The first failure by medical experts regarding Covid-19—they treated it as a medical issue. By treating Covid-19 as a medical issue, experts never applied the principles of problem solving to get at the heart of issue.
It should be stated: The principles of problem solving are straightforward. There is nothing other worldly about problem solving.
First and foremost, one must understand the problem.
It cannot be overstated: to solve a problem, any problem, one must have as complete an understanding of the problem as possible. This begins with determining what constraints and conditions are associated with a particular problem.
Once this has been accomplished, a problem definition needs to be constructed.
Note: To ensure a viable solution can be found—the problem definition must be defined as narrowly as possible. (Read: Coronavirus: We Never Defined the Problem)
In the case of Covid-19—if we define the problem broadly as protecting every American, the only viable solution is a vaccine.
The dilemma, what should the country do in the interim between the first appearance of Covid-19 and the time a vaccine is widely available? Should Americans simply bury their heads in the sand hoping the virus passes them by?
A better definition—i.e. a more realizable definition is: To limit the death toll by protecting vulnerable Americans.
It is worth pointing out: any solution must satisfy the problem definition as well as all the constraints and conditions associated with the problem.
There is another key element in problem solving, the process of reevaluation.
We should reassess any solution as new facts become available, or as our confidence in existing facts becomes greater, or if those facts are dispelled.
That has never been the case with Covid-19.
At one time, it was widely held the summer heat would create a reprieve from the Coronavirus. (Read: The Mythology of Summer Heat)
That assumption has been soundly disproven.
Major outbreaks in Latin America, Brazil and other equatorial countries proved beyond doubt the heat had little to no effect on Covid-19.
This new information was never factored in by policy makers.
Another important factor not applied—the two spikes in Coronavirus infections that have swept through the nation and global populations since June of 2020.
The data behind these surges tell us new infections were not reinfections.
There may have been some individuals who contracted Covid-19 for a second time, however, any reinfections were a rarity not the norm, therefore, the immunity created when an infected individual recovers is not short lived.
(Note: A distinction must be made between anti-bodies and immunity. Anti-bodies may be short lived, this however, does not mean immunity is short lived. This is reinforced by the data associated with the fall surge in infections, where there were few reported cases of reinfection. (Read: Fall Surge Tells Us—Immunity Not Short Lived)
What did we know—and how should it have affected our thinking regarding Covid-19?
First, there was no vaccine available at the onset of the pandemic.
As simplistic as this appears—this is a critical factor.
Second, by late February 2020, it was well established, with data coming from China, Italy and Spain—Covid-19 was not a major threat to the general population, rather, it was proving to be a highly targeted pathogen impacting unhealthy elderly populations.
(Note: Data compiled by the CDC corroborated the Italian, Spanish and Chinese data.)
Third, there was a readily identifiable concentration of unhealthy elderly people housed in nursing homes. (Read: Nursing Homes—The Failure of State Leaders)
Fourth, unhealthy elderly Americans weren’t getting any healthier.
Fifth, America is a highly mobile society.
As time passed, two additional pieces of information would become apparent: Summer heat had no effect on the virus and the immunity derived by contracting and recovering from the virus was not short lived.
If we define the problem as: protecting vulnerable Americans, given the problem definition, evidence and constraints, where on the spectrum of possible solutions should experts and policy makers have landed—toward the Swedish model of herd immunity or the Chinese/South Korean model of complete isolation? (Read: The Swedish Model)
Given the highly selective nature of Covid-19, the best option would have been to isolate the most vulnerable population while creating herd immunity within the general populace.
More important, when America’s mobility is factored in—under no circumstances would a policy of isolation ever be the preferred choice.
Ironically, given the problem definition coupled with our original knowledge of the Coronavirus—what should have resulted did not—this creates a conflict.
More troubling, as our knowledge grew with time (summer heat having no effect and immunity not being short lived) it should have led to a reevaluation of the policy of isolation.
In fact, the new evidence (summer heat, long lived immunity) reaffirmed the best approach to protect the U.S. populace from the Coronavirus was to protect the most vulnerable while allowing the general population to be exposed to the virus in order to provide a protective bubble of herd immunity.
Given the evidence, the sooner herd immunity is acquired the better for everyone.
Sadly, experts never adhered to the tenets of problem solving—instead, they treated Covid-19 as a medical issue.