Saturday 16 May 2020

The lockdown has been a big mistake, obviously

A protest is taking place in Piata Victoriei, in front of the Romanian government building, against the lockdown which ended yesterday. 

The police have no law with which to disperse the crowds of unmasked citizens, not observing social distancing, who would have been arrested on Thursday. The government had not been expecting this.

Romanians were very obedient during the lockdown, not because they are a law abiding people but because they fear the authorities (something quite different) and have a lot of experience in obeying orders. But they also value freedom far more than the English, who want the lockdown to carry on, it seems indefinitely, and inform on their neighbours who go out to meet people illegally.

Americans too believe in freedom (think of gun control) and this is one of the many things Western Europeans find incomprehensible and repulsive about them.

In Holland the death rate (numbers of people in the population who die of or with the virus) only reaches 0.1% of the population when we get to those aged 70 or over. 

Is this because they stayed at home? Apparently not, if New York's experience is a guide. 

Governor Cuomo of New York State has said:

“This is a surprise: Overwhelmingly,the people [hospitalised with the virus] were at home. We thought maybe they were taking public transportation and we’ve taken special precautions on public transportation, but actually no, because these people were literally at home.”

By this he meant they were infected while observing the lockdown strictly and not leaving the house.

Governments say they are following ‘the science’, but the scientists are bitterly at odds with one another. This is not remarkable. It is the human condition, but politicians rarely studied the hard sciences and do not know that.

Many epidemologists have said that the lockdown is a waste of time and these ideas are nothing if not newsworthy, but the mainstream media simply do not mention them. Why not?

Epidemiologist Knut Wittkowski, for example, about whom I have blogged, has been completely ignored. He has now finally been interviewed by the ex-Trotskyite, sort of libertarian magazine Spiked, saying we should open up completely and forget abut the virus panic. 

They only interview him now that his ideas no longer seem dangerous or crazy. 

Nick Robinson of the BBC has tweeted about the value of journalists who ask searching questions. This is exactly what they rarely do. 

They are fallen creatures, as we all are, but their sloth, timidity, fear of causing offence among their peers and lack of intellectual curiosity is incredible.



    Jeremy’s rabble-rousing, conspiracy theorist brother, Piers, was led away in handcuffs by the Met this afternoon for participating in an anti-lockdown protest, at which he was spotted saying 5G and Coronavirus are linked, calling the lockdown a “pack of lies to brainwash you and keep you in order”.

    1. at least one of the Corbyn's has some brains ....

  2. The "Lockdown" is madness - it does not prevent the spread of the virus. What it is doing is smash the economy - and that will lead to Mass Death.

    1. The "Lockdown" is madness - it does not prevent the spread of the virus.

      It seems to have worked pretty well in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia the lockdown is pretty much over.

      Lockdowns seem to work if governments act swiftly. A short sharp lockdown imposed early seems to the recipe for success. In Britain the lockdown was imposed too late.

      Eventually of course the economy has to be reopened. If you have a government that imposed a lockdown early you're in a good position to do that. If your government made a mess of things early on then you're in a very poor position. You'll still have to reopen your economy but you'll pay a price. Britain will pay a price for Boris Johnson's failures.

      Herd immunity seems likely to turn out to be a myth.

      I do think the dangers of COVID-19 have been wildly exaggerated and I do think it's madness to destroy the economy. But the sensible course of action was to move quickly to contain the virus rather than putting faith in something like herd immunity which might turn out to be impossible.

      Fortunately the virus will probably burn out anyway and seems to be doing so. Countries that behaved sensibly have paid a low price in deaths. Countries that behaved foolishly have paid a much higher price.

      At this point economies have to be restarted anyway or the economic carnage will be worse than the disease.

    2. It may well be that the virus will attack Australia in the future but it will presumably be a different virus. Herd immunity is not a myth and Australians have not acquired immunity to Covid-19. It is all confusing. Australia did well to stop intercourse with China early, I suppose. We know the virus was in France in December and was probably elsewhere in Europe and the USA by then. Had Australia done as Sweden did would it not have been better?

    3. Kerala contained the virus - before the Indian lockdown.

      'The Indian government plans to lift the lockdown on 17 May (the date has been extended twice). After that, she predicts, there will be a huge influx of Malayalis to Kerala from the heavily infected Gulf region. “It will be a great challenge, but we are preparing for it,” she says.'

    4. As Paul Marks said above, lockdowns oddly enough do not contain the spread of the virus. We know this because Governor Cuomo has said so.

    5. Had Australia done as Sweden did would it not have been better?

      We'll probably have to wait a year before we can answer that question. In a year's time we might be saying, "Had Sweden done as Australia did would it not have been better?"

      Herd immunity is not a myth and Australians have not acquired immunity to Covid-19.

      Herd immunity is real but we don't really know if it applies to COVID-19. We don't know how long immunity lasts. We don't know if the immunity is only to a single strain of the virus, so if the virus mutates herd immunity might be worthless. There seems to be too much uncertainty about herd immunity for it to be something you'd want to rely on.

      And a vaccine that actually works seems unlikely.

      It's all very uncertain. Presumably the scientific advice the Australian government has been getting is very different from the scientific advice the Swedish government has been getting. Which is one of the worrying things.

    6. Yes agreed but immunity to Covid 19 probably is lifelong. It almost always is according to Knut Wittkowski. Or as a canny vet friend of mine refers to him the Knut. He does so as a play on words but thinks he sounds very persuasive.

  3. Another good piece. Looking back on the sequence of events, a lot hinges on the mistaken idea that patients had to be put on ventilators. Two or three weeks for each in an ICU, with the vast majority dying anyway. With such labour-intensive treatment, there was almost bound to be a shortage of beds and staff, and China was seen to be panicking and not coping. Then Italy.

    Then there was the shortage of PPE for medical staff, which meant that they worked under dreadful conditions when they could get PPE - they couldn't change it for a whole over-long shift. Without it, or with inadequate PPE, they received massive doses of the virus and many died. (We now know that the initial dose is a crucial factor in how ill people become.)

    Then it was full-scale panic almost everywhere.

  4. Thanks for the comment. It is a lesson in mass panic and how powerful the mainstream media are. Ventilators seem to have been worse than useless. It is blindingly obvious now that Sweden will not see scores of thousands of deaths from Covid-19 but about three thousand deaths with not necessarily of it