Tuesday 11 May 2021

A public health expert speaks

However, one or two people have told me that he is respected as an expert in real public health issues, such as infectious disease control. 

Imagine my surprise, then, when I stumbled across this article published last October in which he praises Hungary's response to COVID-19. Hungary's authoritarian leader Victor Orban was widely criticised for his 'Coronavirus Coup' in the early days of the pandemic when he seized even more power in the name of defeating COVID-19. McKee didn't worry about this so much, although he did acknowledge that "aspects of the government’s response have featured in the increasingly polarised Hungarian political scene". 
Instead, he asks why Orban's regime has done so well.
...it is clear that Hungary has fared much better than many other European countries. Why?
McKee comes up with three reasons. Firstly, spending money on public health...
Hungary, in common with several of its neighbours, is fortunate in having a relatively well-developed laboratory system, linked closely to the public health system.
Secondly, spending money on public health...
Hungary was a pioneer in developing public health training in central Europe and has benefited from the capacity that this developed
And thirdly, in a self-referencing paragraph, following the science and acting quickly...

The dangers are all too apparent when looking at the countries that have performed worst, with the USA and Brazil led by politicians that have rejected the evidence, instead putting forward a series of often bizarre proposals that defy the basic laws of science, or even any sense of logic (McKee et al., ). This has undoubtedly cost tens of thousands of lives. Again, Hungary was fortunate as the government acted extremely quickly, at a time when closing down even a few days earlier could make an enormous difference.
In conclusion...
So Hungary seems to have done very well.
But has it? Fast forward to May 2021 and Hungary has the highest per capita Covid death toll on the entire planet.

If this is how hot McKee is in his area of alleged expertise, no wonder he gets everything else so wrong.

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