“The zero risk ideology is dangerous,” says Yonathan Freund, professor at the Sorbonne and editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Emergency Medicine, which supported the original lockdown in France. “The consequences of this disease for the general population will never be the same again.”
The UK is not alone in moving from inaction to overdrive. France imposes masks on the outside (unnecessarily), after first declaring masks on the inside as unnecessary. It becomes surreal.
My cardiologist friend was a tough guy in the first few weeks of the pandemic, warning the UK had ignored lessons from Korea, Iran and Lombardy and was allowing the virus to run out of control.
Now he and several of his frontline colleagues are on the other side of the argument. “I would keep face masks on, I would protect nursing homes, I would continue to ban mass gatherings, and I would probably be strict with ads, but other than that I would basically go back to normal,” he says.
Contact tracing should continue – or rather begin in earnest, after a rolling ruin – and should preferably be left to local authorities with German follow-up routines rather than being left to the inertia of Serco.
In a sense, there is a lot to celebrate. The death rate of intensive care patients in the NHS fell from 42% in early April to closer to 20% in mid-July, thanks to dexamethasone, blood thinners, earlier use of oxygen and a steep learning curve in the clinical frontline.
A global meta-study published in Anesthesia had a different number, going from 60% to 42%, but the deadline was the end of May. There have been steady gains since then.
The growing evidence from T cell studies and modeling is that large numbers of people can have immunity even if they do not produce detectable antibodies. Many may have some degree of underlying protection, perhaps as a result of cross-immunity to pre-coronavirus colds, or due to genetic variability. They constitute the “dark matter” cohort.
I admit that we don’t have all the facts (when do we ever have any?). We do not know the seriousness of “long Covid” pathologies. Unpleasant surprises keep popping up. Young people who seemed to clear the virus at first may suffer from persistent damage to the lungs, heart and organs.