• drhancur

Hysteria and the Coronavirus

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

It is June 4th and it seems as if we have lived with restrictions forever. Although most businesses are open again, they are operating at partial capacity and with masked employees and social distancing. Many of my neighbors are frozen with fear and prefer to shelter at home, rather than risk infection. The numbers are interesting. Nowhere, not even in New York City, have the initial ominous projections been realized. Andrew Cuomo revealed that about 14% of 3,000 people tested in supermarkets showed that they had been infected. If true, then approximately 2.5 million New Yorker's had already had the virus. That should have meant hundreds of thousands of deaths and a collapsed healthcare system. Sweden, which did not lockdown its economy, is reported to have the same number of reported cases and deaths proportionally as the countries that did. Some reports are that 80% of infected people are asymptomatic. Again, if true, there are probably five times as many cases as are reported. What does all this mean and where do we go from here?

It seems to me that the CDC, the WHO, the Government and the media all use the number of cases as the primary measure of the severity of the virus. In addition, they also seem to assume that everyone is at the same level of risk for severe effects. This helps to explain the attitude of some of my neighbors who are terrified to leave their homes. The reality, as cited above, is that contracting the virus is not only not a death sentence for the majority, it may actually have no symptoms. Who then is at risk? What are the vulnerable populations? We know the elderly are, especially those in nursing homes with other known conditions. Beyond that, there has been very little information which would help people to differentiate those who absolutely need to be restricted from those who don't. Reliable antibody testing would help a lot because it would undercut the use of "new cases" as the measure of severity. Death is a measure of severity, hospitalization is a measure of severity. Infection itself is not.

Unless we establish a new way of measuring the state of the virus, we will, in my opinion, needlessly restrict ourselves as I am afraid we have already been doing. It is as if we are collectively waiting for the media to report that there have been no new cases in the past week so we can all take off our masks and hug a friend. The reality is something very different as there will always be new cases, at least for the foreseeable future measured in months. Let me know your thoughts.

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© Dr. William Hancur