Monday, March 15, 2021

"Lockdowns were not worth it"? Only A Quack Or Fool Would Say So

For a year now Americans have endured one of the most traumatic periods in 100 +  years, with numbers  beyond prosaic comprehension.  530,000 of our fellow citizens dead, over 30 million infected,  and over twenty million jobs lost.  Yet amidst this wreckage denial persists -   as well as disinformation.

As one peruses the claptrap and propaganda churned out the past year- since CoVID emerged in the U.S. -- much of it appears to have come from unqualified hacks, or political puppets. Such as Scott Atlas, a radiologist who waxed on about reaching herd immunity by letting enough 'Muricans die.  And then there was anti-lockdown quack  Joseph  Ladapo arguing  civil liberties were at risk.   Oh,  and David Katz who tried to blow smoke up Bill Maher's ass last April in a Real Time appearance. Sadly, he mostly succeeded as noted in a Daily Beast piece at the time, e.g.

which noted:   

On Friday night, instead of opting for a despicably racist rant against China over the novel coronavirus or blaming the media, Bill Maher welcomed Dr. David Katz, a doctor and ex-instructor at the Yale School of Medicine, onto his show Real Time.

Dr. Katz, who consistently flaunts his Yale ties despite the fact that they were severed in 2016, has become something of a right-wing darling after penning a controversial New York Times op-ed on March 20 titled “Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease?” In it, Katz argues against the self-isolation policies put in place by most of the U.S., instead saying the country should isolate the elderly and infirm, which would thus “allow most of society to return to life as usual and perhaps prevent vast segments of the economy from collapsing

Now in the latest iteration of this propaganda stream we behold the bunkum from a "doctoral candidate in philosophy" named Phillippe Lemoine sounding off in a WSJ op-ed  ('The Lockdowns weren't worth it', WSJ,  March 12 p A15)  that the "case for lockdowns has grown much weaker"although "nobody denies that overwhelmed hospitals are bad" -  adding "but so is depriving people of a normal life".

 To which I'd retort, 'How about ANY life? That ok with you, dummy?'  The brutal fact we now know (see first link at the bottom) is that had Western nations locked down sooner they'd have seen far lower infection and death rates, more like a slew of the Asian-Pacific nations.  Indeed, they'd have by now attained the liberty that they keep yappng about like a fevered fetish. In this regard, the recent WSJ editorial claim (Mar. 12, p. A14) that "lockdowns made the pandemic suffering far worse than necessary"  is bogus. Indeed,  much earlier lockdown would have gotten us to the real liberty marker much sooner, joining those successful Pacific Rim nations.

Lemoine,  however, like other pop off quacks and dissemblers keeps up the canard that no statistical evidence thus far shows that the lockdowns worked.   This in contradiction to the NY Times piece - from March last year- noting:

In interviews with a dozen of the world’s leading experts on fighting epidemics, there was wide agreement on the steps that must be taken immediately. Those experts included international public health officials who have fought AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, flu and Ebola; scientists and epidemiologists; and former health officials who led major American global health programs in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

At the top of that series of steps, lockdowns and social distancing. Indeed, an Imperial College study from Neil Ferguson and his group showed up to  2.2 million deaths could have resulted had the U.S. ignored any and all lockdowns.  This is because you have a previously unknown virus with high  R0,  (2.4 - 2.5 est.-  compared to 1.8 for 1918 Spanish Flu)  that spreads via asymptomatic carriers.  Thus, failure to lock down gives the virus "legs" it normally wouldn't have in spreading a deadly infection far and wide.  

How deadly? How devastating?  We now know thanks to the epidemiology that the Covid virus binds to an enzyme in the body that is found throughout the body: heart, respiratory system, kidneys, gastrointestinal system and blood vessels. Thus Covid - unlike seasonal flu - is totally a multisystem disease which can cause multisystem failure.   Even victims' brains can be affected, leading to dizziness, confusion, brain fog, seizure, strokes and delirium.  

 This is exactly why all the cynical efforts to lowball Covid death rates (e.g. thanks to WSJ resident disinformationist Holman Jenkins in his yen to use "average years of life left" - so elder deaths count for less than younger)  are mere McGuffins. They have no value other than to distract like Lemoine's pathetic op-ed.   The point being the ancillary destruction wrought from the virus vastly outweighs what can be integrated into any statistical analysis. (Including the plight of the Covid "long haulers"- who have symptoms for weeks or months and which therefore impact their earning ability.  To the extent a "massive swath of the workforce will be applying for permanent disability", cf. The New Republic, March, p. 32, 'The Forever Disease') 

 Lemoine himself is cognizant of the Imperial College study and the import of non-pharmaceutical interventions, but misleads by scribbling:  

"We have since learned the virus never spread exponentially for very long, even without stringent restrictions."

Adding:  "The epidemic always recedes well before herd immunity has been reached."   

Failing to grasp that the temporal inflection for the virus activity recession point isn't  "before" reaching "herd immunity" - which technically isn't attained until the whole population of the globe reaches 70 % immunity.  Even in the U.S. alone herd immunity may be a long way off given 47% of Republicans-  in an ABC poll-  don't plan to get vaccinated.)

 It is instead containment before Hospital ICUs and ERs are overrun.  Lemoine foolishly believes this is already taken into account because:  "People get scared and and change their behavior as hospitalizations and deaths increase, this in turn reduces transmission."

Funny, but we didn't see that after the ICUs were flooded after Thanksgiving get- togethers, and indeed people didn't "change behavior" but went out for further flings for Xmas and New Year's.   This led to even more ICU pressures and embattled nurses.   Nor do we behold - most critically - people changing behaviors as the Covid variants rage including two mutants that may be even more deadly and infectious than the original.  Instead, Texas' idiot governor Greg Abbott has opened that state up, and low IQ college students are inundating Florida beaches for Spring break.  

Lemoine claims in his own philosophy -based study (from 'Center for Partisanship & Ideology')  he looked "at more than 100 regions and countries"  and "none showed exponential growth continuing until herd immunity was reached."  What he left out saying is that all continued until hospital ICUs were near full capacity - and showed exponential growth to that point.  For me, I am more inclined to accept it was the health workers' yeoman efforts - sometimes at great personal cost to themselves- that prevented full overwhelming of the ICUs.  

This despite hundreds and thousands of deathly ill Covid patients being brought in and even spitting and coughing in the nurses' faces - as they denied the existence of the virus and spouted conspiracy ideations as to its origin.  (See e.g. The Sunday Denver Post: 'Nurses Fight Conspiracy Theories, Virus', p. 4A)   

Lemoine instead insists:

"People eventually revert to more relaxed behavior"? Yeah, sure, after hard- pressed  ICU nursing staff have saved their bloody asses over and over!   See e.g. 

With a Doctor in a Brooklyn E.R.: ‘We’re in Disaster Mode’

It is clear by the end of Lemoine's piece that he'd have preferred the 2 million odd-dead originally cited from the Imperial College projections, and the economy running at least at near capacity, than the 530,000 odd deaths tallied so far with intermittent lockdowns.  He has the outsize nerve to even compare overrun ERs to the comparatively prosaic tribulations of the lockdowns, e.g.  

"Nobody denies overwhelmed hospitals are bad but so is depriving people of a normal life."

Failing to grasp the whole point is that the virus was responsible for that deprivation, and it was either the deprivation or death - much more of it. At least with deprivation (in lockdowns) people have the chance to re-enter the world as living beings- as opposed to corpses in a cemetery or ashes. They are doing this now, though as Dr. Anthony Fauci observes, likely prematurely.  Hence Fauci's apt warning about "spiking the ball on the five yard line"-  instead of the end zone.

 Does Lemoine appreciate any of this?   Evidently not as he goes on to write in the overdramatic style of his predecessors: "The coronavirus lockdowns constitute the most extensive attacks on individual freedom in the west since World War II."

Except that  75 years ago Americans WILLINGLY   self-sacrificed - accepting  limited gasoline, food rationing and other curfew limits during World War II.    They had not become the overgrown, entitled brats we behold today whining if their cell phones even get out of tower range for two minutes.

But then  our people were tougher, more resilient and not rendered so soft (physically, mentally and emotionally) by too many conveniences and a social media environment that weakened brains.  They - like my parents - put on their big boy pants and toughed it out for YEARS, not just months.   Moreover, the sacrifice was uniform and universal across the nation, not just practiced in certain regions, states.  

Lemoine is also crass in his ending dare for any taker to prove his arguments wrong by "showing lockdown policies were cost effective."   

Of course, in strict economic terms they weren't and we know that given the millions still unemployed and the debt holes many states and local governments are in. But Lemoine makes this dare in bad faith, because he must also know costs are figured in more than dollars and cents. They are also reckoned by the lives lost, the family connections negated. 

Also in the the hundreds of thousands more lives saved by the very lockdowns he berates for "attacking individual freedom".   Using the Imperial College study as a guide, and plausibly 1.5 million lives saved by having the lockdowns-then  factoring those cost savings of lives I'd say the lockdowns win the cost benefit test, no contest.

All of the preceding  underscores the need for real citizens to pay less attention to the uninformed balderdash of those like Phillipe Lemoine and more to  the argument of Jeffrey Lewis of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists) that the COVID-19 pandemic  is akin to a slow moving nuclear war or disaster, e.g.

Recognition of this by Scripps infectious disease researcher Kristian Anderson, led her to acknowledge (WSJ, March 26, 2020,  p. A8):

"Life is not going to be back to what we consider normal for years to come. We need to figure out how we are going to function as a society for the next three years."

With the Covid variants on the rise people need to grasp that lockdowns will continue if too many of our fellows revert to standard Trumpian stupidity about the virus, including the naive belief that "the worst is over"  and it's now time to open it all up, yelling 'Free at last, god damned we're free at last!"   But we aren't - at least not until global herd immunity is reached, probably not until 2023-24.   In the meantime, restless and impatient 'Muricans ought to be grateful they at least don't have to endure lockdowns and curfews as severe as Barbados has imposed, e.g.

See Also:

How the Europe and the United States Lost COVID-19 (


 The gold-standard responses were those in East Asia and Oceania, by countries like South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia — countries that saw clearly the gravest infection threat the world had encountered in a century and endeavored to simply eradicate it within their borders. Mostly, they succeeded. When it mattered most, no nation in what was once grandly called “the West” even really bothered to try.


by Heather Cox Richardson | March 14, 2021 - 6:33am | permalink


Unknown said...

In July 1969, the US Army requested the US Congressional Appropriations Committee, to approve $10 million budget to develop a synthetic biological agent targeted at the human immune system. Receiving approval, the programme anticipated a 5-10 year lead time. By 1990, a quietly declassified National Security Memorandum (MSN 200), authored by Henry Kissinger, outlined the US administrations concern over Third World population. The memorandum stated “Reduction of the population in these States (i.e. the Third World) is a matter of vital US national security.”
This has led some observers to conclude that AIDS may have been a covert biological warfare programme.

Copernicus said...

Hardly. Read Laurie Garrett's superb book, 'The Coming Plague' which features a 50+ page chapter on HIV-AIDS. The evidence is that, like Covid, it crossed the species barrier from animal to human, in this case from African chimpanzees to humans. (In the case of Covid, it originated in bats and crossed the species carrier to humans probably via an intermediary host like the Pangolin.) Btw, anything Kissinger says or produces I'd take with a grain of salt especially after he denied the CIA- U.S. involvement in the bombing of the Cubana Airlines plane off the coast of Barbados in Oct. 1976.

See e,g.