Kevin Bae

Non-Social in a Socially Networked World

World Governments are attacking the COVID-19 pandemic in the wrong way

When this all started the mixed messages didn’t make sense to me. The media was screaming like Chicken Little that the sky was falling while at the same time, and most times in the same story, telling us that more than 80% of the infected will have little to mild symptoms with only the elderly and those with compromised immune systems at serious risk. In other words, there really isn’t much to worry about for most of the population of the world.

The virus was most likely in circulation way before December of 2019 when news reports started talking about deaths from this virus in China. That’s the earliest we know about this virus and that information depends on China being open an honest about what happened in their country. People from Wuhan have traveled all over the globe and most likely spread the virus far and wide. It’s out there and it can’t be stopped.

But can COVID-19 really be contained? COVID-19 stopped following the SARS script weeks ago and appears similar to many respiratory viruses. COVID-19, along with the four “common cold” coronaviruses, spread easily from person to person with mild disease, and sometimes from people before they develop symptoms. It is practically impossible to contain a virus that readily spreads early in the course of infection and circulates in the community. The highest concentration, and therefore transmissibility, of COVID-19 in nasal secretions peaks in the first few days of infection. SARS was different: it was transmitted most efficiently in the late stages of the infection. Therefore, using the SARS model to identify patients with the symptoms of COVID-19 is bound to fail. Moreover, it’s hard to pick out COVID-19 cases from those caused by other respiratory viruses also seen at this time of year. Testing and tracking down contacts is ultimately futile for this virus, as it devotes enormous resources to finding cases that are largely mild and spontaneously resolving.

The logical thing to do if we are looking to minimize harm to the largest part of the population it makes sense for those at most risk to practice great care to minimize their exposure. Not those that most likely won’t die.

We should instead be targeting significant resources toward the protection of those at highest risk (the elderly, those with underlying chronic diseases and those with immune-compromising conditions) and maintaining a healthy, robust, responsive health-care system that can handle a potential surge. The economic and social costs of pursuing quarantine are staggering and actually counter-productive.

We are doing more harm than good. We are ruining economic lives over a virus that isn’t all that lethal. More people die every day by other causes that are just as virulent or that happen through accidents yet we have never taken such drastic measures to protect lives of the “vulnerable”. None of this makes logical sense and we’re giving up too much of our personal liberty and property.