With each passing day, we learn more about the coronavirus. And some studies suggest that the virus’s bark may be worse than its bite. Now that the initial panic is over, maybe it’s time to reappraise lockdown plans.
A recent Stanford University study found the Covid-19 infection rate is probably between 50 and 85 times higher than official figures had previously indicated. The study looked for antibodies in 3,330 people in Santa Clara County. Antibodies develop in the blood after someone has been infected with the coronavirus and cleared it. And a much greater proportion of Santa Clarans had them than official figures had at that point suggested.
If the findings — which have yet to be peer reviewed — are sound, then it takes yet another thick slice off the mortality rate of Covid-19. It would now be something under 0.14 percent, putting it on a par with, or even lower than, the seasonal flu. Hence the good news.
Dr John Lee, a British retired consultant pathologist, has been doggedly making the point that we simply do not know very much about the coronavirus. “An awful lot of what’s been presented as facts … is actually hypothesis, supposition and assumption … that’s come out of models about how the virus might behave,” he said on a recent television appearance. And since these models are based on flawed testing protocols and hugely variable data processing from different countries, politicians should not pretend to be on the side of science when sermonising to their nations.
“When the facts change, I change my mind,’’ as the great economist John Maynard Keynes put it. Those were words to live by. Politicians should not feel chained to one course of action for fear that deviating from it would embarrass them—this would be to cut off their nose to spite their face. The stakes are too high now to put political capital ahead of national interests.
‘and if you think that you can tell a better tale, I swear to God you have to tell a lie….’
– Tom Waits