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Sweden Shouldn’t Be America’s Pandemic Model

Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
 

By Scott Gottlieb (original source The Wall Street Journal)

“The Trump administration’s Covid response seems increasingly to reflect a policy preference among some conservatives: Protect the elderly and let others try to get on with their lives. This thinking assumes that herd immunity will slow the pandemic if more younger people are infected. Many features of federal policy seem to be following this philosophy.

It’s important to protect the old and the vulnerable, who are at the highest risk of severe illness and bad outcomes. But like most issues of medicine, it isn’t a binary choice. Given the uncertainties of how this virus spreads and its high risk of infirmities, it would be unwise to abandon efforts to limit Covid spread wherever possible. That means continued universal masking, social distancing, and diagnosing and tracing of individual cases.

While age appears to be the strongest predictor of death and severe disease, other risks like diabetes and obesity correlate with bad outcomes. About 10% of Americans have diabetes, and 40% are considered obese. Young people can fall seriously ill. About 40% of hospitalizations in Sunbelt states in the last week of June were in people ages 18 to 49. Then there are those who survive but don’t fully recover. There’s growing evidence that the virus can damage the heart and cause dangerous autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, including in children.

Covid spreads too easily to think it can be confined to the young. The summer epidemics in Sunbelt states initially affected mainly a younger cohort and then seeped into an older population. A wedding in Maine caused an outbreak that spread to a rehabilitation center and a jail. It is neither possible nor desirable to lock away the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.”

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