Do Lockdowns Work??

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Before this $%^&* lockdown started, I said “SPEND THE $1 TRILLION ON OUR HEALTH SYSTEM AND DON’T LOCK THE UNITED STATES DOWN”!!!

(See, back then they were only talking one trillion. But it’s politicians spending OPM, so of course now it’s two trillion.)

And from everything I’ve seen up to now, I was right. Near as I can tell, the lockdowns in various countries have done little & our health system is still inadequate. However, that’s just anecdotal. So here is some harder data on the question. 

First, almost every country has implemented some forms of health interventions, ranging from the mild to the Chinese-style totalitarian clampdowns.

And as the Koreans have shown, this can work … but only if people are willing to have quarantines enforced with GPS locations and a surveillance state and GPS contact tracing that shows everywhere you’ve been in the last two weeks. As far as I can see, you have to be Korea or China to pull that one off, and no western country has even tried it.

And as a result, there is very little difference between the spread of disease and the concomitant rate of death in any of the western countries. Figure 1 shows the tragic trajectory of death in the 14 countries with the highest death rates.

Figure 1. Coronavirus deaths versus the number of days since the country went over 10 deaths per million people. 

As you can see, there is very little difference in the death rates between the various countries, despite the fact that they all have differing levels of health interventions to try to prevent the spread. They’re all following the same trajectory.

Now, other than lockdowns, what kind of health interventions am I referring to? Glad you asked. Over at ACAP you can download a dataset of the different kinds of measures used by different countries. They list no less than 33 different types of health interventions being used to fight the coronavirus, viz:

  • Additional health/documents requirements upon arrival
  • Amendments to funeral and burial regulations
  • Awareness campaigns
  • Border checks 
  • Border closure 
  • Changes in prison-related policies
  • Checkpoints within the country
  • Complete border closure
  • Curfews
  • Domestic travel restrictions
  • Economic measures
  • Emergency administrative structures activated or established
  • Full lockdown
  • General recommendations
  • Health screenings in airports and border crossings
  • Humanitarian exemptions
  • International flights suspension
  • Introduction of quarantine policies
  • Limit product imports/exports
  • Limit public gatherings
  • Lockdown of refugee/idp camps or other minorities
  • Mass population Testing
  • Military deployment
  • Obligatory medical tests not related to COVID-19
  • Partial lockdown
  • Psychological assistance and medical social work
  • Public services closure 
  • Schools closure 
  • State of emergency declared
  • Strengthening the public health system
  • Surveillance and monitoring
  • Testing policy
  • Visa restrictions

So I used that to see if countries with more of those restrictions fared better. Here, for example, are the restrictions imposed by South Korea over time. Some are listed twice because they were expanded or made more rigorous over time:

  • Health screenings in airports and border crossings   
  • Limit public gatherings                              
  • Visa restrictions                                    
  • Visa restrictions                                    
  • Introduction of quarantine policies                  
  • Schools closure                                      
  • Introduction of quarantine policies                  
  • Additional health/documents requirements upon arrival
  • Surveillance and monitoring                          
  • General recommendations                              
  • Additional health/documents requirements upon arrival
  • General recommendations                              
  • Partial lockdown                                     
  • General recommendations                              
  • Introduction of quarantine policies                  
  • Psychological assistance and medical social work     
  • Introduction of quarantine policies                  
  • Surveillance and monitoring 

Quarantine, then surveillance, then more rigorous quarantine, then even more rigorous surveillance and quarantine. I don’t believe that Americans would put up with that.

However, being a graphically minded sort of person, I then made a scatterplot of the number of distinct kinds of restrictions a country has imposed versus the number of deaths per ten million in that country. Figure 2 shows the result:

Figure 2. Scatterplot, number of kinds of restrictions to try to prevent viral spread versus coronavirus deaths per ten thousand.

As you can see, the number of restrictions seems to have little to do with the number of deaths. For example, here’s what Switzerland has done. These are the different restrictions they’ve applied.

  • Limit public gatherings
  • Border checks 
  • Visa restrictions
  • State of emergency declared
  • Schools closure 
  • State of emergency declared
  • Border checks 
  • Visa restrictions
  • General recommendations
  • Strengthening the public health system
  • Awareness campaigns
  • Testing policy
  • Limit public gatherings
  • Border closure 
  • Limit public gatherings
  • Economic measures
  • Limit public gatherings
  • Partial lockdown
  • Full lockdown
  • Partial lockdown
  • Economic measures
  • Economic measures
  • Limit product imports/exports
  • Military deployment
  • Limit public gatherings
  • International flights suspension
  • Limit public gatherings
  • Strengthening the public health system
  • Visa restrictions
  • Economic measures     

So the lack of visible effect is not from a lack of restrictions. Nor is the lack of visible effect because the restrictions haven’t been in place long enough. Switzerland imposed the first restrictions forty days ago, on the 21st of February. They closed the schools. On the 24th of February, the government declared an “extraordinary situation,” and banned all private and public events and ordered restaurants and bars to close. At that point, they had no coronavirus deaths. 

They currently have 433 deaths from coronavirus. Forty days of sanctions with no effect.

However, the Swiss have about the same number of deaths per ten million population as say Netherlands, and here’s all that the Dutch have done:

  • Introduction of quarantine policies
  • Limit public gatherings
  • Schools closure 
  • Public services closure 
  • General recommendations
  • Economic measures
  • Emergency administrative structures activated or established

No lockdown, neither partial nor full. No limitations on import/export. No suspension of flights. No visa restrictions. No state of emergency. No border checks. 

And despite that … they are on a par with the Swiss, despite all of the Swiss containment measures. 

Or you could look at it another way. Germany, the US, Portugal, France, and Spain have all instituted the same number of restrictions … but their deaths go from low to high.

So it seems that my intuition was correct. Unless you are willing to impose a full-blown police and surveillance state, these measures do very little. The problem is that this bugger is so insidious. It has a long incubation period when it is infectious but asymptomatic. And it can live on surfaces for days. As a result, in terms of government restrictions, nothing but a major Korean-style full-court press, with surveillance and strict quarantine and a populace willing to follow restrictions to the letter, will cut down the number of cases.

And Americans simply won’t do that. In fact, it’s impossible to get Americans to just shelter in place. If you go out into the streets of the US, there are lots of people working, lots of people going from place to place, grocery stores full of people … control the virus?

I don’t think so.

But regarding controlling the virus, here’s another graph. It’s exactly the same as Figure 2, but it contains Japan as well.

Hmm … they’re in the danger zone, near to Korea and China, so what extreme health measures are they practicing? Here you go …

  • Health screenings in airports and border crossings
  • Visa restrictions

Whaaaa? … my only conclusion from that is simple.

WEAR A MASK.

The one virus health practice that distinguishes Japan from most of the world is that they all wear masks in public. A mask cuts transmission down in two ways. First, it keeps you from touching your mouth or nose. This both protects you until you can wash your hands, and if you are infected it keeps you from spreading the virus onto hard surfaces to infect others.

Next, it keeps you from sneezing or coughing a billion virus particles into the air. It’s less effective at preventing you from inhaling such particles, although it helps with that as well. And it is that sneezing and coughing that is the major way that the virus is spread.

And overall, as Japan is showing us, wearing a mask cuts the transmission rate way down.

We’re starting to get there, but it may be too little too late. I see that the genius medical experts who recommended the ineffective drastic lockdown are now thinking about recommending that Americans wear masks. The headline in Politico says “Fauci: Mask-wearing recommendation under ‘very serious consideration’” … under consideration?? They’ve destroyed the American economy without looking back, but a simple recommendation to wear a mask in public requires “very serious consideration”?

Sigh …

We can see above that there’s very little upside to the American lockdown … so let’s look at the down side. First, the economic damage from the current insane “shelter-in-place” regulations designed to thwart the coronavirus is already huge—lost jobs, shuttered businesses, economic downturn, stock market losses. This doesn’t count the personal cost in things like increased suicides and domestic and other violence. The people who made the decision obviously were led by doctors, which was good, but did not include economists or social scientists, which was lethals.

To partially compensate the populace for those stupendous economic losses, we’ve just thrown two TRILLION dollars in the general direction of the problem. That’s trillion with a “T”. Most people have no idea how much a trillion dollars is. Consider it this way. 

Suppose you were an immortal who made so much money that you were able to spend a million dollars a day forever. In the first week, you buy 350 ventilators at $20,000 each and give them to the various states. The next day you buy 200,000 face masks at $5 a pop, epidemic prices. Then you decide to take a year and buy a field hospital every day, 365 of them at a million dollars each. That feels so good that you decide to set up full hospitals. They’re something like 1.5 million dollars per bed. So you can buy a 250-bed hospital per year. You spend the next two hundred years doing that, two hundred new hospitals, 50,000 new beds.

Now that’s only about a hundred years of spending a million bucks a day. Suppose further that you started spending one megabuck per day, that’s a full million dollars each and every day including weekends, back on January First way back in the Year One. And imagine that you spent a million dollars a day every day right up to the present, buying medical equipment, expanding medical schools, purchasing test kits, a million dollars a day from the year 1 right up to the year 2020.

Guess what … 

… you still would have spent far less than a trillion dollars, only about three-quarters of a trillion. And to spend two trillion, you’d have to spend a million dollars a day for 5,500 years.

Can you imagine what our medical system would be like if we spent a million dollars a day on it for fifty-five-hundred years?

Instead, we’ve pissed the two trillion away on repairing the damage caused by the lockdown without getting the economy started again, plus wasting it on all the pork that got loaded onto the bill.

Consummate financial idiocy that only politicians could ever think was reasonable, logical, or practical. Mark Twain was right when he said “Suppose that you were a Member of Congress. And suppose further that you were an idiot. But I repeat myself.”

So … how about we all put on masks, keep washing our hands, give up our steamy midnight rendezvous (rendezvous?) with pangolins, increase testing particularly of our medical personnel, start testing for antibodies, and end this stupid lockdown? The pluted bloatocrats in Congress are already dreaming up a new appropriations bill to waste another trillion dollars or so that we cannot afford. Me, I say, let’s quit while we’re behind and get back to work.


Here on my forest hillside where the redwood trees scratch the sky, it’s my great fortune that my daughter, her husband, and my infant granddaughter have come to spend the lockdown in the woods … and both I and my gorgeous ex-fiancée are overjoyed that they are here. They’re working from home, and we’re retired, so all is well chez nous.

So stay well in these parlous times, dear friends. I see that Chloroquine has been approved in India for C-19 treatment. I had malaria four times, so I know that drug up close and personal. Plus I took it once a week for a year as malaria prophylaxis. And I used to take three weekly doses per day for three days in a row if I felt malaria coming on, and that would stop it in its tracks. So I’d take it again in a minute.

And I also saw that the advisor to the Italian Health Minister has said that only 12% of the Italian deaths were actually deaths FROM Covid-19, and the rest were deaths WITH Covid-19. So things may be looking up.

Regards to everyone,

w.

The Usual: When you comment please quote the exact words you are discussing, so we can all be clear who and what you are referring to.

via Watts Up With That?

https://ift.tt/2QXhuOX

April 1, 2020 at 12:42PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s