Pandemic might finally be over
By John Pickerill
This article was published today in the Pueblo Chieftain in hardcopy, and electronically in the LaJunta AgJournal (Gannett Press). https://www.agjournalonline.com/opinion/20200829/pandemic-might-finally-be-over.
Some wonderful news about COVID-19 has recently come out indicating the end of the pandemic.
A new study found evidence that all patients who were previously infected with COVID-19 have likely developed long-term immunity. This is fantastic news, because when a large enough percentage of the population gains this long-term immunity, COVID-19 can no longer spread effectively. It dies out.
This is what medical experts refer to as “herd immunity.” And it means we no longer have to wait years for a vaccine before we declare victory over this virus.
YahooNews and Business Insider published the news on Aug. 18 in an article titled, “We now have the best evidence yet that everyone develops long-term coronavirus immunity after infection – and it’s not just about antibodies.”
It notes that some earlier studies had suggested that coronavirus antibodies quickly diminish. But the new study found that immunity doesn’t go away just because the antibodies do. It looked at the multi-layers of the human immune system. All of the study’s participants infected with COVID-19, even those who had only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, and patients who didn’t have detectable antibodies, developed virus-specific T cells.
Our body’s T cells identify and kill infected cells. We also have B cells that manufacture new antibodies.
Those cells can attack the virus if it ever returns. The T cells remain in our body for years and mount an immune tesponse if the virus ever returns. They have a mechanism for informing the B cells about how to craft new antibodies.
Studies in the journal Nature and statements from the director of the National Institute of Health also support this position.
This news, and now months of COVID-19 data clarifying who is at risk and who isn’t, now shows us the way forward. According to Colorado data (covid19.colorado.gov), even if children become infected, they have very little chance (<3%) of being hospitalized, and almost zero chance (0.05%) of dying from it.
Therefore, the most responsible public policy step is to open all schools immediately for in-person learning. This will re-establish our children’s social development, improve their mental health, and give them more effective education.
At the same time, they will gain herd immunity quickly, thereby protecting our elderly population.
Working age individuals (<60 years old) also have a very low risk of hospitalization (<8%) or death (<0.5%) from COVID-19.
Therefore, the most responsible step is to lift COVID-19 restrictions off employers right away. As they return to normal operation their revenues will improve allowing them to restore much-needed jobs in our community.
At the same time these individuals will gain herd immunity quickly to protect our elderly population.
Herd immunity is the key to protecting the elderly, those most at risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19.
We now know the younger population isn’t significantly at risk if infected, usually showing only mild symptoms or none at all. But each young person who was infected is now immune and no longer will spread it to the elderly population. That helps get us closer to herd immunity.
Because masks, social distancing and lockdowns would slow down progress toward herd immunity we can now feel confident about ending these practices knowing it is in the best interest of protecting our elderly.
Governor (Jared) Polis can now have the confidence to cancel his executive orders and by doing so make society stronger against COVID-19. Hope has arrived.
John Pickerill is the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Pueblo County, and is the Libertarian candidate for Colorado House D46. He advocates for individual liberty, free market economics, private property rights, and Constitutionally limited government.