Have We Overreacted in Confronting the Coronavirus?


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There have thus far been over 1.2 million people in the United States that have been infected by the coronavirus, of which over 70,000 have died according the Johns Hopkins tracker. These figures are alarming, especially after the mainstream media has exploited the situation instilling in society a near mass hysteria. However, there have been other viruses during the 20th century that have thus far killed more Americans per capita than the COVID-19 that did not bring a total lockdown of society.  Oddly enough, they too came for the Far East:

  • The Influenza of 1918—erroneously called the Spanish flu since it first appeared first in villages in China—which like the current pandemic, there was a demographic pattern to the deaths.  It targeted the elderly population with heart and lung disease; approximately 675,000 Americans died—the U.S. population was over 104 million and at least 50 million worldwide.
  • The H2N2 virus of 1957, named the “Asian Flu,” which killed 116,000 Americans. As published by the American Institute of Economic Research, it was first reported in Singapore in February 1957, Hong Kong in April 1957 and thereafter in coastal cities in the U.S. in the summer of 1957—the estimated number of deaths was 1 to 2 million people worldwide.
  • The H3N2 virus or the “Hong Kong influenza” of 1968—originating in the then-British colony, the strain infected about 500,000 residents of Hong Kong, or 15% of its population. It killed 100,000 people in the U.S., mostly over the age of 65—about one million worldwide succumbed to this virus.

During the 1957 pandemic, the population of the U.S. was 172 million—just over half of today’s population. Although there was a shorter lifespan—69 as versus 78 today—it was a healthier U.S. population with lower rates of obesity. Americans were also more resilient, less vulnerable to groupthink, and committed to going to work and washing their hands. 

What is outstanding, as Jeffrey A. Tucker, Editorial Director for the aforementioned Institute, explains is that in retrospect, there were no government lockdowns—restaurants, schools, theaters, sporting events and travel continued without any interruption.  This disease persisted for ten years until it mutated to become the Hong Kong flu

The way the U.S. government, or for that matter the entire world, handled the now largely forgotten 1968 pandemic was entirely different from today’s measures. Most people are unaware that hundreds of thousands were hospitalized in the U.S. as the disease hit all 50 states by Christmas 1968.  And just like the coronavirus, it was fatal primarily to people older than 65 with preexisting conditions. 

Former speechwriter for New York City mayors Edward Koch and Rudolph Giuliani, Clark Whelton, stated: 

“For those who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s, there was nothing unusual about finding yourself threatened by contagious disease. Mumps, measles, chicken pox, and German measles swept through entire schools and towns; I had all four.  Polio took a heavy annual toll, leaving thousands of people (mostly children) paralyzed or dead—[Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s earliest childhood memory is of the day he checked out of the polio treatment center in Warm Springs, Georgia]. There were no vaccines. Growing up meant running an unavoidable gauntlet of infectious disease. You had to go out and face the danger.” 

The global response to coronavirus has been the extreme opposite to how heads of state dealt with the infectious diseases of the last century. In their effort to preserve live, leaders took it upon themselves to do everything possible, including shutting down economies to a crashing halt by which as many as 47 million Americans could be subject to layoffs in the second quarter. The lockdown measures also shunned aside considerations of the negative health effects of locking people inside with a virus that spreads most virulently indoors—this is not to be taken as a justification against social distancing. Not to mention, many with preexisting conditions were denied surgeries and necessary treatment that without a doubt made matters worse for them.

In their defense, Susan Craddock Susan Craddock, professor at the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota, told the Wall Street Journal that 24-hour news coverage, social media and heightened public anxiety mean today’s leaders face far more pressure to do something.

All this being said, there are a few factors to consider that may raise an eyebrow or two:

  • In late February, nearly a month after President Trump banned travel from China to the United States in January, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) terrorized Americans by claiming the Wuhan coronavirus had a mortality rate of 2.3% at its epicenter. Two weeks later WHO leader, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, sparked a global panic when he claimed the COVID-19 had a 3.4% mortality rate and then compared that number to the annual estimated seasonal flu mortality rate of 0.1%.
  • According to the CDC, the COVID-19 hospitalization rates are “similar to” those in the 65 and older category during “recent high severity influenza seasons.” 
  • The COVID-19 hospitalizations for children 17 and under is MUCH LOWER than the seasonal flu hospitalization rates during recent influenza seasons.

Everyone seems to be anxiously waiting a coronavirus vaccine to salvage them, especially after the media outlets have promoted Bill Gates to develop one—this will hardly do any good for those already sick with the disease. Perhaps we may have to wait until then to see whether we overreacted or acted appropriately to the to the pandemic that came out of Wuhan. Time will only tell. Nevertheless, despite how society has reacted, there appears to be a silver lining in the cloud—unreported by the mainstream media—that will hopefully calm people’s nerves.

As reporter on Tuesday by Israel Today, the Israeli military researchers say they have developed an antibody that will neutralize COVID-19 in an existing patient’s body.

The breakthrough was announced on Monday, when Defense Minister Naftali Bennett visited the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), a government defense research facility specializing in biology, medicinal chemistry and environmental science whose work is a closely guarded secret. It is hoped that the Israeli antidote, if it can be approved and produced quickly enough, can play a major role in reducing the number of deaths in the world.


Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University.

* Sources not cited may be found in his book Islam: Religion of Peace? – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.