On April 14, I posted a video interview with epidemiologist Knut Wittkowski, former head of the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at Rockefeller University — you know, just your garden-variety internet conspiracy theorist. YouTube has now deleted that video for unclear reasons, perhaps because Wittkowski takes the unconventional view that coronavirus is basically a normal respiratory virus similar to the flu — an idea that obviously cannot be permitted on YouTube because it might lead people to question the wisdom of China-style lockdown policies in the West, and even to violate those policies through reckless and irresponsible acts of social de-distancing, and worst of all, to refuse to let Bill Gates, the avuncular and benevolent software vendor, stick a needle in their arm — and we can’t have that because then, well, MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WILL DIEEEE!!!!
So anyway, here’s the same video hosted on the website of the American Institute for Economic Research. Long may it live there, out of reach of Susan Wojcicki’s censorious hand.
And as a bonus, here’s a new interview with Wittkowski in Spiked, the British internet magazine. Some highlights below (emphasis added):
spiked: How far along is the epidemic?
Wittkowski: It is over in China. It is over in South Korea. It is substantially down in most of Europe and down a bit everywhere, even in the UK. The UK and Belarus are latecomers, so you do not see exactly what you are seeing in continental Europe. But everywhere in Europe, the number of cases is substantially declining.
spiked: Have our interventions made much of an impact?
Wittkowski: When the whole thing started, there was one reason given for the lockdown and that was to prevent hospitals from becoming overloaded. There is no indication that hospitals could ever have become overloaded, irrespective of what we did. So we could open up again, and forget the whole thing.
I hope the intervention did not have too much of an impact because it most likely made the situation worse. The intervention was to ‘flatten the curve’. That means that there would be the same number of cases but spread out over a longer period of time, because otherwise the hospitals would not have enough capacity. (…)
spiked: Were hospitals likely to be overrun?
Wittkowski: Germany had 8,000 deaths in a population of 85million. They had 20,000 to 30,000 hospitalisations. In Germany, that is nothing. It does not even show up as a blip in the hospital statistics. In Britain, the highest hospital utilisation was about 60 per cent, if I am not mistaken.
In New York City, it was a bit higher. The Javits Congress Center was turned into a field hospital with 3,000 beds. It treated just 1,000 patients in all. The Navy ship sent to New York by President Trump had 179 patients but it was sent back because it was not needed. New York is the epicenter of the epidemic in the United States, and even here at the epicenter, hospital utilisation was only up a bit. Nothing dramatic. Nothing out of the ordinary. That is what happens during the flu season. People have the flu, and then there are more patients in the hospitals than there otherwise would be.
spiked: Are we on the way to reaching herd immunity?
Wittkowski: All the studies that have been done have shown that we already have at least 25 per cent of the population who are immune. That gives us a nice cushion. If 25 per cent of the population are already immune, we are very quickly getting to the 50 per cent that we need to have what is called herd immunity. We will actually get a bit higher than that. So we have flattened what otherwise would have been a peak, and if we now let it run, even if the number of cases would increase a bit, it would not get as high as it was, because we already have enough immune people in the population. So it is not going to spread as fast as it could have spread in the beginning. (…)
spiked: Should people practice social distancing?
spiked: Why not?
Wittkowski: Why? What is the justification for that? People need to ask the government for an explanation. The government is restricting freedom. You do not have to ask me for justification. There is no justification. It is the government that has to justify what it is doing. Sorry, but that is how it is. (…)
spiked: The UK government was also heavily influenced by the situation in Italy. Why did that go so wrong?
Wittkowski: What we saw in Italy was that the virus was hitting those who were both old and had comorbidities, so lots of people died. But the median age of those who died in Italy was around 81 years. It is not that children or working people were dying. It was the elderly in nursing homes – not even the elderly living by themselves mostly. We saw lots of deaths and that scared people. But then, Italy did an illogical thing. It closed schools so that the schoolchildren were isolated and did not get infected and did not become immune. Instead, the virus spread almost exclusively among the old, causing more deaths and a higher utilisation of hospitals. And that is mind-boggling. (…)
One third of all deaths in New York State were in nursing homes. One could have prevented 20,000 deaths in the United States by just isolating the nursing homes. After three or four weeks, they could have reopened and everybody would be happy.
That would have been a reasonable strategy. But shutting down schools, driving the economy against the wall – there was no reason for it. The only reason that this nonsense now goes on and on, and people are inventing things like this ‘second wave’, which is going to force us to change society and never live again, is that the politicians are afraid of admitting an error.