Empty street for Covid 19 restrictions in São Paulo, 6. March.
Miguel Chincariol/ Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Last week, Greg Abbott announced that his state is ending the mum mandate and restrictions on businesses. Although Democrats and many health officials have condemned the measure, there is now enough data to show that the benefits of these strict measures are not worth the costs.
This was not always the case. A year ago, I publicly advocated containment because it seemed reasonable given the limited knowledge of the virus and its effects at the time. But blocking the company has become a default option for governments around the world, no matter the cost.
More than a year after the start of the pandemic, vaccination is being carried out in Europe and the United States. Nevertheless, strict restrictions remain in place on both sides of the Atlantic. Germany, Ireland and Britain are still on lockdown, while in France an 18-hour curfew has been in place for two months, which the French government says will continue for at least four more weeks. In many American states, full-time education is still a rarity.
This time last year, we had no idea how difficult it would be to get the virus under control. Given the speed at which the disease spreads, it was expected that the majority of the population would be infected within a few weeks unless transmission was restricted in some way. Imperial College London’s response team predicts that more than two million Americans could die within months. Blockchain will reduce transmission, and while it can’t prevent all infections, it will prevent hospitals from becoming overburdened. This would flatten the curve.
We have since learned that a virus can never spread exponentially for long, even without strict limits. The epidemic always disappears long before the herd becomes immune. As I argue in a report for the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, people get scared and change their behavior when hospitalizations and deaths increase. This in turn reduces transmission.
I have looked at over 100 regions and countries. No one saw that the exponential growth of the pandemic continued until herd immunity was achieved, government containment or other severe measures were imposed. Eventually, people return to a more relaxed posture. If they do, the virus will spread again. That’s why we see inverted U-shaped cases and deaths everywhere.
Sweden was the first country to learn this lesson, but many others have repeated it. Initially, many supporters of the blockade saw Sweden as a disaster, with a per capita mortality rate not dissimilar to that in the European Union. The United States once described Georgia’s weapons policy as an Atlantic experiment in human sacrifice. But as in Sweden, the per capita mortality rate in Georgia is now almost as high as in the rest of the country.
This is not to say that restrictions have no effect. If Sweden had imposed stricter restrictions, the epidemic would probably have been reduced slightly earlier and the incidence would have fallen somewhat more rapidly. But politics may not play as big a role as people think. Lockdowns can hurt the economy, but seem to have little impact on the spread of Covid-19.
After a year of monitoring and data collection, the congestion situation has worsened significantly. There is no doubt that overcrowded hospitals are bad, but they deprive people of a normal life, especially children who cannot attend school or socialize for precious years of their lives. Since not everyone has been vaccinated yet, many would not be able to live normally even without restrictions. But government measures can make the situation worse by depriving people of the opportunity to socialise and earn a living.
Coronavirus hijackings are the greatest attacks on individual freedom in the West since World War II. However, no government has published a cost-benefit analysis to justify blockchain policies, which is often demanded by politicians who make far less coherent decisions. If my arguments are wrong and the blockchain policy is profitable, the government document should prove it. No government has produced such a document, perhaps because officials know what it will show.
Lemoine is a PhD candidate in philosophy at Cornell University and a research associate at the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology.
Wonderland: If we are on the road to normalcy today, it is not thanks to politicians and media personnel. We thank the medical staff who treated the patients and discovered the treatment in passing. And robbed the developers of vaccines. Images : Reuters/AFP via Getty Composite: Mark Kelly
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Published in the print edition of 12. March 2021.