by WorldTribune Staff, April 8, 2020
Coronavirus lockdowns are only serving to prolong the outbreak, a veteran scholar of epidemiology said.
The virus could be “exterminated” if people were allowed to go about their daily lives while the most vulnerable to the virus are sheltered, 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
“[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,” Wittkowski said.
“With all respiratory diseases, the only thing that stops the disease is herd immunity. About 80 percent 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,” Wittkowski said. “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.”
The standard cycle of respiratory diseases is a two-week outbreak, including a peak, after which “it’s gone,” Wittkowski said, adding that 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,” Wittkowski said. “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.”
“Going outdoors is what stops every respiratory disease,” Wittkowski said.
Asked about Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House medical adviser who for weeks has been predicting significant numbers of COVID-19 deaths and 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.”