Saturday, October 31, 2020

Postlibertarians argue lockdowns not so bad

Two former libertarians, Tyler Cowen of the Mercatus Center and Will Wilkinson of the Niskanen Center, argue in recent articles that the harms attributed to lockdowns are really caused by voluntary social distancing.

A Dangerous Libertarian Strategy for Herd Immunity | Bloomberg - Tyler Cowen:

October 15, 2020 - "It would be bad enough if the Great Barrington Declaration ... was simply misguided. But the statement, which now has more than 9,000 signatories, represents a potentially dangerous way of thinking — about not only pandemics but also human nature.... It strikes exactly the wrong tone and stresses exactly the wrong points....

"The declaration also sets up a false dichotomy by comparing its policy proposals to lockdowns. The claim is this: 'Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.' The health problems are very real, but in most of the U.S., the lockdowns are not severe. In my home state of Virginia, there are relatively few commercial activities I cannot partake in, were I so inclined. I even can go see a live bluegrass concert in a nightclub (I won’t, not yet). The problem is that most people don’t want to go out to such concerts, and indeed probably should not. It is this self-enforced isolation, not a government order, which screws us up, sometimes creating mental and other health problems.

"Whatever you think of the stricter policies of last spring, they are now behind us, and the emphasis on 'lockdowns' is not helpful. The more useful question is whether the list of prohibited activities should be expanded or contracted. In some cases, surely, it should be expanded.... Even if you disagree with that judgment, the critics who emphasize lockdowns are setting up a straw man.... The truth is that lockdowns are extremely unpopular, and while they may have to be reimposed in extreme circumstances, they are not the main alternative on the table in the U.S. right now."

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-10-15/great-barrington-declaration-is-wrong-about-herd-immunity


The Useful Libertarian Idiocy of The Great Barrington Declaration | Will Wilkinson - Niskanen Centre: 

October 27, 2020 - "Tyler Cowen has written a persuasive and quietly devastating analysis of the Declaration’s many non-medical shortcomings at Bloomberg Opinion. If you haven’t read it, please do. Cowen, who has been either libertarian or libertarian-adjacent his entire life, recognizes that these errors reflect AIER’s rigid libertarian outlook.... 'The Great Barrington strategy is a tempting one. Coming out of a libertarian think tank, it tries to procure maximum liberty for commerce and daily life. It is a seductive idea. Yet consistency of message is not an unalloyed good, even when the subject is liberty'.... This is, to my mind, exceedingly gentle. “[C]onsistency of message is not an unalloyed good, even when the subject is liberty,” is a generous way to say that purist ideology is a mind-warping reality-distortion field. I entirely concur with Cowen’s piece, but I think it’s worth drawing out further how the Declaration’s errors showcase some of libertarianism’s signature defects....

"Nobody is going to do this. What’s even the idea here? That a governor or mayor or city council will one day announce that it is now officially a Great Barrington 'focused protection' jurisdiction and everyone will just shout 'Hurrah!' and sprint to the nearest massage parlor or high step it to the hoe down[?]...  [V]ery few of us are willing to simply allow the virus to cull the weak. Which is why next to nobody’s going to try the Great Barrington strategy. And if somebody does try it, it obviously can’t work.... 

"I’m no angel, but it’s nevertheless important to me, as a matter of elementary moral duty, to avoid becoming a link in a chain of viral transmission that could kill somebody. But even if you’re completely bereft of any sense of responsibility for the lives and welfare of others, it remains that there are plenty of selfish reasons to steer clear of the maskless rager over at the Sig Ep house (an unfortunate reality here in Iowa City.).... So mere personal prudence is enough to lead many of us to decline invitations to weddings, retire our gym memberships, and eschew dine-in restaurants. It’s enough to keep managers and business owners from calling their workers back to the office. Now add a functioning moral compass to mix. In that case, a moderate level of entirely voluntary self-isolation and avoidance of un-distanced and/or mask-free social situations becomes practically inevitable. 

"Here in Iowa, we’ve never had an official lockdown, and we’ve had very, very few restrictions of any kind. Nobody’s stopping anybody from going to the movies, but nobody goes to the movies. Restaurants are open, but there aren’t many people in them.... It’s hard to tell the practical difference between the Great Barrington approach and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ active hostility to city-level restrictions, mask mandates, and remote schooling. Yet it’s completely obvious, if you live here, that this approach hasn’t put us any nearer to 'normal'.... 

"The governor’s aggressively laissez faire approach has delivered some of the country’s highest infection rates, but with very few mitigating economic benefits. I recently visited Massachusetts, which has responded to the pandemic far more aggressively and competently than Iowa has. It now has one of the lowest infection rates in the country, which is why economic and social life there was notably more active and normal than it is here in plague-ridden, anything-goes Iowa....

[As of October 31, 'plague-ridden Iowa' reported 127,966 official cases (93,200 recovered) and 1,716 deaths (544/million), while Massachusetts reported 158,576 cases (127,054 recovered) and 9,991 deaths (1,450/M).  - gd

"Casselman and Tankersley sum it up well: 'A growing body of research has concluded that the steep drop in economic activity last spring was primarily a result of individual decisions by consumers and businesses rather than legal mandates. People stopped going to restaurants even before governors ordered them shut down. Airports emptied out even though there were never significant restrictions on domestic air travel.'"

Read more: https://www.niskanencenter.org/the-useful-libertarian-idiocy-of-the-great-barrington-declaration/

Friday, October 30, 2020

Wyoming Libertarians hope for breakout in 2020

Could Libertarians shake up Wyoming elections this year? | Casper Star-Tribune - Nick Reynolds: 

October 24, 2020 - "Wyoming, like the rest of the country, has a two-party problem. Despite the libertarian streak running through the state’s strong, conservative tradition, Wyoming has never elected a third-party candidate to the Statehouse, never nominated a non-Republican or Democrat to its two seats in Congress, and never boosted one to the governorship.

"The state’s third-largest political party, Wyoming Libertarians have been ... focusing their efforts more on retaining access to the ballot rather than winning it. In 1980, party activists fought tooth and nail to get presidential candidate Ed Clark on the ballot on his way to achieving less than 2% of the vote. Four years later, the party sued the state for access to the ballot and won and, two decades later, managed enough of a following to earn the major party designation it still enjoys today.... [H]owever ... the party has never gained a serious foothold in Wyoming politics, and even contemplated disbanding in 2015 due to a lack of members.

"But that was then. Five years later, the still-fledgling party of just under 1,600 members could be a disruptive force in this year’s election. In addition to fielding candidates for president, U.S. Senate and Congress this year, Libertarians will be on the ballot in six different Statehouse races this year, with several presenting credible chances at winning.

"In House District 55, Bethany Baldes — a Riverton resident who was narrowly defeated by longtime Republican lawmaker David Miller two years ago — is running a highly competitive campaign against Republican prosecutor Ember Oakley. In House District 47, Lela Konecny will take on Republican Jerry Paxton after he survived a taxing, four-way primary where he split the vote with three different challengers. In Sweetwater County, railroader Marshall Burt will take on train conductor Stan Blake in a House District typically dominated by union Democrats. And in Casper, several Libertarian candidates will take on moderate candidates like Sen. Charlie Scott and Rep. Pat Sweeney in districts that have demonstrated some division among Republican voters in the primaries over the last several years.

"'We’ve really gotten organized over the last year or two' said Shawn Johnson, the current chairman of the Wyoming Libertarian Party and a member of Casper’s City Council.... 'The last couple years we’ve organized elected party officers and really put our heads together to get some serious challengers around the state'.... Johnson said the national party has been taking an unprecedented step to provide resources to the party this year and potentially help establish a third-party presence here....

"As Democrats work to capture as many moderates as possible from the state’s Republican supermajority, Libertarians seek to tap into the state’s already massive wellspring of conservative voters who are potentially fed up with the current disarray of the Wyoming GOP, which has been plagued by infighting and anemic fundraising efforts over the past year. The Libertarian Party has also sought to avoid debates over hot-button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage that have long been a lightning rod within the state GOP and exacerbated tensions among the party’s ranks....

"Among all the candidates running this year, Baldes is likely the most viable.... Urged to run as a Republican — and endorsed by several Republicans in the community — Baldes’ platform resembles that of many conservatives around the state. She is pro-gun and anti-tax and, in her bid to get to the Legislature, has called for reforms to the way government services are delivered, rather than raising taxes or cutting essential services under a system she believes is inefficient. Freedom from party leadership, she said, is essential in helping make that happen....

"Wyoming and the rest of the nation, its conservative coalition splintered, seems ripe for a change, Johnson said. He hopes the first step could take place here. 'Once people see that Libertarians can be elected to a partisan state office, I think that our numbers as far as party membership will increase quite a bit,' he said. 'Once people see that Wyoming is that catalyst for change, I think it can happen on a national level.'"

Read more: https://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/could-libertarians-shake-up-wyoming-elections-this-year/article_66d5333d-b0e9-52bf-9a75-424effc87501.html

Thursday, October 29, 2020

More national lockdowns, in France and Germany

Covid: Merkel warns of 'long, hard winter' as lockdowns return | BBC News:

October 29, 2020 - "German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned of a long, hard winter ahead as she defended the reinstatement of a national lockdown.Mrs Merkel was heckled by right-wing MPs as she outlined the new measures in parliament. Rising coronavirus infections and deaths are triggering tougher restrictions across Europe.

"France restores a lockdown on Friday, ordering people to stay at home unless for essential work or medical reasons..... Germany's new measures, which come into force on Monday, are not as far-reaching as in France, but they include the closure of restaurants, bars, gyms and theatres, Mrs Merkel said.

"Addressing parliament on Thursday Mrs Merkel said that 'winter will be hard - four long, difficult months - but it will come to an end'. During her speech, Mrs Merkel was heckled by members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party who oppose the restrictions. Leader Alexander Gauland accused the government of 'corona dictatorship'.... Germany, like other countries, has seen protests by people claiming restrictions are unwarranted.

"Germany's partial lockdown will last until 30 November under terms agreed by Mrs Merkel and the 16 state premiers. Bars and restaurants will close except for takeaway, but schools and kindergartens will remain open. Social contacts will be limited to two households with a maximum of 10 people and tourism will be halted.... 

"Meanwhile in France, Mr Macron said that under the new rules, people would need to fill in a form to justify leaving their homes, as had been required in the initial lockdown in March. Social gatherings are banned. But he made clear that public services and factories would remain open, adding that the economy 'must not stop or collapse'.... Prime Minister Jean Castex told parliament on Thursday that all students aged six and over would have to wear face masks in class.... He said companies would be strongly urged to have their employees work from home 'five days a week'....

"[E]lsewhere in Europe ... Poland ... has imposed a nationwide 'red zone' lockdown that includes the partial closure of primary schools and restaurants. Italy ... has already introduced new restrictions which will be in place for a month. All bars and restaurants across the country have to close by 18:00, although they can provide takeaways later. Gyms, swimming pools, theatres and cinemas have to close, but museums can remain open. Gatherings for weddings, baptisms and funerals are banned.

"Spain began its nationwide curfew on 25 October after the government declared a new state of emergency. People in all regions, with the exception of the Canary Islands, have to stay at home between 23:00 and 06:00....

"The Republic of Ireland went into a second national lockdown earlier this month for a six-week period."

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54728893

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Sweden experiments with local non-lockdown

 Sweden is moving away from its no-lockdown strategy and preparing strict new rules amid rising coronavirus cases | Business Insider - Adam Payne:
October 18, 2020 - "After opting against lockdown measures throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Sweden is said to be shifting strategies toward the kinds of restrictive measures adopted by most of its neighbors.... Unlike its Nordic neighbors and most other countries, Sweden did not deploy wholesale lockdown measures in response to the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year. Sweden has recorded a much higher per capita death rate than its neighbors since adopting this strategy. It had recorded 5,918 deaths as of Sunday, compared with 278 in Norway and 346 in Finland."
Read more: https://www.businessinsider.com/sweden-shifts-away-no-lockdown-strategy-amid-growing-case-numbers-2020-10

October 19, 2020 - "In a statement provided to TIME, however, a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Sweden rejected that characterization. 'It is not a lockdown but some extra recommendations that could be communicated locally when a need from the regional authorities is communicated and the Public Health Agency so decides,' the spokesperson said."

Uppsala goes into voluntary lockdown because of spike in coronavirus cases | Politico - Charlie Duxbury:

October 24, 2020 - "Uppsala, a city of 230,000 people about an hour’s drive north of Stockholm, on Tuesday became the first place in Sweden to announce tougher localized guidance aimed at slowing a spike in cases of COVID-19, which authorities say has put hospitals there under pressure. Residents were told to avoid public transport and not to socialize with anyone they don’t live with. On Thursday, signs stuck to bus doors told passengers to board 'only if they had to.' Posters on the sides of rubbish bins said: 'The danger is not over.' 

"While this city is hardly unique in announcing new rules this week — a similar tightening of restrictions has occurred across Europe, from Manchester to Brussels to Prague — what makes Uppsala’s approach different is that it is almost wholly voluntary. As it did with its light-touch national approach to fighting the first wave of coronavirus — when borders, schools and businesses were left open — Sweden is now breaking new ground with the hands-off nature of its localized approach. 

"In Uppsala, there are no officials checking why people are using public transport. Shops and restaurants remain open for those who want to use them, and nothing hinders groups of people from getting together. The authorities are just telling people not to do these things and hoping they respond....

"Sweden’s national approach this spring received both plaudits and condemnation.... Swedish lawmakers believe that by giving citizens a greater sense of control, they might be able to achieve greater compliance with restrictions for longer....

"The rules in Uppsala are in some ways just a restatement, if more sternly worded, of what Tegnell and the Swedish government have urged Swedes to do since March: keep their distance from each other and in particular avoid larger social gatherings. But by restating and strengthening the guidance and focusing the message on a specific city, officials hope to get more traction."

Read more: https://www.politico.eu/article/sweden-coronavirus-local-lockdown-uppsala/

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Dem PAC spends $1M on Libertarian in Kentucky

Dems Boost Libertarian in Kentucky in Hail Mary to Defeat McConnell | Washington Free Beacon - Collin Anderson:

"October 26, 2020 - "A liberal PAC is spending more than $1 million to bolster Kentucky's Libertarian Party nominee in a last-ditch attempt to funnel votes away from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.). Ditch Mitch Fund, an anti-McConnell PAC founded by national liberal operatives, has ... spen[t] more than $10 million on ads slamming McConnell and championing Democratic nominee Amy McGrath. But in the closing days of the campaign, Ditch Mitch Fund is instead spending big to sing the praises of Libertarian candidate Brad Barron.

"The move is part of a larger liberal strategy to peel votes away from red-state Republicans by putting substantial funds behind little-known third-party candidates. One anti-McConnell super PAC — Fire Mitch Save America — has spent more than $250,000 on pro-Barron mailers in October....

"Federal Election Commission filings show that Ditch Mitch Fund launched an affiliate PAC called True Kentucky Patriots on October 13. Just days later, the group pushed back on reports that it was pulling its TV ads in the race's final two weeks, instead saying it was 'simply adjusting and moving around' the ad buys. True Kentucky Patriots went on to report more than $300,000 spent on TV, radio, and digital spots that call Barron 'Kentucky's true conservative for U.S. Senate.' According to ad-buying tracker Advertising Analytics, the total ad blitz is worth more than $1 million....

"The ad campaign dwarfs Barron's own spending in the race. The third-party candidate has disbursed less than $17,000 as of June 30 and has failed to file the last two required FEC reports.

"McGrath has personally boosted Barron throughout her bid to unseat McConnell. The Democrat in August invited Barron to join three proposed debates against McConnell 'so Kentuckians can hear from all of the candidates on the ballot.' She later retreated from an attempt to reject any debate invitations that excluded Barron, facing McConnell one-on-one in October. McGrath's campaign, which has denounced 'excessive money in politics,' also encouraged donors to contribute to Fire Mitch Save America in January.... 

"Ditch Mitch Fund has close ties to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), having raised more than $24,000 from Schumer's Senate Majority PAC, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. True Kentucky Patriots has paid Washington, D.C.-based advertising firm Beacon Media thousands for its ads boosting Barron — the firm has also received more than $25,000 from the Nancy Pelosi-affiliated House Majority PAC since 2018."

Read more: https://freebeacon.com/2020-election/dems-boost-libertarian-in-kentucky-in-hail-mary-to-defeat-mcconnell/

Monday, October 26, 2020

Spain, Italy, Poland locked down

Italy imposes harshest coronavirus restrictions since spring lockdown as second wave sweeps Europe | Washington Post - Ruby Mellen:

October 25, 2020 - "Italy became the latest European country to announce new restrictions to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus on Sunday as countries across the continent continue to report surging infections.... Beginning Monday, restaurants and bars will be required to close by 6 p.m., and gyms, pools and movie theaters must shut down entirely. The restrictions are the fourth round of tightening this month in Italy, and the most severe since the country lifted its nationwide lockdown in May....

"Spain, which flattened its spring curve with a three-month-long lockdown that started in March, announced new national restrictions Saturday. Under a new state of emergency, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez imposed a national nighttime curfew, banned gatherings of more than six people and gave regional governments the authority to restrict movement. 

"On Thursday, Ireland became the first European country to go back under national lockdown."

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/coronavirus-europe-italy-second-wave-lockdown/2020/10/25/6c011306-16df-11eb-82db-60b15c874105_story.html


New Lockdowns in Europe Amid Coronavirus Resurgence | Voice of America:

October 25, 2020 - "Both Spain and France, which enacted nighttime curfews to quell the spread of the virus, have surpassed more than 1 million cases, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center....  

"The European Union's disease control agency, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, has joined the World Health Organization to sound the alarm over a new surge of the coronavirus across the continent, as the WHO warned that the infection is rising exponentially. ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said Europe is facing a major threat to public health and a 'highly concerning epidemiological situation.' All EU countries except Cyprus, Estonia, Finland and Greece fell into a 'serious concern' category, as did Britain, the agency said.

"Elsewhere in Europe, Poland has seen a sharp increase in infections, with 13,628 new cases reported Saturday. Polish President Andrzej Duda is among those who have tested positive, as the country imposed more lockdown measures including a two-week closure of bars and restaurants and students beyond third grade moving to distance learning.

"As coronavirus infections in Belgium continue to reach record highs, authorities ordered the closure of the country’s cultural facilities on Saturday and announced a longer curfew beginning Monday..... 

"In Greece, authorities imposed a nightly curfew Saturday in the Athens area and in other regions of the country with high infection rates and made it mandatory to wear face masks indoors and outdoors."

https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/new-lockdowns-europe-amid-coronavirus-resurgence

Sunday, October 25, 2020

How Iceland beat the coronavirus (for now)

 How Iceland Beat the Coronavirus | The New Yorker - Elizabeth Kolbert:

June 1, 2020 - "On the morning of Friday, February 28th, Ævar Pálmi Pálmason, a detective with the Reykjavík police department, was summoned by his boss. Iceland did not yet have a confirmed case of covid-19, but the country’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management wanted to be prepared....'We were just talking' ... Pálmason recalled. 'And then, two hours later, we got the call.' A man who’d recently been skiing in the Dolomites had become the country’s first known coronavirus patient....

"Anyone who’d spent more than fifteen minutes near the man in the days before he’d experienced his first symptoms was considered potentially infected. ('Near' was defined as within a radius of two metres, or just over six feet.) [Pálmason's] team came up with a list of fifty-six names. By midnight, all fifty-six contacts had been located and ordered to quarantine themselves for fourteen days.

"The first case was followed by three more cases, then by six, and then by an onslaught. By mid-March, confirmed covid cases in Iceland were increasing at a rate of sixty, seventy, even a hundred a day. As a proportion of the country’s population, this was far faster than the rate at which cases in the United States were growing. The number of people the tracing team was tracking down, meanwhile, was rising even more quickly.... All were sent into quarantine.... If you were returning to Iceland from overseas, you also got a call: put yourself in quarantine. At the same time, the country was aggressively testing for the virus — on a per-capita basis, at the highest rate in the world.

"Iceland never imposed a lockdown. Only a few types of businesses — night clubs and hair salons, for example — were ever ordered closed. Hardly anyone in Reykjavík wears a mask. And yet, by mid-May, when I went to talk to Pálmason, the tracing team had almost no one left to track. During the previous week, in all of Iceland, only two new coronavirus cases had been confirmed. The country hadn’t just managed to flatten the curve; it had, it seemed, virtually eliminated it....

"Iceland, which has three hundred and sixty-five thousand residents — about half the population of Denver — is a famously tight-knit country. Almost everyone, quite literally, is related to everyone else, and if two people want to know how exactly their families are intertwined they can consult a genealogy database run by an Icelandic biotech firm called deCODE Genetics. Iceland was able to test so many people because, at the height of the outbreak, deCODE turned its state-of-the-art facilities over to screening for the virus.... Iceland’s university hospital was already testing people who had symptoms of covid-19. But by testing people who had no symptoms, or only very mild ones, deCODE picked up many cases that otherwise would have been missed. These cases, too, were referred to the tracing team. By May 17th, Iceland had tested 15.5 per cent of its population for the virus. In the U.S., the figure was 3.4 per cent.

"Meanwhile, deCODE was also sequencing the virus from every Icelander whose test had come back positive. As the virus is passed from person to person, it picks up random mutations. By analyzing these, geneticists can map the disease’s spread.... By sequencing the virus from every person infected, researchers at deCODE could also make inferences about how it had spread. 'One of the very interesting things is that, in all our data, there are only two examples where a child infected a parent,' [deCODE head Kári] Stefánsson told me. 'But there are lots of examples where parents infected children.'

"[W]hen I asked Stefánsson about the Icelandic government’s response to covid-19, he had only kind words. 'This was done in an extremely balanced way,' he said at one point. 'And I think the authorities did pretty much everything right.' At another point, he told me, 'The remarkable thing in this whole affair is that in Iceland it has been run entirely by the public-health authorities. They came up with the plan, and they just instituted it. And we were fortunate that our politicians managed to control themselves.'"

Read more: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/06/08/how-iceland-beat-the-coronavirus

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Don't expect vaccines to end the pandemic

If you're pinning your hopes on a Covid vaccine, here's a dose of realism | The Guardian - David Salisbury:

October 21, 2020 - "Much has been said about how the world will return to normal when a vaccine is widely available. But that really won’t be true. It is important that we are realistic about what vaccines can and can’t do.

"Vaccines protect individuals against disease and hopefully also against infection, but no vaccine is 100% effective. To know what proportion of a community would be immune after a vaccination programme is a numbers game – we must multiply the proportion of a population vaccinated by how effective the vaccine is.

"The UK currently has among the highest national coverage of flu vaccine in the world, vaccinating around 75% of the over-65s against flu every year; most countries either do worse or have no vaccination programmes for older people. It is reasonable to expect that this level of coverage could be achieved for a Covid-19 vaccine in that age group in the UK. Therefore, if the Covid-19 vaccine is 75% effective – meaning that 75% of those vaccinated become immune – then we would actually only protect 56% of that target population (75% of 75%). This would not be enough to stop the virus circulating. Almost half of our highest risk group would remain susceptible, and we won’t know who they are....

"Now let’s look at people younger than 65 in medical risk groups. In a good year, the UK vaccinates 50% of them against flu. That means just over a third of them are going to be protected (50% of 75%). Just to make matters worse, regulators such as the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency have said that they would accept a 50% lower level for efficacy for candidate Covid-19 vaccines. If that efficacy level is fulfilled, we have to multiply coverage by 50% efficacy, not 75%, and suddenly it all gets more concerning....

"If we want to see population protection from a Covid-19 vaccination, we are going to need high levels of protection (coverage x efficacy) across all ages – vaccinating not just the at-risk groups, as is being planned. To stop transmission, we must vaccinate anyone who can transmit infection. Anything less means that our goal is only individual protection and not the interruption of transmission. A recent announcement from the head of the UK vaccine taskforce, that the strategy will be targeted vaccination, makes it abundantly clear that the UK vaccine strategy at the moment is not to try to interrupt transmission....

"Even if countries do decide to switch from a personal-protection policy to a transmission-interruption strategy, obstacles remain. Much will depend on the successful vaccination (probably with two doses) of people who have not previously seen themselves to be at elevated risk. The challenge will be persuading the young, for example, to be vaccinated, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of others.

"Adherence to recommendations for any Covid-19 interventions – social distancing, lockdowns, home working, cancelled holidays or vaccinations – depend on trust. If politicians are telling us that the present impositions on our lives are only going to last until we have vaccines, then the reality is that a false hope is being promulgated.... While hope and optimism are much needed in these dark times, it is important to be transparent. We need to communicate the clear message that although targeted vaccination may offer some protection, it will not simply deliver “life as we used to know it”.

• David Salisbury is a former director of immunisation at the Department of Health and associate fellow of Chatham House’s Global Health Programme

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/21/covid-vaccine-immunisation-protection

Friday, October 23, 2020

Poor eating rats in second Myanmar lockdown

'Eating rats': Myanmar's second lockdown drives hunger in city slums | Halifax Chronical Herald - Shoon Naing:

October 23, 2020 - "After the first wave of coronavirus hit Myanmar in March, 36-year-old Ma Suu closed her salad stall and pawned her jewelry and gold to buy food to eat During the second wave, when the government issued a stay-home order in September for Yangon, Ma Suu shut her stall again and sold her clothes, plates and pots. With nothing left to sell, her husband, an out of work construction labourer, has resorted to hunting for food in the open drains by the slum where they live on the outskirts of Myanmar's largest city.

"'People are eating rats and snakes,' Ma Suu said through tears. 'Without an income, they need to eat like that to feed their children.' They live in Hlaing Thar Yar, one of Yangon's poorest neighborhoods, where residents shine flashlights in the undergrowth behind their homes, looking for some night creature to stave off their hunger.

"With more than 40,000 cases and 1,000 deaths, Myanmar is facing one of Southeast Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, and the lockdown in Yangon has left hundreds of thousands of people, like Ma Suu, without work and precious little support. Local administrator Nay Min Tun said in his part of Hlaing Thar Yar 40% of households had received aid but many workplaces are shut and people had become more desperate. Myat Min Thu, the ruling party lawmaker for the area, said government aid and private donations was being distributed but acknowledged not everyone could be covered....

"Even before the pandemic, a third of Myanmar’s 53 million people were considered 'highly vulnerable' to falling into poverty, despite recent gains following the country’s emergence from decades of ruinous isolation under the military junta. The financial squeeze now threatens to plunge many back into poverty or squash their chances of getting out.

"Poverty in the developing East Asia and Pacific region is set to rise for the first time in 20 years ... the World Bank said in September, with about 38 million expected to remain in or be pushed back into poverty."

Read more: https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/world/eating-rats-myanmars-second-lockdown-drives-hunger-in-city-slums-512655/

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Reports of Sweden's deaths highly exaggerated

by George J. Dance 

As the governments of Europe began reimposing lockdowns this week, the pro-lockdown media have been reminding us what happens to bad governments that fail to shut down their societies; the favorite cautionary tale, as always, being that of Sweden. "The Swedish COVID-19 Response Is a Disaster," Time magazine headlined October 14. On October 19, CBC Radio's "As It Happens" news show featured a "Swedish virologist [who] says her country's COVID-19 strategy has failed, but nobody will admit it." "As White House eyes 'herd immunity,' Sweden's no-mask approach is failing to contain COVID-19," Yahoo News chimed in on October 20, the same day a Washington Post headline reminded us that Sweden may have saved its economy, "But too many people have died."  

The story those sources tell is grim. "Sweden and the U.S.," Time declares, "are the only countries with high overall mortality rates that failed to rapidly reduce those numbers as the pandemic progressed." The Post warns that "deaths fell to low levels in August and early September but are now rising again." CBC tells us the Swedish health authority has been forced by the death toll to abandon its voluntary approach, and now "allows regions to institute local lockdowns 8 months into the pandemic" (although the story actually clarifies that these new local measures are not lockdowns: "there will be no legal or financial consequences for non-compliance"). Yahoo News quotes a "group of Swedish health and science researchers and professionals, calling itself Vetenskapsforum (Science Forum) COVID-19," as claiming: "Sweden is actually today among the highest countries in the world when it comes to deaths per capita from COVID-19." Scary claims indeed; but do the numbers back them up? 

Time reports (and CBC repeats) that "As of Oct. 13, Sweden’s per capita death rate is 58.4 per 100,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University data, 12th highest in the world (not including tiny Andorra and San Marino)." But that is not exactly news in October; we already knew six months ago that Stockholm (like Milan, London, New York, and Montreal) would experience high deaths. All five cities, being international air hubs, were hit hard at the outset, and their seniors were not adequately protected at the time. In addition (unlike the other four), Sweden did not lock down, which scientists using Neil Ferguson's Imperial death model confidently predicted would lead to "a median mortality of 96,000 (95% CI 52,000 to 183,000)" dead Swedes by June.  

Sweden's actual COVID death toll by June - more than 5,000 - was tragically high. But things have changed there since. The virus is still active: as per Worldometer's dashboard, there were 58,000 total cases of COVID in Sweden by the end of spring (June 20), and 106,000 four months later (October 19). In the same four months, though, there have been only 618 deaths with COVID, an average of 5 per day. So what is the evidence that the health authority "failed to rapidly reduce those [mortality] numbers?"

Time's evidence consists of "a study published Oct. 12 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which pointed out that, of the countries the researchers investigated, Sweden and the U.S. essentially make up a category of two: they are the only countries with high overall mortality rates that failed to rapidly reduce those numbers as the pandemic progressed." Time illustrates that claim with a chart (which repeats the claim, but without the 'rapidly' qualification): 

While the JAMA article and Time chart may be new, the data presented is old (perhaps due to the time needed for peer review) and outdated; the numbers go up just partly into September. I decided to look at the complete data, past and present, for myself. I used Worldometers' coronavirus dashboard for Sweden for the death total on the last day of each month, and then used simple subtraction to calculate the mortality for each month. Finally I divided each monthly total by 10.099 to calculate the month's mortality rate per million. 


As I hope my table shows, Sweden has in fact consistently and significantly lowered the mortality rate with COVID in every month of the pandemic since April (ultimately by 98%,). The authors of the JAMA article may have concluded otherwise, but as there is no discussion of Sweden in their study, that appears to be merely Time's spin on the results. In any case, that conclusion – that Sweden experienced a "failure to reduce coronavirus mortality rates as the pandemic progressed" – is falsified by the actual numbers.     

Admittedly, my table goes up only to the end of September; so it does not address the Post's October 20 claim that "deaths are now rising" or Science Forum COVID-19's finding (reported the same day) that "Sweden is actually today among the highest countries in the world when it comes to deaths per capita from COVID-19." So, what of those claims? 

Data for October is not complete, so the mortality rate for the month cannot be calculated; but it is still possible to look at Worldometers' daily averages. On September 30, the seven-day average of daily deaths with COVID in Sweden was 2 (two). On October 20 (the "today" when both claims appeared), the seven-day average was 2 (two). Average daily deaths had not risen by October 20, and they were certainly not among the highest in the world. I rate both those claims as simply false. 

Sources (accessed Oct. 21, 2020)

Jasmine M Gardner, Lander Willem, Wouter van der Wijngaart, Shina Caroline Lynn Kamerlin, Nele Brusselaers, & Peter Kasson, "Intervention strategies against COVID-19 and their estimated impact on Swedish healthcare capacity," medrxiv, April 11, 2020.  doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.11.20062133

Kelly Bjorklund & Andrew Ewing, "The Swedish COVID-19 Response Is a Disaster. It Shouldn’t Be a Model for the Rest of the World," Time, October 14, 2020. https://time.com/5899432/sweden-coronovirus-disaster/

"Swedish virologist says her country's COVID-19 strategy has failed, but nobody will admit it," As It Happens, CBC Radio, October 19, 2020. 

Melissa Rossi, "As White House eyes 'herd immunity,' Sweden's no-mask approach is failing to contain COVID-19," Yahoo News, October 20, 2020. 

Lars Comfors, "We saved our economy in Sweden. But too many people died," Washington Post, October 20, 2020. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Lockdowns spread to Ireland, Germany, Czechia

Ireland reimposes lockdown measures as coronavirus cases surge | Global News - Padraic Halpin, Reuters:

October 20, 2020 - "Ireland announced some of Europe’s toughest COVID-19 constraints on Monday, shutting non-essential retail, limiting restaurants and pubs to take away service and telling people not to travel more than five kilometers (3 miles) from their home. Ireland imposed one of Europe’s longest lockdowns during the first surge in coronavirus cases and eased restrictions at such a cautious pace that pubs that only serve drinks in Dublin had not reopened by the time a rise in infections prompted a tightening of curbs.

"This time, schools will stay open and essential services such as construction are allowed to continue, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said, as he moved the country to the highest level of restrictions, Level 5, for six weeks from midnight Wednesday. Hotels may remain open, but only if their rooms are needed by essential workers. Martin said the government’s aim was to return to Level 3 by Dec. 1. That would allow all retailers to reopen and restaurants to serve 15 customers outdoors. Even then, another lockdown could not be ruled out in 2021, he added."

Read more: https://globalnews.ca/news/7407425/ireland-coronavirus-lockdown-restrictions/


Coronavirus: German Alpine region goes into lockdown | BBC News

October 20, 2020 - "An Alpine area of southern Germany has gone into a new lockdown, the first part of the country to do so since the first Covid peak earlier this year. The 105,000 people of Berchtesgadener Land, bordering Austria, will only be allowed to leave home for essential reasons for the next two weeks.

"Like much of Europe, Germany is confronting a sharp rise in infections.... But the local infection rate in Berchtesgadener Land, part of the state of Bavaria, has hit 273 per 100,000 over the past week, which is why the fresh lockdown - being called a 'circuit breaker' - has been imposed.

"Schools, restaurants, bars, theatres, gyms, cinemas and hotels will be closed, but church services will be allowed. Visitors to the tourist town of Berchtesgaden have been asked to leave."

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54618827


Breaking: New Czech anti-COVID-19 lockdown measures to close shops and services as of Thursday, October 22 | Expats.cz - Jason Pirodsky:  

October 21, 2020 - "After a record-breaking day when the Czech Republic announced nearly 12,000 new COVID-19 cases, Health Minister Roman Prymula and other members of the Czech government have announced a new series of lockdown measures that will close most shops and services from Thursday.... With the exception of grocery stores, drugstores, pharmacies, and other shops providing essential goods ... all retail stores in the Czech Republic must close as of 6:00 a.m. on Thursday morning, October 22. The same applies to hairdressers, nail salons, and other venues providing similar services. In larger shopping centers, only the allowed shops may be open from tomorrow. Restaurants in shopping centers may still operate take-away windows (as well as restaurants outside of shopping centers).

"Additionally, outside groups will be limited to a maximum of two, with the exception of family members from the same household. According to Czech Health Minister Roman Prymula, only necessary travel should be undertaken, such as traveling to work or to buy food and other supplies.... 

"In order to limit the contact of civil servants with the public, state offices have been ordered to switch to home office if possible. Public office opening hours have been limited to ten hours per week, and all visitors are required to make an appointment in advance; no queues should be formed at the offices. The new measures do not affect the operation of nurseries and kindergartens, which may remain open. All other schools in the Czech Republic have switched to distance learning.

"The new measures will last until the end of the current state of emergency in the Czech Republic, on November 3. At that time, the measures will be repealed, loosened, or extended, assuming the Czech state of emergency is also extended."

Read more: https://www.expats.cz/czech-news/article/breaking-new-czech-anti-covid-19-measures-to-close-shops-and-services 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Northern Ireland, Wales locked down again

Coronavirus: Northern Ireland to go into four-week partial lockdown | The Guardian - Rory Carroll:

October 14, 2020 - "Northern Ireland is to close schools, pubs and restaurants as part of new restrictions to try to contain exploding rates of Covid-19 infection. Arlene Foster, the first minister, announced the partial lockdown on Wednesday at a special sitting of the Stormont assembly.... The new rules take effect from Friday and are to last four weeks with the exception of schools, which will shut for two weeks.

"The hospitality sector will close apart from deliveries and takeaways. Off-licences and supermarkets cannot sell alcohol after 8pm. There will be no indoor sport or organised contact sport involving mixing of households, other than at elite level. Close-contact services, apart from essential health services, are to cease. Mobile hairdressers and makeup artists are banned from working in homes. Gyms can remain open for individual training but no classes are permitted. Places of worship can stay open but people must wear face coverings when entering and exiting.

"'Bubbles' will be limited to 10 people from two households, with no overnight stays unless people are in a bubble. Universities will be encouraged to use distance learning only.... Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist party,... said the measures did not amount to a lockdown and promised financial support to cushion businesses. Some business leaders had lobbied against fresh restrictions, warning of bankruptcies and job losses.

"Foster implored people and businesses to get 'back to the basics' of social distancing, hand hygiene and other measures and hinted at further measures should infection rates continue to climb.... Northern Ireland’s cumulative seven-day rate of infections per 100,000 people is 334, one of the highest in Europe.... On Wednesday, Northern Ireland’s department of health reported four deaths and a further 1,217 infections, raising the totals since the pandemic began to 602 deaths and 23,115 infections."

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/14/coronavirus-northern-ireland-to-be-put-under-partial-lockdown


Covid: Wales to go into 'firebreak' lockdown from Friday | BBC News

October 19, 2020 - "Wales will go into a 'short, sharp' national lockdown from Friday until 9 November. People will be told to stay at home and pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops must shut. Primary schools will reopen after the half-term break, but only Years 7 and 8 in secondary schools can return at that time under new 'firebreak' rules. Gatherings indoors and outdoors with people not in your household will also be banned.

"First Minister Mark Drakeford said the 'time-limited firebreak' would be 'a short, sharp, shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and buy us more time'. Without action the NHS would not be able to cope, Mr Drakeford told a press conference.... 

"Under the lockdown leisure businesses, community centres, libraries and recycling centres will shut. Places of worship will be closed for normal services, except for funerals and weddings.... Halloween and Bonfire Night gatherings will not be allowed under the restrictions.... But there will be an exception for small Remembrance Sunday commemoration services on 8 November. Non-essential cross border travel in and out of Wales 'will have to end' during the firebreak period, Mr Drakeford said....

  • People will have to stay at home except for very limited reasons, such as exercise
  • People must work from home where they can
  • People must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with either indoors and outdoors
  • All non-food retail will shut, and cafes, restaurants and pubs will close unless they provide delivery or takeaways
  • Hotels, hairdressers and beauticians will have to shut
  • People breaching the rules could be fined, with fixed penalty notices starting at £60.

"The previous lockdown continued for months past its initial three weeks, but Mr Drakeford said the firebreak would end on 9 November."

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-54598136

Monday, October 19, 2020

More British Columbia Libertarian candidates

BC Libertarian Party has announced Craven as North Coast candidate for riding | The Northern View - K-J Millar:

October 5, 2020 - "Kitimat resident, Jody Craven has been announced as the British Columbia Libertarian Party candidate for the North Coast Riding MLA position in the upcoming Oct. 24 provincial election, the party announced in press release on Oct. 5. Issues that are listed in the press release as being important to Craven are solutions to provide more job security in the fishing industry and insurance for British Columbians.

"'The ICBC monopoly needs to go and we need to open the door for competition in auto insurance,' Craven said. 'As MLA, I’d also like to sit down with local fishermen and together come up with solutions to provide more job security in their industry.' Craven said blue collar jobs are very important to him and this region having worked for UNIFOR 2301 and Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. for the past 34 years.... Craven isn’t a stranger to political candidacy, having run in the 2019 federal election as a representative for the People’s Party of Canada." 

Read more: https://www.thenorthernview.com/news/jody-craven-of-kitimat-in-the-running-for-north-coast-mla/


Libertarian Party puts forward candidate in Cariboo-Chilcotin | BC Local News - staff: 

October 6, 2020 - "James Buckley feels it’s the right time to run for politics. Buckley, 43, has been declared the BC Libertarian candidate for the Cariboo-Chilcotin in the Oct. 24 election. It’s the first time his party has run a candidate in the riding and the first time Buckley has thrown his hat in the ring for a seat.

"Although he has always been interested in politics, the 100 Mile resident says it wasn’t until four years ago that he discovered the Libertarian party, which had similar views to his own.... He said the Libertarian Party is a 'people-oriented party. It’s all about freedom, lower taxes and having the right to decide what you want, as long as it’s not harmful to anyone else.'"

Read more: https://www.bclocalnews.com/news/libertarian-party-puts-forward-candidate-in-cariboo-chilcotin/


BC VOTES 2020: A candidate guide for Port Moody-Coquitlam | Tri-City News:

October 17, 2020 - "Hi my name is Logan Smith. I grew up in Port Moody and Coquitlam. My mother worked at Royal Columbian Hospital as a cleaner and my father worked for Waste Management cleaning up the cities. I grew up with parents cleaning up this province and I wish to serve you by cleaning up the mess the governments’ of yesterday and today have made....

"The biggest issue the people of B.C. is to get back to normal and to be able to meet the economic challenges we are to face moving forward. This is to be done by getting government out of our lives....

"The BC Libertarian Party looks to get ride of the senseless regulation and taxes. Also work with municipalities to relaxes zoning bylaws.

"Our party’s number one issue is to get back to normal. We have seen a rise in overdoes deaths and suicides as a result of the lockdowns, with no plan on ending it. We will end the state of emergency and open this province with each individual playing their part in keeping them [safe] and the community as a whole safe."

Read more: https://www.tricitynews.com/news/bc-votes-2020-a-candidate-guide-for-port-moody-coquitlam-1.24221855


New Westminster Libertarian doing double duty in 2020 election campaign | New Westminster Record - Theresa McManus:

October 16, 2020 - "Don Wilson is doing double duty with the BC Libertarians. Wilson, who is the leader of the BC Libertarian Party, is also the party’s candidate in the New Westminster riding. He was elected as the party’s leader in 2018, after joining the party the year before.

"'The provincial election was only a couple months away and I was trying to find a political home. I was an odd political creature, fiscally conservative but socially liberal,' he said in a statement to the Record. 'I first encountered libertarian ideas in 2012 seeing Ron Paul's effort to become the Republican Nominee for U.S. president. He spoke against wars of aggression; he articulated a clearly defined role for government and preached a tolerance for others. His message resonated for me like a bell. It wasn't until I found the BC Libertarian Party in 2017 that made the connection between what Dr. Paul was saying and the libertarian political philosophy. I was hooked. I became a candidate right away and ran for president at the next annual general meeting in late 2017. The following year I was elected party leader, a post I have been honoured to hold since.”

"According to Wilson, the BC Libertarian Party, which is fielding 25 candidates in ridings across B.C., puts an emphasis on limited government, civil liberties and the protection of private property rights."

Read more: https://www.newwestrecord.ca/bc-votes-2020/new-westminster-libertarian-doing-double-duty-in-2020-election-campaign-1.24221913

Sunday, October 18, 2020

New lockdown benefit single from Van Morrison

Listen to ‘As I Walked Out,’ the Second Anti-Lockdown Song from Van Morrison | Rock Cellar Magazine - Staff: 
October 12, 2020 - "Earlier this month, Van Morrison made his perspective known: He's very opposed to government-imposed lockdowns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, so much so that he planned a series of 'anti-lockdown protest songs' after penning a 'Save Live Music” essay urging a return to full-capacity live concert performances. He’s now premiered two of the planned three songs in this mini-series, with 'As I Walked Out' showing up late last week.... The track joins 'Born to Be Free,' the first song shared from his trio of protest anthems... The third song, 'No More Lockdown,' will premiere on Oct. 23....

"'I’m not telling people what to do or think, the government is doing a great job of that already. It’s about freedom of choice, I believe people should have the right to think for themselves,' said Van Morrison of these three songs."
Read more: https://www.rockcellarmagazine.com/van-morrison-as-i-walked-out-anti-lockdown-protest-song-listen/

Van Morrison donating COVID-19 protest song proceeds to charity | Calgary Herald -  World Entertainment News Network:
September 23, 2020 - "Van Morrison will donate all the profits from his three new tracks protesting lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic to musicians who are struggling during the crisis.... [H]e will distribute any money made from the tracks via the Van Morrison Rhythm and Blues Foundation – which helps musicians in need. 'Lockdown is taking away people's jobs and freedoms across all sectors of society,' he said. 'I believe live music is essential, and I worry that without positive action it will not survive.'"
Read more: https://calgaryherald.com/entertainment/music/van-morrison-donating-covid-19-protest-song-proceeds-to-charity

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The COVID Cult

The Covidian Cult | Off-Guardian - CJ Hopkins:

October 13, 2020 - "One of the hallmarks of totalitarianism is mass conformity to a psychotic official narrative ... that has little or no connection to reality and that is contradicted by a preponderance of facts. Nazism and Stalinism are the classic examples, but the phenomenon is better observed in cults.... What many people fail to understand is that to those who fall prey to them (whether individual cult members or entire totalitarian societies) such narratives do not register as psychotic. On the contrary, they feel entirely normal. Everything in their social 'reality' reifies and reaffirms the narrative, and anything that challenges or contradicts it is perceived as an existential threat.

"These narratives are invariably paranoid, portraying the cult as threatened or persecuted by an evil enemy or antagonistic force which only unquestioning conformity to the cult’s ideology can save its members from.... The point is not the identity of the enem. The point is the atmosphere of paranoia and hysteria the official narrative generates, which keeps the cult members (or the society) compliant.... In addition to being paranoid, these narratives are often internally inconsistent [and] illogical.... This ... forces their adherents to attempt to reconcile their inconsistency and irrationality ... in order to remain in good standing with the cult. Such reconciliation is of course impossible, and causes the cult members’ minds to short circuit and abandon any semblance of critical thinking, which is precisely what the cult leader wants. Moreover, cult leaders will often radically change these narratives for no apparent reason, forcing their cult members to abruptly forswear (and often even denounce as 'heresy') the beliefs they had previously been forced to profess, and behave as if they had never believed them, which causes their minds to further short circuit, until they eventually give up even trying to think rationally, and just mindlessly parrot whatever nonsensical gibberish the cult leader fills their heads with....

"If all this sounds familiar, good. Because the same techniques that most cult leaders use to control the minds of the members of their cults are used by totalitarian systems to control the minds of entire societies: Milieu Control, Loaded Language, Sacred Science, Demand for Purity, and other standard mind-control techniques. It can happen to pretty much any society, just as anyone can fall prey to a cult, given the right set of circumstances. It is happening to most of our societies right now. An official narrative is being implemented. A totalitarian official narrative. A totally psychotic official narrative, no less delusional than that of the Nazis, or the Manson family, or any other cult. Most people cannot see that it is happening, for the simple reason that it is happening to them....

"And this is why so many people — people who are able to easily recognize totalitarianism in cults and foreign countries — cannot perceive the totalitarianism that is taking shape now, right in front of their faces (or, rather, right inside their minds). Nor can they perceive the delusional nature of the official “Covid-19” narrative, no more than those in Nazi Germany were able to perceive how completely delusional their official 'master race' narrative was. Such people are neither ignorant nor stupid. They have been successfully initiated into a cult, which is essentially what totalitarianism is, albeit on a societal scale.

"Their initiation into the Covidian Cult began in January, when the medical authorities and corporate media turned on The Fear with projections of hundreds of millions of deaths and fake photos of people dropping dead in the streets. The psychological conditioning has continued for months. The global masses have been subjected to a constant stream of propaganda, manufactured hysteria, wild speculation, conflicting directives, exaggerations, lies, and tawdry theatrical effects. Lockdowns. Emergency field hospitals and morgues. The singing-dancing NHS staff. Death trucks. Overflowing ICUs. Dead Covid babies. Manipulated statistics. Goon squads. Masks. And all the rest of it.

"Eight months later, here we are. The Head of the Health Emergencies Program at the WHO [World Health Organization] has basically confirmed an IFR [infection fatality rate] of 0.14%, approximately the same as the seasonal flu.... The 'science' argument is officially over. An increasing number of doctors and medical experts are breaking ranks and explaining how the current mass hysteria over 'cases' (which now includes perfectly healthy people) is essentially meaningless propaganda, for example, in this segment on ARD, one of the big mainstream German TV channels. And then there is the existence of Sweden, and other countries which are not playing ball with the official Covid-19 narrative, which makes a mockery of the ongoing hysteria. 

"The point is, the facts are all available.... From mainstream outlets and medical experts. From the Center for F*cking Disease Control. Which does not matter in the least, not to the members of the Covidian Cult. Facts do not matter to totalitarians and cult members. What matters is loyalty to the cult or the party. Which means we have a serious problem, those of us to whom facts still matter, and who have been trying to use them to convince the Covidian cultists that they are wrong about the virus … for going on eight months at this point.

"While it is crucial to continue reporting the facts and sharing them with as many people as possible — which is becoming increasingly difficult due to the censorship of alternative and social media — it is important to accept what we are up against. What we are up against is not a misunderstanding or a rational argument over scientific facts. It is a fanatical ideological movement.... Instead of the cult existing as an island within the dominant culture, the cult has become the dominant culture, and those of us who have not joined the cult have become the isolated islands within it."

Read more: https://off-guardian.org/2020/10/13/the-covidian-cult/

Friday, October 16, 2020

Studies confirm Covid immunity lasts for months

New reports show coronavirus immunity can last for months | CNN - Maggie Fox:

October 14, 2020 - "Three new reports show coronavirus immunity can last for months -- and maybe even longer. The findings suggest that many, if not most, people who recover from coronavirus infections are protected for at least a period of time. They also suggest that coronavirus vaccines may be able to protect people for more than just a few weeks.

"One study found that people produce antibodies that protect against infection and last for at least five to seven months. 'We have one person that is seven months out. We have a handful of people that are five to seven months out,' Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunobiologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, told CNN. 'We conclude that neutralizing antibodies are stably produced for at least 5-7 months after SARS-CoV-2 infection,' his team wrote in a report published in the journal Immunity on Tuesday.

"They have been working with county officials to test volunteers in Arizona since April 30, ever since they developed a blood test for coronavirus.... The team has tested close to 30,000 people and has looked at some who have been tested several times....

"The novel coronavirus has only been around for less than a year, so it will take time to know just how long immunity lasts. 'That said, we know that people who were infected with the first SARS coronavirus, which is the most similar virus to SARS-CoV-2, are still seeing immunity 17 years after infection. If SARS-CoV-2 is anything like the first one, we expect antibodies to last at least two years, and it would be unlikely for anything much shorter,' he said. The severe acute respiratory syndrome virus infected close to 8,000 people and killed about 800 before it was stopped in 2004.

"People who were sicker with Covid-19 had a stronger immune response, Bhattacharya said. 'The people sampled from the ICU had higher levels of antibodies than people who had milder disease.' He doesn't yet know what that will mean for long-term immunity. Plus, the researchers have not checked to see if people were exposed to the virus a second time and were able to resist becoming infected again....

"However, two other studies support the idea of long-lasting immunity.

"Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital tested 343 coronavirus patients, most of them severely ill in hospital. They had elevated levels of certain antibodies called IgG antibodies for up to four months, they reported in the journal Science Immunology last week. 'We showed that key antibody responses to Covid-19 do persist," infectious disease specialist Dr. Richelle Charles of Massachusetts General Hospital said in a statement. Two other antibody types -- IgM and IgA -- first spiked and then crashed in these patients. 'We can say now that if a patient has IgA and IgM responses, they were likely infected with the virus within the last two months,' Charles said....

"A Canadian team used saliva tests and had similar findings. Their patients had IgG antibodies that lasted up to 115 days after they first developed symptoms. 'This study confirms that serum and saliva IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 are maintained in the majority of COVID-19 patients for at least 3 months post symptom onset.' they wrote in Science Immunology."

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/14/health/lasting-immunity-covid-19-antibodies-studies/index.html

Thursday, October 15, 2020

WHO estimates over 750 million caught COVID-19

 WHO: 10% of world's people may have been infected with virus | ABC News - Jamey Keaten, Associated Press:

October 5, 2020 - "The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization said Monday the agency's 'best estimates' indicate roughly 1 in 10 people worldwide may have been infected by the coronavirus — more than 20 times the number of confirmed cases — and warned of a difficult period ahead. Dr. Michael Ryan, speaking to a special session of the WHO’s 34-member executive board focusing on COVID-19, said the figures vary from urban to rural areas, and between different groups, but that ultimately it means 'the vast majority of the world remains at risk'.... 

"The estimate — which would amount to more than 760 million people based on a current world population of about 7.6 billion — far outstrips the number of confirmed cases as tallied by both the WHO and Johns Hopkins University, now more than 35 million worldwide. Experts have long said that the number of confirmed cases greatly undershoots the true figure.

"Ryan did not elaborate on the estimate. Dr. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman, said it was based on an average of antibody studies conducted around the world. She said the estimated 90 percent of people remaining without infection means the virus has 'opportunity' to spread further 'if we don't take action to stop it'." 

Read more: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/10-worlds-people-infected-virus-73427817


WHO (Accidentally) Confirms Covid is No More Dangerous Than Flu | Global Research - Kit Knightly:

October 8, 2020 - "As much as the WHO were attempting to spin this as a bad thing – Dr Ryan even said it means 'the vast majority of the world remains at risk.' – it’s actually good news. And confirms, once more, that the virus is nothing like as deadly as ... predicted.

"The global population is roughly 7.8 billion people, if 10% have been infected that is 780 million cases. The global death toll currently attributed to Sars-Cov-2 infections is 1,061,539. That’s an infection fatality rate [IFR] of roughly ... 0.14%. Right in line with seasonal flu and the predictions of many experts from all around the world.

"0.14% is over 24 times LOWER than the WHO’s 'provisional figure' of 3.4% back in March. This figure was used in the models which were used to justify lockdowns and other draconian policies....

"None of the mainstream press picked up on this. Though many outlets reported Dr Ryan’s words, they all attempted to make it a scary headline and spread more panic. Apparently neither they, nor the WHO, were capable of doing the simple maths that shows us this is good news."

Read more: https://www.globalresearch.ca/who-accidentally-confirms-covid-no-more-dangerous-flu/5726311

[I rechecked Global Research's math, using the lower (by 200 million) world population estimate from the top story as the denominator, and got the same result: just under 0.14%. Using today's death figures, roughly 30,000 more since the article came out, as the numerator increases the IFR to 0.145%. - gd]

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Trump administration reportedly supports Great Barrington Declaration

White House Embraces Herd Immunity in Latest Push to End COVID-19 Lockdowns | Newsweek - Elizabeth Crisp:

October 12, 2020 - "The White House is doubling down on its push to reopen the economy, now openly embracing a herd immunity strategy at the urging of some health experts. Two senior advisers told Newsweek and other media outlets on Monday that the Trump administration supports the Great Barrington Declaration, a controversial document that argues against lockdowns and calls for a reopening of schools, businesses and other entities, while protecting people deemed vulnerable to the virus because of age or other risk factors.

"'I think Americans should be cautiously optimistic about what's going on here,' one of the officials said. The officials were not authorized to speak on-the-record about the matter, but both defended the decision to move toward a broad-scale reopening, even though at least 5,900 people in the United States died with COVID-19 last week. The coronavirus has contributed to the deaths of more than 214,000 people in the U.S. since the pandemic began earlier this year [more than half of those before June 1, when most of the country was under lockdowns - gd]....

"World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters during a virtual press briefing on Monday that such an approach would be 'unethical.' 'Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,' he said. President Donald Trump has mentioned the idea in the past, mistakenly referring to it as 'herd mentality'....

"The Great Barrington Document, released last week, was authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University. Thousands of additional scientists have signed onto the open petition.... 'As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection,' the open letter reads. 'Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.'

"The White House official described the Great Barrington Declaration as focusing on 'aggressive protection of the vulnerable, opening all schools, opening businesses in society and ending the prolonged lockdowns.' 'We've learned a lot about the virus — this isn't April,' the official said, defending the push to fully restore business and social activity. 'It's very clear who are high risk and who are not high risk.'

"One official noted that thousands of college students have returned to campuses this fall, resulting in several hundred positive cases but few hospitalizations and no known deaths. The official [attributed] the high number of cases [to] colleges mandating testing, even among students who show no COVID-19 symptoms.

"'The goal is to make sure that we can do everything we can to protect the high risk people, while understanding that healthy people can get back to work," the official argued. The official said the White House would continue to support other public mitigation efforts, including social distancing, aggressive hand-washing and cleaning and mask-wearing, when appropriate."

Read more: https://www.newsweek.com/white-house-embraces-herd-immunity-latest-push-end-covid-19-lockdowns-1538430

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Libertarian polls at 38% in Arkansas Senate race

Tom Cotton Won't Debate His Libertarian Challenger. The Event Will Happen Anyway | Reason - Eric Boehm: 

October 12, 2020 - "Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.) is ducking a chance to debate his Libertarian challenger, even as a new poll shows the race tightening in the final weeks of what could be a rough election season for Republicans. The debate, scheduled to be broadcast by Arkansas' PBS station on Wednesday night, will take place even without Cotton's participation. That means it will basically be an hour-long opportunity for Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr., to speak directly to the voters who will decide next month whether Cotton deserves another six years in the Senate.

"Cotton, who has emerged in recent years as one of the loudest voices in the GOP's ascendant authoritarian nationalist wing, appeared to be heading for an easy reelection bid when the only Democrat to enter the race dropped out late last year. Enter Harrington, a 34-year-old prison chaplain running a campaign that gives voters about as stark a choice as they are likely to find in any two-way contest this year. Where Cotton has claimed that America has an 'under-incarceration problem' and called for deploying more heavy-handed police tactics against protesters, Harrington wants to reduce mandatory minimums and demilitarize the police. That contrast would provide fertile ground for serious debate between the two men — if Cotton would agree to show up.

"Even before this week's debate, Harrington has made a splash. According to a poll released last week by American Research Group (a polling firm that FiveThirtyEight grades well), Cotton leads 49 percent to 38 percent. That's a comfortable enough lead — and every professional prognosticator has the race listed as a 'safe' Republican win, even as the tide has turned against the GOP in the presidential race and some key Senate battlegrounds. Still, Cotton is polling at less than 50 percent in a two-way race, and 13 percent of voters say they remain undecided....

"This week's non-debate is an opportunity for Harrington to appeal to those undecided voters. Failing to show up means Cotton stands to gain nothing.

"When Cotton rejected the invitation to the debate, his campaign released a statement saying he was 'spending time on the campaign trail when the Senate is in recess, and looks forward to making his case to Arkansans across our state before this November's election.' What Cotton won't do, apparently, is go head-to-head with a challenger that nearly four out of 10 Arkansans say they support."

Read more: https://reason.com/2020/10/12/tom-cotton-wont-debate-his-libertarian-challenger-the-event-will-happen-anyway/ 

Why it matters
by George J. Dance

I would love to see Ricky Harrington win, but I think that is very doubtful by the poll numbers. Even if the undecideds broke 11:2 for him, Tom Cotton wiould still win. On the other hand, for Herrington to get over 30% should be big news. Let's hope Libertarians get as much news out of it as possible. 

Libertarians may not have won that many elections in the USA, but they have been the most successful interest group fighting for free and fair elections in that country, and it is time to shine a light on that success. Harrington's candidacy shows two ways they do that.  

First, Libertarians counter the worrying trend in America of two-party elections turning into one-party coronations. As the country grows more polarized and campaigns get more expensive, both Democratic and Republican parties are finding it more and more necessary to stop contesting seats they are sure they cannot win. In those cases, all semblance of the voters having any say in who gets elected goes out the window. However, Libertarians — who run low-cost campaigns, not to win (at this time) but to recruit (so we can win later) — can provide one thing representative democracy needs in order to function, an opposing choice for voters dissatisfied with a single option.  

Second, if Harrington gets at least 25%, that will be more than 10 times the 2% threshold the state requires for major party status (including automatic ballot access). In all fairness, Harrington's vote should qualify the party.  However, the state counts only the governor's race, not other statewide races, which is unfair; and if the party loses its status this time, that unfairness will be manifest to all (or at least to all besides Cotton supporters).  

The Libertarians are often subject to unfair and arbitrary laws like this; and their success in fighting them, by both lobbying state legislatures and initiating court challenges, has given them a solid record of achievement over the past five decades. This year's election may give them a golden opportunity of adding to that record. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

WHO to governments: stop relying on lockdowns

WHO doctor says lockdowns should not be main coronavirus defence  | Australian Broadcasting Co. - Michael Doyle:

"Recent commentary from the World Health Organization's (WHO) special envoy on COVID-19 has sparked questions about the legitimacy of lockdowns to stop the spread of coronavirus.... Dr [David] Nabarro made the statements in an interview with The Spectator. 

"'The only time we believe a lockdown in justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources; protect your health workers who are exhausted,' Dr Nabarro said. 'But by and large, we'd rather not do it.' Dr Nabarro told The Spectator the economic impact on small countries that rely on tourism and increased poverty levels are two major effects of shutting communities down. 'We really do appeal to all world leaders, stop using lockdown as your primary method of control," he said. 'Lockdowns have just one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer'....

"[T]he message is consistent with a piece written by Dr Nabarro days earlier. Titled, "Reflections about the Middle Path," he advocates for governments around the world to find a balance between restrictions and normal life. 'Too many restrictions damage people's livelihoods and provoke resentment. 'Virus run wild' will lead to lots of deaths as well as debilitating long-COVID among younger people," he wrote.... 'Lockdowns just freeze the virus … they do not lead to elimination'.... 

"During a media briefing on April 14, the Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, spoke directly to the issue of lockdowns. He said while some countries may have been considering lockdowns, contact tracing was an essential measure all governments needed to have in place. 'We know that early case finding, testing, isolating, caring for every case and tracing every contact is essential for stopping transmission,' he said. As I have said many times, physically distancing restrictions are only part of the equation, and there are many other basic public health measures that need to be put in place'....

"The Director General also spoke about the impracticality of lockdowns in countries with weaker economies, similar to the statements made by Dr Nabarro to The Spectator.

"'In countries with large poor populations, the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions used in some high-income countries may not be practical. Many poor people, migrants and refugees are already living in overcrowded conditions with few resources and little access to healthcare. How do you survive a lockdown when you depend on your daily labour to eat?'"

Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-12/world-health-organization-coronavirus-lockdown-advice/12753688

Sunday, October 11, 2020

How to build up one's own immunity to a virus

Could vitamin D protect you from COVID-19? | Healthing - Emma Jones: 

September 10, 2020 - "A growing body of research is beginning to show that getting enough vitamin D every day may be an important factor in protecting yourself from COVID-19. 

"A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the health data of 489 individuals who received a COVID test and also had vitamin D levels tested in the previous year. The researchers found that 19 per cent of vitamin-D deficient individuals tested positive for COVID, versus 12 per cent of patients who had sufficient levels.

"A different study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine also found a correlation between living in more northern latitudes (associated with less vitamin D absorption from the sun throughout the year) and an increased risk of death from COVID 19 at the beginning stages of the pandemic. It is important to note, however, that higher temperatures and UV radiation may negatively affect the virus’s survival, contributing to these results.

"Vitamin D deficiency has been known to play a role in respiratory infections and illnesses and is connected to pneumonia, tuberculosis and bronchiolitis, according to the World Health Organization. The U.S. Institute of Medicine’s report on Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin D and calcium recommends that adults get from 600-800 IU (15 – 20 micro grams) of vitamin D per day from their diet (the exact amount fluctuates based on age). Daily intake of vitamin D should not exceed 4,000 IU per day.....

"According to a study published in the Frontiers In Immunology journal, the nutrients most commonly associated with a strong immune system include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Known for its potent anti-inflammatory effect, omega-3 fatty acids are most frequently found in fish, seafood, and specific types of nuts and seeds such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.
  • Vitamin D. This 'sunshine vitamin' is tough to come by in the winter months but can also be found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and trout. It’s also found in lesser quantities in fortified milk, milk alternatives, and eggs.
  • Vitamin E. A potent antioxidant, Vitamin E is found most abundantly in the traditional sources of healthy fats like almonds, almond butter, avocados, and peanut-based products. Fish, vegetable oils, and leafy greens are secondary sources.
  • Zinc. Low zinc intake is commonly associated with compromised immune function, even though most Canadians tend to get enough. Omnivores will find their zinc needs easily met through the consumption of various types of meat and dairy while vegans and vegetarians will need to rely more heavily on lentils and other legumes. The single greatest source of zinc? Oysters.
  • Tea. While not technically a vitamin, mineral or food component, tea is the richest dietary source of a potent anti-inflammatory compound known as Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which may play an important role in enhancing our immune response."

Read more: https://www.healthing.ca/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus/vitamin-d-may-play-a-protective-role-in-covid-19

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Did the lockdown work in Wuhan?

The Wuhan lockdown may not have worked; so why are so many people convinced that it did?

by George J. Dance

When the Chinese communist government locked down the city of Wuhan on January 23, effectively putting most of the population under house arrest, it was rightly called "a radical experiment in authoritarian politics."(1) Public health experts, as The Guardian later noted, were "sceptical": "Beijing’s decision was a vast experiment, epidemiologists warned, that might not work despite its huge human and economic cost. Quarantine had never been tried on such an enormous scale in the modern world."(2

That scepticism persisted as late as March 12. Reporting that day on Italy's national lockdown, The Economist quoted just one health care expert – "Gabriel Leung, an epidemiologist from Hong Kong University who was part of a World Health Organisation team that examined China’s efforts to contain its epidemic" – who told the journal that "nobody knows yet what combination of controls works best against covid-19. 'Do you need to do everything that the Chinese have done to control it?' he says, or is it enough to copy only certain elements. 'That', says Mr Leung, 'is really the big question.'"(3)  

On March 12, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and google daily searches for "coronavirus" spiked to over 20 million. Many of those millions found, read, and shared a March 10 article on Medium by San Francisco business writer Tomas Pueyo, "Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now" (working title, "Coronavirus: Act Today or People Will Die"). "On the face of it," sociologist Warren Pearce noted, Pueyo's article "appeared an unpromising addition to attention-sapping digital platforms: described as a 27-minute read, it ran to over 6000 words and contained 23 charts. What’s more Pueyo made no claims to special expertise or relevant credentials."(4) However, to a world scrambling for answers, Pueyo offered a message of complete certainty. Pearce notes that "the article received a stunning 40 million views in the first nine days since publication." 

Pueyo's message was grim: The coronavirus was coming to get us. It would "spread at an exponential speed,"(5) doubling every few days until most of us were infected. All of us were in danger: "If you get it you'll die" (as he later declared to a television audience). The "health care system will be overwhelmed." Countries that did not eliminate the virus would witness "a fatality rate between ~3%-5%" – at least a million dead Canadians, 2 million dead Britons, 10 million dead Americans. 

However, Pueyo also had a message of hope. Our leaders could save us from all of this, but only if they did as Pueyo told them, when he told them to: ""As a politician, community leader or business leader," he told his online readers, "you have the power and the responsibility to prevent this." "The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today. That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now." "These measures require closing companies, shops, mass transit, schools, enforcing lockdowns…"  

Although Pueyo was calling for an almost inconceivable disruption of society, he confidently predicted that it would come to pass "in 2-4 weeks." But how, when scientists admittedly did not know what measures worked best, could he have such certainty? Like many others, he had followed the pandemic online, crunched the numbers, and reached his own conclusions. For him, the data from Wuhan proved unquestionably that Wuhan-style lockdowns worked; he presented that proof, dramatically, in what he called "one of the most important charts" in his article, Chart 7 or the "Wuhan graph": 


This chart, prepared by the Johns Hopkins Institute based on data from the Chinese Centers for Disease Control (and annotated in red by Pueyo), graphs the trajectory of the Wuhan pandemic from two different perspectives. The orange bars on the right are the diagnosed cases, sorted by date of diagnosis. (Pueyo calls those the "official cases".) The grey bars to their left are the same cases, but this time sorted by the date each patient first developed symptoms: the symptomatic cases (Pueyo calls those the "true cases"). "The Chinese CDC found these by asking patients during the diagnostic when their symptoms started." Pueyo explains the significance of the latter set:

Up until Jan 23rd, when Wuhan closes, you can look at the grey graph: it’s growing exponentially. True cases were exploding. As soon as Wuhan shuts down, cases slow down. On Jan 24th, when another 15 cities shut down, the number of true cases (again, grey) grinds to a halt. Two days later, the maximum number of true cases was reached, and it has gone down ever since. 

Indeed, that is exactly what the chart shows: the growth in new symptomatic cases began slowing down as soon as Wuhan was locked down, and by the next day had begun to decline (ultimately to reach zero by March 19). For Pueyo the moral was clear: "If you want to be safe, do it Wuhan-style." 

Of the 40 million readers of Pueyo's article over the next week, untold millions became true believers, sharing it and proselytizing for it online. "I’ve had an overwhelming amount of positive feedback," he told his alma mater in April. "I’ve lost count of the number of friends who have said, 'I received this from four different people.' I pushed it out through my networks and they received feedback from several different governments who acted the day they received the articles."(6) By March 19, the day China declared no new cases, the whole world (or at least the online portion of it, except a few hopeless dullards) had become convinced that lockdowns worked. 

The sheer amount of Pueyo's online converts and their proselytizing, plus that of their online converts in turn (not to mention a simultaneous social media campaign originating in China), quickly translated into solid majorities in almost every democratic country demanding that their governments lock them down for their own safety. Now governments that held back were the ones being accused of performing a dangerous experiment. By the end of March, over 100 countries, and billions of people, were under full or partial lockdown. In the United States, 42 states, with more than 90% of the population, were under stay-at-home order orders.  Self-fulfilling prophecy or not, Pueyo's prediction had come true: The world was doing it Wuhan-style.

Eventually the number of new COVID cases did stop growing and begin to fall, everywhere, which was seen by Pueyo's true believers as confirmation of their truth. In no cases, though, did a state that locked down experience the Wuhan-style outcome of an instant drop in new cases, nor their fall to zero in two months. Some researchers were finding no correlation between lockdown dates and the eventual fall in cases, leading to a renewed debate on lockdowns' effectiveness.  

For instance, the next chart, which Washington Post columnist Philip Bump presented in a May column as "obvious evidence" that "lockdowns saved lives,"(7) shows the time lag between seven states' lockdown orders and the first drop in new cases ranging from one week in Pennsylvania to six in New Jersey.   

Part of that time lag can be explained by the fact that these counts are of "official" or diagnosed cases, and the onset of symptoms would have happened earlier; as in Pueyo's Chart 7, where diagnosed cases (the orange bars) continued to increase for days after the lockdown. But Bump points out that the time from infection to becoming an official case would necessarily be even longer than the tune from becoming symptomatic:
 
Remember that the effects of a stay-at-home order on new cases and on deaths isn’t immediate. The virus can take two weeks before symptoms manifest.... We’ve highlighted the two-week window after the implementation of the stay-at-home order in each place and, because this is a seven-day average of new cases, the third week as well, since its average includes part of that two-week window.

Bump argues that "in New York alone, there’s clearly a correlation between the order and the decline in cases," based on the decline there happening almost precisely three weeks after the order.

The WHO estimates an "incubation period [of] from 1-14 days with median estimates of 5-6 days between infection and the onset of clinical symptoms" for COVID-19.(8) Bump seems to be giving only the maximum time in order to exaggerate its length. In addition, his use of a 7-day average (when a 3-day average would have worked just as well) seems designed only to add a third week so that New York would fit. Still, his point that there is a delay due to the incubation period is correct. Since it takes time for infections to turn into cases, it will take the same time for a fall in new infections to manifest as a fall in new cases.  

Given that, though, how can one account for Pueyo's Chart 7, which shows an immediate slowdown in symptomatic cases beginning the very first day of the lockdown? 

"If you go back to the Wuhan graph," Pueyo reminds us later in his paper, "you will remember that as soon as there was a lockdown, cases went down. That’s because people didn’t interact with each other, and the virus didn’t spread." However, given the incubation period, the symptomatic cases on January 24  were caused by "spreading" – infection – that had already occurred before January 22, mostly before January 17, and some as early as January 9. A fall in symptomatic cases on January 24, then, can only have been due to a corresponding fall in infections by January 22. Whatever might have made infections fall by January 22, it could not have been a lockdown that had yet to occur.  

I can see just two possible explanations. The first is that something else happened, before January 22, to slow the spread and reduce infections. That something else is unlikely to have been voluntary social distancing, given the Chinese government's suppression of information on the disease pre-lockdown; and in fact, the only study to examine the question concluded that "voluntary self-isolation driven by individuals' perceived risk of becoming infected kick[ed] in only towards the peak of the epidemic and ha[d] little or no impact on flattening the epidemic curve."(9) A better candidate would be the massive depopulation that occurred at the time. Wuhan's mayor estimates that 5 million residents had left the city by January 23.(10) The sudden disappearance of that many people – almost half the population of 11 million – is bound to have led to a marked decrease in social interaction and therefore in virus spread, though just how much of a decrease needs further study. 

The second possible explanation is that the data used to construct Pueyo's Chart 7 is bogus. That possibility cannot be simply dismissed: China's communist regime was accused of concealing information during the SARS coronavirus outbreak in 2003, and some researchers are convinced it is doing the same thing this time. At the same time, it seems reasonable to accept the official data barring any actual proof of falsification, since the alternative would mean having no data.  

Even accepted at face value, though, the data presented on the Wuhan graph shows only that the lockdown there was followed by an almost immediate drop in cases. It does not show, much less prove, that the lockdown caused that drop. Rather, given the biological facts, it shows that the lockdown could not have done so.

Sources (accessed October 9, 2020):
  1. James Hamblin, ''A Historic Quarantine'', The Atlantic, January 24, 2020. 
  2. Emma Graham-Harrison and Lily Kuo, "China's coronavirus lockdown strategy: brutal but effective," The Guardian, March 19, 2020. 
  3. "Should other countries copy Italy’s nationwide lockdown?", The Economist, International Edition, March 12, 2020. 
  4. Warren Pearce, "What does Covid-19 mean for expertise? The case of Tomas Pueyo," International Science Council. 
  5. Italicized quotations are from: Tomas Pueyo, "Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now," Medium, March 10, 2020. 
  6. "Tomás Pueyo, MBA ’10 on His Viral Post, 'Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now'," Stanford Graduate School of Business, April 1, 2020.
  7. Philip Bump, "Tucker Carlson claims there’s ‘no evidence’ stay-at-home orders saved lives. He’s wrong.", Washington Post, May 22, 2020. 
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Clinical Questions about COVID-19: Questions and Answers," Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), August 4, 2020. Web, Sep. 13, 2020. 
  9. Alexander Chudik, M. Hashem Pesaran and Alessandro Rebucci, "Voluntary and Mandatory Social Distancing: Evidence on COVID-19 Exposure Rates from Chinese Provinces and Selected Countries," Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, April 2020. 
  10. Erica Kinetz, "Where did they go? Millions fled Wuhan, China, before coronavirus lockdown," Associated Press, February 9, 2020.