Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, May 14, 2020
Sweden has chosen not to go the lockdown route in response to the coronavirus. Officials say the country’s capital, Stockholm, could see herd immunity from the virus as early as this month.
Dr. David Katz, the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Connecticut, told Fox News last month that lockdowns and social distancing may mitigate the spread of the coronavirus briefly, but it is also preventing the development of the “herd immunity” needed by the public to resume their normal lives before a vaccine is developed.
White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci is not advocating for herd immunity. Therefore, you won’t find many, if any, U.S. major media outlets reporting that herd immunity is a viable option to stop the coronavirus.
Researching therapies or waiting at home for a vaccine: Such is the prescription of the Fauci model and the corporate media have not questioned it or conducted independent investigations. Thus there is no national debate on the herd immunity approach which has been followed by default during previous pandemics in 2008 and 1969.
Fauci and others on the task force are said to be adamantly opposed to the so-called Swedish model of seeking to defeat the virus, according to a report in the current edition of Geostrategy-Direct.com. In fact, Fauci and his colleagues on the task force are reportedly not allowing any discussion of Sweden’s less stringent, non-lockdown approach.
“Lockdowns are simply not sustainable for the amount of time that it will likely take to develop a vaccine,” Nils Karlson, Charlotta Stern, and Daniel B. Klein wrote in a May 12 analysis for Foreign Affairs.
“Letting up will reduce economic, social, and political pressures. It may also allow populations to build an immunity that will end up being the least bad way of fighting COVID-19 in the long run. Much about the disease remains poorly understood, but countries that are locked down now could very well face new and even more severe outbreaks down the road. If these countries follow the Swedish path to herd immunity, the total cost of the pandemic will decrease, and it will likely end sooner.”
Anders Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency, has projected that Stockholm could reach herd immunity as early as this month. Based on updated behavioral assumptions (social-distancing norms are changing how Swedes behave), the Stockholm University mathematician Tom Britton has calculated that 40 percent immunity in the capital could be enough to stop the virus’s spread there and that this could happen by mid-June.
“Swedes have changed their behavior, but not as profoundly as the citizens of other Western democracies,” the Foreign Affairs analysis said. “Many restaurants remain open, although they are lightly trafficked; young children are still in school. And in contrast to neighboring Norway (and some Asian countries), Sweden has not introduced location-tracing technologies or apps, thus avoiding threats to privacy and personal autonomy.”
There are good reasons for countries to begin easing their coronavirus restrictions, the analysis said.
“It will take several years to tally the total number of deaths, bankruptcies, layoffs, suicides, mental health problems, losses to GDP and investments, and other costs attributable not just to the virus but to the measures used to fight it. It should already be obvious, however, that the economic and social costs of lockdowns are enormous: estimates from the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) suggest that every month of pandemic-related restrictions will shrink the economies of advanced countries by two percent. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, according to the OECD, will see their economies shrink by more than 25 percent within a year.”
The analysis concluded that, “at the end of the day, increased — and ultimately, herd immunity may be the only viable defense against the disease, so long as vulnerable groups are protected along the way. Whatever marks Sweden deserves for managing the pandemic, other nations are beginning to see that it is ahead of the curve.”
In an interview on the Fox News program “Life, Liberty & Levin”, Dr. Katz cited the case of some Asian nations who appeared to stop the spread of COVID-19 with lockdown-style mitigation strategies, only to see an increase in cases once restrictions were relaxed.
“That’s what will happen if you lock everybody away from everybody else and kind of wait until things get better and then let everybody out into the world,” Katz said. “If all you do is flatten the curve, you don’t prevent deaths or severe cases. You just change the dates. We don’t want to do that.”
If enough of the population were to develop antibodies and the process repeated itself exponentially, Katz explained, it would create innumerable “dead ends” that stop the virus from spreading.
“It finds it harder to get to a host where it can survive and it dies out,” the doctor said of the virus. “That’s herd immunity.”
Giving another example, Katz told Levin that if he were immune to coronavirus, he would be able to visit his elderly mother without worrying about contracting COVID-19.
“My mother doesn’t want to get coronavirus and die [but] she also doesn’t want to die of something else before ever again being able to hug her grandchildren because she’s still waiting for a vaccine,” Katz said. “Herd immunity gives us a much more proximal way to get back to life in the world as we knew it.”