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Some Covid Links

Wall Street Journal columnist James Freeman pushes back against the unending peddling of Covid hysteria. A slice:

Maybe it’s too much to hope that government health experts have learned something in the past year about the massive unintended consequences of lockdowns and the paucity of evidence demonstrating their effectiveness. But Monday’s White House teleconference with the Biden Covid team could almost have been mistaken for a March 2020 event—complete with government doctors stoking fear, urging restrictions on liberty and not even bothering to address costs and benefits.

This column understands that infectious disease specialists focus on infectious disease. But roughly $4.5 trillion of new federal debt later, following a 29% surge in commercial bankruptcy filings, a rash of delayed non-Covid medical treatments, a lost year of classroom instruction for many students who will never get it back, and skyrocketing health claims related to self-harm among adolescents—especially in jurisdictions that maintained harsh lockdowns—it is not too much to ask disease specialists to consider the societal impact of their recommendations. Outside government, doctors generally understand they have a duty to first do no harm. Government doctors also have a basic responsibility to ensure that their public health proposals yield net benefits for society, and do not focus on one risk while ignoring all others.


Yet what exactly is the scientific case against reopening and relying on individual judgment? To date, the two U.S. states with the highest total per capita Covid death tolls—New Jersey and New York—are governed by two of the most aggressive closers of activity and opportunity. You will also find the lockdowners among the states with high unemployment rates.

It’s well past time for government doctors to recognize there are consequences to their recommendations. Pediatrician Ari Joffe of the University of Alberta writes in the journal Frontiers in Public Health:

The lockdowns implemented in the name of public health entailed trade-offs that were not adequately considered… Lockdowns may prevent some COVID-19 deaths by flattening the curve of cases and preventing stress on hospitals. At the same time, lockdowns cause severe adverse effects for many millions of people, disproportionately for those already disadvantaged among us. The collateral damage included severe losses to current and future wellbeing from unemployment, poverty, food insecurity, interrupted preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic healthcare, interrupted education, loneliness and deterioration of mental health, and intimate partner violence. The economic recession has been framed as the economy vs. saving lives from COVID-19, but this is a false dichotomy. The economic recession, through austerity in government spending on the social determinants of health, can be expected to cause far more loss of life and wellbeing over the long-run than COVID-19 can. We must open up society to save many more lives than we can by attempting to avoid every case (or even most cases) of COVID-19. It is past time to take an effortful pause, calibrate our response to the true risk, make rational cost-benefit analyses of the trade-offs, and end the lockdown groupthink.

Jordan Schachtel warns of the tyranny of vaccine passports.

Ian Dunt rightly describes vaccine passports as “ID cards on steroids.

Thanks go to my colleague Dan Klein for alerting me to the revised version of Christian Bjørnskov’s important paper titled “Did Lockdowns Work? An Economist’s Cross-Country Comparison.” Here’s the abstract:

I explore the association between the severity of lockdown policies in the first half of 2020 and mortality rates. Using two indices from the Blavatnik Centre’s COVID-19 policy measures and comparing weekly mortality rates from 24 European countries in the first halves of 2017–2020, addressing policy endogeneity in two different ways, and taking timing into account, I find no clear association between lockdown policies and mortality development.

Here’s the conclusion of Stephen R. Bowers’s 2020 paper titled “Medical Tyranny”:

We live in a time of growing cynicism about both the government and other administrative authorities. The response by those elites is not to allow an open discussion and presentation of research, but to denounce skeptics as people who are simply opposed to “science” without explaining which scientists they recognize. In a pluralistic society, it is not sufficient to simply demand that critics stay silent and obedient. If we are unable to resolve this issue, the greatest fatality of COVID will not only be the many elderly and health impaired citizens but rather our free society.

Daniel Hannan justifiably hates the lockdowns. Two slices:

I hate everything about the lockdown. I hate the confiscation of liberty, and the ease with which it is surrendered. I hate the damage to children’s education. I hate the prying and the prissiness and the pettiness. I hate the way university students have missed out on what should be the best time of their lives. I hate the tone in which police officers address people going about their lawful business.

I hate the way the goalposts keep moving: flatten the curve; no – wait for a vaccine; no – keep the pressure off the NHS; no – stop new variants. I hate the cataclysmic impact on small businesses, and the indifference of large parts of the public. I hate the debt we are racking up. I hate the protectionism and the authoritarianism. I hate hearing words like “hoarder” and “profiteer” – words we used to associate with extremist ideologies. I hate the loneliness that I see weighing on my elderly neighbours. I hate the profusion of pettifogging laws.

But d’you know what I hate the most? I hate what it has revealed about us. It turns out that we quite like being bossed around – at least, a lot of us do. Given the excuse of a collective threat, we revel in crackdowns and prohibitions.


Let me proffer a gloomier explanation. Safetyism is a natural instinct. Throughout almost all human civilisation, people have accepted various forms of hierarchy and tyranny in the name of security. The liberal interlude through which we have lived is exceptional. We may be witnessing its end.

Plus de tyrannie en France.

In response to the newly announced lockdown in France, Phil Magness asks a pertinent question. This question is posed to those who, when the Great Barrington Declaration was released in early October, ridiculed it in part by saying that lockdowns are a thing of the past – that the policy of lockdown opposed by the Declaration’s co-authors is “a strawman”:

Looks like France is getting another strawman.

In related news, are *any* of the epidemiologists, economists, and other pundits who adamantly insisted last October that renewed lockdowns were “just a strawman” ever going to admit their error & apologize for their misleading statements?

Julia Hartley-Brewer, obviously and justifiably frustrated with a pro-lockdown MP, asks this tyrant “What is the number of deaths from Covid we’re willing to live with?” The tyrant refused to answer.

Will Jones exposes Covid-19 misinformation on Wikipedia.

Here’s a new interview with Great Barrington Declaration co-author Martin Kulldorff. Two slices from Prof. Kulldorff:

The media has been very reluctant to report reliable scientific and public health information about the pandemic. Instead they have broadcast unverified information such as the model predictions from Imperial College, they have spread unwarranted fear that undermine people’s trust in public health and they have promoted naïve and inefficient counter measures such as lockdowns, masks and contact tracing.

While I wished that neither SAGE nor anyone else would argue against long-standing principles of public health, the media should not censor such information. During a pandemic, it is more important than ever that media can report freely. There are two major reasons for this: (i) While similar to existing coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus that we are constantly learning more about and because of that, it takes time to reach scientific conclusions. With censorship it takes longer and we cannot afford that during a pandemic. (ii) In order to maintain trust in public health, it is important that any thoughts and ideas about the pandemic can be voiced, debated and either confirmed or debunked.
It should now be obvious to everyone that lockdowns, masks and contract tracing failed to protect older high-risk people, as it could not suppress and contain COVID-19, with far too many deaths as a result. Lockdowns are just a dragged out let-it-rip strategy. That was clear to most infectious disease epidemiologists already a year ago. The fatal logical flaw of the lockdowners has been that we must lock down because COVID-19 is dangerous. The opposite is true. Because it is a very dangerous disease among the old, they should have been properly protected through focused protection.

Instead of continuing to take advice from those who were wrong then, Boris should listen to those who were right. In the UK, you have the world’s preeminent infectious disease epidemiologist in professor Sunetra Gupta. She can help implement a focused protection strategy of older high-risk individuals through vaccination and other means, while removing the lockdowns. If the Prime Minister needs the comfort of company with other politicians, get in touch with Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida.


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