The Erroneous Attempts at "Zero COVID"
A few thoughts and ramblings about "zero COVID" and the current state of things
I generally avoid opining on many topics- I try to be as evidence-based as possible. However, I have been feeling the need to somewhat incoherently ramble with the hope that my thoughts will be made more clear. With that, I am writing in regards to my thoughts about what I’ve been seeing happening in regards to COVID and my perspective of what some of this means. So please consider this post as my speculations and thoughts put into written form.
Right now Shanghai, China is dealing with one of the most extreme forms of lockdown imaginable. All over the news there are videos and images coming out of China about the tumultuous situation there. Many people here on Substack have covered some of the information coming out, such as Jordan Schachtel, Coffee & COVID, and Eugypius. Even Tim Pool covered it in his podcast last night1. Here’s Dr. Vinay’s Prasad’s more truncated thoughts on the concept of attempting “Zero COVID”.
It feels as if there’s been a sudden reemergence of widespread interest as it pertains to COVID. As many of us begin to move on (but nonetheless not forget) we find ourselves once again being pulled into the thralls of more COVID talk. But this renewed talk feels all too familiar. In fact, looking at some of these videos coming out of Shanghai I am reminded of the first images that came out of Wuhan that altered the course of how the rest of the world dealt with COVID.
It’s almost as if we are experiencing a global case of Déjà vu, but being nearly two years post the initial lockdowns are we faring any better in our attempts to deal with COVID? Unfortunately, it is also here where the feelings of Déjà vu are occurring as well, to the extent that it feels as if we have learned nothing over the past two years.
The social experiment that is a global attempt at lockdowns not only failed, but has led to severe ramifications which we are all experiencing today with scarcity of food resources, rising gas prices, and the loss of employment for many.
We know full well now that lockdowns did not work, and yet here we see Shanghai continue the same approach that not only was attempted all across the globe two years prior but are now being renewed as if to say “this time it will work”. Now, those of us in the West have to now wonder if we will witness the same attempts again at lockdowns.
It’s quite shocking how lockdowns, along with attempts of sterility, are being implemented as if they are effective at quelling COVID. I’ve heard of people talking with approval about the renewed cleaning of grocery carts and why stores should begin wiping things down with the same vigor that occurred in 2020. Once again, maybe this time it will work.
Ramblings in regards to lockdowns
Lockdown procedures create quite the paradigm. It presumes that the visage of no high infection rates2 and a locked down society means that the virus is under control. But not only will it be under control, but that this supposed mirage of safety and order will always be. Countries will lockdown now and will be better for it later.
But we understand the true reality of the situation. Even if we are unaware of the proper spread of viruses such as SARS-COV23, we know that attempts to eradicate the virus would be a logistical nightmare; the attempt of synergizing an entire global attempt at lockdowns that prevent any cross-species reservoirs4 of COVID should indicate an outright impossibility. Heck, even post-apocalyptic movies are aware of this impossibility to the extent that sterile, unzombified communities eventually succumb to zombification themselves. In that sense horror movies serve as a frame to which we can argue the “literally false, metaphorically true” aspect of COVID. No, we are not becoming zombies, but attempts at suppressing something that for all intents and purposes will be inevitable will not work; it is bound that we will all get it eventually, and I have made these similar sentiments after my bout with COVID in January.
So what do we make of countries such as China, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand that apparently reduced their cases drastically due to lockdowns?
Well, we know full well that the most vulnerable groups to COVID are the elderly and the immunocompromised. Even as lockdowns may have quelled the virus their vulnerabilities do not subside with it. If the intent here is to argue that low death rates are a valid assumption that things are going well, we also know that the vulnerable will continue to be vulnerable, irrespective of the COVID variant. Essentially, the inevitable may occur regardless of the circumstance.
It is here where we are now seeing an issue with many parts of the world that supposedly dealt with COVID well through lockdowns. As Omicron emerged and has shown itself to be far more transmissible, the façade of protecting the elderly diminished. Essentially, those who may have been protected by prior, less transmissible variants may now succumb to the even more transmissible Omicron.
And it’s here where we may be seeing the concerning rise in deaths. It may just be that the rising death rate may have been the initial death rates seen in other areas that did not have such stringent lockdown measures.
What’s interesting is that Sweden’s fairly high death rate of their elderly may be traced to a mild flu season before the pandemic.
Similar to the sentiments outlined above, it could be that the elderly who would have otherwise succumbed to season flu was able to avoid death due to the mildness5. However, the emergence of COVID may have been what did many of these elderly in. It’s worth noting that this concept is highly controversial, but it at least parallels what we may be seeing with respect to heavily locked down societies now succumbing to Omicron.
But lockdowns are also not done in isolation. Usually they are congruent with attempts at sterility. Hand sanitizing, disinfectant sprays, and massive attempts at sterilizing the environment have been conducted haphazardly in some superficial attempt to eradicate COVID. But even if this properly eliminated COVID, we can see how such a method can become extremely detrimental.
Our bodies and immune systems are made strong by the environment; by the interactions with pathogens and germs. Our ancestors, and us as well, thrive in an environment that provides some sense of dirtiness and challenge. This hypothesis is know as the hygiene hypothesis, and although it is not clear cut and considered somewhat controversial, it at least argues that a proper immune system is one that is regularly challenged by the environment. This hypothesis is usually evoked to argue that children who live in rural environments tend to have fewer rates of allergies and autoimmune disorders compared to children raised in urban environments with frequent acts of cleanliness. In essence, a good immune system has to be made antifragile through being challenged; an inert immune system will remain fragile and detrimental.
All this to say that, not only are lockdowns futile, but that attempts at sterility may actually prove harmful in the long run.
I intended to include a recent article from Hong Kong indicating that children are dealing with a higher rate of severe illness with Ba. 2 but unfortunately the authors pulled their article down and thus we must make do with what little information is provided in this CNN article.
However, what the authors of the study mentioned was that children may not fare as well with Ba. 2 because they have not had exposure to coronaviruses or other pathogens for the past 2 years. Essentially, the act of lockdowns and creating sterile environments may have prevented young children from becoming antifragile against COVID.
Altogether, we may see that the failed procedures to deal with COVID may actually prove quite dangerous in the long run. It’s something to keep in mind as we see the fallout from many of these countries. But we will have to wait for further evidence.
Things to Consider
Last week I asked you all about what you think about the current state of COVID discourse. I’m glad I received a number of good responses with the post! I was considering writing my own post lamenting my grievances, but that would not feel appropriate.
What I will say instead is that we may be approaching a point where things may feel reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic, where mandates may be coming back to the US.
And if things head that way, remember that you have the proper tools now to defend yourself against irrationality. Keep a level head and be fully aware of your own intelligent and ability to think critically.
I am finding that, whether it’s due to a reaction against the medical or scientific establishment, that people may be appearing far too trusting of those who may align with their ideas or narratives if those ideas oppose the establishment’s.
Remember that no one is owed your trust, and that you should always remain vigilant when examine new pieces of information. Don’t let trust blind your better judgement. If information does not appear quite right, don’t be afraid to dig deeper and see if the information makes sense or not.
But here’s an even more important thing to remember: if all of this talk of COVID has left you feeling exhausted, morose, or angry please know that it is perfectly acceptable to step back. It’s just as important to understand where your limits are and whether the inundation of information is causing you more harm than good. If you have reached such a state, and only continue to feel more anger and resentment, it may be time to take a break and step away. Sometimes it’s good to take time for ourselves, and in some cases it is when we spend time with ourselves that we can come to better understand ourselves.
I am working on a piece highlighting this fact that I will hopefully release later this week. But for now I will leave this post from The Naked Emperor which made me think of writing about this concept:
But for now Spring appears to have finally visited us. Actually, it feels like we jumped straight to Summer where I reside. Take this time to go outside, breathe in the newly invigorated life that has emerged after a cold and bitter winter6, and find your place in the greater world! You may be surprised how much perspective the outdoors provide.
And make sure to enjoy the “foilage” (yes, the episode takes place in the fall but I still found it fitting!)
I have not actually watched this episode, but saw that it was the main topic of last night’s episode. I’ve more or less reduced my consumption of Tim Pool’s podcast.
Which should more aptly be considered as positive PCR tests rather than infection rates.
This is not to say that we are unaware of how SARS-COV2 spreads, but more that it may be considered a moot point to belabor.
Even as evidence came out that mice/rats could serve as reservoirs for SARS-COV2, there were still arguments being made that zero COVID is a possibility, albeit made more difficult due to this finding. So even when presented with a scenario that argues that COVID cannot be contained have peopled attempted to suggest otherwise.
I remember hearing of this idea from Ivor Cummins, although it was quite a while ago so I am unsure which video he actually alluded to this idea. However, it was one of his ideas which he stuck with for quite some time.
Well, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere. Apologies to those down South!