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Infectious disease experts warn that lockdown measures will bring irreparable damage

Recently, a group of experts in infectious diseases has published a petition that warns of the dangers of the current lockdown practices that are being used to curb the coronavirus. The petition, which has been signed by over 40,000 people, 4,000 being medical practitioners as well as medical and public health scientists, partly reads:

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

According to the authors of the petition, the goal of society should be to minimize social harm as well as mortality until we reach herd immunity, i.e. “the point at which the rate of new infections is stable”. And the best way to minimize damage to society until herd immunity is  “to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. ”

This would include adopting measures protecting the most vulnerable while allowing low-risk individuals to resume their normal lives. So, instead of locking everyone down, the authors recommend that people should practice hygiene measures and stay home when they are sick and that Schools should be allowed to open for in-person teaching as well as for extracurricular activities. Additionally, bars and restaurants should also be open, and people should resume events like sports.

The lockdown has indeed been harmful

From job losses to permanent business closures, there is no denying that the lockdown has been economically harmful. And the effect of the shutdown has moreover not been restricted to the economy. The shutdown has also disrupted routine healthcare for kids and has contributed to a spike in deaths caused by other health conditions like heart conditions. Additionally, research has come out detailing how detrimental the school closures have been to the well being of kids.

It should be common sense by now that restricting businesses and keeping healthy people locked down is not the best way to mitigate risk from the coronavirus. Yet so many governments, including Minnesota, continue to prescribe cures that are worse than the disease. For instance, despite the fact that deaths in Minnesota have been concentrated among the elderly and residents of long term care facilities, lockdown measures continue to be strict. Our state continues to place restrictions on businesses like restaurants and bars which concurrently were hardest hit by the shutdown.

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