Here we go – brace positions. The UK’s “Rule of Six” ban on social gatherings over six people comes into force today, and the Government confirmed yesterday that it includes children in England (unlike in Wales and Scotland).
Denmark – the country once lauded for its coronavirus response – has been placed on England’s quarantine watch list due to rising cases (even though on most days since June it’s had no Covid deaths at all). Countries around Europe tighten restrictions. Israel locks down again.
SAGE scientist Professor Sir Mark Walport warns that the UK is “on the edge of losing control” while Professor Peter Openshaw (of, you’ve guessed it, Imperial College) intones that the public must “act fast” and fall into line or face a second lockdown. Panic is back.
“You’ve only got to look across the Channel to see what is happening in France and what’s happening in Spain,” says Professor Walport. “The only way to stop the spread of this infection is to reduce the number of people we all come into contact with.”
And what is happening in France and Spain? Let’s see.
A huge rise in cases positive tests, and little else. Hospitals in some areas such as Madrid have seen a gentle rise in COVID-19 admissions, but nothing they can’t handle or to indicate runaway growth like in March.
Sweden, meanwhile, is seeing an ongoing decline in deaths and cases and a strong economic recovery – the most likely explanation for which is the emergence of population immunity at lower than anticipated antibody levels, as Professor Sunetra Gupta has long argued.
Time to get a grip before we find ourselves plunged into a dismal and economically devastating winter. The facts are these. No country has yet seen more than 0.1% of its population die with COVID-19 – Peru is currently the worst hit with 925 deaths per million (even though it has the world’s most severe lockdown), while most others are well below that.
Sweden’s death toll stands at 578 deaths per million, around 0.06% of its population, 75% of whom were residents of nursing homes or receiving at-home care.
The average age of death in most countries is over 80 and in general countries are worse affected when their recent flu seasons have been mild, suggesting this epidemic is little different in form or scale to the annual seasonal round of flu.
Crucially, no country has yet seen anything that could be called a “second wave”. Florida and the southern United States experienced a delayed first wave in the summer along with South America but that now seems to be on its way out. Spain, France, Denmark and others are seeing an Autumn ripple, presumably as a result of having full herd immunity deferred by lockdown, and which we can assume will be larger or smaller depending on how far the country still has to go.
The fear is that these ripples will become new waves as winter sets in. But that is pure conjecture, and Sweden’s experience suggests it is baseless. We can’t keep wrecking economies, undermining livelihoods and stunting lives out of an abundance of caution when all the evidence suggests the fear is unwarranted.
Time for our political leaders to learn from Sweden and lead us out of this mess, not deeper in.
Source: Lockdown Sceptics