Statistics

Academics Fail To Prove COVID Lockdowns Were Painless and Effective

Maybe you have a story like this. A barber I know was shut down by one of the lockdowns various state governments experimented with during the coronadoom panic, in a vain attempt to quell the spread of a respiratory virus.

The shop had three chairs, all of which sat empty for months.

And then there were all those restaurants that were forced to close, or were allowed to serve only limited takeout. Lots of furloughed waitresses, cooks, and suppliers. The comestibles the restaurants used to buy went unbought. The trucks carrying the food went undriven.

Same kind of thing with lots of small retail establishments, many of which, like restaurants, went under. People lost their life savings, livelihoods, sanity, and even lives.

The oligarchs’ stores did fine, though. As the NY Post summarized, “The rich and powerful thrived as the rest of us suffered in the year of lockdowns”.

Hey, maybe it was it was all worth it, though, if it stopped the bug from spreading. And, say, maybe the lockdowns didn’t sting as badly as we thought they did. Maybe—hear me out, here—the lockdowns “saved lives without harming economies”.

That’s what the LA Times says various “researchers” are claiming:

“First, lockdowns played a significant role in reducing infection rates. Second, they had a very modest role in producing economic damage. Conversely, lifting lockdowns has done very little to spur economic resurgence.”

None of this has a chance of being true. So how could they say it? By ignoring obvious data and instead applying strange and curious behavioral models from which they derived obscure statistics.

It was because of models the paper said there was “very little evidence that lockdowns themselves damaged local economies more than individual behavior that would have happened anyway, lockdowns or not. Nor is there much evidence that lifting lockdowns produced a faster recovery.”

Both claims are absurd. The second one is also asinine. What was there to recover from, if not the strictures of the lockdowns? And if they were painless, why not keep them until this, and all other respiratory viruses, are eliminated forever?

It’s true some, but not all, people would have kept away from restaurants, beauty salons, and so on in fear of the disease, but the fear they had was juiced by the lockdown orders themselves and the resultant media hysteria. It’s a good bet none of the models accounted for that.

One of those barbers I mentioned surreptitiously set up shop in a barn and gave illegal haircuts. Because he had customers demanding them. And how many stories did we hear of businesses (like gyms and watering holes) trying to keep going, because they had earnest customers? Owners were tossed in the hoosegow and fined because people weren’t scared, like the researchers insisted. So their models are just plain wrong.

Lockdown differences in the spread of the bug can be proved by examining the CDC’s raw data. Recall not every state locked down, and not all to the same extent.

Florida flirted with lockdowns for a month in April 2020. Like all lockdowns, people were allowed to work in “essential” jobs—with the clear indication other jobs, and the people filling them, were inessential. How nice.

After that month, the lockdowns were abandoned. As were statewide mask mandates. Texas lifted their mask mandates in March, to a loud chorus of boos from experts who predicted doom would result. Nebraska, a state not heard from much, never locked down.

California locked up tight, though. Its people did, anyway. Not so much its rulers. Michigan and Minnesota, to name two others, also had harsh lockdowns and mask mandates.

The LA Times said of California that “due in part to its residents having taken stay-at-home rules, social distancing and masking seriously, California now boasts among the lowest case, hospitalization and death rates in the nation, as well as a recovering economy.”

Take a close look at this picture, which is per-capita attributed COVID weekly deaths rates for several states (source).

Look like California did better than Florida? It did in late summer 2020, but then Florida did better in winter. The apocalypse predicted for Texas? Never happened.

Somehow in the midst of various forms of lockdowns and mask mandates, the disease, quiet in the summer, swelled again in Michigan and Minneapolis. How? Sunshine and the great outdoors, and everybody heading back inside in winter, likely.

Nebraska looks worst, but it’s the smallest state considered here, with about 1.9 million people, and small numbers make for big jumps, like we see here. In total per-capita deaths Nebraska did better than all the rest, 117 deaths per 100,000. Michigan did worst, with 198 deaths per 100,000. All the other states were in between and similar to one another.

To distinguish between these states, we have to dig into demographics, city size, vaccinations, lockdown severity and timing, lockdown and mask compliance, and on and on. Any positive effect of lockdowns would be small, which we know because if the effect were large we’d see it on the state level.

Even if the unlikely turns out to be true and lockdowns slightly cut down attributed deaths in certain localities, for certain demographics, for certain lockdown severity and compliance, these would still have to be balanced against the costs, which were immense. And ongoing.

An edited version of this post first appeared at The Stream.

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Categories: Statistics

27 replies »

  1. Reading this, I was having a feeling of deja vu

    aaah … An edited version of this post first appeared at The Stream.

    went to the stream and saw the picture that went with it … deja vu all over again

    good piece

  2. Why is it that the testing of a bioweapon and the willingness of a population to become communist slaves with their lives snuffed out by the government keeps being the topic of “it didn’t work”. Yes, IT DID DAMN WELL WORK AND WORKED WELL. Stop pretending it was anything else. I’m really tired of the “right” trying to call this what it WAS NOT. Just like the left and the capital “insurrection”. NO ONE USES PROPER LANGUAGE so there is ZERO meaning to any of this. Ranting is one thing, but label it. Don’t pretend it matters to anyone.

    As for the lying media, that’s decades old and NO ONE CARED BEFORE. Once you establish wrong is right for over a hundred years, you’re pretty much stuck with the crappy outcome of your laziness and apathy. I have no sympathy whatsoever for any of this. THIS IS WHAT AMERICA WANTS, BEGGED FOR AND VERY WILLING LET HAPPEN. Whining afterward is just flat out ignorant and stupid and childish. At least have the guts to admit that we asked for this and now it’s too late. WE WERE STUPID. STUPID HAS CONSEQUENCES.

    Yes, that is a rant. Stupid people do not learn so this will not change hearts and minds. It just reflects the reality of lazy, stupid people who complain about what their inaction caused. Boo Hoo.

  3. These people are such fools and Liars. Once the lockdown was suggested and went past two weeks it became obvious that this was a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy. People talked about it relentlessly but not the people that mattered apparently.
    I am finding it fun to go shopping now because it’s so easy to spot the crazies in their masks.
    Pray the rosary daily

  4. “Maybe you have a story like this. A barber I know was shut down by one of the lockdowns various state governments experimented with during the coronadoom panic, in a vain attempt to quell the spread of a respiratory virus.”
    …As if the latter were some kind of impossible thing to do…
    Depends what you mean by ‘quell’

    The opposite of propaganda is the truth of the matter in hand, not more propaganda

    “It’s too difficult, don’t bother” is the other way of parodying the attitude of the cult, your club, of the skeptics
    karma comelion

  5. “It’s true some, but not all, people would have kept away from restaurants, beauty salons, and so on in fear of the disease, but the fear they had was juiced by the lockdown orders themselves and the resultant media hysteria. It’s a good bet none of the models accounted for that.”

    So have any qualified modellers here actually stidies the models themselves?
    According to the modellers who spoke at length about this, they DID model all sorts of scenarios and human behaviours were considered, advice was taken from various other experts on group behaviour, (not because what they say is gospel, of course but because they know more about it than the modellers do)

    There’s the fear, then there’s the price of fear then there’s the price of fear’s price, which is also a business opportunity. All solutions, fake or otherwise have a selling point.

    It used to be “lockdowns don’t work’
    At least the terminology’s tightened a little

    The fear is being juiced in more ways than one and from both ends
    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander

  6. Clown always self-identify–not always with a red nose and oversize shoes…

    “First, lockdowns played a significant role in reducing infection rates.” Facts to the contrary, notwithstanding,

    “Second, they had a very modest role in producing economic damage. Conversely, lifting lockdowns has done very little to spur economic resurgence.” Post hos ergo propter hoc.

  7. Kenan Meyer: GREAT link to those Covid Charts….simple, elegant, and extremely eloquent! Thanks!

  8. At this point we should come up with models to predict the success or failure of other models.

    If at any time, any variable can be filled in with “let x = something that quacks like a communist” or “anything tried before that didn’t work then but should magically work now” or “someone’s feelings” then the result will always be catastrophic failure.

    The model will also be more accurate when factoring in whether or not the modelers themselves have been reliable in the past and whether the ones in charge or any industry involving itself in the models stands to gain handsomely , and above all whether or not model solutions encourage people to behave in ways contrary to what the Lord God Almighty said never to do.

  9. When you’re studying/designing experimental epidemics (I have) lockdowns are how you spread the disease in the target (volunteer) population.

  10. Well, it’s no surprise to me that the very same people in the media and elsewhere who pushed for lockdowns, muzzle mandates, etc., would now claim they “worked.” Or that they’d produce new models and “studies” which say exactly that and claim to “prove” lockdowns et al. saved “X number of lives” or kept the holy idol NHS from being overwhelmed with “X number of cases,” because that’s what they told the model to say.

    Even after re-opening here after the initial lockdown ended in my state last My and June, the only reason I continued to stay away from any store or business (until last week as the muzzle regime recedes) was the continued forced muzzling, not fear of any virus (yet these same models and studies usually fail to take those people into account and assume that if people are staying away still it’s because of actual fear of the virus itself)

  11. The IHME models now treat all excess deaths as COVID deaths:

    http://www.healthdata.org/special-analysis/estimation-excess-mortality-due-covid-19-and-scalars-reported-covid-19-deaths

    It’s buried in the article because they do a lot of talk about possible causes of death and ways to estimate them, but they say

    ” Given that there is insufficient evidence to estimate these contributions to excess mortality, for now we assume that total COVID-19 deaths equal excess mortality.”

    What’s more notable is the immediately afterwards:

    “For the reasons presented in this section, we believe that this is likely an underestimate. As the evidence is strengthened in the coming months and years, it is likely that we will revise our estimates of the total COVID-19 death rate upward in future iterations of this work, once we can properly take into account the drivers described in this section.

    What they mean by this is that they think that the lockdowns unintentionally saved lives by reducing traffic on roads (and thus accidents), preventing infections of other types of disease, etc. Additionally since COVID-19 largely killed people who were very elderly or very sick with other diseases, it ate into the “expected” mortality. So they claim that the actual number of COVID deaths is in fact more than the excess deaths.

    Notably they also acknowledge that the lockdowns caused problems with lack of treatment of chronic conditions, mental health problems include opioid abuse, etc. But since “there is insufficient evidence to estimate these contributions to excess mortality” they treat these things as having killed not a single person.

    At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually we get to the point where they say “in 2020 every single death in the entire world was a direct result of COVID-19.”

  12. “At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually we get to the point where they say ‘in 2020 every single death in the entire world was a direct result of COVID-19’.”

    Why stop there?! Let’s just make all deaths from now on Covid deaths. Covid is everything!

  13. Rudolph

    Thanks?

    Here’s the money shot

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NEW Death . Old DEATH
    United States of America . . .912,345 . . . 578,555

    India . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .736,811 . . . 248,016

    Mexico . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 621,962 . . . 219,372

    Brazil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .616,914 . . . 423,307

    Russian Federation . . . . . . . 607,589 . . . 111,909

    United Kingdom . . . . . . . . . .210,076 . . . 150,815 (I guess some countries’ totals are more trusted than others)

    Iran (Islamic Republic of) .180,487 . . . . 75,547

    On and on it goes

  14. Aaaah … that explains the NEW IHME Projection graph

    Two lines now … TOTAL and REPORTED

    So their new projection of 948,000 is GOOD (that means we only have about 18000 more reported deaths to go)

  15. My current projection for the us is 750,000
    For the UK 128,000
    It’s already been stated officially and not in secret conspiracy stylie that the number counted in theuk will drop by at LEAST twenty five percent purely due to the method of recording (died within 28 days of a positive test)
    No secrets, no lies, there!

    All cause mortality is only possible to really know at a certain point two or three years hence. Even then, it won’t be an accurate number desired by the ideological far right non clinical paranoid armchair skeptics

  16. Joy,

    commie chameleon

    Sounds like lyrics in a Culture Club song:
    “commie commie commie commie commie chameleon
    you come and go, you come and go”

  17. Dav!
    linked the thing, didn’t it show up? Saw it in a whole new light

    Played it about twenty times and danced with the Jack Russell joined along with the African grey parrot who was singing the previous song, Fly Me To The Moon

    It’s lockdown madhouse here
    Happiness IS an inside job

  18. Joy, the link wasn’t necessary. Got the reference from “commie chameleon” directly. Was the first thing that came to mind. Someday I’ll get the hang of being clear 🙂

  19. This is pretty nit-picky, but the deaths-by-state graphs could use a total-deaths annotation. Or perhaps a cumulative plot instead of a trend plot. As is, the plots over-emphasize short-lived peaks, which are further emphasized by the thick lines, as the eye is drawn to the total area of black.

    I warned you, pretty nit-picky. On the other hand, I think the Covid reaction has been badly mishandled in no small part due to undue emphasis on peaks, and graphs like these play right into evil-doer messaging.

  20. Matt

    I think Tuesday you need to take the trash out:
    Rudolph posted above:
    The IHME models now treat all excess deaths as COVID deaths:
    http://www.healthdata.org/special-analysis/estimation-excess-mortality-due-covid-19-and-scalars-reported-covid-19-deaths
    With this new method, 17 countries wind up with a death rate higher than that experienced by the Diamond Princess. Four countries, according to IHME, experience a death rate one and a half times that of the Diamond Princess!
    The gaslighting will continue until y’all bow to SCIENCE!

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