They call it the Herd. He said that his strategy will save hundreds of thousands of lives that would be lost without a national lockdown. On the contrary, she said, Sweden has taken many precautions to minimize the deaths from the disease. Sweden has not closed its primary schools, although it has closed its secondary schools and higher education. It has advised its people on how to reduce the spread of the disease through social distancing.
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They call it the Herd. He said that his strategy will save hundreds of thousands of lives that would be lost without a national lockdown. On the contrary, she said, Sweden has taken many precautions to minimize the deaths from the disease. Sweden has not closed its primary schools, although it has closed its secondary schools and higher education. It has advised its people on how to reduce the spread of the disease through social distancing. There has been no legally enforceable "stay at home" order, although those over the age of 70 have been advised to stay home.
It has relied mostly on voluntary compliance. And it has not shut down large sectors of its economy as has been done in the U. The rate of deaths per million is higher in Sweden As I have argued in my previous post, developing herd immunity is the natural human defense against contagious diseases rooted in our evolved human immune system; and it does not require the sacrifice of life and liberty through an economic shutdown.
Knut Wittkowski. Herd immunity is the idea that when a sufficiently large proportion of a population of people become immune to a contagious disease--either through previous infection or vaccination--the spread of the disease gradually slows, and eventually it disappears, because the chains of person-to-person transmission have been broken Fine, Eames, and Heymann The critical point at which a population has become immune is called the "herd immunity threshold" HIT , which is calculated by estimating the "basic reproduction number"--the average number of new infections caused by each infected individual--and multiplying it by the proportion of the people in a population who are susceptible to infection.
So the higher the contagiousness of a disease the higher its HIT. Herd immunity has evolved by natural selection as the natural defense of human life against the aggressive attack of disease-causing microorganisms that move through human groups by person-to-person transmission. At the same time, however, these pathogenic microorganisms have evolved by natural selection to develop countermeasures to overcome our natural defenses.
Viruses mutate, and in rare cases, those mutations create new kinds of viruses that can pass easily through human populations in which most people do not yet have immunity to the virus. Achieving herd immunity for this new virus will require that many if not most of us become infected. Most of the infected people will feel no symptoms or only mild symptoms. A few of us will become sick enough to require hospitalization. And of those who become severely sick, a few will die.
Most of those who die will be older people who were already vulnerable become of previous health problems. Now here comes the debate. Over the past month, many political leaders have taken the advice of some epidemiologists that we have a moral obligation to reduce the deaths from the COVID virus by shutting down large sectors of our societies to slow down the spread of the virus until we have a vaccine that can create herd immunity.
And since it might be over a year before such a vaccine is available, we have to be prepared for a lockdown over that entire time of a year or eighteen months. Or we might try moving back and forth between periods of lockdown and periods of partial opening up of our lives. This is what is meant by "lowering the curve"--we cannot prevent the COVID virus from killing lots of people, but through locking down our societies, we can reduce the peak death rate by spreading out the deaths over time, while we wait for the vaccine.
As Meyerowitz-Katz says: "The time to discuss herd immunity is when we have a vaccine developed, and not one second earlier.
Notice also that this ignores the fact that a global shutdown bringing a global great depression will destroy the lives of billions of people. Killing the economy is killing people. The alternative position is to say that we have a moral obligation to isolate the high-risk group--older people with health problems--and to give them special medical care if they become sick, but we also have a moral obligation to protect human life and liberty from a governmental shutdown of our economic and social life.
Every year, many people die from contagious diseases, but we have never shut down our lives to reduce those deaths. In , over 60, Americans died from the flu epidemic. In , over , Americans died from a global flu epidemic. But there has never been a national shutdown of American society to reduce such deaths in an epidemic. The epidemiologists who have recommended the shutdown as the only moral response to the COVID pandemic point to the American experience of the pandemic as proving the wisdom of their recommendation.
Those cities, like St. Louis, where the city government quickly imposed severe measures for social distancing succeeded in reducing the death rates from the flu, while in other cities, like Philadelphia, where the government was slow in imposing such restrictions, the death rates were much higher than they should have been. Since the COVID virus is as deadly and contagious as the H1N1 virus, they argue, we must follow policies for mitigating our pandemic similar to those adopted in St.
Louis to avoid the mistakes made in Philadelphia. See Bootsma and Ferguson ; Markel et al. I have already written a post on the flu pandemic in the United States. Here I want to argue that the history of that pandemic does not support the claim that we must impose a lockdown of our economy as the only reasonable way to handle our present pandemic. I will make three points. First, in the pandemic, those with a high risk of dying from the flu were scattered across the human life span: mortality rates were high for children, for young adults ages 20 to 40 , and for the elderly over Meyerowitz-Katz contradicts himself on this point.
In many cities, large public assemblies were banned; theatres, churches, and schools were closed; and people were warned to stay in their homes if they were sick. In some cities, public health workers went door to door, looking for sick people; and if they found someone sick with the flu, they would put a placard on the home identifying this as a quarantined home. And yet, most businesses--including restaurants, retail stores, factories, and service and trade occupations--continued to operate.
There was no general lockdown like that imposed now in the U. In Los Angeles , movie houses and theatres were ordered to shut down on October 11, but other businesses that did not create crowded assemblies were open. The closure order was not lifted until December 2. They argued for closing "all but essential businesses like grocery and drug stores.
Louis was the only city where there was a general closure of all "nonessential" stores, businesses, and factories. In that case, however, this closure lasted for only four days--from November 9 to November The first prolonged closure of "nonessential businesses" along with ordering people to "stay home" began on March 19, , with the executive orders issued by the governors of California, New York, and Pennsylvania, which were followed by similar orders from other governors.
My third point against the claim that the experience of the pandemic shows the need for an economic shutdown to mitigate the COVID pandemic is that some of the American cities with the lowest mortality rates from the flu in were not severe in their coercive social distancing policies. A clear example of this was Grand Rapids, Michigan, where out of a population of ,, died of the flu in Of course, having almost people die of the flue in this one city is disturbing.
But in comparing the flu death rates for 50 large American cities, Grand Rapids had the lowest "excess pneumonia and influenza mortality deaths" per , population By comparison, Pittsburgh had a flu mortality rate per , of And St. Louis had a rate of In Grand Rapids, there were two limited closure orders for short periods.
The first--lasting 18 days October November 7 --closed theaters, movie houses, churches, and pool halls; but retail businesses, factories, and schools were open. The second closure--lasting 7 days December --closed schools, dance halls, skating rinks, lodge halls, and public meeting places; but churches and theaters were open.
The general view in Grand Rapids was that sick individuals should voluntarily isolate themselves at home, but there was no good reason to put healthy people out of work or to deprive people of their public entertainment and church services.
And, again, Grand Rapids had the lowest death rates from the flu in We can and should end the shutdown. If we do, we can hope that our death rate from the COVID virus will not be as high as it was for the virus. But even if hundreds of thousands of people die from the virus, we will achieve herd immunity--the natural defense against contagious disease--and we will secure our life and liberty.
It is unlikely that the shutdown orders will be lifted anytime soon. But for as long as those orders are in effect we have the natural right to disobey those orders as tyrannical denials of our natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In effect, she has put the citizens of Michigan under house arrest without due process of law. Many of us here in Michigan are choosing to violate that order. On Easter Sunday, many Michigan families will gather in their homes for religious activity and Easter dinner.
Of course, families will be sure to isolate those who might be sick with an infectious illness. And they will take special care to protect older people from infection. By order of the Governor, a family gathering like this is criminal behavior. But we have the natural right to do this. I hope that there will be many such acts of civil disobedience in Michigan and around the country. Markel, Howard. Cities During the Influenza Pandemic.
A Further Response to Larry Arnhart, pt. 1: Darwinism and Traditional Morality
External links Background and Career He has a Ph. The University of Chicago holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings. Established in , it is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In the Department of Political Science at Northern Illinois University, Arnhart teaches in the fields of political theory and biopolitics. Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever. Biopolitics is an intersectional field between human biology and politics. Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization.
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Darwinian Conservatism by Larry Arnhart The Left has traditionally assumed that human nature is so malleable, so perfectible, that it can be shaped in almost any direction. By contrast, a Darwinian science of human nature supports traditionalist conservatives and classical liberals in their realist view of human imperfectibility, and in their commitment to ordered liberty as rooted in natural desires, cultural traditions, and prudential judgments. He prepared this for a debate with Richard Dawkins on the question of whether "we would be better off without religion. He agrees with me in accepting the truth of evolutionary science and in seeing that there is no necessary conflict between evolution and religion, because religion answers questions about ultimate meaning and purpose that go beyond the realm of scientific reasoning. Moreover, he also agrees that religion provides support for morality and communal identity that can sustain a healthy community.