May 042020

Steve Schapiro Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) with mini gloves, Louisville, KY 1963



There was another comment at the Automatic Earth yesterday questioning the function and wisdom of various lockdowns. I thought I’d explain this in more detail.


Ilargi if you or anyone else could explain what the exit strategy is from a lockdown I’d be interested in hearing it. As it is, this lockdown I repeat is no different than financial QE – everyone comes out weaker than they were before treatment. Financial QE covers up her problem just like lockdown does, but makes it worse in the long run. The only exit strategy I can see is to keep lockdown until a vaccine or effective treatment, neither of which are on the horizon.

If you are arguing that even healthy economies can survive indefinite closure, with intermittent re-openings I don’t know what to tell you. The suggestion is made that Sweden has a huge vested interest in understating fatalities. It is also certainly true that the rest of the world has an even greater vested interest in criticizing the Swedish approach because it demonstrates how useless the total lockdowns are. BTW the reported differences in fatalities between Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia are not statistically significant. Playing with numbers and not understanding how things may not be as they seem.


First, let’s re-establish that no lockdown would have been needed if and when politicians and scientists had done what’s in their job descriptions. That does not mean that no lockdown was called for once they did fail. Indeed, it’s the failure to act at the very beginning, say January 31, when the WHO sent out its first warning, that made lockdowns inevitable.

I don’t say that to exonerate the WHO in any way, because it subsequently, for weeks on end, kowtowed to China’s refusal to allow its teams entry into the country, and followed that up by waiting and hesitating another full 6(!) weeks, until March 11, to declare a pandemic.

Second, a lockdown and the way it’s executed are not the same thing. The decisions to lock down their societies may be the only thing(s) the Little Manager politicians have gotten right, but they still did get it right. And sorry, but you cannot use their ginormous failures made both before and during the lockdowns, to argue that the lockdowns themselves are a failure. These are separate issues, don’t let’s get them mixed up.

Lockdowns in and of themselves, when properly executed, cannot NOT work, simply because of the way viruses spread. Yes, we need to know exactly how they do, but not knowing this in the present case is exactly why we need a lockdown, why we need to keep people, who are all potential hosts AND spreaders, away from each other. Until we know precisely how the virus spreads and/or until we know that the people involved are not virus carriers.

Terms such as “indefinite closure” don’t come from me, so please have the courtesy not to suggest I want one. Questioning the principle of a lockdown is not terribly helpful or smart, and neither is suggesting that Sweden is doing well. If only because such questions and suggestions, if you follow their “logic”, seek to deny the very way viruses spread, if not the existence of a virus in the first place.

Which is one of the few things we do know about COVID19: we know it exists and we know it spreads. We may get distances – between people- and timing – of various stages of infection- wrong, but the principle stands.


The lockdown is useful, make that inevitable, because it prevents further spread of a deadly virus from one host to another. Our ancestors understood this well before they even knew what viruses were, and I don’t understand why we would today no longer possess that wisdom.

The knowledge we have gained since times of old also allows us to understand that if a virus cannot spread to a new host for an x amount of time, it will die off. Which may sound a tad curious because science does not consider viruses to be microbes or “living organisms”, but that’s not really the issue at hand.

However, the NOT spreading will have to happen in as many instances as you have potential hosts, i.e. infected people, to make it work at a societal level, obviously. And that’s why lockdowns are inevitable: it’s all about numbers.

The “good news” is that the very reason lockdowns are useful already signifies that lockdowns don’t have to last until there is a “vaccine or effective treatment”; no “indefinite closure” is needed. You don’t necessarily have to eradicate a virus to inhibit it from jumping from host to host; you can also put distance and other barriers between (potential) hosts.

And there’s more good “news”. I think it was Nassim Taleb who said a while back that the answer to people saying a lockdown is a bad thing because it also isolates healthy people is: we need a lockdown precisely because we don’t know who is healthy or not.

If we do know who is healthy, however, we don’t need a lockdown. Ergo: testing, testing, testing. Certainly in the beginning, we must test people every 24 hours or so, test them for the virus. test them for antibodies, improve our tests, add more tests, test still more, we can all fill in the rest. And no, that is not an indefinite thing either. Testing will tell us to a much higher degree than we know today, when and where to distance people from each other.

Someone who has tested negative every 24 hours for days or weeks on end can be treated differently from someone who has not. And such a person will be, certainly initially, more careful in interacting with people. Take it from there, and you will in the end actually be rid of the virus, because it will not find enough new potential hosts.

That also means you don’t absolutely need a vaccine. Which is a good thing, because no coronavirus vaccine has ever been “discovered”, and because we have no idea what it would contain. Whenever I hear grand theories about grand bad plans elites or whoever are supposed to have with the virus, I first think: what would the virus need to propagate?

And I always come back to the same answer: it only needs our continuing incompetence: other than lockdowns and face masks, we have given it all the space and opportunity it has needed. It doesn’t need any help from 5G radiation or glyphosate (though both should be subject(ed) to the precautionary principle), or anything people come up with in the extra time their lockdown allows for. All it needs is for us to continue doing what we have: not test.

And opening up our societies again without mass testing, of course, will be the biggest gift we can offer it. This doesn’t mean I deny the possible existence of some plan, or that I want to claim to have knowledge of where the virus originated. It only means that from where I’m sitting, the virus doesn’t need any assistance to do what it has done so far, not that it may or may not have gotten any. Still, door A is factual, and door B is purely hypothetical. And we don’t have seas of time to debate this, we have lives to save.


It’s early May, and there no longer are any excuses for anyone in the western world not wearing face coverings in public, and neither are there excuses for countries lacking the capacity to test their citizens appropriately. Still, in most countries, we are nowhere near that capacity. That is inexcusable. Social distancing is not.

What shuts down societies today is not the virus, not the lockdowns, but the failure to adhere to basic principles with which to approach all potentially epidemic microbes or viruses. The failure to be properly prepared -at all times-, because some thirteen-a-dozen politician elected in a popularity contest considers it too expensive, or too much work. Even if warnings about a next epidemic had been sounded for many years.

The exit strategy is testing while Big Pharma looks for a vaccine. Good thing we don’t have to wait for the latter, because, yes, that would risk an indefinite closure. Testing will get us out once our “leaders” resolve to make it a priority. They should all be voted out of office for not having done that yet, and take their scientific advisers with them. And that’s after we may or may not forgive them for their initial failures.

We may need to overhaul a whole bunch of things to make sure no such perfectly preventable failures happen ever again. But you know how people are. And anyway, we’re in a bit of a bind at the moment.

It’s been 125 days since that first WHO warning, and there are still even many rich countries that can’t manage to test their medical and care workers, let alone the rest of their people.

And you want to argue that the problem here is lockdowns?






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Home Forums Why Lockdowns Work

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    Steve Schapiro Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) with mini gloves, Louisville, KY 1963     There was another comment at the Automatic Earth yester
    [See the full post at: Why Lockdowns Work]


    And we don’t have seas of time to debate this, we have lives to save.

    why can’t we do both? are these somehow mutually exclusive? how are they even related?

    one reason the debate is necessary: trump and pompeo are already quite far down the ‘wuhan lab’ rabbit hole. the echoes of saddam/wmd are unmistakable.


    I’m outta here -bye

    Jernau Gurgeh

    The lefties are using the lockdown to push their agenda.

    Ron Paul on forced vaccinations and digital certificates


    great Raul – right on – the lock downs are important In NS we have a map by region. Our region has not had a new case in 11 days. I needed to pick up drugs and wanted to keep our food supply topped up so I went the town today. the small town is a ghost town almost every business except grocery, petro, drugs, lumber/hardware and liquor are closed. Early in the Pandemic our numbers went from 3 to 50 really fast and the lock down has stopped the spread in its tracks. many churches . fire hall and signs at many businesses have positive messages and healing messages. flags at 1/2 mast due to massacre here. Stay the Blazes home signs. — We have to value more than money.


    I couldn’t agree more. In my view the way out of this is in isolating the virus and its spread. Eventually it will die out. Testing and PPE need to be ramped up to the global emergency level that this has become. As is all too common we live in a political world that operates on the Peter Principle. People rise to the level of their incompetence. Lots of that going around.


    the Peter Principle at its most dangerous. Imagine if there was a leader that would have had a one day training class on risk.
    I spend a portion of my career as a divisional Quality manager and there are few things worse than meeting with the head of a 3 billion dollar division and telling them that they have to do a recall on 100% of a product type. The middle manager or as Raul calls them little managers would go into denial and look for a way to cover it up or cover their ass and but the really good managers would get mad and realize that it is what it is and act quickly to minimize the risk.

    Firing the pandemic protection department and then having the fired head of that department ignored when she tried to warn our leaders was the beginning and I know that feeling to a much lesser degree. This could have ended with a two week shutdown of the world. We needed world leaders. Instead we got a little manager in denial until it was too late.


    Well said Ilargi – you really nailed it.

    Can’t think of much to add and that is very unusual!!


    There are many elites that are happy for the lock down.
    It forced the governments, around the world, to print money and give it to them so that they could hide all their past mistakes.
    This is war. There will be casualties and winners.

    What would have happened without the virus being there to use as a cover up?


    Compare to other countries. Who is number 1.
    New projected numbers, 134,000, for the USA which demonstrate that if you chase a dollar you cannot have an effective lock down.
    a Trump administration model projects a rise in coronavirus cases and deaths in the weeks ahead, up to about 3,000 daily deaths in the US by June 1,


    I do read TAE. Everyday. I read this article and knew Raul was going to get his share of hate mail for daring to so brazenly, clearly, simply and yet articulately reveal the pointlessness of We Don’t LIke Lockdowns So We WIll Demonize Them! As if anyone here likes mysterious lethal flus, or the governments we all live under (being the crazy idjits what we homo saps are), or having our lifestyles greatly reduced (being pampered little petro-rats who never missed a meal).

    So I skimmed the comments, and sure enough, it is yet another Happy False Dichotomy Day!

    I’ll just leave this here:

    Pandemics Are Global & Universal Problems

    P.S. You never saw me. I wasn’t here. It never happened. I can neitgher confirm nor deny rumors of my fleeting appearance.


    The basic fact is that by January 20, 2020 when the first cases outside China were confirmed in the USA and South Korea, western national governments failure to close their borders directly resulted in the explosion of Wuhan coronavirus cases and deaths. This was due to the Western Empire’s belief in the free movement of money, people, goods, and services. To do what was necessary to save lives goes against an aristocrat’s very sense of purpose and being. The SNAFUs cascaded after that 1) not using the WHO test for the virus, 2) no stock piles of PPE, 3) offshoring critical supplies and pharmaceuticals to China, 4) delegating public health authority to 50 states, and 5) no crash national program to test everyone. The response to the pandemic became the “Wild Wild West”. Western governments still have no idea the extent and spread of the pandemic except for Iceland. Who is infected? Who is not? What tests work? Which ones are frauds?

    The lock down came about because of these earlier debacles. Italy showed that the coronavirus could overwhelm a nation’s healthcare system. Jet Setters skiing in the Alps brought the virus back to Long Island. Donald Trump’s hometown hospitals were filling up. The Elite are at just as much risk as NY City riff-raft. Drs. Fauci and Brix got the President to recommend national guidelines for a lock down. There was no alternative.

    A month and a half later the lock down is a failure. The number of cases is increasing in 19 US states. Red states are reopening. Shortages of goods and food are appearing. There is lock down fatigue. Without income for food and shelter, unrest is certain. The number of pandemic cases and deaths are not decreasing. They are not even plateauing in the USA. 100,000 will die in North America in approximately three weeks. If the virus is free again to pass unchecked from the infected to the uninfected, at a 0.5% mortality rate, a million and half Americans will die. The pandemic will wax and wane. In hotspots, for-profit hospitals will be swamped. Millions more will die untreated or from violence.

    There is a way out. Institute good old fashion public health techniques that are already successful against the virus in Asian and South Pacific nations. Test, trace and isolate the infected. Congress has to quit hiding and restore the US Public Health System, provide free hospitalization, universal testing, and safe secure quarantine sites. The height of irony is that it is the Masters of the Universe who oppose their wealth being used to save American lives. Ultimately when Americans realize that Wall Street is the reason their families are dying, the USA will no longer be a safe place for flight capital and the whole edifice will crumble down and their wealth disappear.

    V. Arnold

    Hi Ilargi,
    Thanks for this post; I’ve been wrestling with this whole lock-down scenario for a while now; and now I’m settled on the correct course, which is lock-down.
    It’s working extremely well here and I have no fear the government will abuse these measures. The lock-down combined with an excellent healthcare system has been hugely effective and successful.
    The huge elephant in the room for the west is too little too late, and a totally failed healthcare system.
    I also think the west will abuse (if not already) the strict lock-down measures, far past their necessity for public health in this time of CV-19.
    In an honestly run system, the numbers do not lie; and by all measure the numbers in the U.S. are abysmal…
    Stay safe…

    V. Arnold

    Expanding a bit on my closing paragraph: I firmly believe much of the rebellious, if irresponsible, behavior in the U.S. is caused by the litany of lies and a proven track record of violating civil laws, the bill of rights, the constitution , and international norms of human rights.
    1984, if not already here, is but a click away..


    You never saw me. I wasn’t here.

    I hope you and your family are feeling better.

    To do what was necessary to save lives goes against an aristocrat’s very sense of purpose and being.

    I laughed out loud when I read that. So true. So true.

    So here in Korea, where we have never been in lockdown, the authorities have now ended the social distancing phase. Starting this week, life will mostly go back to normal. Churches did a partial reopen on Sunday, and will be fully reopened next Sunday. Lots of people were out and about today for Children’s Day, a national public holiday. People are eating out in restaurants, enjoying life, but mostly spending a lot of time outdoors in the beautiful spring weather. Schools will likely stay closed for another week, but probably not longer than that. A lot of the masks have come off when people are outdoors, but people put them back on as soon as they step on a bus or go to a public indoor space.

    We have had fewer than 10 cases per day for about two weeks. There were one or two exceptions, but those were days with more cases at the airport. Community spread has pretty much been stopped.

    Contrast that with my home country, with 25,000 new cases per day. Even though the virus is still spreading, the cries to reopen the economy are growing shriller and shriller by the day, consequences be damned. The lesson: Expect a competent government, act quickly, make public health the first priority, tell people the truth,and get everyone on the same page — and you have a chance to save both people and your economy. Though that does require shared sacrifice. Contrast that with the propaganda, fear mongering, ass covering, disinformation and corruption in the system run by the Wall Street puppetmasters . . . .

    Dr. D

    Meh, don’t be like that. That’s what opinions are for.

    If everyone thought alike then we’d all be wrong in the exact same way, instead of now where we’re all wrong each in our own way. Much improvement.

    Wasn’t the question what is the exit strategy for the lockdown? You’ve just said there is none. Because we can’t “Crush” lockdown, the disease will get out there, as it always has through human history.

    You seem to be saying, we need to do this one thing which humans have never done, and only then are we allowed to be free men again and go back to normal.

    Okay, great. So what happens all the other times when we don’t do what humans have never done before?

    The disease is out there. We are headed for a lockdown of over a year right now. We’re headed toward suspending elections, government procedure, due process, human rights, and food shortages. Forever. World deaths are 250k / 8B = 0.003% U.S. deaths outside NYC are 20k / 320M = 0.01% Lockdown areas are falling, as the U.S. charts. Non-lockdown areas are falling, as Sweden, South Dakota. Lockdown areas are also rising, like NM and Singapore. Lockdown areas like U.K. fell BEFORE their lockdown began.

    The disease is already everywhere, has a 0.01% fatality, and our response has mixed and uncertain results, but has voluntarily put millions into poverty, and food shortages. So what’s the exit strategy? Do we wait for them to die and riot, erase all human rights and human love in the process, or do we take our chances with the 1 in 10,000 chance of a death that was coming anyway? Since once again we didn’t do what we’ve never done, what would you recommend now? More poverty and shortages, or less?


    There will be another disease. We could do with the seasonal flu what we are doing with the coronavirus. Hey! We could save 60,000 US lives a year if every fall we lockdown the country for the dark months!
    Vitamin D prices will go sky-high!
    We cannot come up with solutions to a post lockdown world because we can’t assemble. The platforms to discuss alternative ANYTHING to what’s going on are being removed.
    Impending death or the fear of impending death imparts the most aggressive sort of narcissistic behavior in individuals- empathy and honesty can disappear as long as I AM KEPT SAFE.
    It may seem compassionate to keep your loved ones safe by locking them alone in their rooms, but it is not. What it will cause is learned-helplessness, dissociative behaviors, and overall bad mental health. The pandemic is focussed on corporeal health as it cooks up a terrifying pandemic of mental illness.
    Those malevolent TV pharma ads will be pushing antidepressants, tranquilizers, sleep-aids, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiolytics, etc. as this drags on- another big win for pharma.
    I disagree that lockdowns are useful for world health, though I recognize it is compassion that inspires them. I think they are incredibly useful for malignant political agendas that are sought by psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists- persons notable for their ability to take the goodness of others and destroy them with it.
    Sumac.carol- please don’t go.


    I’m not convinced. There isn’t much evidence offered about what would happen if there were not a lockdown. The number of deaths in the UK peaked on 8th of April, which means infections had peaked before the lockdown began. People were taking precautions anyway, it wasn’t necessary to introduce a totalitarian police state in violation of human rights.

    I think whatever we are doing at the moment as a cure is probably much worse than the problem. Looking at the world death statistics for covid19 258,509, this is less than half the number of people who die normally every year in the UK. We don’t have lockdowns for flu, it is a virus, it does spread, it does kill.

    So much is still unknown about this virus, we don’t know how many people have it, and therefore we don’t know what the death rate is.

    Locking everyone in a padded cell would work. It couldn’t not work as you put it. What is the price?

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