fbpx

Sweden is showing that the destructive lockdowns were unnecessary

OPINION

BY LEN CABRERA

It’s been four weeks since most states, including Florida, issued stay-at-home orders and violated Constitutional rights to free assembly, free exercise of religion, and protection against unreasonable seizures without due process. State and local politicians hid behind recommendations from federal epidemiologists who incorrectly claimed lockdown was the only solution to avoid overwhelming hospitals and having hundreds of thousands of deaths. We know the models were wrong, dropping from over 1 million deaths to roughly 60,000 deaths (the IHME projection of 240,000 deaths, later revised down to 60,000, already assumed social distancing). Now we have sufficient data to confirm the lockdown did not affect the rate of infections.

Don't Miss a Post!

There have been lots of reports comparing the United Kingdom and Sweden, but most use more rhetoric than data (“‘Russian roulette-style’ Covid-19 strategy“;  “They are leading us to catastrophe“). It took a blogger on Twitter to actually show Sweden is not worse off than the UK. Not trusting Twitter, I downloaded data for the UK, Sweden, and the US from Worldometer to recreate the graph for daily new cases per one million population:

The graph shows that Sweden does not appear to be worse off than either the US or the UK. In fact, Sweden has had fewer daily cases per capita than the US since the lockdown began. Another way to picture the difference is to look at total cases per one million population, normalizing the timeline to start at 100 cases:

Again, Sweden doesn’t look worse off than the US or the UK despite not having implemented draconian lockdown measures.

The problem in the US is that the lockdown policy is being driven by Dr. Fauci, who claims to be an expert in infectious diseases, but he revealed that he has another agenda when he changed the rationale for the lockdown from “flatten the curve” to “no new cases, no deaths.” Dr. Fauci should know that there is no way we can get to “no new cases” of COVID-19, even if a vaccine is developed. Last year we saw 1,282 cases of measles and 3,474 cases of mumps, despite having vaccines since 1968. The MMR vaccine is only 97% effective against measles and 88% effective against mumps.

But Dr. Fauci is not to blame because his recommendations from the federal government are not binding to governors. There was not a national policy to shut down businesses or declare some businesses “non-essential.” Governors are to blame for the overreaction and the lockdown. Given data on the spread of COVID-19 with and without a lockdown, it’s clear that governors should immediately relax lockdowns to match Sweden at a minimum.

Note that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is opening some businesses as early as Friday this week. (Read his executive order here.) Here are replicas of the earlier graphs using data for Sweden, the US, Georgia, and Florida:

Florida has much fewer cases per capita than Georgia and is growing at a slower rate. If Georgia is opening, so should Florida. Note also that Florida is worse off than Sweden, which did not impose any lockdown.

Governor Kemp is demonstrating leadership. Governor DeSantis took the politician route, establishing multiple committees to delay the decision and shield himself from media criticism. People who lost their jobs or who are in danger of losing their businesses cannot afford to wait while salaried elites in Tallahassee decide what’s good for them.

Sadly, the media hysteria that drove the lockdown (and continues to this day) has many people terrified of COVID-19. They are too terrified to push DeSantis to reopen or even to go outside if DeSantis does reopen Florida. Healthy people under the age of 65 need to look at the actual data and realize there’s no need to live in fear.

There have now been several antibody studies that show the actual number of infections exceeds the number of cases by at least 30 times. (Read about antibody studies by Stanford in Santa Rosa County and by USC at in Los Angeles County.) That means that the overall death rate in Florida so far is about 0.1%, the same as the flu. People don’t panic during flu season. They don’t lock themselves in their homes and complain about neighbors not wearing masks.

To reduce the paranoia even more, when you factor in a person’s age and health status, the chance of dying from COVID-19 is even lower for most people. New York City is publishing death statistics by age and underlying conditions. Less than 0.6% of all deaths in the city were from people with no underlying conditions (52 of 9,101). Add that information to the distribution by age in Florida (Florida’s fatality rate is about 0.7% of verified cases, which is likely about 0.02% of actual infections), and there is practically no reason for healthy people under age 65 to fear COVID-19. The only exception is the risk of spreading it to sick or elderly family members, but it’s much easier (and more economically viable) to shelter the at-risk population than the entire population.

A viral epidemic is nothing new in our nation’s history. Philadelphia experienced an outbreak of yellow fever in 1793 that killed 9% of the population (5,000 of 55,000). Yet the Founding Fathers did not write viral outbreak exemptions into the Constitution. In the late 1940s, polio crippled over 35,000 people each year, and the country did not shut down. They followed a more rational policy by addressing the affected cities and quarantining people who were or may have been exposed.

It is unbelievable that our governors have marched in near lockstep to shut down our nation’s economy and ruin millions of lives with little or no public debate. There’s no amount of borrowing the federal government can do to fix this problem. Our nation’s standing in the world and the federal government’s ability to borrow come from our economic power. Our governors have effectively destroyed that power. We can’t afford for them to drag their feet in reopening an economy they were not authorized to shut down in the first place.

While we’re tracking COVID-19 cases and deaths daily, the economic damage will take months to be reported (and we won’t have dashboards to track the daily toll). It’s starting to look like it will eclipse the Great Depression in terms of unemployment. Think about that as you realize how inconsequential COVID-19 is, relative to our total population. Only about a quarter of one percent of the US population has tested positive for COVID-19 (0.249%), and 14/1000th of a percent of our population has died from it (0.014%). The numbers are even smaller in Florida: 0.128% tested positive, and 0.004% died. The numbers for Sweden aren’t much different: 0.152% tested positive, and 0.017% died. The lockdown was completely unnecessary.

Governor DeSantis needs to stop hiding behind his employed and salaried staff and committees. End the lockdown now.

Len Cabrera has a PhD in Economics from the University of Florida.

5 Comments