The failures of Covid health policies are legion. Absent, curiously, are any serious acknowledgments of the harms caused by these policies from the people who promoted them throughout the pandemic.
Recently, Professor Emily Oster of Brown University, admitted in The Atlantic that interventions like social distancing and outdoor masking “were totally misguided.” She decried the “wildly irresponsible claims” of many in positions of power and admits that school closures have led to “historic declines” in student test scores.
Oster acknowledges the obvious: these policies had serious unintended consequences. Oncologist reports note that nearly 50 percent of cancers went undiagnosed during the federal lockdowns because people were too scared to seek treatment. One study estimated that we may have missed over 200,000 cases of domestic abuse during the spring of 2020. Sharp-eyed teachers and administrators are usually the first ones to uncover these sad incidents, and our kids weren’t in school. Well into 2022, I was asking aloud: “How many bruises on a mom’s face were hidden because schools required masks for drop-offs?”
Did anyone weigh the true costs of shutting down the country and closing schools? What should be our position towards policy-makers who forced these ill-founded interventions on the public? What attitude should we strike with key influencers who knew of these harms but did little to call for changes?
Oster seems to recognize that the other shoe is dropping and which is why she launches a pre-emptive request for forgiveness:
We have to put these fights aside and declare a pandemic amnesty. We can leave out the willful purveyors of actual misinformation while forgiving the hard calls that people had no choice but to make with imperfect knowledge.
The professor was not an uninterested bystander. Oster and her team had collected invaluable data on Covid cases in school settings for nearly a year starting in August 2020. The data also mapped differing interventions by state, county, and district – allowing a real-time lab of comparisons. Our team charted her data and found that students in masked schools had a 21 percent higher case rate than students in schools with no masks. Oster published a study coming to similar conclusions.
Then, she dropped out of the discussion and refused to push her study for peer review and publication.
Numerous influential academics like Emily, under pressure from peers and establishment leaders, caved, stayed silent, and mothballed their data altogether. It’s difficult to separate intimidation from self-censorship – but a blanket amnesty seems premature.
Of course, no apology will be forthcoming from Dr. Anthony Fauci. During numerous media interviews in the last several months, he has refused to acknowledge any mistakes. Apparently, he fears that the slightest mea culpa would be taken “out of context.” Fauci’s only tool was fear and he’s not going to give up his tactic.
Dr. Scott Atlas, a one-time advisor to President Trump’s Covid-19 taskforce, recounts how he confronted Fauci and asked: “So you think people aren’t frightened enough?” Fauci reportedly replied: “Yes, they need to be more afraid.”
Fauci-endorsed lockdowns were ineffective and damaging. Risks from Covid are not uniform for the entire population but directly aligned to your age. The mortality impact on children is almost immeasurable but we burdened them with mandates and school closures. Mask mandates have shown zero impact on quelling the spread of the virus. Denied by Fauci & Co., natural immunity offers strong protection and vaccines (designed for a 2-year-old variant) have proven ineffectual at stopping the current crop of feared COVID variants.
Fauci and his cadre of unelected health officials were on the wrong side of every one of these outcomes. They were made aware of every data point above but their one-size-fits-all policies never changed significantly in the face of the evidence. In their minds, there is only the panic.
Oster’s efforts for the well-being of children were not altogether silent. She repeatedly stated claims for “safe re-openings” which were interpreted into policies of school closures by proxy – the slightest exposure sending children into 10 days of quarantine during the winter of 2021-22 per policy. However, her advocacy for fear-based vaccine pressures was always there. In late December 2021 she tweeted:
It is now widely acknowledged that Covid vaccines do not stop infections or transmission of the disease, which is the only reason for mandating and forcing vaccines on the public. We commend Oster for shying away from the shaming tactics which Fauci extolled and the Biden White House perfected, but, she was wrong again.
Curiously, after the 2009 H1N1 public health debacle, an article was published on the National Institutes of Health website entitled “‘Listen to the People’: Public Deliberation about Social Distancing Measures in a Pandemic.” The article notes the vital need for good and honest communication to the public about measures being taken the protect the citizenry. It states:
Public engagement in ethically laden pandemic planning decisions may be important for transparency, creating public trust, improving compliance with public health orders, and ultimately, contributing to just outcomes.
The current crop of failed fear-mongering virus prophets coupled with the low uptake of boosters is a stark and terrible reminder that the institutions that prided themselves on public health damaged the public trust more than anything else. Your trust should be in the bedrock of our Constitution, not in some self-endowed title of “science.” Public trust in our institutions is sinking and it will require a public trial of our policy decisions to right the ship.
Oster might still find some goodwill for engaging with those of us who got it right – even if she attributes that to a “hefty element of luck” – but she shouldn’t presume that we will forget this any time soon.