COVID: True Mortality and Lockdowns 1

1Imprimis,published by Hillsdale College

It has been reliably surmised that the “case fatality rate” of COVID cases from COVID infections was estimated too high in the early stages of the pandemic.  It started with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that roughly three percent of identified cases of COVID died from it.  Today, the rate is much closer to 0.2 or 0.3 percent.  The question to be asked is important; was the early estimate wrong, or was better, faster treatment of actual cases responsible for the decrease.  “Case Fatality Rate” is derived by dividing the number of deaths by the total number of confirmed cases.  To obtain an actually accurate calculation the number of people who have actually had the disease should be substituted in the denominator; using confirmed cases is not correct.  

We now know that only a small fraction of infected people who got sick and went to the hospital in March were identified as cases.  There were many more people than the hospitalized people that had mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.  Not being identified, their “case” condition was never available to be included in the data. That mistake carries on in the public imagination, still sowing fear and panic.  An accurate fatality rate is determined by testing for “seroprevalence” of COVID. It is tested by determining how many people have evidence in their bloodstream of having had COVID.  Different diseases act in different ways; COVID, like other coronaviruses, doesn’t stay in the body.  What are tested for are antibodies or other evidence that someone has had COVID. These antibodies fade over time, so if the disease was active too distantly from the time of the antibody test, it will result in an underestimation of total infections.  

In April, a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, an MD and Ph.D. in economics ran Seroprevalence tests in California’s Santa Clara County.  At that time, about 1,000 COVID cases had been identified in the county, but the Seroprevalence tests found about 50,000 people infected. This is 50 times more infections than identified cases.  It informs a new conclusion of about 0.2 percent fatality rate instead of three percent. 

The Santa Clara findings were controversial when they came out, but there are now 82 similar Seroprevalence studies from around the world.  The median result of the now 82 studies is a fatality rate of about 0.2 percent.  There was variance to some degree depending upon the locations of the tests.  New York City was higher, more like 0.5 percent and lower in places like Idaho was 0.13 percent.  

These new results inform the initial conclusions about managing COVIID.  It was managed poorly in part due to ignorance and sometimes due to negligence, such as people in nursing homes allowed to get infected. 

The single most important information today is deciding how to respond to the presence of the virus in our communities.  The virus is not equally dangerous for everybody.  This became clear eventually, but for some reason our public health messaging failed to get this fact out to the public.  It is still not widely accepted, but nothing could be further from the truth. There is a 1000-fold difference between the mortality rate of older people, 70 and up, and the mortality rate of children. For young children, this disease is less dangerous than the seasonal flu.  More children have died from seasonal flu than from COVID by a factor of two or three.  Among people 70 and up COVID is about four in 100 rate of fatality compared to two in 1,000 in the overall population.  

Lockdowns adopted for COVID are unprecedented – lockdowns have never before been tried as a method of disease control, and were not a part of the original plan.  The rationale for lockdowns when tried was to slow the incidence of hospitalizations being overwhelmed in the U.S.  It became clear before long that this was not a worry in the U.S. Yet the lockdowns were kept in place, and this is turning out to have deadly effects.  The view has now developed that the widespread lockdown policy has been a devastating public health mistake everywhere it has been required.  A few results include:  lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings, and deteriorating mental health, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden.  Keeping students out or school is an injustice. The Great Barrington Declaration which informs the above results has been signed by over 43,000 medical and public health scientists and medical practitioners.  It is central to the scientific debate.  Online it is found at

1Imprimis,published by Hillsdale College“A Sensible and Compassionate Anti-COVID Strategy,” Jay Bhattacharya, Stanford University                                                                                     November 3, 2020