Norway has been hailed as almost the ultimate example of a successful lockdown which controlled the disease. Now the Norwegian Health Authority has released a sixty-page report on what really happened. The key statements are: “Our assessment now — is that one could probably achieve the same effect — and avoid part of the unfortunate repercussions (of lockdown) — by not closing. But, instead, staying open with precautions to stop the spread.” and “It looks as if the effective reproduction rate had already dropped to around 1.1 when the most comprehensive measures were implemented on March 12, and that there would not be much to push it down below 1… We have seen in retrospect that the infection was on its way down.”
In short, what this means is exactly what has already been stated on this page, at Lie No 5 in the Top Twelve Lies article here. Namely that there was already a substantial level of immunity in Norway, which was what caused their “good result” rather than the lockdown. For a full(ish) explanation of basic epidemiology read our Epidemiology for Dummies article here. In brief, the basic R number, called R0 (say R-nought) tells how many other people one infected person will infect in a population with no immunity at all. For Covid this is generally reckoned to be about 2.2. (It’s hard to be certain exactly, but it’s definitely not up in the 15 range like measles.) So in a population where half the people are immune, the virus will only infect, on average, 1.1 people (that is, half of 2.2. Some of the maths in epidemiology is truly simple!) When the R number goes as low as one, the virus cannot cause an epidemic, since each infected person on average only affects one other, so the number of infected people will reach a steady state. If R is less than one, the infection will gradually die out. This is why epidemics effectively kill themselves off. As more people are infected, and become immune, the amount of immunity builds up until the infection dies away. That is herd immunity.
We would not know this information but for a report in the Spectator here. Why the Spectator has a habit of reporting truth about Covid is a question I have often pondered. More on that below. The original Norwegian report is here. At sixty pages, in Norwegian, it’s not an easy read. But their main graph can be understood without language:
The horizontal dotted line shows an R of 1. I’ve added the arrow at 12th March when their lockdown began. Camilla Stoltenberg, director of Norway’s public health agency, said, as reported above, that the same effect could have been achieved with “staying open with precautions to stop the spread.” Actually, the R number was down to 1 in just ten days, and without any lockdown at all infections, and therefore immunity, would have spread more quickly, meaning the target of 1 for R would have been achieved even sooner.
The interesting question here is where the pre-lockdown immunity came from. There are two possible sources. One is spread of Covid before it was noticed. Remember that without a test it is impossible to distinguish Covid infection from flu, pneumonia or cold. The other is that the common cold is caused by a range of viruses, including Coronaviruses, and therefore there is a possible mechanism for immunity here. Both Prof. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University and Dr. Wittkowski are convinced that there is indeed immunity from this source. See Prof. Gupta video interview here, and private emails between me and Dr Wittkowski here.
This is further compelling evidence that lockdowns actually make very little difference. On the website weeks ago we pointed out that New York, with a severe lockdown, has the highest death rate in the World, while Tokyo, a bigger city with very, very mild restrictions, has almost no deaths. Here. The key factor everywhere is the level of immunity at the point where lockdowns were enforced. We need to be very grateful to Norway for being honest and spelling this out so clearly.
I said I would say more about why the Spectator is far more likely to tell the truth about Covid than any other mainstream media. The Spectator’s circulation is only about 80,000, and it was edited for six years by none other than Boris Johnson. In short, it is very Tory, so you would naturally expect it to bolster the Government message at every turn. What goes on?
A connected phenomenon here, I believe, is the three top people who have warned us severely to stay at home and isolate, while they themselves didn’t. First Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, who drove to her holiday home, second Prof Lockdown Ferguson, who met with his married mistress, and third, Dominic Cummings, who did quite a tour of the UK. I’m going well beyond science here and sticking my neck out; I think the factor that connects the dots is that the three lockdown breakers all knew there was no significant risk; and the Spectator is signalling to its exclusive, top-drawer readership, that there is no need to worry. Lockdown is for everybody else. One law for the rich, one for the poor? You decide. Either way, what’s now crystal clear from the science is that lockdowns are a thoroughly rotten idea.