Before we cause irreparable harm to our lives, liberty, and economy, shouldn’t we first study the nature of the virus, how many people really have it, when it started, and what really works in containing it? These are the questions some of us have already been asking, but our voices were silenced because of the Imperial College of London’s study that said this would kill 2.2 million people in the U.S. and 500,000 in the U.K. Now, the author of that study himself has essentially recanted his projection, whether he admits it or not.
Yesterday, Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London told the U.K.’s parliamentary select committee on science and technology that he is now “reasonably confident” there will not be an ICU shortage in London and that the fatalities will not exceed 20,000 in the U.K. He predicts that two-thirds of those would have died by the end of the year due to other conditions anyway. And rather than this lasting 18 months, as he projected in his first paper, which widely drove policies in the U.K. and U.S., Ferguson now predicts the virus will peak in “two or three weeks.”
What has changed? As we’ve noted, Ferguson now believes that many more people have already gotten the virus over the past few months, meaning it is much less deadly than previously thought.
In order to save face, Ferguson told members of Parliament that part of his calculous is that the lockdown measures are helping. But the problem is, as former NYT reporter Alex Berenson observed, those measures were not implemented until two days ago. The backbone of Ferguson’s new projection is constructed on a fact that has been built into the equation for months.
Yet the political elites in Western countries like lockdowns because they enjoy acculturating people to draconian laws that violate natural rights and also like the economic devastation, which engenders more spending, debt, dependency, regulation, and government control.
Given this revelation, we need to rethink the science behind what our country is doing. Why is Congress bankrupting our future with massive debt and market distortions and encouraging unforgivable encroachments on liberty – all without first asking these questions?
The reality is, as Stephen McIntyre pointed out, numerous deaths chalked up to pneumonia over the past few months were really the result of the virus.
I finally located US total and pneumonia deaths on weekly basis. Data is from https://t.co/xcw0F52WDt
csv: https://t.co/AvQ6mjYuQl and up to week 10 (w/e Mar 6). Latest values in CDC sheet implausibly low. Weekly deaths typically exceed 50,000. pic.twitter.com/6ikozTtFfz
— Stephen McIntyre (@ClimateAudit) March 26, 2020
Based on the CDC’s weekly mortality numbers for pneumonia and flu, you can see that we experienced well over 3,000 deaths per week until the first week in March, when the number of deaths dropped precipitously. What that clearly indicates is that when we started testing for coronavirus that week, we discovered that many of those cases were indeed not pneumonia.
As the New York Times reported, one New Yorker was treated like a pneumonia patient for days until we started testing for coronavirus and he was found to have it. In fact, as late as the end of December, the Wuhan outbreak was still being referred to as a pneumonia outbreak. The Asia Times writes about reports in Northern Italy of a “strange pneumonia” as early as November and December, which makes sense given the number of Chinese workers in the Lombardi region and given that we now know coronavirus began as early as November in Wuhan.
The bad news is that it means thousands likely died as a result of the virus, but the good news is that countless millions likely had it already. It not only means that the mortality rate is lower, but that also, as White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Birx said on Tuesday, much of the population is likely immune, because it seems as of now that once you get the virus, you will not contract it again.
So why are we so eager to accept terribly draconian decisions that will destroy our economy, cost other lives, and alter our relationship with government forever?
We need answers to these questions now. As Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, wrote in yesterday’s Washington Post, “We don’t, for example, have good data on the real impact of closing public and private K-12 schools on the spread of covid-19.” Hong Kong closed schools, but Singapore did not, and they both experienced similar positive outcomes relative to the European countries.
We are at a point where it’s no longer acceptable to tell us to sit down and shut up and accept house arrest, economic nuclear winter, and the release of criminals, all to “err on the side of caution.” With 3.2 million unemployment claims, nearly five times higher than the worst week of the Great Recession, we can no longer allow governors and mayors to use unchecked power to issue a death sentence on our lives now that the initial impetus for these rash decisions has proven to be false.
This virus is still serious and will kill at least several thousand more people. But the very people who want to destroy our lives on its account were the ones who refused to support a shutoff of travel from China when it mattered and who, to this day, still feel there is nothing wrong with what we did. Now that it’s already here and millions likely had it and don’t even know, the burden of proof is on them to show that their insane ideas are imperative and can even make a difference, if not make it worse.
If we don’t right this ship now, we will never recover, because if this is the new threshold for declaring nuclear winter on liberty and jobs, then this will happen every winter when 4K-5K people die of pneumonia and complications of the flu every week.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.