It’s becoming clear that the social distancing rules – even if the new one-metre rule – are unnecessary.
Across the United Kingdom, epidemiologists, public health officials and local bureaucrats are stamping their feet and gnashing their teeth. They’re furious about the fact that daily deaths from Covid-19 are continuing to decline at a precipitous rate. Contrary to their dire warnings, the easing of lockdown restrictions hasn’t led to an uptick in the rate of infection. The much ballyhooed ‘second spike’ has refused to materialise. The virus has all but disappeared.
The extent to which Covid-19 has vanished isn’t immediately apparent from the figures. The death tolls announced each day refer to all those deaths involving coronavirus that have been ‘registered’ in the last 24 hours. That includes people who died weeks ago – sometimes months ago – but whose paperwork has only just been completed. If you look instead at the number of actual deaths in English hospitals in the last 24 hours, that gives a clearer picture. The number on June 23 was four – all in the north west. Fewer than 20 died in London hospitals in the past week.
It is official. No 10 is too entangled in lockdown spin to do what it takes to save Britain. For the sake of our ailing economy, political clarity, and basic scientific honesty, this was Boris Johnson’s moment to declare to the nation that the overwhelming evidence suggests lockdown was a mistake – and we must never lock down again.
After years of a near jobs miracle that saw record numbers in employment, Covid-19 is taking a brutal toll.
Figures from the ONS today show that the number of staff on UK payrolls fell by 612,000 between March and May.
Claimant unemployment is already up by 1.6 million since March to 2.8 million. In the whole year after the 1929 Wall Street Crash it rose by 1.0 million.
The results are now in. Lockdowns are toxic for a world in which people travel to work on buses or commuter trains, spend eight hours with their colleagues at the office, spend their lunch hour doing a bit of shopping, and head off in the evening to the pub, the theatre or the football.
The sad but unavoidable fact, that the disease is little danger to most young and healthy people but is especially deadly to the old and ill, is also now beyond dispute…
The ceaseless assumption of the Government and the BBC that the shutdown ‘protected’ the NHS is simply not borne out by any facts. The NHS was never going to be overwhelmed. Covid deaths in this country peaked on April 8 – an event far too soon to have been caused by the shutdown announced on March 23 and begun the following day.
In fact, the country with the highest number of deaths per head is Belgium (843 per million). Yet Belgium introduced one of the tightest and most severe shutdowns on the planet. Sweden, without a shutdown at all, has suffered 472 deaths per million.
The UK figure of 620 per million may be inflated by our lax recording methods but hardly suggests that we did better than Sweden by throttling our economy and grossly interfering in personal liberty. Japan, which also did not shut down, suffered just over seven (yes, seven) deaths per million…
I believe that forces hostile to our country, its history and nature, have seen this as an opportunity. Probably incredulous to begin with, they realised the British people really had gone soft, accepting absurd and humiliating diktats, believing the most ridiculous claims.
In June 2020, The Office for National Statistics released their Gross domestic product (GDP) report for April 2020. They calculated that GDP fell by 10.4% in the three months to April. This was directly caused by the UK government’s policy of lockdown.
On March 25, just a day after Britain shut down, economist Professor Philip Thomas, of Bristol University, made a grim prediction.
If the country remained in lockdown for longer than two months, he warned, any lives saved would be wiped out by those lost from the impact of the inevitable recession.
Britain hit that timeline more than a fortnight ago, but restrictions largely remain in place and there is growing alarm among economists that the cure has become far deadlier than the disease.
Prof Thomas now estimates that 150,000 people could die from Covid-19 over five years under the intermittent lockdown conditions necessary to keep infection rates, or the reproduction ‘R’ number, below one if a vaccine is not found.
The Covid-19 lockdowns have led to the largest rises in unemployment since the 1930s. The Financial Times asked leading economists and market analysts what to expect and what might be done to avert turmoil
In the final analysis, our future depends not on a handful of ministers, but on us, the great majority of the British people, from schoolteachers and shopkeepers to car workers and business leaders.
And yet the government and the media perpetuate the fiction that lockdown is still in place.
With lockdown at an effective end, this foolish belief will only do us damage. The UK’s GDP is estimated to have fallen by two per cent in the first quarter of 2020. Other factors are inevitably at play, but the first quarter only includes the first week of lockdown. What effect will the past seven weeks of lockdown have on the economy in the second quarter?
While news headlines might still be dominated by the healthcare issues around coronavirus – when they’re not about Dominic Cummings – new YouGov tracker data reveals that economic concerns have been quietly rising among the population.
In fact, Britons are now almost as likely to say that ‘the economy’ is one of the top three issues facing the country (61%) as they are to say ‘health’ (66%).
In all of this, I could be wrong. Instituting the widest expansion of the state since 9/11, while suspending the boundaries of political power, quarantining healthy people and enacting a controlled demolition of our economy, might turn out to have been the ‘safest’ response to the pandemic. But my instincts, as well as a growing number of epidemiologists, virologists, economists, historians and journalists, tell me otherwise.
Over the months to come, more and better data will help build a more complete picture. Based on today’s data, it is nevertheless clear that borrowing will increase to historic highs this year. Borrowing of around £300 billion, or 15% of GDP, as the OBR’s Coronavirus reference scenario projects, certainly seems plausible, a level which has not been reached since the Second World War (but, as a share of GDP, would still be below that borrowed in the four years from 1940–41 to 1943–44).
We have detonated the global economy to pursue a lockdown experiment that may not have worked, according to the latest evidence. This diabolical revelation should be a world scandal. It should also be a sobering moment of enlightenment for Britain, as we seek to salvage our economy while learning lessons on how to better protect the vulnerable. Instead the Covid narrative becomes ever more surreal.
The broadcast media is more interested in scalping lockdown flouters than questioning whether shutdowns have served any useful purpose. World-class studies that suggest lockdown did not alter the pandemic’s course are mysteriously vanishing into internet obscurity on first contact with the official narrative. Our greatest minds have resorted to unpicking the issue on offbeat YouTube webinars.
- JP Morgan research said infection rates had fallen since lockdowns were eased
- It suggested the virus ‘has its own dynamics’ which are ‘unrelated’ to lockdowns
- Report said they were imposed with little thought of ‘economic devastation’
Food banks see higher demand from professionals, self-employed
Higher income inequality could lead to voter backlash, unrest
LOCKDOWNS have not altered the course of the coronavirus pandemic but have devastated the global economy, a study by JP Morgan has claimed.
A paper by Marko Kolanovic, a strategist at the investment bank, argued that governments were “spooked” into imposing lockdowns that were “late” or “inefficient”.
Business leaders have warned that companies will be bankrupted if staff and customers have to keep two metres apart after government advisers opposed relaxing the rule.
The Sage scientific panel has concluded a review into the two-metre rule and advised ministers that it should stay in the belief that blurring it would be confusing. Downing Street said yesterday that it had no plans to change the “sensible and safe distance”.
It is becoming clear that the severity of a lockdown does not correlate significantly either with the spread of the coronavirus or the rate of deaths. I noted in this column a couple of weeks back that the states that had remained open had, if anything, fared better than the rest. We can now also see that the states that ended the closures early, such as Georgia, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, are not suffering any noticeable new surge. It is a similar picture in Europe, where Spain and Italy, with very harsh quarantines, suffered worse than the Netherlands and Germany, where the restrictions were moderate.
But none of that will alter the verdict. The counterexample of 1930s Britain does not dent the confidence of New Deal enthusiasts. The counterexample of Iceland, which refused to rescue its bankers and bounced back quickly from the financial crisis, does not dent the confidence of bailout enthusiasts. And the counterexample of Sweden, which left shops and businesses open and told people to use their common sense, will not change the minds of lockdown enthusiasts.
Yet a sharp drop in vacancies signals trouble ahead. Vacancies fell 170,000 in three months to April, the biggest drop since the series began in 2001. Job openings had all but collapsed entirely by the time the lockdown was announced, according to research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, with the decline coming across the wage distribution.