IATF relies on political science, not health sciences, to shape Covid policy

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MY informal coronavirus pandemic focus group had a good laugh when a member claimed he had found a plausible explanation as to why the IATF, with the amenity of President Rodrigo Duterte, placed the whole country under endless lockdown (community quarantine) and the world’s toughest restrictions.

It is too early, he said, for the public to celebrate the president’s decision to moderate community quarantine in the National Capital Region (NCR) and allow more than a million people to go back to their jobs and resume their livelihoods.

He suggested that task force members are probably thinking about how to avoid a total lifting of the lockdown and restrictions. They aspire to remain in control of our lives, to strengthen the power of the task force during the crisis, and to ensure the continued flow of gargantuan funds into their hands.

The key, as far as they are concerned, is to maintain the public’s anxiety and fear of Covid by maintaining a continued increase in infections or deaths and to reverse the recent drop in cases due to fewer samples to test . Both the testing program and the contact tracing program need to be shifted into high gear for the numbers to skyrocket.

These things have nothing to do with the science of controlling the virus. They are more concerned with power and control. Political science is primarily concerned with power in society and the manipulation of public opinion and public behavior.

By pushing public anxiety over the edge, there will be public paranoia and widespread fear of Covid-19. The population will demand stricter measures from the government, national and local, to control the epidemic.

What will be lost in the alarm is public awareness and understanding of the rapid progress being made in various countries to bring the pandemic under control and end it within the year.

As scientists work around the clock to take control of Covid-19, there are also forces at work seeking to maintain the lockdown and draconian restrictions.

Liberals who can’t exit lockdown

In a disturbing May 4 article from The Atlantic, “Liberals Who Cannot Leave Lockdown,” Emma Green reported that some progressives and policymakers in the United States have chosen to adhere to strict Covid-19 restrictions without justification scientist to do it. This, she says, “will erode confidence in public health and make people less willing to take meaningful precautions.”

Green’s essay examines specific communities in the United States for instituted policies and modeled behaviors that have “strayed” from scientific evidence over the year.

In Brookline, Mass., Leaders decided last week to keep an outdoor mask mandate in place after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed their guidelines on that front. California Governor Gavin Newsom said in mid-April that he hoped all California schools would open for in-person learning in the fall, but stopped ahead of a guarantee.

Public health experts say schools can safely reopen for in-person learning with modifications.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last month that life in the United States could start to return to normal before the pandemic by the end of the summer.

“It’s very difficult to predict, but I think we would approach a certain degree of normalcy as we approach the end of summer and fall, and a considerable degree of normalcy as we approach the end of summer and fall. winter is approaching this coming year, ”he told Business Insider in an interview.

“If we vaccinate the overwhelming majority of the population, and it turns out that I suspect that those vaccinated are not transmitting, this schedule will be correct,” he added.

More than 150 million Americans are at least partially vaccinated, according to CDC data released Friday.

“Last year, as the pandemic raged and scientists and public health officials were still trying to figure out how the virus had spread, extreme caution was called for,” Green wrote.

“Spring 2021 is different from spring 2020, however,” she writes. “Scientists know a lot more about how Covid-19 spreads – and how it doesn’t. “

“Public health advice is changing,” she adds. “But some progressives have not updated their behavior based on the new information.”

Decision makers task

Green concluded his article with these words:

“The decisions of policy makers on how to fight the pandemic are heavy because they have such an impact on people’s lives. But personal decisions during the coronavirus crisis are heavy because they seem symbolic of people’s broader value systems. When vaccinated adults refuse to see friends inside, they go through the trauma of the past year, in which the failure of America’s medical system was so evident. When they keep their children out of the playgrounds and urge their friends to stay away on small outdoor picnics, they carry on the spirit of the past year, when civic duty was expressed through the lonely asceticism. For many people, this kind of behavior is a form of good citizenship. It is a difficult idea to give up.

And as the rest of vaccinated America begins its summer of bacchanalia, rescheduling long-awaited dinners and mid-size weddings, the most hardened pandemic progressives are left, like Cassandra, to preach “madness” to their peers. “

Trust issue

Why is not everyone singularly attached to the supreme goal of defeating Covid-19 and ending the pandemic in the world? Why do groups of different stripes turn to divergent and opposing policies?

Because politics have muddied the waters and different countries have different goals.

Countries are vying for the distinction of providing the breakthrough vaccines that will solve the crisis. And some are on the defensive in defending their record in the pandemic from the beginning until the current frantic efforts to resolve the crisis.

Here in the Philippines, the IATF and the Department of Health should be aware of all of the issues underlying the nation’s pandemic work.

We started our political response on the wrong foot because President Duterte decided to go all out with the military and then forgot to put doctors and scientists on the task force.

Lacking the know-how and experience to develop an effective policy against Covid, the IATF had to push back throughout the year criticism and bricklaying for the situation which continues to worsen.

Many of the measures imposed have gone from bad to worse, as most have given nothing to control the epidemic.

From a task force that once claimed to “follow the science” in the fight against the pandemic, the IATF barely speaks today of the science and the most recent developments; it avoids being drawn into a discussion about lifting restrictions like shields and face masks, and projecting what lies ahead. To date, the working group cannot provide a scientific basis for the face mask.

In politicizing Covid’s political response, the IATF faces low public trust. Due to its questionable makeup from the start, there will always be doubts about its expertise and ability to deal with the pandemic.

In its messages today, the IATF should be more tuned in and catch up with the current science of Covid-19. From there, and not through politics, he may be able to bring hope and better service to our people.

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