Why America needs a COVID truth commission
When America faced the national tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding in 1986, Congress created a commission with independent outside experts, including the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. His iconic demonstration of a faulty O-ring made brittle in the cold as the cause of the Challenger disaster led to fundamental reforms at NASA.
The American people deserve a similar bipartisan, scientifically minded COVID-19 commission so the public-health disaster of the past three years is not repeated.
Due to insufficient protection of older people — whose COVID-mortality risk is more than 1,000-fold higher than that of the young — official counts attribute more than 1 million deaths to COVID in the United States and almost 7 million worldwide. Though people vehemently disagreed about the wisdom of lockdowns, school closures, vaccine mandates and discrimination, masks and so much else, there is near-universal agreement that what we did failed.
By early 2022, about 95% of Americans had contracted COVID despite the harsh countermeasures. A John Hopkins University meta-analysis concluded that lockdowns failed to contain the spread of COVID. At best, they temporarily protected the laptop class, who could work from home while being served by the working class.
Workers manufacturing antigen testing kits for COVID-19 — REUTERS
The pandemic response itself has wrought tremendous collateral harm. There is now broad agreement that the school closures — in some states running a year or more — have set kids behind in ways that will lead them to worse outcomes as adults, including shorter, poorer lives.
One peer-reviewed paper estimated the spring 2020 closures alone may have cost American children millions of years in life expectancy. The damages are unequally distributed, with poor and minority children suffering the worst learning losses. Hundreds of thousands of kids never returned when schools finally opened.
So the American people deserve answers to fundamental questions about the pandemic. On what empirical basis were schools closed? Did public-health decision-makers consider the harms of their policies? Why do American public-health authorities insist on masking children as young as 2 years old when mask wearing “makes little or no difference” for COVID’s spread?
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