Don’t blame the Covid: blame the government

Published in Expansión

Under the oppressive Soviet communist dictatorship, Russians could not move freely from one place to another in their own country and remained chained to their place of residence by the propiska, a police visa that restricted their freedom of movement. In the same way, with the excuse of fighting Covid, Spain’s despotic Social-Communist government forces citizens to go through police controls and present letters of safe-passage to move from one place to another, an example of what daily life would be like in that dreamlike Bolivarian Republic without political alternation of the tandem composed by radical socialist PM Sanchez and communist Deputy PM Iglesias.

Spanish citizens are beginning to take these restrictions, which violate their freedom of movement, assembly and worship (the latter being persecuted by the arbitrary discrimination of churches’ maximum allowed occupancy), as a barbaric violation of their rights. At the same time, thousands of businessmen, entrepreneurs and workers, overwhelmed by an inhuman uncertainty, watch in anguish as their livelihood disappears overnight because of the whimsical government anti-Covid measures, which are synonymous with unemployment, ruin and misery. In fact, the main culprit of the disaster towards which we are heading will not be the epidemic itself, but, above all, the government’s actions, and no European rescue fund will be able to solve it (when and if it arrives, as Europe begins to raise its eyebrows with the abovementioned tandem). This will be the judgment of history: the media terrorized the population and a band of politicians razed the country to the ground. Never have so few done so much damage to so many.

To continue with outdated variants of lockdowns is to beat around the bush: locking up healthy people does not work, ignores scientific evidence and leads us to the abyss. The WHO itself has called on governments to stop using lockdowns as the primary method of controlling the epidemic[1]. In Spain, the most brutal lockdown in the world did not prevent one of the highest mortalities in the world, but it did bring us the worst economic and mental depression in the world. Three months of mandatory masks outdoors have had no effect on the virus (as was to be expected, because it’s not based on science but political fears[2]), but they did contribute to the collapse of the economy, made the streets resemble a hallway of a hospital for infectious diseases and turned schools into concentration camps where guards yell at those who break the rules. Finally, the authoritarian imposition of the state of emergency in Madrid, a government’s bluff that will not last long (because it is self-harming) and that has caused discrepancies in its own ranks, blatantly obeys to political and psychopathic reasons (but of course!), that is, it is an overt attempt to subject the judiciary and the opposition who dared to contradict the one who does not want to be just head of government but Master of us all. The current epidemiological data from Madrid[3] (an Rt of less than 1, a hospital occupation 70-75% lower than the spring peak, and declining, after a linear, non-exponential growth curve) suggest that this exaggeratedly called “second wave” was already either stabilizing or self-extinguishing, not because of regional or central government’s measures, but on its own (as this virus likes to behave). The future is unpredictable and I ignore whether data may become worse or better, but three things seem crystal clear to me: one, the numbers show that the situation’s seriousness has nothing to do with April’s; two, the central government’s measures are both arbitrary and discriminatory; and three, they will be completely useless (all in all, the usual combination of arrogance and incompetence).

What to do then? Last week, prestigious epidemiologists from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford presented the Great Barrington Declaration (which 37,000 public health doctors and scientists from all over the world have already co-signed) criticizing lockdown policies, “of devastating effects on public health in the short and long term”. After recalling that “for children, Covid is less dangerous than influenza”, its central message is that the goal should not be to prevent contagion in those for whom the disease is mild, but to “minimize mortality and social damage until herd immunity is achieved”, which is not necessarily “dependent” on a hypothetical vaccine. Therefore, they recommend that “those who are not vulnerable immediately resume their normal life (…) to achieve immunity through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at greater risk”. In nursing homes, they recommend using immunized workers and frequent testing, and that the elderly meet their families outdoors. After advocating sensible hygiene measures and self-isolation in case of falling sick, he concludes: “schools and universities should open for face-to-face teaching, young adults at low risk should work normally and not from home, and restaurants and other businesses should open (…), while society enjoys the protection afforded to the vulnerable by those who have acquired herd immunity[4].”

This statement is supported by one of the largest international studies on Covid mortality, led by a well-known Stanford epidemiologist. Equally critical of lockdowns (“decided in the absence of reliable data” and with potential “serious adverse public health consequences”), his conclusions may surprise you: “the daily risk of dying from coronavirus for a person under 65 is equivalent to the risk of commuting daily between 4 and 82 miles”. In Europe, the probability of dying from Covid in a non-risk population (under 65 without concomitant pathologies) is between 30 and 100 times lower than that of the risk population, that is, “notably uncommon (…), which contrasts sharply with many media stories that focus on cases of young people, causing panic and terror”. When the health system does not collapse and massive infections are prevented in residences and hospitals, “the actual lethality of the virus (IFR) is similar to that of a virulent flu (less than 0.2%)”[5]. Therefore, it recommends measures that keep social life and a functional economy while reinforcing the protection of the population at risk.

Finally, a study from the University of Edinburgh published in the BMJ a few days ago concludes that lockdowns, school closures or the obligation to maintain social distance to the non-risk population could have caused an increase in deaths by delaying herd immunity and unnecessarily prolonging the epidemic, because “the number of deaths does not depend on the total number of infections but on their age distribution “[6].

These conclusions, based on numbers and not on a politician’s fear of alarmist headlines, emphasize that the goal should not be to reduce the number of infections but instead to reduce the number of deaths, the opposite of the assumptions that have guided our obviously failed response to the epidemic. If these assertions are right, they would demand a radical change of course, but to rectify depends on good faith and love of truth, something unimaginable in a government led by pathological deception, disloyalty to public office oaths and that macho bullying that will become its undoing.

This epidemic shall pass, but the damage caused by despots who won’t leave stone upon stone in an orgy of unprecedented institutional, economic and public health destruction, may last for decades. While Rome burned, Nero happily played the lyre in self-admiration of his own “heavenly voice”. While Spain burns, Sánchez smiles admiring his own image in his magic mirror. According to the Roman historian Suetonius, it was Nero himself who ordered Rome to be burned. It is clear to me who has set Spain on fire.


Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo








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