Lockdown is a remedy worse than evil for French society
LE LIBRE PENSEUR
It’s even the WHO that says so, and the example of Argentina is perfect for demonstrating it; but Macron prefers to destroy the economy of the French.
Almost 350 academics, scientists, health, legal, educational and social professionals, as well as artists, declare themselves “appalled” by official speeches that unduly dramatize reality in order to justify lockdown measures.
It’s an open secret: lockdown had been under consideration since last summer. The Ministry of Health’s communication strategy has been deployed around this perspective for more than two months in order to get it accepted by the majority of the population on D-Day. The mainstream media provided decisive help. They are the privileged relay and instrument of this communication. And, unfortunately, it is clear that they are playing the role assigned to them very well. Mechanically based on figures, this communication consists of focusing only on the most alarming indicators, changing them over time if the one used no longer sends the hoped-for message. And if an indicator has a jagged evolution, the communication is only done on days when the numbers increase. There is only one possible message.
The day before yesterday, October 27th, the manipulation was done again. All the media headlines about the alleged 523 deaths read: “Never seen since the lockdown.” But this figure was false. According to Santé Publique France, there were 292 deaths in hospital on October 27th, compared to 257 the day before (October 26th) and 244 (down) on October 28th. But we add the deaths in EHPAD only once every four days by cumulating them. Pretending to count the daily deaths on that day therefore amounts to artificially inflating the figures. And this is surprisingly what happened the day before the announced speech of the President of the Republic, who took up this false figure. Is this a detail? No, unfortunately it is only one example among many.
A second wave claimed to be “even more terrible than the first”
It is the president of the “Scientific Council” (Mr. Delfraissy) who said it a few days ago: a second wave would arrive “even stronger than the first” and we would already be in “a critical situation”. This kind of catastrophic prediction constitutes a manipulation of a Council that is not scientific but political. Nor is there any evidence to suggest that, unless confined, “in a few months, there will be at least 400,000 more deaths to be deplored,” as the President of the Republic claimed last night. Finally, it is also false to say that we would simply do as all our European neighbors do. To date, only Ireland and Wales have reconfined their entire population.
It is urgent that we come to our senses. According to figures from Santé Publique France, of the nearly 15 million tests carried out to date, 93% are negative. And of the remaining 7% of the population tested positive, more than 85% are under the age of 60, so they are essentially people who are not at risk of developing a serious form of the disease. In the end, less than 1% of the population is therefore “at risk” and it is only they who need to be protected.
Another way of putting it: during the recent period (between September 1 and October 20, the day we made this calculation), 7,621,098 people were tested. During the same period, 38,100 individuals were hospitalized (0.5%) and 6,593 were admitted to intensive care (0.09%) with a positive Covid test. In other words, since September 1st, out of this huge sample of the population of 7.6 million, the average probability for an ordinary individual (without distinction of age or comorbidity) not to be hospitalized is 99.5% and the probability of not being admitted to intensive care is 99.91%. Justifying the reconfinement of 67 million French people on this basis is called delirium.
We then say: “Yes, but the hospital is overwhelmed by Covid”. Manipulation again, for three reasons. Firstly, tests having been generalized since July, anyone entering the hospital with a trace of Covid is counted as a “Covid hospitalized” even if he or she is actually coming for cancer or hypertension. And it’s the same if they go into intensive care or if they die. Then, if the figures for hospitalization and resuscitation do indeed increase, this is nothing exceptional: on the contrary, this is what happens every year at the same time (autumn-winter) but which we pretend to have forgotten. Has a generalized Alzheimer’s disease taken hold of our politicians and journalists? Is it necessary to recall that in January 2020, on the eve of the Covid crisis, 1,000 doctors, including 600 hospital department heads, threatened to resign to denounce “a public hospital that is dying”? Finally, yesterday, October 28, there were 3,045 people in intensive care. How can one speak of saturation when one remembers that, at the end of August, the Minister of Health announced 12,000 beds available if needed (four times more, therefore). Where are these beds?
Truth is that governments do not want to invest in the public hospital where professionals are mistreated and where nearly 70,000 beds have been lost in 15 years, even though city medicine (ER: your local family doctor) is saturated and emergency services see their attendance increase year after year. Yes, the hospital is under stress but it is not fundamentally because of Covid! It’s essentially because of the political mistreatment to which this public service has been subjected in general for more than 20 years, and especially since politicians have introduced, as everywhere else, a policy of figures and profitability inspired by the management of large companies.
Social life amputated, democracy in peril
The truth is that lockdown (which may be extended beyond December 1) creates far more problems than it solves. Its global record is not associated with any measurable reduction in mortality, while its main observable result is first of all to put hundreds of thousands and perhaps tomorrow millions of people out of work, especially of course among the most fragile (precarious jobs, fixed-term contracts, temporary work, people paid by benefits, seasonal workers, etc.), and to threaten with extinction most small, often family-run businesses, other than food shops, whose daily activity is their only source of income. Let’s bet that the very large groups (ER: multinationals, etc.) will be satisfied with this because they will probably buy them back tomorrow.
These containment measures then have the effect of amputating social life of most social ties other than family. A certain gentrified lifestyle and way of thinking was certainly satisfied with this last spring, with each child having his or her own room for privacy, a computer to keep in touch with the school and a smartphone with an unlimited plan to talk with friends all the time, parents teleworking, going out every day to jog through streets and green spaces “where the birds could be heard again”, and having meals delivered to their homes if they were lazy about cooking or afraid to mingle with the mob in a supermarket. But what proportion of the population lives this life in lockdown? Who does not see that confinement explodes social inequalities, school failures, intra-family violence, psychological disorders and renunciation of care? Who does not know that it is already causing uprisings and hunger riots in other countries? And who understands that the birds have good backs and that these small moments of respite provided by human panic are nothing compared to their slow extinction?
As for democracy, it is kept under glass by the permanent state of emergency and lockdown. What is a democracy without the freedom to come and go, to gather and demonstrate? What is a democracy where there is hardly anyone left in the hemicyles of parliamentary assemblies? What is a democracy where justice is paralyzed because it cannot hear? What is a democracy where, in the end, there is only an executive power? What is a democracy where all this is imposed through fear and guilt, or even censorship and indictment of anyone who refuses to give in?
Everyone, in conscience, will draw the consequences they want from all these dramatic facts. We are not calling for revolution and we do not engage in partisan politics. But we do want to say that we are more than tired of being asked to behave like Panurge’s sheep in the name of a totally distorted precautionary principle and manipulative statistical interpretations. We demand that we put an end to this health panic, that we give health care workers the means to fulfill their public health missions, that we stop violating entire sectors of society and that we get out of this permanent state of emergency in order to democratically build a consensual health policy.
Laurent Mucchielli, sociologist, director of research at the CNRS
Laurent Toubiana, research epidemiologist at INSERM, director of IRSAN
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