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The Emergency Must Be Ended, Now

BY HARVEY RISCH, JAYANTA BHATTACHARYA, PAUL ELIAS ALEXANDER | BROWNSTONE INSTITUTE | JANUARY 23, 2022

The time has come to terminate the pandemic state of emergency. It is time to end the controls, the closures, the restrictions, the plexiglass, the stickers, the exhortations, the panic-mongering, the distancing announcements, the ubiquitous commercials, the forced masking, the vaccine mandates.

We don’t mean that the virus is gone – omicron is still spreading wildly, and the virus may circulate forever.  But with a normal focus on protecting the vulnerable, we can treat the virus as a medical rather than a social matter and manage it in ordinary ways. A declared emergency needs continuous justification, and that is now lacking.

Over the last six weeks in the US, the delta variant strain – the most recent aggressive version of the infection – has according to CDC been declining in both the proportion of infections (60% on December 18 to 0.5% on January 15) and the number of daily infected people (95,000 to 2,100). During the next two weeks, delta will decline to the point that it essentially disappears like the strains before it.

Omicron is mild enough that most people, even many high-risk people, can adequately cope with the infection. Omicron infection is no more severe than seasonal flu, and generally less so. A large portion of the vulnerable population in the developed world is already vaccinated and protected against severe disease. We have learned much about the utility of inexpensive supplements like Vitamin D to reduce disease risk, and there is a host of good therapeutics available to prevent hospitalization and death should a vulnerable patient become infected. And for younger people, the risk of severe disease – already low before omicron – is minuscule.

Even in places with strict lockdown measures, there are hundreds of thousands of newly registered omicron cases daily and countless unregistered positives from home testing. Measures like mandatory masking and distancing have had negligible or at most small effects on transmission. Large-scale population quarantines only delay the inevitable.  Vaccination and boosters have not halted omicron disease spread; heavily vaccinated nations like Israel and Australia have more daily cases per capita than any place on earth at the moment. This wave will run its course despite all of the emergency measures.

Until omicron, recovery from Covid provided substantial protection against subsequent infection. While the omicron variant can reinfect patients recovered from infection by previous strains, such reinfection tends to produce mild disease. Future variants, whether evolved from omicron or not, are unlikely to evade the immunity provided by omicron infection for a long while. With the universal spread of omicron worldwide, new strains will likely have more difficulty finding a hospitable environment because of the protection provided to the population by omicron’s widespread natural immunity.

It is true that – despite emergency measures — hospitalization counts and Covid-associated mortality have risen. Since mortality tends to trail symptomatic infection by about 3-4 weeks, we are still seeing the delta strain’s remaining effects and the waning of vaccine immunity against serious outcomes at 6-8 months after vaccination. These cases should decline over time as delta finally says goodbye. It is too late to alter their course with lockdowns (if that were ever possible).

Given that omicron, with its mild infection, is running its course to the end, there is no justification for maintaining emergency status. The lockdowns, personnel firings and shortages and school disruptions have done at least as much damage to the population’s health and welfare as the virus.

The state of emergency is not justified now, and it cannot be justified by fears of a hypothetical recurrence of some more severe infection at some unknown point in the future. If such a severe new variant were to occur – and it seems unlikely from omicron – then that would be the time to discuss a declaration of emergency.

Americans have sacrificed enough of their human rights and of their livelihoods for two years in the service of protecting the general public health. Omicron is circulating but it is not an emergency. The emergency is over. The current emergency declaration must be canceled. It is time.

Authors

Harvey Risch is Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Risch received his MD degree from the University of California San Diego and PhD from the University of Chicago. After serving as a postdoctoral fellow in epidemiology at the University of Washington, Dr. Risch was a faculty member in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Toronto before coming to Yale.

Jay Bhattacharya, Senior Scholar of Brownstone Institute, is a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and at the Stanford Freeman Spogli Institute.

Dr Alexander holds a PhD. He has experience in epidemiology and in the teaching clinical epidemiology, evidence-based medicine, and research methodology. Dr Alexander is a former Assistant Professor at McMaster University in evidence-based medicine and research methods; former COVID Pandemic evidence-synthesis consultant advisor to WHO-PAHO Washington, DC (2020) and former senior advisor to COVID Pandemic policy in Health and Human Services (HHS) Washington, DC (A Secretary), US government; worked/appointed in 2008 at WHO as a regional specialist/epidemiologist in Europe’s Regional office Denmark, worked for the government of Canada as an epidemiologist for 12 years, appointed as the Canadian in-field epidemiologist (2002-2004) as part of an international CIDA funded, Health Canada executed project on TB/HIV co-infection and MDR-TB control (involving India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Afghanistan, posted to Kathmandu); employed from 2017 to 2019 at Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) Virginia USA as the evidence synthesis meta-analysis systematic review guideline development trainer; currently a COVID-19 consultant researcher in the US-C19 research group.

January 23, 2022 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. What could health department heads tell us about chemtrails–the possibility that toxins and pathogens may be sprayed into our skies?

    Like

    Comment by John Edward Kendrick | January 23, 2022 | Reply

  2. “A large portion of the vulnerable population in the developed world is already vaccinated and protected against severe disease.“

    Just fucking stop already! There isn’t one scintilla of evidence to prove this statement. A very subtle jab Aletho. Odd how both Pravda and Aletho mean truth in their respective languages. Next time, say “allegedly” when talking about unconfirmed, UNbacked, untested theories.

    Like

    Comment by TJ | January 24, 2022 | Reply


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