“#Public-health ‘professionals’ keep showing how unprofessional they really are”
These experts hardly blinked at the economic losses. They and their media allies raged at anyone who questioned them for putting dollars ahead of lives. Now these same experts are doing a 180-degree turn, saying the threat of the virus is less important than big marches against racial injustice. This, even though they admit the marches will lead to more infections. Hypocrites.
Public-health academics from the University of Washington, which created the virus-forecasting model widely used by governors and the president’s task force, are circulating a public letter declaring the marches a higher priority than containing the virus.
“This should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders,” the UW health experts add. Translation: No funerals for your loved ones, no congregating for causes of your own choosing. Only theirs.
This isn’t science. This is political advocacy. Similarly, Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist, now claims the dangers of “systemic racism” exceed “the harms of the virus.” Sorry, professor, but that makes you a pundit, not someone to call the shots on ending a pandemic.
Remember that most public-health experts didn’t have to give up their paychecks during the lockdown. Otherwise, they would have considered alternatives that spared most jobs and business failures. Vast swaths of the United States that had almost no infections were shut down, including upstate counties in New York.
Economists from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University have shown how a geographically targeted approach even within New York City could have lessened the economic toll by more than one-third and spared areas like Staten Island. If the virus resurges in the fall, that approach could allow 87 percent of city businesses to stay open.
A study published Monday in the journal Nature purports to show 60 million infections in the United States were prevented with these lockdowns. The Washington Post incorrectly calls that proof “the aggressive and unprecedented shutdowns” were the right approach.
Nonsense. The Nature study never considers how many infections could have been prevented with less draconian measures, for example, by isolating the elderly and infirm and allowing the rest of us to carry on. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo did the exact opposite, forcing nursing homes to take COVID-19 patients while imposing a vast lockdown on healthier residents for far longer than necessary.
Sadly, science is losing its luster as the profession puts politics ahead of the truth. Last week, two prestigious medical journals, The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine, which until recently set the gold standard for scientific publications, had to retract articles they had published on hydroxychloroquine.
Both had dispensed with rigorous peer review to rush out articles purporting to show that President Trump’s favored COVID-19 drug endangers patients. They were so eager to ridicule Trump they ended up discrediting themselves. Turns out the data in the articles were shaky.
No surprise. Lancet editors had published their own editorial a week earlier calling on voters to unseat Trump in November. As if a British medical journal should even have a position on US elections.
Americans have learned a powerful lesson. When politicians tell us to follow the science, it’s not that simple. Many scientists have lost their legitimacy.
They proposed a draconian lockdown without assessing its side effects on the rest of us. They demanded rigorous adherence to it, until suddenly they decided marching against racism was more important than preventing virus deaths. Americans won’t forget.
Even guidelines for reopening are arbitrary, reflecting these experts’ fickle priorities. New York City residents have to wait until late June for sidewalk dining at restaurants. But it’s OK, even laudable, for throngs of protesters to march down the street now, many maskless and shouting.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York, the chairwoman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and author of the forthcoming book “The Next Pandemic.”
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