Trying to reach herd immunity is ‘unethical’ and unprecedented, WHO head says

The head of the World Health Organization said Monday that allowing the novel coronavirus to spread in an attempt to reach herd immunity was “simply unethical.”

The remark was a sharp rebuke of the approach amid mounting new infections around the world. Recent days have seen the most rapid rise in cases since the pandemic began in March.

“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a Monday media briefing. “It is scientifically and ethically problematic.”

In a public health context, herd immunity typically describes a scenario in which a large enough share of the population is vaccinated against a disease to prevent it from spreading widely, thereby providing default protection to a minority of people who have not been vaccinated.

But as there is still no vaccine for the coronavirus, achieving herd immunity in the current environment would require a large number of people to contract the virus, survive covid-19, and then produce sufficient antibodies to provide long-term protection.

While the scientific community has roundly rejected herd immunity the approach, public interest in it has waxed and waned amid pressure to reopen schools and economies.

Last month, President Trump appeared to praise the idea during a town hall in Pennsylvania.

“You’ll develop herd — like a herd mentality,” he said. “It’s going to be — it’s going to be herd developed — and that’s going to happen.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government initially expressed interest in the theory before backtracking amid public outcry over the dangers of letting the virus spread. Johnson himself was hospitalized with a severe case of covid-19, which he said could have killed him.

Tedros, noting that there had been “some discussion” about the concept recently, told reporters Monday that allowing people to be exposed to a deadly virus whose effects are still not fully known was “not an option.”

“Most people who are infected with the virus that causes covid-19 develop an immune response within the first few weeks, but we don’t know how strong or lasting that immune response is, or how it differs for different people,” he said.

Though rare, there are multiple documented instances of people being infected for a second time after recovering from covid-19. An 89-year-old woman in the Netherlands died after being infected with the coronavirus for a second time, Dutch news reported Monday.

Antibody studies suggest that less than 10 percent of people in most countries have contracted covid-19, Tedros said, which is nowhere near the majority that would be needed for herd immunity.

With the “vast majority” of the world’s population susceptible, letting the virus spread “means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death,” he said.

Just in the last four days, Tedros said Monday, the global coronavirus count has continued to break its daily record for the number of new confirmed infections.

“Many cities and countries are also reporting an increase in hospitalizations and intensive care bed occupancy,” he added.

Tedros has urged governments to pursue comprehensive plans that include widespread testing, social distancing, and other preventive measures, such as face-mask wearing, alongside a global push to develop a vaccine. The WHO is spearheading an effort to distribute coronavirus vaccines equitably once they are available, which Trump declined to join.

Importance of Honesty and Ethics in our Communities

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Kenyan runner Abel Mutai was just a few feet from the finish line, but became confused with the signage and stopped, thinking he had completed the race. A Spanish runner, Ivan Fernandez, was right behind him and, realizing what was happening, started shouting at the Kenyan to continue running. Mutai didn’t know Spanish and didn’t understand.
Realizing what was taking place, Fernandez pushed Mutai to victory.
A journalist asked Ivan, “Why did you do that?” Ivan replied,
“My dream is that someday we can have a kind of community life where we push and help each other to win.”
The journalist insisted “But why did you let the Kenyan win?” Ivan replied, “I didn’t let him win, he was going to win. The race was his.” The journalist insisted, and again asked, “But you could have won!”
Ivan looked at him and replied,
“But what would be the merit of my victory?
What would be the honor in that medal?
What would my Mother think of that?”
Values are passed on from generation to generation.
This election year, what values are we teaching our children?
Let us not teach our kids the wrong ways and means to WIN.
Instead, let us pass on the beauty and humanity of a helping hand.
Because honesty and ethics are WINNING!

The right to vote is not in the Constitution

https://theconversation.com/the-right-to-vote-is-not-in-the-constitution-144531?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2026%202020%20-%201713516549&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2026%202020%20-%201713516549+Version+A+CID_ca860340297de2ef2c2c85020b74576b&utm_source=campaign_monitor_us&utm_term=The%20right%20to%20vote%20is%20not%20in%20the%20Constitution

Why The Right To Vote Is Not Enshrined In The Constitution by Sean ...

If you’re looking for the right to vote, you won’t find it in the United States Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights recognizes the core rights of citizens in a democracy, including freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly. It then recognizes several insurance policies against an abusive government that would attempt to limit these liberties: weapons; the privacy of houses and personal informationprotections against false criminal prosecution or repressive civil trials; and limits on excessive punishments by the government.

But the framers of the Constitution never mentioned a right to vote. They didn’t forget – they intentionally left it out. To put it most simply, the founders didn’t trust ordinary citizens to endorse the rights of others.

They were creating a radical experiment in self-government paired with the protection of individual rights that are often resented by the majority. As a result, they did not lay out an inherent right to vote because they feared rule by the masses would mean the destruction of – not better protection for – all the other rights the Constitution and Bill of Rights uphold. Instead, they highlighted other core rights over the vote, creating a tension that remains today.

James Madison of Virginia. White House Historical Association/Wikimedia Commons

Relying on the elite to protect minority rights

Many of the rights the founders enumerated protect small groups from the power of the majority – for instance, those who would say or publish unpopular statements, or practice unpopular religions, or hold more property than others. James Madison, a principal architect of the U.S. Constitution and the drafter of the Bill of Rights, was an intellectual and landowner who saw the two as strongly linked.

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Madison expressed the prevailing view that “the freeholders of the country would be the safest depositories of republican liberty,” meaning only people who owned land debt-free, without mortgages, would be able to vote. The Constitution left voting rules to individual states, which had long-standing laws limiting the vote to those freeholders.

In the debates over the ratification of the Constitution, Madison trumpeted a benefit of the new system: the “total exclusion of the people in their collective capacity.” Even as the nation shifted toward broader inclusion in politics, Madison maintained his view that rights were fragile and ordinary people untrustworthy. In his 70s, he opposed the expansion of the franchise to nonlanded citizens when it was considered at Virginia’s Constitutional Convention in 1829, emphasizing that “the great danger is that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the Minority.”

The founders believed that freedoms and rights would require the protection of an educated elite group of citizens, against an intolerant majority. They understood that protected rights and mass voting could be contradictory.

Scholarship in political science backs up many of the founders’ assessments. One of the field’s clear findings is that elites support the protection of minority rights far more than ordinary citizens do. Research has also shown that ordinary Americans are remarkably ignorant of public policies and politicians, lacking even basic political knowledge.

Is there a right to vote?

What Americans think of as the right to vote doesn’t reside in the Constitution, but results from broad shifts in American public beliefs during the early 1800s. The new states that entered the union after the original 13 – beginning with Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee – did not limit voting to property owners. Many of the new state constitutions also explicitly recognized voting rights.

As the nation grew, the idea of universal white male suffrage – championed by the commoner-President Andrew Jackson – became an article of popular faith, if not a constitutional right.

After the Civil War, the 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, guaranteed that the right to vote would not be denied on account of race: If some white people could vote, so could similarly qualified nonwhite people. But that still didn’t recognize a right to vote – only the right of equal treatment. Similarly, the 19th Amendment, now 100 years old, banned voting discrimination on the basis of sex, but did not recognize an inherent right to vote.

A painting of Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson of Tennessee. Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl/Wikimedia Commons

Debates about voting rights

Today, the country remains engaged in a long-running debate about what counts as voter suppression versus what are legitimate limits or regulations on voting – like requiring voters to provide identification, barring felons from voting or removing infrequent voters from the rolls.

These disputes often invoke an incorrect assumption – that voting is a constitutional right protected from the nation’s birth. The national debate over representation and rights is the product of a long-run movement toward mass voting paired with the longstanding fear of its results.

The nation has evolved from being led by an elitist set of beliefs toward a much more universal and inclusive set of assumptions. But the founders’ fears are still coming true: Levels of support for the rights of opposing parties or people of other religions are strikingly weak in the U.S. as well as around the world.

Many Americans support their own rights to free speech but want to suppress the speech of those with whom they disagree.

Americans may have come to believe in a universal vote, but that value does not come from the Constitution, which saw a different path to the protection of rights.

 

 

 

 

Current State of the Union

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/gabrielsanchez/huge-crowds-protest-coronavirus-trump-coronavirus-pandemic?fbclid=IwAR0abgB9Wpv2WAOhNgdYhQgNU6W6h1NnqoVcxxye4QTRBwQaSEsxzeIXyho

These Pictures Show Crowds Protesting Against Coronavirus Lockdowns At State Capitols

Conservative demonstrators gathered at the capitol buildings of Michigan, Kentucky, and North Carolina to protest against stay-at-home orders during a pandemic that has already left more than 26,000 Americans dead.

 

Healthcare Front Line Workers Counter-protest in Denver

https://www.trendsmap.com/twitter/tweet/1251984156998975492

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

🇯🇲Black🇭🇹Aziz🇳🇬aNANsi🇹🇹's tweet - "Health care workers ...

Scott Loy on Twitter: "Nurses blocking cars in Downtown Denver to ...

keyvan (کیوان) 🌹's tweet - "More below. Photos by Alyson McClaran ...

 

 

 

This says it all from a Nurse in Michigan

Image may contain: 1 person

“I am posting, for once, about something other than my dog.

I have seen 4 patients die, 5 get intubated, 2 re-intubated, witnessed family consent to make 2 more patients DNRs, sweat my butt off during CPR, titrated so many drips to no avail, watched vent settings increase to no avail. We are exhausted and at a total loss.

All of this in two shifts in a row.

Some of you people have never done EVERYTHING you could to save someone, and watched them die anyway, and it shows.

I would have no problem if you fools worried about your “freedom” all went out and got COVID. If only you could sign a form stating that you revoke your right to have medical treatment based on your cavalier antics and refusal to abide by CDC and medical professionals’ advice. If you were the only people who got infected during your escapades to protest tyranny, great. But that’s sadly not how this works.

You wanna complain because the garden aisle is closed? If you knew a thing about gardening, you’d know it’s too early to plant in Michigan. Your garden doesn’t matter. If killing your plants would bring back my patients, I would pillage the shit out of your “essential” garden beds.

Upset because you can’t go boating…in Michigan…in April…in the cold-ass water? You wanna tell my patient’s daughter (who was sobbing as she said goodbye to her father over the phone) about your first-world problems?

Upset because you can’t go to your cottage up north? Your cottage…your second property…used for leisure. My coworkers can’t even stay in their regular homes. Most have been staying in hotels and dorms, not able to see their spouses or babies.

All of these posts, petitions online to evade “tyranny”, it’s all such bullshit. I’m sorry you’re bored and have nothing to do but bitch and moan. You wanna pick up a couple hours for me? Yeah, didn’t think so. I wouldn’t trust most of you with patient care, anyway. Not just because of the selfish lack of humanity your posts exude, but because most of those posts and petitions are so riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors, that it makes me question your cognitive capacity.

Shoutout to my coworkers, the real MVPs.”

 

The Grim Truth About the “Swedish Model”

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/swedish-coronavirus-no-lockdown-model-proves-lethal-by-hans-bergstrom-2020-04?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5b31132e51-sunday_newsletter_19_04_2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-5b31132e51-105592221&mc_cid=5b31132e51&mc_eid=5f214075f8

QOSHE - The Grim Truth About the “Swedish Model” - Hans Bergstrom

As the coronavirus pandemic has swept the planet, Sweden has stood out among Western democracies by pursuing a “low-scale” lockdown. Whether this approach speaks to a unique strength of Swedish society, as opposed to bad judgment, can be determined by comparing Sweden’s COVID-19 rate with its neighbors’.

STOCKHOLM – Does Sweden’s decision to spurn a national lockdown offer a distinct way to fight COVID-19 while maintaining an open society? The country’s unorthodox response to the coronavirus is popular at home and has won praise in some quarters abroad. But it also has contributed to one of the world’s highest COVID-19 death rates, exceeding that of the United States.

In Stockholm, bars and restaurants are filled with people enjoying the spring sun after a long, dark winter. Schools and gyms are open. Swedish officials have offered public-health advice but have imposed few sanctions. No official guidelines recommend that people wear masks.

During the pandemic’s early stages, the government and most commentators proudly embraced this “Swedish model,” claiming that it was built on Swedes’ uniquely high levels of “trust” in institutions and in one another. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven made a point of appealing to Swedes’ self-discipline, expecting them to act responsibly without requiring orders from authorities.

According to the World Values Survey, Swedes do tend to display a unique combination of trust in public institutions and extreme individualism. As sociologist Lars Trägårdh has put it, every Swede carries his own policeman on his shoulder.

But let’s not turn causality on its head. The government did not consciously design a Swedish model for confronting the pandemic based on trust in the population’s ingrained sense of civic responsibility. Rather, actions were shaped by bureaucrats and then defended after the fact as a testament to Swedish virtue.

In practice, the core task of managing the outbreak fell to a single man: state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell at the National Institute of Public Health. Tegnell approached the crisis with his own set of strong convictions about the virus, believing that it would not spread from China, and later, that it would be enough to trace individual cases coming from abroad. Hence, the thousands of Swedish families returning from late-February skiing in the Italian Alps were strongly advised to return to work and school if not visibly sick, even if family members were infected. Tegnell argued that there were no signs of community transmission in Sweden, and therefore no need for more general mitigation measures. Despite Italy’s experience, Swedish ski resorts remained open for vacationing and partying Stockholmers.

Between the lines, Tegnell indicated that eschewing draconian policies to stop the spread of the virus would enable Sweden gradually to achieve herd immunity. This strategy, he stressed, would be more sustainable for society.

Through it all, Sweden’s government remained passive. That partly reflects a unique feature of the country’s political system: a strong separation of powers between central government ministries and independent agencies. And, in “the fog of war,” it was also convenient for Löfven to let Tegnell’s agency take charge. Its seeming confidence in what it was doing enabled the government to offload responsibility during weeks of uncertainty. Moreover, Löfven likely wanted to demonstrate his trust in “science and facts,” by not – like US President Donald Trump – challenging his experts.

It should be noted, though, that the state epidemiologist’s policy choice has been strongly criticized by independent experts in Sweden. Some 22 of the country’s most prominent professors in infectious diseases and epidemiology published a commentary in Dagens Nyheter calling on Tegnell to resign and appealing to the government to take a different course of action.

By mid-March, and with wide community spread, Löfven was forced to take a more active role. Since then, the government has been playing catch-up. From March 29, it prohibited public gatherings of more than 50 people, down from 500, and added sanctions for noncompliance. Then, from April 1, it barred visits to nursing homes, after it had become clear that the virus had hit around half of Stockholm’s facilities for the elderly.

Sweden’s approach turned out to be misguided for at least three reasons. However virtuous Swedes may be, there will always be free riders in any society, and when it comes to a highly contagious disease, it doesn’t take many to cause major harm. Moreover, Swedish authorities only gradually became aware of the possibility of asymptomatic transmission, and that infected individuals are most contagious before they start showing symptoms. And, third, the composition of the Swedish population has changed.

After years of extremely high immigration from Africa and the Middle East, 25% of Sweden’s population – 2.6 million of a total population of 10.2 million – is of recent non-Swedish descent. The share is even higher in the Stockholm region. Immigrants from Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan are highly overrepresented among COVID-19 deaths. This has been attributed partly to a lack of information in immigrants’ languages. But a more important factor seems to be the housing density in some immigrant-heavy suburbs, enhanced by closer physical proximity between generations.

It is too soon for a full reckoning of the effects of the “Swedish model.” The COVID-19 death rate is nine times higher than in Finland, nearly five times higher than in Norway, and more than twice as high as in Denmark. To some degree, the numbers might reflect Sweden’s much larger immigrant population, but the stark disparities with its Nordic neighbors are nonetheless striking. Denmark, Norway, and Finland all imposed rigid lockdown policies early on, with strong, active political leadership.

Now that COVID-19 is running rampant through nursing homes and other communities, the Swedish government has had to backpedal. Others who may be tempted by the “Swedish model” should understand that a defining feature of it is a higher death toll.