The origin story of COVID-19 lockdowns
China's Wuhan lockdown was “new to science.” It was pseudoscience. It didn't work.
On January 1, 2020, if you had asked anyone about the modern history of pandemics, it would have been well understood that locking down and quarantining an entire population was an unscientific act of total barbarism, and a policy measure that was best reserved for the Dark Ages.
Then came COVID-19, and the time-tested consensus on dealing with a pandemic had found itself completely absent from the discussion on how to respond to the novel coronavirus.
How did this happen?
First came the fear, then came China’s “solution” to our nightmare.
In January, news reports emerged of a novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China that put the world on edge. We were told that an Ebola-like plague was running rampant through Hubei Province, and it was “like Walking Dead” in the way bodies were apparently dropping dead in the streets. Of course, this is not at all representative of people who are COVID-19 positive (which has an infection fatality rate of around 0.2%, and the time from initial infection to death takes weeks on average), but at the time, the select media coming out of China led us to believe that this was indeed the Plague Of The Century.
Shortly into the initial widespread outbreak, the Chinese government reported that it was about to take dramatic action to seal off Wuhan. In late January, Beijing announced a sweeping lockdown in an attempt to “stop the virus.”
We still don’t know what triggered Chinese officials to choose the lockdown approach, but when the orders came down from Beijing, authorities sprung into action to attempt to contain the virus.
Gauden Galea, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) lead director in China, was on the ground in Wuhan to survey the response.
“To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science,” Galea told the Associated Press in a January 23, 2020 interview. “It has not been tried before as a public health measure, so we cannot at this stage say it will or will not work.”
“If this is happening we will note carefully to what extent it is maintained and how long it can take. There are pros and cons to such a decision. Such a decision obviously has social and economic impacts that are considerable.”
Chinese authorities took their lockdown to the extreme, cutting off Hubei Province from the rest of the country. There were many horror stories out of Wuhan, including tales of officials sealing off entire buildings that had outbreaks within them.
“Officials and volunteers have sealed off buildings, erected barricades and stepped up surveillance to ensure compliance with the ban on movement, measures that are taking a toll on many in the community,” Reuters reported a month into the lockdown. “The province, which is home to 60 million people, announced a ‘sealed management’ policy a week ago that effectively prevents residents from leaving their homes, further isolating a population that has been living under a transport lockdown since late January.”
On April 7, Chinese authorities announced that the lockdown in Wuhan was over. One week later, China, a nation of 1.4 billion people, reported no new deaths throughout the entire country.
There was much skepticism about China’s reporting methods, but for whatever reason, that skepticism never seemed to challenge the idea that China’s lockdown solved the countrywide COVID-19 problem.
By the time China lifted its lockdown, almost every country in the world, minus a few outliers, had announced their own versions of a lockdown. Citing the situation in Wuhan, WHO-associated and Gates-funded academic and “public health” institutions demanded lockdowns as a solution to the COVID-19 problem, arguing that millions would die if dramatic action was not taken immediately.
Most countries went into full lockdown mode by mid March. Even in Southern Hemisphere countries, where cases were virtually non existent (because of what we now understand as the seasonal effects on the virus), nations had initiated full lockdowns. The hysterical panic policy first seen in Wuhan was now a global standard for action against the virus.
It was understood that Wuhan had taken it too far with the whole human rights travesty thing, but nonetheless, it was effective, the experts said.
But everywhere it was tried, lockdown failed. In fact, the five countries with the highest reported COVID-19 deaths/million (Belgium, Peru, UK, Spain, Italy) all committed to lockdowns.
Given what we now know about the incredibly infectious capacity of the novel coronavirus, it’s safe to say that China never stopped the virus in Wuhan. It’s simply not possible, even with the dramatic actions authorities took to temporarily seal off Hubei. We are now several months into the global pandemic, and there is no evidence anywhere in the world that lockdowns have succeeded in stopping the spread. In every country where there has been a major outbreak, the only that has truly stopped the virus from infecting the population appears to be the benefits of herd immunity. China is *not* an outlier.
The dramatic, rights-crushing lockdown in Wuhan was all for nothing, and China knows this, but will never admit to it, as it would damage the reputation of The Chinese Communist Party (CCP). At some point, China simply stopped reporting new cases and deaths from/with COVID-19. In all likelihood, CCP officials came to recognize a few months into the outbreak that the virus was just not the deadly plague it had been advertising. Still, they had no issues continuing to promote the supposed horrors of the “deadly plague” that is the novel coronavirus. By the beginning of summer, China had fully reopened, and life was returning to normal. In the West, however, our “public health experts” had completely bought into the Wuhan-style sweeping lockdown (minus the barricading people in their own houses) as the only way to “stop the virus.” China, meanwhile, continues gaining ground on the U.S. economy, and much of the West has been hit with economic stagnation or recession due to the lockdowns.
The global data is in. The understood origin story of lockdown as a “success story” in defeating COVID-19 is a giant lie. China is dealing with a coronavirus-infected population just as every other country in the world is dealing with it, whether or not they had a lockdown.
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The people who said it was a "bad chest cold" were right.
This has been a brake-check on the West, and on Trump specifically.
While Hong Kong has been swallowed whole.
Please keep fighting the good fight, Mr. Schachtel.
There are a lot of bad actors on social media, whose comms history and connection to driving the panic in January, need to be sorted out and called out. I myself believed more than I should have believed, and am ashamed at my contributions to needless deaths in the US.
I will never forgive people like Eric Feigl-Ding and Scott Gottlieb, or Carl T. Bergstrom at UW who stomped all over Aaron Ginn at the same time the UW Covid Team was excited about HCQ, or even Yale's Nicholas Christakis musing about how the force needed to stop the spread of coronavirus in China (welding apartment doors shut) giving us actionable data on... the infectiousness? or the lethality? of coronavirus.
Have you seen this that shows the role of hundreds of thousands of CCP Twitter accounts in pushing the lockdown narrative and panic on social media? https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1270925788389486593.html?refreshed=1598261255