A COVID counter-factual


Suppose, one year ago, the Government had chosen not to be mimic men and decided not to impose regulatory restrictions in response to the COVID- 19 pandemic? What would have happened? In this scenario, the Government’s only responsibility would have been to issue public health warnings and make sure the hospitals were ready to deal with COVID cases. Businesses, without requiring any regulations, would still have put their masks and sanitising protocols in place, even though the actual science (which you need to dig for, since media reports rarely deal with such facts) shows that the first has limited efficacy and the latter none at all.

Individuals would also have taken their own precautions without needing the threat of law. People at risk would have been especially sure to do so, despite assertions by the Health Minister that grannies and their families don’t know how to protect themselves.

As for the zessers and the wealthy, they would have done exactly as they have been doing, but probably taken more precautions since they would not have had to hide.

Most importantly, since the scientific data over the past year shows that lockdowns make absolutely no difference to infections rates (again, information you will not easily find), T&T’s borders and economy could have remained open and we would be in the same health position we’re in today or, more likely, have fewer overall deaths. This is because, even if the total number of COVID cases and fatalities had increased, more people would not have died from other causes (heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes) as shown by studies in other countries that use statistics. This is demonstrated by the experience of Sweden, Taiwan, and Japan, the only three countries which adhered to what, until COVID-19, has always been standard pandemic protocol: carry on as normal.

Put simply, the people and the country would have been better off had there never been this panic response to what is, historically, the mildest pandemic ever. No other virus has ever had a 98 per cent survival rate, with 90 per cent of fatalities being people over 50 and 99.9 per cent of those having health conditions that would have killed them within five years.

Despite this, over the past year and now as we enter another futile lockdown, it is telling that not one organisation—no political party, no NGO, no religious body, no media company, no civic group, no activist groups, and not one prominent individual—has objected to the ongoing removal of our basic rights and the ruination of our economy.

This proves what the late Lloyd Best long ago said about our “unresponsible elites” and, to use the quotidian version of Naipaul’s insight, that “Trinidad is not a real place”.