A top scientist questioned virus lockdowns on Fox News. The backlash was fierce.

December 16, 2020 ☼ pandemiclockdown

Source: The Washington Post - Link

The epidemiologist sitting before the cameras spoke with calm authority. It was late March, and as the coronavirus spread across the country, it came as no surprise that journalists were turning to John Ioannidis. The Stanford University medical professor was famous for his rigorous assessments — and frequent debunking — of disease treatments. He was a consummate physician-researcher, combining fluency in the mathematical models that predict a pathogen’s lines of attack with experience at the bedsides of patients suffering from AIDS.

The surprise came in what Ioannidis had to say. As many public health experts and government officials were urging people to stay home to avoid infection, he speculated that the coronavirus might be less dangerous than assumed. News media were overhyping the disease. The greater risk lay not in covid-19 but in overzealous lockdowns to prevent its spread.

But as the pandemic enters its deadliest phase, Ioannidis is losing the argument over how to combat covid-19. Among epidemiologists, consensus now exists that it was inaction, not overreaction, that helped create the worst public health crisis in a century. The uncontrolled spread of the virus has led to overrun ICUs in South Dakota and makeshift morgues in Texas. States and countries are locking down in a bid to preserve lives as vaccines start to roll out. Even Sweden, which resisted tough restrictions through the spring, is now reversing course to avert catastrophe.

The advice Ioannidis was given does not make sense. It makes sense only after there is an effective way of fighting the virus. We will have that after vaccines are developed.