With around 5.5 infected people and 350,000 deaths, the Covid-19 is unlike any other disease that humanity has battled before. According to statistics released by Johns Hopkins University, the death toll of the US alone is approximately 100,000 people. In most countries, a nation-wide lockdown was deemed the single most effective strategy to stop the spread of the disease. And citizens agree with this. Except a few, like Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
He’s not the only one. There’s also Steve Forbes, the editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, and journalist Brit Hume. All three of them have made their opposition to the lockdown clear when they tweeted in response to a particularly interesting- and controversial- story written by tech entrepreneur Yinon Weiss, published on RealClearPolitics.com last week.
Weiss expressed that we may come to see this response to the pandemic as “one of the biggest medical and economic blunders of all time.” But what exactly is his rationale behind declaring the lockdown- a strategy that national leaders all across the world have implemented- as impractical?
He wrote that this ‘solution’ is based on inaccurate models based on imperfect information. He also said that this is another large-scale case of groupthink, in which voices expressing disagreement were suppressed. The media, with its fearmongering, caused further panic.
He declared the government’s response as exaggerated and illogical. Given the fact that the case fatality rate of Covid-19 for those below the age of 65 is about the same as the rate for driving 13 to 101 miles a day, is the government’s action justified?
No wonder Elon Musk flagged this story to his millions of followers on Twitter. He has publicly objected to the lockdown on several occasions, like in one tweet, where he said that the panic about the virus is likely to cause more harm than the virus itself. There’s certainly some truth to his perspective, given the damage that the quarantine and economic shutdown has done to people’s financial situation and mental health.
Using charts given by professor Spiegelhalter from the Imperial College London, Weiss showed that on average, there is a less than 1% chance of death after infection by the virus for those below the age of 65. According to the graph, if you’re below the age of 40, it’s less than 0.1% and if you’re below the age of 20, it’s less than 0.01%. He further explained that the odds of death for Covid-19 are not any more than the general annual baseline odds. Despite this, the government has imposed isolation on billions of healthy people, worsening the unemployment rate to a level the world hasn’t seen since the Great Depression. Not only this, but cancer screenings were also stopped.
Sweden is one example of a country that hasn’t imposed lockdowns as severe as the ones mandated by other countries but still has a low mortality rate. In the article, Weiss mentioned that 99.998% of all the people under 60 have lived and hospitals never reached overcapacity. The starkly different approach followed by the US is largely based on “unreliable” statistics given by Imperial College’s Neil Ferguson and, more importantly, the absence of intellectual diversity in the government.