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The Toxic Ideas Behind the Quest for ‘Zero Covid’

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Ben Bayer and Dr. Amesh Adalja discuss the ethics of infectious disease and evaluate the continued push for stringent paternalistic measures to combat Covid, including the Chinese government’s push for “Zero Covid.”

Among the topics covered:

  • Why Covid is now endemic, not a pandemic;
  • How an individualized harm reduction framework can help us navigate a world in which infectious disease is an inescapable fact;
  • The egalitarian moral ideal behind prominent arguments for paternalistic measures such as mask mandates;
  • Why egalitarianism is wrong;
  • The ideas motivating China’s push for “Zero Covid”;
  • The flawed approach towards pandemic preparedness motivated by effective altruism;
  • The roles of vaccines and natural immunity in bringing about widespread immunity to Covid.

Mentioned in the discussion are Dr. Adalja’s article “The Pernicious Folly of Pursuing Zero Covid,” his talk “COVID-19, mRNA and the Future of Vaccines,” and Onkar Ghate’s essay “A Pro-Freedom Approach to Infectious Disease.”

This episode was recorded on November 30, 2022. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or Stitcher. Watch previous episodes here.

Podcast audio:


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Dan Schwartz

Dan Schwartz, PhD in philosophy and formerly a professor, is a visiting fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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