A prominent World Health Organization official is urging world leaders to refrain from using lockdowns as the primary method of mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.
As the negative effects of lockdowns have become apparent this year, the use of massive shutdowns by governments around the world has grown more controversial.
The psychological effects of extreme lockdown measures are now well-documented, as of course are the economic impacts of such measures.
But with chatter of a so-called second wave of infections being predicted for the fall and winter months, there is speculation that some areas could again see life halted by government mandate.
That became true this week in some parts of New York City, as Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio announced severe restrictions in certain zip codes, citing rising infection rates in those areas, according to the New York Post.
But according to one of the WHO’s special envoys on COVID-19, lockdowns should not be used as the “primary” method of controlling the spread of infections.
WATCH: Dr David Nabarro, the WHO’s Special Envoy on Covid-19, tells Andrew Neil: ‘We really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method’. Watch the full interview here: https://t.co/XLdaedsKVS #SpectatorTV @afneil | @davidnabarro pic.twitter.com/1M4xf3VnXQ
— The Spectator (@spectator) October 9, 2020
“We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr. David Nabarro told The Spectator’s Andrew Neil in an interview that aired Thursday.
Nabarro cited the unintended consequence of economic destruction, including poverty and food shortages in some areas of the world, as a reason for governments to make every effort to avoid effectively locking people in their homes whenever possible.
“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it,” he said.
The WHO special envoy added, “Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry, for example in the Caribbean, or in the Pacific, because people aren’t taking their holidays.
“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world,” he said. “Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”
“We really do appeal to all world leaders: Stop using lockdown as your primary control method, develop better systems for doing it, work together and learn from each other. But remember, lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never, ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.”
The interview between Navarro and Neil came as thousands of scientists and medical practitioners have signed a petition condemning lockdowns.
As of Saturday afternoon, nearly 7,000 scientists 15,000 medical practitioners had signed the letter warning of the “irreparable damage” of lockdown measures.
“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection,” the petition reads.
“Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.”
The experts argued that the endgame of COVID-19 measures should be “to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.”
That goal of seeking herd immunity, the petition said, should coincide with protecting populations more vulnerable to complications from the novel coronavirus.
“Keeping [lockdown] measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed,” it added.
The words from Nabarro, and the petition opposing lockdowns, come as issues with mental health, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts are being attributed to policies which have also devastated many people financially this year.
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