Belarus: The Country With No Restrictions, and No Disaster

Belarus has finally, after several months of delay, published its overall mortality figures up to March 2021, meaning for the first time we have a plausibly reliable indicator of the true impact of the pandemic in the country famous for refusing to impose even minimal measures.

Few have trusted the official Covid case and death statistics from the authoritarian country, which are implausibly low. However, the overall death statistics are generally thought to be reliable, and indeed by comparing them to neighbouring countries we can see that they are comparable, adding to the sense that they are accurate.

While the country did not impose any Covid restrictions or ‘guidance’ at all, there was some voluntary behaviour change, as mobility data shows, but it was limited compared with other places.

Alongside places like South Dakota, Florida, Sweden and Tanzania, Belarus is an important illustration of what can be expected from COVID-19 when restrictions aren’t imposed. Like those places, we see that the outcome is basically the same as similar places where restrictions are imposed (for reasons which Professor Anthony Brookes explores here).

Isn’t it time the scientists and their models caught up with the reality of what actually happens when measures aren’t implemented, rather than just what their assumptions assert should happen? With PHE yesterday claiming, once more from their modelling, that vaccines prevented an incredible 23.4 million infections in England – as though nearly half the population of England has been saved from infection by the vaccines (which there is increasing evidence do little to prevent infection anyway) – isn’t it past time the scientists made more effort to base their efforts on reality rather than on free-floating mathematical theories?

It simply isn’t the case that a whole country becomes infected if the virus is given largely free reign, as Belarus, like other no-restriction jurisdictions, shows. Even without lockdowns and vaccines the epidemic is self-limiting and comes to an end at around the same point having infected a similar number of people. Until our leaders and their advisers grasp this crucial fact about COVID-19, they will keep pursuing pointless and ineffective but deeply harmful policies.

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