Lockdown

Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Fifth Plague of Egypt

Lockdown

AR Kneen asks some awkward questions

Freedom used to matter. People used to care about it. We used to say: ‘it’s a free country’. Debates on television mentioned ‘liberty’, ‘rights’, ‘civil liberties’, ‘privacy’, ‘independence’ and the like. But not now that the country is pretty much under house arrest. People are advised not leave their homes. Over-zealous policeman are stopping people allegedly out without good cause. All businesses not deemed ‘essential’ were told to close, making hundreds of thousands of people unemployed. Whereas, in the past, the closure of a plant resulting in the loss of several thousand jobs would be worthy of discussion, hardly a word is said now on behalf of hundreds of thousands of unpaid people. GP surgeries are closed. Operations, medical procedures and treatments have been cancelled. Churches, too, are shut down and sporting events, concerts and other gatherings are prohibited. Clubs, restaurants and pubs – all shut down. Schools are closed. Suddenly, the idea that children must be in school or their parents will have to answer to the state is set aside. Free assembly is banned. Human contact is severely curtailed. The new term ‘social-distancing’ is incessantly mentioned. This pertains to physical distance, which is prescribed at 2 metres.

Some individuals are so gripped by fear that they are unable to process information properly. People are informing on their neighbours, as often happens under totalitarian regimes. Indeed, the police have set up hotline websites to facilitate informing. The media stoke the spirit of fear. There is little rational discussion of facts, of alternatives – and nothing is put into context. There are suicides and women are reportedly being beaten behind closed doors.

And it could get worse. There are those who advocate monitoring everyone’s location. China already has gone a long way down this road, with facial recognition, apps and QR codes. There is evidently money to be made from such surveillance technology. Tech giants will profit enormously if they can get the contracts for the requisite apps and for other methods of monitoring. The idea of chipping people is gaining ground.

Although most small and medium businesses are closed, some large global businesses are doing well. And others are lining up for future profits: the prospect of a vaccine is eagerly anticipated and the pharmaceutical industry stands to make enormous gains if vaccines are mandated. Will papers to show that you have been vaccinated eventually be required in order to go to work? Or to buy and sell. The parliament in liberal Denmark has already voted for any Corona vaccine to be made compulsory.

A shift in power has  occurred. The people arguably no longer have any. Power now is squarely in the hands of the state and the large multinational corporations. Many people will lose their independence. Obey and conform or your mooted universal, basic income will be curtailed. And the limited number of (associated) large businesses might not employ you. When Hamazon Gates Global Inc. is the only show in town, seeking alternative employment if you don’t like the pay or conditions will cease to be an option. Independence gives people freedom, and dependency threatens freedom. And why was this supposedly benevolent tyranny accepted? Fear was whipped up by the government, assisted by servile media and compliant organisations. Editorial comment; notably the BBC.

In the early stages of the pandemic, a very low number of cases was reported here. However, people were told that the curve would soon inevitably morph into the now infamous n-shaped bell curve. Of course, this happens for all infectious diseases, including flu, every year. Whether such a curve would be more significant for a new disease would be dependent upon a number of factors. For example, whether a new disease could be passed on more easily and/or be more dangerous to health, etc.

In fact, there was much discussion about the alleged secrecy of China from where covid-19 originated. Then cases in Italy were mentioned. However, the deaths in Italy were almost entirely of those who were already suffering from one or more serious under-lying condition. Flu is also particularly dangerous for certain groups such as the elderly and those with other health issues. In fact, just in England alone, around 100,000 deaths each year have flu or pneumonia mentioned on the death certificate, and around 25,000 of these have flu or pneumonia written as the underlying cause of death. In 2015, over 27,00 death certificates recorded flu or pneumonia as the underlying cause of death, and over 25,000 in 2016 and 2017. Death certificates, likewise, may be inaccurate. There are now guidelines in various countries stating that doctors can write the cause of death to be covid-19 without testing for it, some guidelines state that this can be assumed. These factors, and others, render the data unreliable.

Since covid-19 seems especially dangerous for certain groups, then perhaps extra care of just those groups should have been considered. If, as we are told, this disease poses less threat to most people, who will experience it with no or very mild symptoms, why has the government placed the whole population on lockdown? The World Health Organisation declared a pandemic in 2009 (‘Swine Flu/H1N1’[1]) and yet no lockdown was ordered.

There are many problems in relation to the diagnosis of covid-19. Many patients are diagnosed on the basis of symptoms such as ‘having a cough’ or ‘flu-like symptoms’. Some are given scans – yet a scanner can only show the physical effects of disease, it cannot identify a specific cause. The reliability of swab tests is in doubt (e.g. the PCR). If the RNA code was taken from a small sample in China, is this code reliable? If patients are being misdiagnosed, then they may not receive the correct treatment.

The actions taken by our government to curtail covid-19 will cause economic damage on an unprecedented scale. And some of the infringements to liberty and privacy that we are witnessing may never be reversed, for the state rarely relinquishes power. There will eventually be a terrible price to pay in terms of physical and mental health. And the widespread poverty coming in the wake of the epidemic will entail immeasurable suffering – and death. Did our government carefully weigh up all these issues before ordering the lock-down? Did they do a proper cost benefit analysis? And did they consider possible alternatives? 

Endnote
[1] From CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/2009-h1n1-pandemic.html

‘From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States due to the (H1N1) pdm09 virus.’

Dr A.R. Kneen, Magdalene College, Cambridge

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1 Response to Lockdown

  1. David Ashton says:

    If there was a method in the madness, I doubt if the muddlers in the UK political class were involved in it.

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