Sweden’s COVID Approach Is Actual Science. Your Lockdowns Are Superstitious Sacrifice Rituals to Appease Magic Spirits
Herd immunity vs group therapy
Our party wants the best plan for India, a plan that can deal with the worst eventuality. We don’t want plans that are based on day dreams. Therefore, over the past month I have repeatedly recommended a staggered herd immunity approach, based on scientific and economic analysis.
The first worst-case eventuality we need to address is this: that a vaccine is not discovered or discovered after many years. (If it is found earlier, we can rapidly change plans).
Why should we be so pessimistic about the prospect of a vaccine? Some basic facts can help.
Four coronaviruses commonly infect humans: OC43 and 229E (discovered in the 1990s) and HKU1 and NL63 (discovered a decade ago). These are part of a group of 200 odd (and distinct) viruses that cause the “common cold” for which, as we all know, there is no vaccine.
In addition, two other coronaviruses can infect us: SARS and MERS. For these, as well, there is no vaccine despite scientists working on it for years. Instead, we know that “Early efforts to develop a SARS vaccine in animal trials were plagued by a phenomenon known as vaccine-induced enhancement, in which recipients exhibit worse symptoms after being injected”. Basically, a bad vaccine can kill far more of us than the virus itself.
Jane Halton, who chairs the Bill Gates-backed Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation “has warned that there is no guarantee of success”. Australian National University academic Peter Collignon has confirmed to me that: “I don’t think we can assume with any certainty we will get a safe and effective vaccine for all. We haven’t for a number of other infections eg HIV, Hep C, Dengue, RSV despite trying very hard”.
Thus, virtually everyone who knows about coronaviruses knows that a vaccine is a moonshot. Anders Tegnell, who is leading the Swedish fight against this virus is clear that “the vaccine is so far off”.
The second worst-case eventuality we should prepare for is that people will only develop imperfect immunity after recovering from the infection. A number of reports are now showing that people might get re-infected, although that is not too common. But humans do manage to develop a reasonable level of immunity against the four other (common) coronaviruses. If one is infected by one of them, one’s prospects of getting it again are greatly reduced. This suggests that it is reasonable to assume that while a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 is close to impossible, herd immunity through infection – although challenging – is still largely viable.
And we must stop dreaming about heat making the virus disappear. It will almost certainly stay alive and kicking in some parts of the planet and spread each year with pretty much the same intensity among unprotected populations as it is currently doing.
This virus is certain to become endemic in the human population like the other four common coronaviruses, and we will need to remain on our guard against it throughout our life (even if we have got it once). Any nation that doesn’t develop strong herd immunity will be brought to its knees every year.
That is why SBP [Swatantra Bharat Paksh] supports Sweden’s well-considered approach, which is a replica of what we have been long recommending.
Sweden isolates its elderly and those with serious pre-conditions. It keeps primary schools open since this virus has virtually no effect on little children, and children are therefore the first to help society acquire herd immunity. Sweden also insists on reasonable social distancing but people are not required to wear masks, which allows the slow and sustained spread of the virus to less vulnerable groups.
Does this mean the Swedish model is perfect? No. Despite its best efforts, there will inevitably be a large number of deaths in the early stages of this approach. And it is almost certain that in the coming days Sweden will need to tighten its restrictions to prevent the overflow of ICUs.
But that’s manageable. Sweden is blessed to have one of the brightest officials in the world at its helm, Anders Tegnell. He has explained to the people of Sweden that there is no easy answer to this problem. They have understood that they have to take responsibility for themselves and their own families. The elderly have to be protected by each family. There is only so much that any government can do.
But once the elderly are safely cocooned, the remaining people are able to operate at a level of normalcy. This normalcy is, of course, quite different from regular normalcy. It includes working from home where possible, and so on. This is exactly what our party recommended on 6 March 2020.
There are strong early signs that Sweden is succeeding in a big way. On 8 April 2020 Tegnell reported that Stockholm may have reached “more of a plateau situation than before”. In particular, “Stockholm is reaching a point where the basic reproduction number of the virus is 1.0, or in other words when one person infects on average only one other person”. That is a supreme achievement, given this virus generally infects over 2.5 persons in the initial stages.
This brilliant approach is going to help Sweden rapidly get over the peak of the pandemic with a growing wall of immune Swedes blocking the virus.
In just a few weeks from now, Sweden will have defeated the virus; it would have passed like a bad flu season.
Sweden’s economy will get a small one-off hit and then rapidly recover – while the rest of the world goes into deep Depression and most developing country economies (particularly India’s, with its worst-possible policies) collapse.
Most nations are behaving like ostriches with their head buried in sand – with febrile dreams about vaccines and treatments. They want to keep their society in suspended animation while reducing the loss of life from the virus. They are oblivious to the incomprehensible cost their society will pay for indefinite lockdowns. Steve Kates, an economist I admire, has estimated that the cost to society of saving a life in extreme, extended lockdowns could be in the range of $300 million. Good luck to Western nations with that.
Of course, India can’t even dream of such big numbers. India doesn’t have much of a choice, really. It has to follow the Swedish/SBP approach immediately. No other approach is even remotely viable for its vast population – and an economy that is already on the verge of collapse.
Source: The Times of India