We can battle COVID-19 better

We can battle COVID-19 better

Friday, October 16, 2020

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Dear Editor,

The Great Barrington Declaration is a proposal written and signed at the American Institute for Economic Research in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on October 4, 2020 by 38 scientists. The declaration states that, “Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practised by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.”

The declaration states that growing knowledge about COVID-19 includes the fact that older and infirmed people have a thousand-fold higher increase of dying from it than the young. “Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza,” the declaration states. The declaration is spearheaded by some heavy hitters in the scientific community, including Martin Kulldorff, PhD, an epidemiologist at Harvard University; Sunetra Gupta, PhD, an epidemiologist at Oxford University; and Jay Bhattacharya, MD, PhD, a public health policy expert, who focuses on infectious diseases and who is a professor at Stanford University.

“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.”

It is not science that's leading the policies regarding COVID-19, but public opinion and politics. This crisis is an opportunity to do things better. With the Government's regulations Jamaica will take more than a decade to recover. Initially I was willing to accept some of the restriction, but now it has become unbearable. At this rate, sooner or later unemployment will reach at least 20 per cent because business cannot survive with so many restrictions. The Government's tax base has shrunk and State assistance needs and associated health costs have increased.

Jamaica's gross domestic product (GDP) has shrink by 18.4 per cent in the second quarter and the debt has increased. This has caused the debt-to-GDP ratio target to explode, and, therefore, it will be difficult to pay back the debt without crippling austerity that disproportionately affects the poor. Are we going to doom Jamaica to social discord expressed in a high homicide rate, because unless everyone can live decently crime and violent crime will persist.

Jamaica has tried to deal with crime primarily by policing. Initially, the states of emergency brought down the homicide rate, but it extracted a huge financial cost to the people of the areas as business activities were restricted. We can go about it in a better way.

Brian E Plummer


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