The biggest failing of science in the current COVID situation is its inability to react to new evidence that its original conclusions were wrongly decided, and the assurances to governments were incompetent. We implicitly accept that any initial science-based decisions attains some law-like status that is automatically presumed to be true until there is overwhelming evidence that it is wrong. In particular, such decision making does not permit a simple apology for making a mistake following new data that clearly disproves the original science.
We are investing a lot of effort in developing and testing a vaccine that we hope can stop the spread of this disease. Realistically, we might find a vaccine that simply reduces the number of vulnerable people. A similar outcome might be achieve more quickly by simply reducing the anxiety and fear about this disease. The disease could become something we do not need to fear by convincing ourselves that it is something that we do not need to fear.
We once had a medical system that can competently manage epidemics. We discarded it to make room for the managed-condition healthcare system we have now. Our system has proved that it cannot tolerate an epidemic, something that history tells us is a fact of nature. As a result, when an epidemic appears, we have to stop everything until a vaccine can make it go away.
It may be beneficial to reevaluate our approaches for treating contagious diseases especially those associated with epidemics. We have technologies we never had before with automation, communications technologies, and with miniaturization and mass production of highly reliable consumer appliances. We could plan for future epidemics around a near total at-home treatment path instead of following the historic practice of collecting patients into hospitals.
In the case of COVID19, we demand extraordinary evidence before accepting the normalcy of this pandemic. This sets a major precedence for all future novel diseases. From now on, we need to accept that anything new is an existential threat to humanity until evidence conclusively proves otherwise.
The enlightenment-inspired government has a biased view of casualties. Casualties from science-backed human-directed actions such as vaccinations is preferred over casualties from nature. We can tolerate magnitudes more casualties from science than the number of casualties from nature.
We know more about this threat and how to deal with it. Many people are thinking “thank you very much for bring this to our attention, we now now what to do, now leave us alone”.
Human-based governments are not well equipped to handle the contradiction we are facing now. We have to make decisions now based on the influential population we have now. As a result, we are unable to consider the needs of the influential population we will have when this crisis is over. Most of the decisions made now will benefit people who will no longer be around when the future has to deal with the consequences. In addition many of those who do survive will be handicapped directly by the policies we made to benefit people who are no longer around.
From a policy perspective there is a opportunity choice to make. One, the government devotes resources to acquiring and managing ventilator inventories. Or two, the government devotes resources to finding a way for future patients to never need ventilators. It appears to me that we have decided on the first option, thus condemning future survivors to endure the lung damage from ventilators.
We may be wasting valuable energy and attention on obtaining, allocating, and stockpiling ventilators that are not going to change the overall statistical outcomes of this pandemic. We may be better off focusing our attention on other more productive avenues for protecting the population from reaching the point where ventilators are the last available option.