In all things empirical – that is, truth that is gained through our senses, and experience – we should strive to be unbiased, to balance both sides of any question, to be open to revision, dialogue, and to any new evidence that arises. (A fitting thought on this day, which is the memorial of Saint Albert the Great, patron of scientists). Ultimately, we may hope, the truth will win out in the end.
To that end, someone wrote in response to my last reflection on the Covid protocols:
1. Sweden is not doing as well as other countries in terms of death count. Go here:
and see that in terms of deaths per 1million population Sweden’s is ten times higher than those of Norway and Finland.
2. What about the problem of ICUs being overwhelmed? You don’t address that problem.
These points are well taken. In reply, for now, I would say the following:
My reflection was not meant to imply that we should nothing in the face of Covid, but that more, if not most, of the protocols should be left to common sense, with scope for human freedom and maturity, instead of being treated like some herd of lab animals by our medical and political overlords. What causes the ‘death count’ from Covid is still highly debatable – co-morbidity from other conditions is still a strong confounding factor. The very elderly seem rather prone to more severe effects. Sweden, like most European nations, has a disproportionate number of elderly, and, even so, is still doing better than some nations which have rather strict, mandated protocols. The question remains: Should we all be treated like nonagenarians in nursing homes, until some undetermined, vague future time – perhaps ad ultima saeculi? We should at least ponder the consequences of such an approach, which, I would add, implies a vast increase in totalitarian state power, and more or less the cessation of life and freedom as we know it, at least in some jurisdictions.
And as far as overwhelming ICU’s goes, well, would that really happen? To live life based on the fear of future hypotheticals – and especially the more dubious ones – is not really to ‘live life’. In reference to the above, the initial ‘two weeks to flatten the curve’, which I still see written nostalgically on our local drug store window, now seems rather quaint, to say nothing of questionable, as we enter our eight month of ‘flattening the curve’. One wonders how honest the proponents of this initial rally-the-hoi-polloi motto were. We know now that the vast majority of those in any degree of health will not need ICU treatment, so perhaps we should be focusing on ‘flattening the curve’ for those most susceptible to needing such care – those in nursing homes, and those with such co-morbid conditions – instead of presuming everyone will.
If Covid is what they say it is – highly infectious with even minimal contact, then – as one physician put it to a friend of mine months ago, and many are now repeating – everyone is going to get it eventually. These ‘lockdowns’ just delay the inevitable, and we should be permitted to question the long-and-short term benefits, as well as the liabilities, of that draconian, invasive protocols. Police checking how many people you have for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? What’s next, infra-red scanners and breaking down doors?
And ponder: Covid seems the first ‘plague’ in human history where one has to be tested to know whether one has it. Elon Musk, feeling a bit under the weather, got tested four times in one day: Two times positive, two times negative, which results in a total wash. Peruse the plague during recounted by Thucydides during the Peloponnesian Wars, where he writes that people were ‘vomiting every kind of vomit known to medicine, and throwing themselves into fountains to cool the raging fevers’, and more or less dropping like flies. What would the state do in the face of such, if this is what they are now imposing?
Back to the question of proportion, and what we are wiling to give up, as well as to endure. As mentioned, the ‘secondary’ health effects of these protocols, which will become more evident as time goes on, may well be far worse, physically as well as spiritually, than anything Covid might do. And, at some point, life – and not just a vegetative existence inside a musty home or apartment – must go on.