Epidemiologist says: Coronavirus could be ‘exterminated’ if lockdowns were lifted. Yet this argument begs questions.
Knut Wittkowski, previously the longtime head of the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at the Rockefeller University in New York City, said in an interview with the Press and the Public Project that the coronavirus could be “exterminated” if we permitted most people to lead normal lives and sheltered the most vulnerable parts of society until the danger had passed.
“[W]hat people are trying to do is flatten the curve. I don’t really know why. But, what happens is if you flatten the curve, you also prolong, to widen it, and it takes more time. And I don’t see a good reason for a respiratory disease to stay in the population longer than necessary,” he said.
“With all respiratory diseases, the only thing that stops the disease is herd immunity. About 80% of the people need to have had contact with the virus, and the majority of them won’t even have recognized that they were infected, or they had very, very mild symptoms, especially if they are children. So, it’s very important to keep the schools open and kids mingling to spread the virus to get herd immunity as fast as possible, and then the elderly people, who should be separated, and the nursing homes should be closed during that time, can come back and meet their children and grandchildren after about 4 weeks when the virus has been exterminated,” he added.
Wittkowski argued that the standard cycle of respiratory diseases is a two-week outbreak, including a peak, after which “it’s gone.” He pointed out that even in a regime of “social distancing,” the virus will still find ways to spread, just more slowly:
You cannot stop the spread of a respiratory disease within a family, and you cannot stop it from spreading with neighbors, with people who are delivering, who are physicians—anybody. People are social, and even in times of social distancing, they have contacts, and any of those contacts could spread the disease. It will go slowly, and so it will not build up herd immunity, but it will happen. And it will go on forever unless we let it go.
Asked about Anthony Fauci, the White House medical expert who for weeks has been predicting significant numbers of COVID-19 deaths in America as well as major ongoing disruptions to daily life possibly for years, Wittkowski replied: “Well, I’m not paid by the government, so I’m entitled to actually do science.”
Editor’s Comment: First, I must qualify myself: I am not an epidemiologist. I’m just mildly in love with the study of physiology and have been for years. I found myself intensely interested in a “Public Health” course.
The world is confronting too many questions. What Dr. Wittkoski presents is excellent theory but I question the numbers. At the rate of spread, which at this point is no longer doubling each week but more like every 3rd or 4th day, everyone in the entire world will have been touched by this virus before the middle of June 2020. While we’re playing politics with this it still leaves me wondering if we’re going to lose not 5% but more like 15% of the population.
Part of the reason is many people are too poor to nourish themselves well. Burn an entire article about Asian populations down to a sentence and there it is. The world’s poorest people who often live on eating garbage cannot survive this and they’ll wander around spreading it until they fall down dead in the street.
India is a primary example. The Brahman caste want nothing to do with the Dalit or Untouchable people.
Untouchable, also called Dalit, officially Scheduled Caste, formerly Harijan, in traditional Indian society, the former name for any member of a wide range of low-caste Hindu groups and any person outside the caste system.
The Dalit people are hired to pick up dead bodies, and dead animals, clean sewers, carry away garbage, and generally do the jobs no one else wants. The young women are often hired as sex workers. The children are hired like slaves or are enslaved for factory work or they work as beggars. Terrible crimes are perpetrated against these people who are simply not born within the ancient Hindu system. The top Braham class is considered to be related directly to Brahma (a god) and others below them are also more and more distant relatives. But the Dalit’s are not related. They are not human. They are not part of the Hindu social system and therefore are treated like intelligent pack animals.
In a horrible twist of this widespread social crime these people are going to take revenge by spreading this virus everywhere. More than probably the numbers we hear from India are nothing like reality. As in China the problem is much worse!
As the professor said: “You cannot stop the spread of a respiratory disease within a family, and you cannot stop it from spreading with neighbors, with people who are delivering, who are physicians—anybody.” It sounds to me that we should all expect to contract this illness and expect to lose a significant population.
Considering this, and that based upon statistics everyone will have been in contact with this virus within 60-days, it seems to me we do nothing to improve our situation by going back to cuddling up to one another to watch sporting events or buy food in an Asian market.
When I say “cuddling” you really don’t imagine what I mean unless you have lived in Asia. I have had women cut ahead of me in a line to a cashier because I wasn’t so close to the stranger ahead of me that I’d be rubbing her! They thought I wasn’t in line because I wasn’t nearly sexually harassing the stranger woman ahead of me! I think their “comfort zone” is a bit too slim. Point is, Asian populations climb into public transportation until you couldn’t wedge more people INTO the bus and then they climb on top and ride for miles until a policeman on a motor cycle forces them to stand or kneel inside the bus.
Thoughts about safety are avoided. The only interest is collecting more paying passengers. In a recent ride a young woman returning home from work on a rainy day used my arms and chest like a seat back and cuddled up to me like we were lovers. Of course some here would never but many will do whatever they must to get home NOW and at her stop she just got up without any word and ducked under the hand rails in a “taxi van” to leave. We were crammed in their like canned sardines.
We face a massive population of chronically sick people. In America and Europe many are older, over weight, smokers, drinkers, they eat what looks good, know nothing about nutrition and are desperately deficient in basic vitamins (particularly B and C). They also have digestive systems in constantly chronic distress.
All of this is going to lead to a compromised immune system and these patients will fall easy prey to this disease. Meanwhile, our morality insists that we want to help everyone until finally, as in Italy, doctors must apply the battle field rules. Who will be treated and who will be set along the side lines to die, based mostly upon the likelihood of their survival. The young will be spared, the sickly and older will be left to die.
There are far more questions; too many for me to attempt to dash off in a few minutes writing. But, it appears to me, the populations that are constantly checked for temperatures (12 times per day in South Korean cities and similarly in Singapore) are going to self-select. Those who are showing signs of illness will remain home where they may die. Those who are able to develop antibodies and survive this and survive a relapse and perhaps more than one relapse will come out stronger and continue with life.
It doesn’t matter what I say. It’s going to happen anyway! You have read twice here that this virus will spread. We can’t stop it. Even theologians are debating about this. My view is, those who love God will be protected if God wants them protected. The final Biblical book “Revelation” says eventually (like over the next 9 or 10 years, 2/3 of the world’s population will die as casualties of war, and of the follow-up of devastated social systems leading to desperate hunger and disease.
What should YOU do? I think if you can survive over the next 2-months by remaining at home and keeping all the cleanliness and social distancing rules, you should do so. After that time you’ll probably have developed anti-bodies and be better able to survive the future. HOWEVER, This virus is mutating and we may be hit with its mutations regularly over the next several years.
(This virus looks more and more like a doomsday weapon all the time and it will curse the people who paid to have it created! I think, by the time this episode is 5-years along China’s economy will be in very bad condition and most Western countries will have rebuilt their industry at home if only to punish China and withdraw from their misguided culture entirely!)
If you have young people around you, do the same with them. Keep them clean and keep them at home or at least away from crowds I’m guessing until mid Mid June. Everyone will be in contact with this virus. Many will feel a little sickly for 4 days and then recover. I don’t see good sense to throwing caution to the winds of fate and going out for a romp just because you’re bored at home. The boy at a spring break who intimated, ‘If I get it I get it and I’m going to enjoy spring break without caution’ tipifies the characters who are going to get sick with many diseases by many causes and will pass off the scene too young. If you know the experiences had by doctors without borders in Kyiv, Ukraine (AIDS killed masses of young people there) you understand what I’m saying.
Anything I have thought about, has also been considered by doctors in Israel, South Korea, Singapore, and The Philippines. Those doctors are on the front line working, and some are dying. If they tell you to remain home, just do it. If you have a patio and can go out onto your patio and sit in the sun far from other people, that’s great. Do that. If you can go on the patio and do some deep knee bends and hang the laundry and do some other lighter exercise, that’s a good idea.
Don’t cuddle up with all the 10,000 strangers at the markets. Remain at home. Watch the news and the calendar and expect this virus to burn through the population and eventually burn out, probably showing signs of that by mid or late summer of 2020.
Don’t sue me if I’m wrong. Just pray that I’m right.
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