A study evaluating COVID-19 responses around the world found that mandatory lockdown orders early in the pandemic may not provide significantly more benefits to slowing the spread of the disease than other voluntary measures, such as social distancing or travel reduction.
Background and Aims
The most restrictive non‐pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for controlling the spread of COVID‐19 are mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures. Given the consequences of these policies, it is important to assess their effects. We evaluate the effects on epidemic case growth of more restrictive NPIs (mrNPIs), above and beyond those of less restrictive NPIs (lrNPIs).
We first estimate COVID‐19 case growth in relation to any NPI implementation in subnational regions of 10 countries: England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and the US. Using first‐difference models with fixed effects, we isolate the effects of mrNPIs by subtracting the combined effects of lrNPIs and epidemic dynamics from all NPIs. We use case growth in Sweden and South Korea, two countries that did not implement mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures, as comparison countries for the other 8 countries (16 total comparisons).
Implementing any NPIs was associated with significant reductions in case growth in 9 out of 10 study countries, including South Korea and Sweden that implemented only lrNPIs (Spain had a non‐significant effect). After subtracting the epidemic and lrNPI effects, we find no clear, significant beneficial effect of mrNPIs on case growth in any country. In France, e.g., the effect of mrNPIs was +7% (95CI ‐5%‐19%) when compared with Sweden, and +13% (‐12%‐38%) when compared with South Korea (positive means pro‐contagion). The 95% confidence intervals excluded 30% declines in all 16 comparisons and 15% declines in 11/16 comparisons.
While small benefits cannot be excluded, we do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs. Similar reductions in case growth may be achievable with less restrictive interventions.
- Your immune system’s ‘memory’ T cells keep track of the viruses they have seen before.
- New study led by scientists at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) shows that memory helper T cells that recognize common cold coronaviruses also recognize matching sites on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Having a strong T cell response, or a better T cell response may give you the opportunity to mount a much quicker and stronger response.
- 40%-60% of people never exposed to SARS-CoV-2 had T cells that reacted to the virus showing that their immune systems recognized the virus.
- This finding turned out to be a global phenomenon and was reported in people from the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and Singapore.
- This discovery suggests that fighting off a common cold coronavirus can induce cross-reactive T cell memory against SARS-CoV-2.
- Sweden’s GDP fell 8.6 in Q2 2020, the country’s worst quarterly decline in modern history.
- The Scandanavian nation markedly outperformed the rest of Europe. Its GDP drop in the second quarter was lower than the 12.1 average experienced in the Eurozone, as well as the 11.9 average across the whole of the EU.
- Sweden outperformed several European countries, including Spain (18.5 percent fall), France (13.6 percent), Italy (12.4 percent) and Germany (10.1 percent).
It is known that severe COVID-19 cases in small children are rare. If a childhood-related infection would be protective against severe course of COVID-19, it would be expected that adults with intensive and regular contact to small children also may have a mild course of COVID-19 more frequently. To test this hypothesis, a survey among 4,010 recovered COVID-19 patients was conducted in Germany. 1,186 complete answers were collected. 6.9% of these patients reported frequent and regular job-related contact to children below 10 years of age and 23.2% had own small children, which is higher than expected. In the relatively small subgroup with intensive care treatment (n=19), patients without contact to small children were overrepresented. These findings are not well explained by age, gender or BMI distribution of those patients and should be validated in other settings.
- Far from following the science, the government turned its back on all available data.
- Until mid-April, with the escalating deaths in care homes agonisingly clear across Europe, government policy was still for patients to be discharged to care homes from hospitals without requiring negative tests. And so the toll: around half of UK Covid-19 deaths are care home residents, despite them accounting for only 0.6 per cent of our population.
- Germany, whose population is roughly 25 per cent bigger than ours, has suffered approximately a quarter of our Covid deaths.
- Ministers have deferred to scientists who themselves deferred to the projections of models, even when data on the ground told a completely different story.
- Statisticians on social media had a field day pointing out the chasm between modelled outcomes and reality, but it is not clear that the models on which SAGE relied (both their input parameters and mechanical dynamics) were continually refined with on-the-ground data (or simply discarded as wrong).
- Why weren’t Oxford’s team, who specialise in zoonotic viruses and who looked at the same data as Neil Ferguson’s modelling-led team but came to wildly different conclusions, on SAGE’s panel to provide an alternative view?
- Why were there no economists on SAGE? Economics is not the bloodless pursuit of money but the science of decision-making under uncertainty where resources are finite; could they really have brought nothing to the party?
- In mid-March, Stanford’s Nobel laureate Michael Levitt (biophysicist and professor of structural biology) discussed the “natural experiment” of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a petridish disproportionately filled with the most susceptible age and health groups. Even here, despite the virus spreading uncontrolled onboard for at least two weeks, infection only reached a minority of passengers and crew.
- The data towards the end of March clearly showed we were already near the tipping point of the bell-curve (meaning the disease is on the wane). We were already past the point where lockdown could have made much difference.
- Knut Wittkowski: “respiratory diseases [including Covid-19] . . . remain only about two months in any given population”.
One of Germany’s most prominent virologists has said the country’s lockdown was unnecessary to defeat the coronavirus.
“We went into lockdown too quickly because the prevailing concern was that there might not be enough intensive care beds and that there was pressure from the public,” Prof Hendrik Streeck said.
“We are seeing a lot of asymptomatic cases, that is infections with no consequences. This means we can assess the danger from the virus better. I still don’t believe that at the end of the year we will have had more deaths in Germany than in other years.
Professor Karl Friston is a computer modelling expert, world-renowned for his contributions to neuroscience. He has been applying his “dynamic causal modelling” approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, and has reached some startling results.
– The differences between countries are not primarily down to government actions, but due to ‘intrinsic’ differences in the populations
– We don’t yet fully understand what is driving it, although there are theories ranging from levels of vitamin D to genetic differences
– In each country, there appears to be a portion of the population that is ‘not even in the game’ – that is, not susceptible to Covid-19. This varies hugely between countries
– In the UK, Professor Friston estimates that portion to be at least 50%, and probably more like 80%
– The similar mortality results between Sweden (no lockdown) and the UK (lockdown) are best explained by the fact that in reality there was no difference
– the impact of the legal lockdown in Professor Friston’s models “literally goes away”.
…the report’s assessment is in line with a growing number of international experts who demonstrate that the threat of COVID-19 is no worse than a severe influenza cycle.
- Grave errors of judgement in crisis management
- Deficits in the regulatory framework for pandemics
- Corona crisis likely proves to be a false alarm
Freddie Sayers talks to Professor Hendrik Streeck about why he thinks lockdown measures were initiated too quickly, and how his findings show a Covid-19 fatality rate of 0.24-0.36%. The deadliness of Covid-19, measured by the “Infected Fatality Rate” or what percentage of infected people end up dying, has become an issue of global significance.
- COVID-19 is less deadly than initially thought
- Fatality rate between 0.24-0.36%
- Transmission between families seems low
- Enclosed spaces with large gatherings seems to spread the virus
- Waiting for a vaccine seems unrealistic
- We will not be able to eradicate COVID-19 without a vaccine but there has not been any successful vaccine against any coronovirus
- COVID-19 will be like any coronavirus
- We may be able to manage the virus with basic hygiene
The mass arrest of anti-lockdown protesters in Berlin shows we have given up our freedoms far too easily.
Germany is now starting to protest the lockdown. The organizer, medical lawyer Beate Bahner, was later arrested and committed to a psychiatric institution.
Lawyer Beate Bahner, a Medical Law specialist in Heidelberg Germany, recently filed a lawsuit against the German government’s lockdown measures. She was arrested and committed to a psychiatric institution after organizing a protest.
It seems that the British government’s assumption that COVID-19 would infect 80 percent of the population was borrowed from a 2015 flu pandemic planning report.