Collapse of the Covid Regime?

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them . . . well, I have others.”

Attributed to Groucho Marx

The Chief epidemiologist of Sweden, Anders Tegnell, likes to say that his country’s approach to Covid was shaped by the October 2019 World Health Organization’s and Britain’s then pandemic playbooks, which in turn had been based on almost a century of data from the 1918 Spanish Flu onwards. Don’t lockdown. Don’t shut down the economy. Realise people will change their behavior spontaneously. Trust them. Focus protection on the vulnerable rather than pretend “we’re all equally vulnerable.” That sort of thing. But somehow, in the course of about a month or two at the start of 2020, virtually all countries not rhyming with “Eden,” abandoned that century-old playbook, including the WHO itself.

Little more than a month later, and the Science™ had shifted towards a weld-them-into-their-apartments, Sino-inspired approach. Elected politicians developed a hankering to outsource decision-making to a public-health clerisy and to treat the modelling emanating from Imperial College London (and elsewhere) as Holy Writ. None of these people, of course, had the slightest clue how a modern, twenty-first-century free-market economy worked. Nor did any of them bother to model what the effects of incredibly heavy-handed lockdowns would be on welfare and on deaths from non-Covid causes—to say nothing of public debt, mental health, lost years of schooling, suicides, and domestic violence. There was not even a basic across-the-board cost-benefit analysis. Such factors were neither here nor there as far as the preponderance of our Fourth-Estate legacy journalists was concerned. The masking, lockdown, “fear is in the air” freight train was leaving the station, and they were on board! Heck, when it came to “nudging” the general public into accepting what the retired British Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption called “the worst inroads on our civil liberties in two hundred years,” the media class wanted to drive that train, not just be a passenger.

I’m not wholly convinced that this brief summary of mine would get past the editors of the New York Times and CNN, nor the valiant-for-truth censors—sorry, “fact-checkers”—of Big Tech. Regardless, let us fast-forward some two years. We now see Covid restrictions dropping not like the gentle rain from heaven but more like Niagara Falls. Lockdowns have ended just about everywhere. New York has dropped its strict indoor mask mandate, copying other blue states such as New Jersey, Connecticut, Oregon, Illinois, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Massachusetts. New York City is ditching its vaccine passports.

In Europe, vaccine requirements have been rolled back in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Spain, England, the Czech Republic, Scotland—again, you get the idea. In fact, in Boris Johnson’s England you no longer even have to isolate if you know for a certainty that you have Covid-19. Sounds like they’re treating it like the flu, right? In my adopted country of Australia, where eradication-by-any-means-needed was the spoken and unspoken goal for a year and a half, the government has deigned to lighten up. If your name is not Novak Djokovic you can come back into this country, the one that for over a year modelled itself on seventeenth-century Japan. The city of Melbourne’s world’s longest lockdown is now well and truly fading in the rearview mirror. The supposedly conservative Prime Minister of Australia who has overseen all this even manages these days to utter that he’s against vaccine mandates (though his government takes no steps to stop them and seems implicitly to welcome them).

Nothing about the Science™ has changed in the last seven or eight months.

Meanwhile, a certain degree of cynicism has crept into the general public, many of whom had been terrified out of any ability to undertake sane risk analysis. I go out on a limb here, you understand, but some of this cynicism might be able to be traced back to the unbelievable hypocrisy of the governing elites. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Britain is found to have attended boozy parties during the height of his government’s overbearing “you-can’t-go-out” lockdowns. Myriad politicians who ordered all and sundry to wear masks were filmed without ones themselves—the list here being lengthy but including Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, New Orleans’s LaToya Cantrell, or California’s Gavin Newsom. And let’s just take it as read that untold numbers of virtue-signalling Hollywood types were part of the “do as I say, not as I do” club. If, as Antonin Scalia was wont to say, hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue, then the accolades have been anything but thin on the ground in Tinsel Town.

And who can forget Imperial College modeller extraordinaire and advocate of uber hard-line lockdowns, Professor Neil Ferguson, the man whose models again and again overstated the eventual Covid realities by orders of magnitude, getting caught breaking British lockdown when his rule-infringing romps with his mistress became public? Or British Cabinet Minister for Health Matt Hancock, a hardline lockdownista, breaking the rules to see his mistress, ultimately forcing him to resign? I doubt these qualified as essential services.

Here’s the thing. Nothing about the Science™ has changed in the last seven or eight months. We know that this virus rises and falls pretty much the same in Florida (no mask or lockdown mandates) as in California (yes to both). In fact, Florida has done slightly better on all counts. We know mask mandates for schools have little to no effect on Covid spread. Nothing obvious has changed in the data to explain the recent U-turn as regards all the despotic, heavy-handed rules and regulations. Well, actually, one bit of data has changed: polling data. The appeal of illiberalism has cratered. Florida has seen record numbers of people from across the US moving there. This polling data is petrifying politicians across the world, ones who until recently hadn’t met a Covid edict they didn’t want to embrace. Now it’s excuses, about-faces, and quiet prayers for voter amnesia. Not long ago, President Macron of France had explicitly stated he wanted to “piss off” those who’d chosen not to be vaccinated. Now, with a presidential election just over a month away, there’s talk of modifying these vaccine passes.

My guess is that one of the biggest casualties of the last two years will be the general public’s confidence in the “expert class.” We’re not widely there yet, true. But I think—make that hope—it’s coming. I’ve made something of a career doubting the worth of the judicial and lawyerly caste and its expertise when it comes to bills of rights and rights-related policymaking generally. But what with supposed Covid “experts” in the public health and modelling castes getting so many calls wrong, and being so willing to censor and suppress dissenting views (lab-leak claims, the worth of masks, the value of vaccines for the young, the deliberate attacks on the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, and the list goes on), I now think the doctorly caste and the journalistic class are even worse than the lawyers. And that’s saying something, believe me.

This public reaction against the expert class will probably go too far, be too deep-seated, and overdo the distrust. Still, they have no one to blame but themselves—and maybe the political class that outsourced its thinking to this single-minded, illiberal crowd.


Cellarius Andreas The Constellations

When Astrologers Rule

Astrology, like statistical modeling today, drew on often impenetrable jargon, sustaining the exclusivity of those who practiced it.

Covid Closures

Letting Crisis Go to Waste

The more positively we spin disruption, the more likely we are to induce or prolong it so as to make it a launching point for social change.