Scrub and spray everything with chemicals, bathe in Purell, mask up, stand no nearer to anyone else than six feet, stay away from crowds, douse yourself with alcohol, wash your hands and face raw, protect yourself from germs at all costs.
Some nations are closed completely. No one in or out.
We panic about “cases” even when they say nothing about severe consequences. Avoidance and finally suppression are the watchwords of the day, for a virus that is relatively mild by any historical standard, as Holman Jenkins just explained:
U.S. government scientists now estimate that 40% of cases are asymptomatic and 80% of symptomatic cases are mild—in short, 88% of subjects don’t know they are infected or have no great incentive to find out if they are suffering from Covid or some more familiar bug.
We could also mention the 99.9% survival rate, and that doesn’t consider the wildly disproportionate risk between the sick and healthy.
Is this an experiment? Yes, and likely a deadly one.
What precisely are we doing to ourselves? What are we doing to children?
Early in the pandemic, doctors went on the national stage to frame it up clearly: we are wrecking our immune systems and making ourselves vulnerable to more serious pathogens later.
The great discovery that viruses must be owned to be controlled was an achievement of 20th century cell biology. It’s the Godfather rule: keep your friends close but your enemies closer. It’s counterintuitive, which is precisely why it took thousands of years to discover, and a century to educate people about the problem of the conduct of public health.
But this year, starting soon after lockdowns, this wisdom strangely seemed to have vanished from the public mind. Did we just succumb to a strange anti-science hysteria?
Who knows, but if you read the New York Times carefully, and look past the insufferable political bias, what you find is something that will shock many people.
The article in question is Quarantine May Negatively Affect Kids’ Immune Systems. It’s by By Donna L. Farber and Thomas Connors and Columbia University.
Let’s just quote a few salient passages here.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is unwittingly conducting what amounts to the largest immunological experiment in history on our own children. We have been keeping children inside, relentlessly sanitizing their living spaces and their hands and largely isolating them. In doing so, we have prevented large numbers of them from becoming infected or transmitting the virus. But in the course of social distancing to mitigate the spread, we may also be unintentionally inhibiting the proper development of children’s immune systems….Immunological memory and tolerance learned during childhood serves as the basis for immunity and health throughout adulthood.
Just so we are clear, we are doing something to children that will affect their immune systems for the rest of their lives? That’s what these scholars say.
The article then continues and actually invokes the great taboo word of our age: exposure. It’s good. Exposure is good. It is necessary. It is needed. Not bad. Good.
However, for memory T cells to become functionally mature, multiple exposures may be necessary, particularly for cells residing in tissues such as the lung and intestines, where we encounter numerous pathogens. These exposures typically and naturally occur during the everyday experiences of childhood — such as interactions with friends, teachers, trips to the playground, sports — all of which have been curtailed or shut down entirely during efforts to mitigate viral spread. As a result, we are altering the frequency, breadth and degree of exposures that are crucial for immune memory development.
Okay, now it is time for the writer to invoke a bit of memorable scientific knowledge. It’s a beautiful paragraph with a stunning opening sentence.
Failing to train our immune systems properly can have serious consequences. When laboratory mice raised in nearly sterile conditions were housed together in the same cage with pet mice raised in standard conditions, some of the laboratory mice succumbed to pathogens that the pet mice were able to fight off. Additional studies of the microbiome — the bacteria that normally inhabit our intestines and other sites — have shown that mice raised in germ-free conditions or in the presence of antibiotics had reduced and altered immune responses to many types of pathogens. These studies suggest that for establishing a healthy immune system, the more diverse and frequent the encounters with antigens, the better.
Remember that absolutely public hysteria about alleged peanut allergies to the point that if we ate one on a plane people could die? Check this out:
Introduction of peanuts to infants resulted in reduced incidence of peanut allergy, while avoidance had the opposite effect of promoting unwanted, severe allergic immune responses to peanuts.
The article concludes with a perfunctory endorsement of masking (poor kids!), else it wouldn’t have been published, but ends with this riposte:
The sooner we can safely restore the normal experiences of childhood, interacting with other children and — paradoxically — with pathogens and diverse microorganisms, the better we can ensure their ability to thrive as adults in this changing world.
Really, all this is something my mother knows. She taught it to me. Her mother taught it to her. They were all taught it in school. The knowledge has not been deprecated. It just strangely evaporated. Or perhaps censored. I don’t know. I do know this article is a welcome relief from the poppycock of mysophobia that has taken over the public square.
Imagine wrecking the immune systems of children for a lifetime for a disease that poses almost zero risk to their lives. I call that immoral. Deeply so. People will be suffering for many decades due to this bout of anti-science hysteria.
It takes one’s breath away to contemplate the scale of the destruction these lockdowns and quarantines have caused, particularly among the most vulnerable. It’s not just depression, poverty, and demoralization of living in the midst of near-universal violations of human rights. As it turns out, we could be biologically dooming a whole generation too.
Get those kids out there! You get out there too! Sooner the better.