The 2019–2020 to 2020–2021 influenza seasons in the USA saw a dramatic 99.5% decrease in paediatric mortality, with only one influenza death recorded during the latter season. This decrease has been attributed to a substantial reduction in transmission, resulting from the various restrictive measures enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, onset March 2020. The relative disappearance of influenza raises specific policy questions, such as whether these measures should be kept in place after COVID-19 transmission reaches acceptable levels or herd immunity is achieved. Given the nature of these measures as liberty restricting, it is worth discussing their intended outcome and what values they promote. Do these measures in fact promote health, or simply give the comfort of safety while undermining long-term health and individual liberties? I argue that the year-long endurance of the pandemic well into 2021 may have flattened our value landscape into one where health reigns supreme. Discussions are underway regarding whether we should modify previously accepted health risks, such as the risk of contracting influenza. In this paper, I attempt to clarify the values that motivate our policies and discuss how our present historical context has appreciated the value of health. I also provide an analysis of various pandemic policies and their relation to influenza paediatric deaths. Ultimately, the cost of certain measures on values such as education, socialisation and liberty, among others, is too high to justify their use beyond regulating the spread of COVID-19.
- ethics- medical
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