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DISINFORMATION: Lockdowns are ineffective

Disinformation

A new study compiled by experts from Stanford University has found that severe lockdown restrictions, such as stay at home orders and closure of businesses, have no “clear, significant benefits” in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and may in fact increase infection rates.

National or state-wide lockdowns have been the ‘go to’ tactic by governments since the emergence of COVID-19, yet new research reveals that such drastic and draconian measures are, at best, not effective, according to LifesiteNews.

Titled “Assessing mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closure effects on the spread of COVID‐19”, the study was released on January 5th. It was conducted by Dr. Eran Bendavid, Professor John Ioannidis, Christopher Oh and Dr. Jay Battacharya, one of the three authors of the  Great Barrington Declaration”.

Reality

 

CONTEXT: Active News quotes an article on LifeSiteNews, a conservative anti-abortion and anti-LGBT site, about which newsguardtech writes that it has repeatedly promoted false statements about the pandemic and which, according to snopes, disseminates misleading information.

Jay Bhattacharya, one of the authors of the study, is the initiator and signatory to the the Great Barrington Declaration  of October 2020, which calls for an immediate return to a normal life- by reopening schools and universities, restaurants and other places that have been closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, resuming sports and cultural activities, giving up remote work in favor of office work, etc. - for all categories of persons except the vulnerable. The latter would be protected by some specific measures such as testing people coming from outside to nursing homes, using home deliveries, and, if possible, people meeting with their families in open spaces. The idea behind the declaration would be that returning to a normal life can lead to achieving herd immunity, which will ultimately also help protect vulnerable categories.

The declaration was signed by thousands of people, including many doctors and epidemiologists, but immediately sparked the reaction of the scientific community, which answered back with the  John Snow Memorandum, named after one of the founders of modern epidemiology. The memorandum was initiated by some of the world's most prestigious epidemiologists and signed by more than 6,600 scientists, researchers and health experts from around the world. The John Snow Memorandum rejects the idea behind the Great Barrington Declaration, stating that existing data so far do not show that herd immunity could be achieved. The statement was also termed as unethical and dangerous and denounced even by the head of the World Health Organization.

 

The credibility of Jay Bhattacharya and the other initiators of the Great Barrington Declaration was also affected by their association with the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), a libertarian think-tank marked by a series of major controversies, including minimizing the risks of climate change and global warming and publishing a study that seeks to show in a good light the so-called "sweatshops" - third-world workshops and factories that operate on the edge of legality for large western corporations and pay their workers extremely low wages. AIER is part of a network of think-tanks funded by companies in the tobacco and petrochemical industries. The complete resumption of economic activities is in the interest of these large corporations.

Messages such as those conveyed by the Great Barrington Declaration emerge against the background of people getting tired of all the restrictions imposed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and the existence of a number of groups and trends demanding these restrictions be lifted. They include those who completely deny the existence of the novel coronavirus, people who believe the whole thing about it being dangerous is an exaggeration, as it’s nothing more than “just a cold”, anti-conspiracy supporters, anti-vaxxers, libertarians, people affected from an economic point of view, etc.

DEBUNKING: Both Active News and LifeSiteNews use headlines suggesting that the said studies have been conducted under the aegis of Stanford University. The articles themselves do not correct the impression either – it is stated that the study was compiled by Stanford University experts, without saying though that the study is not one by Stanford University (the material was published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation). Although it is stated that Jay Bhattacharya is a signatory to the Great Barrington Declaration, the controversies linked to him or the declaration are not mentioned (wrongly presented by Active News as the Great Barrington Declaration).

So far, the study has not been analyzed by experts in the field, but there are some preliminary conclusions that we can draw:

1. Jay Bhattacharya compares the situation in 8 countries that have enforced lockdowns with those in Sweden and South Korea, which have avoided this measure. These comparisons do not take into account the specifics of each country and the strategies adopted by them - for example, a high level of public trust in the authorities, as in the case of Sweden, ensures greater compliance with distancing recommendations than where there is less trust. As regards South Korea, as well as the whole of South-East Asia, they already had the experience of the SARS epidemic of 2002 - 2003, so the population had a better understanding of the risks and what to do; moreover,a strategy was adopted to that end   which was basically to contain outbreaks by identifying and quarantining all the sick, their close contacts and the latter’s contacts.

2. The study admits that the benefits of the restrictions "cannot be ruled out” but ignores the fact that the lockdown measures in the beginning of the pandemic were taken in times of crisis and their result was a dramatic decrease in the number of infections and deaths in those countries; the removal of restrictions has led to a second wave of the pandemic in all those countries.

3. There are already studies – like this one  – which show that restrictions have been effective.

4. The impact of the pandemic on Sweden , a country that has not imposed restrictions, has definitely been greater than in the other Scandian countries, with a mortality rate in the first months that was one of the highest in Europe.

Jay Bhattacharya, one of the initiators of the study and signatory to the Great Barrington Declaration, calls for an immediate return to a normal life- by reopening schools and universities, restaurants and other places that have been closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, resuming sports and cultural activities, giving up remote work in favor of office work, etc. - for all categories of persons except the vulnerable.

  • Messages such as those conveyed by the Great Barrington Declaration emerge against the background of people getting tired of all the restrictions imposed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and a number of groups and trends demanding these restrictions be lifted. They include those who completely deny the existence of the novel coronavirus, people who believe the whole thing about it being dangerous is an exageration, as it’s “just a cold”, anti-conspiracy supporters, anti-vaxxers, libertarians, people affected from an economic point of view, etc.
  • Jay Bhattacharya compares the situation in 8 countries that have enforced lockdowns with those in Sweden and South Korea, which have avoided this measure. These comparisons do not take into account the specifics of each country and the strategies adopted by them.
  • The study admits that the benefits of the restrictions "cannot be ruled out” but ignores the fact that the lockdown measures in the beginning of the pandemic were taken in times of crisis and their result was a dramatic decrease in the number of infections and deaths in those countries; the removal of restrictions has led to a second wave of the pandemic in all those countries.

Tags: Coronavirus , SARS-CoV-2 , Pandemic , lockdown
  • Publication / Media:
    activenews.ro, LifeSiteNews.com, European Journal of Clinical Investigation
  • Key narrative:
    Restricțiile de tip lockdown nu au niciun fel de beneficiu ci, din contră, fac mai mult rău, iar țările care au evitat astfel de restricții au făcut față mai bine pandemiei.
Cătălin Gomboș

18 Jan 2021
Cătălin Gomboș

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16 minutes read
  • Jay Bhattacharya, one of the authors of the study, is the initiator and signatory to the the Great Barrington Declaration of October 2020, which calls for an immediate return to a normal life- by reopening schools and universities, restaurants and other places that have been closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, resuming sports and cultural activities, giving up remote work in favor of office work, etc. - for all categories of persons except the vulnerable.
  • Messages such as those conveyed by the Great Barrington Declaration emerge against the background of people getting tired of all the restrictions imposed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and the existence of a number of groups and trends demanding these restrictions be lifted.
  • Jay Bhattacharya compares the situation in 8 countries that have enforced lockdowns with those in Sweden and South Korea, which have avoided this measure. These comparisons do not take into account the specifics of each country and the strategies adopted by them.
  • The study admits that the benefits of the restrictions "cannot be ruled out” but ignores the fact that the lockdown measures in the beginning of the pandemic were taken in times of crisis and their result was a dramatic decrease in the number of infections and deaths in those countries; the removal of restrictions has led to a second wave of the pandemic in all those countries.
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