Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease?
… What we know so far about the coronavirus makes it a unique case for the potential application of a “herd immunity” approach…
The data from South Korea, where tracking the coronavirus has been by far the best to date, indicate that as much as 99 percent of active cases in the general population are “mild” and do not require specific medical treatment… These conclusions are corroborated by the data from Wuhan, China…
… The experience of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which houses a contained, older population, proves the point.
… The deaths have been mainly clustered among the elderly, those with significant chronic illnesses… This is not true of infectious scourges such as influenza. The flu hits the elderly and chronically ill hard, too, but it also kills children.
…we could achieve the crucial goals of social distancing — saving lives and not overwhelming our medical system — by preferentially protecting the medically frail and those over age 60, and in particular those over 70 and 80, from exposure.
I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near total meltdown of normal life — schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned — will be long lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself. The stock market will bounce back in time, but many businesses never will. The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order.
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David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM is the founding director (1998-2019) of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, Past-President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Founder/President of the True Health Initiative