We are going to lose 40% of our national GDP this quarter, incur trillions in debt, lose our freedoms and privacy, and shed tens of millions of jobs – including of health care workers – due to the shutdown and panic porn peddled by the political class. But for what? For a virus that had already been spreading for months and has a case fatality rate well below 1%. We will be left with nothing from the lockdowns other than a virus that will be kept alive for longer and kill more people.
We no longer need to guess how pervasive the virus has been and therefore how low the fatality rate is. There are numerous serology tests being done throughout the country and the world that demonstrate the entire premise for the lockdown is counterproductive.
Miami-Dade County has now completed two rounds of random sampling for antibodies, and both surveys found a 0.18% fatality rate. The study sampled 32 municipal statistical areas in this county of 2.75 million people and found that between 4.4% and 7.9% of the population contained the antibodies. Extrapolating the survey results to the entire county’s population would mean that between 123,000 and 221,000 residents have already gotten the virus and that the fatality rate is therefore between 0.13% and 0.23%, for a median of 0.18%.
While many Florida counties are overwhelmingly populated by elderly residents, Miami-Dade is just a little above the national median age of the country, so it’s a good sample of the macro fatality rate when averaging out all age groups nationwide.
Most notably, the serology test found that “more than half had NO symptoms in the seven to fourteen days prior to screening.” That is a result similar to that of other countries, such as Iceland.
In other words, this thing was quietly spreading long before the lockdown, rendering the entire purpose of the lockdown moot.
Many other antibody studies have concluded there is a similarly low fatality rate. Antibody sampling in Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties netted similar results – between 0.12% and 0.20%. The fatality rate in Chelsea, Massachusetts, based on an extrapolation of a sampling there, would be around 0.16 percent. That is identical to the results of a recent antibody test in Denmark, which demonstrates a degree of consistency throughout the world. One serology test in Germany showed a slightly higher but still low fatality rate of 0.37%. And Germany has a higher percentage of seniors relative to its general population than the United States.
However, the more this virus runs its course and the more antibody testing takes place, it’s likely that the denominator of total cases will be much larger, further driving down the fatality rate. According to Reuters, a recent tally of 3,277 inmates in state prison systems in Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia who had tested positive for the virus showed that 96 percent of them were asymptomatic. This is likely a relatively young population of predominantly males in their 20s and 30s.
If these surveys and tests showing wide asymptomatic spreading are representative of other places in the country and across the globe, it means that likely as many people have had SARS-CoV-2 as have the flu in a typical year. This has two important public policy implications: 1) The fatality rate is a fraction of what was suggested by the models that were used to justify the shutdown; and 2) This disease has spread so far and wide that implementing lockdowns and mass surveillance/contact tracing at this stage are like spitting into a sea.
Release the healthy; better protect the elderly and vulnerable
What is the punch line? If you are not elderly or chronically ill, you are less likely to die from coronavirus than most other things. Not only is the fatality rate of the virus overall only slightly higher than that of the flu, but it’s mainly targeting vulnerable populations. Over half the SARS-CoV-2 deaths in Massachusetts and Maine were in long-term care facilities, and the median age of death was 82. Nearly three-quarters of those in Minnesota were in long-term care facilities. That number is 75% in Rhode Island, 61% in Pennsylvania, and 43% in Connecticut.
New York and New Jersey appear to be the only states where the percentage is lower, but even in those hot spots, it was mainly those with chronic illnesses who died. A new paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research found that 94% of fatalities in the New York City area had at least one chronic illness and 88% percent had at least two. The comprehensive study analyzed data from about 5,700 coronavirus patients admitted to New York City and metro-area hospitals between March 1 and April 4, of whom 553 passed away.
Now, certainly there are still a lot of people in the country with chronic illness who are at risk. They need to be protected. But the way to protect them is by younger and healthier people going out to burn out the virus. “Quarantining” younger and healthier people who are least at risk of serious illness or death will ensure the virus continues to make comebacks after the summer and kills even more people. Tragically, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, while pushing lockdowns on everyone, actually compromised local nursing homes by forcing them to accept coronavirus patients straight from the hospital.
Moreover, this lockdown is weakening the immune systems of even healthy people by keeping them so isolated. As Dr. Dan Erickson warned in his lecture that has now gone viral, there will actually be more illnesses over time as people go out because their immune systems have been artificially weakened.
“When we all come out of shelter-in-place with a lower immune system and start trading viruses and bacteria, what do you think is going to happen? Disease is going to spike,” warned Erickson, whose urgent care clinics tested over half of the positive cases in Kern County, California. “And then you’ve got disease spike among a hospital system with furloughed doctors and nurses. This is not the combination you want to set up for a healthy society.”
Obviously, if this virus had a high death rate among the broad population, then you wouldn’t want to build up your immune system while increasing the chance of catching the virus. But we now see in most places the death rate is likely well below 1% among younger people. We take greater risks with our health every day.
The bottom line is that early on, when we knew little about the virus and were all spooked by what seemed to be going on in Italy, some degree of a shutdown made sense. But now that the data is in, there is no justification for a lockdown – other than for those who want to secure a long-standing progressive agenda that predated this virus.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.