Lockdown cost

U.K. Economy Shrunk More Than Previously Thought in First Quarter Thanks to Third Lockdown

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revised its GDP figures for the first quarter to show that the economy shrunk more than was previously believed as the third lockdown hit hard. The MailOnline has the story.

Data published by the ONS showed that U.K. gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have decreased by 1.6% in the period between January and March. 

That is up slightly on the original estimate of a 1.5% reduction.

It means that the level of GDP now stands at 8.8% below where it was in the fourth quarter of 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic hit, revised from an initial estimate of 8.7%.        

Despite the economic dip in the first three months of 2021, household saving levels again returned to record highs. 

The household saving ratio – the estimate of the amount of money that households can put away – increased to 19.9% in the first quarter. 

That is the second highest ratio ever recorded and compares with 16.1% in the final three months of 2020…

The ONS said that household spending fell in the first quarter of this year as lockdown prevented families from spending money in restaurants and non-essential shops. 

Spending in restaurants and hotels dipped by 37.2% on the previous quarter.     

The ONS said that the dip in GDP was largely driven by contractions in the education, wholesale and retail sectors caused by the tightening of coronavirus curbs. 

The closure of schools and the return of pupils learning at home hit the economy particularly hard. 

Education output shrank by 14.7% in the first quarter of 2021 which “reflects the relatively low level of school attendance in January and February because of the closure of schools as part of the Government response to the coronavirus pandemic”.

Worth reading in full.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis: Lockdowns Were a Huge Mistake

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who reopened his state last autumn and kept it open throughout the winter, has given a new interview to the Epoch Times where he talks of his regret in locking down last spring and the challenges he faced reopening in the face of widespread and fierce opposition.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1st last year, locking down the Sunshine State for 30 days amid global panic about the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak. Sitting in his office exactly one year later, he told the Epoch Times that the lockdowns were a “huge mistake,” including in his own state.

“We wanted to mitigate the damage. Now, in hindsight, the 15 days to slow the spread and the 30 – it didn’t work,” DeSantis said. “We shouldn’t have gone down that road.”

Florida’s lockdown order was notably less strict than some of the stay-at-home measures imposed in other states. Recreational activities like walking, biking, playing golf, and beachgoing were allowed, while what constituted an “essential business” was broadly defined.

“Our economy kept going,” DeSantis said. “It was much different than what you saw in some of those lockdown states.”

However, the Governor now regrets issuing the order at all and is convinced that states that have carried on with lockdowns are perpetuating a destructive blunder.

After the initial 30-day lockdown in Florida lapsed, DeSantis commenced a phased reopening. He faced fierce criticism at each stage from establishment media, as well as segments of his own constituency beholden to the lockdown narrative.

The Governor fully reopened Florida on Sept. 25th, 2020. When cases began to rise as part of the winter surge, he didn’t reimpose any restrictions. While lockdown proponents forecasted doom and gloom, DeSantis stood his ground.

The Governor’s persistence wasn’t a leap of faith. Less than two weeks after Florida’s full reopening in late September, scientists from Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford universities went public with the Great Barrington Declaration, which disavowed lockdowns as a destructive and futile mitigation measure. The declaration, which has since been signed by 13,985 medical and public health scientists, calls on public officials to adopt the focused protection approach – the exact strategy employed by DeSantis.

Despite dire predictions about the pandemic in Florida, DeSantis has been vindicated. On April 1st, Florida ranked 27th among all states in deaths per capita from the CCP virus, commonly known as COVID-19.

The ranking’s significance is amplified because the Sunshine State’s population is the sixth oldest in the United States by median age.

Politicians should have been prepared and blew it, DeSantis says, though they’re not the only ones to blame.

“You have a situation where if you’re in this field, the pandemic, that’s something that you kind of prepare for and you’re ready for,” said DeSantis. “And a lot of these people muffed it.

“When push came to shove, they advocated policies that have not worked against the virus but have been very, very destructive. They are never going to admit they were wrong about anything, unfortunately.”

Elected leaders aren’t the only ones to blame, according to the Governor. The media and big tech companies played a major role in perpetuating fears about the virus while selectively censoring one side of the mitigation debate. DeSantis said the media and tech giants stood to benefit from the lockdown as people stayed home and consumed their products.

“It was all just to generate the most clicks that they could. And so that was always trying to do the stuff that would inspire the most fear,” DeSantis said.

Well worth reading in full.

Backlog in Scottish Court Cases Due to Lockdown to Last Until 2025

Lockdowns have caused a “significant backlog of criminal cases” in Scotland, according to the country’s Courts and Tribunals Service. The Telegraph has the story.

The backlog in Scotland’s court cases due to Covid will not be cleared until 2025, justice system chiefs announced on Friday.

There is now a “significant backlog of criminal cases”, according to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS), and cases are taking longer to come to trial while the number of people held on remand has increased.

This creates “downstream impacts” on community justice services and prisons, they warned.

The SCTS has announced plans to expand remote jury centres and create additional courts from this September as part of a court recovery programme to deal with the backlog.

New jury trials were put on hold for several months last year due to the virus outbreak.

There will also be four additional High Courts, two additional Sheriff Courts for solemn cases and up to 10 more Sheriff Courts for summary cases.

With these extra resources, the SCTS said it predicts the backlog of High Court and Sheriff solemn cases will be cleared by 2025, and summary trial backlogs will be dealt with by 2024.

The picture isn’t much more positive in England and Wales. In January, four criminal justice watchdogs said that they had “grave concerns” about the impact of court backlogs caused by lockdowns. They highlighted that some crimes committed in 2020 will not go before a jury until 2022. The number of outstanding cases for Crown Courts increased by almost 10,000 between March and December 2020.

The report on the Scottish court backlog is well worth reading in full.

Lockdowns Killed 228,000 Children in South Asia, Says UN Report

A new United Nations report has laid bare the appalling cost of lockdowns in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The report, Direct and Indirect Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response in South Asia, examines the effect of the unprecedented Government shutdown policies on healthcare, social services, education and the economy.

It estimates that the disruption in healthcare services caused by Government responses to COVID-19 in Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (home to some 1.8 billion people) may have led to 239,000 maternal and child deaths.

This compares to around 186,000 deaths “with COVID-19”, meaning the lockdowns are estimated to have killed considerably more than the virus. Furthermore, 228,000 is the estimated lockdown death toll just of children under five, almost none of whom would have been at any risk from the virus. With the majority of Covid deaths worldwide being among the over 80s, the difference in terms of quality adjusted life years (QALYs) must be staggering.

The BBC summarises some key figures included in the report.

It says the number of children being treated for severe malnutrition fell by more than 80% in Bangladesh and Nepal, and immunisation among children dropped by 35% and 65% in India and Pakistan respectively.

The report also says that child mortality rose the highest in India in 2020 – up by 15.4% – followed by Bangladesh at 13%. Sri Lanka saw the sharpest increase in maternal deaths – 21.5% followed by Pakistan’s 21.3%.

Experts in India fear that malnutrition rates will be significantly worse across the country as the data comes in over the next few months.

A separate UN report in December estimated that an additional 207 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty over the next decade due to the long term impact of lockdowns.

David Livermore, Professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of East Anglia and a member of HART, told Lockdown Sceptics:

There is far too little appreciation yet (particularly in the liberal left circles ordinarily deeply concerned about child deaths in the developing world) of the damage wrought by lockdowns in these countries. Given that they have young-dominated demographies they were never at great risk from COVID-19. It is a tragedy that they were gulled into lockdowns, even more than it is for us.

Lockdowns over the past year have often been justified using the precautionary principle as the myth was created that they are cost free, at least in terms of lives, and that any financial cost must be worth it as the measures would save “hundreds of thousands” of lives. UN reports like this show how wrongheaded this idea of locking down “just in case” is, how deadly the idea of banning ordinary human interaction and activity for months on end.

Daniel Finkelstein argues in the Times today that “in the absence of preventive measures, it is clear that hundreds of thousands more people would have died”. Yet every study of real-world data shows no relationship between restrictions and Covid mortality. Neither is there evidence of these “hundreds of thousands” of additional deaths in places which eschewed strong restrictions, such as Sweden, South Dakota and Florida. Yet this foundational lockdown myth persists, not because of any actual evidence to back it up, but to preserve the consciences of those who supported measures which did so much harm to their countries and to vulnerable people around the world.

Isn’t it time governments took a proper look at what the data shows – the huge harms, the hundreds of thousands of child deaths, the lack of evidence of effectiveness – and renounced lockdowns forever?

Killer Lockdown: 43,000 Non-Covid Excess Deaths at Home Since Last March

The ONS mortality report this morning showed that in the week ending February 26th (week 8) deaths registered in England and Wales were 9.2% above the five-year average (1,066 deaths higher).

However, drilling down into the data it becomes clear that perhaps all of those excess deaths this week are deaths caused by the lockdown not by the virus, primarily denial of healthcare.

Deaths in care homes were down to 12.6% below the five-year average (334 deaths) (down from 1.1% above the previous week). Deaths in hospitals were slightly above the five-year average at 5% (275 deaths).

Deaths in private homes on the other hand were still a huge 44.2% above the five-year average (1,147 excess deaths). There were 238 deaths involving COVID-19, leaving 909 non-Covid excess deaths (if we make the generous assumptions that all Covid deaths are excess). That’s nearly 80%.

As can be seen in the above graph, excess deaths at home have remained well above average all year and at a relatively constant rate – a sign they are not just misattributed Covid deaths. There have been 50,810 excess deaths at home since the pandemic began a year ago. 7,056 home deaths have been registered with COVID-19, leaving 43,754 non-Covid (assuming all Covid deaths are excess) and still rising at over 1,000 each week with little sign of falling off.

The UK has had, and still has, one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, and an NHS waiting list of millions to show for it as people have stayed away from hospital to “protect the NHS” and out of fear of catching Covid. The most immediate cost of this can be seen in non-Covid excess deaths from denial of healthcare, especially at home – over 43,000 and counting by this estimate (though some of these will be transfer deaths that would ordinarily have occurred in hospital). Lockdowners claim that this is a fraction of the death toll that would result from not imposing restrictions. But when places like Sweden and Florida don’t impose lockdowns and see fewer, not more, Covid deaths per million, it is very hard to credit that, whatever the models might say.

And if lockdowns don’t save lives, then what are we left with? Just tens of thousands of deaths caused by reckless Government interventions. That’s the real horror story of the past year.