In the 1961 Walt Disney film 101 Dalmatians, Cruella de Vil locks down 99 dalmatian pups (the 101 includes the parents of the original litter). In a roundabout way, this got Dr No wondering if there might be 101 lockdown damnations. There surely are, but after fifty items, Dr No felt the point was sufficiently made. Already the mother of all dossiers of despair, reining in another fifty items risked permanent damage to Dr No’s sense and sensibilities.
Chiefly this is a list of the consequences of the key ‘stay home’ element of the hard lockdown, though of course other elements like social distancing will have also played a part. Furthermore, the risk of the post hoc fallacy applies to each and every item in the list, but equally the fallacy doesn’t mean the lockdown did not cause the harm. You will have to decide for yourself, or wait for the evidence, to conclude what was and what was not caused by the lockdown. Here is the list, in no particular order.
2. Thousands of non-covid–19 excess deaths. ONS reports around 8,000 as yet unexplained excess non-covid related deaths in 2020 up to 15th May, with the rise in excess deaths coinciding with the lockdown.
3. Furlough loafers. Being paid 80% of normal pay to watch Netflix then sunbathe. What’s not to like?
4. A weight gain epidemic. One in two adults say they have put on weight since the lockdown started.
5. An anxiety epidemic. Half of all adults say they feel more anxious or depressed than normal during the lockdown.
6. One third of adults say they have postponed seeking medical advice during the lockdown.
7. Turned us into latter day ARP Wardens. One in six adults has confronted others about lockdown misbehaviour.
8. Turned us into snitchers. One in ten of us has reported other people to the authorities for lockdown breaches.
10. Global environmental damage. The air may be cleaner in some places, but the benefits may be outweighed by surges in deforestation and poaching as criminal gangs exploit the lack of environmental policing.
11. Aggravated bereavement distress. Not being able to sit with a loved one as they die, say goodbye after they have died, or attend a funeral. Dr No finds these to be particularly cruel and unnecessary.
12. Special birthdays (which only happen once) turned into non-events. Celebrating reaching 70 when you are 71 doesn’t quite cut it. Horseshoes and hand grenades spring to mind.
13. Bad hair days turning into bad hair weeks turning into bad hair months (Dr No, personal communication).
14. Small businesses that could legitimately work can’t because their supply chain is disrupted (Dr No, personal communication).
15. Rural communities turned into hostile fortresses.
16. Too many 10mph fat cyclists clogging up rural roads. This is one of Dr No’s bête noires and he is considering plans to do to these cyclists what I Like Trucking from NTNOCN did for hedgehogs. He has already designed a cyclist in a red circle with a line through it sticker for use during the campaign.
17. Buggered up education for all ages. This is a long list.
18. Loss of normal social interaction inherent in schooling and higher education, with implications for social development.
19. Loss of authentic teacher–pupil interaction. Brief online interactions are not the same as being physically in the same space for hours on end.
20. Widening of social inequality in education during home schooling. Not all parents are natural teachers, with better educated parents disproportionately providing a better education for their kids. ‘Twas always so, but the effect is aggravated.
21. University students having to pay full fees for severely degraded courses.
22. Loss of vocational training in subjects where hands on working is essential to master the subject.
24. Loss of local adult education establishments. As adult education goes online, there is no longer any need to stay local. Establishments that relied on local students will fail.
25. Children from deprived families no longer benefit from organised free school meals. An alternative ‘voucher’ based system has had teething problems.
26. Home schooling has become normalised, with one in two adults saying they consider home schooling acceptable. With teachers, unions and parents all in disarray over school safety, and the widespread acceptance of home schooling, schools will struggle when (if?) they do reopen.
27. Being cooped up for days on end with a loved one doesn’t always equate to a love nest. Online sales of sex toys may have gone through the roof, but so too have reports of domestic violence. There is debate over whether more men have become violent, or the already violent have become more violent, but the end result is the same: more domestic violence and abuse.
30. Clearer roads or possibly ‘lockdown fatigue’, or both, have caused a surge in speeding.
31. Suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide by the elderly have increased dramatically, triggered by feelings of social isolation with no end in sight.
32. Psychiatrists have seen a sharp rise in demand for mental health services during the lockdown.
33. At the same time, psychiatrists are concerned there are even more people who want help but are too scared to seek it because of the lockdown.
34. ONS data confirms anxiety levels have soared. 49.6% people in Great Britain aged 16 years and over reported high anxiety (rating 6 to 10 out of 10) at the end of March 2020. By comparison, only 21.0% reported the same levels in the last quarter of 2019. This ONS data corroborates that Ipsos/Kings findings (item 5 above).
35. Unsurprisingly, happiness levels have plummeted. The same ONS survey found that 20.7% of people reported low levels of happiness in March 2020, compared to only 8.4% in the last quarter of 2019.
36. The whole sorry AC/DC Cummings MSM merry go round. Had we no lockdown, there would be no rules to break, and so no story. That said, there also would be no Credibility Gap, which gives a useful insight into the (non-)science behind lockdown.
37. Over-zealous policemen patrolling non-essential aisles in supermarkets, and thereby damaging policing by consent.
39. Aggravation of inequalities. The poor, the marginalised and the deprived are disproportionately affected by hard lockdowns. The wealthy can swim in their swimming pools and sunbathe on their lawns as they manage the businesses remotely, while the tenant on the tenth floor of a high rise stares at the cladding on the next high rise wondering how hot it needs to get to self-combust.
40. Ludicrous hand wringing and bed-wetting by coercive healthists piggy-backing on the lockdown’s real and imagined harms.
41. Governments have printed billions of funny money. The trouble is, funny money isn’t so funny when it comes to paying it back.
42. Two thirds of small to medium sized businesses have temporarily stopped trading, and four out of ten fear permanent closure. Some of these business would have failed regardless of covid–19, but those closed by pandemic will in reality have been closed not by the virus itself, but by the lockdown.
43. Job vacancies collapsed in the quarter up to April, with the by far steepest fall in 20 years. Figure 1 is somewhat misleading – the plot is a chopped Y axis monthly plot of a seasonally adjusted 3 month moving average (so the April data point is the seasonally adjusted average for Feb/Mar/Apr), down 157,000 from the previous data point. During the 2008 recession, similar month on month drops peaked at 39,000. Put another way, the rate of decline is four times higher than it was during the 2008 recession.
44. Widespread disruption of the normal human impetus to socialise; and to that extent, a mass dehumanisation of the population. Most humans are very much social animals, yet all have had the social impetus curtailed.
45. The normalisation of the sense of fear, as discussed by Dr No in this post. Millions are staying at home not just because they have been ordered so to do, but increasingly because they have internalised the message. These hapless individuals, the ones reluctant to return their kids to school, to go shopping, to socialise, to play and watch sports and to be entertained by live performing arts will be a terrible drag on getting things moving again.
46. The number of people in the UK receiving unemployment benefit soared last month, almost doubling in a month to 2.097 million in April (see Figure 10, and note the ‘claimant count’ is an ‘experimental statistic’).
47. Young employees are most likely to have lost work due to furloughing, jobs losses and hours reductions, and can expect years of pay blight.
48. Negative oil prices, for the first time in world history, caused by the slump in demand caused in turn by the lockdown. Although dismissed by Trump as “more of a financial thing than an oil situation” — where does Trump get his phrasing from? — negative oil prices mean oil companies have to pay to offload excess oil. This isn’t supply outstripping demand, it is supply outstripping demand and storage capacity.
50. The trivial but crowning insult of having to sing Happy Birthday To Me several times a day, with no prospect of joining a real birthday party for months.
This list is by no means exhaustive, even if it is exhausting to make and read. Immense and enduring harms across all aspects of human activity, and all for what? A scatter brained notion of an ill-considered jump into uncharted territory by a government in panic on the back of a dial in the numerology report.
Truly, never in the field of human pandemics has so much harm been visited on so many by so few.