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The Great Matt Ridley…

Summary:
… writes again on the calamitous response to Covid-19. Unfortunately, most humans these days seem to be unable to escape the deafening echo-chamber of irrational histrionics in which they, apparently, are trapped. On these hysterical persons the wisdom of serious, knowledgeable thinkers such as Matt Ridley has no effect. So sad. Here are two slices from Matt’s latest: It is counterintuitive but the current spread of Covid may on balance be the least worst thing that could happen now. In the absence of a vaccine, and with no real prospect of eradicating the disease, the virus spreading among younger people, mostly without hitting the vulnerable, is creating immunity that will eventually slow the epidemic. The second wave is real, but it is not like the first. It would be a mistake to

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writes again on the calamitous response to Covid-19.

Unfortunately, most humans these days seem to be unable to escape the deafening echo-chamber of irrational histrionics in which they, apparently, are trapped. On these hysterical persons the wisdom of serious, knowledgeable thinkers such as Matt Ridley has no effect. So sad.

Here are two slices from Matt’s latest:

It is counterintuitive but the current spread of Covid may on balance be the least worst thing that could happen now. In the absence of a vaccine, and with no real prospect of eradicating the disease, the virus spreading among younger people, mostly without hitting the vulnerable, is creating immunity that will eventually slow the epidemic. The second wave is real, but it is not like the first. It would be a mistake to tackle it with compulsory lockdowns (even if called ‘circuit breakers’), whether national or local. The cure would be worse than the disease.

If you cannot extinguish an epidemic at the start, the best strategy is for the healthy to get infected first. Lockdowns ensure that the vulnerable and the healthy both get infected with similar probability. School closures, concluded a recent paper in the British Medical Journal, can paradoxically lead to more deaths by prioritising the protection of the least vulnerable.

In July the World Health Organisation said full lockdowns could be ‘the only option’ to prevent resurgence. But last week Dr David Nabarro, a WHO special envoy for Covid-19, told Andrew Neil on Spectator TV that ‘We in the WHO do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus… We really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method.’

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Or look at London, where just 34 people died of Covid in the first week of October, compared with more than 1,000 a week in early April. There isn’t much of a second wave there, despite — or because of — demonstrations and crowded tube trains during the summer. This is probably because London’s first wave was already well advanced when lockdown started. Given widespread immune responses to the four kinds of corona-caused common colds, and the skewed pattern of viral infection, whereby a few super-spreaders cause most of the new cases, it looks increasingly as if the virus is already finding it harder to spread in the capital this time round.

The alternative to lockdown is not ‘letting the virus rip’, as Boris Johnson puts it. The Great Barrington Declaration, signed by over 20,000 doctors and medical scientists (but disgracefully censored by Google’s search engine), calls for focused protection: help the elderly and vulnerable stay at home, but let the young and invulnerable go out and achieve immunity for us all, while earning a living. The extraordinary truth is that a student catching Covid might be saving Granny’s life rather than threatening it.

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Don Boudreaux
He is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

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