While most of the world is locked in, Swedish citizens are not. Sweden has decided not to participate in draconian economic shutdowns, giving us a “null hypothesis case” with which to compare our actions. This policy may seem radical by world standards, but it is exactly the policy advocated by expert epidemiologist Knut Wittkowski. According to Wittkowski lifting the lockdowns would cause the Wuhan virus to be “exterminated” in weeks.
In an article on NewAmerica Dr. Wittkowski, the former longtime head of the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at the Rockefeller University in New York City, made his comments in an interview with The Press & The Public Project (PPP) at the start of the month. Wittkowski maintained “that the coronavirus could be ‘exterminated’ if we permitted most people to lead normal lives and sheltered the most vulnerable parts of society until the danger had passed,” reports the College Fix.
According to Dr. Wittkowski “With all respiratory diseases, the only thing that stops the disease is herd immunity. About 80% of the people need to have had contact with the virus, and the majority of them won’t even have recognized that they were infected, or they had very, very mild symptoms, especially if they are children.” Thus, it is very important to keep schools open to allow school children to keep infecting one another to develop group immunity. Once herd immunity is achieved we can begin reintegrating vulnerable groups—the elderly and people in nursing homes—back into normal society.
Needless to say, this is currently a minority view among public health experts. In the United States experts Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx continue to advocate a full lockdown of nearly everyone. While it’s a battle of experts, in science data do the talking. And Sweden gives us another data point that will no doubt be very carefully watched. The chart below is current through April 11, 2020, but we may need to wait many months until the data are fully understood. The countries are all in Scandinavia: DK-Denmark, FI-Finland, NO-Norway, SE-Sweden. For comparative purposes through the same time period the USA had 4925 cases/100000 population and 184 deaths/100000 population.
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