It just doesn’t work | Daily FT

Pointless trauma for the healthy, particularly the young, and irrationally keeping people inside already argue against lockdowns and then there is all the collateral damage – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara

Let’s get it out of our system: lockdowns don’t work (we’ll demonstrate why) and early treatment does. And any other approach is voodoo medicine at this stage, because of clearly demonstrated global data and results, not “theory.” 

And let me post this on the board again. When was it ever debated in terms of cost-benefit or any other data-based (not mad modelling) basis, that this one source of potential harm, C-19, matters more than starvation, business destruction, accentuating poverty, deferred medical care, deferred vaccinations, or any other consideration? Surely, a harm is a harm, and we have to soberly assess relative impact, and not make this one fascination, the overarching priority for all leadership, policy and public health, to the exclusion of all else. Again, we now know lethality and we’re not “guessing” anymore.

Lanka lacuna

There was an announcement on 9 June by the State Minister that there had been a “slight uptick” in infections and a “28% rise in deaths” from last week.

This is hard to fathom. We know as per clarification from the Army Commander, who heads the Task Force, that many of the infections are from people in quarantine, are backlogged, and are not all current. Therefore, we don’t know. Anyway, whatever may be relative to last week on this uncertain basis, they are almost half the alleged dizzying totals when they were 4,000+ some weeks back. The decline should be surely celebrated! And that is not due to restrictions, as the downward trend was there in advance, by the third week of May.

The statement re deaths is really extraordinary on a number of fronts. Especially as the small print testifies that there were actually zero deaths on the actual day, of the 9th and 8th! Why that is not the headline, I do not know. 

Then, again the Army Commander very insightfully clarified that these “deaths” are also not “on” a day, but as the Ministry communique indicates, are aggregates from various periods, one week, 10 days, two weeks, at times more. He also clarified many of them died from other causes and then a PCR test was done sometimes for burial purposes, and so we cannot indeed say all are “from” COVID. 

In fact, if you read the daily communiques, the “cause of death” listing, in addition to COVID, reads like a veritable medical textbook: thrombo-embolic brain stem infarction, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, ischemic heart disease, renal failure, multi-organ failure, aortic stenosis complications, complications of stroke, sepsis, chronic kidney disease, bronchial asthma, Hashimoto’s disease, carcinoma…and then some in the respiratory and COVID quadrant, but you get the picture. Asserting that these people would have somehow miraculously recovered from these, but for COVID around, stretches credulity.

Then, of course we heard medical input that this means more restrictions are needed and people are moving around too much! We will address this as we explain why lockdowns backfire and make no sense, but just on the data, this doesn’t make sense. 

As per the Government compilation of daily COVID related deaths, if you look back at 21 May (even if you take these as actuals, and they likely are not), the “weekly average” shows 30 deaths as per published figures. We imposed our injunctions around then. Going forward to 30 May, weekly average is shown as 33 deaths, virtually no move. Remember these reflect pre restriction impact, at the time we were told we were going to have multiplying, exponential catastrophe, and happily it was not forthcoming. Of course, we imposed a mini apocalypse ourselves sadly with genuinely ruinous restrictions.

Go forward now to 6 June, we have 42 in the weekly average. And then 7 June, 50 and then 8 June, 51; 2.5 weeks into the restrictions, as per this “data” it’s getting worse. So how can we be credibly asking for still “more” restrictions”?

Whatever amount of movement there currently is, it’s clearly vastly less than 2.5 weeks ago, and the trend line is worse! I can understand if it had halved, and the argument was, more restrictions and we’ll totally reverse it. But we reduced movement very considerably, that is certainly, objectively true. And the trendline has worsened. How is the logical implication to do what doesn’t work, harder? And why CMC, still averaging only about 150 “positive tests” a day, is not allowed to function, is except via allegiance to a lockdown theology that will brook no nuance, difficult to comprehend.

On the basis of this perverse logic, how do we justify what unintentionally amounts to persecuting people, businesses, society and economy, at the very time that admirable invitations for foreign investment and future tourist visions are being broadcast? 

In a region, dealing with the same virus, largely open, flourishing enough that our neighbour can provide us $ 200 million, why would an investor then not put their money there, or Vietnam, rather than fear that at every surge, we will relapse to this same playbook, and their investment will be undermined by “restrictions” or “curfews”, demanded for longer and longer, even if they fail?

Lockdowns don’t work

Let’s just do the rationale first, and then we can move onto data. 

COVID is an age stratified illness. Once we accept that (on the data) and realise there is a 1,000-fold difference in risk between those below 65, and those above particularly with pre-existing conditions, then the insanity of locking up the healthy – something never done before in history that we know of, becomes evident. The only other time it can work is when the pathogen is severely localised and before it spreads, for a few weeks, until you can identify the symptomatic and get them treatment. But as Professor Risch of Yale has repeatedly stressed, when it’s already spread, it’s worse than pointless.

As peer reviewed and posted on the WHO website as well, seroprevalence studies put global infection fatality rate at 0.15%.

Professor Jay Bhattacharya, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, and one of the most eminent researchers in the world, relays that “infection” (as opposed to “case”) survival rate overall is 99.8%

But the percentages differ vastly by age. Even back in August 2020 this was evident. He provides the following data:

Geneva: 0-9, infection fatality rate (IFR) % is 0; 10-19, also 0%; 20-49 0.01% (1 in 10,000); 50-64 0.14% (1 in 700); 65+ 5.6% IFR.

Spain: 0-9, IFR 0%; 10-19, 0%; 20-29 0.01%; 30-39, 0.03%; 40-49, 0.07%; 50-59, 0.3%; 60-69, 1%; 70-79, 3.4%; 80+ 7.2%.

Santa Clara County, California: 0-19, 0%; 20-39, 0.01%; 40-69 0.33%; 70, 2.2%

With no underlying conditions, Professor Bhattacharya reports from data gathered around June 2020, 98% recovery rate for females with no underlying conditions even at 80+, and 96% for men. This deteriorates to 92% with one or more underlying conditions for females, and 80% for men with comorbidities post 80. 

So, it’s rationally clear where we have to focus vaccination, sheltering in place, and early treatment.

As far as transmissibility goes, there is no demonstrated case of asymptomatic transmission, we had three global experts presenting for Sri Lanka, Dr. Peter McCullough a pioneer of early treatment and author of the only 2 peer reviewed papers on COVID treatment, Dr. Harpal Mangat who has been an important part of India’s turnaround and an advocate of monoclonal antibodies, and Dr. Bhattacharya mentioned above. All were fully aligned on this. And if they are off, and it’s only “rare” (as per WHO), but cannot be ruled out, that still means care needs to be taken around the vulnerable, not everyone, anyway. 

Moreover, there is no recorded case of outdoor transmission anywhere, reported again and again. Florida has open air concerts, the Indiana 500 had 100,000 attendees, the UK ran tests with an FA Cup final, no spikes, no surges. Ergo, locking people away from life giving Vitamin D from sunlight, fresh air that is lethal to viruses, exercise that strengthens the immune system and has positive impact on so many comorbidities from obesity to diabetes, is the worst thing we can do. 99%+ of all recorded transmissions are indoors. And congested indoor spaces with poor ventilation, as we now know this is an “airborne virus” is the worst setting possible.

And all unnecessary. Because the disease, is amenable to early treatment!

As we heard from the global experts, we gathered to present to Lanka policy makers, if we treat early, or even preventively, more than 85% will not need hospitalisations, and with the right protocols, even those in hospital can vastly increase their chances of success. So, a disease that is mildly lethal for most and highly treatable for all, cannot be the basis for never ending, backfiring shutdowns.

Another leader in early treatment, and a colleague of Dr. McCullough, Dr. Richard Urso, sums up the early treatment cycle as follows: once we realise the disease has a viral dimension early on, then inflammation, then thrombosis, and Doctors have always been able to treat all of these. 

Dr. Urso writes: “It’s a biphasic disease. Infection in the first week, inflammation in the second week. There is no controversy treating with anti-virals. No controversy treating inflammation with steroids (or colchicine), treating respiratory distress with Budesonide, treating thrombosis with aspirin. Doctors know how to treat these.”

He tells us that going after the virus in the first week, there are multiple options: monoclonal antibodies, plasma and medicines that are unnecessarily controversial though clearly demonstrated over and over again to be effective like HCQ and Ivermectin. But even if we banned these despite their evident successes in many US States, Mexico, India, South Africa, Bangladesh, there are substitutes Dr. Urso writes, “Even take two drugs away and I can still save almost all symptomatic patients.”

He continues, “Early treatment has had a major impact on virtually every disorder and this one is no different. Take the blinders off. Treating disease, prophylaxis, disease mitigation, all result in better outcomes. Don’t be deficient in D3, zinc and consider NAC. There’s plenty we can do to impact the immune system in response to any pathogen.”

Said protocols, if applied early, can take place in the home, via telemedicine, outdoor or drive by clinics, thereby keeping pressure off the hospitals and also not having many symptomatic people clustered in one place. 

And none of this requires destroying society and the economy. Humans are intrinsically and emphatically social creatures, they need to interact. Of course, they break curfew, or “flout” restrictions, or hold a party, or play cricket, or seek out booze from off-channel sources…all of which frankly they should be allowed to do, it has nothing to do with the disease if they are not in the vulnerable demographic, knowing preventive and early treatment is available. Lanka just needs to develop its own benchmarked protocols.

Finally, and hearteningly, all studies, including repeated recent ones confirm, natural immunity (remember the vaccines are essentially aiming to suppress symptoms, and we do not know how long any immunity conferred will last), from those who recover will last at least many years, likely forever. If there is a reinfection it will be likely mild, and then reinforce the immunity.

Impact and efficacy

So pointless trauma for the healthy, particularly the young, and irrationally keeping people inside already argue against lockdowns. But then there is all the collateral damage. Developing countries have all reported increasing “food insecurity” and “dire economic conditions” as per Science Advances journal. WHO tells us at least 80 million children under one, at risk from diphtheria, measles and polio, have had routine vaccination disrupted, with who knows what horrendous ripple effects.

A UN report from March of this year indicates C-19 disruptions killed 228,000 children in South Asia alone! Huge number of cancer screenings foregone in the US and UK and given the lethality of that disease if not treated early, this is beyond terrifying. There are stockpiling examples of mental health harms, opioid addiction surging, suicides at record levels.

And for the reasons appended above, lockdowns don’t even work.

I provided a link in my last two articles of over 30 data driven papers showing no impact of lockdowns on positive mortality outcomes.

A smattering here:

European Journal of Clinical Investigation: “There is no evidence that more restrictive lockdowns contributed substantially to bending the curve of new cases in England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain or the United States.” (The curve was already heading down before the lockdowns could have had an impact)

Clinical Medicine Journal: “Government actions such as border closures, full lockdowns and a high rate of COVID-19 testing were not associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.” (Study of 20 jurisdictions)

Peer reviewed study by Simon Wood: “The decline in infections in England…began before lockdown…such a scenario would be consistent with Sweden, which began its decline in fatal infections shortly after the UK but did so on the basis of measures well short of lockdown.”

British Medical Journal: “The President has flatly denied the seriousness of the pandemic, refusing to impose a lockdown, close schools or cancel mass events. Yet the country’s death rate is among the lowest in Europe.” (Referring to Belarus)

Peer reviewed study on COVID-19 Mortality by Quentin de Larochelambert et al: “The national criteria most associated with death rate are life expectancy and its slowdown, public health context (metabolic and non-communicable diseases burden vs. infectious disease prevalence) economy (growth, national product, financial support) and environment (temperature, ultra-violet index). Stringency of the measures settled to fight pandemia, including lockdown, did not appear to be linked to the death rate.”

And we can easily see two comparisons. California, where Professor Bhattacharya is reporting from: 15 months lockdown (not curfew though), masked, churches closed, Disneyland closed. Florida open for a year, no lockdown, no mask mandates, schools open, restaurants open, churches open, Disneyworld fully open, teeming concerts. Florida has approximately 50% lower age and population adjusted mortality relative to California. We can even take unadjusted raw numbers. Through March 2021, US average COVID related morality per 100,000 is 166. California comes in at 169. And blessed Florida, focusing on the vulnerable, letting natural immunity develop, going with facts and real science, 118 deaths per 100,000.

Come to Sweden, which other than making the nursing home error made in so many places, had a roughly average year for mortality in 2020, though “modelling” forecasted over 90,000 deaths if they didn’t lock down. Even with 40% coming from nursing home deaths, Sweden instead at that time had around 12,000 deaths. Never fully locked down, schools fully open (not one associated death), some suggested limits on crowding, no mask obligation.

Sweden clearly outperforms Germany with a seven-month lockdown in virtually all metrics, and has below normal, five-year, mortality to date in 2021. They have far lower vaccination than other countries like the UK, but they focused their efforts on the vulnerable. Ergo, though they had a “case spike” in April/May or at least a “positive test” spike, they realised that is irrelevant, mortality is what matters (positive tests have plummeted now too). But there was no spike in deaths at all, they stayed low over April/May 2021, and in June have plunged further. 

Their economy is relatively flourishing, and they have discontinued PCR tests as a diagnostic, having found them unreliable and not indicating whether what they’ve detected, is viral debris, a strand (cannot be infectious), or live infectiousness. 

If you focus on the symptomatic, you can do a proper assessment, not rush through tests of uncertain accuracy holding us all hostage.

And you can look at Bulgaria, the results of “lockdown light” Japan (virtually no vaccination), Texas, three months open, 40,000+ in stadia, no masks or distancing (only 35% vaccinated) …we simply, rationally, cannot keep ignoring these living case studies and chase everyone indoors and lock them up and call it “medicine” or “treatment.”

Remember lockdowns were not on any public health protocol until 2020 and were explicitly discouraged by WHO until 2020 (they also discouraged masking and many other matters). The Fauci emails in the US confirm no new science emerged, and the US too was anti lockdowns, masks and mass testing…until suddenly they weren’t, and email exchanges show a cavalier, utilitarian, rather than medical or scientific metamorphosis. WHO has pointed to no new studies or rationale either, and has never stressed outright lockdown. We needn’t speculate on motivations or where pressure for what came from. But we owe it to ourselves to protect citizens here based on logic and data and results, not any bandwagon rolling by. 

The alternative

One of the specialists we were working with saw a reply by Chinese doctors who were asked what their “secret” for keeping COVID now at bay was. The answer was: PCR amplification (Ct) settings at 25 (unlike the 35-45 WHO, which has revised downward to below 30 now and others were setting in year one, which gave us a “test-demic”). The lower the amplification at which we have detection, the more viral load. And number two, they insist on two symptoms. Then and only then is it COVID, also for death certificates. If we did this, we could be done with the hysteria in a week. Even the US CDC in assessing post vaccination reinfections has stipulated Ct setting of 27 and symptoms. Imagine if we had done that throughout! But we can certainly do it now.

We have to resolve this through understanding. We have to love life rather than fear a virus. Dr. Martin Kulldorff, eminent infectious disease epidemiologist speaks of a colleague who didn’t get early focused treatment at 79, and his wife didn’t get her cancer screening. Both passed away, tragically and probably unnecessarily. 

We all have to rally for Lanka. Let’s open the gates, treat early, trust billions of years of natural evolution re immunity, let’s not cower, but rather prudently, yet exuberantly, affirm life together!