We can all repeat the mantra without missing any beat: the lockdown was required to flatten the curve so that our hospital resources would not be overwhelmed during the pandemic.

That argument is, by the way, quite correct. Anyone looking at the footage of the hospital wards in Lombardy would want to avoid that overcrowding and misery. But now the worst of the pandemic is over. It appears we have dodged that bullet, and some thoughtful people have been asking if the lockdown actually hurt more than it helped. That is a point that should be debated.

But there is another issue that has received almost no attention and, I believe, is even more important to discuss. A 2016 journal article while describing the 1968 influenza pandemic notes that “surges in hospitalizations caused problems in some areas, with an excess hospitalization rate of 150% reported in Portland Oregon, for 1968–1969, relative to 1970–1971. Hospitalization was significantly more likely among the elderly, and occurred at a rate that would be impossible to accommodate today. This is because, in general, hospital bed capacities have either decreased or not increased sufficiently to keep pace with population growth rates.” How did our hospital resources get to where they could be so easily overwhelmed?



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