As the graphics above indicate, there is no proof that lockdowns decreased transmission of the Covid-19 virus.
That is the first thing to note.
The notion that “lockdowns saved a million lives,” as Snopes recently put it, is not merely an unsubstantiated claim: it may well turn out to be the precise opposite of what the lockdowns actually did. And this, mind you, doesn’t even begin to take into account the horrific death counts caused by biblical-sized famines which these governmental-decreed lockdowns have the real potential of unleashing. Snopes does not mention that, for some reason.
I think it is impossible to take anyone seriously who ignores such unspeakable destruction.
There is, moreover, the work of people like Professor Isaac Ben-Israel — head of the Security Studies program in Tel Aviv University and the chairman of the National Council for Research and Development — who published a detailed worldwide study comparing locked-down places with places that stayed open. As the Times of Israel puts it, and essentially confirming the truth of Farr’s Law:
Simple statistical analysis demonstrates that the spread of COVID-19 peaks after about 40 days and declines to almost zero after 70 days — no matter where it strikes, and no matter what measures governments impose to try to thwart it (source).
The next thing to note is this:
Even if these outrageous lockdowns had decreased transmission, that decrease is temporary. This fact has gotten lost in all the fatuous zealotry. No epidemiologist or infectious-disease specialist I know of disputes this at all. The virus does not go anywhere. In addition to that, lockdowns prevent the development of population immunity in low-risk people — most significantly in elementary schools. As one commentator recently put it:
So let’s just grant that it is possible that lockdowns can be credited with slowing the spread of the virus, and perhaps preserving hospital capacity (which turned out to be unnecessary). Still, the virus doesn’t then get bored and move by to Wuhan or to another planet. It still sticks around, so at best, these measures only “prolong the pain,” in the words of Knut Wittkowski.
So even if lockdowns slow the spread in the short run, it’s not clear that they have saved lives from the coronavirus, even if it results in more death overall from deferred surgeries and diagnostics, suicides, drug overdoses, and depression.
Over the course of eight weeks (and counting), we have endured the loss of our independence, our liberty, our work, and the prosperity that comes naturally from these things. And we’ve done so all in the name of “virus mitigation,” or flattening the curve, as it’s already become so cliche to put it. The psychological toll of this has been indescribable:
We thought we had certain legally guaranteed, morally sanctioned rights — rights so basic and self-evident that even a hampered, compromised westernized government wouldn’t dare strip them away, precisely because these rights are so self-evidently basic — only to discover that in 48 hours time, in March of 2020, our rights were not regarded as morally inalienable nor were they guaranteed at all, and that, instead, in the eyes of government officials and government-lovers, we exist more by permission than by right.
This injustice was decreed so swiftly and with such undisguised authoritarianism that many among us simply could not fathom it — it seemed dream-like and surreal. Yet even more unfathomable still was how this unequivocal act of authoritarianism was cheered on by thousands and thousands of mainstream-media articles and broadcasts, which continue daily, up to the present moment, all actively calling for even greater authoritarianism: freedom must be indefinitely replaced by government-control because this particular strain of SARS is a fraction of a percent more lethal to a certain segment of the population (though far less lethal to other segments) than most other known strains.
This ideological belief has in turn created at record speeds a dogmatism so ferocious and fanatical that there is no real precedent for it: a lockstep adherence to brand new customs and creeds — such as “official social-distancing guidelines,” which are neither evidence-based nor confirmed by actual scientific method (as I discuss near the end of this post, with sources cited) — which, overnight, have transformed seemingly independent, thinking humans into indoctrinated housebound conformists who now worship militantly at the alter of government bureaus; who furthermore clamor for government to make us all increasingly dependent upon government handouts and bailouts and who demand more of our inalienable human rights be replaced by government-granted permissions, and this, I repeat, was all done because of the mere suggestion of a virus with an estimated lethality of less than .05 percent. For this, these citizens could not line up fast enough to sell away not just their human freedom, which would have been bad enough, but yours and mine as well.
Please read this:
The manner in which governments dealt with foundational principles of modernity has been shocking. They put half the country under house arrest and managed every movement in disregard for the Bill of Rights and all legal precedent, to say nothing of the Constitution. It felt like a coercive unraveling of civilization itself. It’s like we are all waking up from a bad dream only to look around and see the wreckage that proves it was all real….
The trouble here is that certain features of this experience stand out to contradict the idea that lockdowns are saving lives over the longer term. In New York, two thirds of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 were in fact sheltering in place during the lockdown, essentially living in forced isolation. The lockdown didn’t help them; it might have contributed to making matters worse.
Meanwhile, despite the media hate poured out against Florida’s youthful spring break revelers, where hundreds of thousands declined to socially distance at the height of the virus risk, I’ve yet to find a credible report of fatalities beyond two that were probably unpreventable. This is because the risks to the younger population are negligible, as we’ve known for a long time now.
In many countries, 30% to 60% of excess deaths trace to nursing homes. The numbers in the U.S. are shocking.
These environments are neither locked down nor open; the virus spread among the most vulnerable population after even just one exposure due to possible negligence and distraction by mass frenzy. In the midst of locking down the whole world, and our politicians were consumed with the desire to enforce stay-at-home orders and forced separation, the population that needed the most care was neglected. Even worse, in New York, California, and New Jersey, nursing homes were forced to take in COVID-19 patients.
So how can we deal with this terror that befell us? One way is to figure out some aspect in which our sacrifice has been worth it, maybe not on net given the consequences, but surely some good has come out of this. If my email and feeds are correct, this is how many people have been justifying this. The psychology here is rooted in the sunk-cost fallacy: when you commit resources to something, even when it is a proven error, you tend to find justifications by doubling down rather than just admitting the mistake.
Sovereign immunity creates a two-tiered society: those above the law and those below it; those whom the law fails to bind and those whom the law fails to protect. This legal doctrine almost guarantees that no politician will face any personal liability for their shutdown dictates.
Even New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who callously compelled nursing homes to accept COVID patients, will have no legal culpability for a policy that contributed to more than 5,000 nursing home deaths in his state. Pennsylvania Health Czar Rachel Levine issued a similar order, contributing to thousands of nursing home deaths, and then removed her own 95-year-old mother from a nursing home to keep her safe.
Politicians presume they are blameless for destroying jobs as long as the victims receive temporary unemployment compensation. Actually, it is worse than that: politicians claim a right to seize a slice of the paychecks of people still working to recompense people whose jobs they destroyed. Would a private corporation be able to escape punishment for breaking people’s legs by giving free crutches to its victims?
“Better safe than sorry” is damned risky when politicians have no liability for what they ravage. There is no way that politicians can compensate American citizens for all the damage they have inflicted in this pandemic. This COVID shutdown catastrophe should be a permanent black mark against the political class and the experts who sanctified each and every sacrifice.
“Will the Political Class Be Held Liable For What They’ve Done?” by James Bovard
Reuters recently reported this:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. authorities are not yet seeing spikes in coronavirus cases in places that are reopening but it was still too early to determine such trends, health secretary Alex Azar said on Sunday.
“We are seeing that in places that are opening, we’re not seeing this spike in cases,” Azar said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “We still see spikes in some areas that are, in fact, closed.”
Sean Trende, of RealClearPolitics, recently wrote an article titled The Costly Failure to Update Sky-Is-Falling Predictions. In this article, he discusses how far afield any number of the wild coronavirus predictions flew — predictions made by supposedly intelligent people who’ve relinquished the power of their individual intelligence and replaced it with “consensus.”
Here’s an excerpt:
On March 6, Liz Specht, Ph.D., posted a thread on Twitter that immediately went viral. As of this writing, it has received over 100,000 likes and almost 41,000 retweets, and was republished at Stat News. It purported to “talk math” and reflected the views of “highly esteemed epidemiologists.” It insisted it was “not a hypothetical, fear-mongering, worst-case scenario,” and that, while the predictions it contained might be wrong, they would not be “orders of magnitude wrong.” It was also catastrophically incorrect.
The crux of Dr. Specht’s 35-tweet thread was that the rapid doubling of COVID-19 cases would lead to about 1 million cases by May 5, 4 million by May 11, and so forth. Under this scenario, with a 10% hospitalization rate, we would expect approximately 400,000 hospitalizations by mid-May, which would more than overwhelm the estimated 330,000 available hospital beds in the country. This would combine with a lack of protective equipment for health care workers and lead to them “dropping from the workforce for weeks at a time,” to shortages of saline drips and so forth. Half the world would be infected by the summer, and we were implicitly advised to buy dry goods and to prepare not to leave the house.
Interestingly, this thread was wrong not because we managed to bend the curve and stave off the apocalypse; for starters, Dr. Specht described the cancellation of large events and workplace closures as something that would shift things by only days or weeks.
Instead, this thread was wrong because it dramatically overstated our knowledge of the way the virus worked [my emphasis]. It fell prey to the problem, common among experts, of failing to address adequately the uncertainty surrounding its point estimates. It did so in two opposing ways. First, it dramatically understated the rate of spread. If serological tests are to be remotely believed, we likely hit the apocalyptic milestone of 2 million cases quite some time ago. Not in the United States, mind you, but in New York City, where 20% of residents showed positive COVID-19 antibodies on April 23. Fourteen percent of state residents showed antibodies, suggesting 2.5 million cases in the Empire State alone; since antibodies take a while to develop, this was likely the state of affairs in mid-April or earlier.
But in addition to being wrong about the rate of spread, the thread was also very wrong about the rate of hospitalization. While New York City found its hospital system stretched, it avoided catastrophic failure, despite having within its borders the entire number of cases predicted for the country as a whole, a month earlier than predicted. Other areas of the United States found themselves with empty hospital beds and unused emergency capacity.
One would think that, given the amount of attention this was given in mainstream sources, there would be some sort of revisiting of the prediction. Of course, nothing of the sort occurred. This thread has been absolutely memory-holed, along with countless other threads and articles from February and March. We might forgive such forays on sites like Twitter and Medium, but feeding frenzies from mainstream sources are also passed over without the media ever revisiting to see how things turned out.
Consider Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis was castigated for failing to close the beaches during spring break, and critics suggested that the state might be the next New York. I’ve written about this at length elsewhere, but Florida’s new cases peaked in early April, at which point it was a middling state in terms of infections per capita. The virus hasn’t gone away, of course, but the five-day rolling average of daily cases in Florida is roughly where it was in late March, notwithstanding the fact that testing has increased substantially. Taking increased testing into account, the positive test rate has gradually declined since late March as well, falling from a peak of 11.8% on April 1 to a low of 3.6% on May 12.
Notwithstanding this, the Washington Post continues to press stories of public health officials begging state officials to close beaches (a more interesting angle at this point might be why these health officials were so wrong), while the New York Times noted a few days ago (misleadingly, and grossly so) that “Florida had a huge spike in cases around Miami after spring break revelry,” without providing the crucial context that the caseload mimicked increases in other states that did not play host to spring break.
Or consider Georgia, which one prominent national magazine claimed was engaging in “human sacrifice” by reopening. Yet, after nearly a month, a five-day average of Georgia’s daily cases looks like this:
What has played out these past two months is nothing short of a full-blown epistemic crisis — horrifying yet gruesomely fascinating to see unspool in real-time, so that anyone and everyone watching could see in as stark a terms imaginable the real-life ramifications of what happens when societies reject and abandon the methods of induction and deduction and replace it with a bad epistemology: specifically, by basing all political-economic policy on computer-models whose inputs are woefully unequipped to deal with anything approaching this kind of complexity, with this many unknown variables. (Climate is vastly more complex — from deep ocean currents, to solar rays, to sun spots and the extreme unpredictability and complexity of clouds and cloud cover, to much, much, much more and how it all influences each discrete part, including virtually endless unknown variables, such that no model imaginable could begin to input for it.)
I close, speaking of climate and climate models, with what you knew was coming next — something that will make much more comprehensible CNN’s choosing Greta Thunberg as a Covid-19 “expert,” a bizarre move that had many pro-lockdown progressives throwing up their hands in disbelief and confusion. Now they’ll know: