Julie Birky describes the terrible toll that colleges’ and universities’ overreaction to Covid-19 is taking on the mental health of students. A slice: Some university administrators have echoed this sentiment, manipulating students by telling them to comply is to be altruistic. Leaders’ words and policies have led to shame, isolation, and disconnection which all exacerbate mental illness and suicide. Responsibility for the current mental health crisis on college campuses partially falls on the leaders who made and enforced such serious restrictions. Threatening emails, door checkers, mandated testing, long quarantines, Plexiglas barriers, increased cleaning supplies, and mobile tracking apps have all been prioritized over the mental health of students. This is akin to building levees
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Some university administrators have echoed this sentiment, manipulating students by telling them to comply is to be altruistic. Leaders’ words and policies have led to shame, isolation, and disconnection which all exacerbate mental illness and suicide. Responsibility for the current mental health crisis on college campuses partially falls on the leaders who made and enforced such serious restrictions.
Threatening emails, door checkers, mandated testing, long quarantines, Plexiglas barriers, increased cleaning supplies, and mobile tracking apps have all been prioritized over the mental health of students. This is akin to building levees and dams in the desert, while ignoring the flooding coastline. Students are facing far more serious risks from mental illness than they are from COVID-19. While the virus may have been new in 2020, mental illness and suicide risks among college students were not.
Thus, Donald Trump – the U.S. president when Covid first emerged – was highly sceptical towards the idea that the disease posed a once-in-a-lifetime threat that necessitated unprecedented measures (such as lockdowns and masking the healthy) to control it. Trump was detested by those on the left of the political continuum and this antipathy may have led Labour supporters to adopt a diametrically opposed position and to enthusiastically embrace the restrictions. Conversely, the New Zealand leader, Jacinda Arden – the golden girl for many on the political left – has stridently promoted a ‘zero Covid’ approach to the pandemic involving the early and extreme imposition of restrictions. It seems likely that her narrative and associated actions will have powerfully promoted lockdowns and masks as legitimate and necessary measures in the minds of Labour supporters.
The prominent role of the Government’s deployment of covert ‘nudges’ to increase people’s compliance with Covid restrictions has been well documented (see here and here). The mediators underpinning these methods of mass manipulation often rely on constructs that would be expected to resonate with Labour Party supporters. As such, the widespread use of ‘nudging’ may have nurtured greater acceptance of the regulations among those on the political left.
More physicians are warning against vaccinating young children against Covid-19. (DBx: To anticipate reactions, I again declare that I am not anti-vax, although I am deeply opposed to government-imposed vaccine mandates. I myself am fully vaccinated and, judging from what I know about Covid vaccinations and the risks posed by Covid, I believe that Covid vaccinations for older adults who have not had Covid are advisable. Yet because no Covid vaccine is risk-free, and because children are at virtually no risk from Covid, insisting on wholesale vaccination of young children seems to me to be madness. See again John Tierney.)
If this pandemic began with the food trade, changes must be made there to prevent another. If it began with products used in traditional Chinese medicine, a set of practices endorsed by the World Health Organisation in 2019 at the urging of Xi Jinping, that needs revisiting. And if the pandemic began as a result of risky virology research, that category of work needs to be made safer. Wuhan is the site of the world’s most active research programme on Sars-like viruses, and viruses have escaped from labs many times.
If you’re screening and excluding family members from Christmas lunch according to their vaccination status, you’re doing Christmas all wrong.
But Australia’s top rating breakfast television program suggested on Friday that you do just that.
Channel Seven’s Sunrise program featured a segment on “how to handle unvaccinated loved ones over the festive season”, insisting that unvaccinated family members will place everyone else in “a unique predicament” on Christmas Day.
Did mainstream media really need to go there? As if the last two years have not been divisive enough without using Christmas Day to promote fear and segregation.
Program host David Koch told viewers: “As Christmas approaches many of us will be faced with a new dilemma – how to handle unvaccinated loved ones and whether you should spend time with them over the festive season or sit next to them at Christmas dinner.”
Aldus Huxley, who said “the propogandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human”, would have been impressed.
Personally, I can’t imagine refusing to sit next to a family member – on Christmas Day no less – because they haven’t been jabbed. But that’s because I’m not a jerk. Clearly, the Sunrise producers have a different view of their audience.
But the important fact that we are now instructed to hold as
gospel scientific truth is that the source of suffering and death that counts above all is Covid-19! Why, it’s almost a blessing to suffer and die from anything else!
This is why our pandemic playbooks told us not to close down society. You don’t just turn this level of fear off like a switch. I hope we can all work towards never shutting down society like this again. Ever.
In the USA and Germany, high-level officials have used the term pandemic of the unvaccinated, suggesting that people who have been vaccinated are not relevant in the epidemiology of COVID-19. Officials’ use of this phrase might have encouraged one scientist to claim that “the unvaccinated threaten the vaccinated for COVID-19”. But this view is far too simple.
There is increasing evidence that vaccinated individuals continue to have a relevant role in transmission. In Massachusetts, USA, a total of 469 new COVID-19 cases were detected during various events in July, 2021, and 346 (74%) of these cases were in people who were fully or partly vaccinated, 274 (79%) of whom were symptomatic. Cycle threshold values were similarly low between people who were fully vaccinated (median 22·8) and people who were unvaccinated, not fully vaccinated, or whose vaccination status was unknown (median 21·5), indicating a high viral load even among people who were fully vaccinated. In the USA, a total of 10 262 COVID-19 cases were reported in vaccinated people by April 30, 2021, of whom 2725 (26·6%) were asymptomatic, 995 (9·7%) were hospitalised, and 160 (1·6%) died. In Germany, 55·4% of symptomatic COVID-19 cases in patients aged 60 years or older were in fully vaccinated individuals, and this proportion is increasing each week. In Münster, Germany, new cases of COVID-19 occurred in at least 85 (22%) of 380 people who were fully vaccinated or who had recovered from COVID-19 and who attended a nightclub. People who are vaccinated have a lower risk of severe disease but are still a relevant part of the pandemic. It is therefore wrong and dangerous to speak of a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Historically, both the USA and Germany have engendered negative experiences by stigmatising parts of the population for their skin colour or religion. I call on high-level officials and scientists to stop the inappropriate stigmatisation of unvaccinated people, who include our patients, colleagues, and other fellow citizens, and to put extra effort into bringing society together.