OPINION: LIBERTY COULD BE REDUCED



Individuals exposed to infection by COVID19 have responded mainly in three ways. They have accepted the risk unprotected, self-protected, or have obtained protection by government restriction of their own and others’ activities. Consequences are not yet fully known but government intervention has already created a precedent for public health policy.
Given a choice between catching a dangerous virus and losing employment, few people would hesitate to stay home. Response to past influenza outbreaks was largely individual, without regulation of individual activity. Regulative response to COVID-19 has attributed new potential for infection but this has not been manifest in all countries. Virulence of COVID-19 has been summarised by Swiss Policy Research as follows.
‘In countries like the US, the UK, and also Sweden (without a lockdown), overall mortality since the beginning of the year is in the range of a strong influenza season; in countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland, overall mortality is in the range of a mild influenza season.’ 
Compared with previous responses to influenza, lockdown in Australia for COVID-19 has had new levels of social control compared with past outbreaks, when it was left to individuals to decline risks, or accept them with mild social sanctions. Unless COVID-19 is significantly more virulent, social and economic consequences of government protection seem disproportionate to other influenza treatments. Perhaps public health care has advanced and people expect better protection nowadays. Ordinary influenzas nevertheless continue to kill without social regulation. In Australia in 2017, 4269 deaths from influenza and pneumonia had less social control, whereas in 2020 there have been 103 deaths to June 25 from COVID-19. Protection imposed by restriction of public behaviour for COVID-19 is relatively a loss of liberty, compared with for example: inability to go to work by accepting personal risk similar to crossing the road. Young lives could be stunted. Those who want protection would be free to self-protect at home, especially elderly people who are most vulnerable. Supposing that COVID-19 hangs around for repeat seasons, or new virulent viruses arrive, the regulation of the many, for the benefit of the few, could threaten restoration of society, unless we revert to the kinds of voluntary behaviour that were accepted for so long. When difference in virulence numbers between countries is clear, actions needed could be clearer.
https://swprs.org/studies-on-covid-19-lethality/

About martinknox

Materially minimalist; gastronomically prefer food I cook; biologically an unattached male survivor; economically independent; sociologically a learner and teacher of science; psychologically selfaltruistic; anthropologically West Country English tenant farmer; religiously variable; ethically case by case; philosophically a sceptical Popperian.

Posted on June 26, 2020, in COVID-19 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on OPINION: LIBERTY COULD BE REDUCED.

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