Leana S. Wen: Six flaws in the arguments for reopening (NYT)

Leana S. Wen is an emergency physician and visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. Previously, she served as Baltimore’s health commissioner.

Most states are reopening to some degree this week, even as public-health experts warn that it’s too soon. Proponents of early reopening use some variation of six arguments.

Here is what’s wrong with each of them:

Instead of preventing covid-19, we should let people infect each other to achieve herd immunity. “Herd immunity” occurs when enough people in a community — generally 60 percent to 80 percent — develop antibodies to an illness, either through vaccination or recovery. Banking on herd immunity without a vaccine is a dangerous proposition: It’s unclear whether people acquire immunity after contracting covid-19. Even if those who recover become immune, an infection rate of 60 percent would mean nearly 200 million infected Americans. Millions could die.

Most cases of covid-19 are mild. We can keep older people at home and allow young, healthy people to go back to school and work. This is wrong for multiple reasons. Older people aren’t the only ones contracting covid-19. One in 5 patients requiring hospitalization in the United States are ages 20 to 44, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in March. Infected people in their 30s and 40s are dying of strokes. Even if young people are not as likely as older individuals to become severely ill, they can be asymptomatic carriers who spread the virus. Growing evidence suggests that children with mild or no symptoms can be highly contagious carriers…

It’s worth the sacrifice if some people die so that the country has a functioning economy. This is a false choice; there are ways to safely reopen, and consumer confidence depends on the reassurance of public health protections. Another flaw with this argument is that those making it are committing others to a sacrifice they did not choose…

Read the full article in The Washington Post here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/10/six-flaws-arguments-reopening/


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here