Guess which crackpot started his article on covid in that notorious right-wing publication ‘The Guardian’ with the sentence “The virus has been used as a pretext in many countries to crush dissent, criminalise freedoms and silence reporting”?
Frontline workers, people with disabilities, older people, women, girls and minorities have been especially hard hit. In a matter of months, progress on gender equality has been set back decades. Most essential frontline workers are women, and in many countries are often from racially and ethnically marginalised groups.
Most of the increased burden of care in the home is taken on by women. Violence against women and girls in all forms has rocketed, from online abuse to domestic violence, trafficking, sexual exploitation and child marriage.
Extreme poverty is rising for the first time in decades. Young people are struggling, out of school and often with limited access to technology.
The virus is also infecting political and civil rights, and further shrinking civic space. Using the pandemic as a pretext, authorities in some countries have deployed heavy-handed security responses and emergency measures to crush dissent, criminalise basic freedoms, silence independent reporting and restrict the activities of nongovernmental organisations.
Human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, political activists – even medical professionals – have been detained, prosecuted and subjected to intimidation and surveillance for criticising government responses to the pandemic. Pandemic-related restrictions have been used to subvert electoral processes and weaken opposition voices.
At times, access to life-saving Covid-19 information has been concealed while deadly misinformation has been amplified – even by those in power.
Nice to see that even the Guardian, which has more than any other newspaper I know been ignoring the collateral damage of the lockdowns it has been egging on, is bending with the new winds.
There was also an interesting letter by Kampf and Kulldorff (he of Great Barrington Declaration fame) published by the Lancet this week. Its significant is more where it was published than what it said. The Lancet was the medical journal that was at the very cradle of the hysteria in January 2020, with the editor of the Lancet going out of his way to accuse governments that did not lock their population down hard and fast enough for his liking of mass murder. It seems that the Lancet is now noticing the change of the winds too and is hedging its bets by publishing letters that effectively condemns those editors of pushing highly destructive policies. Read over the fold for what is a cost calculation of the kind you have been seeing since march.
We think government lockdowns cause substantial collateral health damage. For example, hospital admissions in the USA for emergency treatment of acute ischaemic strokes have been substantially lower in February–March, 2020, than in February–March, 2019, resulting in delayed treatment.
Compared with a historical baseline, UK nursing homes and hospices saw an increase in the number of deaths between February and June, 2020, associated with acute coronary syndrome (a 41% increase), stroke (a 39% increase), and heart failure (a 25% increase).
The situation is similar for patients with cancer. In German hospitals, cancer cases decreased during the first national lockdown between March 12 and April 19, 2020: by 13·9% for breast cancer, 16·5% for bladder cancer, 18·4% for gastric cancer, 19·8% for lung cancer, 22·3% for colon cancer, and 23·1% for prostate cancer, suggesting that cancers might have been undetected and untreated during this period. In England, hospital admissions for chemotherapy appointments have fallen by 60%, and urgent referrals for early diagnosis of suspected cancers have decreased by 76% compared with pre-COVID-19 levels, which could contribute to 6270 additional deaths within 1 year.
Delayed diagnosis and treatment are expected to increase the numbers of deaths up to year 5 after diagnosis by 7·9–9·6% for breast cancer, 15·3–16·6% for colorectal cancer, 4·8–5·3% for lung cancer, and 5·8–6·0% for oesophageal cancer.
Government restrictions are disrupting traditional means of support between friends and family members. Physical distancing and contact reduction are causing severe stress to many people and might increase the risk of suicide.
In a meta-analysis of the prevalence of stress, anxiety, depression among the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of depression in the months of the pandemic up to May, 2020, was 33·7% (95% CI 27·5–40·6). Between April 22 and May 11, 2020, 795 (78·9%) of 1008 people aged 18–35 years in the USA reported symptoms of depression.
Further and stronger restrictions on physical and social contact could lead to a further increase in the prevalence of depression.
We call on all scientists, public health officials, journalists, and politicians to weigh and consider the collateral damage from government COVID-19 control measures and their negative effect on many short-term and long-term health outcomes. While trying to control COVID-19, all aspects of physical and mental health need to be jointly considered. Other life-threatening diseases are being neglected, and patients with these diseases should receive the same timely and appropriate medical treatment as patients with COVID-19.
The winds are definitely changing, with some long-time skeptics claiming to see revenge coming against the politicians that locked up their populations. I am not sure about that since my reading of historical analogies is that culprits of this kind of damage usually get away with it. Things have to get very extreme before there is a true reckoning and in those scenarios there is lots of violence all round.