If there’s one thing we can count on from the World Health Organization, it’s that we can’t count on them at all. From the beginning of this mess, the WHO has been consistently inconsistent, spreading as much misinformation as the fakest fake news site you can find on the internet.
At times, the cause of this misinformation was obvious – the WHO was bending over backwards to shield China from any undue criticism for letting COVID-19 spread throughout the population. At others? Who knows what to blame? Incompetence? Too many cooks in the kitchen? It’s unclear. But the end result is the same no matter what the cause; people all over the world are realizing they have to take any public health information coming out of this UN body with an enormous grain of salt.
The subject of the WHO’s latest flip-flop? Lockdowns. After recommending that countries and cities use lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus for the majority of 2020, the organization is now saying that we should only use lockdowns sparingly. In remarks to global leaders last week, Dr. David Nabarro of WHO said that countries must stop “using lockdowns are the primary control method.”
“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said.
Whoa, that sounds a whole lot like Republican talk, right there! Gee, could it be that conservatives were right about this thing all along? No, no, that couldn’t be right. Republican governors and mayors who refused to lay strict lockdown orders on their “subjects” are merchants of death, willing to sacrifice your grandmother for the sake of keeping their corporate interests happy and well-fed!
“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it,” Nabarro said. “Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays. Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. 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.”
This is the kind of thing that reasonable politicians have been saying for months: That we can’t let the cure be worse than the disease. We haven’t even begun to reckon with the long-term economic consequences of the various American shutdowns this year. And for what? Did those lockdowns even save any lives, on balance? Isn’t that a question worth studying?
We’re sure the WHO will flip-flop on lockdowns again by the end of the year, of course, but it’s certainly interesting that, for now at least, they are echoing what conservatives have been preaching all along. Maybe it’s time for liberals to finally listen.