Instant Opinion: chasing herd immunity could lead to ‘mass murder’
Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 19 October
The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.
1. John M. Barry in The New York Times
on a controversial pandemic response
Herd Immunity? Or ‘Mass Murder’?
“Actual data from prison populations and from Latin America suggest transmission does not slow down until 60 percent of the population is infected. (At present, only about 10 percent of the population has been infected, according to the C.D.C.) And what will be the cost? Even if herd immunity can be achieved with only 40 percent of the population infected or vaccinated, the I.H.M.E. estimates that a total of 800,000 Americans would die. The real death toll needed to reach herd immunity could far exceed one million. As horrific a price as that is, it could prove much worse if damage to the heart, lungs or other organs of those who recover from the immediate effects of the virus does not heal and instead leads to early deaths or incapacitation. But we won’t know that for years.”
2. Nesrine Malik in The Guardian
on Boris Johnson’s war talk
‘Patriotism’ is the last refuge of a scandalous government
“A party that governs in the national interest does not hand out large untendered contracts to the private sector, it does not refuse to devolve power to Labour administrations and barricade itself against the north of the country. It’s not a lack of camaraderie or a lack of resources that is failing the Tories. It’s their own lack of patriotism. They are not here to govern; they are here to rule. There is no way of working with this government – either on the part of citizens or the opposition – that will not simply give it more chances to shift the blame on to others, who will be accused of not helping ‘enough’, of not keeping quiet. If you love your country, it’s time to get loud.”
3. Ashleigh Stewart in The Independent
on the challenges of a second term
Jacinda Ardern needs to be more than kind in her next term as New Zealand prime minister
“The 40-year-old has been tested like no other leader worldwide in the last three years. The Christchurch terror attacks, the White Island eruption, the Covid-19 pandemic and economic fallout. Her response to all of the above has been internationally feted. That popularity, bolstered by selfies, Facebook Lives, mob-like crowds and at times sycophantic international media praise, only solidified her celebrity status. But for many, herein lies the problem. The fawning and selfies have rankled those desperate to get on the property ladder as the country’s housing crisis spirals out of control, those waiting for action on climate change – which had been a 2017 campaign cornerstone – and those bleeding cash due to uncertainty around the country’s Covid-19 recovery strategy.”
4. Richard L. Hasen on CNN
on a dead heat election finish
What if there's no winner on November 4?
“But what if it is close? This is the scenario that keeps me up at night. If the race is close, Trump and his campaign could file lawsuits and use evidence of election administrator incompetence to convince key segments of the American right that Democrats stole the election through deliberate fraud. Trump has already sowed distrust in the results by saying without evidence that the only way he loses is if the election is ‘rigged.’I am most worried about a race that is too close to call - especially in states struggling to count a torrent of mail-in ballots, such as Pennsylvania, whose legislators so far have refused to give election officials a head start as they do in other states like Florida to process absentee votes.”
5. Jeff Barak in The Jerusalem Post
on Covid and corruption
Is Netanyahu turning Israel into an unhealthy democracy?
“Our prime minister, time and again, has shown that he puts his personal interest above that of the country, so only the naive should expect a strict clampdown on red towns and cities in the coming days... While any self-respecting democratic politician would accept that it’s untenable for one to continue as prime minister following an indictment of charges of fraud, bribery and breach and trust, Netanyahu has not just clung to power. He has used his position as the country’s leader to deliberately weaken the foundations of the country’s legal system and law enforcement arm, in his increasingly desperate attempts to avoid standing trial.”