Quote of the Day: My Father’s Critique of Covid Lockdown Policy

 

From his email to me, my uncle, and my siblings in June:

Recognizing my morbid, obsessive-compulsive interest in looking at COVID stats worldwide, and wondering what the death rate would have been had governments not mandated “lockdowns,” think about the following stats and my observations.

In the USA, the CDC now estimates that 115 million people have had COVID. And 150 million have completed their vaccinations. (As of about June 18, 2021.)

About 600,000 people have died of COVID. If those deaths were exclusively from the estimated 115 million people who have had COVID, then the death rate (or case fatality rate) is 0.52% (600,000 divided by 115,000,000.) And the corollary is a survival rate of 99.48%

Peru. Did you know that about three weeks ago, Peru drastically revised upwards their COVID death count? The number more than doubled, and their death rate per million went from 2,077 to 5,526. (I mentioned this to [St. Augustine’s brother], and he said it was likely a political decision to embarrass the president before an election.) That contrasts with number two Hungary then at 3,088 per million (and now at 3,108). And another bad thing is that Peru’s number continues to climb quickly, and it is now 5,679. That would, of course, be a death rate of 0.5679% of the entire country’s population. Assuming that they have done a poor job of quarantining, isolation, lockdowns, treatment, and vaccination, then perhaps by now, maybe almost the entire population has had the disease. We can say that a non-lockdown death rate is, obviously, at least 0.5679%. And since their number continues to climb, let’s just say it will reach at least 0.6%.

Notice that this Peruvian rate of almost 0.57% rate is very similar to the US’s theoretical death rate (or case fatality rate calculated above) of 0.52%.

Worldometers reports current USA deaths of 1,850 per million population or 0.185% of the entire population. But, as noted above, if really only 115 million Americans have had COVID, and if we had not had vaccinations ongoing from December, and if we had not had lockdowns and masks, perhaps we would have had a death rate of 0.52% of our entire population (or 1,716,000 deaths in our population of 330 million, i.e., 0.52% of 330 m).

So we could say that our government-mandated lockdowns, handwashing campaigns, masks, and an early, effective vaccination campaign has saved 1,116,000 American lives (1,716,000 minus 600,000).

Or could we say that the USA’s death rate even without the advantage of our early vaccination campaign would have never been as bad as Peru’s expected death rate of 0.6% (or only 0.57%) because we have much better advanced medical care (think ICU)?

Other countries deaths per million population are much better than ours. And others are worse. The USA is currently number 18, and the UK is number 17 at 1,817 deaths per million.

But how locked down are all these other countries? And how reliable are their statistics?

We can safely ignore China’s and Burundi’s statistics. And Uganda’s and India’s.

After Peru and Hungary, in the top ten are Bosnia, Czechia, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Brazil, Slovakia and Belgium at number 10 with 2,160 deaths per million population. Surely many of those countries’ statistics are pretty reliable.

But as far as I know, all those countries are still pretty locked down, so we don’t really know how much higher their numbers would be without lockdowns. So we can’t tell what number to use to estimate a true case fatality rate for us, or for Czechia, or Belgium, or the UK, if the entire population were exposed to COVID.

Texas and many other places in the USA are almost to the point of having no remaining COVID restrictions. Almost. We still have some new cases here, and we still have more than 1,200 people in the state in the hospital with COVID. So Texas and the USA will go a little higher. (I am disappointed that our Texas vaccination rate is pretty crummy and is tending to go slower and slower. Only about 60% of over-18 year-olds have been vaccinated.)

So, the question remains. What did a year of government-mandated lockdowns gain in physical lives saved? Will we only reach a death per million rate of about 1,900 instead of a Peru style rate of 6,000? Will we have saved about 1,116,000 lives? Or to put the accomplishment another way, was the improvement in the survival rate from 99.4% to 99.81% worth a year of lockdowns?

But there was a lot of morbidity from COVID, not just mortality. There were very many hospital days for millions of people, and permanent lung, kidney, heart, and brain damage.

That is correct. But on the flip side there was and is a lot of morbidity as well from lost careers and businesses and social isolation and interrupted schooling due to the lockdown. The latter are difficult to measure. Deaths are more easily measurable.

My conclusion is no, it was not worth it. An improvement in survival from this illness from 99.4% to 99.81% was not worth the government-mandated lockdown.

My thoughts for now.

[My father’s first name.]

Don’t let his support for vaccines fool you. You can tell my father is a science-denier because he didn’t vote for Biden.

Yes, the man is a science denier, even if he is a doctor; just like Rand Paul!  Ignore his decades of experience at Sanyati Baptist Hospital in rural Zimbabwe. The man used to give us chloroquine, a dead giveaway for science denial!

So we should definitely not take seriously his observations that we can speculate how a certain number of lives might have been saved by lockdowns, even as we know for sure that the lockdowns came at a very, very heavy cost.

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There are 11 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Saint Augustine: the lockdowns came at a very, very heavy cost.

    Indeed.

    • #1
  2. HankRhody Freelance Philosopher Contributor
    HankRhody Freelance Philosopher
    @HankRhody

    Saint Augustine: [St. Augustine’s brother]

    I may have to refer to him as Ain’t Augustine from here on out.

    • #2
  3. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    It’s good you have an obsessive amateur statistician in the family.  Could come in handy in case you ever decide to look into anything else, like say… the election. 

    • #3
  4. Dbroussa Coolidge
    Dbroussa
    @Dbroussa

    What you are calling CFR I thi k is more correctly called IFR or Infection Fatality Rate. Cases are usually defined as diagnosed via exam or test but Infections are more numerous.

     

    If the CDC is estimating 115M infections in the US, as opposed to abiut 36M Cases, with ~600K deaths then the CFR is 1.67% with an IFR of 0.52%.

    As to numbers from most other countries (especially China) they are complete fabrications. Heck, even US numbers vary widely by state in reporting accuracy. If a person in Mexico gets sick are they tested for Covid-19? Does Mexico even care about Covid-19? There has been a lot of bewilderment about why Covid-19 when it hit the favelas of Brazil and the slums of India not ravage them with millions and millions of dead. Current theory is that its because Covid-19 isn’t a respiratory disease, but rather an inflammatory one and that the primary exacerbated co-morbidity is obesity. Poor slums aren’t rife with obesity, but developed countries are.

     

    If you, or your Dad wants to dig further, look at excess deaths for countries (China still isn’t reliable) as a decent guide to what is happening. India, Mexico, Brazil, etc have not had the explosion of excess deaths (though they have had some) that was expected. Why? Well, it wasn’t their amazing lock down policies, mask wearing, and hand washing. 

    • #4
  5. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Dbroussa (View Comment):

    If you, or your Dad wants to dig further, look at excess deaths for countries (. . .) as a decent guide to what is happening. India, Mexico, Brazil, etc have not had the explosion of excess deaths (though they have had some) that was expected. Why? Well, it wasn’t their amazing lock down policies, mask wearing, and hand washing. 

    And he well may.  This, as it happens, is something I have not taken it upon myself to try to figure out.

    • #5
  6. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    The unwillingness of people, especially government officials, to engage in any cost / benefit analysis with respect to Covid-19 has been and continues to be utterly irresponsible. Costs are not just monetary costs. Psychological costs. Child development and learning costs. Social cohesion costs.. Etc. Government, employers, and organizations with enormous power continue to impose costs in the name of Covid-19 but without any consideration of how much benefit is achieved relative to those costs.

    • #6
  7. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    There are dozens of studies that all point to the fact that lockdowns accomplished nothing anywhere. I have noticed that many people (and even a lot of MDs) simply refuse to accept the possibility that the NPIs had no effect. Surely, closing this or that or everybody on the train in India wearing a mask must have made at least some measurable difference.  

    As rigidly seasonal COVID has been with waves of utterly predictable duration, smart people still look at the downslope and wonder which policy must have caused that drop, as if adding more lifeguard chairs on the beach can change the tides. Maybe people used to finding answers in their specialty are particularly susceptible to this tendency to prematurely glom onto explanations related to policies based on (allegedly) scientific guidance—in spite of statistical training.

    We had lots of science about lockdowns, quarantines, border closings and mask mandates BEFORE COVID hit and the consensus was that none of this stuff would make a difference except that maybe lockdowns could delay some spread (“flatten the curve”) and even that never happened anywhere.

    Why some countries got absolutely hammered more than others doesn’t seem to be linked to policy or even wealth and healthcare system quality. Rates of prior coronavirus exposure? Genetic variances? Climate?  There is a ton of research that needs doing and a lot of preconceptions about pandemic transmission need to get trashed.

    • #7
  8. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Saint Augustine: Don’t let his support for vaccines fool you. You can tell my father is a science-denier because he didn’t vote for Biden.

    😂😂😂

    • #8
  9. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Time for Papa Augustine to sign up for Ricochet, stat.

    • #9
  10. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    HankRhody Freelance Philosopher (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine: [St. Augustine’s brother]

    I may have to refer to him as Ain’t Augustine from here on out.

    😁

    • #10
  11. Dbroussa Coolidge
    Dbroussa
    @Dbroussa

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    The unwillingness of people, especially government officials, to engage in any cost / benefit analysis with respect to Covid-19 has been and continues to be utterly irresponsible. Costs are not just monetary costs. Psychological costs. Child development and learning costs. Social cohesion costs.. Etc. Government, employers, and organizations with enormous power continue to impose costs in the name of Covid-19 but without any consideration of how much benefit is achieved relative to those costs.

    It’s laziness.  Deaths due to Covid-19 are immediate and being focused on by the media, those other costs are harder to quantify, require more work by the researchers and reporting.

    • #11
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