No testing, no treatment, no herd immunity, no easy way out

No testing, no treatment, no herd immunity, no easy way out

Yascha Mounk writes:

The past few months have been bleak. Every day has brought word of new casualties from the coronavirus. The world economy entered free fall. And even for those who do not have a sick relative or a mortgage that can’t be paid, the isolation imposed by social distancing has begun to take a heavy psychological toll.

In these circumstances, I—and, I imagine, many others—couldn’t resist latching onto any piece of news that promised quick deliverance from the pandemic. I scoured the papers for positive stories. And I found at least three reasons to hope that the suffering the virus imposed might end sooner than the most pessimistic experts warned.

First, because some people who have COVID-19 don’t seem to show any symptoms, I wondered whether the disease might be far more widespread than the initial data suggested, raising the prospect of the United States’ reaching herd immunity without mass casualties. Second, reports that some existing drugs might prove effective against the disease led me to hope that doctors could soon be in a much better position to heal patients who contract the virus. And third, because some foreign governments have seemed successful in containing the virus through ambitious test-and-trace programs, I thought the United States might find a way to open up its economy without inducing a large resurgence of cases.

There was real reason to indulge in each of these hopes. But in the past several days, a series of developments have undermined the factual basis for all of them. So I am, finally, starting to reconcile myself to a darker reality: The miracle of deliverance is not in sight. [Continue reading…]

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