We really must resist harmful and counterproductive lockdowns:
While much of the rest of the world is opening up, Australia is heading in the opposite direction, with each of the fiefdoms (states and territories) trying to outdo each other in the race to see everything locked down because of the Rona. Even NSW, which had been much better at proportionality and targeted responses, is now getting into the act sadly.
Many have said for over a year now that all these lockdown policies are not actually helping matters, and seem to in fact be counterproductive – they actually make matters worse. Various studies along the way have been showing these truths. One very new study has just been released on this. It is not only the latest but, it seems, the most thorough of the studies so far.
Produced by scientists from the Rand Corporation and the University of Southern California, it is titled: “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Policy Responses on Excess Mortality”. The Abstract of the 37-page report reads as follows:
As a way of slowing COVID-19 transmission, many countries and U.S. states implemented shelter-in-place (SIP) policies. However, the effects of SIP policies on public health are a priori ambiguous as they might have unintended adverse effects on health. The effect of SIP policies on COVID-19 transmission and physical mobility is mixed. To understand the net effects of SIP policies, we measure the change in excess deaths following the implementation of SIP policies in 43 countries and all U.S. states. We use an event study framework to quantify changes in the number of excess deaths after the implementation of a SIP policy. We find that following the implementation of SIP policies, excess mortality increases. The increase in excess mortality is statistically significant in the immediate weeks following SIP implementation for the international comparison only and occurs despite the fact that there was a decline in the number of excess deaths prior to the implementation of the policy. At the U.S. state-level, excess mortality increases in the immediate weeks following SIP introduction and then trends below zero following 20 weeks of SIP implementation. We failed to find that countries or U.S. states that implemented SIP policies earlier, and in which SIP policies had longer to operate, had lower excess deaths than countries/U.S. states that were slower to implement SIP policies. We also failed to observe differences in excess death trends before and after the implementation of SIP policies based on pre-SIP COVID-19 death rates. www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w28930/w28930.pdf
Some media outlets such as the Australian have covered the story. The subtitle of Adam Creighton’s piece is this: “The evidence supporting lockdowns is shockingly weak, resting on little more than anecdote, faith and tendentious modelling.” He says this:
“Imagine if lockdowns caused more harm than good. That would be a shocking thought for our public health grandees who, with every fresh handful of Covid-19 cases, have been locking down the nation’s largest cities during the past 15 months. But it’s more than a theoretical possibility for Sydneysiders to chew over during their second lockdown.”
He looks at the details of the study and then concludes:
The prospect of more lockdowns will hover over personal and business decisions for years. Witness calls for harder lockdowns sooner and creation of a pandemic early warning system. Let’s hope there are no false alarms. “The whole lockdown idea started with mathematical models, which assumed without lockdowns people would go about their lives unchanged, but of course they don’t,” says [report co-author] Sood. “And second, these models looked only at the short run, so they tended to show lockdowns preventing cases, rather than delaying them, and at significant collateral cost.”
He also might have added: and they put zero value on human interaction and choice, assuming people can be directed like drones. “We do not estimate the effect of ‘ideal’ SIP policies or of improved compliance with SIP policies, but rather evaluate the ‘real world’ impact of SIP policies that were implemented,” the authors stress in their NBER paper.
It doesn’t matter if, like communism, lockdowns work in theory if they don’t work in practice. Blaming the public for being complacent when cases crop up illustrates the failure of the models, not people. Interestingly, in only three nations did lockdowns appear to reduce excess mortality, according to the NBER study: Australia, Malta and New Zealand. Either each nation shared uniquely brilliant health bureaucrats, alongside hyper-compliant populations or they had the good fortune to be islands. You pick. www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/what-if-lockdowns-dont-save-lives/news-story/5a7b69881d3323d5edd51698270e2422
Somewhat surprisingly, leftist newspapers like the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald have also reported on this. Gigi Foster penned this piece: “Stop this human sacrifice: the case against lockdowns”. She begins this way:
Sydney has now plunged into the darkness that Victoria has known on and off for months. The word “lockdown” seems to have gone out of favour, perhaps a signal that counter-narratives are gaining traction, but the policies enacted by NSW’s political leadership quack and walk just like the shelter-in-place orders colloquially termed “lockdowns” that have been issued around the world for over a year.
These policies have enormous human costs, and NSW has had more than a year to realise that fact and factor it into decision-making. Last August, I produced a draft cost-benefit analysis for the Victorian Parliament as a demonstration of how such an exercise should be conducted. Costs of locking down must be weighed against the projected benefits, with nothing ever known for certain but best guesses made in the wide range of areas directly affected by lockdown policies.
These costs include the loss of happiness due to loneliness from social isolation, the crowded-out healthcare for problems other than COVID, the long-term costs to our children and university students of disrupting their education, and the economic losses that have shuttered businesses, damaged whole sectors, increased inequality, and will depress our spending on everything from roads to hospitals for years to come. Deaths from causes other than COVID may well result.
She too discusses the new study and then concludes:
Australia has had a good result in terms of COVID deaths, and our measured GDP is back to pre-pandemic levels. However, these results are not due to blanket lockdown policies. Instead, JobKeeper and a stack of lucky cards have produced these results about which our politicians are now crowing. Two of Australia’s most potent aces have been our geography and our demography.
What is going on here is not the fight of our lives against a fearsome pestilence. It is politicians willingly sacrificing their people’s welfare, hoping the people see their actions as a sufficient offering. It’s the modern analogue of killing virgins in the hope of getting a good harvest.
We need to stop this madness. Right now, we need to focus our attention and protection on the people in our population who are actually vulnerable to serious effects of this virus. We need to buy medicines and establish treatment protocols that work to reduce the severity of COVID symptoms, while offering vaccinations to anyone in vulnerable groups who wants them – with no compulsion, and no tethering of population vaccination rates to border openings.
The good news is that much of the world seems to be waking up to the fact that shelter-in-place directives are tantamount to a ritualistic human sacrifice. They’re losing their religion, slowly but surely. We can’t lose ours soon enough. www.smh.com.au/national/stop-this-human-sacrifice-the-case-against-lockdowns-20210627-p584o7.html
A better approach
Enough of these failed policies that cause more harm than good. We need to take more rational and enlightened approaches, such as that taken by Singapore. They have decided to stop the foolish obsession with numbers and cases, and the vain attempt to eradicate the Rona. They are now taking a more sensible approach: learn to live with it. One report says this:
A country that has been one of the world’s most successful at combating Covid-19 has announced it will soon fundamentally change how it manages the pandemic. The city state of Singapore has stated covid will be treated like other endemic diseases such as flu.
There will be no goals of zero transmission. Quarantine will be dumped for travellers and close contact of cases will not have to isolate. It also plans to no longer announce daily case numbers. But you may need to take tests to head to the shops or go to work. Senior Singaporean ministers have said it is the “new normal” of “living with covid”.
“The bad news is that Covid-19 may never go away. The good news is that it is possible to live normally with it in our midst,” wrote Singapore’s trade Minister Gan Kim Yong, finance minister Lawrence Wong and health minister Ong Ye Kung said in an editorial in the Straits Times this week. “It means that the virus will continue to mutate, and thereby survive in our community.” www.news.com.au/world/asia/singapores-surprising-new-plan-to-live-with-covid-revealed/news-story/52fa2c29252daeb4a3c634e1658f6901
The Warrenton Declaration
Another sensible approach to this whole affair, including how to think about mandatory medical treatments, be they masks or vaccines, has been covered in a brand-new document: “The Warrenton Declaration on Medical Mandates, Biblical Ethics, & Authority”. It is written by a number of American and overseas pastors and Christian leaders.
The 36 points found in the Declaration offer both sensible as well as biblical commentary on how we might proceed. It emphasises the need for all people to make properly informed choices when it comes to dealing with the virus. As an indication of the balance and thoughtfulness of the document, let me offer here the last four points it contains:
XXXIII. WE DENY that all instances of requiring masks for church meetings are necessarily sinful or divisive in such cases where the meeting is held at a venue where the property managers are not the local church and such property managers require mask wearing for entrance. This is a property issue. In such cases, those who choose not to fellowship because of the mask mandate at the meeting venue should not be said to be in violation of any biblical commands regarding regularly meeting with the saints. To the extent possible, church officers should seek to secure a meeting venue where the local congregation will not be forced to exclude non-masking individuals due to the whims of the building owner.
XXXIV. WE AFFIRM that maintaining personal health and personal health decisions, including decisions about which medical interventions to adopt or forego, are the role and jurisdiction of each individual and their family.
XXXV. WE DENY that parents are guilty of neglect or abuse if they choose to forego a given medical intervention such as a medical procedure or vaccine due to the fact that they are not convinced of the short and long term risk profile or effectiveness of the action. This remains true regardless of what recommendations they have or haven’t received from a doctor.
XXXVI. WE AFFIRM that it is anti-scriptural for a parent to categorically deny all medical interventions to their children at all times with the rationale that all medical intervention is, as a category, evidence of a lack of faith in God (1st Tim 5:23).
You can see the entire Declaration (as well as sign it) here: warrentondeclaration.com/