Is England’s Lockdown Racking Up The Bodies?

Here (from the official source; h/t Meme Pusher) are the all-cause weekly deaths for England and Wales, 2010 until 17 April 2020.

The blips peaking around January are (the assumption goes) the flu season. The jump at the very end is presumably due to coronavirus.

The dashed line is the same, but subtracting COVID-19 deaths from the totals.

Before we get into this, here is a blow-up of the picture so the end is better seen:

First thing to note is there is a bit of a Christmas signal; at least, after 2012. Right around Christmas the all-cause deaths take a regular dip. Before? Nothing. This suggests a reporting and not biological difference. Government workers taking the week off at different rates, or whatever.

This does not surprise us, because we have learned by now how noisy this kind of data is.

Second, the real story is the large spike at the end, which is certainly caused in part by reported coronavirus deaths. We know this because if we subtract these deaths—-we still see an abhorrent spike, albeit a smaller one.

Skip that for a second and concentrate on the large spike. If the numbers are real, this is an unusual number of deaths, the most in a decade. Again, it’s clearly due, in part, to the reported coronavirus deaths.

In other words—stay with me here—given England’s draconian measures, perhaps the most brutal outside of Wuhan or Lombardy, it appears the lockdown might have killed a lot of people.

Maybe cramming the sick and healthy together in confined spaces took its toll. Not just in increased COVID deaths, but in all kinds of deaths. Such as suicide, unattended strokes and heart attacks and the like, and so on.

The US’s numbers aren’t complete (as we’ve seen), but it’s looking like the total body count for the 2017-2018 flu season (I do not say caused by flu, but flu season), from 1 October to 30 April, is going to matched, more or less, by the 2019-2020 flu season. In other words, the numbers of all-cause deaths in the US looks like it will play out about the same for these two years for this same period. Now 2017-2018 was by all accounts a bad flu year. This is a bad coronavirus year.

Flu was down this year, but coronavirus (others mutations of which have killed before, in previous years) is way up. The corpse counts will be about the same. For the US.

Not for England. Their dead bodies really stacked up, if accept the official coronavirus death totals.

Taiwan, 6 dead, 24 million people, 0.025 per 100,000, no lockdown. US, 55 thousand dead, 331 million people, 16.7 per 100,000, martial-law lite lockdown, highly variable across the country. All of UK, 22 thousand dead, 67 million people, 32.8 per 100,000, draconian lockdown, more or less enforced. Of course, many more such comparisons can (and will and must) be made.

At a sketch, however, it appears lockdowns cause more harm than good. The evidence is consistent with this. The opposite claim is to say, as must be said in defense of lockdowns, that this unprecedented (modern day) spike would be even larger! Without lockdowns. But then why didn’t countries, like Taiwan, which didn’t have lockdowns, or only modest ones, have no such glaring spikes?

What else could account for England’s huge spike?

What else, indeed? Now focus on the blowup. The main spike in undeniable (assuming no errors in counts). But look at the dashed line, which is also all deaths, but subtracting the unfortunate coronavirus deaths. There is another unexpected spike.

We saw in the full decade, secondary peaks of this size didn’t happen after flu season. It did happen here. The deaths were not, officials say, coronavirus deaths. They were therefore other deaths.

They must have been unusual deaths, in the sense they occurred with unexpected frequency. Something must have caused them. What else is there but the lockdown? Well, that’s not a proof, of course, but the burden of proof is on those who would defend the lockdown.

What are those other deaths? Looking at the breakdowns by age (not shown), most of the spike in all deaths comes from those north of 60, both male and female, with stronger signals increasing with age, on average. Usually, people this age are dying from cancer and heart disease (strokes, CHF, MIs, and so on). Are these people not seeking medical treatment as usual? People being turned away? Stress, panic, and fear increased? Suicides?

We’re assuming the corona deaths are real. Very well, there were 22 thousand of these, as of this date. We have to guess, but supposing there was no coronavirus, we’d expect the data to tale down noisily, as it always has. The extra spike wouldn’t be there, by these assumptions. Meaning, with no coronavirus and all its association political and social changes, we’d ordinarily see about 20 + 22 thousand fewer deaths than were observed. The first 20 thousand is the extra spike.

There is, we must admit, considerable uncertainty in that 20 thousand. It isn’t 0, and it isn’t 50 thousand. It’s surely in between, though.

Again, this isn’t proof, but it’s pretty good evidence the lockdowns caused a lot of harm. Physical harm, at the least.

Naturally, officials, realizing the importance of an analysis like this, might go back, like our Yale professors, and claim retroactively that the bodies in the secondary spike are all also coronavirus deaths. But that doesn’t solve the problem, because then, given the absence of spikes in places without lockdowns, it looks like the lockdowns might be responsible for extra corona deaths.

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23 Thoughts

  1. “Are these people not seeking medical treatment as usual? People being turned away? Stress, panic, and fear increased? Suicides?”

    I’m in England and with direct knowledge of what’s happening – and the answer is: Yes. All these and more.

    The health services have all-but shut-down for everything else except The Virus. There are strong physical, social and psychological deterrences that inhibit people seeking and getting *all* forms of health care.

    Non-emergency treatment (and diagnosis) of all kinds has virtually ceased – including cancers. When people do get access to treatment, it is of poorer-than-usual quality due to staff shortages, equpment shortages, drug shortages; and the problems of doing anything effective with all the palaver of trying (and failing – very obviously) to slow cross infection.

    Health Service staff spend a Great Deal of time donning and doffing protective equipment, swabbing surfaces etc – therefore not much time doing medically useful things.

    Of Course there is a significant increase in total deaths!

    I suppose it is somewhat reassuring to realise that (contrary to some analyses) the Health Service apparently, overall, does more good than harm – at least when it comes to keeping people alive.

  2. Not fair using their own methodology against them. Better, you should have said “associated with the lockdown” and it’s a slam-dunk. We all know that anything associated with anything else is grounds for million dollar law suits. Call Robert Kennedy Jr if you doubt this. He has taken billions from innocent corporations based on “associated with”. Proof? Who needs it? A bunch of greedy jurors and “associated with” is all one needs, plus a pile of money to toss out to “winning clients” like Santa Claus.

    The lockdown was NEVER about flattening the curve or anything whatsoever to do with the disease. It was to exert control and cause as much misery as possible. Really, politicians do no like their voters. They only like subjects. The virus gave them subjects. So if a few extra deaths (few hundred, few thousand, no biggie) gave them a stronger stranglehold on the citizenry, it was certainly worth it.

    I suspect FDR used the depression for the same purpose, thus explaining his four terms. He didn’t use lockdowns, he just made sure the government was the only source of income, food and medical care for as many people as possible. A return to slavery was born and dragged out for years and years. even through today. It appears back then, some people woke up to the scheme and limited the future tyrants to two terms. Now, I would guess peple would give the progressives the option of dictator if the freebies kept coming. What a sad, sorry lot we are.

  3. Imagine, for a moment, living on a small, crowded island with such dreadful weather, such small stuffy, old homes, such a dismal reflexive deference to authority figures, such horrible teeth, such vacuous celebrities and such horrible politicians, that rather than deal with the pain of existence, the collective consciousness immerses itself in alcohol and scenes of imported sportsball mercenaries in shorts kicking a ball around a field in the cold and rain for 9 months of every year.

    Then imagine that game being suddenly taken away just at the moment the sun was about to break through the clouds and drizzle.

    And there you have your inflated death rate.

  4. The video by the two California doctors with several clinics, the video pulled from YouTube, etc., had some clues:

    They observe, and, claim corroborating feedback from their peers, that many people are staying home in fear rather than attending to other (non-Covid-19) medical issues – compounding those problems to include death; other crimes are rising such as child & spousal abuse … all of which can include deaths directly or prompt suicide. Presumably some of the spike is attributable to that – some of the ‘how’ quarantine is contributing to other deaths.

    Noting the LWing media is lately spouting off concerns of about 60,000 Covid-19 deaths in the US as if that’s grim (though comparable to flu), an earlier comment re a point of comparison appears to have been off by an order of magnitude:

    If 60,000 Covid-19 deaths prompt “shame-on-Trump” syndrome …. what about abortions done for convenience? Those are, in the US, on the order of 100s of 1000s — over 600,000 per year lately and in past years routinely exceeded 1M per year.

    Curious social values displayed by that. Killing babies on Nazi-like scale ok, but as data accumulates showing a new virus is not the feared scourge, comparable to an annual flu In deadliness—political outrage.

    Many say the media is blatantly biased for the Left and such is symptomatic of this … the data suggests they are also really that stupid.

  5. This is the ‘monkey see monkey do flu’, is it deadly of course and likely
    man made. This was choreographed perfectly Wuhan the template
    and the West, intentionally or otherwise, in lock step with lock downs
    You’ve got to give the devil his due the whole thing from a psychopathic
    point of view is brilliant and completely deniable. Black Rock the conjurer
    enters ‘the play’.

  6. “What else could account for England’s huge spike?”

    I would posit socialized medicine generally, and the NHS quite specifically. Being more familiar with the Canadian system (which is great compared to the NHS) they are turning people with other illnesses away in droves. Similar thing is happening in some U.S. states, just not quite as bad.

    Example: The boyfriend of my niece (who lives in Canada) broke his arm as confirmed by an X-ray in the ER. They sent him away, untreated for one week because – Covid. Lucky for him he’s young, and hopefully they won’t have to re-break his arm to set it right. But imagine turning away people with bonafide emergencies, especially medically vulnerable people or the aged? Such decisions could significantly increase mortality from other causes.

  7. I’m a Doctor who works in the UK.

    When all this is over, you will find the death & morbidity rates for NHS patients are much higher than in comparable countries.

    Anyone stating such facts will be shouted down and if allowed to be heard, it will be explained away as due to too little funding.

  8. Just read that due to the suspension of vaccinations during Covid, children in Niger have developed polio. Government seemed philosophical–said there would be more paralyzed children and that’s just how it is.

  9. “Taiwan, 6 dead, 24 million people, 0.025 per 100,000, no lockdown. US, 55 thousand dead, 331 million people, 16.7 per 100,000, martial-law lite lockdown, highly variable across the country. All of UK, 22 thousand dead, 67 million people, 32.8 per 100,000, draconian lockdown, more or less enforced. Of course, many more such comparisons can (and will and must) be made.”

    Way to cherry pick the numbers. How about adding China. As of now: 4,643 (reported) deaths out of 1.4B people. ~0.33 deaths per 100,000 people. They locked down nearly 60 million people and placed restrictions on over 200M, most of them for 2 months or more, including restrictions preventing many people from going outside more than once every other day. So, by the reasoning given in the quote, that makes China’s reaction more desirable than the US martial-law lite because they have had fewer deaths per capita?

    Taiwan acted very quickly, as early as December 31st, and it’s a country with only four international airports, which is much easier to monitor. How do you suppose they would be acting now if they hadn’t acted so early? Probably like many of the other countries in Asia with lock downs, or locking up the ill away from their families until they recover, or privacy-invading test-and-tracing that utilize cell phone location data. The countries doing those things are also doing better than the UK. Should they undertake those measures? Perhaps if all governments had acted as early as Taiwan, or if China had acted responsibly and shut down outbound travel early, none would feel compelled to lock down now.

    Anyway, I’m sure the lock downs are adding some extra avoidable deaths, like suicide and other illnesses. If the UK many hospitals are at capacity, then it may be wash whether people are dying from other causes or covid itself. If they are merely reserving capacity and refusing to serve other people in need of help, then those are truly incremental. The lock downs are also probably reducing some types of deaths, like via car accidents, so the picture is muddy. We’ve also seen in the US that people had died of covid and not counted until well after their deaths, so it’s at least possible that people are dying of (or at least with) covid and not in the official numbers as testing is scarce.

    There is plenty of evidence that economic activity was already slowing down before lock downs (decreases in travel, restaurant dining, etc). Recessions typically have increased suicide rates (, and a recession was coming no matter what. So not all suicides will be incremental to the already-going-to-be-a-recession counterfactual. And if someone commits suicide simply because they’ve been told to stay inside for a few weeks, we might consider the possibility that the person wasn’t necessarily mentally stable to begin with, and perhaps the suicide was merely moved up in time.

    Speaking of: Another interesting thing to watch will be how the mortality rate of older citizens performs after the pandemic. Probably we’ll see it reduced for awhile, since this presumably is taking out many older, compromised individuals, and “borrowing” deaths from the near to medium term future. It might help assess how many person-years were actually lost during the pandemic.

  10. Interesting suggestion about the failure to seek or receive health care at this time. I don’t know about the UK, but if that was happening in the US (and it probably is) I was expect to see a decline in the number of deaths attributed to medical errors.

  11. Dr A, don’t take it personally when I say the following:

    “When all this is over, you will find the death & morbidity rates for NHS patients are much higher than in comparable countries.”
    Which countries, and what are you comparing in your premise?
    “Anyone stating such facts will be shouted down and if allowed to be heard, it will be explained away as due to too little funding.”
    Hmm no, you’re already wrong because it’s stated on an almost daily basis at around Five o’Clock.
    “too little funding”? Ironically for the first time in the history of the NHS funding won’t be an issue in the sense of the immediate crisis.
    Too little funding is the problem inherent in all healthcare systems. It is the nature of the beast. It is a money pit. Good firm accountants are essential. Don’t give the “budget” to the clinicians and tell them to spend it! That’s what they did with the NHS.
    Italy boasted the most ventilators per capita in Europe. Look what happened! All of those things informed decision making around the world. I really hope that no countries are trying to cut and paste what others are doing. They must go their own way. But share information and lessons learned. It is not, as Briggs depicts, a competition.

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