The Real Science of Covid

This research was compiled by a financial researcher and fund manager who wishes to remain anonymous.

There are a few main reasons to be optimistic we should end lockdowns and get back to normal. 

  1. We know who this coronavirus affects. The median age of death in almost all countries is over 80 with multiple existing conditions. We are failing to protect old people and are locking up the young and imposing social distancing when they have no risk of death. We can protect the vulnerable more intelligently.
  2. Most people have immunity due to cross reactivity and cross immunization. The human immune system is not completely helpless against this virus. 
  3. Herd immunity levels are much lower than people think and the virus appears to follow a Gompertz curve, which correctly anticipates the virus fizzling out.
  4. In most countries, Covid deaths were 40-100% higher than a bad flu year.

The virus is bad but it is not the Spanish Flu and is most like the Hong Kong flu of 1968 and the Asian flu of 1957.  They were bad, but we never shut the entire world down for those. Flus are deadly, the world is dangerous, and we will all eventually die. But we won’t all die form Covid.   

Here is the complete collection of research and links categorized by subject. Examine the evidence for yourself.  

Lockdowns are Terrible Ideas and Not Standard Practice

Those in favor of lockdown present a false dichotomy. Either we have a hard lockdown or we let the virus rip and kill everyone. That is hardly the case.  Lockdowns and business closures are a sledgehammer that had no precedent in history and are not the way we have ever treated any virus or pandemic before.  The costs are out of all proportion to the benefits. Many other strategies would be far better. 

Here is a great case against lockdowns. How a Free Society Deals with Pandemics, According to Legendary Epidemiologist and Smallpox Eradicator Donald Henderson.

It concluded with this important paper.

There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the spread of influenza. A World Health Organization (WHO) Writing Group, after reviewing the literature and considering contemporary international experience, concluded that “forced isolation and quarantine are ineffective and impractical”. Despite this recommendation by experts, mandatory large-scale quarantine continues to be considered as an option by some authorities and government officials.

The interest in quarantine reflects the views and conditions prevalent more than 50 years ago, when much less was known about the epidemiology of infectious diseases and when there was far less international and domestic travel in a less densely populated world. It is difficult to identify circumstances in the past half-century when large-scale quarantine has been effectively used in the control of any disease. 

The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme (forced confinement of sick people with the well; complete restriction of movement of large populations; difficulty in getting critical supplies, medicines, and food to people inside the quarantine zone) that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.

No country had lockdowns in their playbook. 

  • For example, Canada’s pandemic guidelines concluded that restrictions on movement were “impractical if not impossible.” 
  • Also, according to the Wall Street Journal, “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its 2017 community mitigation guidelines for pandemic flu, didn’t recommend stay-at-home orders or closing nonessential businesses even for a flu as severe as the one a century ago.” Lockdowns were never part of the US response
  • Lockdowns were never part of the WHO standard responses for pandemics. You can read here all their policies and how they rated the evidence for various measures.
  • Most Asian countries like Taiwan, Japan and South Korea didn’t have lockdowns and had far better experiences than the European countries that did. Those who are sick are not sent home to infect family members and are separated, which is the exact opposite of European lockdowns.

Here is a very good read on the arguments against lockdowns. In most European countries, cases were already falling before the lockdowns as people were voluntarily taking preventive measures: social distancing, hand washing, wearing masks. 

Many epidemiologists have been completely opposed to government plans and have in fact been right.  

Only pro-lockdown scientists are amplified. Here is a good read on “the science“.

Here is Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, who opposed lockdowns are gave a great interview on UnHerd. Likewise, Martin Kuldorff, a Harvard epidemiologist who has been ignored. He’s argued in favor an age and risk-based approach.

But what do these people know about science? They’re only epidemiologists at Oxford and Harvard. 

Lockdowns Were Not Needed or Effective

Lockdowns had almost no effect and the main determinants of death across countries was the percentage of people who were over 80, particularly men, and the % of people who are obese.

Here is a study in The Lancet showing lockdowns had no effect. The primary factors explaining deaths are obesity and age structure.

Here is a detailed study showing the virus behaved the same everywhere regardless of policy

Same is true on a county by county basis in the US, as you can read from this study. Whether a county had a lockdown has no effect on COVID-19 deaths; a non-effect that persists over time.

One of the biggest determinant of deaths from Covid related to the share of the population that was over 80, not to lockdowns. “Population age structures alone may account for four-fold variation in average regional infection-fatality ratios across Europe.”

and a useful visualization showing the high correlation between men over 80 as a percentage of the population vs death rates.

The other explainers for death rates are percentage of the population with hypertension:

and percentage of population with obesity/diabetes:

And a global look at obesity and death rates:

Deaths were falling before the lockdowns were imposed, as this study shows:

This is confirmed by many other papers, here and here. Here is a good article discussing these studies.

The same is true in other European countries. The decline in infections started before Germany even instituted lockdowns.

Bloomberg also found little correlation between severity of measures and death rates.  

The Collateral Damage From Lockdowns is Vast and Will Kill Millions

Lockdowns are the moral equivalent of carpet bombing, ineffective with vast collateral damage. 

Disruptions to food due to lockdowns may kill more from hunger than Covid.

Covid is not the only illness in the world and millions will die from interrupted care, for example from tuberculosis and HIV, as the New York Times reports.

“COVID-19 risks derailing all our efforts and taking us back to where we were 20 years ago,” said Dr. Pedro L. Alonso, the director of the World Health Organization’s global malaria program.

It’s not just that the coronavirus has diverted scientific attention from TB, H.I.V. and malaria. The lockdowns, particularly across parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, have raised insurmountable barriers to patients who must travel to obtain diagnoses or drugs, according to interviews with more than two dozen public health officials, doctors and patients worldwide.

Unicef warns on the consequences of poverty and malnutrition for kids could harm millions

According to a stark report published in Lancet Global Health journal on Wednesday, almost 1.2 million children could die in the next six months due to the disruption to health services and food supplies caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The first famines of the coronavirus era are at the world’s doorstep, the UN warns.

COVID-19 could reverse decades of progress toward eliminating preventable child deaths, the WHO warns.

The Gates Foundation estimates that the response to Covid has set back vaccination 25 years.

Furthermore, there is good reason to believe that lockdowns increased deaths of the vulnerable and elderly. 

This is true in much of the world. Here is a study looking at how lockdowns drove excess deaths for non-Covid illnesses.

Interrupting medical care kills people.  More people died in Denver of unattended heart attacks during lockdown than from Covid.

New cancer diagnoses collapsed in the United States as the coronavirus pandemic first hit. Almost all diagnoses collapsed in the UK as well. 

And same was true for heart attacks and strokes in the NHS in the UK.

Analysis of NHS data reveals the deadly consequences of the government’s messaging to “stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS”. During the lockdown, there was a near 50 per cent decline in admissions for heart attacks. The risks of COVID-19 outweighed the risk of seeking NHS care despite worsening symptoms for many people: 40 per cent more people died from lower-risk treatable heart attacks than usual. For strokes, the situation is further exacerbated by living alone and not having visitors as 98% of emergency calls for strokes are made by someone else.

The economic damage is also horrific.

The World Bank estimates over 71 million will be plunged into extreme poverty due to lockdowns/quarantines

The United Nations has warned that response to Covid is reversing decades of gains in poverty, healthcare and disease

More Than Half of US Business Closures Permanent, Yelp Says. Half of black businesses in the US have been wiped out

The Virus is Not at all Deadly For Those Under 55

One paper looking at Infection fatality rates by age summarized it well. 

“The estimated IFR is close to zero for younger adults but rises exponentially with age, reaching about 0.3% for ages 50-59, 1.3% for ages 60-69, 4% for ages 70-79, 10% for ages 80-89.” 

In fact, the distribution of risk matches “normal” risk of death by age.

The Infection Fatality Rate is far lower than initially estimated.  

Here is the link to all the studies on infection fatality rates for Covid.  The evidence is overwhelming.

The virus is not at all deadly to younger people.  Here are death breakdowns by age group in the US and Europe

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