Like governments across Europe, Number 10 is toggling lockdowns on and off on like a faulty light switch. This toggling creates uncertainty, which is bad for investment and job creation, without providing a clear health benefit. Number 10 must be afraid of the terrible cost of doing nothing and afraid of making things even worse with bad policy. What would you do? You would probably do what they seem to be doing, consulting the scientific experts. Ironically, that is the problem. The minutes of the SAGE meeting of 21 September let slip the not-so-secret secret of pandemic policy prescription: the experts do not know what to do. “The existing evidence base for the effectiveness and harms of individual interventions is generally weak.” As the generally weak evidence shifts, so does expert opinion, and their advice toggles back and forth in the process.
“Dear Members of Parliament” (HT Dan Klein) A slice (original emphasis):
The most important message to convey is that I strongly believe the Government’s response has been, and continues to be, disproportionate to the true threat posed by this virus. While this was, perhaps, understandable in March when less was known, the policies that are still in place, which are both economically and societally ruinous, are now much less credible.
The Government appears to be locked into the single objective of dealing with this one virus at the expense of a myriad public health issues, many of which are exacerbated by the current COVID-centric policy choices.
The first recorded outbreak of the virus in the spring teaches us that the health impact of the virus was, in terms of clinical impact, akin to a severe influenza season. Indeed Dr Anthony Fauci said in the New England Journal of Medicine in February that the “clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza”. The data both in the UK and worldwide have borne this out. The mortality burden of COVID-19 in the UK has been similar to the relatively severe 2018/19, 1998/1999 and 1999/2000 influenza seasons, and significantly lower than the 1968 H3N2 influenza pandemic which killed approximately 80,000 people in the UK. These outbreaks were as severe, if not more so, than the current COVID epidemic and yet the country was not closed down risking economic ruin and serious long-term public health consequences.
Immediately upon its publication, the Great Barrington Declaration spawned a flurry of poorly reasoned reactions, many of which alleged that Covid-19 lockdowns are a thing of the past – that to warn against them is to warn against a straw man. Phil Magness documents that, alas, this “straw man” is alive and well and well-armed as he recklessly threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions around the world.