Those of you who dismiss those of us who insist that Covid Derangement Syndrome is both real and readily available as an excuse for the exercise of arbitrary state power might wish to ponder this report from CBS News . (HT Phil Magness). Here’s the sensational headline: “DHS warns violent extremists may exploit easing of COVID restrictions to plan new attacks” – a headline that can, without any loss of ‘substance,’ be re-written as: ‘DHS warns violent extremists may exploit freedom to plan new attacks.’ (Remind me why, in times of crises, we should trust government officials.)
Delhi is now being stomped on by – apologies to Phil Magness – a man of straw . This straw man is stomping also in Taiwan , and in Trinidad and Tobago . (It was just announced in T&T that “All outdoor sports and exercise are now prohibited 24/7 under the 2021 emergency powers regulations.” )
Still applauding Australia (and government involvement in health care)? Read this piece . A slice:
State health departments are still determining exactly why Australians are getting more seriously ill and in greater volumes as healthcare systems have been switched back on this year. The ministers believe the likely driver is the impact of delayed or deferred care.
Well: “Members of Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviour express regret about ‘unethical’ methods”. And here’s the Telegraph headline: “Use of fear to control behaviour in Covid crisis was ‘totalitarian’, admit scientists” . A slice:
Members of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviour (SPI-B ) expressed regret about the tactics in a new book about the role of psychology in the [British] Government’s Covid-19 response.
SPI-B warned in March last year that ministers needed to increase “the perceived level of personal threat” from Covid-19 because “a substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened”.
Gavin Morgan, a psychologist on the team, said: “Clearly, using fear as a means of control is not ethical. Using fear smacks of totalitarianism. It’s not an ethical stance for any modern government. By nature I am an optimistic person, but all this has given me a more pessimistic view of people.”
Mr Morgan spoke to author Laura Dodsworth, who has spent a year investigating the Government’s tactics for her book A State of Fear, published on Monday.
Ministers have faced repeated accusations that they ramped up the threat from the pandemic  to justify lockdowns and coerce the public into abiding by them – a claim that will be examined by the forthcoming public inquiry  into the pandemic response.
In fact, there is no evidence  (outside models, which are not evidence) that lockdown measures or social distancing have any significant impact on reducing Covid infections or deaths. This is why the states in America which removed their restrictions in March (Texas) or last autumn (Florida) or never imposed them (South Dakota) are doing no worse, and often better , than many states which maintained strict restrictions throughout the winter  (see the graph above). Sweden demonstrates a similar point in Europe.
The depressing truth, though, is that sceptics have largely failed to get this basic point across to those in charge and their scientific advisers. It’s not as though the evidence is not there. There are numerous peer-reviewed articles  in leading journals that set out the evidence on this, and more keep appearing . Leading scientists  have raised their heads to make the evidence-based case.
Here’s J.D. Tuccille’s latest . A slice:
Those families, having seriously altered their lives in response to pandemic fears, probably entrusted their kids to us because my wife is a pediatrician who presumably understands health perils and precautions. And that’s true, but not necessarily in the way those who have self-isolated might assume. While she has seen families fall ill and lose people (usually older or with preexisting conditions) to COVID-19, she also has seen children fall prey to lockdown-triggered depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. During a pandemic, as always, life is about balancing risks, not eliminating them.