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Tags: covid

The Missing Factor in the War Against Coronavirus

coronavirus quarantine


Tawfik Hamid By Monday, 30 March 2020 10:53 AM Current | Bio | Archive

During a pandemic such as COVID-19, it is vital to be able to make wise and prudent decisions about how to deal with this global threat effectively.

For example, many countries have used draconian measures such as locking down cities, ordering people to stay home and shutting all schools. The role model for their approach seems to be the Chinese government’s locking down the city of Wuhan.

Such an approach might appear wise on the surface, but digging more deeply into the situation reveals other dimensions that could be more effective in containing and fighting the coronavirus.

First, it now appears that the Wuhan experiment, was successful likely because it involved the use of Chloroquine rather than simply the ‘extreme lockdown measures.

The South Korean government, for example, used a less-toxic chloroquine derivative and extensive testing program to achieve better results than the Chinese without resorting to extreme lockdown measures. The former, or South Korea, has now a Death Rate of approximately 3% compared to China that have approximately 4.5%.

Second, severely restricting people to their homes, impedes the ability of individual immune systems to adapt to the virus gradually and develop natural immunity, typically called adaptive immunity, which develops after repeated but minor exposures to the viral antigens in daily life.

We are seeing illustrative examples of the lack of this strategy in Italy and Spain.

The United Kingdom, meanwhile, delayed enacting extreme measures to confine people to their homes, even though the British government was pressured by EU countries such as France to impose strict measures. The U.K. instead tried a period of delay in implementing quarantines to allow what is called “herd” immunity. That delay could partially explain the country’s lower deaths-per-million rate from COVID-19 (18) compared to Italy (166) and Spain (140), which instituted quarantines immediately and did not allow time for herd immunity to develop.

It is important in this context to mention that all three countries discovered their first case of the virus at nearly same time (Jan 30).

Sweden is another example to illustrate the above point. Sweden refused to use the "lock-down" approach to fight corona. Their death rate per million today is relatively very low (11%) compared to other European nations that initiated the lock-down approach at a very early stage.

Based on this emerging evidence, it seems less than wise that the countries implementing the most draconian stay-at-home measures did so before collecting even the most anecdotal data about the dynamics of the disease.

Such data could include, for example, infection rates of individuals who work in places with excessive personal contact on a daily basis — was there an increase in the rate of sick leave and death in the previous month compared to the normal population?

If working in places with excessive personal contact is associated with a significant increase coronavirus-related fatalities, then the stay-at-home approach could possibly be the best approach to fighting the disease. But if those same individuals showed a lower percentage of fatalities related to Coronavirus, then the use of strict quarantines would be both irrational and unscientific.

Such data could have been collected quickly and easily by observing COVID-19 caseloads originating from, for example, each nation’s supermarkets and pharmacies. Here, in the United States, even one major supermarket such as Costco employs more than 200,000 people.

Yet many politicians and media commentators continue to push for confining our citizens to their homes to "avoid being like Italy," despite the fact that Italy’s measures have resulted in failure. It’s the same story in Spain, which followed the same approach.

Basic wisdom tells us, then, that if we want to avoid being like Italy then we do not want to duplicate Italy’s approach to the pandemic.

It now seems clear that Italy’s and Spain’s duplication of measures used in China and South Korea – locking down cities – without the additional step of employing chloroquine or one of its derivatives to treat the disease has resulted in disaster.

Additionally, statistical evidence shows that, the countries that initially avoided quarantines and refused to shut their schools — such as Australia and Singapore — have permitted immunities to develop. Death rates in Australia and Singapore remain at approximately 0.5 per million.

President Donald Trump has been criticized in Time magazine for supposedly delaying strong actions against the coronavirus pandemic, even though he quickly shut down flights to the United States arriving from China.

But Trump’s delay in recommending stay-at-home measures could explain the country’s relatively low number of deaths (around 5 cases per million) compared to Italy’s and Spain’s.

Another observation, which fits comfortably with the adaptive immunity analysis, involves the Idaho, considered one of the latest states to order a statewide closure of its public schools.

As of today it enjoys one of the lowest infection rates by the virus in the country.

Compare this to New York, which began closing its schools March 15 and today suffers the highest death toll in the United States due to coronavirus infections. On March 15, New York had reported only 729 cases, while today’s toll totals more than 52,000 active cases and more than 800 deaths.

It is important to mention that Governor Andrew Cuomo admitted last Thursday that his sweeping, statewide quarantine orders might not have been the most effective strategy to combat the coronavirus. "We closed everything down," he said. "That was our public health strategy."

Cuomo added, "If you re-thought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say, 'quarantine everyone.' I don’t even know that that was the best public health policy."

He mentioned the particular problem of quarantining young people with older people, thereby forcing proximity to possible asymptomatic carriers of the disease. His newly reflective comments fit more comfortably with the laws of nature and the concept of gradual development of adaptive immunity.

To conclude, the missing factor so far in dealing with the coronal pandemic seems to be a simple word: wisdom.

Dr. Tawfik Hamid (aka Tarek Abdelhamid) M.D.; Mlitt (Edu) has testified before Congress and before the European Parliament. Dr. Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad: How Radical Islam Works, Why It Should Terrify Us, How to Defeat It." Read more reports from Tawfik Hamid — Click Here Now.

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Trump’s delay in recommending stay-at-home measures could explain the country’s relatively low number of deaths (around 5 cases per million) compared to Italy’s and Spain’s.
Monday, 30 March 2020 10:53 AM
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