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Four Covid-19 Links

Soho Forum debate director and former Barron’s writer Gene Epstein e-mailed to a group of friends (which includes me) a link to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s “Covid-19: Data” page. Gene – a New Yorker – clicked on “Underlying conditions” (in the “Confirmed Deaths” section) and was struck by how so few healthy New Yorkers, even old ones, have so far died of Covid. Here’s the note that accompanied Gene’s e-mail (original emphasis):

Under “Confirmed Deaths” from COVID listed by age and “Underlying conditions,” NYC data estimate 10 deaths so far by folks 65 and over with no underlying illness: “lung disease, asthma, heart disease, a weakened immune system, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease and cancer.”

There are an estimated 1.2 million NYC residents 65 and over. On that basis, NYC residents like me over 65 with no underlying illness have one chance in 120 thousand of a COVID death.

That’s probably a lot less than my combined risk of dying from accidents (auto, fire, lightening, food poisoning…) & from getting murdered.

Stanford University Professor of Medicine Jay Bhattacharya – one of the three co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration – talks sensibly about Covid-19. A slice:

The single most important fact about the COVID pandemic—in terms of deciding how to respond to it on both an individual and a governmental basis—is that it is not equally dangerous for everybody. This became clear very early on, but for some reason our public health messaging failed to get this fact out to the public.

It still seems to be a common perception that COVID is equally dangerous to everybody, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a thousand-fold difference between the mortality rate in older people, 70 and up, and the mortality rate in children. In some sense, this is a great blessing. If it was a disease that killed children preferentially, I for one would react very differently. But the fact is that for young children, this disease is less dangerous than the seasonal flu. This year, in the United States, more children have died from the seasonal flu than from COVID by a factor of two or three.

Alberto Mingardi reflects on Italy’s second lockdown. A slice:

“There are no libertarians in a pandemic;” but somehow that is a problem. One of the key insights of modern libertarianism is that a complex society is a tangle of knowledge problems, which central authorities are not very good at unraveling. This has been lost on decision-makers, who think they can win the “war against the virus” with top-down decisions, irrespective of continuous and abrupt change. They are always lagging a step behind.

Oxford University researchers Tom Jefferson and Carl Heneghan bemoan the insanity of Britain’s new lockdown, and they offer sensible alternative proposals for dealing with Covid. Two slices:

We are told as a matter of certain fact that the whole of the NHS is in danger of being overwhelmed. Our data suggest that there have indeed been hotspots – in Liverpool, for example – but that the situation is stabilising even in some of these places.

In the past 48 hours, we have been told there are 96,000 new infections a day. But we have also been told by respectable analysts that there are 36,000 cases and 55,000 cases a day. Take your pick. The track record of predictions – once checked against the facts – is abysmal.


Finally, we must change the tone and scope of the debate.

There has to be a measured discussion that includes the consequences of lockdown as well as the supposed benefits.

Otherwise, there can be no clear way forward. People are confused, fatigued and starting to understand that crude restrictions targeting the whole of society – irrespective of risk – are counterproductive.

Indeed, they kill people just as surely as Covid-19. There have been 23,619 excess deaths in England in people’s homes since the start of April.

Yet only ten per cent of these are directly related to Covid. The rest, we might assume, are the result of restricting national life and access to usual healthcare. These deaths have largely been ignored.