Against the Corona-Panic, Part XVIII: Lessons from no-lockdown Belarus; mortality rise from Wuhan-Corona Flu Wave in line with previous peak flu waves; Wuhan-Corona dwarfed by effects of Soviet breakup


(2200 words)

What insights might Corona-Panic Studies get from Belarus?

Compared to Belarus, even Sweden looked like it might be overreacting.

Here is a graphical representation I’ve put together of total all-cause mortality in Belarus over the past forty years. I think the patterns speak for themselves but some commentary is included below anyway:

(Graph by E.H. Hail [Hail To You].)

Belarus’ Anti-Lockdown Regime

At a time many were embracing delusion, panic, and group-think, at a time millions began indoctrinating themselves into the Virus Cult, Belarus stayed totally open. It kept its sports leagues open, playing without missing a match, spectators and all. Nothing was closed. No masks. Nothing. This is how a visitor described it in late May:

[S]chools remain open, as do cafés, restaurants, bars, shopping malls and most outdoor events. Indeed, many thousands of people lined the streets for the annual Victory Day parade on May 9th. Belarus has struck a refreshing balance: one which has not led to a population in fear of one another.

Just like a normal flu wave. People would have had little idea anything was “going on,” if they relied entirely on lived experience. Now that the flu wave is over, none outside certain specialized occupations would have ever noticed it had ever happened, exactly as it would have been in any of our countries if this the exact same flu wave had spread in 1990, 2000, or even 2010.

The president of Belarus was defiant and stood with both feet in the anti-Panic camp in a way that was much less possible in the West. (Belarus might have a state-run media, while we have a media-run state.)

As the LockdownSkeptics corrspondent wrote in late May:

The country often referred to as the last dictatorship in Europe suddenly has more individual freedoms than virtually anywhere

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The Two Lessons of Belarus

Yes, there was a flu wave in 2020. There is a clear mortality spike is associated with it, but not a historically unprecedented one and nothing like the media-promoted images of doom and millions of deaths.

(1) The Wuhan-Corona flu is a severe flu wave, not an Apocalypse Virus. All flu waves will cause some kind of bump in mortality, and classic severe waves tend to “kill” a few hundredths of a percent of the population (“kill” in quotation marks because most of the deaths are already people in very weak state).

This loss of a few hundredths of one percent of the population in a peak flu event is something we lived with throughout all history without particularly panicking over. Earlier peak flu events of this magnitude were never even noticed. We have long already known this as the full ‘punch’ carried by Wuhan-Corona, from elsewhere, but it is good to see it corroborated yet again, especially in this case, the Belarus “super natural experiment.”

On the Niall Ferguson model, Belarus should have had something over 100,000 coronavirus-caused and follow-on deaths from the mythical swamped hospitals, but the true number as of the provisional total through June 30 is 3,500 excess deaths (see table below).

(2) Economic dislocation kills. Excessive attention on one virus in one year seems to have made many forget something important: Economic collapse and/or social collapse causes untold negative effects and kills many over a period of years and even decades. Belarus is a perfect example:

Wuhan-Corona is a one-year case of pushing mortality back up near where it was in the toughest years of the 1990s in terms of total mortality. The effects of the post-Soviet-collapse years on mortality are as much as hundreds of times worse, and depressingly stretched out over a whole generation, than Wuhan-Corona, a “one-and-done” in mid-2020. The bigger lesson therefore is: Context. Economic dislocation kills. Social disruption and loss of hope kills. Lockdowns Kill.

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“Missing the Forest by Focusing on the Trees”

Swiss Policy Research posted briefly on Belarus in September and includes a graph with their post, but I believe my graph tells the overall story that needs to be told even better and more explicitly.

In the SPR graph, it looks like Wuhan-Corona is the sixth noticeable flu spike in Belarus since the disintegration process of the Communist bloc began in 1989. (Poetically, the 1989-90 winter itself was a bad one for Belarus, with a classic flu spike visible in January to February. At the same time that the Soviet-led order in Eastern Europe was undergoing a crisis, a flu wave struck.)

When we look for flu spikes, are we “missing a forest for the trees”?

If we use the hypothetical long-run natural death rate (the orange line in my graph) as

Belarus like everywhere else in Europe was and is aging, and a gentle and gradual total death rate rise from the 1980s to the 2010s/2020s was to be expected. It should have been gradual, a steady rise, not a sudden jolt upwards following a geopolitical and economic collapse. That is the orange line in the graph, the hypothetical long-run baseline absent an economic collapse in 1989-1991, and it is better to use it as the long-run baseline rather than a rolling immediate-term average. Measured this way, 2020 has actually one of the better years for mortality (lower excess-death rates) in Belarus since 1980.

Notice that each year, 1993 to 2011, shows a higher excess over the hypothetical long-run baseline (orange line) of slowly rising mortality consistent with an aging society. The 1985 flu wave was also definitely worse than 2020. As of now, 1984 was also worse.

(Something else to note in the mid-1980s flu spike: 1983-84 and 84-85 bad flu seasons was both preceded by and followed by mild years [1982-83 and 1986], just as 2021 is likely to be. A certain number of people were statistically likely to die in the five-year window 1982 to 1986, and the cards fell that they bunched up in 1984 an 1985; the same is at work in 2020 with the Wuhan-Corona wave, as almost everywhere with mortality spikes was preceded by mild years.)

If making a list of years sorted by mortality excess, puts 2020 and the Wuhan-Corona wave at the number-22 or number-23 spot in the past forty years in Belarus in excess deaths.

The rise in what are now called “deaths of despair” in the old communist bloc in the 1990s and beyond is a well-known story. That big rise you see in the graph, starting in the early 1990s and finally settling down really only by the mid-2010s, represents hundreds of thousands of excess deaths. That was a true public health disaster.

Then when one brings in the ‘qualitative’ to supplement the ‘quantitative’ here, that is to say when one realizes what kind of people those “excess deaths” were in the 1990s/2000s and what kind died in the Wuhan-Corona wave of 2020, you see in clear view how minor Wuhan-Corona flu wave actually is compared to what can happen to a society that goes off the rails even absent any war, famine, meteor impact or the like. This is the “forest.” Wuhan-Corona is a “tree.”

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Belarus vs. Sweden

A direct comparison with Sweden is worth it because Belarus and Sweden underwent the Wuhan-Corona flu wave about the same time. They are both European countries with similar populations (Sweden: 10.4m; Belarus: 9.25m). Both refused to cave into lockdowns-ism or the general world media Embrace The Fear drumbeat, Sweden by the good fortune to have had particularly principled and strong-willed people in charge, Belarus partly the same and partly that its political leadership was anti-Western by instinct, with the president saying the whole Corona-Panic was a “Western delusion.”

Sweden is seldom brought up by those in the pro-Panic coalition because Sweden undermines the pro-Panic side’s basic beliefs. Even less does one hear about Belarus. I don’t recall hearing anything in the Western press about Belarus in 2020 except something about protests against the government a few months ago. Nothing about “Covid” in Belarus, which is strange because Belarus took such a hardline anti-Panic position and surely it has had huge numbers of dead, surely it should be held up as an example of what never to do?

I have written much on Sweden but little on Belarus mainly because Belarus is much less accessible, and their government was downplaying the flu deaths that were clearly going on, but all-cause death data is much harder to spin.

Belarus should be of particular interest as a natural experiment on Wuhan-Corona, but of course it comes down to small-audience people like me, and much larger but still non-mainstream places like Swiss Policy Research to point to this.

Belarus’ epidemic curves probably mirror Sweden’s in shape and magnitude but trailed it in time by a few weeks, given the higher likelihood of travel to Sweden from places the virus was circulating in early 2020. Sweden’s period of excess deaths lasted from the end of March to the end of May, two months, and was slightly elevated for another month after that.

Total Deaths in Sweden [EuroMOMO]

Belarus’ total-deaths curve looks a lot like this except trailing by a few weeks. Belarus’ might begin in late April and fade by late June. Then it was over. It’s long over as of this writing.

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Quantifying Wuhan-Corona’s hit in Belarus

Belarus has had one-time, one-year +0.040% all-population mortality bump associated with the Wuhan-Corona flu wave, something near 4000 excess deaths (depending on how you count; see Table I below and Appendix), which will be somewhat higher when we have final data next year. Measured against per capita deaths of the 2015-19 period, the hit from Wuhan-Corona is +0.06% (see Appendix).

Belarus’ population almost certainly achieved herd immunity after a few weeks of transmission and therefore we can assume the death totals through the end of June are near the full

This +0.04% is notable for Corona-Panic Studies because it is so similar to what Sweden has had (they are now inching their way to 6000 reported Corona-positive deaths, 0.058% of total resident population, with some degree of overcount from the Deaths With vs. Deaths From problem). Actually, Belarus’ +0.04% is similar to what really all the Western countries who underwent the flu wave had, regardless of lockdown policy or lack thereof. (It’s a flu virus. It spreads. Deal with it. Don’t panic.)

Here is 2020 in chart form:

Table I.Belarus
Deaths in 2020
Belarus
Avg. deaths,
2011-2019
Excess/Deficit
2020 vs 2010s
January10,72511,498-773
February9,62210,175-553
March10,69010,970-280
April10,88610,470+416
May11,96610,538+1,428
June13,0169,576+3,440
Sum, first 6
months/year
66,90563,228+3,677

Yes, it was a classic severe flu wave, and the reported deaths mean an extra +0.04% of the population, effectively entirely drawn from the oldest/frailest, died in 2020 than might otherwise have. But why make a big deal about it? Severe flu waves happen. We get through them. We always have. Whatever the final ‘hit’ attributable to the Wuhan-Corona flu wave will be, it is a “one and done.”The great majority of those +0.04% (or whatever the final number is) will have statistically died in the early 2020s anyway.

Here is 1984 and 1985 for comparison:

Table II.Belarus, deaths,
1984
Belarus,
deaths,
1985
Avg. deaths, 1980-89 excl. ’84-’85Excess or Deficit, 1984Excess or Deficit, 1985
January9,11910,5419,383-264+1,158
February10,04611,4618,200+1,847+3,262
March10,09411,3148,899+1,195+2,415
April8,4918,8258,200+291+625
May8,9559,0438,350+605+693
June7,8407,7967,609+231+187
Sum, first 6 mo./year54,54558,98050,641+3,904+8,339

In absolute terms, 2020 (+3677) now looks like the 1984 flu wave (+3904), and less than half the severe 1985 flu wave (+8339); given late-reporting deaths, it will probably finish between the two.

There are multiple apparent flu waves of the 1990s and 2000s:

From “Covid in Belarus,” Sept. 2020, Swiss Policy Research

The Wuhan-Corona flu wave of 2020 in Belarus appears to be approximately in the severe flu range which is hit one to three times per decade. If you were born in 1980, you lived through something like six of these. But again the much bigger story is that if you were born in 1980 and lived in Belarus your whole life, the major disruptions of the 1990s and 2000s were a much bigger deal than any of the flu waves, at it’s not close.

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The Lesson of Belarus is “Social and Economic Collapse Kills;” flu waves, even severe ones, cannot compete

We see in Belarus, as really everywhere else, that Wuhan-Corona was a classic severe flu wave, but in Belarus’ case it also looks almost irrelevant compared to what long-term major economic and social disruptions can do to a society.

As for how it compares to other flus — which is really an academic question — it is hard to flesh out distinct flu spikes in the 1990s and 2000s, though certainly there were some, because the data was not hugging a clear baseline and then occasionally spiking (as in 1985). The general up-and-down from the post-Soviet breakdown overshadows the various flu spikes of the time, which is a macro-trend visible in the graph:

The much bigger lesson of Belarus is that economic dislocation can be much worse than any one-and-done flu wave, which is a word of caution to the Lockdown-pushers among us.

Wuhan-Corona, for all its hype, is so much weaker than the economic dislocation associated with the Soviet breakup in Belarus’ case as to make the 2020 spike all but unnoticeable to someone glancing at this graph from a great distance of time or space. 2020 is totally overshadowed by the 1990s-to-early-2010s high mortality period.

The deaths of despair phenomenon in the post-Soviet sphere in the 1990s and beyond has long been understood, and provide two lessons: (1) A signpost on the magnitude of unmitigated Wuhan-Corona flu wave, and (2) The effects of economic and social disruption: As Dr. Scott Atlas says, “Lockdowns Kill.” Unemployment and hopelessness kill; drugs and alcohol kill.

In 1986-89, Belarus had just under 1.0% of its population dying per year. By the mid-1990s, the rate had risen to 1.3% and went even higher in the 2000s and began to improve markedly in the 2010s. That’s 20+ years of excess mortality at a magnitude of +0.2%/year (total: 4.0%+ for the twenty-year period), against the Wuhan-Corona flu wave’s one-and-done +0.04%. Maybe 2020 excess mortality will be closer to +0.1% when the smoke clears, and match the 1985 severe flu year.

The mortality effect of the Soviet economic and political collapse was therefore as much as 100 times worse than the Wuhan-Corona flu wave, and that is measuring on “body count” alone. Qualitatively, a lot of the excess deaths in the 1990s-2000s period were to people of working age either dying deaths of despair or suffering worse long-term health outcomes as a result of the dislocations. On the other hand, we know from data everywhere the age-and-condition profile of Wuhan-Corona deaths (elderly and frail, very seldom of working age). Incorporating both “body count” and qualitative age-condition profiles of those dying, the Soviet collapse is many hundreds of times worse for public health than the Wuhan-Corona flu wave.

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Datasets used

  • “Deaths, by month of death,” Demographic Statistics Database | United Nations Statistics Division [data.un.org] for Belarus. Data updated August 19, 2020.
  • Total population by year from World Bank database [data.worldbank.org].

On the completeness of deaths data: This is all-cause death data. Belarus might politically downplay deaths it wants to say are “Covid-related,” but it is much less likely they are hiding bodies. A dead body is a dead body.

We have provisionally complete data for Belarus up through June 30, 2020. The graph compares all-cause deaths for the same period (January to June) back to 1980 and up to 2020. That’s forty-one years’ worth of data. The way these things usually work, when finalized data is available the full magnitude may rise slightly, so the spike you see on 2020 will probably end up a little higher.

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Appendix.

Table of the data behind the graph:

(Graph by E.H. Hail [Hail To You].)
YearBelarus total deaths in first 6mo./year (Jan. 1 to June 30)Belarus Total pop. in yearPercent (%) of Belarus total population dying in first six months of year
198050,9819,643,0000.53%
198149,2949,710,0000.51%
198247,4439,776,0000.49%
198349,6489,843,0000.50%
198454,5459,910,0000.55%
198558,9809,975,0000.59%
198650,19210,043,0000.50%
198752,23610,111,0000.52%
198853,05810,140,0000.52%
198952,27310,170,0000.51%
199056,93310,189,0000.56%
199159,42210,194,0000.58%
199258,79510,216,0000.58%
199365,50610,239,0000.64%
199468,12410,227,0000.67%
199569,17910,194,0000.68%
199669,59710,160,0000.69%
199771,78010,117,0000.71%
199868,85110,069,0000.68%
199976,35810,026,7380.76%
2000N/A
2001N/A
200275,3859,865,5480.76%
200372,8389,796,7490.74%
200471,7499,730,1460.74%
200572,5949,663,9150.75%
2006N/A
200768,6799,560,9530.72%
200867,9609,527,9850.71%
200969,2349,506,7650.73%
2010N/A
201169,3169,473,1720.73%
201263,6879,464,4950.67%
201364,6669,465,9970.68%
201461,5679,474,5110.65%
201562,5389,489,6160.66%
201661,2459,501,5340.64%
201761,6109,498,2640.65%
201861,9319,483,4990.65%
201962,4889,466,8560.66%
202066,9059,450,0000.71%

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33 Responses to Against the Corona-Panic, Part XVIII: Lessons from no-lockdown Belarus; mortality rise from Wuhan-Corona Flu Wave in line with previous peak flu waves; Wuhan-Corona dwarfed by effects of Soviet breakup

  1. Amherst, MA, where I live has made their schools 100% remote. Madness.

    • Hail says:

      “Barron had it. It was gone in no time. He didn’t even know he had it.” –Trump in 60 Minutes interview. This applies to pretty much all children, of course.

  2. Hail says:

    schools 100% remote

    Suicide rates in K-12 age in the USA, 2000s-2010s:

    – 0.3 suicides per 100,000 ages 5-12
    – 7.0 suicides per 100,000 ages 13-18

    That makes me wonder on deaths of despair — on-topic here, the kind seen in the post-Soviet bloc in the 1990s and 2000s (which dwarfs the Wuhan-Corona flu wave) — It would not take a particularly high rise in these rates to end up with far more (many times more) marginal suicides among under-18s than deaths even loosely attributable to Wuhan-Corona among this age group.

    Monomaniacal obsession with one virus, disrupting all other aspects of life, might end up doing it. Forcing children to stay home, tell them how dangerous they are to other people, disrupting normal social interaction, could easily do it. And t here will be no saturation media coverage of the phenomenon.

  3. Not a Doctor but... says:

    I wonder. Did they panic and make moves close down society in the USSR in the 1985 flu? I’d be astonished if so. I imagine if you asked people What do you remember about the Great Flu of 1985, people would say, “What are you talking about?”…

  4. Not a Doctor but... says:

    I believe the data here supports the extreme sounding contention that ANY reaction at all (EVEN those generic/bland “attention, people, flu is getting bad, wash your hands often” warnings you sometimes would see,) was a seriously wrong move, everywhere, a true global false alarm as that leaked German government memo called it.

    Any reaction risked causing a chain-reaction of fear and panic. China’s crazy Hubei Lockdown started the madness and The Orangeman is right that China Did This. (He’s often right for the wrong reasons.)

    iirc: late February, all of March, into April, it was so common to mock people who said “it” was “just the flu.” But in what way is it not? Flu’s come in ranges and this one’s clearly in the historical range.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Just the Flu, Bro” is one of many slogans, used in negatuve form by Team Lockdown, which dropped away mysteriously between then and now. It join’s Flatten the Curve anD ohers in the slogan graveyard …

  5. Hail says:

    A traveler to Belarus in Aug./Sept. 2020 writes this at Lockdown Skeptics:

    Just spent 6 weeks in Belarus – there has not been a lockdown there, although many people wanted it, the President said they could not afford to do it (IMF tried to bribe him by saying we will give you loans but you must implement full lockdown restrictions and he said no way to them).

    There are stickers and posters saying social distancing and a few mask wearers (a very very tiny amount), but overall everything is open and we went to full restaurants, full cafes and even a full ice hockey game – and did not get covid 🙂

  6. Massachusetts ordered all hockey rinks closed for two weeks today

    • Hail says:

      Continuing hit-and-run lockdown and shutdown orders are all “l’inutile precauzione” (a useless precaution, from a Rossini opera).

      Everything we know suggests Massachusetts is now near, or at, herd immunity. A lot of the people in the state have had the virus pass through their systems, most without knowing it. While there could be more “cases,” there is not going to be any huge jump in flu deaths in Massachusetts.

      Relatedly, I notice a pick-up lately of MSM stories arguing against herd immunity in principle.

  7. Pingback: Bonfire of the Humanity | Volatility

  8. I finally watched the Tom Woods video, Mr. Hail. What an excellent talk he gave! I think you said this, but imagine if most Americans got the chance or made the effort to watch it. Maybe they would finally turn off the Infotainment PanicFest and realize the state of hysteria that they’d been living in.

    Thank you for finding this one. I will put it on Peak Stupidity tomorrow.

    (BTW, I know this comment should go under your previous post, but I made such a mess of the comments there, trying to get that dang link to work.)

  9. Looking at the Swedish news this morning- Norway is corona panicking, and the report on Channel 4 is that their intensive care units are filling up. Is the media in Sweden full of panickers?

  10. Looking at my paper this morning, it looks very much like we are heading back where we were around Eastertime- the panickers are back in control- maybe they never left, but they are intensifying their efforts to lock us all down- governments all over western Europe are locking down again, the Governor of Kansas is trying to institute a state wide, no county opt out mask requirement, people in Minnesota are talking about how ‘bad’ things are in South Dakota and Wisconsin DEATHS OFF THE CHARTS!!! CASES SURGING!!!

    Hail, I buy your Corona as a religion, but this seem insane in a way I can’t comprehend- it’s like double the insanity of April and May. Maybe it’s about the election, but the lockdowns in Europe certainly aren’t about the election in the US.

    I’m taking a course online right now. (it’s training to teach online, not related to Coronadoom, but though a company that’s been doing online stuff for awhile)
    From what I can tell a huge % of the 30 or so of us that are taking the course are panickers- I think they really believe this is the Black Death, and I have no clue how convince them otherwise. THEy are impervious to evidence- look at the Tweets underneath the KS governor’s announcement of her attempt to mask Dorothy Toto, Auntie Em and all the other Kansans. Some are sensible, but most are panickers.

    I think what’s happening is that there are largely two camps- The Black Death maskerss close everything down people , and those of us like the folks that post here. We see the panickers as dangerously deluded; not stupid, because most of our cognitive elites are panickers. They see us as deniers. I don’t know how else to put it, but I don’t know ANYONE who doesn’t think there’s a rather new (how new is open to question) virus in town, which presents some public health problems to be solved. We’re not deniers. But what I see from the other side is the notion that the only reason to stop these draconian measure would be no positive tests for Corona, which is INSANE. Are we going to do this for every other bug in the world?

    And just to repeat myself, what do your eyes tell you? Forget about Hail’s and Briggs’s and Heller’s fine graphs and charts, what do you see in your daily forays into the world? Are we in the first 100 pages of “the Stand?” Are there bodies stacked up? People dropping dead on the street? How many people does anyone know that’s really gotten sick? Or dead? Any increase in hospital admissions, for any reason, is now cause for more draconian measures. I had thought that when the President got sick and recovered we’d be done, but it seems like the White House illnesses led almost directly to the current doubling down.

    Sorry for the rambling, but I’m starting to get scared- detention camps in New Zealand, arrests in Australia- the sick level of mask compliance and panicking here in New England. The word of the day is INSANE!

    • Hail says:

      “I buy your Corona as a religion, but this seem insane in a way I can’t comprehend- it’s like double the insanity of April and May”

      I think the basic “framework” for understanding Corona as a social(-political) phenomenon is that it is a wildly successful, breakout, new religion. How it broke through is a fascinating story left to be told, though the hardline anti-Panic side I think has already largely identified what went on.

      Corona as religion got lucky enough to worm its way into a symbiotic relationship with formal power, becoming a state cult as those of old, and therefore much harder to dislodge.

      The occasional fits of energy as what you mention may be analogizable to witchcraft panics, separate from the larger Corona-Cult. Witchcraft panics are not the religion itself. Nobody reasonable would say Christianity depends on witchcraft panics, but we have had them down through the centuries.

      I am no expert on witchcraft panics, but I do know that those which were worst and most sustained were those which had the support of political authorities.

      There was a localized witchcraft-panic cycle in the 1610s and 1620s in a certain German town which bagged a thousand executions in a the town and its environs. All the witchcraft accusations and trials ended abruptly when political leadership was forcibly changed, on the arrival of Swedish troops in the city. The Swedes got rid of the local cabal pushing the witchcraft mania, and iirc one of the main witchcraft fanatics died a natural death in the late 1620s so the local efforts had already turned the corner, maybe, against the madness before Swedish arms crushed the local “witchcraft cult” that had sprung up.

    • Hail says:

      “We see the panickers as dangerously deluded; not stupid, because most of our cognitive elites are panickers”

      I have wondered this from the start of the Panic cycle. How much is “delusion” and how much of it is “political – unconscious,” a morphing of the now-familiar political panics onto the virus, and how much is “political – conscious,” a deliberate desire to lie and pump up the virus as much as possible to bring down Trump (and/or other local governments elsewhere)?

      South Korea pulled the panic trigger weeks ahead of its legislative elections; if the opposition had been able to “demagogue” on virus deaths, the government would have presumably lost more seats. A Basque anthropology blogger I sometimes read published a rant against the Spanish “francoist” government and blamed it for high virus deaths and for not caring about people, therefore needing to be overthrown. These kinds of things suggest to me there are people all over attempting either coups d’etat or preemptive strikes against coups d’etat using the virus as a pretext. But the important of US politics and the US media

      Early on in the Panic cycle, the anti-Trump people demanded he not overreact to the virus, demanded the US keep the borders open, demanded Trump not demagogue on virus panic for political points or to push any agenda. I believe the final stages o the impeachment (now long forgotten) overlapped with the very early stages of the Panic-Pandemic. This alignment persisted even well into February. Possibly a strong current of it was still there in the first days of March.

      By mid-March, these people, the anti-Trump wing of US politics in particular the tone-setters high up in the Democratic party and the media, had flipped and become Virus Fanatics (eventually the ‘center’ of the debate shifted to far that the Neutrals all found themselves on the Panic side. The goalposts shifted).

      There were voices in the wilderness in March, like Dr. Ioannidis of Stanford and many others. Ioannidis’ March 16 article slamming the Panic — he argued using best available early data that the true mortality rate was most likely within, or at least close to, a strong influenza wave, rejecting as crazy and potentially destructive alarmism the “millions of deaths” doom-talk current at the time (the vision of apocalypse that helped give birth to the Corona-Cult). The fact that Ioannidis was published with a hardline anti-Panic view all in a mainstream popular-journal of science at the time shows the Cult had still not locked in its power yet.

      _____________

      In retrospect, it does look undeniable that a core constituency of the pro-Panic/pro-Lockdown side was the anti-Trump people, who had recently gotten tired of the impeachment drama and turned their energies to the virus. This is not to say the Corona-Panic was entirely created for that reason (that would be naive), but it is to say this is a constituency within the pro-Panic coalition, and it was undeniable by June (with the celebration by the same people of mass gatherings to End Racism and topple Trump, with violent shows of force if necessary).

      It wasn’t immediately obvious yet in March that “anti-Trump” was a core constituency of the pro-Panic coalition because no one in the mainstream was speaking out against the rapidly emerging Virus Cult. Te Corona junta took more and more power. As tends to happen in coups d’etat when there is no suppression attempt by a regime, no counter-coup attempt by another faction.

      Corona as Political Revolution (Corona Coup d’Etat) is a key to the whole thing, I think. In other words, we have to explain why so many smart people are in the grips of the Panic, and the political is compelling to complement the religious-instinct.

      What’s funny is the people who are (seen to be) “not smart” (as Trump famously said, “I love the poorly educated”) and who are seen to have higher religious orientation — largely avoided the entire Panic, and smart/non-religious people seemed distinctly more susceptible to the Panic-Pandemic.

      Someone commented early on during the Panic cycle (late March, I think) that it was funny to see tin-foil-hat people expressing views in line with those actual credentialed experts while the mainstream were increasingly arguing for crazy measures like total shutdowns of society — a reversal of roles one couldn’t have predicted.

  11. Hey Mr. Hail. I posted a long rant here yesterday- it seems to have disappeared. It’s ok if you deleted it foe excessive “ranti-ness”.

    • Hail says:

      If a comment seems to disappear, it 99%+ of cases it means it got flagged and put in moderation or flagged as spam and put in the spam folder. In this case, it was the latter. I don’t pretend to understand why it does that sometimes. In any case, the comment is saved; see above!

      I would never delete comments for reasons of length, especially given my own predilection for writing long comments (to say nothing of multi-thousand posts here of semi-original research).

      Thanks for your comments.

      • RussDav says:

        Thanks for all your work, one of the scant few with a rational view of Covid19. Wouldn’t it be interesting to follow the $ trail to see how much many of those promoting hysteria are getting paid for it, and no doubt at least some of it is Trump Derangement Syndrome obsessed with destroying Trump and the USA. Sometimes I wonder if the Nazis really WON WWII the way the hysteria drivers have such incredible influence in destroying us.
        My question: I don’t know exactly when the alleged second covid19 wave huge spike in Sweden occurred (maybe after your 10/30 post?) but some sick dimwit panicer who knows me as a grave corona panic skeptic gleefully asked me what I NOW thought about my dismissive attitude
        (i.e. the fact is that it’s really just a mild flu
        (even LESS fatal than the ordinary flu)
        only fatal for those with comorbidities)
        in view of all the new Covid deaths and hospitalizations in Sweden and them supposedly reversing course and imposing lockdown due to their supposedly “failed” previous liberal policies.
        What would YOU say (as you’re far more informed) to this pathetic soul so sick as to be able to be gleeful at people dying just supposedly to be proven “right,” which I refused to them to admit. Sometimes I hope we’ll find this was just a bad dream, sigh.

      • RussDav says:

        I didn’t see my post so I guess it was lost in a cyberspace blackhole somewhere, so I’ll try again:
        Since your last post I’ve seen was October 30, what’s your take on the supposed recent big upsurge in Covid19 in Sweden supposedly forcing them to reverse course and impose lockdowns.
        Some sick soul who knows I’m a big mask/lockdown skeptic gleefully asked me what I NOW think about my skeptical attitude in view of Sweden. How anyone can be so monstrous as to be gleeful at people dying is too horrid for me to fathom.

        • Seasonal virus is the most likely explanation. Of course there’s an outside chance the media is lying…naaah, that couldn’t be…

          • RussDav says:

            Right. That couldn’t be, except with their every breath. 😉

          • Hail says:

            You’re right to see seasonal upswing in flu virus transmission (which is true every year without exception in Sweden and comparable climates), but there are two more things going on:

            Hyper-tracking of the spread of a virus (Never done before; could create an artificial panic by hyper-tracking any flu virus any year)

            This winter transmission spike is not associated with any increase in deaths in Sweden as of now. Preliminary data looks like November and December could match June — at the upper-end of the normal range for total deaths. Total deaths for the year will most likely finish at +0.03% or +0.04% above the expected baseline number, in line with previous severe flu years.

            See more thoughts in a longer reply below.

  12. Crossposted from Briggs:
    My prediction here in Massachusetts is that Baker is going to lock the state down again. The signs are everywhere. My question for those assembled here is, what can we non Branch Covidians do? Mass protests? The problem as I see it is that huge numbers of Americans, perhaps half, think this is the Black Death and it’s impossible to convince them otherwise. And most of. The Branch Covidians have real power- they run the governments at various levels, the schools, the colleges- all in the hands of people who have a religious commitment to masks lockdowns, regulations on how many people you can have for Christmas dinner. On another Forum Someone observed that it’s going to be easier to celebrate Christmas in China than it is in many parts of the US. So what do we do?

  13. My Ipad for some reason inserts random capital letters. Apologies Ganderson

  14. RussDav says:

    While I’m thankful for Gregg’s reply, I really was hoping for “Hail” to reply: Since your last post I’ve seen was October 30, what’s your take on the supposed recent big upsurge in Covid19 in Sweden supposedly forcing them to reverse course and impose lockdowns.
    Some sick soul who knows I’m a big mask/lockdown skeptic gleefully asked me what I NOW think about my skeptical attitude in view of Sweden. What do you think? Thanks.

  15. Hail says:

    Reply to RussDav writing Nov. 23:

    RussDav wrote:

    “I don’t know exactly when the alleged second covid19 wave huge spike in Sweden occurred (maybe after your 10/30 post?) but some sick dimwit panicer who knows me as a grave corona panic skeptic gleefully asked me what I NOW thought about my dismissive attitude

    (i.e. the fact is that it’s really just a mild flu
    (even LESS fatal than the ordinary flu)
    (only fatal for those with comorbidities)”

    Wuhan-Corona is either nothing at all (for most of us) or a mild flu (for most of the rest), but on an all-population basis it is indeed in the severe range. But the sunlight of Context kills the virus of Panic. In no-lockdown countries we see Wuhan-Corona associated with a spike in deaths among the elderly in line with previous severe flu waves.

    The simplest way of expressing this, I find, is to say: “You’ve lived through flu waves this strong and worse without ever having realized it, because there was no saturation media coverage.”

    _____________

    RussDav wrote:

    “in view of all the new Covid deaths and hospitalizations in Sweden and them supposedly reversing course and imposing lockdown due to their supposedly “failed” previous liberal policies.

    What would YOU say (as you’re far more informed) to this pathetic soul so sick as to be able to be gleeful at people dying just supposedly to be proven “right,” which I refused to them to admit. Sometimes I hope we’ll find this was just a bad dream, sigh.”

    I have heard a few people say “Sweden has all but admitted they were wrong! They’re locking down!” — This is, to dust off a phrase, Fake News.

    (1) There is no Swedish Lockdown. From what I understand, almost nothing has changed. Reports from people on the ground all say there is no real change.

    The pro-Panic side needs Sweden to flip. The idea, transmitted through headlines rather than content, is that Sweden flipped and turned into Australia (the latter seemingly the most extreme of the crazed Lockdown regimes). This did not happen. Minor adjustments of recommendations are not locking down. Nothing is closed. There is no mask mandate (mask-wearing is still <10%), no stay-at-home order, nothing like that.

    The "Sweden locked down" idea is another case of the power to control reality through narrative given an audience willing to hear it. A Twitterization of discourse. All Headlines, No Content.

    Think back to a normal year and recall how the CDC (or another public health authority) asked people to take precautions against flu. These were reported on TV, ratio, etc., but basically nothing in one's life changed in any way. If you wanted to keep doing exactly your normal routine, you could. This is what the so-called Swedish Lockdown is, as I understand it.

    (2) The relationship between the so-called “Cases” and deaths or hospitalizations is unclear. Mass testing is of unclear value, but definitely pushes Panic

    In the spring spike (a classic flu wave), “cases” as measured now were vastly undercounted by a factor of 10x to 100x (depending on the place). Once the pro-Panic juntas came in and realized opposition was too weak to push back against the craziness (or would-be opposition piled on with the virus-demagoguery), they moved to a war footing against The Virus, and this meant mass testing. It took a few months to get this really going but certainly it’s in place now. More Testing = More “Cases.” Some on the anti-Panic side took to calling it a “Casedemic.”

    None of the actual experts have ever recommended this kind of mass testing. One will struggle to find any medical literature from before the Panic began in 2020 that recommends mass testing for a respiratory flu virus. It’s pointless, on one hand, but also obviously contributes to a sense of panic.

    (3) Sweden shows no sign of any alarming spike in deaths; Deaths in November are in the normal range. Those born yesterday may be shocked to learn there are certain seasons when flu viruses spread more often (“flu season,” cold weather). This means there will be more new “cases,” but it does not mean there will be more deaths.

    With preliminary data through Week 47 (ending Nov. 21), we see total deaths of all causes within the normal range; maybe it will push towards the high end of the normal range when final data is in, but the spring spike shows no signs of returning. ICU-intake data through the third week of November suggests that if deaths do go above the normal range, it will be a mild spike, reaching a height achieved as the spring spike was tailing off. A more likely bet appears to be that it will not reach even that level, because treatments are better now.

    • RussDav says:

      Thanks for this as I myself have no means to research the matter. I remember the days when folk preferred reason over hysteria and could disagree agreeably. No longer in these days when those who disagree are heretics that must be DESTROYED, sigh. I see many parallels between the virus panic/hysteria and the “Biden won/Trump lost” panic/hysteria, fact free assertions by lunatics with a diabolical agenda. God save us.

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