Thursday, August 25, 2022

Fauci's lockdown legacy: Increases in cancer and drug overdose deaths, a mental health crisis, financial devastation and disruptions to education that left millions of kids behind

Dr Antony Fauci will step down from his post in December, and will leave behind the legacy of his support for COVID-19 lockdowns responsible for thousands of preventable deaths, disruptions to every day life that caused a nationwide mental health crisis, financial devastation for millions and stoppages in education that will impact the next generation for the remainder of their lives.

America's most recognizable public health official announced plans to step down from his post as director of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID) in December. The end of his near-40 year reign as the nation's top infectious disease expert was largely met with praise, but some experts say his legacy will be the devastation caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns he fervently supported throughout the pandemic.

Dr Marty Makary, a public health expert at Johns Hopkins University, wrote for Common Sense that the 'draconian policies' supported by Fauci - who served as chief medical officer for both President Trump and Biden - have left millions of Americans worse for wear.

When COVID-19 first erupted around the United States in March 2020, the novel virus caught officials on their backfoot. Little was known about the new threat and news of the devastation it had caused across China and much of Europe terrified millions stateside.

In a panic, many officials instituted lockdowns, closing schools, restaurants and all kinds of businesses.

As more was learned about the virus, it was realized that Covid was far less deadly than initially believed. A analysis of data from the CDC and Johns Hopkins found that the mortality rate of the virus had dropped as low as 2.8 percent in the United States by September 1, 2020.

It also became clear that while particular groups were at risk, the average person without significant comorbidities should worry about it as much as they do the common flu.

While some red states chose to reopen — and even blue states eventually came along by late-2020 - Fauci remained a fervent supporter for closures, capacity limits and mask orders around America — with little regard for the ancillary issues that arose as a result of these orders.

'To COVID-19 he brought a monomaniacal focus on vanquishing a single virus, whatever the cost — neglecting the damage that can follow when public health loses sight of the public's health,' Makary wrote.

'...What were the impact of those policies on millions of Americans? And what would the country look like now had our public health experts taken a different approach?'

Lockdowns and the fear of the virus perpetuated by officials led to thousands skipping out on routine medical treatments. As a result, the nation suffered a stark increase in deaths from cancer, Alzheimer's and other conditions — much of which could have been prevented.

Disruptions to every day social life led to a surge in mental health issues that has left the nation — which is already facing a massive shortage in therapists — in a lurch. Social isolation has also been named one of the leading drivers in the surge in drug overdose deaths recorded during the pandemic's first year — eclipsing 100,000 for the first time ever.

The closure of businesses caused a surge in employment, leaving Americans waiting in hours-long lines for food pantries. Policies enacted to keep families afloat during lockdowns are now in part to blame for the nation's staggering inflation.

Children may have suffered the most. Experts fear closing in-person education for virtual classes led to massive 'learning loss,' leaving them worse off for the rest of their academic careers. It also harmed the social development of millions, whose interactions with their peers went from the playgrounds to their phone screens.

The 'Covid deaths' left uncounted

Fear of COVID-19 led to many Americans refusing to seek out medical attention for certain issues, or to cancel treatments that were already underway.

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on excess deaths from all conditions during the first year of the pandemic from March 2020 to 2021.

Generally, death figures within a country will stay the same year-over-year, with small miniscule changes due to population growth. The same ratio of people that die of cancer in one country in one year than did the year previous, for example.

While Covid was the leading cause of excess deaths, large increases in deaths caused by heart disease and dementia, among other causes, were also recorded during the pandemic.

The CDC report found stark increases in deaths from heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's, cancer and diabetes.

These increases are directly attributable to reduced access to medical care. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that cancer screening was significantly reduced if not outright paused during the pandemic.

As a result, studies have found that while cancer diagnosis have decreased since the pandemic began the ones that are being found are more serious. This indicates that there are many more cases out there than being recorded, but only people suffering severe late-stage symptoms are coming in to be screened.

Cancer deaths in America rose by three percent in 2020, up to 686,054, according to official figures. The NCI fears that the many undiagnosed cases from 2020 will cause this number to increase further — especially for breast and colorectal cancers.

Lockdowns also caused disruptions in care for dementia, Alzheimer's and other cognitive issues.

The Alzheimer's Society warned in June 2020 — a few months into lockdown — that patients were experiencing 'shocking' declines in their condition and 'rapidly losing memory, speech, and ability to dress and feed themselves' as many could no longer receive treatment.

The Alzheimer's Association reports that deaths from the condition increased by 16 percent in 2021.

Disruptions to life left many isolated and turning to drugs

Covid lockdowns led to millions missing important family gatherings like birthdays and weddings, an entire graduation class never got to walk across the stage, and smaller weekly meetups that allowed people to see their loved ones were halted for months-on-end.

This had a disastrous impact on Americans' mental health.

A report published last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that the number of American adults reporting anxiety or depression symptoms surged from 11 percent in 2019 to 41 percent in 2021.

The younger a person is, the harder they seem to have been hit as well. More than half — 56 percent — of those between the ages of 18 to 24 reported feeling anxiety or depression, with 48 percent of 25 to 49-year-olds saying the same.

A CDC survey found that 19.9 percent of high schoolers — typically between ages 14 and 18 — had contemplated suicide in 2021, with nine percent even attempting the act.

This has led to a surge in Americans seeking out mental health care, leaving a nation already facing a massive shortage in mental health professionals facing a crisis.

'I can't refer people to other people because everybody is full. Nobody's taking new patients ... So I've never been as busy in my life, during the pandemic, and ever in my career,' Valentine Raiteri, a New York City-based psychiatrist told CNBC in February.

Experts fear the damage caused by the pandemic — and the lack of access to treatments — will last a generation. Millions who were afflicted by mental health issues during lockdown will never shake their symptoms.

In the most devastating examples, social isolation caused by the the virus led to substance abuse, with many dying as a result.

America suffered a record 99,098 drug overdose deaths during the first year of the pandemic — a figure that has since been smashed by the 107,622 in 2021 as a whole.

'Factors related to the pandemic, such as social isolation, stress, and decreased access to substance use disorder treatment and emergency services made [America's drug overdose] problem worse,' the Senate Republican Committee wrote in March.

Millions plunged into financial uncertainty — and a cost-of-living crisis

Lockdowns and business closures left business owners big and small scrambling, suddenly unable to stay afloat. There were layoffs en masse, leading to a surge in unemployment — with the national rate reaching 15 percent at one point in April 2020.

Job losses plunged millions into economic uncertainty. Staggering pictures of Americans lining up by the hundreds at food pantries and soup kitchens around the country made headlines.

To prevent full collapse as a result of the Fauci-supported lockdowns, the federal government reduced down interest rates, boosted unemployment payments and handed out stimulus checks to millions.

These policies sparked an inflationary crisis the nation is still reeling from. At its peak in June, Americans faced a 9.1 percent year-over-year inflation rate in June. A analysis from last month revealed that — at the time — American families were paying an average of $5,915 more per year on household items.

Inflation slightly contracted in July, falling to 8.5 percent but still a margin many American families cannot afford.

The analytics firm InMarket found that from October 2021 to June 2022 the amount of groceries being purchased at dollar stores had jumped 71 percent, a signal that Americans are willing to downgrade quality of food to make their dollars go longer.

John Micklitsch, Chief Investment Officer at Cleveland-based wealth management firm Ancora explained to Forbes how the lockdowns impacted inflation: 'It's largely due to a perfect storm of supply chain disruption from Covid, government spending to fill the economic void and a synchronized global recovery driven by vaccine rollout and economies re-opening.

'The pandemic is probably just the event that exposed over a decade of underinvestment in the global commodity supply chain and the vulnerability of "just-in-time" inventories to this sort of supply shock.'

Steven Saunders, an advisory with Round Table Wealth Management said: 'Prices are increasing simply due to a mismatch in the supply and demand of goods.

'Over the last 16 months or so, pandemic restrictions closed many factories and shipping routes around the globe, resulting in less availability of products.'

The children who were left behind

Weeks into the pandemic it became apparent that certain groups suffered little to no risk from the virus. For children in particular, infection was little more than a simple cold.

'Very early on in this pandemic, we knew that there was an extremely stratified risk from Covid,' Makary wrote.

'The elderly and those with co-morbidities were especially vulnerable, while children were extremely unlikely to get dangerously ill.'

Despite this, many schools remained closed to finish the 2019-2020 school year, and some even began the following fall semester remotely. Schools that did return often forced young children to remain masked all day.

Virtual learning is not as instructive as an in-person education. A study published in April found that students who attended school virtually lost one-fifth of a school year's worth of knowledge. Children who come from less-educated families struggled the most.

Fauci remained inconsistent on school closures throughout the pandemic's first year, first supporting them before vaguely waffling about needing to do so safely with masks and testing requirements.

A study published in January — using data from the U.S. and across the world — found that the closures led to increases in mental health issues, child abuse, substantial increases in screen time, jumps in childhood obesity and an overall drop in the well-being of children.

'There are strong theoretical reasons to suggest that school closures may have contributed to a considerable proportion of the harms identified here, particularly mental health harms, through reduction in social contacts with peers and teachers,' researchers wrote.

'Schooling occupies the greater part of students’ awake time during the week, and social mixing studies show that social contacts are higher during the week than on weekdays, most social contacts of children and adolescents are with same-age peers with a smaller degree with family, and that social mixing is reduced during school holidays.'

The isolation caused by these closures also helped fuel the mental health crisis striking Americans.

Schools requiring masks to reopen, which was found to have done little to prevent transmission of the virus, harmed children as well.

Around 40 percent of parents reported that their child suffered emotionally or mentally from having to wear a face-covering in class each day, according to a March study.

Despite this evidence, Fauci told Fox News this week: 'I don’t think it’s forever irreparably damaged anyone.'




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