When you strip everything else out, the reason for lockdown comes from a single figure: one percent. This was the prediction that Covid, if left unchecked, would kill around one percent of us.
You may not think that percentage is enormous, but one percent of the population of the world is 70 million people – and that’s a lot. It would mean 3.2 million Americans dead, and 670,000 Britons.
But where did this one-percent figure come from?
To find out we have to go back to what happened when the virus first began showing up at the beginning of the year.
As cases started to mount, on February 28, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the immunologist who heads up the US Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and some colleagues published a paper predicting that Covid would be about as serious as a bad flu epidemic. Their paper, released by the Institute of Allergy and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and run in the New England Journal of Medicine, stated: “the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%.” In other words, one person in a thousand who gets it badly, dies.
Yet, just 11 days later, at a congressional hearing, Dr. Fauci had changed his tune: Covid was now going to be TEN TIMES more lethal than flu and would kill one percent of people. He observed: “The flu has a mortality rate of 0.1 percent. This has a mortality rate of 10 times that. That’s the reason I want to emphasize we have to stay ahead of the game in preventing this.”
If influenza killed 50, Covid was going to kill 500. If influenza killed a million, Covid was going to get 10 million. No wonder Congress, then the world, panicked. Because they were told Covid was going to be 10 times worse than influenza. They could see three million deaths in the US alone, and 70 million around the world.
Here’s how one paper, “Public health lessons learned from biases in coronavirus mortality overestimation”, put it: “On March 11, 2020… based on the data available at the time, Congress was informed that the estimated mortality rate for the coronavirus was ten-times higher than for seasonal influenza, which helped launch a campaign of social distancing, organizational and business lockdowns, and shelter-in-place orders.”
In healthcare, the US is very much the dog that wags the tail. The figures they come up with are used globally. So this one-percent fatality was taken as writ by most countries around the world.
In the UK, the group I call the Mad Modellers of lockdown, the Imperial College experts, created much the same panic. On March 16, they used an estimated fatality rate of 0.9 percent to predict that, without lockdown, Covid would kill around 500,000 in the UK.