Lock Downs And Shutdowns Will Lead To Meltdowns

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The cure is far worse than the disease.

In these times of COVID-19, you’ll forgive me for deviating from climate and energy from time to time.

Lately nothing has been more annoying to me than the misuse of the graphic (see below) that claims to tell us why it’s important to prolong (flatten) the pandemic: in order to keep our (woefully inadequate) healthcare system from becoming overloaded.

The flatter the pandemic, the longer the shutdowns

This flattening (prolonging) of the pandemic of course now involves instituting lock downs, curfews and devastating widespread business shutdowns. No one wants to hear it, but the consequences risk being catastrophic: mass unemployment, depression, civil and political unrest. This is now a very real possibility in Europe and North America.

Not only are the shutdown measures having a profound impact on our liberties, they soon will be needlessly testing the very outer limits of our society’s ability to cohere. The longer the lock downs and business shutdowns drag on, the greater the already massive economic damage will become. Meltdown becomes a real possibility.

Most economies cannot survive protracted shutdowns

Yes, of course, people have to keep distance and practice commonsense things like hand-washing, disinfection and absorbing their coughs and sneezes. Yes, local hot-spot lock downs may be warranted. But these should never morph into country-wide blanket-curfews that end up smothering everything.

Increase hospital capacity, isolate the vulnerable

The strategy should not be to flatten (extend) the pandemic (B), like may countries have been misled into doing, rather it should be to shorten its duration (C), keep the peak hospitalization number down (blue curve) while increasing health care capacity (blue dashed line).

The two fundamental ways to do this:

  1. Raise the health care system’s capacity. Ideally that should have been done long ago, like after the earlier warnings that health care systems were not at all up to par. Had governments heeded these warnings, the dotted line denoting healthcare system capacity would have been raised substantially. Now authorities are scrambling madly.
  2. Reduce the peak number of hospital cases. That could have been, and still can be, done by strictly isolating the elderly and vulnerable from those who aren’t. The many who aren’t elderly and vulnerable would get infected and do just fine. Soon, we’d have the desired herd immunity.

Unfortunately there has been woefully inadequate effort on both of these two approaches. Political correctness to some extent prevented that. The result: the pandemic will continue, more curfews, lock downs and potentially catastrophic closures of large parts of the economy.

Few economies can survive

The way things are now, countries with the most rickety health care systems (low capacity) have no choice but to impose – indefinitely – the most stringent and protracted lock downs if they wish to keep the number of hospital cases manageable (and thus look politically correct). These lock downs of course will only prolong the pandemic, which in turn will mean even longer shutdowns.

Few economies will be able to survive that.

Virologists alone cannot decide policy

This is why policy decisions cannot be left up to virologists alone, but must involve experts from multiple disciplines. This is the only way to achieve an optimum outcome.

Those of us who are fit should go back to work and not worry about getting infected. The rest should be protected in isolation until the whole thing blows over.

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14 responses to “Lock Downs And Shutdowns Will Lead To Meltdowns”

  1. Andre Pieck

    At this point every country has the obligation to avoid that the Health system collapses as it did in Northern Italy and is now collapsing in Madrid. In both areas extremely difficult decisions have to be made on who is allowed to live and who will die. The outcome has been age based (60 in Northern Italy) and 65 in Madrid. Above the age limit people who need IC support can’t get it.
    I’m extremely angry on Climate Lobbyists who want to recuperate tis crisis in favour of their false crisis. But we can’t have any hesitation to tackle a real crisis as the one unfolding now.
    Of course the South Korea solution is much, much better….but it’s far too late for Europe and the US to go to such solution. That should have been done 1 month ago: testing all people coming back from ski holidays and the far East – mandatory isolation of all affected etc.
    Now we have to manage the crisis to the best of our abilities and make sure business can restart without Climate Lobbyists trying to prevent that.

  2. We Gambled On The Wrong Threat: Climate Change – Newscats Hasslefree Allsort

    […] Lock Downs And Shutdowns Will Lead To Meltdowns […]

  3. WAM

    Link from JoNova blog:
    https://www.propublica.org/article/a-medical-worker-describes–terrifying-lung-failure-from-covid19-even-in-his-young-patients

    If we censor such news then we can go on without lockdowns…

  4. Elle95_st

    Whash your hands, keep healthy, saty at home and stay safe we have to be together one hand to fight against this virus as much as are information about COVID-19 we can win this

  5. RoHa

    “Raise the health care systemÔÇÖs capacity. Ideally that should have been done long ago …”

    But we had far better things to do with the money, like giving it to the rich owners of wind farms, and buying weapons like the F35.

  6. M E

    This video series from a working pulmonologist and teacher will give decent peer reviewed information . He is also a teacher. Even those of us with no biological education can and do benefit.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqKwAIIy-Mo

    For myself I want an antibody test to be available for those who had the virus a few weeks ago But I don’t want people to assume without this test that they are not infectious.
    As someone said. “God gave you a brain, plug it in and switch on”

  7. John F. Hultquist

    In the USA, while the Grand Princess cruise passengers were removed from the ship and quarantined — sister-in-law was expecting to be freed today — up in the Seattle area the folks responsible for the care of the elderly allowed a disaster to develop.
    Crazy.

    You emphasize: Few economies can survive

    Besides entire nations, the stories of individual and small business that are being ruined grow by the hour. Even if the national economy survives, many other things will not.

  8. RickWill

    Only dingbats think this is an old man’s disease. It spreads easily and kills many; of all ages and sex.

    The current situation could have been easily avoided if all countries disregarded the advice of WHO and controlled arrivals in early to mid January like Thailand. It was purely a China problem and they imposed heavy handed, draconian controls internally. Meanwhile they allowed their infected to infect the world. Italy’s close ties with China has cost them dearly.

    Only decisive and heavy handed action will work now. Those not supplying food or essential service do not need to be compromised by others offering incidental fluff that counts as economic activity. In Australia, the incidental workers are being offered survival incomes; given holidays on mortgages and some property owners have already waived rents.

    Those who take a cavalier approach are putting their health careers and essential workers at risk; a good proportion of the highly competent people providing essential services are old men. The cavalier dingbats may not become seriously ill, but they will be part of the chain that increases the load on the medical system and increases risk of death of essential workers.

  9. Graeme No.3

    John H. Hultquist
    I hope your sister-in-law is well. You are lucky not to be in New South Wales where they let 270(?) passengers off ship (Ruby Princess) despite an ambulance waiting to take an ill patient (who died in hospital) on the grounds that the ship was free of disease.
    Also another passenger who took public transport to the main railway station, a 3 hour train north, followed by further public contact before being admitted to hospital.
    There is a blame game going-on between the State and Federal authorities about this fiasco. Sound familiar?
    And we had a Prime Minister who started a process for dealing with a pandemic in 2005, but he got knifed and the process obviously dumped. It is not always the politicians to blame.

  10. Pat

    With the flu season coming to an end, healthcare available capacity will increase at least for the summer. Regardless whether Covid itself is seasonal. Bear in mind that the number of flu deaths deaths the number of Covid deaths.

  11. esalil

    The seriously ill corona patients develope ARDS which is an inflammatory reaction in the lungs. But inflammatory reaction is a reaction of innate immunity. So, it might be controversial whether good immunity really helps against corona virus disease. Unorthodox treatment could be to dampen the innate immunity. The situation might be totally different with milder illness where the good innate immunity might prevent the disease becoming more severe.

  12. drumphish

    I’m self-isolating because everyone is going insane. Can’t be near anybody at the moment, except for the gal who sold me my daily ration of beer, I’m alone in the universe. lol

    Kind of a new dark age if you ask me, gotta be six feet away from everybody. Sounds like the graveyard. har

    In any event, it can’t last and it won’t last.

    The entire world’s infrastructure that has been amassed over the past century is greater than ever before, the world is capable of making it all happen regardless of a virus that is wreaking havoc on economies and in the financial world.

    Airports aren’t busy, but you don’t have to abandon them, they’ll be useful on another day in time.

    In a way, it was time for people to stop the madness one way or another.

    An exogenous agent caused it all, it is not your fault. Happened in the real world. Bioengineered, maybe. Who knows? I don’t want to know.

    Corona virus was there without anyone’s help, unless the origin is bat soup or from some lab in the middle of nowhere, what exists in nature isn’t always to and for your benefit.

    Life will go on.

  13. ahlam st

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  14. David Appell

    Pierre is also an expert in infectious diseases.

    I’m not surprised at all.

    Nope.

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