Quarantines are for the sick, the contagious and the vulnerable at high risk, not for everyone and certainly not for entire societies for long periods. They become formulas for individual, collective and economic depressions. Initially underestimated, the COVID19 was soon overestimated by models in which science finally met politics, but instead of politics being raised to the level of science, science sank to the level of the politics of fear.
On March 11, 2020, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that up to 70% of Germans could become infected, and The New York Times reported on March 12 that the U.S. Center for Disease and Drug Control (CDC) predicted that up to 1.7 million people in the U.S. could die from the virus, and Imperial College London estimated that up to 500,000 British people could die from the virus. It was in this atmosphere of viral fear that on March 19 California launched a multi-trillion dollar solution: to shut down the world’s fifth largest economy. On March 20, New York followed suit, and on the 21st of the same month, Illinois and New Jersey also did it, followed by an avalanche in and out of the United States.
A viral fear takes the virus out of context; it is not the repetition of the Spanish Influenza of 1918-1920 with 30 to 50M. It is not the infectious disease of the century or even of the year. Pneumonia and Seasonal Influenza cause 3.5M deaths per year, Hepatitis B and C 1.4M. Compared to the 350,000 deaths from COVID-19 as of May 26th, annually 800,000 children under 5 years of age die from Pneumonia, their leading cause of death. Borders and entire economies are not closed to “save” them. The difference is, as always, rich vs. poor.
The countries with the highest number of deaths from COVID19 are United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France. However, the countries with the highest deaths of children under 5 years of age from pneumonia are Southern Sudan, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Pakistan and India.
In the Great Depression of 1929, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself”. The Great Depression of 2020 is the result of an out-of-context fear, driven by media, certified by scientific models, made official by governments, taken to a collective viral level.
Yes, we’re all in this together, the virus doesn’t respect borders or social classes, but closures do. Jeff Bezos, Director of Amazon, made $29 billion in 4 months from quarantine purchases, the most in history. While Jeff Bezos made 24 times the billion dollars, 40 million American workers lost their jobs. The largest amount in history ensuring the Great Depression 2020.
Nicaragua and Sweden represent the alternative of a balance between public health and the non-destruction of the economy by not closing the economy. Each country has to determine its policies according to its needs. How do you tell the Nicaraguan farmer not to prepare or plant the La Primera crop in May? How do you tell the urban informal sector worker to stay home and lose his livelihood?
Total closures are partial because police, military, health, pharmacies, food and its supply chains; logistics, transportation, utilities, media and government, and other essentials must work to make civilization work.
24-hour media, scientists, politicians, opted for the school of non-balanced public health and a multi-billion dollar solution, the partial total blockade, destroying jobs, livelihoods, businesses, wealth and entire economies for years, increasing poverty.