The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) is the non-profit think tank that was the driving force behind the Great Barrington Declaration. (See our 13 October article, “THE GREAT BARRINGTON DECLARATION: NO COVID FEAR.”)

As reported in the Trends Journal, released on 4 October and signed by over 10,000 scientists, doctors, and public health officials, the report called for an end to all lockdowns based on the damage they are creating.

As we forecast in the Trends Journal in March, the AIER predicted the negative effects of lockdowns that same month when they published the document titled, “Drugs, Suicide and Crime: Empirical Estimates of the Human Toll of the Shutdown.” Some of the key points made:

  • “We have already started to see some of these human effects as the unemployment has quickly rocketed beyond even the early initial projections. A rise in unemployment is correlated with a number of negative socio-economic effects. For some, these effects can be quite deadly, particularly when the changes are rapid as is currently the case.”
  • “In a 2018 study, Bruguera, et al, found that of the 180 drug users they surveyed about use during the Great Recession, 58.3% reported an increase in use while only 25.6% reported decreasing use, resulting in greater all-drug use for the period. Similarly, Mulia, et al, (2014) connects a rise in alcoholism to economic loss during the Great Recession.”
  • “The deaths related to economic downturns go beyond those from chemical dependency, also. The mental toll is not inconsequential. For example, Blakely, et al, (2003) find that being unemployed may also increase the risk of suicide two to threefold. Milner, et al, (2014) similarly finds that unemployment is associated with a higher relative risk of suicide, with prior mental health issues being a key factor in that association.”
  • “Increased harm to oneself is not the only harm caused by economic downturns. There is also the threat of rising crime in general. Ajimotokin, et al, (2015) estimate that a one percent change in unemployment will increase the property crime rate by 71.1 per 100,000 people and the violent crime rate by 31.9 per 100,000 people.”

The article ends with this prescient warning:

“It is vitally important, literally life and death, that the proper costs and benefits are weighed with the decision on how much and how long to shut down economic activity through the pandemic.”

COVID Data Update: “Death by Lockdown”
 How substantive was the concern that an extensive shutdown would cause rampant health problems separate from COVID? Here is information provided by the CDC on 23 October:

“Overall, an estimated 299,028 excess deaths have occurred in the United States from late January through October 3, 2020, with two thirds of these attributed to COVID-19. The largest percentage increases were seen among adults aged 25-44 years and among Hispanic or Latino (Hispanic) persons.”

The CDC then editorializes by stating,

“These results provide information about the degree to which COVID-19 deaths might be under ascertained and inform efforts to prevent mortality directly or indirectly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, such as efforts to minimize disruptions to health care.”

Note the term “under ascertained,” which implies that some of the remaining one-third of excess deaths (some 100,000) might also have been caused by COVID-19. Left out is the point made frequently in the Trends Journal that often “COVID-19” is listed as cause of death when it was likely something else.

For example, in our 14 April issue, we quoted Dr. Scott Jenson, physician and state senator from Minnesota, who stated during a March press conference, “I know I’ve talked with nursing staff… and led to believe that there may have been a COVID-19 diagnosis included on the death certificate document without having had a COVID-19 confirmed laboratory test.”

One more example of over-stating COVID deaths rather than “under ascertaining” as the CDC claims: on the Mississippi State Department of Health website, the following appears in the section titled, “COVID-19 Death Reporting: Questions and Answers for Medical Examiners, Coroners, and Physicians”:
COVID-19 Death Reporting: Questions and Answers for Medical

“If the death is a suspected/probable COVID-19 case, should the physician indicate that on the death certificate? Yes, the physician should list Probable COVID-19 as the Cause of Death in Part I, or if there is a reasonable likelihood that COVID-19 contributed to the death then list COVID-19 as the cause of death in Part II.”

Jeffrey A. Tucker, Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), published a 2 November article titled, “Death by Lockdown” to update his group’s assertions made in March that an extended lockdown would cause enormous health concerns above and beyond the effects of COVID-19.
Commenting on the 23 October CDC report confirming some 300,000 excess deaths in the U.S. compared to previous years with at least one-third not attributable to COVID-19, Mr. Tucker writes:

“That’s the CDC’s way of saying: these policies (lockdowns) are killing people. As for minimizing disruptions to health care, a major factor here is that people have been completely avoiding getting health care this year, for fear of COVID, for fear of contract tracing, and also because many medical services have been forcibly reserved for people with COVID, and to hell with everyone else. Cancer screenings, routine checkups, normal procedures, to say nothing of dentistry have certainly been disrupted. Now we can see the carnage in plain daylight.”

Mr. Tucker quotes Scott W. Atlas, Chief of Neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center from 1998 until 2012 and currently a senior fellow and health care investigator at Stanford’s Hoover Institution:
“The Centers for Disease Control has documented a shocking number of excess deaths not from COVID:

  • Hispanic: 40% excess deaths NOT COVID related
  • Black: 46% NOT COVID related
  • White: 38% NOT COVID related
  • 25-44: 77% excess deaths NOT COVID related
  • 65+: 39% NOT COVID related.”

Mr. Tucker concludes his updated analysis of the extended lockdown:

“The most startling data concerns the age group 25-44. This is a group with a COVID-related infection fatality rate of 0.0092%, which is to say barely a disease at all for nearly everyone in this group. And yet they are dying at a rate far above what is expected, and mostly from issues not related to COVID. There should not be any excess deaths. Instead we find people dropping dead in ways that are shocking.”

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