by Daniele Scalea
E se vi dicessero che le varie restrizioni – dalla chiusura di scuole e negozi alle limitazioni agli spostamenti, dall’obbligo di mascherina – non siano servite a nulla sul fronte sanitario? E che persino il lockdown totale, il rinchiudervi in casa per mesi, abbia ridotto la mortalità da covid-19 di pochissimo?
The study that condemns the lockdown strategy
Be’, c’è qualcuno che lo dice chiaro e tondo. Lo possiamo leggere in una recente pubblicazione della Johns Hopkins University, dal titolo A literature review and meta analysis of the effects of lockdowns on Covid-19 mortality. Gli autori sono tre economisti (Jonas Herby, Lars Jonung e Steve H. Hanke) e so che questo farà subito ribellare una certa classe di lettori, convinta che di sanità possano parlare solo i medici e di ippica solo i cavalli. In realtà, se si tratta di analisi dei dati – com’è il caso di questo saggio – degli economisti sono titolati almeno quanto i medici a parlare. E, comunque, l’obiezione perde ulteriore forza se a farla è chi si fida di più dei consigli medici di Cecchi Paone che di eminenti specialisti del settore come i firmatari della Dichiarazione di Great Barrington.
Let us now look in detail at what Herby, Jonung, and Hanke write. The three did a meta-analysis based on 24 studies, selected based on stringent criteria (empirical measurement of the effects of lockdowns on mortality) from a pool of 18590 papers. Their conclusion is lapidary: "Lockdowns have had little to no effect on covid-19 mortality". On average, the reduction in mortality was 0.2%; even with the most severe restrictions - i.e., house arrest for the entire population - the reduction appears minuscule: 2.9%.
Breaking with scientism and the cult of "necessity"
Obviously, a person could contest that even a reduction in mortality of not even 3% is an incommensurable good, since it is a matter of human lives. But human lives are also those - unlived, or economically ruined - of people locked up at home or prevented from working. As we have argued over and over again, the question is purely one of values: do I prefer to be free, running all the risks of living freely, or do I prefer to hole up at home and submit myself entirely to the State, thus gaining perhaps one or two years of life? My answer to this is clear and straightforward, but others may legitimately have a different idea. The problem arises when these others want to impose their idea on me, my loved ones and my children, in the name of an infallible "Science" that would have spoken and ruled.
There is no such "Science". Except when it comes to deciding at what temperature water boils, science has always been plural, dialectical and provisional. Science gives useful indications, but individual or collective choices are then the result of will, not of necessity. Those who believe on the contrary think to be "on the side of Science", but in reality they only support a vulgar scientism, mechanistic and reductionist.
The plural nature of science is also confirmed by the John Hopkins University meta-study. The three authors were interested in the subject because they saw the huge discrepancy between epidemiological models that predicted exterminations in the absence of lockdown, and others that challenged this conclusion. One of the most influential model was that of Neil Ferguson, who together with the Chinese and then Italian example stimulated the lockdown line in almost all the West. However, from the very beginning there were dissonant voices that considered the lockdown strategy wrong.
The debacle of predictive mathematical models
The glaring gap between what was predicted in the abstract mathematical models (the one by Ferguson & Co. promised a 98% decrease in mortality, not 2.9% as noted by Herby, Jonung and Hanke) inspired a recent reflection by James Lewisohn in "The Daily Sceptic." The title is telling: "Should all predictive modelling be banned?".
Lewisohn is not a doctor either, but he has been confronted with mathematical models all his life by being a banker and then a financial analyst. And he has not always but often found them to be flawed, just like those made now by epidemiologists. He cites another model made by Ferguson, in 2009, related to swine flu and that predicted a worst-case scenario of 60,000 deaths: they were actually less than 500. Last December, on the other hand, SAGE (the British Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) warned that, if Boris Johnson had not adopted even more stringent measures than those of Plan B, it could have reached 6,000 deaths a day. In reality, the peak was 289.
These are the mathematical models of the experts who have been deciding on our lives for the past two years. Constantly opting to repress and confine.
When will we decide to shout, "Enough!"?