the virus, a Stanford study in California has more recently indicated that the rate of infection with coronavirus is at least 50 times higher than the number of confirmed cases in Santa Clara county where the sample was taken, a finding that would make “the cure” almost certainly worse than the disease.
Writing at The Hill, former Chief of Neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center Dr. Scott Atlas said the fatality rate is likely to be around 0.1% of carriers, some 20 times lower than WHO estimates, which means the vast majority of people are not at any significant risk of dying, even if they do contract Covid-19. One would not get that impression from the media’s coverage of Covid-19 however.
The solution all along was to isolate at-risk groups, such as the elderly, early and quickly, thereby lowering overcrowding concerns in intensive-care units, thus rendering moot the motivating reason for lockdowns in the first place. The Swedes did make mistakes along the way though, with a higher death-rate than neighbouring countries being attributed to a lack of information being conveyed to immigrants from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
You might say hindsight is wonderful, but one senses something is amiss when countries start to add “probable” deaths from Covid-19 to the official Covid-19 death-count (on-foot of guidelines from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention). Even though the deceased has not been tested, “if the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty”, the fatality will now be added to the coronavirus death-count in a number of countries.
The fact that most of the world has been led into mass-panic, lockdown and near-economic-ruin by the bungling WHO, who are ultimately controlled by only a handful of people, highlights how easily we can fall prey to group-think.
Whether there is a nefarious mastermind or grand conspiracy behind the global shutdown remains to be seen; the lockdowns could all just be attributable to human error and hysteria, but there certainly is a lot of money to be made by whoever develops a vaccine.
Enter Bill Gates. He seems to have appointed himself as our knight in shining armour, cometh to take away the germs of the world, gaining the status of prophet recently too when an old Ted Talk predicting microbiotic doom resurfaced.
Whether or not Mr. Gates is impressed by the Swedish approach is difficult to determine, but his fixation on developing a vaccine would suggest he hasn’t high regard for the human ability to produce antibodies.
To this end, Dr. Atlas goes further in his claims about lockdowns, saying they have prolonged the pain internationally because people are not becoming infected at a rate that will allow for “herd immunity”, a taboo phrase the Swedes are depending on.
He writes: “We know from decades of medical science that infection itself allows people to generate an immune response — antibodies — so that the infection is controlled throughout the population by “herd immunity.” Indeed, that is the main purpose of widespread immunization in other viral diseases — to assist with population immunity.
“In this virus, we know that medical care is not even necessary for the vast majority of people who are infected. It is so mild that half of infected people are asymptomatic, shown in early data from the Diamond Princess ship, and then in Iceland and Italy. That has been falsely portrayed as a problem requiring mass isolation. In fact, infected people without severe illness are the immediately available vehicle for establishing widespread immunity. By transmitting the virus to others in the low-risk group who then generate antibodies, they block the network of pathways toward the most vulnerable people, ultimately ending the threat. Extending whole-population isolation would directly prevent that widespread immunity from developing.”
Herd immunity, after all, is what people like Bill Gates want, only his means of achieving it will be via a vaccine, not transmission.
The dawn of mandatory vaccinations, and perhaps even accompanying certificates proving we are “safe” to travel, does seem to be upon us because of people like the Microsoft founder, but before that happens, perhaps we should take pause and ask: are we really willing to give up so much freedom from state-intrusion over a disease that appears to be as misunderstood as it is over-hyped?
The vulnerable should continue isolating, but let the rest of us get back to work.