Editor’s note: This commentary is by Jim Reagen, a retiree who has lived and worked in Vermont for 20 years.
A coronavirus has been unleashed and so far as killed almost 350,000 people worldwide out of a population of 7.8 billion, which makes for a population-wide fatality rate of 0.0042%. We know that of those who died, the majority — roughly 81% — were over 65 years old, while those under age 65 had a risk of dying from COVID that ranged from virtually none at all (an infection fatality rate (IFR) of only 0.007% for those under 35) to perhaps as much as that of a bad flu (0.2% IFR for those age 35-65). We knew this early on from data from China and Italy, and this age stratification for COVID fatality has been demonstrated repeatedly in country after country.
Why, then, did most states decide to lock down when all they had to do, at much less cost to the social fabric and economic life and individual liberty, was to protect those over 65 and the frail, a population easily identified? Vermonters would’ve stepped up to the plate to ensure the safety of that population if we’d been informed from the very start — as we were not — that those under age 35 have virtually no risk of dying from COVID and that we needed to focus on the high-risk group.
The fact that we didn’t take a targeted approach to COVID, such as advocated by Dr. David Katz, or listen to a world-renowned expert on the use of scientific data, Dr. John Ioannidis, when he warned that our response to COVID was far disproportionate to the necessities for containing infection, has led to conspiracy theories that found fertile ground: This was a virus manufactured and released by China; this is part of Agenda 21; fear and panic are being created so that we’ll willingly submit to a surveillance state; the goal is population control through mandatory vaccination, etc.
My opinion is that it’s better to be a bit paranoid than it is to be complacent: freedom requires vigilance. Along with the unjustified fear — if you’re under age 35 you have virtually no chance of dying from COVID — is a general unconcern among many for rampant trampling on the rights to assemble and travel freely and to earn a livelihood. We say that we recognize these violations of liberties but that they’re excusable necessities and only temporary.
But who said these were necessary? The facts don’t tell us this. The facts tell us, clearly and plainly, that the only thing we had to do, the one thing we had to do, the only thing that was truly necessary, was to protect the age group most vulnerable, and this could have been easily accomplished with coordinated efforts by state and local officials with the help of the many volunteers who would’ve answered the call.
Voices of reason and calm have been shunted aside and even censored, while forces of panic, such as the wildly ambitious and negligently inaccurate modeling of Professor Neil Ferguson, gained the day. A preventative early treatment for COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine, was dismissed by Dr. Fauci even as it was highly recommended by several physicians; No initial studies, which could have saved hundreds if not thousands of lives, were forthcoming, and New York Gov. Cuomo even restricted physician access to the drug.
All of this is “odd.” None of this is reasonable or sensible.
In any case, we must prepare for all eventualities. We should prepare so that if there is indeed some sort of effort to surveil and control the population, then this will be countered with measures that are reasonable. Here’s what we should do:
1. Immediately plan for measures to protect the age group over 65 from COVID-19, but under no circumstances should measures be forced on this population. These measures might include food and medicine delivery by volunteers who follow guidelines, in-family guidelines for households with elderly, and public measures such as six-foot courtesy distancing guidelines when encountering anyone wearing a face mask. We could also suggest common-sense nutritional guidelines such as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, known to boost the immune system.
2. Communicate the truth to the public: If you are under 65 years old, you have low risk of dying from COVID-19, a risk that for those under 35 is about 10 times less than that for the flu. That doesn’t mean that those under 65 shouldn’t take precautions as they see fit, but it does mean that government mandates directed to protect those under 65 are wholly unnecessary. Children are remarkably safe from this disease to the extent that Sweden left primary schools open.
3. End the lockdown and restore the full functioning of society with no restrictions. Unfortunately fear has gripped the country, but with continued presentation of the facts the public can be made to understand that the fear that’s been stirred up is unwarranted.
4. Immediately test hydroxychloroquine according to the protocol laid out by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Working Group, comprised of eight physicians who testify that COVID mortality is greatly reduced with this early intervention. The protocol can be found here.
5. Enact a law that Vermont will never submit to forced vaccination. This is a precautionary measure that will go some way to ensure that the vast biomedical capacities being developed at an astounding pace, with ever-increasing miniaturization, are not used against the population. If such measures are ever attempted against the population, then the right to refuse with no penalties would be in place. Such a law would accord with the principle of informed consent to medication and is necessary given grave injustices that ensued from historical violations of that principle. Supposed medical necessity should never be used to enforce restrictive policies on an entire population, such as we see happening now. Truly beneficial and safe policies will receive widespread voluntary compliance.
6. As there are many questions regarding the origin of the novel coronavirus since it includes elements never before seen in any virus, a moratorium on research and an independent inquiry into the necessity of producing viruses with “gain of function” capacities should be initiated. Gain of function research involves looking for ways to make viruses more lethal and/or more contagious, and this type of research has been going on throughout the world, including at the high-security biologics lab at Wuhan.