Wrecking Entire Economies: Lockdowns May Be Causing More Harm Than Good Worldwide, and Especially in India
"So statistically, the entire country has been preoccupied with only 1 coronavirus death out of 638 total deaths"
Locking up healthy people in their homes and putting wholesale populations under house arrest is perverse. Coronavirus panic merchants and fearmongers have wrecked entire economies based on flimsy evidence and with little public scrutiny. Lockdowns have no ‘historical scientific basis’.
Has any one paper caused so much global pain as the non-peer reviewed paper from Imperial College London (ICL), on which lockdown policies are based? Its alarmist predictions of 5,10,000 UK and 2.2 million US deaths without stringent shelter-in-place orders relied on mathematical modelling short of hard data. John Ioannidis, a statistics professor in Stanford’s School of Medicine, dismisses the modelling as ‘speculation and science fiction’. Chemistry Nobel laureate Michael Levitt says ‘being a factor of 1,000 too high is perfectly OK in epidemiology’ because ‘they see their role as scaring people’.
In 1999, EU scientists suggested 5,00,000 people could die from the UK mad cow disease. In 2002 ICL’s professor Neil Ferguson – epidemiology’s policy panjandrum-in-chief – estimated up to 50,000 human deaths from the disease. By 2013, 177 deaths were recorded from it. In 2005 Ferguson said up to 200 million deaths from avian flu; 455 people had died by 2019.
The coronavirus is exceptionally infectious, but not very lethal. Indeed 60% of new cases in China were asymptomatic, rising to 69% in India as per the ICMR. On May 5, the global mortality from Covid-19 was at 255,486; India’s confirmed death toll was 1,568. The global death toll from influenza and pneumonia, pro-rated for India’s six-week lockdown (March 25–May 5), would be around 367,000. India’s pro-rated death toll from all causes would be 1 million, including influenza and pneumonia 75,000, TB 54,000, diarrhoea 50,000, road accidents 32,000, suicides 24,000. So statistically, the entire country has been preoccupied with only 1 coronavirus death out of 638 total deaths. No matter which way we look at it, this equation just doesn’t compute.
In Europe, Asia and American states, there’s little connection between Covid-19 fatality rates and the timing and stringency of lockdown measures. Full lockdowns might not have saved lives as Covid-19 deaths had plateaued before lockdowns kicked in. Neighbouring countries with less restrictive measures experience similar timelines in the epidemic’s curve. In the UK ‘up to 150,000’ extra non-Covid-19 people, including 18,000 cancer patients, could die because the coronavirus fixation has caused neglect of other killer diseases. Increased suicides could kill 10 times as many Australians as the virus. The number of people suffering from acute hunger could almost double to 250 million from the worldwide impact on agricultural production and distribution. A study in South Africa shows the lockdown will kill 29 times more people than it saves.
What will India’s balance be between lives saved and sacrificed? Prime Minister Narendra Modi especially should have been instinctively suspicious of the Nehruvian conviction in the good that governments can do while dismissing the unintended consequences of large-scale state interventions.
India’s social, family, housing and water-cum-sanitation realities are a nightmare for any highly infectious and very lethal pandemic. A tight lockdown is impossible in Indian conditions. India’s low numbers of cases and deaths suggest Covid-19 was never a serious public health threat. Perhaps with the extensive range of infectious diseases afflicting Indians, some existing antibodies are reactivated quickly to fight Covid-19. India’s age pyramid is the opposite of the West’s, with many young who are the least vulnerable to coronavirus. Evidence suggests that people come in with non-Covid-19 symptoms and pick up the virus in the hospital itself. India’s lack of adequate hospitals might be one explanation for the slower spread of infections!
Yet India is uniquely vulnerable to lockdown shocks because of the overwhelming dominance of the informal sector and migrant daily wage labourers.
Instead of self-harm from the harsh lockdown, India could have invested to urgently upgrade the rickety public health system, ensuring permanent gains in lives saved.
Source: The Times of India