As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rightly dominates the world’s attention, it gives us a moment to step back and examine our two-year crisis with Covid-19 and signs that we are finally entering a new phase.
Nearly one million lives have been lost, with the numbers continuing to rise. Secondary casualties from terrible government policies will be with us for decades. Countless lives could have been saved with more targeted policies.
President Biden began the new year in frustration, “Look, there is no federal solution,” he said, according to a transcript of a conversation he had with a group of governors, adding, “This gets solved at a state level.”
But that didn’t stop powerful public health leaders and others in Washington from using the massive power of the federal government to impose top-down edicts, including vaccine mandates and oppressive CDC restrictions.
It is a fool’s errand to try to contain the virus. Doug Badger and others who closely follow government Covid policies have been saying for nearly two years that the best strategy is to focus on the most vulnerable and target resources where they can make the most difference.
This was the key point that Hoover Institution health policy expert Dr. Scott Atlas repeatedly stressed during his tenure in the White House, facing strong resistance from Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx which he candidly details in his book, “A Plague Upon Our House,” that I highly recommend.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was an early leader in recognizing the importance of targeted approaches, including focused protection of the most vulnerable, keeping the economy open, and deploying mobile anti-viral treatment vans.
The Supreme Court also put the brakes on the Biden administration’s burdensome and unconstitutional employer vaccine mandate, but unfortunately it allowed the mandate to stand for health care workers—leading to massive shortages of medical personnel as the country faced the height of the Omicron wave.
And President Biden’s top outside pandemic advisers finally acknowledged we are going to have to learn to live with the virus in JAMA articles describing “A National Strategy for the New Normal.”
“Policy makers need to specify the goals and strategies for the ‘new normal’ of life with COVID-19 and communicate them clearly to the public,” they wrote. That means ending the perpetual state of emergency and beginning to live with the virus, as we do with the flu, and dramatically improving public health responses.
Reality is setting in that the administration’s myopic compulsion to vaccinate every American is also misguided and even unscientific as data show those who are vaccinated are also spreading the virus and continuing to get Covid.
European countries are dropping mask mandates and vaccine requirements and even opening their borders to travelers, including Australia where a modern form of concentration camps were built in that country’s futile effort to “Stop the Spread.”
But it’s a different story in our nation’s capital. Next week, President Biden will give his State of the Union address, in person for the first time. Washington is being turned into an armed camp, with chain link fences around the U.S. Capitol and 700 National Guard troops being brought in to “direct traffic” as a convoy of truckers is heading toward Washington to protest Covid restrictions.
The Great Barrington Declaration got it right from the beginning, yet public health officials like Dr. Fauci actively worked to discredit these brave and foresightful physicians and other leaders. “As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists,” they wrote, “we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.” 925,000 other signatories agreed.
Validating their predictions, life insurance companies are reporting soaring numbers of non-Covid deaths from people not getting treatments for cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and more.
“Industry executives and actuaries believe many of these other fatalities are tied to delays in medical care as a result of lockdowns in 2020, and then, later, people’s fears of seeking out treatment and trouble lining up appointments,” according to a Wall Street Journal report.
“The trade group American Council of Life Insurers said the pandemic in 2020 drove the biggest annual increase in death benefits paid by U.S. carriers since the 1918 influenza epidemic.”
And don’t get us started on masks. Virginia elected a new governor who quickly issued an executive order, later upheld in court, to give parents the option to mask their children—or not. Yet in other school districts around the country, children still are being forced to wear masks throughout the school day with little evidence they are protective—and forced to even sit outside on the ground in the cold to have lunch if they want to talk with their friends.
It is not surprising that Biden wants to move on. As Doug Badger said in a recent podcast with Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, “As a candidate, President Biden repeatedly said he was going to shut down the virus and repeatedly accused President Trump of being responsible for all of the COVID-related deaths.
“Well, of course, the two biggest waves of infection have occurred…during the Biden presidency. And more people have died with COVID on his watch than under President Trump,” Badger said.
Badger said Biden’s approach was basically to say that “Nothing was happening until I was president, and that I came along with this great vaccine.” It was as if the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed didn’t happen.
Doug explains that Biden “spent the first six months taking credit for declining cases, which I think as we all know now had more to do with the trajectory of the pathogen than with any policies of the White House. And then since then, he spent it blaming people, blaming other people for his resurgence. He was recently, again, calling this pandemic of the unvaccinated.
“We’ve had discordant policies on boosters, confusing messages on masking, on how long you should isolate with the virus. And, of course, in year three of the pandemic we’re about to enter, we still have a shortage of tests,” Badger said.
It’s time to move on. …To enhance treatment and protect the vulnerable. …To focus resources and attention on better preparedness and massively improved data collection. …To drop mandates, masks, and closures. …And to honestly assess the results of states with the strictest lockdowns and those with more focused responses.
Perhaps we can reflect on the wisdom of the Greek physician Galen of Pergamum (AD 129-e216) who was the first to conceive of the germ theory of disease and create what we today call a hospital to contain and treat the sick. Focused protection was right 2,000 years ago and remains so today.