Monday morning the National Review published Has Sweden Found the Right Solution to the Coronavirus? by John Fund and Joel Hay.
It contains a number of disturbing distortions that typify the America right’s response to COVID-19.
First, the two claim: “No one has addressed this simple yet critical question: How do we know social-isolation controls actually work?”
In actuality, many, many people have asked this question. And answered it. First, they answered it with mathematical models based on previous epidemiology research. Then, later in the the pandemic, experts have answered it by comparing geographies. They found flatter curves in places that implement widespread testing and social isolation. We know social-isolation controls actually work because we’ve seen them work. I’m not sure if Fund and Hay don’t know this information is available, or are pretending to not know. Either way, this is journalistic malpractice.
They go on. “It is possible that the fastest and safest way to ‘flatten the curve’ is to allow young people to mix normally while requiring only the frail and sick to remain isolated.” I mean, sure. I guess it’s possible just like anything is technically possible. But what evidence do we have that it’s likely at all? Are they thinking of Richard Epstein, a lawyer who wrote that he expects COVID-19 to kill 500 people? (It’s killed 70k+ people worldwide and more than 10k Americans.) Who, when confronted with evidence that he’s wrong from infectious disease experts sputtered, “But you have basically gone over the line. If you want to ask questions, ask questions. I put forward a model. But a little bit of respect.”
It’s hard to tell what Fund and Hay are basing this assertion on since they cite zero sources. Again, they’re seemingly unaware of, or refuse to acknowledge, that UK, Italy, & Spain all tried allowing young people to mix normally while requiring only the frail and sick to remain isolated and it’s NOT GOING WELL FOR THEM.
They’re not done yet. “This is, in fact, the first time we have quarantined healthy people rather than quarantining the sick and vulnerable.” That’s not even close to true.
Then they claim “there is one country in the world that hasn’t shut down and that hasn’t socially isolated its population.” There are many countries which have not socially isolated their populations.
Anyway, here’s the kicker: Sweden has definitely not found the right solution to the coronavirus!
Not even close!
Fund and Hay are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to right-wing media downplaying COVID-19. All February, the right-wing media spread conspiracy theories and told people to “chill out.”
On March 4th, Sean Hannity said the idea that COVID-19 is a “fraud” by the deep state to spread panic in the populace, manipulate the economy and suppress dissent “may be true.” On March 9th, Fox Business anchor Trish Regan told viewers coronavirus “is yet another attempt to impeach the president.”
The result was predicable. In an early March poll, around four in 10 Democrats said they thought the coronavirus posed an imminent threat, compared to about two in 10 Republicans.
This behavior is beyond despicable.
In slightly more pleasant news, Organ House published my post (co-authored with Ivy Summer) Polyamorous People of Color: An Unvarnished Look & Call-To-Action.
If you missed my first for the blog, check out A comprehensive guide to your first play party.
Stay safe, my babies. And don’t ever trust Sean Hannity.
[This post was edited to remove “Then these two chuckleheads reveal they don’t know what a coronavirus is. ‘The 1918 swine flu, which swept the globe 102 years ago and was not a coronavirus.’ Yes. Yes it was.” For more info see comment below.]
Am I going to be that asshole? I guess I am. 🙁
You’re right about absolutely everything here except swine flu. The 1918 flu was a H1N1 influenza virus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza#Types_of_virus , which is family _orthomyxoviridae_, a negative-sense single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) virus. Our new worst friend SARS-CoV-2 is a coronavirus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severe_acute_respiratory_syndrome_coronavirus_2, family _coronaviridae_, a positive-sense ssRNA virus. (“positive sense” and “negative sense” here are basically which of the two DNA strands their single strand is aligned with — think northbound versus southbound lanes on the highway: They look the same on the map but it makes all the difference in the world when you’re driving them).
Anyway: Close enough to recognize each other at parties but wouldn’t show up at family reunions.
Viral taxonomy is a goddamn rats-nest https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virus_classification#RNA_viruses and there’s no fault in getting it wrong, but the error distracts from the rest of your argument which very much needs hearing.
Apologies for being That Guy.
Actually if you look at the data there is no correlation between countries with severe lockdowns vs lax ones. Sweden’s number is not as mad as many countries despite lack of lockdowns. When this is all over the lockdowns will be the biggest blunder of the 20th century.
Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.