Covid and the Illusion of Control

By: Phil Kerpen

Human beings, and especially our politicians, have a need to feel in control. Tough-guy governors preen about their control measures: lockdowns, closures, hyper-testing, contact tracing, and arbitrary micromanagement of citizens’ lives, families, and businesses. But the evidence that any of these measures have a meaningful effect on the coronavirus’s rise and fall in a given area is extremely sparse, while the lockdown-caused pain, suffering, and death is layered on top of the far lesser harms of the virus. The most draconian control measures have often come after the virus is already in decline in an area, at the moment of maximum political pain. And judging from the pandemic response in Europe, our leaders may be ineducable, repeating the same mistakes in the fall that they made in the spring. That is what makes this year’s fall and winter seasons uniquely dangerous.

SARS-CoV-2 is a serious viral pathogen for people who are very old or medically frail. It wreaks havoc in long-term care facilities — yet the places in the world with the highest death rates (Lombardy, Italy, the United Kingdom, New York, New Jersey, etc.) all implemented some version of deprioritizing residents of those facilities to keep hospital beds available for the general population.

For many people, however — and contrary to frequent misreporting — COVID is a relatively mild infection. For adults ages fifty to seventy, the CDC best estimate for the survival rate is 99.5 percent. From ages twenty to fifty, it is 99.98 percent, and for children and young adults under age twenty, according to the CDC, the survival rate is 99.997 percent — far less dangerous than seasonal influenza. Children rarely infect adults, and we now have several studies showing that exposure to young children actually reduces the risk of COVID death in adults, presumably because the many childhood bugs they carry help build up a strong immune system.

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