By Tank Murdoch @TheNatSent
(TNS) We’re not scientists or epidemiologists around here and we’ll be the first to admit it.
But we do have some expertise in public policy and we’ve never believed for a moment that tanking the entire U.S. economy with a perpetual lockdown of society over coronavirus was the right approach, either.
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There are ways to keep businesses open and keep the economy sustained while we fight the spread of the virus, such as implementing temperature checks at the door and limiting crowd sizes.
That said, President Donald Trump appears increasingly to agree that closing the country is not simply unnecessary but completely unsustainable.
We caught a glimpse into his thinking when he tweeted earlier this week that whatever strategy we take, we shouldn’t make “the cure worse than the disease.”
Now, it appears as though a team of Harvard University researchers agrees that a prolonged shutdown of the country isn’t the right strategy either and that we can just as effectively fight against the spread of the virus (while treating those sickened by it) with more targeted, short-term actions:
The Daily Wire notes:
A new pre-print study by a team of Harvard researchers concludes that the idea of a single prolonged lockdown — which many are calling for in the U.S. — is not the most effective or sustainable way to curb the coronavirus epidemic. A more viable, long-term approach is to carry out a series of shorter “intermittent” lockdowns triggered by certain medical care capacity thresholds.
A team of researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health posted the study, titled “Social distancing strategies for curbing the COVID-19 epidemic,” Tuesday on the medRxive pre-print server. The study, as underscored by ZDNet’s Tiernan Ray, is yet to be peer-reviewed.
The study’s key finding is that multiple, more targeted social distancing measures would be more effective than one prolonged “lockdown.”
That approach, as Ray explains, would balance the “herd immunity” strategy with the social distancing strategy, allowing society at large to build up immunity while occasionally imposing more drastic social distancing measures, like “stay-at-home” orders, to protect the health care system from being overwhelmed when it reaches certain predetermined thresholds.
“The SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] pandemic is straining healthcare resources worldwide, prompting social distancing measures to reduce transmission intensity,” reads the abstract of the study, written by Harvard’s Stephen Iissler, Christine Tedijanto, Marc Lipsitch, and Yonatan Grad. “The amount of social distancing needed to curb the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in the context of seasonally varying transmission remains unclear.”
“Using a mathematical model, we assessed that one-time interventions will be insufficient to maintain COVID-19 prevalence within the critical care capacity of the United States,” the researchers noted further. “Seasonal variation in transmission will facilitate epidemic control during the summer months but could lead to an intense resurgence in the autumn.”
The key, the study concludes, is to engage in “intermittent distancing.”
That approach “can maintain control of the epidemic, but without other interventions, these measures may be necessary into 2022. Increasing critical care capacity could reduce the duration of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic while ensuring that critically ill patients receive appropriate care,” the authors noted further.
What kind of distancing?
The trigger point should be at a maximum of 37.5 cases per 10,000 adult people in the population, the authors advise.
“That threshold, they estimate, would keep the number of patients needing critical care at 0.89 persons for every 10,000 people in the population, which should be adequate to not overwhelm the health care system,” Ray explains.
“Widespread surveillance will be required to time the distancing measures correctly and avoid overshooting critical care capacity,” the researchers write.
And the best way to monitor infection rates are blood tests to determine who has contracted the virus and who has already developed immunity to it, the authors suggest.
Granted, it’s just one study and again, it has yet to be peer-reviewed. But it certainly seems reasonable.
Tanking the U.S. economy (which the entire planet is dependent upon) and throwing tens of millions of Americans out of work for a viral outbreak that is not living up to its hype and may even have been politicized.
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