On the website of the Center for Study of Partisanship and Ideology, a newly formed (2020) organization which I’ll make a point of following closely, there is a very good article by Philippe Lemoine (a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at Cornell University). Lemoine is making the case against lockdowns. I am biased in favor of such a position, so I may be easily persuaded, but I think Lemoine argues it very well, in a tone which is sensible and takes into account the- understandable- worries of pro-lockdown people, and so may persuade others who have a different view. His reasoning is nuanced; he points out that policy decisions aren’t the only thing that affect the way the pandemic is progressing. He tries to do something which should be obvious but has so far been unthinkable: discuss costs and benefits of different non-pharmaceutical measures, instead of interpreting measures as a proxy of a broader political worldview.
There are many insights in this piece but let me just single out one:
if you look at the data without preconceived notions instead of picking the examples that suit you and ignoring all the others, you will notice 3 things:
• In places that locked down, incidence often began to fall before the lockdown was in place or immediately after, which given the reporting delay and the incubation period means that the lockdown can’t be responsible for the fall of incidence or at least that incidence would have fallen even in the absence of a lockdown.
• Conversely, it’s often the case that it takes several days or even weeks after the start of a lockdown for incidence to start falling, which means that locking down was not sufficient to push R below 1 and that other factors had to do the job.
• Finally, there are plenty of places that did not lockdown, but where the epidemic nevertheless receded long before the herd immunity threshold was reached even though incidence was increasing quasi-exponentially, meaning that even in the absence of a lockdown other factors can and often do cause incidence to fall long before saturation.