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LETTER: Do lockdowns really work?

'Again and again, lockdowns have proved ineffective in curbing the disease,' letter writer says
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We are now into the second week of the current provincial lockdown. The incubation period of COVID-19 ranges from one to 14 days. The median is five to six days between exposure and symptom onset. That means that most of the record level of reported infections were contracted during the current lockdown and moving forward 100 per cent of infections will have occurred during the lockdown.

If lockdowns worked, there should be a precipitous decline in the number of reported cases going forward after the initial 14 days.

There is not. Instead, reported cases are reaching record highs daily. Surely anyone independently looking at these numbers would conclude that this lockdown has not worked to reduce infection rates. And this is after the rollout of vaccinations which should, at least, lower the number of (partially vaccinated) Ontarians who are candidates for infection.

In other words, the population of Ontarians who are capable of being infected is dropping as more people are vaccinated yet the number of infections continue to rise in the smaller number of people remaining at risk.

The previous lockdowns fared little better. Einstein is attributed with the definition: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” (I would substitute “stupidity” for “insanity”). Again and again, lockdowns have proved ineffective in curbing the disease.

However, lockdowns have proven undeniably effective in other areas – lockdowns are highly effective in destroying businesses, generating significant declines in mental health (especially in children), generating increases in drug overdoses and suicides, and many other negative impacts on society and individuals’ lives.

We have completely ceded public policy to a small group of public health officials who have seemingly no experience in, or knowledge of what to do during a pandemic. The Auditor General has written a scathing report on the unpreparedness for a pandemic and the inadequacy of the response. And yet we treat every pronouncement from Dr. Tam and her various colleagues as having divine inspiration. Their pronouncements are not the word of God, but of failed civil servants.

Surely by now, after over a year of this pandemic, if public health officials have even a modicum of competence, they would have been able to establish the most common incidents of infection and therefore the highest risk activities to target. For example, restaurateurs have spent millions of dollars retrofitting their establishments only to be completely shut down from in-restaurant dining.

Is dining in a restaurant a major source of infection? If so, prove it. Where is the evidence? Show us the data. If not, then why are they closed?

Golf courses – we have the experience of last summer when golf courses were more crowded than ever before (there being little else to do). Is playing golf a major source of infection? If so, prove it. Where is the evidence? Show us the data. If not, then why are they closed?

I could go on, but you get the point.

We have allowed the government to impose unprecedented restrictions on our activities, our livelihoods, and our mental health. We have done so in good faith. But after a year, we have gone from frustration to fatigue and increasingly to anger.

If the government is to regain our support and trust, then prove that there is some basis for each of these draconian measures it continues to impose. If it cannot, then adjust the measures accordingly.

Ian J. Rowe