School closures and isolation of younger people increases the total number of deaths in the CCP virus pandemic, a UK study found.
The BMJ, a British medical journal, on Oct. 7 published a research paper by the University of Edinburgh on the effect of school closures on mortality from COVID-19.
The study came as thousands of medical practitioners and public health scientists have signed a declaration arguing for a “focused protection” approach instead of blanket lockdowns.
UK Interventions ‘Had Little Effect on Deaths’ From CCP Virus
The research by the University of Edinburgh compared the outcomes of two different scenarios in mitigating deaths from the CCP virus, using data available in March and a model developed by the Imperial College London.
“The United Kingdom’s national response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19) pandemic has been widely reported as being primarily led by modelling based on work, using an individual based model (IBMIC) from Imperial College London, although other models have been considered,” the paper stated.
The UK government’s approach to the pandemic has been to “flatten the curve” by suppressing the reproduction number under one, therefore staggering the infections. The study found that the interventions “delayed the second wave but had little effect on deaths.”
The paper agreed that the government’s approach has been “highly effective” at achieving its goal, that is, to “reduce immediate demand for ICU beds.” However, it is “at the cost of more deaths long term,” it stated.
Non-COVID Harms and Deaths
Sixty-six general practitioners in the UK on Oct. 3 sent a letter to Health Minister Matt Hancock, urging him to consider non-COVID-19 harms in the response to the pandemic.
The doctors argued that harms to long-term health, which broad lockdown measures brought, are beginning to outweigh the benefits.
“We are concerned due to mounting data and real world experience, that the one-track response threatens more lives and livelihoods than Covid-lives saved,” the letter reads.
The letter cited data and studies showing “a sample of the myriad harms” the doctors urged the government to consider in its response to the CCP virus pandemic.
The letter states that, according to official data, “a total of 30,260 excess deaths have occurred in private homes since March but less than 1 in 10 are due to Covid-19.”
There has also been “an inflation in acute cardiovascular deaths … and most did not relate to Covid-19,” according to a study published in The BMJ.
Data from the National Child Mortality Database shows that child suicide rates in the UK increased during the lockdown.
“Amongst those reported after lockdown,” the letter said, “restriction to education and other activities, disruption to care and support services, tensions at home, and isolation appeared to be contributing factors.”
The older shielding population with chronic health problems, “the very group whom restrictions were aimed at protecting,” the letter said, “experienced higher levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness compared with those who were not shielding and were more likely to be less physically active than usual,” according to English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.
Three epidemiologists from Harvard University, Oxford University, and Stanford University on Oct. 4 published The Great Barrington Declaration, voicing their “grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies,” and recommending an approach they call “Focused Protection.”
The declaration is authored by Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University; Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University; and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School.
“The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection,” the declaration reads.
“This is the saner approach, the more moral approach, the more scientifically based approach,” Bhattacharya told UnHerd.
Kulldorff said the current broad lockdown policies a lot of governments adopted have generated enormous collateral damage on other aspects of public health.
“One of the basic principles of public health,” he said, “is that you cannot look only at one disease. You have to look at public health very broadly.”
Therefore the scientists wanted to present “an alternative strategy” that “protects the vulnerable, but at the same time allows us to minimize the damage,” Gupta said.
The strategy, Gupta told UnHerd, consists of “shielding the vulnerable … while allowing those who are not vulnerable to this disease to go out there and get infected, and build up … herd immunity.”
When asked about herd immunity, a phrase governments avoid using to circumvent being accused of allowing people to die, Bhattacharya said people were conflating the phrase with doing nothing.
“Even if we were to have an effective vaccine,” Bhattacharya said, “we will be relying on herd immunity as the endpoint of this infectious disease epidemic.”
Therefore, he said, “it’s less of a strategy than a recognition of biological fact.”
By the afternoon of Oct. 8, the declaration had more than 140,000 signatures, 4,819 medical and public health scientists, 9,085 medical practitioners, and 126,163 members of the general public.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office on Oct. 7 rejected the recommendation in the declaration.
“We have considered the full range of scientific opinion throughout the course of this pandemic and we will continue to do so,” The Independent quoted a spokesman as saying.
“But what I would also say is that it is not possible to rely on an unproven assumption that it is possible for people who are at lower risk, should they contract the virus, to avoid subsequently transmitting it to those who are at a higher risk and would face a higher risks [sic] of ending up in hospital, or worse in an intensive care unit.”