Thursday, October 15, 2020

Prof Amnon Shashua vs. the scientific consensus published in The Lancet


In his article Israel must shift strategy in its fight against coronavirus, prof Amnon Shashua writes (italics added):

Increased contagion rates among those not at risk would enable the economy to function.

By adopting an infinite strategy, expecting the virus to be with us for an sustained period, we can shield the vulnerable members of society and the rest of the population would be more inclined to adhere to health mitigation directives, understanding the danger to the economy and to their incomes.”

The idea that we can shield the vulnerable members of society with increased contagion rates among those not at risk seems to be at odds with the opinion expressed by epidemiologists in The Lancet

 “The arrival of a second wave and the realisation of the challenges ahead has led to renewed interest in a so-called herd immunity approach, which suggests allowing a large uncontrolled outbreak in the low-risk population while protecting the vulnerable. Proponents suggest this would lead to the development of infection-acquired population immunity in the low-risk population, which will eventually protect the vulnerable. This is a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence”

Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm in his latest weekly podcast apparently shares the same opinion: 

28:46 Into the video Question: Just a quick follow up, Mike, that idea, you let the young and healthy live their lives and protect the vulnerable, A) there is never a plan how to do that, but is that even possible?

Michael Osterholm: It’s not possible. Look at the college students right now and I talked about how it spills over to adults. We see this happen all the time. You know this infection has been cruel in terms of racial inequality and when you actually look at the social economic status and you look at housing issues and you look at job issues you have someone who is racially disadvantaged, black, brown and indigenous populations, they are living three family generations in one apartment building with two bedrooms and the single mother is going to work by public transit, and she is an essential worker making a little more than a minimum wage. Tell me how in the hell do you protect that family if you come home with the virus? How do you isolate, what do you do? There is a lot of things here that we can’t do that people say just let it go. You know if she comes home with that virus grandpa and grandma, her mom and dad are at great risk of the serious outcome. That is just wrong. That’s wrong. And so I think we have to protect these people, and it does not mean forever.

That is another thing I find very frustrating is, if we are asking this for the rest of all of time, then you can say OK, we’ve got a to learn how to live with this, and I ‘m still saying we have to live with this, but we are trying to get to a vaccine, give us six months, give us eight months. Give us these, OK. I mean, who are we?  I mean, I look back, and I mentioned this on a previous podcast when I watched the greatest generation locked up in their homes so that they don’t end up going out and catching this and dying from it. These are the same men and women who back in the 1940s gave two and three years of their life to protect this country and they didn’t ask for anything for anything at all. And today we are just asking people can you help us hold down the transmission of this virus and it’s an inconvenience.

So I think that in the follow up to your question – it’s not practical, we are not just going to be able to bubble off …. Tell me how are you going to bubble  health care workers from basically getting infected and bringing it home or taking it in, for example long term care. So I think this is a part of the reality we have to deal with. This virus is the enemy, it’s not us. We are not enemies of each other, it’s the virus. But if we don’t understand it we will make each other the enemy of each other, and that is when we will absolutely fail against this virus.