This is a letter to the editor that I submitted to the McAllen Monitor where I live on 4/20/2020. I received no response, so I assume they did not publish it. Why, they must have been overwhelmed with letters. Or maybe they thought the writing was below their standards. I don’t know. I’ll leave it up to you. My sentiments have not changed.
The Coronavirus: A Dissenting View
It’s time for this ill-advised experiment of extreme social distancing to end now and in the future.
I say ill-advised because extreme social distancing has never been studied or practiced on such a wide scale in the real world until now. That’s right, you’re a guinea pig.
Extreme social distancing, otherwise known as the lockdown, is based upon our experiences during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. In that year various cities in the United States tried reasonable measures such as school closings, banning of public gatherings, isolation and quarantine of infected individuals and the staggering of business hours. They found that cities such as St. Louis that engaged in two or more of these measures in a layered (concurrent) fashion did much better with regard to containing the spread of disease and limiting deaths.
Your professors took that experience and expanded it through theoretical modeling to say: social distancing is good, extreme social distancing is better. Is this the case? Can we equate falling over each other, shoulder to shoulder, half-drunk at Mardi Gras with someone going to a doctor’s office or sitting down at a restaurant for an hour? That’s a big leap.
And for what? The risk to children is exceedingly low. How low? So incredibly low that the wealthy corporate elite, their media and their co-opted celebrity-puppets (just stay home) prefer that you not know. Instead the airwaves are filled with scare stories and mumbo-jumbo statistics based upon faulty and incomplete testing which taken together frighten families to death. In my humble opinion, given the problems with testing, the only reliable statistic that we can be sure of is the number of deaths per population count. You can select your favorite study, and the risk to children will be extremely low, certainly lower than the best guess of your preferred Hollywood “expert.”
But I digress only to show you to what purpose we employed extreme social distancing.
The point of this letter is not to minimize the deaths that are occurring, nor is to call for a lifting of all measures designed to limit the spread of disease. What I wish to point out is the dubious science behind extreme social distancing.
Perhaps infectivity increases exponentially in public gatherings where we are closer to each other for hours; and perhaps very little increase in infectivity occurs during normal everyday activities.
It would seem a prudent course of action to recommend extreme social distancing, which our leaders in Washington have rushed to embrace; but is it?
If I as a medical doctor prescribed medication or recommended a surgical procedure that had not been tested in the real world or had not withstood the test of time, I would be opening myself up to a fair charge of medical negligence.
Yes, you might say, but what is the harm?
Well, I can think of two things.
Number one, the longer we stay locked up in our houses, the further we get from developing herd immunity. You have heard in the press academics and “enlightened” writers pooh-pooh the idea of herd immunity. Mistakenly they conflate the idea of established herd immunity with a responsible program for developing herd immunity.
Aside from contracting the disease ourselves, there are only a few ways to protect ourselves: passive immunity which would be the injection of immunoglobulins into the body (which currently does not exist for COVID-19); active immunity, which involves the development and administration of a vaccine; and herd immunity which arises because the vast majority of the population has contracted the disease, become immune, and is therefore unlikely to spread the disease.
The writers and academics have failed to inform you that an effective vaccine could take as long as four years despite the hoopla. And there’s no guarantee that we will develop one within four years – or ever.
They have also cleverly defined herd immunity as the point at which no one becomes infected which gives the impression that pursuing herd immunity is a fruitless pipe dream, something way far off in the future. Not true. As more and more people get the disease and become immune, less people will become infected. Why not take a half loaf of bread? The overwhelming majority of patients will not die and will have only minor symptoms.
Let us take the prudent, time-tested approach to fighting disease, the approach that has ensured the survival of the species for 200,000 years and more. We can face the disease as we always have, out in the open, unafraid. In the war against disease, we, our immune systems are the soldiers.
Is pursuing herd immunity perfect; does it wipe out disease? No. Is it better than cowering inside your house hoping for a miracle? Yes. Waiting inside your house under lockdown is akin to withstanding a siege by an invading enemy. Defensive wars are usually lost.
Of course this would entail risk. Lives, primarily the elderly, will be lost. But, here’s worse news: more lives will be lost if we sit in our houses and do nothing. We will be doing greater harm to ourselves economically and spiritually which will lower our immunity even further.
Number two, the effects of an extended lockdown will be psychologically devastating to ourselves and to the nation. This has been studied in our prison population. Commencing in the 1980s our penal system engaged in the concept of solitary confinement on a massive scale. There is no serious criminologist who will attest to the benefits of extreme solitary confinement. That is exactly what extreme social distancing is tantamount to.
Men who have undergone extreme solitary confinement, to put it mildly, go a little batty (an appropriate term given we are talking about coronavirus, eh). Even when the solitary confinement ends, these men have difficulty communicating with people. Bad effects linger. Think of this as post-traumatic stress disorder. With this lockdown and more to come, we will compromise ourselves in international trade and defense.
We will become dysfunctional as a society.
Yes, Dr. Fauci and others are experts in infectious disease, but I am a general pediatrician. My job is to look at the patient as a whole. I have to think not in a limited sense; I have to think about the entire human being and how that human being will fare in the future.
If we stop this misguided social experiment now, we can laugh it off as an adventure gone wrong. If we continue, the effects will be devastating, and the future will be bleak.
We must be fearless lest our fear become us.
We must face the disease head on.
We are not the land of the locked up and the home of the wimps.
As our friend, Emiliano Zapata, would say: “¡Prefiero morir de pie que vivir siempre arrodillado!”
Archer Crosley, MD
McAllen, TX 78501
Monday, April 20, 2020
Copyright 2020 Archer Crosley All Rights Reserved
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