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Posts Tagged ‘lockdowns’

Diseases Are Bad. Government-Forced Shutdowns Are Often Worse. | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 26, 2020

With the current focus, the authorities ignore the side effects of their measures. State agencies are obsessed with smoothing the curve and thereby ignore the fact that pursuing this goal almost exclusively will bring more collateral damage than the possible cost of the epidemic itself.

Viruses mutate constantly. Without specific tests, the modifications go undetected. If they were all discovered, one could panic almost every day.

https://mises.org/wire/diseases-are-bad-government-forced-shutdowns-are-often-worse?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=a6bc05b227-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-a6bc05b227-228343965

However high the death rate of the COVID-19 coronavirus becomes, the governmental response to the threat will be even more dangerous. If the current blockade of economic life continues, more people will die from the countermeasures than from the virus itself. In a short time, the basic supply of everyday goods will be at risk. By interrupting the global transport and supply chains, important medicines will be missing and food supplies will be insufficient. This is how a containment strategy works: operation successful, patient dead.

Government’s Main Strategy: Destroy Commerce

The main concern for those responsible for healthcare is not the absolute number of deaths, but “flattening the curve,” i.e., stretching out the frequency of cases of infection.

The model may be correct, all else remaining equal, but it ignores the extent of the damage that the control measures entail. We already have a foretaste of that. In addition to drastic restrictions on international air traffic and the partial closure of borders, there are a whole series of measures that intervene deeply in the everyday lives of citizens and are aimed at isolating everyone as much as possible.

With the current focus, the authorities ignore the side effects of their measures. State agencies are obsessed with smoothing the curve and thereby ignore the fact that pursuing this goal almost exclusively will bring more collateral damage than the possible cost of the epidemic itself.

If government agencies continue to act as they are doing, people soon will be confronted with the problem that they can no longer buy necessary things—first, because the shelves will be empty, and second, because they will have no more income later, when the shelves are slowly restocked again. Companies have closed and salaries will not show up in bank accounts. Rent due dates for homes and businesses will not be met. It is not the coronavirus that will bring the economy to a standstill, but the way in which politics is responding to the epidemic.

Another strategy (partially practiced by South Korea and in Taiwan) is to minimally intervene in the daily life of the majority of the population.

If policymakers understood the very real threats to human life and wellness associated with economic destruction, they would adopt policies designed to ensure businesses remain open. The focus would be on ensuring that the most at-risk individuals and populations are able to voluntarily isolate themselves.

On the other hand, in Europe and much of the rest of the world, a state of emergency and a series of general lockdowns were proclaimed. Even if the current nightmare should end and the curfews and travel bans no longer exist, it would take a long time for the economy to recover—not from the virus, but from the response to it. In the United States and in many European countries, the state has taken control in the belief that with the severe restrictions on private and public life the epidemic can be gotten under control. The attitude prevails that there is no alternative to practically shutting down the economy and imposing restrictions on the everyday life of the people. Instead of bearing the immense costs that come with the current policy, capacity could be expanded in anticipation of taking care of the sick, moribund, and dead.

Although the burden of proof must be on those who wish to close businesses and bring the economy to a halt, the advocates for destroying the global economy have not made their case. In fact, up to now, in Europe, including Italy, the number of deaths remains well below what we expect from the fluThe mortality rate remains unknown because of the biases and difficulties in estimating total cases and collecting data—one can deal with it using short-term emergency measures. The statistics on the number of virus carriers are incorrect, since the error rates of test devices for new disease phenomena are usually high and in the case of COVID-19 tests are probably even higher, since demand and use has increased so quickly in a short time. The fact that a data set has been published by the authorities does not mean that the numbers reflect the facts. Even standard tests have error rates and usually several tests are necessary to arrive at a reliable judgment.

Not only is the death rate problematic because the actual number of cases is completely unknown, but the official death toll attributed to COVID-19 is also questionable. There is no reliable way to tell from the virus’s presence in a corpse that the person died because of it. People’s lives end due to countless factors, and old people die of  all kinds of ailments. Italy reports that 99 percent of COVID-19 victims had other illnesses at the time of death. If COVID-19 is found in a corpse, it does not prove that the virus was the cause of death. It may be just one of countless possible causes.

Viruses mutate constantly. Without specific tests, the modifications go undetected. If they were all discovered, one could panic almost every day. One can be sure that sooner or later another virus will appear after the coronavirus epidemic is over. Imagine if politics reacted the way it has done in the face of the coronavirus every time. The absurdity of the current antivirus policy becomes obvious.

The Longer the Forced Shutdown Goes On, the Greater the Resulting Poverty Will Be

The authorities want to make people believe that the many restrictions that are already in place are short-term measures. But what if the containment strategy taken much longer than foreseen? The consequences for the economy are already catastrophic. Every day and every week the damage increases more and more. Even when the policies achieve the containment of the viral disease, the economic damage will persist for a much longer time.

The real threat is less COVID-19 than it is the wave of bankruptcy and unemployment that will soon spill across economies like a tsunami. If the governments honor their aid commitments and make compensation payments to those affected, such high sums will be required that price inflation may result and exacerbate the effect of the economic recession. We will see widespread impoverishment—and, as usually comes with impoverishment, a decline in general health and a rise in morbidity.

Against the Political Scaremongering

Yes, there is reason to panic, but it’s not the virus, it’s the coronavirus policy. Organized panic serves as an excellent test for the state of how far it can go in terrorizing citizens and taking away their freedom without encountering resistance. Like sheep, people follow the orders of their leaders. The media is preparing the lambs to go silently and without a scream into the slaughterhouse.

Beyond the economic damage that has been already been caused by the political reaction to the epidemic, an even greater tragedy lurks: the loss of fundamental human rights and of our individual freedom. Given the modern methods of surveillance, a new kind of totalitarianism would surpass all the horrors that are known from past dictatorial regimes.

 

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Lockdowns, Martial Law-Why This and Why Now? What About Influenza?

Posted by M. C. on March 25, 2020

Why are we not asking why?

Someone taking advantage of a Crisis?

Forget about waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine that works. See below for the reason.

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html

CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.

Table 1: Estimated Influenza Disease Burden, by Season — United States, 2010-11 through 2018-19 Influenza Seasons

Symptomatic Illnesses Medical Visits Hospitalizations Deaths
Season Estimate 95% U I Estimate 95% U I Estimate 95% U I Estimate 95% U I
2010-2011 21,000,000 (20,000,000 – 25,000,000) 10,000,000 (9,300,000 – 12,000,000) 290,000 (270,000 – 350,000) 37,000 (32,000 – 51,000)
2011-2012 9,300,000 (8,700,000 – 12,000,000) 4,300,000 (4,000,000 – 5,600,000) 140,000 (130,000 – 190,000) 12,000 (11,000 – 23,000)
2012-2013 34,000,000 (32,000,000 – 38,000,000) 16,000,000 (15,000,000 – 18,000,000) 570,000 (530,000 – 680,000) 43,000 (37,000 – 57,000)
2013-2014 30,000,000 (28,000,000 – 33,000,000) 13,000,000 (12,000,000 – 15,000,000) 350,000 (320,000 – 390,000) 38,000 (33,000 – 50,000)
2014-2015 30,000,000 (29,000,000 – 33,000,000) 14,000,000 (13,000,000 – 16,000,000) 590,000 (540,000 – 680,000) 51,000 (44,000 – 64,000)
2015-2016 24,000,000 (20,000,000 – 33,000,000) 11,000,000 (9,000,000 – 15,000,000) 280,000 (220,000 – 480,000) 23,000 (17,000 – 35,000)
2016-2017 29,000,000 (25,000,000 – 45,000,000) 14,000,000 (11,000,000 – 23,000,000) 500,000 (380,000 – 860,000) 38,000 (29,000 – 61,000)
Preliminary estimates* Estimate 95% UI Estimate 95% UI Estimate 95% UI Estimate 95% UI
2017-2018* 45,000,000 (39,000,000 – 58,000,000) 21,000,000 (18,000,000 – 27,000,000) 810,000 (620,000 – 1,400,000) 61,000 (46,000 – 95,000)
2018-2019* 35,520,883 (31,323,881 – 44,995,691) 16,520,350 (14,322,767 – 21,203,231) 490,561 (387,283 – 766,472) 34,157 (26,339 – 52,664)

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Why We Need Free Markets To Fight Pandemics | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 24, 2020

But what if I told you that none of that was true? What if I told you that all you need in this situation is what you need every day in a free society: prices that can rapidly and easily adjust to changes in supply and demand?

Allowing prices to work in healthcare is of the most vital necessity. Rather than the crude strategy of canceling care not considered “urgent” while stockpiling resources in preparation for the worst, it is better to allow resources to be directed to where they are most needed via the price mechanism.

https://mises.org/wire/why-we-need-free-markets-fight-pandemics?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=934aaa93c0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-934aaa93c0-228343965

The natural response in the face of a pandemic like the one we are experiencing today with COVID-19 is to take immediate and direct action to curb the crisis. We are told we need to have extensive quarantines, citywide lockdowns, and shelter-in-place orders. We supposedly need to limit the number of goods people can buy so they don’t hoard them up, and definitely keep prices where they are at so people can afford to get what they need. Hospitals and clinics must cancel surgeries and new treatment plans to ensure that they are prepared for the waves of patients catching the illness. Restaurants need to switch to takeout models! Stores need to switch to online-only, close their retail establishments, and prioritize important shipments! Government needs to make sure everyone does what they should to ensure we all make it out alive!

But what if I told you that none of that was true? What if I told you that all you need in this situation is what you need every day in a free society: prices that can rapidly and easily adjust to changes in supply and demand?

I can almost hear teeth grinding and fists shaking in response, with exclamations that I must not care about my fellow man. But hear me out as I walk through the effects that such prices would have.

Let’s start with what has occurred so far. People have flooded grocery stores to stock up on everything from canned goods to toilet paper, emptying the shelves in the process. Hospitals and clinics have, “in line with CDC guidance” (this phrase is ubiquitous), canceled various appointments and planned treatments or surgeries. Amazon has limited third-party shipments to its warehouses to “high-demand” items. Increased remote work has crashed remote coordination services.  Governments everywhere have engaged in various levels of forced quarantining and shut down numerous businesses or ordinary ways of doing business.

None of these effects or approaches of mitigation and avoidance are a problem per se. Much of this would naturally be done in response to a pandemic and the effects on demand would be similar. But what can be said is that such measures are taken crudely and mostly blindly in the absence of free prices.

The empty shelves would not be so prevalent were prices allowed to rise in contradiction of governmental laws against “price gouging.” Such a result would lead to natural rationing by consumers and would incentivize the ramp-up of production of goods in high demand. At current prices, it is true that some companies could potentially bear a short-term loss to increase production as a charitable endeavor. However, marginal producers (and even nonmarginal ones as the crisis continues) will only be able to ramp up production, even temporarily, if the prices rise.

A rise in prices informs producers of shifts in relative demand. That hypothetically the price of milk does not rise as much as the price of eggs or canned beans is a vitally important piece of information that cannot be conveyed through empty shelves alone. Rising prices would induce makers of the latter goods to expand production much more than producers of the former, and they would also encourage new entrants to prioritize accordingly.

We can observe the same mechanism at work in price drops, which are normally allowed to happen. The decreased demand for certain goods, such as tickets to events, flights, or crowded dine-in restaurants, signals these industries to find alternatives. These may include restaurants shifting to a takeout model, closing their main dining areas for the duration of the crisis, as has occurred in some places, or turning those dining areas into temporary warehouses for needed items (though this option seems foreclosed due to frozen prices disincentivizing the additional production that would make this helpful). Firms may also temporarily shutter their doors and send their workers into the labor force as potential temporary employees in areas that need them to produce vital necessities. (Instead, the government approach has been to propose bailouts and universal income checks while in some cases mandating the clear waste of resources.)

Price changes also differ by location, which naturally encourages the market to focus on the hardest-hit areas. A pandemic will not hit the entire country all at once, and although it may seem obvious (particularly at first) which areas are the worst off, the information that prices convey is vital to determining what the actual needs are. It may be that Seattle and New York City are the worst hit right now, but that alone does not tell you that Seattle is really needing ventilators while New York is short on nurses.

Allowing prices to work in healthcare is of the most vital necessity. Rather than the crude strategy of canceling care not considered “urgent” while stockpiling resources in preparation for the worst, it is better to allow resources to be directed to where they are most needed via the price mechanism. Regulations restricting the supply of care, including the construction of new facilities, the licensing of existing ones, and the number of people allowed to be licensed should be suspended (or, better, repealed). High prices for care, particularly for specialized laborers such as doctors and nurses, would invite the sector to expand its capacity by accepting med school trainees or professionals with lapsed licenses as temporary employees. High prices for emergency coronavirus care, particularly if permitted to be higher in the worst-off regions, would induce medical professionals to temporarily switch specialization and move to areas where they can do the most good. People taken in from shuttered businesses might be able to provide basic care and monitoring with minimal training, allowing those with more specialized training to prioritize the care that needs it most.

Insurance companies facing these high emergency costs would be heavily incentivized to come up with additional ways to mitigate the risk of spreading the illness. Tests that people could take at home and drop off at collection points, for instance, might allow for testing to be done without queues of potentially sick people that will almost certainly be sick when they get done. Even payments (and possibly delivery of necessities) to at-risk patients to incentivize a self-quarantine would be possible. And, most importantly, there are likely very many other possibilities that I, as a single person, have not and might not even be able to come up with. This kind of innovation and adaptation can only be optimally handled by entrepreneurs responding to changing prices, not central planners, no matter how intelligent, knowledgeable, or well intentioned.

The free market price system allows for the rapid and intensive reallocation of resources that is necessary in a crisis scenario like a pandemic. What needs to be done in such a crisis is not to attempt to steer the market to ensure that it provides what is needed (this approach is almost guaranteed to make the situation worse than it has to be), but to let it free to do what it always does: match the goals of entrepreneurial producers with the needs of the populace.

Originally published at disinthrallment.com.

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Coronavirus Cases in the US Are Going To Explode Out of Nowhere? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 23, 2020

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/03/no_author/how-coronavirus-cases-in-the-u-s-are-going-to-explode-out-of-nowhere/

By Bill Sardi

In a prior report I revealed the spring equinox (May 19) marks the beginning of the earth tilting back towards the sun and an increase solar ultraviolet radiation which results in elevate vitamin D levels in human populations that will abolish coronavirus cases and death.  I also indicated quarantines will be counterproductive and force people indoors and further deprive them of life-saving vitamin D.

Ron Klain, the ex-federal EBOLA CZAR, issued a warning that coronavirus cases are going to “explode” in the U.S.  On Thursday, March 19, 4,940 new cases were reported. Coronavirus deaths are also predicted to rise precipitously.  But here is how this ruse is accomplished.

Buried in the news report is this language: “numbers in the U.S. are rising sharply partly because testing is being more widespread.”

So indiscriminate news reports will sound alarming because news agencies want to capture readership.  This parade of irresponsible news reports is anticipated to raise levels of anxiety in the American population at large.  The “What do we do now?” panic sets in.

Because there are more cases of coronavirus infection reported with more testing, and because testing produces a high percentage of false positive tests that falsely indicate a person has the disease when they don’t, it will be easy to mislead the public and cause the public to accept draconian community lockdowns.  Just the intentional withholding of toilet paper supplies could provoke civilian unrest and cause the public to clamor for troops in the streets to halt civil unrest.

And just because more deaths are likely to be attributed to coronavirus does not necessarily mean the virus is the cause of the pneumonia that kills.  It just could be a companion virus.  Or it could even be tuberculosis.

An overlay of US maps shows the same geographical incidence for coronavirus as for tuberculosis.  So which germ is it?

Despite the admission that coronavirus was in circulation in the U.S. prior to the initial news reports of a coronavirus outbreak in China in January 2020, this means coronavirus was either causing so few deaths it went unnoticed or simply was not causing symptomatic disease.

So, what are we worried about if we get infected, experience mild or no symptoms, and develop natural long-term antibodies against this pathogenic disease, without need for future vaccination?

Coronavirus induces a lower respiratory tract infection (lungs versus throat and bronchus) where lungs fill with fluid (pneumonia) blocking oxygen transfer to the blood.  Patients drown in their own fluids.

Chronic lower respiratory diseases are already the number four cause of death in the U.S., resulting in 160,201 deaths in 2017.

More than 250,000 people are hospitalized for pneumonia annually in the US.  The mortality rate for pneumonia in the US population (all ages) is 15.1 deaths per 100,000.

An estimated 50,000 Americans die of pneumonia annually (137/DAY).

An estimated 4,749 pneumonia-associated deaths per year (13/day) are reported for the State of New York (2018 data), an epicenter for this infectious disease. Unless New York health officials report excess pneumonia-related deaths over the normal seasonal occurrence, the published number will be totally misleading.

Most deaths associated with coronavirus infection and resultant pneumonia occur among aged adults, over age 70 and predominately over age 80.

According to STATISTA, there are ~12,680,000 Americans over age 80 (2018).  Using an estimation that 80% of the 50,000 deaths due to pneumonia in the U.S. occur among 80-90-year-olds (40,000 deaths or 110 pneumonia-related deaths per day), the pneumonia mortality rate would only be ~4/10ths of one percent of that total population.

A Stanford University epidemiologist says reports of widespread death from COVID-19 coronavirus are unsubstantiated and irresponsible, but they are governing the daily decisions by politicians how to manage this disease.

The population at large has been ill-advised to wear masks and conduct habitual hand washing, which are meaningless.

All of the health pronouncements issued from public health agencies, particularly the Centers for Disease Control, emanate from an infectious disease that is not even as deadly as the seasonal flu.  Yet every single case is being reported in the news, giving the false impression millions of Americans are going to die.

Bottom line, misleading news reports are likely to report thousands of new coronavirus-related deaths that are likely a part of the normal course of events.

PNEUMONIA VACCINE EFFECTIVENESS

An estimated 68.9% of adults over age 65 have been inoculated against pneumococcal infection.

The pneumonia vaccine is said to be 85% effective against strains of Streptococcus pneumococcal infection.

Data tabulated below does not support the claim that increased vaccination reduces deaths caused by pneumonia.

VACCINATION AGAINST STREPTOCOCCUS PNEUMOCCAL INFECTION IS NOT ASSOCIATION WITH REDUCTION IN PNEUMONIA DEATHS

Year Pneumonia, deaths
Source:
American Lung Association
% of adults over age 65 ever received pneumococcal vaccination
Source: Tableau, May 29, 2019

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: The Ultimate Cornavirus Worst Case Scenario for the United States

Posted by M. C. on March 1, 2020

I read in today’s paper that states are seeing coronavirus patients that have had no apparent exposure to the infected.

How many are actually confirmed cases? How many are confirmed based on observation?

How do the infection and death rates compare to a typical new strain of flu (most seasons-we know this because the vaccine effectiveness rates are always low).

How many “flu” cases are old/already ill person+bad cold -> pneumonia-> death = It’s the flu!

It makes you wonder what is really going on.

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2020/02/the-ultimate-cornavirus-worst-case.html

By Robert Wenzel

Panic continues to hit Wall Street and most of the rest of America as fears of a global pandemic intensify because of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

So let’s take a look at an absolutely worst-case scenario where everyone in the United States gets infected. Yes, let’s take a look at a case where every man, woman and child gets infected—though there are indications that children tend not to get infected with COVID-19. Let’s go into full Nancy Messonnier nutjob panic mode and even count kids.

With the full US population of 330 million infected, that would mean roughly 6.6 million dead at the current general publicized rate of 2.0% deaths of those infected. But if you move for a moment a step away from Messonnier panic, most coronavirus researchers will tell you they believe the death rate is a lot lower, probably in the 0.2% range or, putting it another way, for the entire US, 660,000 deaths would occur if everyone is infected. They believe that the death rate is significantly lower because of the strong likelihood that many of those infected with just mild symptoms treated themselves without doctor or hospital visits, and thus not showing up in tabulations.

Certainly, any death is tragic, but 660,000 deaths are roughly in line with the number of deaths in any given year from either heart disease (650,000) or cancer (600,000). And keep in mind this is if EVERYONE in the US is infected.

Overall, 2,813,503 peoples died in the US in 2019.

Putting on the accountant’s eye-shade for a moment, a few things need to be understood. First, those who have been dying from the virus have been elderly or are seriously ill, thus, most are unlikely to be a part of the workforce. So outside of a week or two away from work by laborers because of the virus, the US workforce itself won’t be impacted.

For those who are concerned with supply-chain issues for the US, it should be kept in mind that it appears that the virus has peaked in terms of infection in China and that manufacturers are slowly resuming their operations. So it is difficult to see how supply chain issues will be any worse than 2 months of problems at most. (Most cargo ships crossing the Pacific Ocean between China and the US take between 2 weeks to a month).

But getting back to the worst-case scenario vs. reality, no way will the entire US population become infected. Between government-mandated lockdowns in regions, if there are breakouts of the virus, and self-isolation by individuals, the number infected if the virus hits the US in earnest will be relatively low. The lockdowns and self-isolation would likely have the most significant temporary impact on the economy, mostly it is about over-the-top panic.

In China with a population of nearly 1.4 billion, more than 4 times the population of the US, the number of infected to date has been reported as only 77,600 cases and 2,663 deaths.

It is possible this number is under-reported but it is obvious that the number is nowhere near even a hundred million. That is not even 10% of the population. The current confirmed is .0055% of the population. One hundred times greater is not even 1% of the population.

In other words, taking what has gone on in China, and considering even a much greater extreme here in the US, the threat to the US economy from the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is at most a minor speed bump–mostly the result of the lockdowns and self-isolation panic, which aren’t done for killers like the flu.

There may be some greater medium-term consequences for the cruise line industry with fears from the general public but this Messonnier panic and crashing stock market as if the economy is going to go back to the stone age doesn’t make any sense.

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