The Disaster Of Lockdowns
In response to the CCPVirus (the more descriptive and accurate term for the coronovirus the "experts" at the World Health Organization have given the anodyne label SARS-CoV-2), the world has engages in a series of draconian economic and social shutdowns, placing as many as 4 billion people under what amounts to "house arrest".
We have been assured by "experts" that this was a necessary step to confront the CCPVirus.
What if they were wrong?
Wuhan: The First Lockdown
The first lockdown occurred in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei province, China, on January 23. At the time, there were approximately 550 reported cases of CCPVirus in China, with some 17 reported deaths.
As the outbreak worsens, the people of Wuhan are feeling increasingly isolated as the number of cases surpasses 550, and the number of deaths has nearly doubled.
For this, the Chinese Communist Party opted to incarcerate a city of 11 million people.
By March 18, China reported 80,894 cases, and 3,237 deaths.
Approximately 99.4% of China's CCPVirus cases at that point, and 99.5% of China's CCPVirus deaths, occurred after the lockdown was initiated.
Moving back in time to February 6, China reported 34,481 cases and 639 deaths. 98.5% of China's cases by February 6, and 97.4% of China's deaths, occurred after the lockdown was initiated.
Furthermore, 57.3% of China's March 18 case count and 80.2% of China's death tally occurred after February 6,
If the lockdown strategy had impacted disease spread in the manner it was asserted to have done, the bulk of China's March 18 case count should have come before February 6, not after. Close scrutiny of the data over time shows the lockdown strategy to have failed in China.
Let us also note that this is done with China's reported numbers, a data set that is significantly tainted by China's manipulations of the data. However, given that all estimations indicate that China egregiously under-reported its numbers, we may safely regard the reported data as a lower bound--we may say with confidence that China's case counts and death toll are at least the reported numbers. As any adjustment to reflect actual numbers would represent an increase at every stage, those adjustments do not invalidate this analysis. If anything, they make the results even more damning.
Italy: Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Italy was the second country to attempt the draconian lockdown strategy, beginning with Lombardy province on March 7 and extending to the entire country on March 9. On March 9 Italy had 7,735 cases and 366 deaths.
By April 20, Italy had reported 179,059 cases and 23,708 deaths.
96% of Italy's cases occurred after the lockdown. 98.4% of Italy's deaths occurred after the lockdown.
Following the same process as with Wuhan, if we move back to March 23, Italy reported 59,138 cases and 5,476 deaths.
87.5% of Italy's March 23 case total occurred after the lockdown, as did 93.3% of Italy's March 23 death tally.
Moreover, 66.9% of Italy's April 20 case count occurred after March 23, as did 76.9% of Italy's April 20 death toll from the virus.
Again, if the lockdown strategy were to have worked as advertised, the majority of cases as well as deaths should have occurred relatively soon after the lockdown was initiated. The data is as emphatic in Italy as in Wuhan: that did not happen.
These findings are independently confirmed by a study published on MedRX as of April 24, 2020, which showed the lockdown in Italy, as well as other European countries, did not save any lives. This study compared expected decay trends pre- and post-lockdown as the infection peaked, and found that the post-lockdown decay trends actually slowed.
Comparison of pre and post lockdown observations reveals a counter-intuitive slowdown in the decay of the epidemic after lockdown. Estimates of daily and total deaths numbers using pre-lockdown trends suggest that no lives were saved by this strategy, in comparison with pre-lockdown, less restrictive, social distancing policies. Comparison of the epidemic's evolution between the fully locked down countries and neighboring countries applying social distancing measures only, confirms the absence of any effects of home containment.
The study's final paragraph is particularly damning, as it established the lockdown cost lives rather than saved lives.
As a concluding remark, it should be pointed out that, since the full lockdown strategies are shown to have no impact on the epidemic's slowdown, one should consider their potentially high inherent death toll as a net loss of human lives.
Even on its own merits, the lockdown in Italy must be judged not just a failure, but an egregious exacerbation of the problem.
South Korea: No Lockdown, No Problem
When we look at a country such as South Korea, which is of similar size and population to Italy, and which did not institute a lockdown strategy, we see a much different pattern of disease spread.
South Korea's current case count is 10,674 with 236 deaths.
On March 9, South Korea reported 7,313 cases and 50 deaths. Over the same time period that Italy has been on lockdown, and experiencing 96% of its current cases, South Korea experienced only 31.4% of its cases.
Moreover, if we look back at February 21, South Korea only reported 111 cases. By March 1, South Korea was reporting 3,736 cases and 26 deaths. Note that Italy already had 1,128 cases by that date.
Even allowing for South Korea's major outbreak beginning more or less a week earlier than Italy's, the data quite emphatically indicates that South Korea's outbreak, sans lockdown, peaked within a couple of weeks, whereas Italy's extended for nearly a month.
South Korea is, if anything, an argument against lockdowns as a disease mitigation strategy. Italy experienced greater disease spread over a longer period with a lockdown than South Korea did without a lockdown.
The United States: Some Locked Down, Some Not
Professor Wilfred Reilly brings the topic home to the United States by reviewing the case data of the seven states (Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming) which, as of April 6, had not instituted lockdowns or "shelter-in-place" orders.
These states reported 1,620, 2,141, 952, 343, 1,311, 2,542 and 288 cases of Covid-19 respectively as of 3:40pm EST on 16 April – for an average of 1,321 cases. The states reported 37, 60, 21, 9, 7, 20, and 2 deaths respectively, for an average of 22.3 deaths. Throwing in South Carolina, which did not adopt a shelter-in-place order until 6 April, and still allows most religious services, does not dramatically alter these figures – these states averaged 1,613 cases and 33 deaths.
Despite not having lockdown orders, these states have suprisingly good results, relative to the national average.
The average number of Covid cases in a US state was 12,520. The state-by-state number of deaths varied from 16,251 (New York) to two (Wyoming), with the average figure for deaths being 642. Removing the outlier case of New York state, where roughly half of all US Covid-19 deaths have taken place, shifted these figures downward somewhat – to 8,408 cases and 342 deaths in the average state. However, the social-distancing states experienced substantially fewer cases and deaths than the lockdown states, even with New York out of the mix.
Professor Reilly took the analysis even further, however, performing a series of regressions evaluating the lockdown/no-lockdown state results against a variety of potential influencing factors. In other words, he evaluated the real world data to isolate the impact of the lockdown strategy completely independent of other factors that might facilitate or impede disease spread. With other known influences thus removed, he found the lockdown strategy to have provided zero benefit.
The question the model set out to ask was whether lockdown states experience fewer Covid-19 cases and deaths than social-distancing states, adjusted for all of the above variables. The answer? No. The impact of state-response strategy on both my cases and deaths measures was utterly insignificant. The ‘p-value’ for the variable representing strategy was 0.94 when it was regressed against the deaths metric, which means there is a 94 per cent chance that any relationship between the different measures and Covid-19 deaths was the result of pure random chance.
Professor Reilly's regression analysis of the United States data thus independently confirms the macro analyses of national case counts above. The lockdown strategy is not impactful.
Subsequent reviews of mortality data provides further confirmation of the inefficacy of the lockdown stratgegy. Sweden's 2020 mortality rates peaked in mid April, with approximately 155 more deaths reported than the 2015-2019 average, resulting in a cumulative deaths per million for 2020 that is some 290 deaths greater than the five-year average. By comparison, New Jersey is for 2020 running 1,900 deaths per million above the five year average, and Michigan is running 700 deaths per million above the five year average.
Sweden bypassed the lockdown strategy. New Jersey and Michigan did not. Even on just the superficial scrutiny of the numbers, the lockdown scenarios fared demonstrably worse than a no-lockdown scenario. The "best case" assessment, when accounting for differences in population, population density, and viral strain is that the lockdowns have minimal impact, and what impact they do have is negative.
The Prevailing Wisdom Before CCPVirus: No Lockdowns
It is one thing to highlight how the current data illustrates that coercive lockdowns do not work as promised. However, closer scrutiny of even early modeling reveals the "experts" promoting the lockdown strategy knew--or should have known--all along that the strategy was a non-starter.
A March 14 discussion of various public health strategies in the Washington Post revealed not only the impracticality but the ultimate inefficacy of lockdowns even within computer models and simulations:
Leana Wen, the former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, explained the impracticalities of forced quarantines to The Washington Post in January. “Many people work in the city and live in neighboring counties, and vice versa,“ Wen said. “Would people be separated from their families? How would every road be blocked? How would supplies reach residents?”
As Lawrence O. Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, put it: “The truth is those kinds of lockdowns are very rare and never effective.”
Even the much-maligned Imperial College of London study also from March 16 indicated lockdown strategies had minimal effect and in some scenarios made things demonstrably worse. In even that flawed projection, the lockdown--the closure of schools and universities--had only a marginal reduction in ICU utilization, with the more targeted strategies of social distancing and isolating the sick (strategies that have been employed worldwide for decades) achieving far greater reductions in the number of critical care beds occupied.
One important detail the study's narrative largely overlooked: no strategy had a significant impact on the duration of an outbreak. In all scenarios the projections anticipated approximately a three-month duration.
The model went on to suggest that public mass gatherings were largely inconsequential in disease spread:
Stopping mass gatherings is predicted to have relatively little impact (results not shown) because the contact-time at such events is relatively small compared to the time spent at home, in schools or workplaces and in other community locations such as bars and restaurants.
Even more damning, however, is that the study went on to suggest that a lockdown would result in an even larger "second wave" of the virus.
Kicking the can down the road, that study projected, made the can only get larger--hardly a recommendation for the lockdown strategy.
Nor have lockdowns ever played a significant role in pandemic planning prior to 2020. In its June, 2009 discussion of public health strategies for managing influenza outbreaks, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control conceded there was no basis for coercive lockdowns and quarantines.
It is hard to imagine that measures like those within the category of social distancing would not have some positive impact by reducing transmission of a human respiratory infection spreading from human to human via droplets and indirect contact. However, the evidence base supporting each individual measure is often weak.
Before CCPVirus, the prevailing wisdom was decidedly anti-lockdown. In 2020, with the advent of CCPVirus, the prevailing wisdom was arbitrarily and even casually discarded, with no apparent logic or justification.
CCPVirus Spreads As It Will Worldwide
No matter where we look, we see the same patterns and trends playing out regarding the spread of CCPVirus. The virus, as is so often the case with the natural world, has little regard for the efforts of mankind.
A statistical study helmed by Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, Chairman of the Israeli Space Agency, indicates the spread of CCPVirus trends towards zero over a period of around 70 days regardless of a government's chosen response. Writing about Israel's policies towards the virus Professor Ben-Israel notes the following:
It turns out that the peak of the virus’ spread has been behind us for about two weeks now, and will probably fade within two more weeks.
Our analysis shows that this is a constant pattern across countries. Surprisingly, this pattern is common to countries that have taken a severe lockdown, including the paralysis of the economy, as well as to countries that implemented a far more lenient policy and have continued in ordinary life.
With or without draconian and coercive lockdowns, the duration of the peak period of viral outbreak appears to be approximately the same everywhere. Echoing Professor Reilly's conclusions, Professor Ben-Israel's analysis shows that at best the lockdowns have had no impact on the disease whatsoever.
Professor Ben-Israel also highlights something I have pointed out more than once: there has been no "exponential growth" of CCPVirus.
No exponential growth in the United States:
No exponential growth in Israel:
No exponential growth in Sweden:
No exponential growth in Italy:
No exponential growth worldwide:
The data is clear: no exponential growth.
With the aforementioned information, we can return now to the original question: Has the Coronavirus continued to spread exponentially?
With careful consideration, the answer is simply negative. The spread of the virus starts at an exponential rate, however, continues to moderate and ultimately fades after 8 weeks or so since its outbreak.
The blunt and brutal truth is that the pearl-clutching tweets from self-anointed "experts" bemoaning "exponential growth" are nothing but pure malarkey. Former Director of the National Institutes of Health Francis Collins' claim of exponential growth is pure malarkey. On this point, the "experts" are wrong. Whether they are wrong through a combination of ignorance and incompetence or wrong through a combination of deceit and dishonesty is a question yet to be answered.
With no "exponential growth" shown by any data set, and no demonstration anywhere of efficacy, the lockdown strategies are simply indefensible. They are doing provable harm while providing zero demonstrable benefit.
Guesses Rather Than Reasoning
How did the lockdown strategies become the favored policy response in the face of the CCPVirus? Because the "experts" were engaging in little more than fancy guesswork with their models, projections, and conclusions.
Moreover, not only do we see this to be the case now, but it was unambiguously clear even back in March when the models and projections were first being run. Dr. John Ionnadis, professor of medicine and epidiomiology at Stanford University, made an important admission on March 17 about the limitations of the various models and projections being run at the time:
The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable. Given the limited testing to date, some deaths and probably the vast majority of infections due to SARS-CoV-2 are being missed. We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300. Three months after the outbreak emerged, most countries, including the U.S., lack the ability to test a large number of people and no countries have reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in a representative random sample of the general population.
Despite all the breathless promotion of the case counts and fatality rates by the legacy media, as well as by various and sundry experts on social media, the data being collected nearly everywhere is in large measures incomplete. It certainly is not sufficiently complete to support any of the broad extrapolations necessary to sustain a lockdown strategy as an evidence-based, scientifically evaluated disease mitigation strategy. Quite the opposite, to the extent we have data, the data argues against lockdowns in every regard.
Where the experts are expressing certainty about the lockdowns, they should be expressing doubt--and they are not.
The Road To Hell
We have heard ad nauseum the cliche about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions. However, it is rare to see that truism so graphically demonstrated as with the current lockdown strategies. Even a superficial glance at the results of these lockdown strategies is enough to realize they have not worked out as expected, but closer scrutiny shows they in at least some instances have made matters far worse even in terms of disease spread.
Without challenging the motives of the "experts" who have pushed and continue to push these clearly dysfunctional strategies, there is no getting around the blunt and brutal reality that these experts are simply wrong. Anthony Fauci is wrong to link "getting the virus under control" with addressing the immediate and crucial priority of rebuilding the nation's economy.
"I think the message is that, clearly, this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics, from the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus," Fauci said. "But unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery, economically, is not going to happen."
This is the wrong message for the simple reason that the virus not only is not under control now, but it has never been under control. There has been no "containment" as a result of the lockdowns and resultant economic stoppages, nor has there been any meaningful mitigation. The data does not show this, anywhere. The data arguably shows that these lockdowns have been counterproductive, adding to case count and death toll even as they inflict incalculable economic and societal damage.
We cannot unring the bell. We cannot undo what has been done. We can and we should learn from the past, learn from the mistakes that have been made, and adopt better strategies going forward.
Right now, a better strategy for addressing the CCPVirus is just about anything other than a lockdown.