A rant on the “second wave” and calls for more lock-downs.

My “somebody on the internet is wrong” personality flaw has been triggered. Or maybe it would be better to say that people are missing the obvious point. At any rate, this is going to be a little bit of departure from normal links to news.
To set the stage, let us consider the following opinions from the great and good.

1. There are “bad people” who believe that we should strive for herd immunity and who argue that we can achieve herd immunity from smaller number of infections then “good people” this is possible.

2. The current rising number of infections in places that have already been hard hit (like Spain) show that the “bad people” are wrong (was there ever any doubt?).

3. “Bad people” are trying to switch the subject to talking about how low the case fatality rate is. But this lower date rate is only because the demographics of those getting infected are currently different and have nothing to do with the seriousness of COVID.

Granted, the above is a little over simplified, but I think (despite the snark) it is a pretty fair representation of the views of a lot of people. If you want to see someone who is struggling to be fair minded address this issue, you can read this Marginal Revolution post so you can see the argument being made sans the snark.

Now I am not going to defend the work of the “bad” herd immunity people. I suspect that they are making a critical error in modeling a “herd” as being a given group of people located a geographical point and we know this model is flawed. For example, studies of anti-body samples seem to show quite clearly that there was a big COVID class divided in New York City. It seems that COVID was much more prevalent in the poor and working class in New York then it was in the middle and upper classes. In fact, the difference is so stark that they might as well been two different cities. So the lower economic classes of New York might very well have “herd immunity” were as the upper economic classes are ripe for a “second wave” as it were. And regardless of what mathematical models show, it is hard to see how lower classes having herd immunity (assuming they do) will protect the upper classes who do things like go to weddings in Brazil and vacation in Mexico. I suspect the same logic plays out in places like Spain/Madrid or other areas that were hard hit but still experiencing a “second wave”.

But this brings to me much lower death rate that is being experienced as part of this “second wave”. The great and good will tell you this is because of the younger age demographic of those getting infected and they have statistics to back that up. I also suspect that a much higher percentage of those now being infected are better off and whiter then the first wave. I have not seen statistics to that effect but given the lack of stories about “minorities hardest hit” and “meatpackers are all going to die” I would guess that a lot more of the infections are in the upper class then previously. This would also tie into the lower death rate because as a general rule the wealthier you are the better your health and the better health care you receive. The bottom line is that a younger and wealthier set of victims goes a long way to explaining the lower case fatality rate for COVID currently being observed.

So far, I don’t have a problem with the story that the great and good are spinning (except that I think that testing and other methodological problems plays a bigger role then they are acknowledging). My problem is that obvious implications about the “success” of lockdowns are being ignored and the clamor is for “more lockdown.” This to me is missing the obvious point that the case fatality rate is so low now because vulnerable and the poor were not protected during the lock down. The people getting infected now are the people who were protected during the lockdown.

The wealthy and middle class who were able to work from home and keep their kids home with them were protected by the lockdown. The poor who could not afford to stay home and had to keep going to work (often in nursing homes, hospitals, meat packing plants, and so on and so forth) and had to have their kids in daycare (often their elderly parents since all other options were closed) were heavily hit on the first wave and not suffering as bad with the “second wave”.

What bugs me is that now that upper classes see the infections are hitting them, they want another lock down because it successfully protects them. They don’t care all that much about the economic fallout because so far that has disproportionately hurt the lower classes that have never been protected by any lock down.

The bottom line: The current rise in infections is occurring in people previously protected by lockdowns. The fact that the case fatality rate is currently so low shows that the lockdowns never did a very good job a protecting the vulnerable. Current calls to re-instate the lockdowns should be looked at as privileged people trying to protect themselves from something that the poorer classes have already suffered.

Maybe there is another way of interpreting the data, but if there is, I have not seen the argument being made. Mostly, the great and good seem to prefer to ignore the implications of the fact that infections are only now impacting them and comparatively ignoring the poor and vulnerable who were so hard hit last time.

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