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Some Covid Links

Philippe Lemoine, writing in the Wall Street Journal, argues that the lockdowns weren’t worthwhile. A slice:

Sweden was the first to learn this lesson, but many other countries have confirmed it. Initially held up as a disaster by many in the pro-lockdown crowd, Sweden has ended up with a per capita death rate indistinguishable from that of the European Union. In the U.S., Georgia’s hands-off policies were once called an “experiment in human sacrifice” by the Atlantic. But like Sweden, Georgia today has a per capita death rate that is effectively the same as the rest of the country.

That isn’t to say that restrictions have no effect. Had Sweden adopted more-stringent restrictions, it’s likely the epidemic would have started receding a bit earlier and incidence would have fallen a bit faster. But policy may not matter as much as people assumed it did. Lockdowns can destroy the economy, but it’s starting to look as if they have minimal effect on the spread of Covid-19.

After a year of observation and data collection, the case for lockdowns has grown much weaker. Nobody denies overwhelmed hospitals are bad, but so is depriving people of a normal life, including kids who can’t attend school or socialize during precious years of their lives. Since everyone hasn’t been vaccinated, many wouldn’t yet be living normally even without restrictions. But government mandates can make things worse by taking away people’s ability to socialize and make a living.

The coronavirus lockdowns constitute the most extensive attacks on individual freedom in the West since World War II. Yet not a single government has published a cost-benefit analysis to justify lockdown policies—something policy makers are often required to do while making far less consequential decisions. If my arguments are wrong and lockdown policies are cost-effective, a government document should be able to demonstrate that. No government has produced such a document, perhaps because officials know what it would show.

Also writing in the Wall Street Journal is Johns Hopkins medical-school professor Marty Makary, who accuses the CDC of being “paralyzed by fear” and – as such – not following the science. A slice:

In its guidance the CDC says the risks of infection in vaccinated people “cannot be completely eliminated.” True, we don’t have conclusive data that guarantees vaccination reduces risk to zero. We never will. We are operating in the realm of medical discretion based on the best available data, as practicing physicians have always done. The CDC highlights the vaccines’ stunning success but is ridiculously cautious about its implications. Public-health officials focus myopically on transmission risk while all but ignoring the broader health crisis stemming from isolation. The CDC acknowledges “potential” risks of isolation, but doesn’t go into details.

It’s time to liberate vaccinated people to restore their relationships and rebuild their lives. That would encourage vaccination by giving hesitant people a vivid incentive to have the shots.

Throughout the pandemic, authorities have missed the mark on precautions. Hospitals blocked family members from being with their loved ones as they gasped for air, gagging on a ventilator tube—what some patients describe as the worst feeling in the world. In addition to the power of holding a hand, family members coordinate care and serve as a valuable safety net, a partnership that was badly needed when many hospitals had staffing shortages. Separating family members was excessive and cruel, driven by narrow thinking that focused singularly on reducing viral transmission risk, heedless of the harm to the quality of human life.

Christian Britschgi writes about Paso Robles, CA: the town that didn’t lock down. A slice:

Johnson made the decision to defy Newsom’s shutdown order and keep her business open. She wasn’t the only one.

Across California, the reaction to the governor’s order was swift and negative. Videos of business owners pointing out the absurdities of the new restrictions went viral on social media. Sheriff’s departments across the state, including in Los Angeles and Orange counties, said they wouldn’t enforce the order. Trade associations and local governments readied lawsuits. Nine months into a deadly pandemic that had left hundreds of thousands of people dead nationwide, and everyone else stuck inside their homes away from family, friends, and colleagues, the risk was clearly real, as I would find out myself. But patience for another lockdown had been depleted.

Nowhere was this more evident than Paso Robles, where most of the businesses in town came to the same realization as Johnson: Another shutdown could mean their doom.

But instead of accepting their fate, they got organized. Through Facebook groups and clandestine in-person meetings, a coalition of business owners decided to defy the state’s latest order and keep their town open.

It was an exercise in COVID-era civil disobedience. And in many ways, it worked.

Will Jones reports on yet another study that fails to find that lockdowns reduce Covid infection and mortality rates. A slice:

Studies which show social restrictions do not lead to lower Covid mortality and infection rates are numerous (see this collection of 31 from AIER, which is kept up to date).

We now have another paper to add to the collection. Published last week in Scientific Reports in Nature, it looks at whether the extent to which people stayed at home (measured using Google mobility data) is associated with Covid mortality in different countries. Doesn’t look like it, they conclude.

Paul Alexander, et al., describe the masking of children as “tragic, unscientific, and damaging.”

Noah Carl asks: What happened in South Dakota?

Stephen LeDrew talks with Anthony Furey about the horribly inaccurate modeling of Covid.

TANSTAFPFC: There ain’t no such thing as free protection from Covid-19.

Jemima Lewis reports that many British parents are ignoring the government’s restrictions on the play of their children. (DBx: I applaud these parents for doing their part to help fight the highly contagious and dangerous disease of statism.)

The irrepressible Lionel Shriver is correct to argue that the west has lost its moral high ground. Here are two slices from her latest piece in The Spectator:

International travellers running the gauntlet of English airports must already test negative for Covid before the flight, and on return to the UK get tested again before boarding, fill out a locator form, quarantine for ten days and test negative twice more. But that’s not enough oppression for Boris Johnson’s government. As of this week, outbound intrepids have also to fill out ‘declaration forms’ explaining why their trip is essential. Not doing so is a criminal offence.


Like much of the West, Britain has navigated this pandemic with heavy-handed state coercion: threats of ten-year imprisonment for not filling in a form properly, fines of £10,000 for organising a protest of any sort, arbitrary arrest and police harassment for sitting on a park bench or walking a dog in the wilderness. Whatever is not expressly permitted is forbidden. It’s the state’s business whether we hold our mother’s hand. Rule is by decree; rare parliamentary approval of still more draconian restrictions is a rubber stamp. Dissenting scientific opinion is suppressed, sledgehammer-subtle propaganda goons from hoardings and broadcast media almost exclusively recapitulate government messaging. The public is encouraged to shop recalcitrant neighbours and relatives to the authorities. Does this sound like somewhere else you know of? Like Covid itself, lockdowns were exported from China, then espoused by the World Health Organisation, a once reputable institution now largely captured by China as well.

There were other routes to managing this disease. Reliable, benevolent advice, financial support for at-risk age groups, sequestration of Covid patients in healthcare settings — methods that pandemic prepared-ness studies already commended. Instead, most of the West abandoned once-sacrosanct principles on a dime, and democratic governments fell over themselves in their eagerness to copy not only one another, but China. In so doing, our politicians have demoted our civil rights to privileges — ever provisional, readily revoked, restored only if we’re terribly good, like children hoping for presents from Santa. So-called rights — to free movement, free association, free speech — now resemble the ‘social credits’ Chinese AI apps award for paying your bills and refraining from jaywalking. Thus the West kisses goodbye its last few square inches of moral high ground. Under stress, the West is demonstrably as authoritarian as the CCP. The supreme ideals of harmony and safety are peas in a pod.