Has social distancing made much difference after all?

Does social distancing stop a Covid-19 epidemic? It seems pretty obvious to most people that the answer is yes, and many experts including those sceptical of lockdowns see voluntary social distancing as the real key to bringing outbreaks under control and preventing a deadly second wave (see for example here and here).

The difficulty in testing this claim is that everywhere has done social distancing, including Sweden, so there is nowhere we can look at to see what happens to an outbreak without it.

What we can do, though, is look more closely at whether social distancing always curbs infections in the way we would expect. Consider for example London. Deaths in the capital peaked on April 8, having begun to plateau on March 27. Assuming an average of 16 days from infection to death (this figure used to be 21 days but has recently been revised as understanding of the virus has grown), that puts peak infections on March 23 and the beginning of plateau on March 11. If we look at the graph below, which shows use of mass transport in London, Manchester and Birmingham in March, we can see that the plateauing of infections from March 11 coincides closely with the drop in use of public transport and hence the adoption of social distancing.

Citymapper Mobility Index for London. Source: https://lockdownsceptics.org/2020/05/02/latest-news-18/

So far, so good for the social distancing hypothesis. But now look at Manchester. Social distancing there matches London very closely (going slightly slower), but Manchester’s deaths and hence infections curve rises and peaks much later. Why would that be, when both are affected by the same social distancing behaviours at almost the same time?

Deaths in the North West of England don’t begin to plateau until  April 3 and then grow only slowly to a peak on April 16 before beginning to drop. This puts the beginning of the plateauing of infections on March 18, when social distancing has already been going on for five days and public transport is running at under 40 per cent normal use. Prior to that, while transport use is plummeting, infections are growing exponentially,and they even carry on growing (albeit at a slower rate) until a peak on March 31, a whole week after lockdown has begun.

Why is that, when in London the drop in public transport use coincided with the plateauing and peaking of infections? Why is social distancing affecting the infection curve so differently in London and Manchester?

If social distancing was truly responsible for ending epidemics then we would expect it to do so everywhere. The fact that in Manchester and the North West the region saw exponential growth in infections while it was busy socially distancing, and continued growth in infections while in lockdown, suggests that even social distancing may have little – or less than has been thought – impact on the spread of the virus.

That’s certainly the view of Nobel laureate Professor Michael Levitt, who points out that in every country a similar mathematical pattern is observable regardless of government interventions and public responses, so that after around a two-week exponential growth of cases, some kind of brake kicks in that curbs growth.

The same idea has been backed up by a new model by a team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine which suggests that collective immunity can be achieved at as low as 10-20 per cent infection rate, owing to the existence of prior immunity in the population and other factors that affect susceptibility. It is further corroborated by a statewide antibody survey in New York in late April, when the epidemic there was over, which (with final results now in) has found 12.3 per cent with antibodies, including 19.9 per cent in New York City itself.

This all needs further investigation and continued close examination. But if the evidence from Manchester is anything to go by, it may not be social distancing that stops the virus but nature, as the epidemic runs its course. This would make fears of a second wave unfounded, and continued social distancing a harmful and costly waste of time, and would reassure the public they need not wrap themselves in cellophane for ever.

First published on Conservative Woman.

4 thoughts on “Has social distancing made much difference after all?

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  1. *****DOCUMENTARY: PLANDEMIC – Part 1
    video – 26 mins 8 secs
    Prior to the completion of the full-length documentary we’ll be releasing a series of vignettes. The first instalment features renowned scientist, Judy Mikovits PHD. Humanity is imprisoned by a killer pandemic. People are being arrested for surfing in the ocean and meditating in nature. Nations are collapsing. Hungry citizens are rioting for food. The media has generated so much confusion and fear that people are begging for salvation in a syringe. Billionaire patent owners are pushing for globally mandated vaccines. Anyone who refuses to be injected with experimental poisons will be prohibited from travel, education and work. No, this is not a synopsis for a new horror movie. This is our current reality. Let’s back up to address how we got here…
    https://vimeo.com/415659640
    +
    BEREAN BEACON: WHO IS DR FAUCI & SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED
    Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a position he has held since 1984. This Jesuit trained deep state operative has been intimately involved in public affairs and policy for the past six presidential administrations. And now the world stands at the precipice of forced vaccination at the hands of a conglomerate of church, state and science so falsely called. “The World Health Organization, UNICEF, the National institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced a collaboration to increase coordination across the international vaccine community and create a Global Vaccine Action Plan,” Dr. Anthony Fauci is strategically placed within the Leadership Council.
    https://mailchi.mp/50a6fc38b70d/who-is-dr-fauci-and-should-you-be-concerned

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    1. More conspiracy nonsense from yet another disgraced scientific fraud.

      Cleverly and fatally skewered by Dr. Jennifer L Kasten:

      A response to videos (including “Plandemic”) by Judy Mikovits, PhD on the origins of COVID-19 and the harms of mask-wearing. As always, Mikovits’ personal/ political / non-COVID beliefs are her own, and will not be discussed here.
      Her three virology/immunology claims, and one public health claim:
      1) Mask-wearing “activates the virus,” continually re-infects the wearer, and risks killing the wearer via carbon dioxide.
      2) The cell line in which the new coronavirus is cultured, Vero E6, originated in a US military laboratory and was recently transferred to Wuhan.
      3) SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t cause COVID-19; it’s actually a retrovirus which was a contaminant in influenza vaccinations given in 2013-2014.
      4) Predicting a pandemic, and planning a response to one, is suspicious.
      A CLOTH MASK IS NOT A STEEL VAULT
      Mikovits states that a mask causes the wearer to re-inhale our own carbon dioxide- “a toxic gas!” Fortunately, it’s not a steel-lined trap. Just as you can suck air in through a mask rather easily, so can you exhale air out through it. If you’d like to feel the difference, clamp your hand over your mouth and nose and take a stroll. Also, exhaled air is about 16% oxygen, versus atmospheric air which sits at 21%. It’s not pure carbon dioxide, like the clouds on Venus.
      You also cannot infect yourself with your own virus. If it comes out of you (i.e. virus droplets in exhaled breath) putting it back in you won’t make you any sicker. Being exposed to the atmosphere- in fact, leaving its host cell at all- is a very precarious thing for a virus. It risks drying out its protective moisture coat and falling apart. Taking a brief, exciting tour out your nose, into your mask, and back inside does not energize it, but instead risks inactivating it entirely
      LOTS OF SCIENTISTS USE THE SAME TOOLS- LIKE PIPETTES, OR CELLS DEVELOPED IN JAPAN IN 1962
      Cell lines usually die, so it’s really handy if you can find some which won’t- immortal cells. Some such cells were isolated by Japanese researchers in 1962 from the kidneys of green monkeys (in Spanish, “verde reno”). Line #6 divided more slowly, making it useful for slow-growing viruses. They’ve been a cornerstone of medical research ever since, and are used in every country of the world which bothers to conduct virology research. Voila- Vero E6. There is no connection to the US military/ USAMRIID other than they, too, use them. The military also uses light bulbs and pipettes and wear shoes.
      WE AREN’T MAKING ALL THOSE CORONA BEER JOKES FOR NOTHING
      Mikovits states that not everyone with SARS-CoV-2 gets sick, and people without the virus also develop respiratory infections and pneumonias. Therefore, she says, it can’t possibly cause COVID-19. Yes, indeed. Many people mount a competent immune response and knock that sucker straight out of the park, and never become clinically ill (asymptomatic cases). Other people have other diseases. Not all that glitters is gold, and not all that coughs is COVID.
      If in doubt, look at the amazing electron micrographs of the coronavirus in the alveolar cells in the lung. Look at the pictures of the viruses’ spike protein doing damage in deceased patients’ lung cells.
      WHEN ALL YOU HAVE IS A HAMMER (OR PLASMID), EVERYTHING’S A NAIL
      Judy Mikovits’ background is highly relevant to understanding how she arrived at the last half of claim 3. She worked as a virologist and became interested in an obscure, harmless mouse retrovirus which she hypothesized was the cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She claimed she identified this virus in the blood of CFS patients, had many papers published, and enjoyed the spotlight that came with the BOMBSHELL discovery of a viral/infectious origin of a chronic condition.
      Then, the penny dropped. Namely, two researchers pulled her actual samples from CFS patients and found bacterial plasmid DNA mixed up with the retroviruses. (Bacterial plasmids are the FedEx of the laboratory: a very useful delivery service humans hijack to drop genes in where they want). Meaning? She spiked the punch. She dropped the virus in completely artificially. It was all knowingly fraudulent. Her papers were retracted, her funding was yanked, she was fired, and she faced some jail time. Her version of this story is a frequent subject of her books and videos.
      Re: vaccines contaminated with mouse viruses which have been dormant for years and are the real cause of COVID: there is no evidence for any of this whatsoever. For starters, vaccines for viruses are not developed in mice for mass production: some are grown in eggs / chick embryos, and others are grown in the Vero cells mentioned above. If any of Mikovits’ claims were true, we might see monkey or chicken viral contaminants- but we don’t.
      I’VE GOT A CUNNING PLAN
      Do you own a fire extinguisher? Do your children do active shooter drills at school? Does the military run training exercises in the event of land, air and sea invasions? Does planning a response to any of those very unfortunate events actually cause them to happen?
      For infectious pandemics: viruses are constantly trying to ‘jump hosts.’ It’s a certainty that one eventually will. It’s a certainty that bacteria continue to acquire resistance to antibiotics. It would be dereliction of duty- some serious hand-washing, but not the good kind- to not have a response ready.
      SOURCES
      Robert H Silverman, Jaydip Das Gupta, Judy A Mikovits et al. Partial Retraction. Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Published Erratum Science 2011 Oct 14;334(6053):176.
      Ammerman NC, Beier-Sexton M, and Azad AF. Growth and Maintenance of Vero Cell Lines. Curr Protoc Microbiol. 2008 Nov; APPENDIX: Appendix–4E.
      Smith J, Lipsitch M, and Almond JW. Vaccine production, distribution, access and uptake. Lancet. 2011 Jul 30; 378(9789): 428–438.
      Judy A Mikovits. A) “Plandemic.” B) Interview with Christina Agauyo, April 30, 2020. C) “Valuetainment” interview with Patrick Bet-David, April 29, 2020.

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  2. Have you seen these graphs?

    Worth crunching the numbers yourself – shows a negative correlation between movement (from google analytics) and deaths (i.e. the more locked down a country, the worse the disease)

    Like

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