“We could open up again and forget the whole thing”

“We could open up again and forget the whole thing”

Epidemiologist K. Wittkowski on the deadly consequences of lockdown.

Governments around the world say they are following ‘The Science’ with their Draconian measures to stem the spread of the virus. But the science around C-19 coronavirus is bitterly contested.

Many experts have serious doubts about the effectiveness of the measures, and argue that our outsized fears of C-19 coronavirus are not justified.

Dr. Wittkowski is 1 such expert who has long argued for a change of course.

For 20 yrs, Dr. Wittkowski was the head of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at The Rockefeller University’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science. 

The Big Q: Is Covid-19 dangerous?

The Big A: No, unless you have age-related severe comorbidities. So if you are in a nursing home because you cannot live by yourself anymore, then getting infected is dangerous.

When this whole thing started, there was 1 reason given for the lockdown and that was to prevent hospitals from becoming overloaded. There is no indication that hospitals could ever have become overloaded, irrespective of what we did. So we could open up again, and forget the whole thing.

I hope the intervention did not have too much of an impact because it most likely made the situation worse. The intervention was to ‘flatten the curve’. That means that there would be the same number of cases but spread out over a longer period of time, because otherwise the hospitals would not have enough capacity.

Now, as we know, children and young adults do not end up in hospitals. It is only those who are both elderly and have comorbidities that do. Therefore you have to protect the elderly and the nursing homes. The ideal approach would be to simply shut the door of the nursing homes and keep the personnel and the elderly locked in for a certain amount of time, and pay the staff overtime to stay there for 24 hrs per day.

You can do that for 3 wks, for 18 months, it is not possible. The flattening of the curve, the prolongation of the epidemic, makes it more difficult to protect the elderly, who are at risk. More of the elderly people become infected, and we have more deaths.

Plus, we have the direct consequences: suicides, domestic violence and other social consequences leading to death. And then we have people who are too scared to go to the hospitals for other problems like strokes or heart attacks. So people stay away from hospitals because of the Covid fear. And then they die.

Germany had 8,000 deaths in a population of 85-M. They had 20,000 to 30,000 hospitalisations, that is nothing, it does not show up as a blip in the hospital statistics.

In New York City, it was a bit higher. The Javits Congress Center was turned into a field hospital with 3,000 beds. It treated just 1,000 patients in all. The Navy ship sent to New York by President Trump had 179 patients but it was sent back because it was not needed.

New York is the epicenter of the epidemic in the United States, and even here at the epicenter, hospital utilisation was only up a bit. Nothing dramatic. Nothing out of the ordinary. That is what happens during the flu season. People have the flu, and then there are more patients in the hospitals than there otherwise would be,

All the studies that have been done on immunity have shown that we already have at least 25% of the population who are immune. That gives us a nice cushion. If 25% of the population are already immune, we are very quickly getting to the 50% that we need to have what is called herd immunity. We will actually get a bit higher than that. So we have flattened what otherwise would have been a peak, and if we now let it run, even if the number of cases would increase a bit, it would not get as high as it was, because we already have enough immune people in the population. So it is not going to spread as fast as it could have spread in the beginning.

A 2nd wave is an invention to justify a policy that politicians are afraid of reversing.

There is no justification for social distancing. The People need to ask the government for an explanation. The government is restricting freedom. You do not have to ask me for justification. There is no justification. It is the government that has to justify what it is doing. Sorry, but that is how it is.

Governments did not have an open discussion, including economists, biologists and epidemiologists, to hear different voices.

In Britain, it was the voice of one person, Neil Ferguson who has a history of coming up with projections that are a bit odd. The government did not convene a meeting with people who have different ideas, different projections, to discuss his projection. If it had done that, it could have seen where the fundamental flaw was in the so-called models used by Neil Ferguson. His paper was published eventually, in medRxiv. The assumption was that 1% of all people who became infected would die. There is no justification anywhere for that.

Let us say the epidemic runs with a basic reproduction rate of around 2. Eventually 80% of the population will be immune, because they have been infected at some point in time, 80% of the British population would be something like 50-M, 1% of them dying is 500,000. That is where Professor Ferguson’s number came from.

But we knew from the very beginning that neither in Wuhan nor in SKorea did 1% of all people infected die. SKorea has 60-M people. It is about the same size as the UK. The SKorean government was extremely proud to have resisted pressure to drop the very basic concepts of democracy. And the 1% death projection of 600,000 turned out to be 256, the number of deaths in SKorea.

The epidemic in SKorea was over by March, the number of cases was down by 13 March. In Wuhan they also did not shut down the economy. Wuhan had restricted travel out of the city. They stopped train services and blocked the roads. They did not restrict anything social within the city until very late. We have seen, then, in Wuhan and SKorea, if you do not do anything, the epidemic is over in 3 wks.

Knowing that the epidemic would be over in 3 wks, and the number of people dying would be minor, just like a normal flu, the governments started shutting down in mid-March.

Why? Because somebody pulled it out of his head that 1% of all infected would die. And 1 could argue that maybe 1% of all cases would die. But 1% of all people infected does not make any sense. We had that evidence by mid-March.

Cases means people who have symptoms that are serious enough for them to go to a hospital or get treated. Most people have no symptoms at all. But waking up with a sore throat 1 day is not a case. A case means that someone showed up in a hospital, not that they are infected.

Have a healthy weekend, Keep the Faith!

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Paul Ebeling

Paul A. Ebeling, a polymath, excels, in diverse fields of knowledge Including Pattern Recognition Analysis in Equities, Commodities and Foreign Exchange, and he it the author of "The Red Roadmaster's Technical Report on the US Major Market Indices, a highly regarded, weekly financial market commentary. He is a philosopher, issuing insights on a wide range of subjects to over a million cohorts. An international audience of opinion makers, business leaders, and global organizations recognize Ebeling as an expert.   

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