From the Tom Woods Letter:
From the standpoint of what we laughingly call our “public health” establishment, the most dangerous heretic of 2020 was Scott Atlas.
Atlas, who served in the White House during 2020 as a public health adviser on matters related to COVID-19, recently spoke to a group of students at Stanford University about his experience.
Atlas was treated absurdly by his fellow academics and (of course) by the media, who accused him of all kinds of wickedness because he dissented from the lockdown consensus.
He reviewed all the key points from the past year.
First, in order to explain away the clear failures of lockdowns and other alleged mitigation measures, the lockdowners have tried to pretend that Americans weren’t really all that locked down after all, and that in any case Americans didn’t really change their behavior all that much.
Atlas threw cold water on both of those claims:
Here’s the unacknowledged reality: almost all states and major cities, with a handful of exceptions, have implemented severe restrictions for many months, including closures of businesses and in-person school, mobility restrictions and curfews, quarantines, limits on group gatherings, and mask mandates dating back to at least the summer.
And let’s clear up the myths about the behavior of Americans – social mobility tracking of Americans and data from Gallup, YouGov, the COVID-19 Consortium, and the CDC have shown significant reductions of movement as well as a consistently high percentage of mask wearing since the late summer, similar to Western European countries and approaching those in Asia.
He then proceeded to lay out some of the costs of lockdown, of which I offer a sample here:
A recent study confirms that up to 78% of cancers were never detected due to missed screening over three months. If one extrapolates to the entire country, up to a million new cases or more over nine months will have gone undetected. That health disaster adds to missed critical surgeries, chemotherapy, organ transplants, presentations of pediatric illnesses, heart attack and stroke patients too afraid to call emergency services, and others, all well documented.
Beyond hospital care, CDC reported four-fold increases in depression, three-fold increases in anxiety symptoms, and a doubling of suicidal ideation, particularly among young adults – college age – after the first few months of lockdowns, echoing the AMA reports of drug overdoses and suicides. An explosion of insurance claims for these psychological harms in children just verified this, doubling nationally since last year; and in the strictly locked down Northeast, there was a more than 300% increase of teenagers visiting doctors for self-harm.
Domestic abuse and child abuse have been skyrocketing due to the isolation and specifically to the loss of jobs, particularly in the strictest lockdowns.
Was anybody even bothering to consider these effects?
That, said Atlas, was why someone like him needed to be part of the discussion:
To manage such a crisis, shouldn’t policymakers objectively consider both the virus harms and the totality of impact of policies? That’s the importance of health policy experts – my field – with a broader scope of expertise than that of epidemiologists and basic scientists. And that’s exactly why I was called to the White House – there were zero health policy scholars on the Task Force; no one with a medical background who also considered the impacts of the policies was advising the White House.
He also spoke about the policy of universal masking:
Regarding universal masks: 38 states have implemented general-population mask mandates, most since at least the summer, with almost all the rest having mandates in their major cities. Widespread, general-population mask usage has shown little empirical utility for stopping cases, even though that evidence has been censored by Twitter and Amazon. Widespread mask usage showed only minimal impact in Denmark’s randomized controlled study. Those are facts. And facts matter.
I posted a list where mask mandates empirically failed to stop cases, along with direct quotes, without any edit, from WHO, CDC, and Oxford University. That was censored by Twitter. And I stated numerous times that it would be irrational to wear a mask “when alone riding a bicycle outside, when driving your own car alone, or when walking in the desert alone.” I stand by those words.
Those who charge that it is unethical, even dangerous, to question broad population mask mandates must not realize that several of the world’s top infectious disease scientists and major public health organizations explicitly question the efficacy of general population masks. The public needs to know the truth.
For instance, Jefferson and Heneghan of University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine wrote: “It would appear that despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks.” Oxford’s renowned epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta said there is no need for masks unless one is elderly or high risk. Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya stated “mask mandates are not supported by the scientific data … there is no scientific evidence that mask mandates work to slow the spread of the disease.”
Throughout this pandemic until December, the WHO’s “Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19” stated: “At present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.” In December, the WHO changed their wording to today’s “At present there is only limited and inconsistent scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.”
The CDC, in a review of influenza pandemics, “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.” And until the WHO removed it on October 21, 2020 (almost immediately after Twitter censored my tweet highlighting the WHO quote), the WHO had written, “At the present time, the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider.”
Atlas then slammed the academic community, particularly at Stanford (his home institution), which conducted itself appallingly in his case.
It’s a great summary of the insanity.
Meanwhile, this week I’m heading to the Mises Institute, which has been excellent on COVID and the lockdowns, for their Austrian Economics Research Conference.
If you’re at the Diamond level or above in my Supporting Listeners program, I will be mailing you a gift from there.
And I’ll be writing my daily dispatches from there, too.