COVID-19: Lock-Downs, or Cock-Ups?

By Neil Lock

This is a follow-up to my June paper on the numbers relating to the COVID epidemic world-wide. That paper is at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/06/20/covid-19-understanding-the-numbers-coronavirus/. This time, the main focus will be on the question: how well have lockdowns worked in different countries? I will look first at those countries in Western Europe, which show evidence (or not) of the various lockdowns having had a significant effect on the daily new case counts. Then, I will visit some of the more “interesting” countries (from a COVID statistics point of view at the present time) in other parts of the world.

As for the first paper, my data comes from Our World in Data. It can now be downloaded from https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-source-data. They are still keeping their spreadsheet (now 34,600 rows and counting) updated each day. They have also added a “stringency index” column to the daily record, which indicates how tightly the particular country was locked down on the particular day. I’ll discuss that soon. All the data I use in this paper came from their spreadsheet dated August 4th, 2020.

But before I begin, an explanation for non-Brits of the word “cock-up” in the title. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “something that is done wrong or badly.” A North American equivalent might be “snafu,” although it usually takes many cock-ups to make a full snafu. Cock-up is to snafu, roughly, as dime to dollar.

The question I aim to answer is: Is there evidence that the “lockdown” reactions to the epidemic of governments around the world have significantly helped to alleviate the effects of the virus, compared with what would have happened without those lockdowns? Or has it, perhaps, been a lot of pain for no, or little, real gain? You shall judge.

The Stringency Index

The “stringency index” is a summary number (expressed as a percentage) of how far a country is locked down. 0% is business as usual, while 100% represents maximum restrictions for all the criteria considered. The stringency data supplied to Our World in Data, and the supporting .csv file of daily data, both come from the Blavatnik School of Government, which like Our World in Data is a part of Oxford University. The file I used was the version from August 5th.

You can download the .csv file from https://www.bsg.ox.ac.uk/research/research-projects/coronavirus-government-response-tracker. (They now have an additional secondary dataset on US states’ responses to COVID-19.) The guide which explains the individual data fields is at https://github.com/OxCGRT/covid-policy-tracker/blob/master/documentation/codebook.md. The full codebook (working paper) and the documentation on the new US data are available as PDFs from https://www.bsg.ox.ac.uk/research/publications/variation-us-states-responses-covid-19.

There are nine factors included in the stringency index. They are: school closing, workplace closing, cancel public events, restrictions on gathering size, close public transport, stay at home requirements, restrictions on internal movement, restrictions on international travel, and public information campaign. In calculating the stringency index, they weight all nine factors equally; an approach which, for me at least, seems as good as any.

I did, however, identify what seem to me to be a couple of things missing from their nine-factor system. Firstly, there is no mention of mask-wearing requirements at all. And secondly, they have only a single “workplace closing” factor, whereas I would have preferred two. One for workplaces open to the public, such as shops, restaurants and bars; and one for other workplaces, such as offices and factories. This is because some countries, including the UK, have locked down considerably harder on the first than the second; and have also loosened that lockdown in several phases. It’s unfortunate that, because of the conflation of the two types of workplaces, none of these relaxations appear as changes in the stringency index for the UK at all.

All that being said, it’s the best data I’ve got, so I’m going to explore it!

The underlying mathematics

My first question on how to assess the lockdowns was: What should I plot the stringency index against, to try to get an idea of how changes in it might (or might not) have affected new cases? To make that decision, I needed to learn a (very) little about the epidemiological mathematics.

Since I was only interested in new cases, I only needed to think about one transition: the one from Susceptible to Infected. Obviously, the number of infections that are detected as new cases will depend on the level of testing being done, as well as the number of new infections. But it’s rare for the level of testing to change significantly and very suddenly. (Sweden at the beginning of June is the only case I know of). So, if I keep my time horizon short enough – say, a week – it should be a reasonable assumption that the number of new cases (eventually) detected will be roughly in proportion to the number of new infections.

Now, the most appropriate of the epidemiological models to COVID is probably the SEIR model. But if I make the (over-) simplifying assumption that the incubation period is roughly constant, then I can just use a basic SIR model. Such models have a new infection rate of the following form:

An extra complication is that the number of new cases in an epidemic has its own dynamics. To mis-quote Larry Wall’s Harvard Law: “Under controlled conditions of light, temperature, humidity, social interaction and other factors, the organism will do as it damn well pleases.” So, I thought it wouldn’t be useful to try to look for the effects of lockdown or release directly in the new case numbers. Instead, I thought, I’ll look at the rate of change of new cases. The effects of a lockdown or release ought to be visible as a “knee-bend” (maybe not instantly, but certainly within a couple of weeks) in this rate of change.

How I graphed the lockdowns for the UK

In my earlier paper, I used a graph of daily growth of weekly averaged new cases, to enable me to pick out early outbreaks of the virus which were too small to be easily visible on the headline graph of daily cases and deaths. So, I adapted this into a graph of growth of new cases on a weekly basis. I started out by trying to plot the ratio of the raw new case count to the count from 7 days previously; but the data proved to be too noisy for that to be useful. So, I had to settle for the week-on-week change in new case counts which were already weekly averaged. The purist in me gags at such a kludge; but climate scientists can get away with doing such things, so why can’t I?

So, the weekly growth percentage shown for a given day is the ratio of the (already weekly averaged) new cases 4 days after that day, to the new cases 3 days before that day. The date underneath a point on the graph is as close as I could make it to the centre of the period from which its data was taken.

I also decided, in order to keep the height of the graph within reasonable bounds, to cap the weekly growth percentages at a maximum of 200%. Anything above 200% is simply shown as if it was 200%. The resulting graph for the UK, my starting point for this journey, comes out like this:

The blue line tells us that the week-on-week growth has been negative for most of the time since late April; superficially at least, good. Though it has crept up again a bit in July. It also suggests that the week-to-week new case growth had already started to come down from its peak, before any significant lockdown was put in place.

To confirm that last statement, I made a version of the graph that didn’t constrain the growth percentage to 200%. To be doubly certain, I also switched back to using the raw data instead of the weekly averaged data. The result was remarkable:

Say what? The week-on-week growth in cases was already well on its way down, before any kind of legislative lockdown was even contemplated. Now I’ll grant you, divide a small number from a noisy and uncertain distribution by another small number from the same distribution, and the result is uncertain in spades. But there’s a decline there, and it isn’t a hidden one.

Now, what might have caused this decline? My best guess is that when expanding into new, fresh fields, the virus (which takes time, 2 to 12 days I’m told, to incubate) can’t keep up with its old rate of progress. It’s always going to be the first cluster that expands fastest.

The April to July changes, on the other hand, show just as clearly on the basic daily cases and deaths graph:

The suspicious among you may be thinking: “But that isn’t a bit like the graph you showed us last time!” No, indeed. Here’s the one from six weeks ago:

The reason for this revisionist tendency in the UK’s data is that, since June, they have moved from showing new cases against the day they were reported, to showing them against the day the test was done; just as the Swedes were in the process of doing at the time of my earlier paper. The effect is to separate the main peak into two, and to move the first peak earlier by a few days. (Notice, also, that the second peak comes shortly after the Easter week-end.)

Another effect of this means of reporting – not visible on this graph, but you can see it in several other countries’ data – is that new case counts for the very latest few days will usually be understated. They will be added to as delayed test results come in. So, if you see an apparent downturn in new cases in the last few days before the end of the data, it’s very probably spurious, and should not be taken into account in any conclusions. Similarly, perhaps, for an apparent upturn; maybe reports from the cities come in quicker than those from the boondocks?

To return to the plot of weekly case growth against lockdown stringency. I used the raw daily data provided by the Blavatnik people to produce a history of the changes in UK regulations over the epidemic so far. (The texts in the “Measure” column are my own summaries, in text form, of the numeric codings which are used for each of the nine factors in the Blavatnik stringency data). Here’s the result:

DateMeasureScopeStringency %
February 2ndCo-ordinated public information campaignNational11
March 16thRecommended workplace closingNational15
March 17thRecommended public event cancellationsNational20
March 21stRequired some workplaces to closeNational30
 Mandatory public event cancellationsNational 
March 22ndRecommended not to travelNational35
March 23rdMandatory all schools to closeNational70
 Restrictions on small gatherings (<=10 people)National 
 Required stay at home with exceptionsNational 
 Mandatory restrictions on internal travelNational 
March 26thRecommended public transport closuresNational76
May 13thRecommended stay at homeNational69
 Mandatory restrictions on internal travelRegional 
June 1stMandatory all schools to closeRegional68
June 8thQuarantine international arrivals from high-risk regions 73
June 15thRecommended stay at homeRegional71
July 4thRestrictions on small gatherings (<=10 people)Regional70
July 6thRecommended not to travelRegional64
August 1stMandatory restrictions on internal travelRegional68
No stay-at-home measures  

I was tempted to insert in there: “April 12th (Easter Sunday): Prime minister Boris Johnson comes back from the dead!”

Now, look back at that graph of weekly case growth versus stringency limit. The hypothesis that lockdowns and relaxations ought to trigger drops and increases in weekly case growth would suggest that the blue line ought to move in the opposite direction to the brown, soon – or, at most, in a week or two – after it. Since the big lockdown in March, does that graph show any evidence of such a movement? Not to my eyes. Remember, also, that shops and pubs re-opened in three phases on June 1st, June 15th and July 4th, none of which show up in the Blavatnik data. If I squint hard, I can maybe see a tiny upward knee-bend in the blue line in the first week of June; but it’s not conclusive.

A tour of Western Europe

Next, I thought, I’ll re-visit some of the Western European countries I looked at last time round. First, Iceland. Six weeks ago, it was the land of the perfect bell-curve. Now:

Hmmm… Ma Bell has spawned Baby Bell, and there’s a third bell just starting. Here are the growth rates and lockdown stringencies:

The Icelanders managed to snuff out the first phase of the epidemic completely in just two months from the first case, or six weeks from lockdown. Pretty impressive. What was it down to – low population density, good track and trace, strong Viking constitutions? Or could it have been due to the government locking down? Let’s have a look at the Icelandic timeline:

DateMeasureScopeStringency %
January 23rdCo-ordinated public information campaignRegional8
January 28thCo-ordinated public information campaignNational11
January 29thQuarantine international arrivals from high-risk regions 17
March 15thRestrictions on medium size gatherings (11-100 people)National25
March 16thRequired some schools to closeNational51
 Required some workplaces to closeNational 
 Mandatory public event cancellationsNational 
March 20thBan on international arrivals from some regions 54
May 4thSchools open 46
May 25thWorkplaces open 36
 Restrictions on large gatherings (101-1000 people)National 
June 15thQuarantine international arrivals from high-risk regions 33
July 31stRecommended workplace closingNational40
 Restrictions on medium size gatherings (11-100 people)National 

Well, there you have it. As in the UK, the weekly case growth was declining before any effects on Icelanders of even the first lockdown edict could kick in. Moreover, the first cases for more than a month appeared right after they went from banning high-risk international arrivals back to quarantining them. They did close bars and close-proximity businesses like hairdressers from late March to May. But otherwise, I think the Icelanders have got the job done; maximum protection at minimal cost. It will be interesting to see how quickly the latest outbreak of new cases dies down.

Next, to two central Western European countries I looked at in detail last time. First, Italy. Here’s the weekly case growth versus stringency:

The maximum lockdown level in Italy was 94%, and they were at over 85% all the way from March 11th to May 4th. Ouch.

Now, there are a couple of instances here of what I would have expected to see when a lockdown, which has had a real effect, is lifted. There’s a definite knee-bend in weekly case growth around May 4th, and another more debatable one about June 4th. According to the Blavatnik data, on May 4th there was a package of five measures:

  1. “Recommended workplace closing” (had previously been “Mandatory all but essential workplaces to close”),
  2. “Public transport open” (had previously been “Mandatory public transport closures”),
  3. “Recommended stay at home” (had previously been at a mixture of “Required stay at home with exceptions” and “Mandatory stay at home with minimal exceptions”),
  4. “Recommended not to travel” (had previously been “Mandatory restrictions on internal travel”),
  5. “Quarantine international arrivals from high-risk regions” (had previously been “Ban on international arrivals from some regions”).

And on June 2nd and 3rd all restrictions on travel were ended, both internal and international.

Here’s the daily cases and deaths graph:

There has been a small increase in new daily cases since early June. But it’s piffling compared with the horrors back in March. Barring some unexpected development, the Italians do seem now to be through the worst.

To Switzerland:

The measures since late April have been:

DateMeasureScopeStringency %
April 27thRequired some workplaces to close (previously Mandatory all but essential workplaces to close)National69
May 11thRequired some schools to close (previously Mandatory all schools to close)National66
May 30thRestrictions on medium size gatherings (11-100 people) (previously Restrictions on small gatherings (<=10 people))National63
June 6thSchools openNational46
Recommended workplace closing (previously Required some workplaces to close)National 
 No restrictions on internal travel (previously Recommended not to travel)National 
June 22ndRecommended workplace closingRegional35
Restrictions on very large gatherings (>1000 people)National 
 No stay-at-home measures (previously Recommended stay at home)  
July 3rdRestrictions on medium size gatherings (11-100 people)Regional39

Two of these seem to have been followed by increases in the weekly growth rate, both a couple of weeks afterwards. One was the re-opening of many schools. The other was the major package of measures on June 6th. The change on July 3rd seems to have had a more immediate effect in the opposite direction, even though only implemented regionally.

It looks as if medium or larger gatherings of people are one of the major sources of spread of the infection. Which, indeed, was what happened over Carnival week-end in the Netherlands and Belgium at the very beginning of the outbreak. It seems that the Icelanders agree with this, since the measure they chose to enact very recently in an attempt to halt their third wave of the infection was re-lowering the limit on gathering size.

Now, for the one (I hope) you’ve all been waiting for: Sweden. Ah, Sweden.

Pay no attention to that vast crevasse in the second half of June! Sweden shut down for the 3-day long summer solstice holiday. And even COVID testing all but stopped. Remembering that the big jump at the start of June was caused by a sudden expansion of testing, it looks now as if the Swedish hands-off strategy, which so many freedom-hating moaners have criticized, may well have been right all along. (The recent apparent jump, I won’t comment on today, as it hasn’t yet gone on long enough to draw any conclusions).

Here’s the timeline:

DateMeasureScopeStringency %
March 9thCo-ordinated public information campaignNational11
March 12thRestrictions on large gatherings (101-1000 people)National17
March 18thRecommended school closingNational20
March 19thBan on international arrivals from some regions 29
March 25thRecommended workplace closingNational32
March 29thRestrictions on medium size gatherings (11-100 people)National35
April 1stRecommended public event cancellationsNational41
April 4thRecommended not to travelNational46
June 13thNo restrictions on internal travel 41
June 15thRecommended school closingRegional39

Look at that graph again. By the time the stringency reached its peak on April 4th, the weekly case growth was already down below 50%, and soon approached zero. And although the stringency peaked at 46%, only the restrictions on gatherings and the ban on international arrivals from badly affected regions were actually mandatory. Moreover, the ban on international arrivals seems to have been restricted mainly to those from China, Iran and Italy.

Now, the Swedes have taken a lot of flak from the moaners for their high deaths per million (570 as at August 10th). This puts them eighth in the world in that particular stakes, though still well behind Belgium, the UK, Spain and Italy. But like those countries, a very high proportion of their COVID deaths have been in care homes. There’s not much anyone could have done about those.

The Swedes were also pro-active in upping the testing rate as early as they could. As a result, they are second among major Western European countries (behind Luxembourg and ahead of Spain) in cases per million population. On all the evidence, I think the Swedes have done as good a job as they could reasonably have been expected to do under the circumstances. They deserve a round of cheers. Skål!

But the really interesting question is this. If countries like the UK and Italy had taken the Swedish approach, instead of messing up the economy and people’s lives for months on end, would the end result in terms of COVID cases and deaths have been much, or indeed any, different? Looking at the Swedish graph during March and early April, I’m coming to doubt it.

Next, Portugal, which back in June was starting to look a bit unpredictable.

Now, that’s odd. They seemed to have it under control for a while in April, then suddenly, up she goes! At least two weeks after the last change in stringency. What the Portuguese did, so the Blavatnik data shows, is bring in mandatory travel restrictions for two short periods, April 9th to 14th and May 1st to 4th – Easter week-end and May Day week-end respectively. Maybe a lot of people just ignored the bans, particularly the second? Well, it didn’t do much harm on either occasion, as you can see from the subsequent down-turns. Since then, it doesn’t look too alarming. And there doesn’t seem to be much correlation between lockdown level and weekly case growth.

Last on my tour of Western Europe, a country I didn’t even look at last time: Luxembourg. This is the only country, among all those whose figures I’ve examined so far, which has actually gone the whole way to complete release of all lockdowns. As I noted earlier, they have the highest cases per million population among major Western European countries (over 11,000). And yet, in deaths per million (191), they are only 10th. So, they must have been doing some things right, even before it came to releasing their lockdowns.

Here are the graphs:

Now, that’s an epidemic management strategy I like. Use the first peak to work out exactly what the limits are on your health care resources. Then relax the lockdowns bit by bit, and don’t worry about how many new cases you get, until you are getting near the limits of your resources. If that does threaten to happen, re-introduce the most effective lockdown you have available.

“Genius, Holmes!” “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

So, they unlocked everything on July 16th. On July 19th, they re-introduced “Restrictions on medium size gatherings (11-100 people).” The effect, if I can believe my graphs, seems to have been both instant and spectacular. So, as the Blavatnik data tells (but my graph cuts off the day before), they unlocked again on July 28th. Well done the Letzebuergesch! (That’s what they call themselves in their own language). And now, they know they can do the same thing again if they ever need to.

It’s a pity that buffoons like Boris Johnson don’t have ideas (or even advisors) as good as these.

A whistle-stop world tour

So, let’s see how the rest of the world is doing, shall we?

The most obvious feature of the world cases graph is that the third wave of the epidemic (world-wide) is far more spread out in time than the first (mainly South and East Asian) and second (mainly Western European). It’s also fair to say that the apparent drop-off towards the end may well be an artefact, caused by late reporting of tests.

But the deaths per case graph is encouraging for the longer term. As the virus spreads, it seems to be becoming steadily less lethal. I wonder if, maybe, a less virulent strain is now mixing with the nasty one, which arrived in February in Iran, Italy and the USA? It’s even conceivable that we may not, in the end, actually need to exterminate the damned thing; it might, perhaps, mutate itself back into just another variant of its brothers, the common cold coronaviruses.

In my world tour, while I’ll usually show the lockdown graph just to give an overview, I won’t go into details. That’s because to make proper sense of the data, for most of the large countries I would need it broken down by state, province or whatever else is the local unit of sub-division.

So, I’ll start with our Iranian camel friend. He was pretty much down on his knees back in June. Has he managed to get up?

All I can say is, Ouch. Though to their credit, the Iranians have generally refrained from trying to lock down too hard.

Let’s take a look at Kuwait, about whose handling of the epidemic I had some good things to say back in June:

That’s a full 100% lockdown right there, from May 10th to May 30th. More ouch. Now I know how they produced that slowdown in cases, and now I’ve seen six more weeks of their data, I’m not so sure I was right to praise them.

How about the USA?

Is that a watershed around the middle of July? Maybe. The sustained drop in weekly case growth since mid-June looks encouraging, but there’s still a long way to go.

Canada?

Nothing much to see in the first graph, but something really weird in the second. Canada seems to have stopped reporting any stringency index figures at all since July 19th! Even the Blavatnik raw data shows “no data” for all dates since then. That, and the sudden drop in case figures right after, suggest that something is afoot. Perhaps they are following Sweden and the UK, and changing the way they allocate cases to dates? I’ll simply shrug my shoulders, and move on to Mexico.

That’s bad on both the cases and deaths fronts, and even worse when you look at the deaths per case and cases per test ratios:

But the weekly case growth graph tells another story. In fact, two stories.

First, the weekly case growth has been going, slowly but fairly surely, down since April. Long may that continue! And second, if there is a country whose data suggests that the Harvard Law is right, and this virus really just does do what it damn well pleases – no matter what governments or individuals do to try to nudge it – then Mexico is that country. I’ve only been to Mexico once, and while I do recall the people being rather noisy, I didn’t find them particularly law-breaking, compared with some other places I’ve been. So, if these lockdowns are being enforced, they aren’t having much, if any, effect. That calls into question the entire lockdown idea, and all that goes with it.

So, to South America. Brazil is more than a little like Mexico. I won’t bother with the daily cases and deaths, but here’s the lockdown graph:

The graphs from Ecuador and Chile do not fill me with any confidence that the numbers they portray are accurate enough to make it worth while publishing them. Which leaves Peru as my only other stop in South America:

There have been some significant recent upward adjustments to their deaths data, and the cases don’t seem to be going too well, either. As to lockdown, they have been up above 90% for a long time, and they don’t seem to be having much success with their cautious attempts at regional unlocks.

After all those troubles in Central and South America, my next port of call, South Africa, seems at first sight like a different and better world:

The cases per test percentage is still high and rising. But though the lockdown level is high, they have started to unlock. On July 12th, though, they mandated “Required stay at home with exceptions,” thus going back to the March régime after it had been relaxed at the beginning of June. This does appear to have been successful in terms of “turning the corner.” But whether the drop in new cases will continue, time will tell.

So, to my final continent: Asia. First, Pakistan.

They have done a lot of unlocking already, and their approach is to re-impose lockdowns at the provincial level where they are warranted. It seems to be working well for them, and I think this particular patient is probably already out of danger; if, of course, I can believe the figures in the first place. For such a big country, that’s a remarkable achievement. If it’s real, of course.

Not so for next-door India, though:

They have been all the way up to 100% lockdown, and are still almost at 80%. But nothing seems to be working for them.

My Indonesian friends, although they haven’t “turned the corner,” are doing better than the Indians. And without ever raising the lockdown level above 75%:

The one lockdown measure they have re-imposed is total closure of the borders, planned to last until September. From June 23rd to July 10th, the status was “Screening of international travellers.” My graph shows a knee-bend, which actually precedes the border closure! Perhaps they announced it some days in advance.

Singapore’s data is rather confused. I think this is because it’s a cross-roads, and so always vulnerable to new infections from outside; and yet, for economic survival, the Singaporeans can’t afford to be too strict about keeping people out. So, I’ll move on, to Japan:

So much for the idea that Japanese formality and their less physical ways of socializing would keep them safe from the dreaded COVID! But kudos to the Japanese for not panicking. Yet, at least. It will be interesting to see how this one pans out.

So, to the final stop on my world tour; the track-and-trace capital of the world, South Korea.

The level-headed Koreans, for the last few months, have let the virus bumble along at the bottom of its range, where it doesn’t pose much of a threat. They could eradicate it from their country if they wanted to. But there’s no point trying to do that until everyone else is ready to do the same.

All that said, track and trace on its own wasn’t enough for them. They took their lockdown stringency up to 82% at one point. And that included a period, from April 6th to April 19th, of “Mandatory all but essential workplaces to close.” But, while the increasing lockdowns did seem to produce “knee-bends” in the weekly case growth, they didn’t seem cumulatively to have an enormous effect. Until they were relaxed, of course.

Lock-downs, or cock-ups?

So, have the COVID lock-downs been cock-ups – or even, perhaps, fully-fledged snafus? The evidence from much of the world points, in my view, to the answer Yes. Mexico and Brazil, in particular, suggest that in those countries at least, many, if not all, of the lockdown measures haven’t had much influence on what the virus ended up doing. Sweden, too, points in this direction, as does the lack of a strong increase in new cases as the UK has slowly unlocked. The jury will not be able to bring in its verdict until full cost versus benefit analyses are in from each country; but at this point, it isn’t looking good for the Lockdown Party.

There is evidence, particularly from Sweden and Luxembourg, as well as from Belgium and the Netherlands at the very start of the epidemic, that close gatherings of many people, who stay together for a considerable time, do help to spread the virus. Those with memories may also recall religious gatherings in France and South Korea, which helped give it its start in those countries.

There is also, perhaps, some evidence from South Africa that stay-at-home restrictions help to lessen the spread of the virus. Although the measure in question has been in force for less than a month, and more time is needed to confirm its effect. In any case, confinement to barracks is a blunt instrument to bash people over the head with. On the other hand, there is evidence from Portugal that when people disobey travel restrictions, it leads to a short-term increase in new cases; but things very soon return to the course they were on before.

Another point to note is that, of the biggest countries in the world (with 2018 populations above 200 million), India, the USA, Indonesia and Brazil are all floundering; some worse than others. It seems that in epidemic control, smaller countries tend – as you might expect – to do better. Of course, due to exceptional bad luck at the start of the epidemic, you will lose some: San Marino, Andorra. But you will win others: Iceland, Liechtenstein and many more. And the “jewel in the crown,” the best example of all on how to keep death rates down and how to release lockdowns: Luxembourg.

It remains only for me to castigate the UK government for all the crap they’ve thrown at us in this “sceptred isle” over the last five months. To be fair, on the presumption that lockdowns were necessary, and would actually do what they were designed to do, the choices of what to lock down were not unreasonable compared to some other countries. But were they really necessary at all? And was the guff we were told about “not letting health care resources get overloaded,” perhaps, no more than a smokescreen put out by politicians, bureaucrats and biased media, that didn’t want to risk making the National Health Service sacred cow look bad?

But failing even to screen incoming travellers until June was a glaring error; and closing small shops was way over the top. The UK government’s attempts to slant the data on tests carried out – on which they were caught out by statistician Sir David Norgrove in early June, and by me a month later, see https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/07/02/is-the-uk-government-misleading-the-public-on-covid-tests/ –  wasn’t a clever move, either. Moreover, the UK, like Italy, has been far too slow to take risks in early unlocking. As a result, there seems to be forming a “consensus” that big changes are needed in the UK’s public health systems, and perhaps even in the NHS as a whole. Some heads may roll, I expect. But not nearly enough.

…and a final trip to the Faeroes

Oh, but I’ve saved the best until last. Is there, I had been thinking, some place on the planet where the government didn’t do anything much at all about locking down, compared to other countries around the same time? Is there somewhere I can use to test the hypothesis that very few, if any, of the many and varied lockdown measures that have been implemented in different places, have shown any significant efficacy at all?

Fortunately, the answer is Yes. That place is the Faeroe Islands. What happened there is that the virus, once introduced, went through the population – of the major islands, at least – like the proverbial dose of salts. Within just a few days of the government’s first reaction, the chief medical officer was saying that he thought most of those, who were going to be infected, had already been infected. Here are the graphs:

One difficulty presents itself: there is no stringency index data for the Faeroes, even in the Blavatnik daily data. But fortunately, a kind soul has put on to the Faeroes coronavirus page at Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_in_the_Faroe_Islands, a detailed account. Thank you, thank you to whoever did this. It’s become fashionable in some quarters to pooh-pooh Wikipedia; but in matters like this, it is an absolutely vital resource.

Here, directly quoted from Wikipedia, is what the Faeroes government did on March 12th:

  • All international travel is strongly discouraged, unless absolutely necessary.
  • All municipalities are urged to take measures regarding passenger cruise ships on their way to the Faroe Islands.
  • Anyone arriving in the Faroe Islands from overseas must take the utmost precaution and stay at home.
  • Restrictions on visitors to hospitals and nursing homes will apply. Further guidelines will be issued by the health and local council authorities.
  • The school system, including tertiary, secondary and primary schools, will close. Students and pupils will wherever possible have access to remote teaching.
  • Children’s activity centres, preschools and day care facilities will also close. Childcare will be offered to those who, for particular reasons, are not able to have their children at home during working hours.
  • All employees in the public sector who do not deal with the most essential services should work from home. Staff will receive further instructions from their respective directors.
  • Measures have already been taken in the private sector to guard against infection.
  • Bars, venues and restaurants are urged to close by 22:00 for the next two weeks.

I’m not sure they would even have bothered to do that much, if the Danes hadn’t decided to lock down the previous day. And after March 12th, the only further measure they brought in was on March 17th, that “no more than 10 people should be together at once, inside or outside.” Essentially the same restriction as in Iceland at the time. Beyond that, two fuel station chains closed their shops – but not the fuel pumps. And that was all. This is not to say that people in the Faeroes did not suffer, personally and economically; they did. Scan the footnotes to the Wikipedia article, if you seek evidence.

Now, there has recently been a new outbreak of cases in the Faeroes. How caused? Once again, Wikipedia springs to the rescue. The three first cases reported “had been attending the national festival Ólavsøka where many people gathered in Tórshavn.” My graphs show only the very start of this; and it has got worse since then. Which is unfortunate for the people of the Faeroes; but fortunate for me, because it leads me directly to my…

Conclusions

Of all the countries, the Icelanders and Faeroe Islanders got closest to right in deciding what to lock down. And the Swedes, too. You can ask: Did the Faeroe Islanders need to close all schools, when the Icelanders didn’t? Or, did the Icelanders need to close some workplaces, when the Faeroe Islanders didn’t? But these are quibbles.

It appears to me that only four of the lockdown measures, which have been used, have been proven effective. In increasing order of stringency to ordinary people:

  1. Screen arriving international travellers, and quarantine, or at need ban, those from high-risk areas.
  2. Ban football matches, public parades and large events, at which thousands may gather.
  3. Restrict the number of people who may assemble in one group, or at a small event.
  4. As an absolute last resort, confine people to their homes for a short period, with exceptions like shopping and exercise.

The effectiveness of anything beyond these four is unproven. The pain, though, is obvious.

As to relaxing lockdowns, three cheers for Luxembourg. Who, unlike many other governments, have approached the whole matter with commendable common sense.

144 thoughts on “COVID-19: Lock-Downs, or Cock-Ups?

  1. Spontaneous Infection

    New Zealand has recorded four new locally transmitted coronavirus cases, breaking its 102-day streak without a local infection.

    All four of the cases were found within one household in South Auckland according to New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield. He added that none of the new cases had recently travelled outside of New Zealand.

    • The PCR test, per CDC, gives a positive on any corona virus, even the common cold.

      What a fraud.

      • yep!!

        “Unfortunately, Mullis passed away last year at the age of 74, but there is no doubt that the biochemist regarded the PCR as inappropriate to detect a viral infection”

      • “A positive test result shows you may have antibodies from an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. However, there is a chance a positive result means that you have antibodies from an infection with a virus from the same family of viruses (called coronaviruses), such as the one that causes the common cold.”
        https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/testing/serology-overview.html

        Note that the above is about testing for antibodies, not for the virus.

      • James
        Source references ? PCR can even tell which virus mutation, so not being able to discern CoVid19 needs more info….

      • The sacrificial blood of babies from reproductive rites. Other than for profits from clinical cannibalism, do abortion chambers share the remains of a Planned child (i.e. life deemed unworthy of life)? #WickedSolution

    • The new NZ cases were found because someone with symptoms went to their doctor and was tested and then their household was tested. Just imagine how many other infections are circulating in NZ that are being ignored as the sniffles or a headache.

      The vast majority of people exposed to SARS-2 either have no symptoms because their immune systems suppress the virus (they may still test PCR positive) or have minor symptoms that would have been treated like a bad cold or the flu in any other time. Without PCR would we even know?

      This virus had plenty of time and opportunity to spread around the world before anyone took notice and even places as isolated as New Zealand are probably stuck with low levels of infection, no matter how hard they locked down. Covid-19 is now part of our disease environment and it is time we learned to live with it.

      • New Zealand tested on average just under 3000 people a day during the first 10 days of August. Where did this new cluster come from? It is not often mentioned that there are 22 infected people in quarantine in New Zealand, so that’s the most likely origin via a hotel guard or worker, as has happened in Melbourne.

        • The current cases are inAuckland. There are 18 quarentine facilities in that city according to my Google search. Yes it could have come from accidental contact with someone working at the quarantine facility. Or it could have drifted out of a window and infected one person. In any case Auckland is in a 3 day lockdown while they do contact tracing. NO one can leave or enter the city. Depending on what they find the lockdown could be extended.

          Inany case duringthe last 100 days there have been very few restrictions on the population with the exception of those in Quarantine. Apparently very few people have been wearing face masks. They have done a remarkably good job at containing it.

          • New Zealand probably gets second prize to Taiwan.

            This paper primarily considers the basket cases that has suffered serious death rates exceeding 500deaths/M of population. The success stories like Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia are not even considered. They are just put aside by claims they are lucky they are islands or they have good weather or they have low population density.

            Analysis of the second wave in Melbourne provides a perfect example of how effective specific controls are.

  2. The lock-downs were & are a FRAUD.

    Just about everything about this virus is a fraud.

    Yes, there is a virus.

    But there is no public health campaign… You can build up the effectiveness of your immune system, but have we heard that from Fauci or anybody else in a position of authority?

    Trump brought up HQC and got nothing but grief from MSM and Fauci.

    Fauci, pure fraud and conflict of interest.

    The proverbial mom said, “Eat your fruits & vegetable, get your vitamins & minerals/”

    She was right!

    The regular readers, here, know mom was right.

    This in many ways is the biggest medical fraud in history.

    • I assume you’ve been to plenty of Covid parties. You would help herd immunity. And the rest of the population.
      Its only flu after all.

      • Its only flu after all.

        Well that’s what Fauci said:

        ‘[T]he case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%,’ Fauci wrote in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 26.* ‘This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.’

        A day after the NEJM article was published, Fauci was back to repeating the higher fatality number in public rather than ‘considerably less than 1%.’

        ‘The mortality of [COVID-19] is about 10 times [flu],’ Fauci told Comedy Central host Trevor Noah on March 27.”

        https://justthenews.com/politics-policy/coronavirus/fauci-offers-more-conservative-death-rate-academic-article-public-virus

      • If everyone kept their innate immune system strong then they would get very few viral infections. In particular stay sufficient in zinc and vitamin D.
        Hydroxychloroquine is a zinc ionophore that is it acts to assist zinc to cross the cell wall into the cell. There has to be sufficient zinc in the blood stream/lymph so supplementation with zinc is necessary.
        Zinc in the cells prevents RNA viruses from hijacking the RNA transcription in the cells to replicate themselves.
        In absence of HCQ, quercetin another zinc ionophore can be used it a widely available dietary supplement. Both HCQ and Quercetin have anti-inflammatory properties.
        The hospital regimen adds an antibiotic like Azithromycin that prevents opportunist bacterial infections and it may also act as an antiviral.
        Add Selenium (one Brazil nut a day) and vitamin C

        If a person has sufficient intra cellular zinc then they will be very much less susceptible to viral infections, such as flu. The vaccine industry does not want anyone to know that.

        IF everyone had been told at the start of the pandemic to take vitamin D3 supplements, zinc supplements (as ionic zinc) and quercetin if they had any symptoms. The pandemic would not have happened.

        But there is no public health campaign… You can build up the effectiveness of your immune system, but have we heard that from Fauci or anybody else in a position of authority?

        Trump brought up HQC and got nothing but grief from MSM and Fauci.

        Fauci, pure fraud and conflict of interest.

        There is far more to it than that. But it is significant as you say that very simple dietary changes or simple supplementation would have greatly reduced the number of susceptible people in the population effectively creating herd immunity by strengthening the innate immune systems of the population.

        • “Zinc in the cells prevents RNA viruses from hijacking the RNA transcription in the cells to replicate themselves.
          In absence of HCQ, quercetin another zinc ionophore can be used it a widely available dietary supplement.”

          I’ve started taking quercetin on a daily basis, along with all the other vitamins and minerals necessary for proper health.

          I think most people would agree that the longer the Wuhan virus stays in the body, the more damage will be done, so the logical thing to do is to get the virus out of the body as soon as possible, or prevent it from getting in, in the first place.

          The HCQ treatment (HCQ, an antibiotic and zinc) used by a doctor in France during a study supposedly cleared the body of the Wuhan virus in from six to nine days, depending on the patient’s (presumably) level of infection.

          The Wuhan virus might be in a person’s body for two weeks before that person shows signs of infection. Then that person, after taking the virus test, has to wait for about five days or more before getting the results of the test back. The Wuhan virus could have been doings its dirty work for almost three weeks before a person realizes it and can take action, such as taking the HCQ treatment.

          I can’t get HCQ to use as a preventative, so I thought quercetin would be the next best thing. I’m taking it in hopes of getting a headstart on any Wuhan virus infection. Onions and apples have a lot of quercetin in them.

          I think nations that pass out HCQ at the first sign of infection have the right idea. The Wuhan virus does damage to all sorts of organs, so the less time it spends in your body, the better. Even asymtomatic people are discovering they have serious health problems after getting over the Wuhan virus. You don’t want this virus.

          So I’m taking Quercetin and keeping my fingers crossed.

      • Don’t be a goose, Ghalfrunt.

        Deaths from crocodile attacks in Australia are rare. The vast majority of people would be completely bemused if they were forced to produce a Crocodile Protection Plan for their home or work place, and would laugh if someone was to suggest that work places and schools be shut down, ‘just in case’.

        These same people would not walk up to a sleeping croc and try and kick it.

        Life isn’t a zero sum binary problem, Ghalfrunt, and outside of text books and computer models there is no ‘Safe’. There is Risk Reduction and As Far As Is Reasonably Practical.

        The big question that gets sidelined by unhelpful comments like “why don’t you go to a Covid party?” is what are we actually trying to achieve?

        Back a few months ago the talk was about Flattening The Curve with the objective of spacing out the Intensive Care level victims over time so as not to collapse the medical system. It was accepted at that stage that there was no way to stop the virus, so the counters were aimed at preventing the system (aka SOCIETY) from collapsing.

        Now if that was the objective then it succeeded. Our hospitals have NOT COLLAPSED and therefore by any logical society must be allowed to continue and anyone unfortunate enough to need intensive care will be cared for intensively in the completely not overwhelmed hospital system. Eventually everyone who is going to catch the virus will have caught it and we will sit around and laugh and ask each other if we remembered the Swine Flu that killed all those people a back a few years.

        Instead we now have a new objective. The Virus must be DESTROYED and here we get into the major problems. Firstly this is the real world, not a petri dish and there is not reasonably practical way to isolate EVERY single person at the same time for the required period. Second that was never the deal. The deal was to Flatten the Curve to protect the hospitals. In the UK they openly stated it – Save the NHS.

        (frankly if lives were really in danger and I could protect them by running the NHS into the dirt then bye bye NHS. Hospitals exist to protect the public health. Run it into the ground and build a new one later with all those people who are now not dead. Any public service that is not at breaking point during a major emergency is not being pushed hard enough. They exist to serve and protect the public.)

        I digressed.

        So, the big important question is what are you actually trying to do and what are you doing to achieve it.

        If the answer is ‘Protect Society’ and the method is ‘Destroy Society’ then you probably are doing it wrong. Remember, there is not point in being alive if you have nothing else to live for, and if you think people should be grateful for simply being alive and should stop complaining about having lost all their personal freedoms then you really need to do some solid reading on the history of human oppression.

        • You seem to be ignoring the cost of the virus running uncontrolled in the population.

          The initial response seems to have controlled the spread and enabled hospitals to cope.
          hospitals coping means that the death rate was probably less. but overloaded hospitals are not good for the staff who must choose who receives treatment. over worked staff lead to mistakes – “More than 620 NHS staff and social care worker deaths have been linked to coronavirus” Opening up normal working will wreck this control. Do you dispose of a parachute at 100metres when it has slowed your downward motion to a safe landing speed?
          The virus can be unnoticed but still infecting. Tracing is all but impossible knowing this and even if the traced were told to isolate for 2 weeks would they really do this?
          Just observe pubs, beaches and raves.
          If one person on your production line has the virus will you shut the whole factory? At what cost? What about delivery personnel if one is infected do you shut the factor to which deliveries are made?
          Are you willing to lose 1%++ of people over 50? (government may like this as it gets them out of the Pension hole.
          Are you going to rely on herd immunity? perhaps up to 60%. Thats an awful lot of sick people who may never recover to full health. What is the cost of caring for these left with heart problems/lung conditions/etc?

        • Craig, I reckon yours is the most eloquent sum up of the hysterical Kung-Flu over-reaction and the deceit inherent in the public exhortations coming from ‘leaders’ (like the doublespeak slogan promoted in Danistan “staying apart keeps us together”).

          One could also note the demonisation of available treatment (like hydroxchlorinique + zinc) in favour of expensive, new/barely tested treatments and future vaccines by following the money:
          https://www.zerohedge.com/political/big-pharmas-narrative-failing?utm_campaign=&utm_content=ZeroHedge%3A+The+Durden+Dispatch&utm_medium=email&utm_source=zh_newsletter

        • Craig, agree w/you. Running scared is exactly what the marxists have formulated, want & need. They are presenting themselves as saviors, if only you obey (wear masks, stay away from each other, shut down economies, schools & churches, etc, etc). It’s already working to a large extent.

      • Having Covid parties of healthy working age adults and administering HCQ immediately after an infection was detected this summer would have actually be a good idea – lost opportunity now. That’s what a non fraudulent NIH director would have coordinated, getting a SARS-Cov-2 immune workforce back out there before winter.

        The evidence that serious covid-19 is linked to vitamin D deficiency is overwhelming. Lethality in the northern hemisphere was much higher in our winter, now the lethality is higher in the southern hemisphere in their winter – it’s not some “lethal” strain vs a “non lethal” strain. It also explains why those with darker skin who are more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency were hit especially hard in the winter. How many times has Fauci or any government health official told people they need to go outside and get sunlight? Have they mentioned the benefit that tanning beds with UVB bulbs could give this coming winter? No, instead their advice is to lock down, stay inside and “stay safe” and just hide in the cave until the vaccine arrives; advice that has caused some authoritarian politicians to close beaches, threaten people having cookouts in their backyards, close tanning salons and put them in the same category as tattoo parlors, and use policy inherently promoting fast food drive thrus while essentially sentencing dine in restaurants generally serving much healthier food to go out of business.

          • Some doctors don’t believe in nutritional supplements; for them, pharmaceutical solutions from the pharmacology industry where $billions are spent and $billions are made is the only game in town!

            The vast majority of medical schools, at least here in the US, are funded and controlled by the pharmacology industry! Hence their blind obedience to making money through “modern medicine”!

    • But there is no public health campaign… You can build up the effectiveness of your immune system, but have we heard that from Fauci or anybody else in a position of authority?

      Trump brought up HQC and got nothing but grief from MSM and Fauci.

      It is a fraud.
      If you can keep up your intRA cellular zinc level then the virus is disrupted when it tries to use the cells RNA replication mechanism to replicate itself. Note that this is the same for every RNA virus including influenza. This is the innate immune system at work. If your innate immune system is sufficient then you will not be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

      To keep your intra-cellular zinc high you must ingest sufficient zinc in your diet or supplement it AND you need a zinc ionophore such as hydroxychloroquine or quercetin. Zinc ionophores allow zinc to cross the cell membrane into the cells.

      It follows that trials of HCQ alone are a bait and switch. The medical community is well aware that high intracellular zinc provides immunity to many viruses, but they want you to pay for vaccines. So the ‘clinical trials’ failed to add zinc supplements and after a week of hospital diet most will be zinc deficient. Therefore their clinical trial patients died. Not only that but all the now well known side effects of COVID-19 such as cardiac problems, myocarditis and arrhythmia , blood clotting, strokes. inflammation of the brain, kidney problems etc etc – were blamed on HCQ.

      If everyone was to ensure that their zinc levels were sufficient to high, take a zinc ionophore quercetin is easily available and ensure that their other immune system attributes are sufficient with vitamin D3 supplements and a Brazil nut a day for selenium. Then people would not be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection nor to many of the other viral infections. The pandemic would stop within a weeks.

      It is therefore apparent that someone wants the pandemic to continue as all the above information is freely available on the ‘net. But media and talking heads will savagely attack anyone that puts the information in the public sphere. Look at the reaction to the ‘Front Line Doctors’ saying the same as I have above their presentation was censored by the social media platforms and at least one of them has been terminated.

      This is not just a follow the science issue – in the same way that Climate ‘Science’ was not either.

      • I don’t normally do conspiracy theories (although I do find them amusing)…
        But it’s obvious from the way this has been handled around the western world that there is a background agenda piggybacked to the outbreak.

        I’m not saying I know what it is.

        Maybe a social experiment to see how easy it would be to enact draconian controls over once “free” people (super bloody easy, it has become clear!)

        Maybe an attempt to “clean up” the aging population and the weak/infirm… Always a huge drain on any taxpayer funded Govt health system.

        Maybe both!

        • You should never rule out incompetence of governments. The UK currently has one of the worst governments in recent history led by a complete moron and advised by another one so we were always going to suffer.

          In terms of numbers, I read about a couple who are fighting to have one their mother’s death certificate changed to show she did not die of Covid. She had breathing problems – aged 91 – but did not test positive so did not die of the virus or even have signs of it. And yet the coroner wrote Covid-19 to avoid any need for a post-mortem. And this could be quite common which means the death numbers are meaningless.

        • Morphy
          August 11, 2020 at 7:03 pm

          it is a little more ambitious than reducing the senior population…

          First Search on: Figueres capitalism

          Second search on: Great Reset WEF January

          The first search shows the intent of the Paris Accord and treaties Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was not working fast enough (set themselves a tight timetable)

          So now the second after economies have been crashed will be “piggybacked” to COVID. It is instructive to look at the names of the players in the WEF meeting

    • what has been missing from the national response is the push for people to get rid of their underlying conditions. ie; exercise out doors, eat less, do everything you can to get rid of your inflammation, eat better. Use the fear to scare people healthy.

      why doesn’t the national response include pushing zinc and elderberry, at the least.

      Fauci would have hated this response I bet.

  3. Here in Canada, the provinces have the final say in what closes, etc.

    In my province (Ontario), we’ve gone mostly to “Stage 3″: things are open, we social distance, masks inside everywhere. There have been some outbreaks mostly in the rural areas around Windsor which use migrant labour, and let me tell you, in a good year, the living conditions aren’t ideal, to say the least.

    Anecdotal note: a 6’8” biker acquaintance of mine is not going down to the Maritimes this year, as there were (a month ago) two instances of people being hassled with Ontario plates.

  4. Nice to know somebody has so much time on their hands to do all the graphs and search for usless information. If this person wants to assemble information, how about using the results of HCQ when used properly. This is relevant and pertinent information.

  5. also a cockup is when it morphs….and people fall for it

    all of our dancing was to keep hosp from being overwhelmed…

    admitting we’re all going to be exposed at some point

    • Latitude, it’s good that some people – including you and I – are able to remember the excuses that were made for the last set of repressions. We won’t be taken in next time. And yes, we will all be exposed at some point. That there’s no vaccine for the common cold means, with a lot more certainty than the IPCC saying “it’s warming,” that there won’t be a vaccine for this.

      • I haven’t had a cold for a long time. But then I have ensured my diet is sufficient in zinc and take vitamin D3 supplements when I am in less warm climes.

        It has also been said that the adaptive immune systems of people that have had a corona virus ‘cold’ are not naive and can react fast to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A paper from TEN years ago is instructive:
        “Zn(2+) inhibits coronavirus and arterivirus RNA polymerase activity in vitro and zinc ionophores block the replication of these viruses in cell culture”

        From the abstract:

        Increasing the intracellular Zn(2+) concentration with zinc-ionophores like pyrithione (PT) can efficiently impair the replication of a variety of RNA viruses, including poliovirus and influenza virus. For some viruses this effect has been attributed to interference with viral polyprotein processing. In this study we demonstrate that the combination of Zn(2+) and PT at low concentrations (2 µM Zn(2+) and 2 µM PT) inhibits the replication of SARS-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and equine arteritis virus (EAV) in cell culture.

        https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21079686/

        Note that raising intracellular zinc inhibits replication of influenza and SARS-CoV.
        If you were making money from vaccines would you want the world to know that there was a simple cheap dietary change that would prevent many viral infections for which you were selling vaccines? Indeed we are being repeatedly told that the world will be permanently in lockdown until we get a vaccine.

        We have now had many ‘in vivo’ tests of the concept HCQ a zinc ionophore and zinc cures patients with COVID-19 if given in the right amount early in the infection. The same can be achieved by ensuring that diets are sufficient in zinc and quercetin or take supplements to ensure they are.

        It has also been shown that Vitamin D and selenium (a brazil nut a day) strengthen the innate immune system against SARS-CoV and other viruses.

        Can anyone remember such simple anti-viral dietary advice being given out by governments?

        The pandemic could be ended in less than a month if people did not want to sell vaccines

        • Just today another study shows severe Covid-19 is linked to vitamin D deficiency.
          https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40618-020-01370-x

          Even those in the lower mortality group had some vitamin D deficiency. A healthy level of it in the body reduces the risk of even knowing you have the newest cold to almost nil. I’m not holding my breath for the vaccine profiteers to mention it.

  6. This article is data mining nonsense.

    Every nation will have different results because of how many people traveled there from China with the virus.

    Then there are random variations among nations.

    The only way to know if Sweden did the right thing, for one example, would be to have an identical nation with different Covid rules and behaviors.

    That can’t happen so all we get DURING a pandemic is speculation by people who like attention.

    The basics of pandemics were known decades ago.

    Social distancing, masks, testing with fast results, contact tracing, medications that ease lung congestion and getting infections to a low rate before ending lockdowns.

    There is no reason that a rural area has to be treated the same as an urban area just because they have the same governor.

    The 1917 flu had a second wave and so will Covid if everyone goes back to school and work next month as Trump would like to help him win the election.

    Deaths per day are down because younger people are getting infected who rarely die and doctors can keep more patients alive now, than in April.

    The people who suffer with the virus but do not die get forgotten too often.

    The optimists look only at the decloning deaths per day and the pessimists look at the number of infections and panic.

    The articles on herd immunity I have read are also nonsense because at least one million Americans would die on the way to herd immunity … and H.I. does not mean that no one else gets Covid.

    After the pandemic ends the data will be studied and Covid experts will emerge but there are no experts now especially the author of this speculative article.

    • In the real world, we have to make educated guesses because as you say we don’t have adequate controls.

      You appear to miss the obvious drawbacks of lock downs or at least don’t address them. The resulting economic losses are highly damaging but the health effects from undiagnosed cancers, heart attacks, and delayed treatments, in addition to suicides, etc. clearly outweigh the damage from COVID-19 itself.

      It is possible to utilize safety measures while minimizing other negative impacts.

      • Sweden cancelled high school and college but let younger people attend school.

        Businesses were allowed to stay open but people VOLUNTARILY stayed away from those where social distancing was impossible.

        Their GDP declined like other nations and their death rate was NOT low.

        The economic effects get worse with every month so that even 24 percent M2 money supply growth in the past year can not fix the economy.

        New York City eeded partial lockdowns.
        Upstate NY probably did not.

        A partial lockdown for a month is a lot different than for five months.

        Here in Michigan the lockdowns allowed us to have overcrowded grocery stores with only some shoppers wearing masks in April when the Covid death rate per day peaked.
        .
        32 million Americans are collecting unemployment compensation and the GDP decline from 2Q to 3Q reflects that, which I would call a depression.

        I was one who avoided doctors for three months with a serious medical problem until it became worse than the risk of getting Covid at the overcrowdef doctors office. Im now back to my usual grumpy self chasing children off my lawn.

      • Luhman
        I am not sure how you know about deaths caused by lockdowns.

        They are partial lockdowns.

        Intended to flatten the curve
        for a month, maybe two.

        They helped do that.

        But they are still here.

    • Richard, the US is already in its second wave of COVID-19. You can see that from my graph.

      And as to my article being “data mining nonsense,” you are at liberty to treat it as such, if you wish. Others, though, may find some utility in it; and that is why I wrote it.

      • Lock
        We are in the middle of a pandemic
        and you are prematurely giving
        us conclusions that may be
        contradictef, even by you,
        one year from now.

        The data have not been checked
        for accuracy and we know the
        alleged influenza deaths, created
        with models, grossly overstate
        past actual flu deaths reported by
        doctors about real patients

        All nations have different expetiences
        with Covid and it is very questionable
        science to pick a few nations (data mining)
        and declare they did things right.

        You’ve done that.

        And you have not even waited until
        the pandemic has ended to do that, for a second mistake.

        You need to learn the phrase. We Don’t Know Yet. and not be afraid to use it.

    • You think that the rate of spread of SARS-Cov-2 is controlled by how many people with it travelled out of China and arrived at the particular nation? ROFLMAO, put your helmet and mask on, leave the rest of us alone.

      • Turner
        Hope you were laughing at your own comment like I was.

        The virus traveled from China to other places.

        NYC and Italy were hit hard.

        Montana and Norway were not.

        The spread starts with how many infected people bring the virus into an area.

        The rate of spread depends on behaviors in every area once the virus is there.

        Chinese people who worked in Italy went home for the Chinese new year and returned to Italy.

        That’s the root cause why Italy had so many Covid deaths, and Montana, for one example, did not.

  7. Joel O,Brian, Andy Espersen
    New Zealand is back in partial lockdown, for three days. Who would have thought.
    Joel you are a profit of wisdom.
    Regards from behind the face mask….
    Martin

    • With so little herd immunity, your entire country (NZ) is like a field of tinder-dry grass to this wild-fire virus. This virus is going to do what it wants it is so easily transmitted. We can slow it with isolation measures for sure, but we can’t stop it until there’s an effective and widely available vaccine(s).

      The more isolated rural towns are the safest places to be (to avoid the virus if you are in a high risk group), but even there you still have to have food deliveries, and with that is travel by trucks with drivers.

      And looking long term (more than 6 months), I read that something like 21% of New Zealand GDP is derived from international tourism. It employs over 30% of the population either directly or indirectly. Your tourism industry is completely shuttered right now. How long can the government continue with that? Your summer tourist season is coming. If NZ remains sealed off through the summer, that revenue to businesses will never be replaced no matter how much unemployment money goes to the workers. The resulting economic misery will far outweigh what the virus could do.

      • It’s interesting isn’t it? It is like the entire public health apparatus around the world forgot everything they had ever learned about infectious disease. Well, not everyone, there have been numerous epidemiologists, statisticians, bored Nobel Laureates, and assorted medical specialists who have been pointing out the obvious – but they get short shrift in the ‘news’ media and are ignored by politicians. The economists have been just as bad – where have they been?

        Anyway, interesting times. This panicdemic came on so quickly and totally as to be almost beyond belief, and one wonders if it will disappear just as quickly. Will we all wake up one morning to find governments telling us it is just another coronavirus and live with it? Probably not, but it is a pleasant thought.

      • Joel
        New Zealander’s also travel extensively overseas for holidays, however now they are traveling within New Zealand. So- no cash outflow by us traveling overseas, but no overseas currency coming into NZ by tourists. Bookings at motor camps and holiday houses are going very well. Also, those that are not going overseas are doing extensive renovations on their houses, builders and other providers are all reporting very busy. Time will tell on this one.

        Seasonal workers can’t come into NZ, so NZ’rs are doing that work instead. It has been too easy to import someone with a skill like driving a silage tractor rather than training a local. The problem will be solved by saying to the unemployed – there is the job, if you don’t do it you don’t get the dole payment, but nobody has the spine to do that in government.

        One of the upsides is we don’t have tourists driving on wrong side of road which is a problem. A lot of the tourists are low value, cheap travel, sleep in van, go to the toilet in public parks and public rest rooms, add no real value to NZ, they can stay out.

        Is it ideal, but we will find out. No vaccine is going to protect all, and viruses change constantly.
        Sometimes a few steps backwards makes you really look at the direction your country was going in, and growth in the western style open economy never lasts for ever, never has, never will.
        Regards

      • Even if new zealand opened up to visitors very few would come. With all the risk associated with travel during a pandemic and all the restrictions many nations outside of New Zealand makes traveling difficult. Add to that the many people outside of New Zealand also are suffering form the world wide economic slow down.

        Case in point my family was planning a trip to New Zealand We cannot grow partially because my sister has been waiting for here passport to be renewed for 5 months. And Europe will not allow us in.

        • I don’t think it’s the “risk” that is keeping most people from travelling. It is partly travel restrictions but mostly the closing of anything worth travelling for. Why would I want to take an expensive vacation just to be forced to stay in a hotel with the pool, restaurant, and gym closed?

  8. Now do a bunch of graphs to show the massive economic damage. There would be your clear evidence for the effectiveness of lockdowns ……………….. TO DESTROY SOCIETY AS WE HAVE KNOWN IT.

  9. there is no “weaker” strain … the virus killed the low hanging fruit first … of course it turns out that was the only fruit its going to kill … its over …

    • Bingo. The most vulnerable are infected and die, then it infects lots of other people and most of them just get the sniffles.

      Particularly when politicians send infected people to care homes, where it spread rapidly and many of those it infects die as a result. You get a big spike of deaths which they can then exploit to create fear.

      It’s very obvious in the different death percentages in the provinces here, where those which let it run rampant in care homes are close to 10% and those which don’t have many cases are close to 1%.

  10. I much appreciate author Neil Lock for analyzing massive amounts of data in order to produce the above article, and doing so with such commendable, largely-objective detail. Also, Neil, much thanks for converting the raw data into graphs, which makes it so much easier to comprehend correlations over time.

    However, my takeaway is “Correlation does not equal causation.”

    One clear fact is that lockdowns (at any given degree of stringency above zero) do not always prevent resurgences in the COVID-19 infection percentage growth rate (e.g., Iceland, Sweden, Iran, Peru, South Africa, Japan, South Korea).

    Another fact is that the COVID-19 infection percentage growth rate in a given country can decline precipitously in the absence of lockdowns (e.g., UK, Mexico, Faeroe Islands).

    It seems to me that some other significant variable(s) must be in play. Possibilities include:
    — random appearances of different strains of COVID-19, thereby defeating a community’s previously-acquired immunity? (I believe at least two separate strains of COVID-19 have been recognized to date.)
    — mental attitude having ability to significantly effect the strength of body immunity, which might be highly dependent of cultural differences between countries?
    — dietary (including mineral and vitamin intake) differences between cultures affecting immune responses in different nations?
    — virulence of COVID-19 depending on local weather (such as humidity or daily average % sunshine) or other environmental factors (such as degree of dust or pollen in the air)?

    There is still so much we do not understand about the spread of COVID-19 around the world.

    • The biggest factor I see is the weather (hot or cold, rainy or sunny). And then how that either allows people to stay inside sealed homes and offices with the heat or AC going, or allows homes and offices to be open windows and for better distancing, like eating outside etc.

      • At least one factor in regards to the weather/season is that the illegals came over the border for the picking harvest.

    • If you pick a region and look at how the flu reacts in that region you don’t see much difference between the flu and COVID, after they both are a virus. Virus follow Farr’s Law no mater what we do.

    • Thank you Gordon, it’s good to be appreciated.

      And part of my take-home message is, indeed, that correlation does not equal causation. Or, more strongly, that failure to correlate renders causation unlikely.

      As to different strains of the virus, there are certainly two (which I identified in my June essay as “January strain” and “February strain.”) The second was a lot more deadly than the first. It also looks from the world deaths per case graph as though there may well be a third strain, perhaps “April strain,” whose lethality is in between the first two.

  11. ECDC shows cases rising dramatically while deaths are holding steady. More cases from more testing and from the herd gaining immunity through exposure without dying.

    CDC has not changed much. 80% of deaths are still in the 65+ demographic. Expanding to include the 55+ raises the share to 92% of deaths. Most involve underlying health issues such as cardiovascular, obesity, renal and respiratory complications. Trump observed that many of those dying from Covid-19 were on death’s doorstep. He was correct. Covid-19 is not an issue for the young and healthy.
    The top ten jurisdictions have over two-thirds of the country’s Covid-19 deaths.
    The under 25 years demographic is almost untouched.
    Japan has the highest percentage of 65+ at 27% yet not even 1,000 Covid-19 deaths.
    What do they know or do?
    Must not be newsworthy.

    NYC, NJ, NY, MA, CA and PA have more Covid-19 deaths than the ENTIRE rest of the country.
    NYC holds FOURTH place in GLOBAL deaths.
    NYC and five states have as many deaths as the ENTIRE rest of the country.
    NYC plus 10 have 70% of the Covid-19 deaths.
    NYC was ground zero not Wuhan.
    That takes some kind of special talent.

    Covid-19 is NOT a nation-wide Scam-demic. It’s a problem for these ten jurisdictions with too many, too old, too sick, too vulnerable, too crammed together in contagious, poorly run (aka BLUE) elder care facilities.
    Covid-19 represents about 9% of the total deaths. About 2.8 E6 people die in the US every year from one cause or another, that’s about 7,500 per day. Covid deaths are running bout 1,500 per day. Hard to see how that caused a major problem for hospitals – other that the already badly run marginal performers.

    The statistics are clear, Covid-19 is definitely NOT wide-spread or fatal or worthy of a pandemic response.

    Replace Covid-19 menace with Nippon menace or commie menace or climate menace or Red Chinese menace or Jew menace or deplorables menace or Trump menace….

    Whatever menace du jour the lying, fact free, fake news MSM propaganda machine conjures up to brainwash the sheeple into mindless obedience.

    The press has become the enemy of democracy, the enemy of the American people, the greatest manipulator and threat to fair and balanced elections.

    Keep that in mind when making this November newsworthy.

  12. In the “predictions are what matters” department I give you Nobel-laureate Dr. Michael Levitt (Chemistry and structural biology at Stanford) who on May 04, 2020 said:

    “If Sweden stops at about 5,000 or 6,000 deaths, we will know that they’ve reached herd immunity, and we didn’t need to do any kind of lockdown.”

    https://www.stanforddaily.com/2020/05/04/qa-nobel-laureate-says-covid-19-curve-could-be-naturally-self-flattening/

    As of July 31, 2020 Sweden has 5,743 deaths:

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1105753/cumulative-coronavirus-deaths-in-sweden/

    And now he has made another prediction:

    July 25, 2020: “US COVID19 will be done in 4 weeks [Aug 25] with total reported deaths below 170,000. How will we know it is over? Like for Europe, when all cause excess deaths are at normal level for week. Reported COVID19 deaths may continue after 25 Aug. & reported cases will, but it will be over.”

    Now past performance doesn’t guarantee future results but at least he was correct on his predictions unlike the “experts” the governments are mindlessly following.

    The CDC has a “total/excess” deaths page so we can all track it here. Scroll down to the chart:

    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm

  13. As far as the UK is concerned cases did start to fall before the official house arrest on march 24th. The reason was that the people had already been exhibiting caution, travelling far less, not going to meetings, pulling back from going to restaurants, shopping less frequently etc.

    A full house arrest was not needed and only helped spur the problem as being locked up inside a double glazed sealed home instead of being in the open air is just about the worst place to be. My last visit to a restaurant was back on February 24th.

    Sensible measures like social distancing and hand washing were fine as were banning such things as football games, other measures were not needed and were anti freedom and anti common sense

    Tonyb

    • Thank you, Tonyb. Yes, the “official house arrest” in the UK was indeed unnecessary, and achieved nothing, or worse than nothing. And yes, “anti freedom” and “anti common sense” are good ways to describe the attitudes of those that promoted these over-the-top measures. That truth is one that needs to find its way out into the general population.

    • TonyB,
      Yes, before the UK lockdown I seem to remember we already had 2 meter social distancing for some time.
      At the time I thought the lockdown was probably correct, but as I watched the data over the following weeks I became less certain.
      Clearly the social, mental, health and economic costs of the lockdowns would be absolutely huge. It could only make sense if its effectiveness in terms of protecting us from the virus was equally huge or greater. If so, then its effects should show up clearly in the data, although delayed by several weeks. But there didn’t appear to be any sign of this.

      Some scientists have stated that the virus had already peaked in the UK when the lockdown started, and it was beginning to fall. Neil Lock’s data confirms this.
      So, quite possibly the most significant policy was 2 meter social distancing – and, with that in place, the full lockdown was essentially futile. People who have described the global lockdowns as the greatest mistake in history have a point….
      Many thanks to Neil Lock for his analysis.
      Chris

      • Chris, thanks for jogging my memory. The social distancing “limit” is another thing the Blavatnik people ought to have been including in their data.

        I remember that, at one point, it was 2 metres in the UK, six feet in the USA (significantly different!) and 1.5 metres in the Netherlands. Then it came down to 1 metre in the UK – right after they put up millions of signs saying 2 metres! Incompetence and government are synonyms these days.

  14. Iceland? An island with a population of less than 365,000 and a high proportion of fishermen out to sea for weeks at a time. Also having relatively little immigration and visitors? You think such places are viable examples to compare with countries sharing multiple borders with others and heavy, in some cases uncontrolled migration?

    Personally I think it is insane to try and force isolation on whole societies. New Zealand will pay a heavy price when they open up again I suspect. Not only from vivid but also from whatever new flu bugs that are emerging.

    Herd immunity works. Sweden has proven that. Bite the bullet, isolate the segment of the population likely to have high mortality and let everyone else go forth and be fruitful and productive!

    • How about Taiwan? You could fit 20 Taiwans into California and would have half a billion people living there. 7 deaths. Yes SEVEN.

    • “Rah August 11, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      Iceland? An island with a population of less than 365,000 and a high proportion of fishermen out to sea for weeks at a time. Also having relatively little immigration…”

      Both statements are very wrong.

  15. Interesting that there is no mention of Australia and New Zealand in that article. Perhaps islands with low population densities are a different case, but I suspect that they are major factors. Now we in NZ will again be in lockdown in 4 hours time – just enough for me to go and replenish my supplies of rum, etc. And all because of failed tests in 1 household where contact tracing has failed to find an explanation – but an explanation there must be. Who really can say who they have been in contact with over a period of days? Bus trips, library visits, U3A meetings,……….

    • Mike, you’re right, I should have included Aussie, if not also NZ. I’ll make sure I get them into the next release in a few weeks’ time.

      The NZ strategy, though, does seem to be giving you the worst of all possible worlds. You had to go through all the hassles of keeping it out the first time… and now you’ll have to go through it all over again. And even then, you won’t be much if any closer to ending the problem. The “keep it out first time, and hope other people kill it off” strategy is the worst I’ve seen so far.

      • If the virus would die off everywhere BEFORE they re-opened it might be a viable strategy but that will require 6-8 months as the virus starts at different times at different places around the world.

        In reality that strategy just means you get to get infected last. If they looked around before re-opening at what was working (HCQ+ and inhaled steroids) it might have been worth it but they just double down on “wrong” constantly.

  16. I suspect we are going to move in and out of lockdown levels for the rest of the year….and by (our) Summer, everyone will be fed-up with life in our little bubbles and the mixed messages emanating from our authorities.

    NZ team 5 Million needs a new captain.

  17. No mention of Taiwan? Taiwan = 7 deaths, Japan = 1001 deaths, Singapore = 26 deaths (those may be slightly higher now).

    They all use inhaled steroid treatments as a first line of defence. Cheap and can be used on very sick people with serious existing health conditions.

    One doctor is Texas, Dr. Richard Bartlett, has been using Budesonide with a nebulizer to great success.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDSDdwN2Xcg&feature=emb_logo

    Guess what the NIH is doing? A study of LATE stage patients. Can anyone name a medical intervention that works better when given late rather than early? Isn’t withholding medication from patients tantamount to murder?

    • And it targets the lungs where the initial inflammation is, minimizing risk of side effects, which can be pretty bad with IV corticosteroid treatments, like methylprednisolone. Nebulized budesonide sounds like the best, safest treatment.

  18. “Modelling by Professor Simon Wood, a mathematician at the University of Bristol, shows the spread of the virus had already peaked several days before the draconian curbs were imposed.”

    “A leading Oxford expert, Professor Carl Heneghan, has claimed that coronavirus peaked a week before the government placed the UK into lockdown’
    “Norway found that the virus had peaked before lockdown and was in fast decline. This led the Norwegian public health chief to say that they could have controlled it without locking down …”

  19. Interestingly 7.5 million have died from communicable diseases since Jan, 32,000 today and this garners no news what-so-ever.

    • More people have died from suicide and car accidents than Covid so far this year too, and that garners no news whatsoever either.

  20. What about Australia? Early hard lockdown, near elimination of the disease in most states, except Victoria and NSW, which went soft on large BLM protests.

    • “Victoria and NSW went soft on BLM protests’?
      The increase in those states especially Victoria is related to the mismanagement of hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals, ditto nursing homes, with knock-on effects as guards or nurses carried infection to their families etc, plus some local outbreaks after large parties. The BLM protests appear to have had little effect, unless there was a high participation by hotel guards and aged care nurses.

      • So the 15,000 or so confirmed cases are all from hotel guards and nurses? It’s amazing that they all go to the same place and only they caught it. I believe everything ABC news reports too.

    • Only a small percentage of the population is susceptible. You can see this even in New York where only a small percentage tested positive and a smaller percentage died. Yes even including the 6000+ killed in care homes. There are over 8 million people in NYC and ‘only’ ~226,000 cases.
      After all the susceptible have been infected and died or recovered the virus will die out naturally as there are no more susceptible individuals to infect. This is like a predator/prey exercise and follows the same steep climb followed by a long decline.
      If more prey are added then expect the same rapid climb followed by a long decline.
      Ideally people should reduce their susceptibility by increasing Vitamin D and zinc intake and possibly taking a zinc ionophore such as quercetin.

      Importantly, the majority of people have innate immunity to COVID-19, so only a very small percentage are susceptible to infection despite the ‘sky is falling‘ briefings from medics wanting to sell vaccines.

      • Thank you for the comment which supports Nick Lewis’ contention (Climate Etc.) that Herd Immunity Threshold is between 7% and 24%.

  21. As long as medical facilities are in no danger of being overwhelmed, then lockdowns just prolong the pandemic. We need to protect the infirm and elderly, of course, but that should have always been a priority. The rest of the population would be in no more danger than it is from many other diseases.

    Once most everybody has been exposed to it, it would burn itself out. The idea that prolonged lockdowns would prevent people being exposed to the virus is wishful thinking. Sooner or later, your body will confront it. Use this as motivation to clean up your lifestyle.

  22. Covid 19 is a disease that kills the old with health issues and the obese with health issues. As most of us know who live in the US; a larger percent of our citizens are old and/or fat. The US probably has the highest BMI in the world; which makes the US a prime target for Covid 19. Smoking was a part of our culture for a long time. Again, another vulnerable group that gets hit harder by Covid 19.

    It just seems to me that Covid 19 is attacking bad habits along with age; and the US is a prime target.

  23. https://www.aier.org/article/the-2006-origins-of-the-lockdown-idea/

    “Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted. Strong political and public health leadership to provide reassurance and to ensure that needed medical care services are provided are critical elements. If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe.”

  24. Really a bit pointless trying to use the UK as an indicator of anything when they had the quite incredible practice of draconian lock downs while leaving international arrivals open and importing the virus every day. Beggars belief or rational explanation.

    • It’s politics, yarpos. Politics always does beggar rational explanation. But the UK is now one of the “shining” examples of how not to do things!

  25. A comparison between developed and developing countries would be useful than geographic distribution. The lock down has a feedback process increasing the susceptibility (S) as it causes anxiety —separation from families (excluding Ferguson) , economic–loss of job, loss of income, accumulating due payable, etc. In developing countries hunger and starvation reduces the body resistance to the diseases. With lots of spare time during lock down, the grim news and disinformation, conflicting advice from “experts” just add to the mental anxiety.

    Anyway, when the crisis the over one sure winner are the computer modelers, the international advisers and the local politicians. If the infected is a million they could claim if we did not impose a lock down the infected could have been 100 million for a country with 50 million population and the death could have have been 10 million instead of a few hundreds. The economic damage is worth all the sacrifices.

  26. Graphing is an art form, and choices often make a big difference in impressions made by viewers.

    By plotting cases and deaths on the same scale, you make a very strong case that for most countries that you present, and for the world as a whole, that COVID isn’t much of a problem at all. That wouldn’t have been as clear if you had put in a second axis for deaths, but then the death details would be clear.

    By allowing the vertical axes to be autoscaled to the data, you allow each countries details to be seen, but it puts the relative severity between countries to be something the viewer needs to look harder for. Though seeing the details are more important to your topic of judging the effects of actions.

    What I would recommend though is more consistent time scaling. At a minimum, both graphs for one country should have the exact same time scaling, making it possible for the viewer to compare the actions and such with the data in the first graph. Putting all graphs on the same scale would be a nice touch. Might even be easier depending on the graphing program.

    That though is just aesthetics. What really bothers me is that they are changing the data. It is bad enough that they take data differently, and that many countries changed how they take data, some multiple times, but now they are changing the data they already took? The data is sheer useless garbage.

    Having said that, I am curious about something. Lately graphs like yours showing rises in cases but little change in deaths have been disappearing. Peru and Iran clearly have second waves of deaths. Does anybody else?

    There is possibly a great story hidden there. Have we learned how to save lives? Or are more younger people getting sick? Or were they always getting sick, but we are now finding those cases when we weren’t finding them earlier?

      • Buying time for what? Our medical systems are not even close to being overwhelmed and the sainted Dr. Fauci says that even when a vaccine is developed it may only be partially effective. We aren’t buying time, we’re wasting it and one hell of a lot of wealth and life experiences also.

      • Mosher:
        “It’s not about the deaths
        It’s about buying time.”

        To do what?
        Ensure the medical system can handle the number of sick? If that were the case, lockdowns would be lifted as the number of cases dropped to manageable levels; in my area, lockdowns were imposed, lifted, or re-imposed based on change in number of cases, not medical systems being overloaded.
        Wait for a vaccine? If that is the case we could be in lockdowns well into next year. Although there is a vaccine for the flu, in the US alone, 30-60M get the flu and 30-60T die every year. If you believe WorldOmeter (which I don’t), as of Aug 12 only 5.3M in the US have had Covid-19. Two years ago, during the 2017-18 flu season, in the US, the CDC estimates that 65 million caught the flu, over 800,000 were hospitalized, and 61,000 died: other than the families of those who died, few noticed. Are the lives of those who catch (or die) from Covid-19 more valuable than those who catch or die from the flu?
        The original justification for lockdowns was to flatten the curve. If that is the case, over the long run, unless something changes, the total number of people who get sick will remain the same. Maintaining lockdowns in the hope that the virus will mutate to something less infectious or deadly is gambling on long odds.
        All of the above, however, makes the as yet unsubstantiated assumption, that lockdowns do more good than harm.

        • Are the lives of those who catch (or die) from Covid-19 more valuable than those who catch or die from the flu?

          Yes COVID-19 deaths are more valuable to the people trying to reset capitalism. That is what the post COVID-19 riots are all about.

          Search on: WEF “great reset” January

          You will note the attendee list looks very much like a Paris COP conference – purely coincidentally of course

      • now is the perfect time to go for herd immunity like Sweden. I would like every country in the north hemisphere to have the goal of getting to herd as fast as possible, as long as it doesn’t over run their hospitals.

        why?

        there are no other colds or flues or pneumonia out there now. many people die, not because of the corona-virus, but they also catch other virus during their weakness. Summer is the time to go for herd immunity. It appears hospitals have made great strides in keeping people alive, but over the last months, the progress to this end has slowed. ie; over the next few months, I don’t think we will have better procedures to keep people alive.

        thus, we should strive for increase cases and lower deaths, as a society.

  27. The damage from the suppressions of commerce has only begun. Much of it has been masked by government transfers to people suddenly thrown out of work, but those supports cannot be sustained. Right now in Canada, our economy is like the Titanic just after it hit the iceberg: The ship’s officers know that the ship will sink, but most of the people on board still think that the situation is manageable.

    The notion you see expressed, over and over, in media reports, is that this will end soon. Absolutely no one wants to think about what things are going to be like this time next year. People speak of a second wave, but the evidence now is that COVID-19 does not exhibit seasonal variances like the flu. Its contagiousness is uniform, and its spread can be slowed but never ended. Any return to pre-pandemic conditions will immediately result in a resurgence of the virus.

    What I think will happen is that there will be a popular rebellion against the restrictions on commerce, as more and more people realize that COVID-19 is just another disease that kills the elderly. For months in Canada it has been taboo to discuss the age-specificity of mortality, but it is becoming increasingly impossible to ignore the fact that young and middle-aged people who contract COVID usually recover. We’ll end up warning the elderly (and, at 68, that would include me) to avoid infection, and the world will inch back to normal.

    In Canada, airlines have now gone back to full-seating on domestic flights. The media have said nothing about this, because everyone knows that continued restrictions on passenger loads in airplanes must result in all the airlines going out of business. So we get angry rants about young people holding parties, but zero complaints about full airplanes. This little hypocrisy is the seed of the full rebellion against social distancing
    that must eventually come.

  28. No statistics relating to Covid19 from any country can be regarded as reliable. Thus extensively analysing them is a waste of time. The politicians and medical bureaucrats are equally clueless. It’s a simple common cold virus. There should have been no lockdown anywhere. And don’t mention Fauci, please. This clueless fool has been pandering panic since the AIDS days in the early 80s. It’s how he rolls. And likely cashes in on virus-related patents and research.

    This phoney pandemic doesn’t pass the smell test. Something stinks.

  29. If we had the correct start date for the virus, october 2019, and not late feb 2020, we would have known the rate of spread, and hence infection, was low and wouldnt have had a lockdown at all.

    Lockdown was a complete fiasco, totally unnecessary, based on bad data, a questionable computer model, and alarmist scientists who in their addiction for the lime light will say the most ludicrous things.

    Lets use this as a very clearl example of why we should be very careful about global warming, because it has exactly the same blend of problems.

    • “Matthew Sykes August 12, 2020 at 12:09 am

      If we had the correct start date for the virus…”

      Now that has to be the dumbest question of all!

  30. Has anyone else noticed that across the World, in almost all countries, there has been a wave of cases in June-July. This corresponds to winter in the Southern hemisphere and the relaxation of lockdowns in the Northern hemisphere but it also happened in countries near the equator and where there was no lockdown.

    It is almost as if a new, more infectious, version of the virus became dominant. Or a cheap form of testing became available so the detection rate went up.

    Simultaneously, the number of deaths has gone down, So perhaps the virus is becoming less lethal, we are getting better at treating it or it was just an improvement in the detection rate.

    • Andy, certainly in several European countries testing rates went up a lot starting in June/July. This will tend to result in more cases, but less deaths. Sweden is the strongest example, but it also happened in the UK, and (I suspect) in many other countries where I haven’t myself looked at the testing data.

  31. You seem to be ignoring the cost of the virus running uncontrolled in the population.

    The initial response seems to have controlled the spread and enabled hospitals to cope.
    hospitals coping means that the death rate was probably less. but overloaded hospitals are not good for the staff who must choose who receives treatment. over worked staff lead to mistakes – “More than 620 NHS staff and social care worker deaths have been linked to coronavirus” Opening up normal working will wreck this control. Do you dispose of a parachute at 100metres when it has slowed your downward motion to a safe landing speed?
    The virus can be unnoticed but still infecting. Tracing is all but impossible knowing this and even if the traced were told to isolate for 2 weeks would they really do this?
    Just observe pubs, beaches and raves.
    If one person on your production line has the virus will you shut the whole factory? At what cost? What about delivery personnel if one is infected do you shut the factor to which deliveries are made?
    Are you willing to lose 1%++ of people over 50? (government may like this as it gets them out of the Pension hole.
    Are you going to rely on herd immunity? perhaps up to 60%. Thats an awful lot of sick people who may never recover to full health. What is the cost of caring for these left with heart problems/lung conditions/etc?

  32. The UK lockdown was to avoid overloading a totally unprepared health service since the government had ignored warnings for over a decade that a SARS pandemic will occur. The only plan they had was for flu and implementing that just made things worse than needed. The UK government also didn’t use infection hospitals and it seems there are those who still don’t understand how important this is in stopping nosocomial deaths. The Lebanese government has been toppled for barely 200 deaths – our government has killed 15,000 plus but nothing happens.

    • Whils the buck has to stop with Boris – so I’d expect him to resign – the people who caused those deaths were the academics in SAGE.

      Because in January (the month it arrived in UK), they were saying the risk of us getting it wasn’t just “LOW” but “VERY LOW”. In other words, a politician putting any time into preparing would be an idiot.

      Then, when it did arrive, instead of recognising the huge number of benign cases that were spreading under the medical radar (which was obvious to anyone with an ounce of brain), they insisted that their ill-prepared plan of track and trace was all that was needed to stop it. Again, they sent the message to politicians that they could easily deal with it, that there was no need to prepare hospitals or ventilators, to get in PPE, to train up people for the supposed “surge”.

      Then, when we started to get an idea of what was happening and who it was affecting (almost exclusively the old and those with pre-existing health conditions) … yet again they TOTALLY IGNORED the data and this time, panicking from their failure to stop it from the track and trace they had been relying on, they pushed for FULL LOCKUP despite having ABSOLUTELY NO EXPERTISE TO ADVISE ON THE ECONOMIC DAMAGE. And despite knowing there was no evidence lockups worked.

      And finally, (a couple of weeks in), when we learnt that Sweden without a lockup, was already peaking, they yet again ignored the evidence, pushed through their own agenda and maintained a totally unnecessary and highly damaging lockup which is going to scar our country emotionally, psychologially, politically and economically for decades.

      And I suppose the final insult is these stupid muzzles – which everyone who has every looked at it knows are far from effective and are almost exclusively for show.

  33. This trucker never thought he would be happy to see flashing school speed limit signs. And the only thing more frustrating than getting behind school buses doing their business are garbage trucks.
    But yesterday on my way to Huntsville, AL I was driving down TN -50 and when I entered Lynchburg, TN and there was the flashing school zone sign and then a busy school with cars and buses pulling in and it made me smile. As I drove on into town there were kids out at the end of their driveways waiting on the school bus. Then as I came down a little grade on the right at the end of a driveway was a little girl holding her Mommy’s hand waiting on the bus. Her arm was pumping in the universal sign and you can be sure I gave her a couple of good toots on the big horn. I was rewarded by a big smile and enthusiastic wave as I went by. Made my day.
    And all that enjoyment in the town which is the whisky mecca for me since my most often preferred adult beverage is Jack Danials Old No. 7.

  34. My problem is that the statistics on covid are all over the place and this makes international comparisons largely useless. I doubt if any country knows for certain what the real death rate is for the disease . In the UK ,for example, Public Health England (PHE) reports daily on deaths in hospitals and the numbers vary widely each time. But as the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University has pointed out there is a statistical flaw in their methodolgy. That is they look for people in the NHS database who have tested positive for the disease and then check to see if they are still alive or not. If they are dead they are automatically listed as having died from covid even thogh the may have died of other causes or evan in vehicle accidents.

    Using their method effecively means no one who tests positive for covid in England can ever die of anything else!

    • Hear, hear! From the first mention in Novembera-December 2019 no country has had the wherewithal to actually properly track the infections spread, intensity, leathality, or anything else about it. The first out of the box of 2,000,000 deaths was ridiculous and triggered a panic that triggered a whirlwind of questionable responses- lockdowns, masking, travel limits, closing borders, factory shutdowns. There was plenty of rhyme and little reason in the initial responses.
      The statistics care all over the place because governments, and the USA was one of the worst, had almost nothing in place, and no universal diagnosis checklist for viral diseases to diagnose and track it. When they finally did start using more or less uniform criteria the USA in particular messed its statistics up with constantly changing what counted as a Wuhan flu death. Initially it had to be a direct detection in the patient shortly before or after death. Then subsidies to help pay for care of Wuhan victims the definition became “with Covid, there because of Covid” and immediately nullified almost all the available statistics for months.
      The President tried to direct the government but has limited authority. The various agencies, HHS, CDC primarily, were nearly totally unprepared even though they had budgets for this sort of thing. The problem was compounded by governors and mayors in most of the states who had no idea of what to do or how to do it. Instead they went for “I probably should be really restrictive so I don’t look like a wuss.”

      No rhyme or reason, just political protection and no idea of what they should be or were doing.

      The only thing so far that has saved us from the greatest economic disaster in history is the country is so much bigger and wealthier than in 1930 and the economy can support a LOT more debt, at least for a year or so.

  35. Mr. Lock: Fine work, but you gave no consideration to the most confounding factor- (sarc alert) the disease is not spread among protestors who are leftists (right wingers not so much). We need to look into a puzzling correlation- dem protestors are immune from transfer of this virus, and dem officials are immune from prosecution for perjury. I wonder………

  36. Dear Mr. Lock
    Lots of work without reason. A simple comparison of Sweden and its Scandinavian neighbours Denmark, Norway and Finland tells the whole story ( at least to people, who are ready to compare facts)
    Unfortunately lots of people here on WUWT believe that it is a lockdown, that ruins the economy and the social life of a country. This is not true. If people are afraid of an infection with possibly dire consequences, if they feel,that a incompetent gouvernment cannot shelter them, they will withdraw from social life and will stop consuming,

    • Hi Reinhard,
      As the comparison is so simple, why don’t you lay out your case here, so people who are ready to compare facts can do so?
      You assert that “If people are afraid of an infection with possibly dire consequences, if they feel, that a incompetent government cannot shelter them, they will withdraw from social life and will stop consuming”, but where do you observe this occurring? On the contrary, while people may initially have been afraid of the novel Wuhan Flu and the dire consequences being reported in the lamestream media or predicted by computer games ‘ex-spurts’ like Neil Ferguson, it has become abundantly clear, at least to people who are ready to compare facts, that there is nothing to be more afraid of this infection than influenza or pneumonia, for which no society has ever been put under house arrest to contain, and that the probability of ‘dire consequences’ is extremely remote unless one belongs to a quite well defined risk group.
      In fact people who are ready to compare facts are coming to feel that incompetent government has put them under house arrest and told them to hide under the bed like scared children for no valid reason. At first the story was that it was going to save the health service from collapse, then the story was that it would to stop the spread of the not scary virus, now the story is moving to ‘it keeps us safe until there is a vaccine’ (even though the same hysterics telling us to wait for a vaccine have already gone to great pains to convince us that ‘herd immunity’ is not possible).
      More over, far from withdrawing from social life, people have been re-engaging in social life and here in Norway I don’t doubt that part of the reason for the government relaxing house arrest rules at the beginning of summer was the tacit admission that people were going to go out in the sunshine and enjoy the company of friends and family regardless of rules; as they were already beginning to do on the sly before the house arrest rules were relaxed.
      As far as stopping consuming, the only consumption that has been affected are those types of consumption that big brother decided we weren’t allowed to take part in anymore. So for example we couldn’t go to bars and restaurants, so instead we bought our own alcohol at the Vinmonopolet and met our friends in parks or back yards. We weren’t allowed to fly overseas, so we drove to take holidays in Norway.
      And we are yet to consider the cost to life and health the incompetent government has imposed on society by with-holding timely medical care* for people who aren’t Wuhan Flu cases and when that is taken into account, the affect on the economy and social life of the country will be far closer to ‘ruinous’ than the minor affect the Wuhan Flu has had or would have had without the incompetent government leaping to putting the country’s inhabitants under house arrest and the economy in a coma.
      *I have an anecdotal story to share on the lockdown down of health care, but I’ll direct it to one of the two or three copied and pasted comments made by Ghalfrunt in this article, since it’s probably more relevant.

  37. Hear, hear! From the first mention in Novembera-December 2019 no country has had the wherewithal to actually properly track the infections spread, intensity, leathality, or anything else about it. The first out of the box of 2,000,000 deaths was ridiculous and triggered a panic that triggered a whirlwind of questionable responses- lockdowns, masking, travel limits, closing borders, factory shutdowns. There was plenty of rhyme and little reason in the initial responses.
    The statistics care all over the place because governments, and the USA was one of the worst, had almost nothing in place, and no universal diagnosis checklist for viral diseases to diagnose and track it. When they finally did start using more or less uniform criteria the USA in particular messed its statistics up with constantly changing what counted as a Wuhan flu death. Initially it had to be a direct detection in the patient shortly before or after death. Then subsidies to help pay for care of Wuhan victims the definition became “with Covid, there because of Covid” and immediately nullified almost all the available statistics for months.
    The President tried to direct the government but has limited authority. The various agencies, HHS, CDC primarily, were nearly totally unprepared even though they had budgets for this sort of thing. The problem was compounded by governors and mayors in most of the states who had no idea of what to do or how to do it. Instead they went for “I probably should be really restrictive so I don’t look like a wuss.”

    No rhyme or reason, just political protection and no idea of what they should be or were doing.

    The only thing so far that has saved us from the greatest economic disaster in history is the country is so much bigger and wealthier than in 1930 and the economy can support a LOT more debt, at least for a year or so.

  38. we are all being led down a staircase of snakes, nipping and lunging about us in a way to place fear as our number one enemy. All the governments of the globe as if knowing of the coming disaster joining hands to create a NWO. Distraction is the name of the game and Covid is perfect way to have us always worried about this and that as we sink into a long slide toward poverty of unknown angst . I wish I had answers but this is my demon laughing as I fall into deep depression . Other than that everything is going just fine

  39. Ech si vu Gebuert Brit, an hunn och Lëtzebuergesch Nationalitéit, a wunne bal véierzeg Joer hei.
    OK, that’s enough Luxembourgish. The COVID pandemic has been handled, from my point of view, very well — but I live in a rural area, and the lockdown had hardly any effect. But the authorities reacted well; everyone in the country has received an invitation for a free COVID test (in my mother-in-law’s case, two). There have been problems, to be sure; mostly down to young people suddenly being let off the leash, but these have been few in number. Mostly, people behave responsibly, wearing masks when required, and observing (un)social distancing.
    The problems we face now are largely because of misunderstanding. Luxembourg is a small country, two-thirds of the area of Kent, with a population of about 600,000. We rely heavily on cross-border workers, a large proportion of whom work in the health sector, and they were also included in the testing, which skewed the figures. This has resulted in Luxembourg being redlisted by countries which really ought to know better. Fortunately, the German police seem to be taking a relaxed attitude to those of who like to shop over the border!
    Mat frëndleche Gréiss!

    • Thank you, Meistersinger. It’s always good to have confirmation of my deductions from those “on the ground.” It makes all the hard work worth doing!

  40. “Now, what might have caused this decline? My best guess is that when expanding into new, fresh fields, the virus (which takes time, 2 to 12 days I’m told, to incubate) ”

    I realised the reason the virus “behaved as it did”, was because the rate of growth in the virus had nothing to do with the virus, but was instead a rate of growth in testing.

    If we go back, there is good evidence it arrived in the UK as early as December last year. Most people, including doctors, simply ignored it because there was nothing out of the ordinary. Then we got the fear (which I admit I was part of) and that started us testing, and as soon as we started testing, that raised the level of fear, so that more people wanted testing, and so we found more cases, and very rapidly we got an exponential growth in cases of about 10x increase per week. Of course, the virus itself wasn’t increasing at anything like that rate. But because it had been around for some months before we started the mass testing it was already wide spread – and as you rightly point out – it was actually in decline at the point when the coronaphobia feardemic started.

  41. I’ve been tracking the statistics in a Spreadsheet since late January. Today I found that all the numbers for people recovered had suddenly been changed from mid June on wards, the recovery rate is now even better than before.

  42. Oh the power of WUWT! No sooner do we highlight the problems with Public Health England’s recording of hospital deaths from Covid than they change their methodology and reduce the number of deaths attributed to the virus by 5,377 bringing the figure down from 46,706 to 41,329.

    OK it probably has more to do with the criticism from the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University but I am sure that PHE are not the only body around the world that has used erroneous figures for deaths from the virus.

    • That’s not the true figure either. It’s the number of people who tested positive who died, not the number who died from the virus. Given how benign it was and how many people who tested positive were then put on a pathway to death, the true figure could be a lot lower (20,000?) That compares with a yearly 34,000 extra deaths in the winter and 40,000 from pneumonia.

      Then compare that with the 100,000-200,000 extra deaths that are being predicted due to the lockup, and the fact that Sweden had much the same epidemic curve without lockup.

      In other words, the lockup killed up to 10x as many people, not as were saved, because we ended up saving almost no one, but 10x as many who died from the virus.

  43. What this analysis doesn’t address is the ultimate impact of the lockdowns. If all they do is spread more or less the same number of deaths out over a longer period of time, then the short-term benefits of reduced deaths and cases are relatively modest, except to the extent that hospitals were getting overwhelmed (which was rare and brief). The economic and social costs of the lockdowns are huge, and ongoing. Cities are on the verge of collapse, with jumps in violent crime. Factoring all that into account, it’s hard to make the case for any but the most modest mitigation measures (like entry restrictions from high-risk countries, quarantining the sick). Otherwise, get it done with, stop prolonging the agony.

Comments are closed.