Lockdowns

More People Died in U.S. States Which Locked Down Than Those Which Did Not – Here’s Why

Last week I wrote that U.S. states which locked down over the winter had a higher Covid death toll on average than those which did not.

Some people argued that I should have only looked at deaths over the winter rather than in total for it to be a fair comparison. I disagree. That would mean places which had a high death toll in spring would look better just because they had already been hit hard, lost a lot of people, and built up some immunity. Also, in lockdown theory, lockdowns only defer deaths, they don’t prevent them, so any state which didn’t lock down in winter should have suffered then any deaths deferred by earlier measures. Thus the fairest comparison for understanding whether lockdowns are necessary to prevent a catastrophic death toll – the central claim at stake – is the total number of deaths, not just those in one season.

Today I’m updating the figures. At the same time I’ve done a fresh review of the measures different states took (using these two handy websites which have collected them all together) to ensure I’m putting each state in the correct category.

Nineteen states issued an actual stay-at-home order this winter. While most of these (except for Oregon and New Mexico) were advisory, they all made clear that people should stay at home as much as possible and were accompanied by other severe restrictions such as business closures and bans on gatherings. A further 14 states, though not issuing a stay-at-home order, imposed similar strong restrictions that served the same basic purpose. These I’ve classified as the winter lockdown states (they include Washington, D.C.).

The other group of states imposed much lighter restrictions, such as business capacity limits (often around 50%) or gathering limits (such as 50) but did not issue a stay-at-home order, close businesses or ban private gatherings. There are 18 of these – the 11 I included last time, plus seven I’d overlooked, including Arizona and Mississippi. These two states in particular are up in the top six states states for Covid deaths per million so I was concerned this would shift the average for the no-lockdown states above the lockdown states. However, the no-lockdown states still come out lower (albeit with a smaller gap) – 1,730 vs 1,736. (Death and population data from Worldometer.)

As noted before, we shouldn’t get too hung up on the precise numbers here, which will be affected by various factors such as the population density and demographics of the state and the precise way the state counts Covid deaths. The important point is the big picture: the fact that in one big country with lots of different regions responding to an epidemic in different ways, there was no obvious relationship between interventions and outcomes. In particular, those which didn’t lock down did not suffer “hundreds of thousands” more deaths (or the population-size equivalent) than those which did, contrary to what all the mathematical models predicted. Their epidemics peaked and declined in the same way as lockdown states.

This point becomes even clearer when we focus in on the six states which kept restrictions to a minimum this winter – Florida, Georgia, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah and Nebraska. These states had 1,629 Covid deaths per million on average, well below the 1,736 average of the lockdown states.

Boris is the Great Appeaser Who Caves in to the “Experts” at the Expense of Ordinary People

There follows a guest post by Dr Timothy Bradshaw, a retired Oxford Theological Lecturer.

Allegra Stratton, Boris’s replacement for Lee Cain as policy communicator in No.10, has gone, to the BBC as an eco-analyst, after a short spell of announcing nothing, maybe she offended Carrie too? And that communications room, fitted out for a couple of million, won’t be used. So that “reset” of No 10 has itself been reset, maintaining that sense of fairground chaos so beloved of our leader.

But his utterances are, as Janet Daley has shown in her Telegraph column, less and less convincing and being taken as incoherent by a growing number of intelligent people, not just “conspiracy theorists”. He bizarrely proclaimed that the successful lowering of Covid cases and deaths in the UK was not caused by the vaccination programme but by… the lockdowns, which therefore must remain the chief weapon against the epidemic – if the epidemic should return. Hence the shutting of the Nightingale hospitals and no plan for future epidemics being developed. As Daley said, this statement was surely plain wrong, and also politically a gaffe as it portrayed his one massive success as an irrelevance. It also would discourage the population from offering to be vaccinated, a Macronic blunder. Why this idiocy from our leader?    

“Save lockdowning” is the only credible answer, combined with the fact of Boris being, apparently willingly like Patty Hearst, held hostage by that strange and frightening gang of “experts”. Boris is in effect their glove puppet. Their latest utterance through him is that “a third wave is definitely coming” – “hurricane Boris” is building up in India and will soon be blowing us away. Really, or is this just more “precautionary” weather forecasting to get us to board up the economy again, more fear-inducing talk?

At present we can hardly be said to be in an epidemic, but the “experts” are very keen to keep finding Covid wherever they can, and so “save lockdowning”, as if hoping to keep this phenomenon going to maintain their grip on the population. 

The grotesque plan is to keep perfectly healthy and non-vulnerable people taking two home tests per week, followed up by a PCR test for positive results, and these go to a central lab. These tests are for the Covid “genome sequencing” programme and can hardly be defended as a sensible use of the health budget. It is predicated on scanning for and locking down any tiny group of people infected with a new variant, and not on getting a medically based plan for treating future SARS viruses. It is clearly in line with keeping the lockdown hammer available, permanently. 

Anthony Fauci Tells Congress Texas Has a Lower Infection Rate Than Michigan Because People are Ignoring Lockdown Rules

President Biden’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr Anthony Fauci has claimed the reason Michigan and other states which have maintained restrictions have a higher infection rate than Texas, which ended all Covid restrictions at the beginning of March, is because people in lockdown states are ignoring the rules. He did not attempt to explain why his prediction from March of a “very troublesome” surge in Texas had not materialised. When Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) attempted to press him on the feeble answer he had given to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the Committee Chair Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) cut him off and said he’d had his answer. Breitbart News has the story.

Jordan said to Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, “You said when Texas ended their lockdown, ended their mandate, that this was quote ‘inexplicable and would lead to surging cases’. Texas is near the bottom of the 50 states, but all the states, all the states at the top are lockdown states.”

“That guess didn’t seem to be too good,” Jordan added.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on March 2nd lifted his state’s mask mandate and capacity restrictions on all businesses and facilities. Fauci responded to the move on March 3rd in a CNN interview:

“I don’t know why they’re doing it but it certainly from a public health standpoint is ill-advised. … We’ve been to this scene before months and months ago, when we tried to open up the country and open up the economy. When certain states did not abide by the guidelines, we had rebounds, which were very troublesome. What we don’t need right now is another surge so just pulling back on all the public health guidelines that we know work, and if you take a look at the curve, we know it works. It just is inexplicable why you would want to pull back now.”

Michigan topped Jordan’s list with a seven-day average case rate of 551 per 100,000 people. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has issued mask requirements and set a 50% capacity limit on many businesses, including retail and food establishments, as well as entertainment venues.

Jordan demanded an explanation from Fauci on why Texas, which, per his list, had a seven-day average case rate of 77 per 100,000 people, was “so darn low compared to the rest of the states”.

Fauci replied, “There’s a difference between lockdown and the people obeying the lockdown.”

“You know you could have a situation where they say, ‘We’re going to lock down’, and yet you have people doing exactly what they want –”

Jordan interjected to ask Fauci to clarify if he was suggesting people in states with the highest case rates were not obeying those states’ coronavirus-related orders.

Subcommittee Chair Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) then informed Jordan his speaking time had expired, but Jordan objected, arguing Fauci had not yet answered his question.

“I think the gentleman answered you quite clearly,” Clyburn said. “There’s a big difference in being a lockdown state by order and being a state that obeys orders. That answered the question in my opinion.”

Source: CDC

Even if Michiganders are ignoring the lockdown (and good for them if so), that doesn’t explain why restrictions must be maintained if removing them makes things no worse. There’s certainly no evidence Texans are voluntarily staying home very much at all.

The architects of lockdown aren’t even trying to give answers to why lifting restrictions does not trigger a devastating surge as their models unfailingly predict. Neither have they explained why Florida or South Dakota, which stayed open all winter, did not experience a worse outcome than states which imposed severe restrictions. Is this a sign that their ideology is crumbling? How much longer can lockdownism survive if its leading proponents cannot give answers to basic questions?

Read the article and watch the video here.

Evidence Suggests People Overestimate the Risks of COVID-19

One of the most surprising things to emerge from the pandemic, at least from a lockdown sceptic’s point of view, is how overwhelmingly the British public has backed the lockdowns. For example, a YouGov poll taken in March of 2020 found that 93% of people supported the first lockdown. Another poll taken in January of 2021 found that 85% of people supported the third lockdown.

While some lockdown sceptics claim these polls can’t be trusted, I suspect they’re not too far off the mark. And even if they do overstate support for lockdowns (due to unrepresentative samples or social desirability bias) the true number is unlikely to be more than 10 or 20 percentage points lower.

The high level of public support for lockdowns may explain why they’ve lasted as long as they have. Politics is notoriously short-sighted, so why would the Conservatives ease up on a policy that’s kept them ahead in the polls for most of the last 14 months?

Aside from the public’s longstanding reverence for the NHS, an obvious reason why support for lockdown is so high is that millions of people have been paid 80% of their wages to stay at home. In the absence of the Government’s unprecedented furlough scheme, many of these people would be out of work, and presumably much less supportive of lockdowns.

However, there might be a more important reason why support for lockdown is so high: the public overestimates the risks of COVID-19, especially the risks to young people. Let’s review the evidence.

In July of 2020, the consultancy Kekst CNC ran a poll asking Britons what percentage of the population has died of COVID-19. The correct answer at the time was around 0.1%. However, the median answer among respondents was 1%, and of those who ventured a guess (rather than saying “don’t know”) one in five said at least 6% of the population had died.

Last year, Gallup ran a poll for Franklin Templeton in which they asked Americans what percentage of people who’ve been infected with COVID-19 need to be hospitalised. Less than 20% of respondents gave the correct answer of “1–5%”. And a staggering 35% said at least half of those infected need to be hospitalised. Interestingly, Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to overestimate the risk of hospitalisation, as this chart reveals:

It should be noted that the poll also revealed some underestimation of risks on the part of Republicans. For example, 41% incorrectly stated that flu causes more deaths than COVID-19. This shows that results can vary depending on exactly which question you ask. (Notice that Republicans did overestimate the risk of hospitalisation; just to a lesser extent than Democrats.)

Likewise, a survey carried out by Ipsos MORI for Kings College London asked Britons what are the chances of needing hospital treatment if you catch coronavirus. The median answer among respondents was 30%, and of those who ventured a guess, one in four said the chances are at least 50%.

In March and April of last year, the economist Arthur Attema and colleagues carried out two surveys of the French population: one two weeks after the first lockdown began, and the other two weeks before it ended. They asked respondents, “Out of 100 people who are infected with the Coronavirus, how many of them die from the disease?”

In both surveys, the average answer was 16 (whereas the correct answer for Western populations is less than 1). The fact that the average in the second survey was no lower than the average in the first indicates that people’s understanding of the risks did not improve over time, despite more evidence accumulating that the IFR is less than 1%.

Members of the public seem to have a particularly skewed perception of the risk COVID-19 poses to younger people. The aforementioned Gallup poll asked Americans what percentage of those who’ve died were aged 24 and under. The correct answer at the time was around 0.1%, yet the average answer among Republicans was 8%, while the average among Democrats was 9%.

Likewise, a poll taken by Ipsos MRBI for The Irish Times asked people what percentage of those who’ve died were under the age of 35. The correct answer was around 1%, yet the average among respondents was 12%.

In November of 2020, Savanta ComRes ran a poll on behalf of The Conservative Woman and asked Britons to guess the average age of people who’ve died after testing positive for COVID-19. The correct answer is around 82. However, the median answer among respondents was 65.

Incidentally, one problem with asking people to estimate very small quantities (like the percentage of people who’ve died from COVID-19) is that humans have a tendency to revise small percentages upwards when they’re not sure. This “uncertainty-based rescaling” probably accounts for some of the overestimation in the surveys mentioned above.

However, taking all the evidence together, people – particularly in Britain – do seem to overestimate the risks of COVID-19. And this may help to explain their high level of support for lockdowns.

“We Have to Compare Sweden to Its Neighbours” Isn’t a Convincing Argument

In a recent post on Lockdown Sceptics, I argued that the case for lockdown basically collapsed in May of 2020, when Sweden’s epidemic began to retreat. Sweden was the only major Western country that didn’t lockdown in 2020, yet it saw age-adjusted excess mortality up to week 51 of just 1.7% – below the European average.

A common reply is that, although Sweden did better than the European average, it did worse than its neighbours. Here its neighbours are taken to be the other Nordic countries: Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Looking at age-adjusted excess mortality, it’s true that the other Nordics did better than Sweden. All four saw negative excess mortality up to week 51.

Does this mean lockdown sceptics are wrong to cite Sweden as evidence that the benefits of lockdowns are vastly overstated? No, I don’t believe it does.

First, the economist Daniel Klein and his colleagues have identified 15 different factors that may account for the higher death toll in Sweden as compared to the other Nordics. These include the greater number of frail elderly people alive at the start of 2020 (the ‘dry tinder’ effect); the larger immigrant population; and the lack of adequate protection for care home residents in the early weeks of the pandemic. 

Second, as the researcher Philippe Lemoine has pointed out, the epidemic was already more advanced in Sweden by the time most European countries introduced lockdowns and social distancing. The other Nordic countries therefore had a head start in responding to the deadly first wave. This is particularly important because, when the first wave struck, the best ways of treating COVID-19 were not yet well understood.

I would add that, with the exception of Denmark (which saw a moderate second wave), the other Nordics are small, geographically peripheral countries for which a containment strategy was actually workable. As I’ve noted in Quillette, all the Western countries that have managed to keep their COVID-19 death rates low (Norway, Cyprus, Australia, etc.) benefited from pre-existing geographical advantages. And all imposed strict border controls at the start (something the UK Government’s scientific advisers cautioned against).

Third, as the legal scholar Paul Yowell has argued, the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) are similar to the Nordics in terms of climate and population density, and once you include them in the comparison, Sweden no longer stands out. Lithuania actually had higher age-adjusted excess mortality than Sweden last year, despite imposing a strict winter lockdown.

Finally, as Yowell also points out, the ratio of Sweden’s COVID-19 death rate to Denmark’s isn’t that much higher than the ratio of Denmark’s to Finland’s. And this is despite the fact that Denmark has taken a more restrictive approach than Finland. One could therefore take the comparison between those two countries as evidence against the efficacy of lockdowns.

What’s more, this exercise could be repeated with other pairs or trios. For example, despite taking a slightly less restrictive approach than Spain and Italy, France has reported fewer deaths from COVID-19 (as well as lower excess mortality). Of course, these kinds of comparisons don’t tell us very much. But that’s the point. We shouldn’t only compare a country to its immediate neighbours.

And when researchers have analysed European countries and US states in a systematic way, they haven’t found evidence that lockdowns substantially reduce deaths from COVID-19.

If Lockdowns are Needed, Why Did More People Die in U.S. States Which Locked Down Than Those Which Did Not?

One of the great things about America is that it has 50 states that can set their own policy across a broad range of areas, including on public health and lockdowns. This has allowed some to resist the stampede to impose swingeing restrictions on normal life in the hope of limiting transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and this provides us with a valuable control group in the great lockdown experiment that can give us an idea what might have happened if we hadn’t made some intervention or other.

During the autumn and winter a new surge in Covid infections prompted most US states, like most Western countries, to reimpose restrictions. But a few resisted. Eleven states did not impose a stay-at-home order and left people at liberty to leave their homes whenever they wished. Of these, four – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and South Dakota – did not impose any restrictions at all and treated it pretty much like any other winter.

Although there are various differences between states that might have affected Covid outcomes, because they all form part of one country there are enough similarities to make comparisons useful. In particular, if lockdowns are effective and necessary to prevent hundreds of thousands of extra deaths (or the equivalent for the size of the population), then those states which didn’t lock down should have a far worse death toll. If the death tolls are not much worse, but about the same (or better), then lockdowns cannot be having a large impact on preventing Covid deaths.

In the chart above I have used data from Worldometer to plot the current total Covid deaths per million for each state. I have coloured the 11 states which did not lock down (i.e., impose a stay-at-home order) this winter in red. I have also calculated the average for the two groups of states, those which did not lock down over the winter and those which did, and coloured them in yellow.

As you can see, states which did not lock down over the winter, far from having many times more Covid deaths, have actually had fewer – 1,671 vs 1,736 deaths per million. There may be demographic or other reasons that some states have a higher or lower number of deaths than others so we shouldn’t read too much into the precise differences. But even so, if lockdowns are supposed to suppress the virus to low levels and thus prevent ‘hundreds of thousands’ of deaths (or the population equivalent), then how is this possible? The only conclusion is that lockdowns do not work as intended and do not suppress the virus.

This conclusion is reinforced by looking at the death tolls in the four states which imposed no restrictions at all over the winter, the average of which is 1,716 deaths per million, which is still below that of those which imposed lockdowns (1,736). Florida reopened in the autumn, Georgia and South Carolina in the spring of 2020, and South Dakota never closed. Yet overall they have suffered fewer Covid deaths per million than the states which imposed stay-at-home lockdowns this winter.

Those academic teams which produce models predicting doom for places which don’t impose the measures they recommend should be challenged to apply their models to these states and hindcast the last winter. Any model which cannot accurately reproduce the known outcomes for these states should be calibrated until it can. Otherwise, if it can’t get the answer right for the past, why should we trust it for the future?

The modelling teams at Warwick, Imperial and LSHTM can be found on Twitter (as can LSHTM’s Adam Kucharski) if anyone feels like putting these questions to them.

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.

Sweden’s Professor Johan Giesecke: “I Think I Got Most Things Right, Actually”

Johan Giesecke, an advisor to the Director General of the WHO, former Chief Scientist of the EU Centre for Disease Control, and former state epidemiologist of Sweden, returned to UnHerd yesterday to resume his discussion with editor Freddie Sayers, adjourned a year ago. He was one of the first major figures to come out against lockdowns last spring, saying they are not evidence-based, the correct policy is to protect the old and the frail only, and the Imperial College modelling was “not very good”.

While he admits he made some mistakes, he believes that history will judge him kindly, and says: “I think I got most of the things right, actually.”

He gives a solid defence of the outcome in Sweden, ably batting away the “neighbour argument” that says Sweden failed because Norway and Finland did better.

The differences between Sweden and its neighbours are much bigger than people realise from the outside – different systems, different cultural traditions…If you compare Sweden to other European countries [such as the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium] it’s the other way round. On the ranking of excess mortality, Sweden is somewhere in the middle or below the middle of European countries. So I think it’s really Norway and Finland that are the outliers more than Sweden. … They’re more sparsely populated. There are less people per square kilometre in these two countries. There are also much fewer people who were born outside Europe living in these two countries.

He is also rightly dismissive of the charge that Sweden is currently the worst for infections in Europe. While positive cases are up, so is testing, and besides on the most important metric, excess deaths, Sweden has been far below average since the start of February.

Giesecke is direct in his unflattering comparison of the UK’s outcome with Sweden’s:

They’re very similar. And yet one of the countries has had three severe lockdowns and the other has only had voluntary or mostly voluntary measures. That tells us something I think. That lockdowns may not be a very useful tool in the long run.

The Case For Lockdown Collapsed When Sweden’s Epidemic Began to Retreat

Back in March of 2020, there was a reasonable case for lockdown. A new, highly contagious virus was spreading through the population, and while the death rate for young people was low, the death rate for elderly people was quite high. Early data pointed to an IFR of about 1%. We were told that – in the absence of drastic measures – the virus would continue to spread until about two-thirds of the population had been infected. A simple back-of-the envelope calculation suggested that, if we did not take drastic measures, the death toll would be enormous.

The UK’s population is 66.7 million. Two-thirds of that is about 44.5 million. Applying a 1% IFR yields 445,000 deaths. And that was if the NHS didn’t become overwhelmed. If it did become overwhelmed, we were told, the IFR might rise to 2 or even 3%. Hence we were looking at a worst-case scenario of around 1.3 million deaths. (Note: this is about ten times the official death toll, which is itself a slight overestimate.)

Although lockdowns would come with massive costs, I reasoned, it was worth having one to prevent hundreds of thousands – or even a million – people dying. Hence I supported the first lockdown. Though it may have been a reasonable thing to do given the information available at the time, I now believe that locking down was the wrong decision.

There are many elements in the case against lockdowns, as I have outlined in an article on this website. But – outside a few specific countries like Australia and New Zealand – the case for lockdowns basically collapsed in May of 2020, when Sweden’s epidemic began to retreat.

Sweden, of course, was the only major Western country that didn’t lock down in 2020. And the argument for lockdowns made a clear prediction concerning what would happen there: since the country hadn’t taken drastic measures, it would see substantially more deaths (relative to its population) than the countries that had locked down. Using a model “based on work by” Neil Ferguson’s team at Imperial College, researchers at Uppsala University predicted there would be 96,000 deaths by July 1st.

Fortunately, that isn’t what happened. The number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths by July 1st was only 5,370. And up to week 51, the country saw age-adjusted excess mortality of just 1.7% – below the UK and below the European average.

Now of course, Sweden isn’t identical to the UK. It’s more trusting, less densely populated, and has fewer multi-generational households. However, it isn’t dramatically different from the UK in these respects. So even if one might have expected fewer deaths in Sweden than in the UK, given the same policies, the fact that Sweden didn’t lock down should have massively increased its death toll. But it didn’t.

One reply to the argument I’ve just made is that Sweden did much worse than its neighbours. This reply has been extensively addressed by other commentators, and in any case the point remains that Sweden did not do catastrophically. Both its first and second epidemics retreated long before the herd immunity threshold was reached, and far less than 1% of the population has died.

The evidence from Sweden does not imply that the correct approach to COVID-19 was “do nothing”. As I’ve argued previously, a focused protection strategy like the one recommended in the Great Barrington Declaration would have been much less costly, and might have saved more lives, than the Government’s actual policy of intermittent lockdowns.

Vaccines the Cause of Britain’s Drop In Covid Cases, Not Lockdown, Says KCL Epidemiologist

A King’s College London epidemiologist has said that Britain’s “exemplar vaccine programme” – which has seen almost 40 million first and second doses administered – is behind the drop in Covid cases since January. Professor Tim Spector’s view contrasts with that of the Prime Minister who believes lockdown – not the vaccine – has delivered “this improvement in the pandemic“. The Mail has the story.

Vaccines are behind Britain’s sharp drop in coronavirus cases since January, top experts claimed today – despite Boris Johnson insisting lockdown was the reason for the fall.  

Professor Tim Spector, a King’s College London epidemiologist who runs the UK’s largest Covid symptom tracking study, said the epidemic had “mainly” been squashed by the “exemplar vaccine programme”.

With more than 60% of the population jabbed with at least one dose and up to 10% protected due to prior infection, Professor Spector added Britain was “starting to see herd immunity take effect”.

His comments come after data from his symptom-tracking app showed a 17% drop in daily cases last week, with an estimated 1,600 new symptomatic infections a day across the country – down from 60,000 at the peak in January.

Separate Test and Trace figures showed new cases in England had dipped by 34% last week, with 19,196 positive tests recorded in the seven days to April 7th – compared to 29,178 at the end of March. 

Professor Spector said: “As the UK slowly exits lockdown, I’m encouraged to see Covid cases continue to fall with our rates among the lowest in Europe. 

“In fact, the UK closely mirrors cases in Israel with its exemplar vaccine programme. Based on our data and countries like Israel, I believe the fall in cases since January is mainly thanks to the vaccination programme and less about the strict lockdown the UK has been under since late December. 

“With up to 60% of the population vaccinated and around five to 10% with natural immunity due to infection, we’re starting to see herd immunity take effect. This should prevent future large-scale outbreaks.”

Professor Spector warned it was inevitable cases would pick up again as restrictions are eased over the coming months. But he said any outbreaks would be “smaller” and “manageable” and among groups yet to be vaccinated.

The Prime Minister has been underplaying the impact of the vaccine for some weeks. As well as pinning the fall in Covid cases on lockdown rather than on the vaccine rollout, he recently said that vaccinated people must not meet indoors because jabs “are not giving 100% protection” – this despite the fact that the risk of catching a symptomatic Covid infection for two people who have been vaccinated is about one in 400,000. His confidence in lockdowns has, however, stood firm, despite an increasing number of studies showing they’re ineffective.

The report by the Mail is worth reading in full.