Last Updated on March 27, 2021 by cwl

I get a number of remarks along the line of “well, you’re not a doctor|virologist|immunologist|public-health-expert, why should I listen to you?”

Fair enough, but I do have some skill with critical thinking, my academic credentials show an ability to do research, and I have a lot of experience reading and interpreting technical papers. I suspect I have also done more COVID-related research than most of my detractors. But OK, I admit, disease is not my area of expertise.

Would you perhaps be amenable to listening to the guy who eradicated smallpox in 1977? I am referring to D. A. Henderson MD, the doctor who created the eradication strategies and led the teams to victory over the smallpox virus. His book, Smallpox: the Death of A Disease is well worth the read. My impression is that the good Doctor spent half his time scrounging for funding and butting heads with the World Health Organization (WHO), which was apparently a bloated and corrupt bureaucracy even back in the 1960s and 70s.

Dr Henderson co-wrote a paper in 2006 titled Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza, published in Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science; Volume 4, Number 4, 2006. A full version of the article has been added by AIER in a post by Edward Peter Stringham.

Assuming that COVID behaves roughly like influenza, the mitigation measures should apply equally. Some excerpts from the paper (with some comments of my own):

The influenza virus actually survives on the hands for less than 5 minutes, but regular hand-washing is a commonsense action that should be widely followed. It has been shown to reduce the transmission of respiratory illness in a military trainee setting, although there are no data to demonstrate that hand-washing deters the spread of influenza within a community.

Hand-Washing and Respiratory Etiquette

Common sense activity here. I have no data concerning COVID survivability on hands, although indications are that surface contact infection is low.

There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the spread of influenza.

Large-Scale Quarantine Measures

But lockdowns were done anyway, world-wide.

The aim of voluntary home quarantine is to keep possibly contagious, but still asymptomatic, people out of circulation. This sounds logical, but this measure raises significant practical and ethical issues.

Home Quarantine


Travel restrictions, such as closing airports and screening travelers at borders, have historically been ineffective. The World Health Organization Writing Group concluded that “screening and quarantining entering travelers at international borders did not substantially delay virus introduction in past pandemics . . . and will likely be even less effective in the modern era.

Travel Restrictions

But it is being attempted anyway, world-wide.

During seasonal influenza epidemics, public events with an expected large attendance have sometimes been cancelled or postponed, the rationale being to decrease the number of contacts with those who might be contagious. There are, however, no certain indications that these actions have had any definitive effect on the severity or duration of an epidemic.

Prohibition of Social Gatherings

But it was attempted anyway, world-wide.

Schools are often closed for 1–2 weeks early in the development of seasonal community outbreaks of influenza primarily because of high absentee rates, especially in elementary schools, and because of illness among teachers. This would seem reasonable on practical grounds. However, to close schools for longer periods is not only impracticable but carries the possibility of a serious adverse outcome.

School Closures

Some school districts are still closed, one year later, and the kids are suffering.

It has been recommended that individuals maintain a distance of 3 feet or more during a pandemic so as to diminish the number of contacts with people who may be infected. The efficacy of this measure is unknown. 

Maintaining Personal Distance

Three feet, not six feet. And the CDC has finally confirmed that metric.

But studies have shown that the ordinary surgical mask does little to prevent inhalation of small droplets bearing influenza virus. The pores in the mask become blocked by moisture from breathing, and the airstream simply diverts around the mask.

Use of Masks and Personal Protective Equipment

Masks don’t work.

Governments world-wide ignored 50+ years of pandemic experience and expertise and decided instead to invoke massive authoritarian control over its citizens. Why? And who pulled the strings? Or should it be WHO pulled the strings. In any event, nothing worked, the virus continued on its merry way:

And finally:

Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.

An overriding principle


Facts About Covid-19

How A Free Society Deals With Pandemics

Smallpox: The Death of A Disease

Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza (PDF file)

Why Is Everyone In Texas Not Dying?