Recent studies have shown that the coronavirus has spread much faster than previously thought and that it is far less deadly than previously thought. Antibody tests show rapid spread, while many studies have placed the death toll at less than 1 percent. A Swiss Policy Research study put the rate between 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent. The coronavirus is still a serious pandemic, but these numbers cast grave doubt on the wisdom of temporarily shutting down economies. In fact, they raise the question of why Americans ever thought the virus was deadly enough to enter lockdown.
Dennis Prager has argued that the lockdowns may be the “greatest mistake in history.” He noted that the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned that 260 million people will face starvation in 2020, double the number from last year. WFP Director David Beasley warned about “a hunger pandemic caused by the Coronavirus. There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.”
If global GDP declines by 5%, another 147 million people could be plunged into extreme poverty, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute. A Just Facts study found that coronavirus anxiety, exacerbated by the lockdowns, will likely cost more than seven times the years of life that could possibly be saved from the lockdowns in the United States.
Considering all this damage, why did the lockdowns happen in the first place?
To some degree, Americans were rightly concerned that hospitals would be overwhelmed with coronavirus cases — as hospitals in Northern Italy were. U.S. hospitals were not overwhelmed, however, and even in America’s coronavirus epicenter, New York City, the predicted ventilator shortage crisis never took place. The “inclusive” leaders of New York City were able to force the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse to shut down its allegedly hateful emergency field hospital less than two months after it opened.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Dr. Anthony Fauci justified the lockdowns by citing estimated death rates of 3.4 percent and 2 percent. Yet the less than 1 percent death rates have come after funeral home directors blew the whistle on the intentional inflation of coronavirus death counts.
Why were these dire predictions so far off the mark?
The answer, as with so much regarding the coronavirus crisis, has a great deal to do with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Chinese Communist Party’s malfeasance during the pandemic.
As the British think tank the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) put it, “From the outset, the CCP tried to censor attempts by Chinese citizens to identify and publicise the truth concerning the origins, nature and dangers of the virus. Not all of these censorship efforts succeeded, and a considerable body of independent, corroborative data came to light.”
According to unpublished, unconfirmed Chinese government reports seen by the South China Morning Post, the first recorded case of the coronavirus dates to November 17, 2019. By December 8, the SCMP documents recorded between 1 and 5 new cases. By December 27, the SCMP documents showed 181 confirmed cases, and a friend of coronavirus whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang recalled that his medical department first reported the new outbreak to the Wuhan Center for Disease Control on the 27th.
On December 30, Dr. Li sent a message to his friends about the outbreak, and the police responded by investigating his friends. The authorities forced Dr. Li to pledge not to spread “disruptive rumors.” Meanwhile, by that date, the SCMP documents recorded 266 cases. Li would go on to die of COVID-19 after contracting it from his patients. On December 31, China finally reported the outbreak to the WHO, while claiming there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
On January 1, 2020, a Hubei official ordered coronavirus tests halted and samples of the virus destroyed. On January 14, the WHO reported some human-to-human transmission, but quickly retracted the claim, citing Chinese sources. Wuhan was not put under lockdown until January 22-23. On January 26, Wuhan’s mayor admitted that 5 million people had already left the city.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said he had “issued requirements for the prevention and control of the new Coronavirus” as early as January 7. He could have acted to shut down Wuhan as early as January 7, two weeks before the city was shut down. A University of Southampton study found that if strict quarantine measures had been introduced three weeks earlier, the coronavirus’s spread would have been reduced by 95 percent.
As the virus began to spread outside of China, confusion abounded. Early reports suggested that the virus would be no more dangerous than the flu, and then Italy happened. Yes, the same outbreak in Northern Italy during which the Chinese Communist Party put out a video encouraging Italians to hug Chinese people to prove they weren’t racist.
In the early days of the pandemic, China asked other countries for personal protective equipment (PPE) and received 2.4 billion pieces. In fact, it appears Chinese officials prevented the WHO from declaring a global emergency at the time — perhaps in order to hoard as much PPE as possible.
When those countries asked China for PPE, China extorted them — only sending valuable medical aid if political leaders agreed to publicly praise Beijing. Chinese companies also sent faulty medical gear and coronavirus antibody tests to European countries, and a new Associated Press investigation revealed the prevalence of counterfeit masks in America, likely tracing back to a major Chinese factory. Meanwhile, the Communist Party also prevented U.S. companies from shipping their own medical gear back home, where it is sorely needed.
The coronavirus pandemic may have caused confusion even without China’s destruction of evidence, lies to the WHO, hoarding of PPE, and more. Even if the virus leaked from the Wuhan lab experimenting with bat coronaviruses, natural pandemics happen, and the early phases of a pandemic naturally involve confusion. Even so, China’s malfeasance certainly made it worse.
The novel coronavirus may not have even escaped China had Wuhan locked down earlier, but since the CCP both suppressed information and lied about the virus, it stands to reason that the conflicting medical opinions traced back to China’s malfeasance. This confusion spurred the lockdowns.
There is yet another cause for the lockdowns, however. American state and local governments have given undue authority to health departments in cases of emergency pandemics, and some governors and left-leaning pundits have criticized people who want to end the lockdowns by badgering them as “anti-science.” They echo a “progressive” mindset that places expertise ahead of representative government and ahead of freedom. There is a significant overlap between this view and the increasingly popular “Democratic Socialism.”
Many conservatives fear that Democrats actually want lockdowns like this, partially because they weaken the economy and make it less likely Trump will win in November and partially because they provide an excuse for bureaucrats to exercise control and fundamentally reshape American society. Indeed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden have tried to twist the coronavirus crisis to their advantage on issues like voting and climate change. Hillary Clinton has said, “This would be a terrible crisis to waste.”
While Trump has been far from perfect in his messaging on the crisis, his critics have blown his errors out of proportion. The president has fought to stop the spread of the virus and minimize economic damage, while his opponents openly aim to capitalize on the crisis.
Besides the New York City area, the ongoing lockdowns seem like a power play, justified in the name of science but no longer supported by the best evidence. Americans are protesting, businesses are opening of their own accord, and some counties have insisted they will not prosecute those who violate lockdown orders.
As Americans face the economic fallout of these lockdowns, they will search for someone to blame. They should not blame the medical experts, who were buffeted to and fro by conflicting information. China, however, is number one on that list, and Democrats who sought to use the coronavirus to push their agenda should face the consequences in November.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.
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