Doctors and 'experts' who got it wrong during the COVID-19 pandemic
Some are asking for forgiveness. Do they deserve it?
Doctors and ‘experts’ who got COVID policy wrong are asking for forgiveness. Their errors hurt children— resulting in massive learning losses— and caused broader destabilization to the economy, work life, social communities and more. Do they deserve forgiveness? And, why did they err in the first place?
Recently Scott Galloway, the NYU professor, appeared on Bill Maher. On the topic of school closure, he said:
School closure was not just wrong in retrospect however, the available data showed it was wrong at the time. With professor Vlad Kogan, I documented the clear data that schools must remain open, and worked extensively on this issue in 2020 and beyond.
Sadly, in many places in the US, they remained closed for another 8 months. This was particularly true in left leaning cities with strong teachers unions. Teachers unions sabotaged kids’ futures.
School closure was not the only misguided policy. Masking children— as young as 2 years old for years on end often with cloth facial decorations— was another policy error. It simply has no evidence to support it, and frankly only an idiot would advise doing it to a 2 year old (they take it off to nap in the same room, btw). Sadly, the American Academy of Pediatrics pushed this error.
I wrote about this topic for the Atlantic magazine, only to face criticism from everyone’s favorite internet comedian and private practice opthalmologist Dr. Glaucomflecken, who called publishing my piece an ‘awful decision’.
Later, Will Flanary (Dr. G) would once again venture into COVID policy debates: this time commenting about myocarditis after COVID19 vaccination— a safety harm that has now been added to package inserts. He wrote dismissively that the concern was invented.
Of course, myocarditis is such an important safety concern that many nations banned the use of Moderna in young people, spaced doses, and some have abandoned annual booster plans in young, healthy populations. In our work, we showed the harms of boosters outweighed benefits in young healthy men.
Why did doctors and professors make these COVID19 errors?
The answer is simple. Groupthink. The vast majority of people— even physicians and experts— do not read and interpret papers themselves. Nearly all of them rely on their peer networks to shape their opinion. Likely, Scott Galloway’s views were shaped by sentiments in NYC during the pandemic. NYC was hit hard in April 2020, but closing schools was never a policy solution that would help. Instead it was a self inflicted wound.
Glaucomflecken is essentially a woke medical comedian. His comedy tries to sate the most extreme left wing doctors. On at least 1 occasion, he deleted a video because it was perceived as critical of primary care.
Given this, it is natural that the extreme left wing position— that kids should mask— is one that became incorporated in his worldview, and naturally criticizing my Atlantic article was an easy way to signal his allegiance.
Ultimately, all of this behavior is sad. Instead of aspiring to be better students of evidence based medicine, experts simply want to be bigger virtue signalers. The failure in terms of why so many bad pandemic policies were pushed by so many is that so many people were not thinking independently, and perhaps some are simply not capable of it.
Do they deserve forgiveness?
Scott Galloway is asking for forgiveness. In my mind, forgiveness should be given to any civilian who held incorrect COVID policy views. I forgive the accountants and waiters of the world. But, experts and physicians have a duty to understand a medical topic before commenting, and while they should be forgiven, the worst offenders— those consistently wrong— should also be precluded from commenting on health policy going forward.
Additionally, compensation is required for the victims of bad policy. Every person fired over vaccine mandates— which were unethical as they did not halt spread— should be paid restitution. People who were fined for non compliance with mask mandates, or parents frustrated by masking policies in daycare should receive an apology. Families escorted off airplanes because children (as young as 2) did not mask, should be compensated. Once this happens, I think forgiveness is more palatable.
Those interested in a longer discussion can watch my video on this topic.