At the beginning of 2021, I was asked to do a review of a book on COVID-19 by Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet. As I read through the book, the realization struck me that the purpose of this book was as a piece of self-conscious history. The reason it was being written was to put a flag in the ground, stake a position, and say “this is the official history of COVID”. The goal of the book was not so much to tell a clean history of the pandemic but to start the long work of establishing the narrative of the pandemic that will one day become the formal history taught in classes on public health and in schools around the world. This book was an opening salvo in a war over the narrative.
My first reaction to this was laughter. It is not at all clear that COVID lockdowns saved lives without harming economies. I find it ridiculous that someone could, with a straight face, assert that. But what truly bothers me about this is that everyone is treating the discussion of lockdowns like the same game of political football that is played with every other topic when this is the single most important practical policy issue that Americans will be dealing with in the next 12 months.
I am tired of people who are even now treating all things COVID as some kind of game or political football that needs to be moved 5 yards down the field. This whole “Actually, Lockdowns Not Only Save Lives, But They Have No Downsides” is transparent nonsense. It’s not that it is stupid, it is that it is a talking point from “smart” people that is meant to convince other “smart” people that all the “smart” people made the right decisions and are not only justified in their past decisions but fully vindicated in every possibly way by The Data, which is the great oracle that grants us the grace of life and the fullness of knowledge, praise be to The Data.