While this article could not realistically address exhaustively every impact reported in the scientific literature or the media, it does highlight the necessity for a serious re-evaluation of priorities by bishops, pastors, counsellors, and administrators at every level, of the more detrimental consequences of the measures taken to purportedly combat COVID-19. It is hoped that this will lead to concerted efforts to block and terminate the various inhumane measures, replacing them with more common sense efforts that respect the true dignity of the human person in its fullness and, as a result, truly serve the common good.
We’ve been told since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that significant restrictions in the form of lockdowns, social distancing, quarantines, and mask mandates are necessary for the “common good.” This refrain has been heard from medical professionals, politicians, our bishops and other Catholic leaders, and even the man on the street. Yet, looking at data from all disciplines, including the physiological, psychological, and psychosocial, calls into question whether the common good has truly been served by these restrictions. In all that has taken place, in all that we have observed, one has to ask whether the real pandemic was truly virus-induced or human-imposed.
In this article, we will briefly explore the background of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the measures taken to slow its spread, the confusing messaging given to us by health experts throughout the pandemic, the fatality rates associated with the virus, and potential treatments. Then we will examine the COVID-19-related restrictions and how they affect the common good. By doing this, we can analyze the impact of the disease itself vs. the impact of the restrictions.
It is important to recognize at the outset the fact that SARS-CoV-2 is a virus within the family of corona viruses which were first characterized in the 1960s (Kahn and McIntosh, 2005). These viruses have been around for a long time. In fact, this is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that coronaviruses have affected the global community—the SARS epidemic of 2003 was also caused by a coronavirus. Whether this virus originated in bats (Zhou et al., 2020; Zhu et al., 2020) or modified in a lab (Piplani et al.; Latham and Wilson, 2020) or not (Andersen et al., 2020), does not really matter much to most people. What does matter is how the virus has impacted everybody’s life.
Measures taken to minimize spread
Starting in early 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) and most governments across the world implemented a series of measures touted—without any real scientific or other evidence—to help reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These included lockdowns (also known as “stay-at-home” orders) that shut down schools, work places, economies, and nations; quarantines, social distancing, and compulsory mask wearing. However, the hallmark characteristic of how authorities at all levels have handled this disease can only be described as confusing, contradictory, and, as evidence continues to accumulate, clearly inhumane.
One such example of confusion is the WHO warning against early termination of lockdowns in March of 2020, only to warn against lockdowns in October of the same year. Even the relaxing of the lockdowns brought only limited relief to the public. Mask mandates, social distancing, closure of so-called “non-essential” services, barriers in stores, classrooms, and anywhere where two humans would, God forbid, face each other, disinfection of surfaces and hands continued—and I am sure that this is not an exhaustive list. Many of these behaviors continue to be practiced to this day.
While many arguments are raised to justify the necessity for the measures taken, there is one aspect that seems to be constantly either ignored (intentionally or unintentionally) or spoken of as an issue of lower priority: the human psychological impact that will be felt for several generations.
COVID-19 in context
Another difficulty regarding the response to the pandemic is putting COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths into their proper context. Realistically speaking, there remains plenty of confusion pertaining to the real number of deaths associated with COVID-19, and part of this stems from the ambiguous definitions applied by authorities such as the WHO (WHO, 2020) or CDC (National Center for Health Statistics, 2020). However, the WHO and CDC are clearly not solely to blame for the confusion, given how some deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 despite a clear lack of connection.
One noticeable source of confusion is the persistent choice of members of the media and of politicians to speak in terms of raw counts rather than percentages. Raw number counts mean very little, given that they can only be understood appropriately if a context is provided. For example, claiming that 100 people died means different things if you are addressing a small rural community with a population of 1,200 or a city of 120,000. In the context of other diseases, and not taking the intentionally ambiguous definitions mentioned above into consideration, COVID-19-related deaths have not, realistically speaking, been any more alarming than any other global disease. It therefore appears that news outlets and politicians present the raw numbers not to aid understanding, since it does not, but to put forward a more dramatic view of the disease.
In 2020, globally, 1.8 million people were reported to have died of COVID-19. However, global deaths from diarrheal disease was reported to be 1.7 million in 2016 (Troeger et al., 2018), while cardiovascular diseases claim 17.9 million lives a year. Last year abortion claimed 42.7 million lives while the first ten days of January 2021 alone claimed the life of 1.1 million unborn children globally.
Knowledge about COVID-19 and Potential Treatment
One might argue that COVID-19 is a far greater threat to life than diarrheal disease because we don’t know how to treat it. So what do we know?
As indicated earlier, COVID-19 is caused by a virus (SARS-CoV-2). Recovery rates have been reported as being between 97% and 99.75% (Nikhra, 2020) and most of the COVID-19 deaths are related to comorbidities, meaning that only 6% of deaths are solely attributable to COVID-19 alone. Comorbidities include hypertension, diabetes, and obesity (Petrilli et al., 2020; Richardson et al., 2020).
A look at the number of deaths in relation to confirmed cases—at both the global level and also within the United States—indicates that at the global level deaths account for 2.22% of those confirmed, or 0.03% of the world population. In the United States deaths account for 1.8% of those confirmed, or 0.16% of the US population (data accessed March 4, 2021).
Additionally, we do have potential ways of treating COVID-19 or minimizing its impact. These include hydroxychlorquine (Klimke et al., 2020) and chloroquine (Vincent et al., 2005), alone or in combination with antibiotics (Arshad et al., 2020) or antivirals (Wang et al., 2020), the use of zinc supplementation (McCullough et al., 2021) that has been shown to enhance the absorption of chloroquine (Xue et al., 2014), in addition to immune modulators and steroids that target the so-called cytokine storm that drives the inflammation (Recovery Collaborative Group et al., 2020; Vijayvargiya et al., 2020). Moreover, increasing evidence supports the protective role of vitamin D against COVID-19 (Bilezikian et al., 2020; Teshome et al., 2021), which makes the lockdowns—which prevent people from being outside in the sun, the major source of vitamin D—clearly nonsensical.
Additionally, there are practices that people can and should be utilizing to minimize risk of serious infection, including basic hygiene practices such as hand-washing (Alzyood et al., 2020) and appropriate nutrition (Zabetakis et al., 2020; Demasi, 2021; Greene et al., 2021)—practices that, realistically, should be common sense.
The Common Good? Lockdowns, Social Distancing, Quarantines, Masks, Vaccines, and Testing: The Psychosocial impact
Although it appears that many possible treatments have been ignored, that does not mean that actions haven’t been taken to slow the spread. Quite the contrary. However, many of the steps taken to address the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus appear rather questionable.
Firstly, from a statistical perspective as addressed earlier, given the low mortality rates (measured as Infection Fatality Ratio (IFR)), given the prognosis of most of those infected, given the abundance of potential methods of minimizing death in those infected, and given the potential common sense and non-stressful methods for minimizing the spread of infection, the measures imposed are disproportional to what the disease has shown itself to be.