Kevin Libin: We’re ready to be liberated from lockdowns, but politicians are scared stiff

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Summary: 

Care homes and the elderly should have been better protected all along, but controlling the spread of infection to protect “everyone” is entirely unrealistic, given this is a coronavirus that is highly contagious and takes days to present symptoms. Dr. Neil Rau, an infectious diseases specialist and medical microbiologist, says politicians are now trying to “contain the uncontainable.” So while staying locked up in pursuit of that unrealistic objective might keep flattening the curve — slowing the rate of spread, but not stopping it — it will flatten what’s left of our already devastated economy.

In fact, six weeks after the lockdown began, our hospitals are managing well, even sitting largely empty, as surgeries and other procedures were canceled (almost certainly causing other non-COVID deaths in the process). By the end of April, epidemiological modelling in Alberta had predicted a “probable” scenario of more than 400 people occupying hospital beds with COVID-19, and nearly 100 of those in intensive care. The province had reserved more than 2,000 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients just in case. The actual number of COVID-19 patients in hospital on April 30 was 90.

But while Sweden has been caricatured as reckless — it actually closed high schools and universities, but kept day schools, restaurants and bars open amid widespread testing, tracing and quarantining the sick — the reality may be that its more heavily locked-down neighbours are simply delaying the inevitable. They may ultimately see the same final death rate, spread over a much longer, more economically destructive period. Importantly, Sweden’s health-care system has managed to keep well within its capacity and the World Health Organization’s executive director of health emergencies, Mike Ryan, recently said Sweden was “a model if we wish to get back to a society in which we don’t have lockdowns.”

Date: 
Tuesday, May 5, 2020