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Lockdowns Never Should Have Happened
And no amount of retconning will change that.
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The Washington Post today published an article that asks, in all seriousness, whether or not America should enforce lockdowns again if another pandemic ever occurs.
“So what will the country do the next time a deadly virus comes knocking on the door?”
It’s hard to read the piece as anything other than an apologist take on what can only be described as the disastrous implementation of a completely unjustified non-pharmaceutical intervention. Rather than critically assessing the individuals in nominal positions of authority during the onset of the pandemic who spread a false picture of the dire nature of the virus and championed our foray into a Kafkaesque dystopia, it instead treats Deborah Birx and Tony Fauci with kid gloves.
And of course the article makes no mention of how restrictive public health measures implemented throughout the pandemic caused a stunning 199,000+ non-covid excess deaths. Nor does it say anything about the World Bank study that determined lockdowns pushed an additional 75,000,000 million people into extreme poverty.
Lockdowns should never happen again. They never should have happened in the first place.
It’s not just my opinion.
The lockdowns our public health functionaries and their Democratic handmaidens subjected us to — the consequences of which we’ll be dealing with for years to come — went against decades of research in preparation for a pandemic exactly like the one we found ourselves mired in. They had no prior precedent other than city-wide measures taken in the 1600s to manage plagues. And covid is no plague.1
It’s important to understand this, as they’re already beginning to claim that it’s only in the clarity of the backward glance that we know they were badly mistaken.
But that’s not true. They knew. They knew lockdowns were extremely inadvisable and the benefits hypothetical at best; they knew the socioeconomic costs would almost certainly cause more harm in the aggregate than the virus itself; they even knew there was a very real possibility that lockdowns would lead to more covid fatalities and an excess mortality rate.
Why/how did they know?
Because extensive planning for a novel respiratory virus like covid was conducted every year at WHO meetings featuring the world’s preeminent epidemiologists and public health professionals—to say nothing of the heaps of scientific literature disfavoring lockdowns.
Our Lord and Savior Tony Fauci himself said that shutting down the country would be futile:
That’s something that I don’t think we could possibly do in the United States, I can’t imagine shutting down New York or Los Angeles . . .Whether or not it does or does not [work] is really open to question because historically when you shut things down it doesn’t have a major effect.
The international scientific community didn’t even consider the viability of lockdowns a subject worth debating. This was the actual consensus before political corruption set in and The Consensus™ turned into a daily catechism projected to the fearful masses courtesy of CNN and friends.
Put plainly, our pandemic policies have been premised on measures that the foremost international experts had long ago established as borderline idiotic. Decades of research overwhelmingly disfavored lockdowns.
See for example:
A WHO study determined that, based on the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, “forced isolation and quarantine are ineffective and impractical.” (2006)
In an article titled “Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza,” epidemiologists at John Hopkins University wrote: “As experience shows, there is no basis for recommending quarantine either of groups or individuals. The problems in implementing such measures are formidable, and secondary effects of absenteeism and community disruption as well as possible adverse consequences, such as loss of public trust in government and stigmatization of quarantined people and groups, are likely to be considerable.” They concluded 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.” (2006)
A report (below) from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security stated, “In the context of a high-impact respiratory pathogen, quarantine may be the least likely NPI [non-pharmaceutical intervention] to be effective in controlling the spread due to high transmissibility.” (2019)
In 2018, the World Health Organization held a conference in preparation for a global pandemic. They explicitly stated that “home quarantine of exposed individuals to reduce transmission is not recommended because there is no obvious rationale for this measure, and there would be considerable difficulties in implementing it.”
In the WHO’s 2019 “Non-pharmaceutical public health measures for mitigating the risk and impact of epidemic and pandemic influenza” publication, the chart below was included. You can see that “quarantine of exposed individuals” is categorized as “not recommended in any circumstances.”
The CDC Tele-briefing
In his book Unmasked, Ian Miller describes a February 26, 2020 CDC tele-briefing with members of the media, the purpose of which was to discuss policies that local and state governments could implement in their covid mitigation efforts. According to Miller, the CDC presented a document called “Community Mitigation Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza United States 2017,” which based its findings on nearly 200 journal articles written between 1990 and 2016. It was noteworthy, if only because the focus was on nonpharmaceutical interventions for a set of illnesses extremely similar to the covid outbreak.
At the telebriefing, a spokesman for the CDC said,
This document looked at what can be done at the individual and community level during a pandemic when we don’t have a vaccine or proven medical treatment for the disease. We’re looking at data since 2016 and adjusting our recommendations to the specific circumstances of COVID-19. The CDC and other federal agencies have been practicing for this since the 2019 influenza pandemic. In the last two years, CDC has engaged in two pandemic influenza exercises that have required us to prepare for a severe pandemic and just this past year we had a whole of government exercise practicing similarly around a pandemic of influenza.
But even more importantly,
Personal protective measures reserved for pandemics include voluntary home quarantine of household members who have been exposed to someone they live with who is sick.
Once again: Lockdowns represented an unprecedented and unjustified shift in scientific opinion from where it stood only a few months before the discovery of covid.
There were some leading scientists who spoke out, or tried to speak out, about the madness unfolding.
“This is just mind-boggling: this is the mother of all quarantines. I could never have imagined it.” — Howard Merkel, Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan
“The truth is that these kinds of lockdowns are very rare and never effective.” — Lawrence O. Gostin, Professor of Public Health at Georgetown University
“We’re falling into a trap of sensationalism. We have gone into a complete panic state.” — John Ioannidis, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Population Health
Group efforts were also marshaled.
In March 2020, 800 credentialed medical professionals associated with Yale organized and signed a letter sent to government health officials. They warned that the lockdowns, travel restrictions, school and business closures, and loss of essential economic services would be extremely counterproductive, if not catastrophic. But as would become thematic, the dissidents were dismissed and maligned by their more powerful contemporaries.
Perhaps the best example of this occurred in October 2020, when a group of scientists met at the American Institute for Economic Research. There, they drafted and signed the “Great Barrington Declaration,” a statement by Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff, Oxford’s Sunetra Gupta, and Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya in which they urged public health officials and government leaders to consider the economic harms of lockdowns and adopt alternative strategies focused on protecting high-risk populations such as the elderly or those with medical conditions.
The statement quickly gathered signatures from hundreds of thousands of health, science, and medical professionals the world over. But it infuriated lockdown proponents, who immediately forewent scientific debate over the merits of such policies and engaged in a vilification campaign led by Francis Collins and Tony Fauci. Emails obtained through an FOIA request revealed that these two voices of The Science™ used their authority to stigmatize dissenters and squash debate. Collins even had the gall to tell the Washington Post that the Great Barrington Declaration was a “fringe component of epidemiology” that was “dangerous.” The message spread and the alternative strategy was widely dismissed.
Arguably the most lamentable feature of the pandemic was how, in the face of censorship, professional retaliation, and mockery driven by authoritarian bureaucrats and tech platforms that increasingly function as private arms of the state, scientists and public officials who’ve maintained a fidelity to the truth and open and honest debate have struggled to make their voices heard.
“It is possible that lockdowns will go down as one of the greatest peacetime policy failures in modern history.”
Social distancing, stay-at-home orders, lockdowns, business closures, gathering limits—all have consistently been shown in peer-reviewed studies to have no significant impact on outcomes such as a reduction in covid transmission and fatalities.
Below, I’ve included a handful of recent examples illustrating as much. The first is arguably most noteworthy, but this of course means it was either completely ignored or incorrectly described as “flawed” by the mainstream media since it didn’t comport to The Narrative™.
Indeed, we do find some evidence that limiting gatherings was counterproductive and increased COVID-19 mortality.
Finally, allow us to broaden our perspective after presenting our meta-analysis that focuses on the following question: “What does the evidence tell us about the effects of lockdowns on mortality?” We provide a firm answer to this question: The evidence fails to confirm that lockdowns have a significant effect in reducing COVID-19 mortality. The effect is little to none.
The use of lockdowns is a unique feature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns have not been used to such a large extent during any of the pandemics of the past century. However, lockdowns during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic have had devastating effects. They have contributed to reducing economic activity, raising unemployment, reducing schooling, causing political unrest, contributing to domestic violence, and undermining liberal democracy. These costs to society must be compared to the benefits of lockdowns, which our meta-analysis has shown are marginal at best. Such a standard benefit-cost calculation leads to a strong conclusion: lockdowns should be rejected out of hand as a pandemic policy instrument.
An examination of over 100 Covid-19 studies reveals that many relied on false assumptions that over-estimated the benefits and under-estimated the costs of lockdown. The most recent research has shown that lockdowns have had, at best, a marginal effect on the number of Covid-19 deaths… The limited effectiveness of lockdowns explains why, after more than one year, the unconditional cumulative Covid-19 deaths per million is not negatively correlated with the stringency of lockdown across countries.… It is possible that lockdowns will go down as one of the greatest peacetime policy failures in modern history.
“Inferences on effects of NPIs are non-robust and highly sensitive to model specification. Claimed benefits of lockdown appear grossly exaggerated.”
“The UK lockdown was both superfluous (it did not prevent an otherwise explosive behavior of the spread of the coronavirus) and ineffective (it did not slow down the death growth rate visibly).”
“…stay at home orders, closure of all non-essential businesses and requiring the wearing of facemasks or coverings in public was not associated with any independent additional impact.”
“Comparing weekly mortality in 24 European countries, the findings in this paper suggest that more severe lockdown policies have not been associated with lower mortality. In other words, the lockdowns have not worked as intended.”
“Whether a county had a lockdown has no effect on Covid-19 deaths; a non-effect that persists over time. Cross-country studies also find lockdowns are superfluous and ineffective (Homberg 2020). This ineffectiveness may have several causes. “
The question that inevitably comes to mind is… why? Why did they immediately dispense with everything they had learned in preparation for a pandemic exactly like covid? Why would they minimize and malign an effort like the Great Barrington Declaration? Why did they ignore decades of research and the lessons gleaned from previous, more severe pandemics?
In fact, a comparative study of covid and the bubonic plague would do a lot of people a lot of good. It killed 30% of Europe, folks; were the "Black Death" to occur today, it'd kill 2 billion.