by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
“The West should envy Japan’s COVID-19 response” is the title of this article in Japan Times. The author is Ramesh Thakur, who is an emeritus professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy of the Australian National University and was Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Senior Vice Rector of the United Nations University.
Thakur lets the West have it, and by extension the demonstrably failed virus mitigation orders here in North Carolina enforced and reinforced by Gov. Roy Cooper.
Here are some highlights of Thakur’s article, buttressed with some of our work here at John Locke. The article begins:
On Jan. 1, the world total of coronavirus cases was 83,748,593 and deaths 1,824,140. Japan’s corresponding figures were 230,304 and 3,414. Unusually, in Japan the disease killed more people in autumn-winter than spring. Still, for balance and perspective it’s worth noting that more Japanese died from 25 other causes in 2020. COVID-19 accounted for only 0.3% of all deaths. There were seven times as many suicides and 40 times as many flu and pneumonia deaths. Japan was also one of the few countries without excess mortality caused by COVID-19.
Note: There is reason to believe that North Carolina is not only suffering excess deaths from or with COVID-19, but excess deaths outside of COVID deaths owing to government lockdowns, business and personal restrictions, and economic damages from the government response to COVID-19.
The Cooper administration is months and months behind the rest of the United States in reporting mortality data to the CDC, even as Cooper continues to tighten those very restrictions against people.
See “Are Gov. Cooper’s Executive Orders having devastating health effects?” for more details.
Japan attracted world notice for neither imposing a lockdown nor obsessively testing asymptomatic people. As Tomoya Saito put it in these pages, “Encouraging people with mild or no symptoms to take PCR tests would have revealed nothing but resulted in isolating false-positive cases.”
Note: Cooper deliberately flouted state emergency management law to impose his lockdowns and other business and personal restrictions. It was and remains a dangerous usurpation of power, but the pushback against it has been alarmingly anemic.
See “Pandemic or not, the governor can’t issue orders unilaterally,” “Statewide lockdowns unnecessarily divide, divert us from task at hand,” and “‘Following the science’? In a free society, Cooper’s severe restrictions require strong justification” (among others) for more details.
Also, North Carolina uses an extremely high cycle threshold for PCR tests (37 to 38 cycles), well beyond the research consensus of 30 cycles or fewer. The more cycles used, the less likely that whatever viral RNA is found was ever viable (i.e., the less likely there’s an actual infection). An investigation by The New York Times into three state’s PCR testing found that up to 90% of “cases” could be false positives.
See “How many COVID-19 cases in N.C. were actually even cases?” for more details.
Unfortunately for them, there is little empirical data to support the abstract mathematical models on which governments relied to clamp lockdowns. The virus is not unprecedented, but the draconian societal shutdowns are. Who would have expected Western democracies to mimic authoritarian China?
Note: A surprising number of the studies being touted by the Cooper administration to justify Cooper’s orders to force face masks on everyone included discussion of — or actual wishing for — changing the culture in the U.S. to be more like China’s and other Asian nations’ in mask-wearing. This cultural, non–Chinese mimicry problem is that Americans are said to view having to wear masks as “as contrary to freedom and individualism,” in the words of researchers Wang J, Pan L, Tang S, Ji JS, and Shi X.
See the three-part series on “Does Cooper’s own research justify his extreme orders?” for more details.
Never before in human history have entire healthy populations been put under effective house arrest and told when they can go out; where to; for how long; who and how many people they can meet; which businesses can stay open to sell designated goods and provide listed services. Yet after a year of this extreme experiment, data from around the world show that the spread of the pandemic correlates more with geography, demography and seasonality than lockdown stringency and sequencing.
That first sentence deserves repeating: Never before in human history have entire healthy populations been put under effective house arrest and told when they can go out; where to; for how long; who and how many people they can meet; which businesses can stay open to sell designated goods and provide listed services.
A great shame of this age in North Carolina and the formerly free West is that so many public officials, media, celebrities, community leaders, religious leaders, and trusting individuals acquiesced to such unheard-of orders — and ten months on still lack the will or intellectual wherewithal to question them.
See “Cooper’s upside-down orders: quarantine the healthy, then make them wear masks” and “What does the science say about Cooper forcing healthy people to wear masks?” for more details. Also consider Cooper’s decision matrix for his extreme orders — freedom and choice vs. orders and enforcement against businesses and individuals — and the crippling designation of “nonessential” to a person’s job.