Sunday, September 20, 2020

Recommended Reading: Covid is no longer an emergency

Open letter from Belgian doctors and health professionals. 

Read this and you will see a detailed explanation for why governments the world over should call off the Covid-19 emergency NOW. It's the best collection of facts and recommendations I have come across since this whole thing started. Lockdowns and masks are not only unnecessary, they cause far more damage than they prevent. Time to stop the madness!

UPDATE: To fully appreciate the arguments made in this open letter, I append the latest charts from Sweden, a country of almost 11 million people which eschewed lockdowns altogether and made only modest suggestions relative to social distancing and restrictions. Sweden continues to see new Covid cases but has enjoyed virtually zero deaths for the past two months. On the basis of Covid deaths per 1 million population, Sweden (580) has fared slightly better than the US to date (615). Source

I also recommend reading this post by a Swedish doctor who describes a typical, virtually-mask-free day in Stockholm. Excerpt:

When I sit in the tube on the way to and from work, it is packed with people. Maybe one in a hundred people is choosing to wear a face mask in public. In Stockholm, life is largely back to normal. If you look at the front pages of the tabloids, on many days there isn’t a single mention of covid anywhere. As I write this (19th September 2020) the front pages of the two main tabloids have big spreads about arthritis and pensions. Apparently arthritis and pensions are currently more exciting than covid-19 in Sweden.


And please, everyone, schools should be open! My grandkids are fed up with Zoom classes. "We're not learning anything!"


AL said...

Scott, thank you for the recommended reading. Do you have any thoughts about countries like Sweden and Belgium, which have above-average figures for Covid-19 deaths per 1 million population? Thank you Scott.

steve said...

Nonsense. Europe is going through a resurgence. This once venerable blog has lost much credibility with your insistence in downplaying this pandemic. Stick to economics please.

Rich said...

Look at the "experts" who signed the letter. Right wing general practitioners and dermatologists. You can't have been successful in Wall Street with this set of advisors.
You should be looking at best practice with the experts who know.
Try this-

K T Cat said...

I read the letter at Scott's link and then watched the video Rich suggested and they track pretty well. Avoid large gatherings, particularly in enclosed spaces. Older people with significant health issues are at the most risk. Not sure why the letter is being criticized.

Whatever the risks might be, it's time to get back to work and face them. Chicago is $1B in the hole and NYC is more than $4B in the hole. It's a fantasy to suggest we can stay in lockdown.

The Cliff Claven of Finance said...

The pandemic is not over so it is too soon for anyone to be a Covid expert yet.
But we can be experts on the huge damage to economy in spite of enormous deficit spending and 24 percent M2 money supply growth in the past year.

It is risky to cherry pick Sweden as an exsmple. Why not Norway, with much lower deaths, or Taiwan? Deaths and suffering in Sweden were not particularly low. Their nursing homes were hit hard, like in New York. They did lock down high schools and colleges but not lower grade schools. They did not have mandatory private sector closures but the people VOLUNTARILY avoided places where social distancing was not possible, so their economic growth fell in the first half of 2020.

Ignoring Sweden, doctors have figured out how to keep people alive, and the death rate was about 1 in 1,000 to begin with. About 600 of 1,000 have normal or serious flu symptoms. A higher percentage need the hospital or ICU than typical influenzas. A higher percentage die but still only 1 of 1,000.

These "temporary" lockdowns lasted far longer than needed to "flatten the "curve".
As a libertarian I believe the voluntary loss of freedom may be the worst effect of Covid. Wait ubtil mask wearing becomes mandatory ... and then a vaccine becomes mandatory. We gave up our freedom without a fight. And with 200,000 dead, if you can trust the usual wild guesses by the CDC for flu deaths, then how can any sane person claim 200,000 dead proves the partial lockdowns were a success?

Richard said...
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Richard said...

I can't possibly comment unless I know what percentage of the Swedish population is obese, suffering from diabetes, severe CAD, Heart Disease, COPD, etc. which are all running rampant in the USA and elsewhere. These co-morbidities are killing the vast majority of people with CV-19, not the Wuhan virus itself. Without knowing this information, the rest is just noise.

Ron Gruner said...

Canada, with lockdowns and masks, seems to have done far better than Sweden...

Scott Grannis said...

Canada does seem to have done better on the Covid metrics, but if you factor in the many costs of lockdowns, I question whether that is the case. It's of course very difficult to quantify the cost of lockdowns, forced business closures, school closures, church closures, massive furloughs, mental health issues, suicides, and gargantuan budget deficits, but my hunch is that Sweden comes out way ahead on the basis of all these metrics. In the US, the cost of lockdowns is reflected in part in the increased federal deficit, and that amounts to at least $4-5 trillion to date and rising....

Scott Grannis said...

Not to mention the proven fact (using statistical analysis) that there is no demonstrated improvement in the eventual course of the virus and the degree of lockdowns and social distancing mandates.

Johnny Bee Dawg said...

From the Twitters:

swedish ER doc has not seen a case of cov-19 in 2.5 months.

people doing what they please.

maybe 1 in 100 wears a mask on public transport.

hospitals and ICU basically empty.

welcome to herd immunity.


Johnny Bee Dawg said...

Thank you for the first link, Scott. Excellent info!

And then I repeated the other one you posted.
Sorry for repeat, but maybe worth a second read! :-) <----Smiley face.

Stock market TV is pushing EUROPEAN SECOND WAVE just as hard as they can go.
And then MORE CASES in various states, here. (Not more deaths.)
CASES!! CASES!! CASES!! (with hundreds of percentages increases in TESTING). LOL.

Who buys this garbage? Amazing numbers of people taken in.
Also amazing numbers of people who see right thru it...including markets.

Fred said...

The average person in Georgia is getting on with their life but most of the big companies refuse to tell their employees to go back to the office. A terrible sacrifice of culture and mentoring that will affect businesses for many years to come, I'm afraid. The politicians and business leaders running the world, with a few exceptions, are weak and determined to create a risk free society which has never been possible. I hope Trump wins but this is the first time since 1992 that Republicans have had to run ads constantly on the TV in Georgia. It may be a sign that we're turning blue.

Benjamin Cole said...

When one is fortunate enough to read Scott Grannis, one realizes true "diversity" is not about outward physical appearances.

The mass media, in general, has shouted down the Scott Grannises of the world on this particular issue.

If a polyglot clump of people all chant in unison, that is not diversity.

Adam said...

On postelection issues.
There are some opinions, that if Trump wins there will be an attempt to not to acknowledge the results, including street riots, etc. Scott what is your best guess on that tricky topic.
Thanks as always.

K T Cat said...

Adam, my two cents - this isn't an insurrection, it's a Democrat civil war. It's their hardcore zealots rioting against the authority of their political elites in deep blue cities.

If it were up to me, I'd take a hands-off approach and let them riot, loot and burn. The left made this mess, they can deal with it.

Rick Harris said...

You're a great market analyst but when it comes to social and environmental analysis you're a delusional. If you apply your significant analytical skills to the Swedish situation, you will see That a variety of physical attributes and I'm in Nykiel commitment to social distancing accounted for their success. You may also know that Sweden is experiencing a pretty dramatic rise in Covid cases at the moment.If you, like a lot of Trump followers, believe in herd immunity, your sentencing older people like me to death. You were wrong when we correspond in a trade and you are very wrong again.

Yevgeny said...
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Yevgeny said...

Thanks for the data Scott.

You are correct. Excess deaths in Sweden are low and are not increasing.

If you have not already done so, I recommend you take a look at EUROMOMO which aggregates mortality data across 24 European countries. Select "Graphs and Maps" and scroll down for Sweden.

The Cliff Claven of Finance said...

Excess deaths analyses won't work with Covid or any other flu. The percentage of infected who die is very low -- I estimate 1 death in 1000 infections. That's too small to make much of a difference in any excess deaths analyses. In addition, the partial lockdowns and fear caused so many changes to economic activity and people avoiding doctors and hospitals that there would be no way to pull Covid deaths out of the data. So we're stuck with the usual CDC wild guess of flu deaths, typically overstated because people die from major organ failures, not directly from the flu.

Yevgeny said...

Excess deaths along with hospitalizations are the best ways to measure the impact of Covid. Death counts do not depend on what someone died of just that they died.

There are some issues with excess deaths due to delays in reporting and the likelihood that Covid has brought forward deaths of the sick and elderly that would have a happened in the next year of so anyway. But the data is much better than the CDC Flu guesstimates.

The data was clear by mid April that everyone healthy under 50 should have been let out of lockdown and efforts should have been focused on protecting care homes and the very sick.

Grechster said...

Yevgeny is absolutely right. And Scott deserves major props for saying, very early in this Covid episode, that our reaction would prove to be one of the worst policy responses ever (or something along those lines).

Our response has been so ludicrous that any thinking man must consider that a huge portion of this country's leadership is intentionally harming the country so as to reduce Trump's chances.

Given the breakdown of our labor force, this lockdown policy has to be one of the brutal treatments of the working class in this country's history. I knew the Dems had long abandoned the working man but this is pure madness.

In the end, a fair accounting will show that the lockdown cost far more lives than it saved (through deaths of despair as well as through delayed medical procedures, early detection, etc.). Of course, I never expect a fair accounting.

I no longer think our response is mere incompetence. This is flat immoral.

If you're really old or really obese, of course you should take precautions, just as anybody would with a compromised immune system. But to mandate that every American shred their definition of the pursuit of happiness, well, that is one of the most un-American, liberty-crushing things I've ever witnessed. I'm disgusted with our leadership.

Scott Grannis said...

For the record, I first coined this summary April 12th of this year:

"The shutdown of the US economy will prove to be the most expensive self-inflicted injury in the history of mankind.™"

Looking back, I have not the slightest doubt that my prediction has proven correct.

Bull Hunter said...

The Belgian letter has been signed by a mere 400+ doctors.

The low number of deaths during the second wave is the result of irresponsible, young working class individuals getting infected.

Scott Grannis said...

I could care less how many doctors signed it. What matters is the logic and the facts that are contained in the paper. Those are solid, in my opinion.

EHR said...

I am not an expert. I did go to medical school and in my youth had a genius IQ.
Scott, at this point, can we agree it doesn’t matter much? Regeneron will have a breakthrough and vaccines are around the corner (Pfizer).

The worst is that the PhD contingent at Harvard Chan School and their ilk has denigrated the field of epidemiology probably beyond repair, namely, with ad hominem and rude attacks on anyone who disagrees with the party line of CYA recommendations. Dr. Fauci and the Surgeon General inexcusably initially DISCOURAGED all mask wearing, even homemade, and got away with ZERO reprimand. Their is plenty of blame to go around. China‘s CCP has somehow escaped any serious media scrutiny or investigation commensurate with the crimes against humanity it committed.