Please read the full Irish Society for Christian Civilization report on the COVID-19 lockdowns by clicking the link:
If the Guinness Book of Records were to track the most senseless attitude possible, the award would probably go to someone who committed suicide for fear of dying.
With the coronavirus epidemic, that is what the world is doing.
It is playing out on the social scale, the very same chain reaction the SARS-CoV-2 virus(*) triggers in its victims: An overreaction by the body’s immune system leads to blockage in the lungs and death by asphyxiation. (*)
Throughout this document, except for quotes from other sources, we will employ the correct technical terms. Thus, SARS-CoV-2 designates the virus currently in circulation, and COVID-19 the disease it causes.
Apocalyptic Projections Based on Unreliable Mathematical Models
We can exemplify with Italy, the first Western nation attacked by the virus originating in China. The World Health Organization (WHO) initially minimized the virus’s outbreak in Wuhan and congratulated the Chinese communist regime on its work to contain the epidemic.
On February 17, however, through the Italian-American scientist Ira Longini, an important consultant, the WHO reversed itself. Based on statistical data provided by the Chinese leadership, it estimated that the virus would infect 66% of the planet’s 7.7 billion inhabitants, causing the death of 45–50 million people. Transferring these projections to Italy, journalist Alberto Rossi calculated that if the country had not been more agile than others in isolating involuntary virus spreaders, the number of infected Italians would be in the 36–40 million range. He estimated the death toll would reach 400–450 thousand, equivalent to Italy’s dead during the Second World War: 330,000 soldiers and 130,000 civilians. Other journalists made even more apocalyptic calculations: “Suppose that in the end, only 30% are infected, close to 20 million”—imagined Francesco Sisci in the daily Il Sussidiario of March 9. “If—giving a discount—10% of them go into a [respiratory] crisis, that means that without intensive care therapy, they are bound to succumb. There would be two million direct deaths, plus all indirect ones resulting from a collapse of the health system.”
A week later, Imperial College London released a team study led by Prof. Neil Ferguson. It became the pretext for many governments to impose extreme stay-at-home measures. The model predicted that, in the absence of such shelter-in-place orders, there would be approximately 510,000 deaths in the United Kingdom and 2.2 million in the United States, as it was a virus “with comparable lethality to H1N1 influenza in 1918 [the Spanish flu].” This was shocking information, but presumably exaggerated, one would think. A 2005 reconstruction of the Spanish flu virus carried out at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, as well as subsequent studies, showed that the Spanish flu was a hundred times more lethal than other forms of influenza seen in the twentieth century.
Although initial information coming from Wuhan did not corroborate this claim about the virus’s extreme lethality, the Imperial College’s projections were taken almost as a “dogma of faith.” They led the British government to change its policy. The latter did not lift stay-at-home measures even when Prof. Ferguson, acknowledged in a tweet: “I’m conscious that lots of people would like to see and run the pandemic simulation code we are using to model control measures against COVID-19. To explain the background—I wrote the code (thousands of lines of undocumented C) 13+ years ago to model flu pandemics.” The revelation provoked hundreds of Twitter responses, pointing to the extreme vulnerability of this programming language, further weakened by its large number of undocumented lines, which make independent verification almost impossible. Ten days later, a University of Oxford team came up with an alternative model assuming that a much larger number of inhabitants of the British Isles would already be contaminated so that the lethality rate would be far lower. Time will tell which model will prove to be more accurate. In any case, an April 9 study issued by the Institute of Virology at the University of Bonn presented a factual confirmation of the Oxford model. It denied the lethality rate that WHO and the Imperial College attributed to SARS-CoV-2. The study consisted of several in-depth tests carried out on people from the village of Gangelt, in the district of Heinsberg, the epidemic’s first focus in Germany. The daily Le Monde summarizes its results as follows: “A German study estimates a lower mortality rate. Surveys of 12,446 Gangelt residents show figures five times less than the original assessment. The researchers argue that this method identifies all infected people, including asymptomatic carriers.” The study found that the population had a 15% infection rate, and the mortality rate was only 0.37%, which is five times lower than that assigned to Germany by John Hopkins University.
In any case, it does not seem sensible for governments to take drastic measures, with enormous social and economic costs, based on mathematical models built on uncertain data. To prove it, let’s look again at Italy. On the day these lines are written (April 20, 2020), the Civil Protection bulletin announced that, for the first time since the beginning of the crisis, both the number of people testing positive in the country and those in intensive care units in need of respiratory help had decreased. One can thus assume that the peak of the epidemic is behind us (except that the virus can mutate and cause a new epidemic wave, as happened with the H1N1 swine flu virus between 2009 and 2011). To date, Italy’s official death toll from COVID-19 is 23,660. Suppose that the virus does not mutate, and that number will double by the end of the year. The total number of deaths would amount to 47,000. That would be almost ten times fewer deaths than the least alarmist projection made at the beginning of the epidemic, and fifty times less than the most alarmist projection made a mere month ago. Forty thousand deaths is a very high toll. It would be a tragedy for the victims and their families, and a severe blow to Italy. Nor would that tragedy be lessened by the fact that the average age for the deceased is 81 years old (mostly males) with pre-existing pathologies in two-thirds of the cases, according to data provided by Italy’s Istituto Superiore de Sanitá.
Economic Consequences “of Biblical Proportions,” Visible to the Naked Eye
Now let us look at the medal’s flip side: The economic consequences resulting from the drastic “horizontal” stay-at-home measures adopted in a short period by Italy’s national and regional authorities to contain the epidemic and the overwhelming of hospitals’ ICUs. According to the Italian Institute of Statistics, 2.2 million companies suspended their activities, 49% of the total. That led to a 34% production drop and a 27% added value drop. A total of 7.4 million employees were unable to work (44.3% of the entire workforce), of whom 4.9 million were simple wage earners (42%). This sudden halt in economic activity will lead to “a tragedy of biblical proportions,” predicts Mario Draghi, former president of the European Central Bank in a column in the Financial Times. It is the biggest crisis in the real economy in the last hundred years. According to investment bank Goldman Sachs, Italian GDP will fall 11.6% in 2020. For Gustavo Boni, a European official, the contraction of Italian GDP will be between 12.5% and 15%, with an 85% drop in gross fixed capital stock and a 38% drop in domestic employment income. In turn, public debt will amount to 160% of GDP. That was Greece’s level when it was bailed out by the EU. Added up, this means that, once stay-at-home orders are lifted, millions of Italian workers risk finding their companies’ doors locked, and thousands of artisans and retailers could join the large numbers of the unemployed or file for bankruptcy. In the tourism sector alone (13% of Italian GDP), the economic newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore calculates that “almost one million jobs are at risk.” Maurizio Gardini, president of Confcooperative, one of the main associations of Italian cooperatives, says that when Italy lifts the shutdown, at least 20% (close to one million) of medium and small companies will be dead in the water.
The consequences in terms of lost income, unemployment, and social unrest are indescribable. A study by the Italian statistics agency (ISTAT) holds that the lockdown of productive activities will generate “the collapse of consumer and business confidence.” Italy is not an isolated case. Authorities in neighboring France have taken similar shutdown measures, based on equally alarmist projections of contagion and deaths. The consequences are similar as well. According to INSEE, the French statistics institute, economic activity fell 36%, while in the private sector, the drop was even greater (42%). In fact, 6.9 million private-sector employees are at home receiving partial unemployment assistance, and household consumption dropped by 35%. The economist and historian Nicolas Baverez said in his weekly column in the daily Le Figaro that “two months of confinement will leave France with a 10% drop in its GDP, a deficit of 12% to 15% and a public debt of more than 120% of GDP. Thousands of companies will go bankrupt, notably the smallest ones, and many of the 8.7 million partially unemployed will never get their jobs back, resulting in the growth of poverty.” (In fact, the Minister of Labor announced that 9.6 million private-sector employees are currently “protected” by partial unemployment benefits. That is almost half of the entire labor force). According to Bruno Le Maire, French Economy Minister, in 2020, the country will experience its biggest recession since World War II. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe declared in the National Assembly that the economic impact linked to the coronavirus will be “massive” and “brutal,” giving rise to “an economic shock that everyone imagines, but whose total impact no one yet knows.”  If these are the forecasts for two countries whose economies are among the world’s most developed, one can only imagine what will be the impact from the SARS-CoV-2 blocking of economic activities for the rest of the world.
The Devastating Social Impact of the “Great Shutdown”: the Pandemic of Extreme Poverty On April 9, Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, declared we would see “the worst economic consequences since the Great Depression” of 1929, causing a drop in income per inhabitant in over 179 countries. The senior official added that poor or emerging countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America “are at high risk,” all the more so as capital is migrating out of them at a rate three times faster than the 2008 financial crisis, which will trigger liquidity and solvency problems. Just five days later, the I.M.F. released its forecasts regarding what it called “the Great Shutdown”: a contraction of 3% of world GDP in 2020, with Europe and the United States being the most affected by the depression (-7.5% and -6.5% respectively). It does not rule out the possibility of an even more brutal drop in 2021. The social effect of the recession will be severe, with unemployment in the Eurozone increasing by 40% (reaching 9.2%) and tripling in the U.S.A. to reach 10.4% of the total workforce. “Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe,” stated Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labor Organization.
The I.L.O. did indeed release an April 7 report, saying that “the crisis is causing an unprecedented reduction in economic activity and working time. As of 1 April 2020, estimates indicate that working hours will decline in the current quarter (Q2) by around 6.7 percent, which is equivalent to 195 million full-time workers.” Huge losses are expected at all income levels but especially in high to middle-income countries (7% loss, equivalent to 100 million full-time workers), which is much greater than the effects of the 2008 financial crisis. The sectors most affected will be hotels, restaurants, manufacturing, retailing, administrative activities, and services. The ILO report states that there is a high risk that the final figure will be much higher than the initial projection of 25 million unemployed. This figure of 25 million certainly was extremely optimistic, since a study by the African Union suggested that Africa alone would see the suppression of 20 million jobs, and indebtedness would escalate. As far as the United States is concerned, it went from almost full employment in February “to mass unemployment expected to reach 20% in April. In less than a month, 22 million jobs have disappeared,” says the Figaro’s Washington correspondent. The global result will be an exponential increase in extreme poverty. “I see no historical equivalent to the threat that COVID-19 poses to the most vulnerable populations,” said Robin Guittard, Oxfam campaign manager in France. In a study released on April 8, researchers at King’s College London and the National University of Australia predict that the pandemic could bring extreme poverty to half a billion of the planet’s inhabitants, destroying the progress made in the past three decades.
The Increase in Deaths From Hunger in Poor Countries Will Be Much Greater Than That of COVID-19 Victims The consequences of this exponential increase in poverty on the health of impoverished populations will be disastrous. Even the World Health Organization, the biggest promoter of strict stay-at-home measures, recognizes that there is a close link between extreme poverty and poor health. In a study published in conjunction with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, it recognizes the obvious, namely, that “The poor suffer worse health and die younger. They have higher than the average child and maternal mortality, higher levels of disease, and more limited access to health care and social protection.” Consequently, more than 3.42 million people died of hunger in the first months of 2020, a daily average of 30,800 deaths. That is, almost five times more than the global number of deaths by COVID-19 on April 5, the day registering the highest number of fatalities (6,367 victims) worldwide so far.
The World Food Program predicts that the loss of tourism revenues, the decrease in remittances and travel and other restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic will double the number of poor people suffering from acute hunger, adding 130 million to the approximately 135 million already existing in that category. “‘COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread,’ said Arif Husain, chief economist and director of research, assessment, and monitoring at the World Food Programme (WFP).” David Beasly, WFP Executive Director, exclaimed in an interview with The Guardian: “Now, my goodness, this is a perfect storm. We are looking at widespread famines of biblical proportions.” Statistically, this increase in acute hunger resulting from the economic collapse caused by confinement measures could be responsible for 30,000 additional daily deaths.
A sizable share of those deaths would probably have been avoided if instead of listening to WHO ayatollahs and media icons, the authorities had listened to the opinions of other experts who suggested vertical isolation or smart virus control measures. In so doing, they would protect the population at risk (the elderly and people with serious underlying diseases) and quarantining those infected by the virus after carrying out thousands of tests. This is not an unrealistic alternative. This plan was highly successful in Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Canada, Georgia, and Iceland. In the first three Asian countries mentioned and in Japan, work stoppages affected only 10% of the active population. The effectiveness of this strategy so far has been largely demonstrated. The total number of deaths in these four countries, with a combined population of 257.4 million people, today amounts to only 489, which corresponds to a mortality rate of 1.9 victims per million. In contrast, in Italy, despite the horizontal insulation strategy followed, where the entire population was ordered to stay at home, the figure was 391.32 victims per million (23,660 deceased), that is, 205 times more! A March 19 editorial in The Wall Street Journal put it well, three days after the release of the Imperial College’s fantasy projections and even before the Oxford University report. It was titled “Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown: No Society Can Safeguard Public Health for Long at the Cost of Its Economic Health.” It is a pity that neither this editorial nor the above figures were shown to government officials who, driven by the good intention of saving lives and advised by WHO directors and Imperial College researchers, decided to halt “non-essential” economic operations in their countries. The impact of this paralysis will be all the more acute as “isolation, even if intermittent, should go on until 2022 in several parts of the world if a vaccine does not appear,” according to the magazine Isto é, referencing “a study by Harvard University, published in the journal Science.”...
...We will thus remain faithful to the Law of God and the Divine Master’s counsel: “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). It is this fidelity that will help advance the fulfillment of the great promise that Our Lady of Fatima made to the world at the Cova da Iria: “Finally, My Immaculate Heart will triumph!” By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira Institute.