As I write this last column for 2020, the words of the late John Lennon come to mind;
“So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
A new one just begun”
Last week marked the 40th anniversary of his tragic death by homicide. Where has that time gone to is a good question with no answer.
Depending on where you are in the world , the situation is very different. In Australia and New Zealand, we are blessed by low population density, isolation and a warmish climate. Cases are low and with some notable exceptions, testing and tracking has been effective. Life is getting closer to normal. Many South East Asian countries led by Taiwan have handled the situation very well.
We don’t hear about the success of Taiwan because the WHO won’t engage with it due to the influence of Communist China. The first lesson we haven’t learned is that we need to learn from success.
The northern hemisphere is going into its second winter with Covid 19. Many countries in Europe are seeing increased numbers of cases as is North America. However, the infection fatality rate is much lower than in March. A look at the Worldometers graphs page show s steady decline in fatality percentage since March.
The second lesson that unfortunately has not been learned is that the virus is not as lethal as first thought. In fact, unless you are over 80 and have significant other medical problems you have an extremely high likelihood of getting either no symptoms at all or very minor ones. These are the cases that don’t make the news.
What is not reported is that most deaths have occurred in age care facilities. If one looks at the London, New York, New Jersey fatalities occurred when hospitals were emptied out and people sent back to care facilities without being tested. Admittedly this was early on, but this key lesson has also not been learned.
Despite no actual evidence that lockdowns work they continue to be used. Data from many jurisdictions show absolutely no correlation between cases and the introduction of harsh lockdowns. Similarly, there is no evidence for mask mandates. Maybe these measures help in some way – maybe they don’t. We will likely never know because any questioning is shut down.
It is fascinating to see those who normally scream that no medical intervention be approved and used without trials and evidence, suddenly have no qualms about the use of measures which lack either.
The impact of lockdowns on the lives and health of citizens has been ignored at best and dismissed as irrelevant at worst. The consequences in terms of delayed diagnosis and treatment and mental health problems will be felt for many years – but we won’t get a daily toll. Another lesson not yet learned.
And this is separate to the impact of loss of jobs, livelihood and businesses due to enforced closure. This has economic and health impacts. Global poverty is predicted to rise significantly.
Maybe the price is worth paying? Maybe we have overreacted?
This leads to the biggest lesson that we have not learned. It is vital to be questioning of decisions taken by governments. It is highly significant that worldwide, those making decisions are not impacted by them and those impacted have no say in the decision-making process. The hypocrisy on display by those such as the Governor of California (eating out at a $350 per head dinner inside with no masks whilst berating others) shows that the spirit of “let them eat cake” live on.
We have not learned to be questioning. This is particularly the case when our freedoms are curtailed quickly and restored very slowly.
In due course history will look upon 2020 differently to how we see it today.
To return to where we started with John Lennon –
“A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fears”
Let us resolve in 2021 to be less fearful and more informed. The proverbial truth is out there – somewhere.
Thank you to all the readers for your support. The blog will return in late January.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.
He has self-published two books: Dr Joe’s DIY Health and 60 Minutes To Better Health.
Through all this he continues to see patients as a GP each week.