Speed Kills

Look before you leap. This idea has long been sage advice. Taking a little time to assess a situation before you take radical action can stop you from a significant mistake. A thorough exchange of ideas and information just might’ve made us hesitate before rushing off to Vietnam and the 2nd Iraq wars. Yet our modus operand lately has been just the opposite. We close down the country before we looked at what could happen from all angles. Many states never considered a more targeted approach. As I’ve pointed out, many people raised red flags about the models and data being relied on to lock down the world economy. Fear, not deliberative thought, ruled the day. Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt, Dr. Scott Atlas, and Dr. John Ioannidis were just some of the luminaries warning this was the wrong path. An army of online skeptics slicing and dicing the rationale for taking such drastic action joined in.

It’s just you never heard them at the time. Once the ruling politicians and the media hastily committed to the lockdown, they became hostile to any alternatives. The media never gave the skeptics much of a platform to inform the public of their doubts and alternatives. Deviating from the dominant solution found relentless attack. Sweden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were the subject of endless mockery. They were comparing Sweden unfavorably to their close smaller neighbors, Norway, and Denmark. Sweden actually falls in the middle of European outcomes with less drastic measures. The media predicted Florida would be a deathtrap for closing down late and opening up early. Early on, the hero of the hour was New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Media hailed the N.Y. governor as doing all the right things.

Act in haste, repent at leisure. The ignored skeptics are now looking prescient. Some governments are now admitting acting in haste. Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg went on Norwegian television to make a startling admission. According to the Daily Telegraph, some, even most, of the stringent measures imposed in Norway’s lockdown now look like steps too far. “Was it necessary to close schools?” she mused. “Perhaps not.” She added, “I probably took many of the decisions out of fear” Even though Norway did well with the virus, it’s success came at too high a price. “Our assessment now that we could have achieved the same effects and avoided some of the adverse impacts by not locking down, but by instead keeping open but with infection control measures,” Camilla Stoltenberg, Norwegian Institute of Public Health Director-General.

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