Epidemiologist: Lockdowns are the Wrong Approach to Coronavirus

| April 9, 2020

Oregon Trail parody. (The Donald Win/Reddit)

Dr. Knut Wittkowski is a double doctorate degree holder. One of his specialties involves complex diseases. During an interview on how to deal with the coronavirus, he argued that the lockdowns were not the correct approach. His suggestion?

That we should separate the elderly, and let the rest of us build “herd immunity”. We continue doing what we did before the lockdown and simply infect each other as nature intended. The pandemic would take its course and would actually be gone in a matter of weeks. Not months.

From The Golden Hammer:

[00:36.03] JOHN: You gave recommendations for how best to deal with COVID-19. Could you just describe what you wrote?

[00:44.20] WITTKOWSKI: As with every respiratory disease, we should protect the elderly and fragile because when they get pneumonia, they have a high risk of dying of the pneumonia. So that is one of the key issues that we should keep in mind. On the other hand, children do very well with these diseases. They’re evolutionarily designed to be exposed to all sorts of viruses during their lifetime, and so they should keep going to school and infecting each other. Then, that contributes to herd immunity, which means after about four weeks at the most, the elderly people could start joining their family because then the virus would have been extinguished.

[01:36.02] JOHN: You mention in the piece that in fact you think containment would prolong the duration of the virus. Can you talk about that?

[01:45.00] WITTKOWSKI: With all respiratory diseases, the only thing that stops the disease is herd immunity. About 80% of the people need to have had contact with the virus, and the majority of them won’t even have recognized that they were infected, or they had very, very mild symptoms, especially if they are children. So, it’s very important to keep the schools open and kids mingling to spread the virus to get herd immunity as fast as possible, and then the elderly people, who should be separated, and the nursing homes should be closed during that time, can come back and meet their children and grandchildren after about 4 weeks when the virus has been exterminated.

[02:33.24] JOHN: And so, what do you make of the policy that was enacted in the United States and England and most places throughout the world, this policy of containment, shelter-in-place, etc.? What’s your opinion of it?

[02:47.05] WITTKOWSKI: Well, what people are trying to do is flatten the curve. I don’t really know why. But, what happens is if you flatten the curve, you also prolong, to widen it, and it takes more time. And I don’t see a good reason for a respiratory disease to stay in the population longer than necessary.

The video of the interview:

The Golden Hammer has more of the interview here.

Category: Coronavirus, COVID-19

Comments (23)

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  1. Comm Center Rat says:

    I think Knut misses the primary objective of “flattening the curve” which is the slowing of a virus’ spread so that fewer people need to seek medical treatment at any given time. The faster the infection curve rises, the quicker the local health care system gets overloaded beyond its capacity to treat people. So limited capacity ultimately trumps the “herd immunity” Knut advocates.

    I still side with the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommendations for social distancing and sheltering-in-place. It looks like the national death toll from COVID-19 infection will be significantly less than the worst case projection of 240K. When a second round of COVID occurs in the fall/winter a vaccine will be widely available.

    • Mason says:

      That’s exactly what he’s missing. He’s looking at this in a raw numbers manner. Very clinical. If 50k people are going to die, he sees no fundamental difference between that happening in the next two weeks or the next two months.

      We won’t know for a while, probably years, if this shelter-in-place and shutdown of the economy was effective or worth it. It’s something that’s going to be studied extensively. We’re also going to have researchers with wildly different opinions. Medical folks will probably think it was a worthwhile effort while economists will see it as a huge waste of time, sort of like Dr Wittkowski is saying.

      • 11B-Mailclerk says:

        If you flatten the curve too much, you get less herd immunity effect.

        If we stay isolated too long, we make the eventual recurrence -worse-

        • Mason says:

          Or we’ll just be constantly on guard for the ‘rona for the rest of our years.

          It’s not like politicians have anything to gain by making us terrified of leaving our houses and insisting only they have the solutions to our problems, is there?

    • Ret_25X says:

      Don’t be fooled here. “Flatten the curve” has nothing to do with public health.

      The reason the governments of the world need this is because they have so completely fucked the most regulated industry in the world–health care.

      Every problem noted; respirators, masks, meds, beds, capacity, human resources, and supply chain are solved in near real time by every other industry. But not health care. No health care provider can change anything in real time because of the either outright government control such as in China, Great Britain, etc, or the regulatory control such as in the US.

      This entire pandemic is a testament to government failure to operate competently on any level.

      What this person is saying is that in a world in which the health care industry could operate freely and respond to demand openly such as in any other industry, the outcome would be far less impactful overall.

      Everyone should remember that we watched all federal and state intrusions into this market fail in real time over the past 90 days and keep that in mind before the vote for government control.

      I would also point out that the response of isolation and closing the economy are also testaments to outright government failures in the form of OSHA and other regulations of the workplace. The desire for pristine work environments led us to accept a situation in which no one can work, but everyone can still get sick.

  2. 5th/77th FA says:

    Another learned opinion from a learned expert. And yep, I read the whole thing. Very interesting concept and I do agree with a lot of his points. ‘Specially the whole “herd immunity.” Back yonder when I traveled for a living, I came into a fairly substantial number of people and prolly shook hands with 20 to 30 a day. Was married and had school age children in and out with their buddies constantly. Never got sick, not even the occasional sniffle. Fast forward to the mid 2000s. Working outside all of the time, limited contact with the public did real well til I went to see the Grands. Would come back with a bug of some sort, every. single. time! And none of the kids or adults I was around during that long weekend would have anything up to and including, sneezes & coughs. If I got the flu shot, I still got the flu. If I didn’t I may and or may not get a bug. My GP did highly recommend I get the pneumonia this past fall so I did.

    I’ve read all I could on this bug, not only here but thru the web in general. I still think that it is a Communist Chinese Government plot, aided and abetted by the domestic enemies of our Republic, designed to see if a Virus Bug can be weaponized and if the media can control the population thru fear and yellow journalism. It appears as if they have accomplished their mission.

    Thanks, thebesig!

  3. OWB says:

    That just makes too much sense. We must not consider it.

    Besides, this way a bunch of unelected officials can become gleeful over their ability to control the population, and brag about how much they are learning about how to control us next time. Chilling stuff.

  4. Dragoon 45 says:

    A major hospital in Oklahoma City is almost completely shutting down due to lack of patients. That is 238 acute care beds will no longer be available until the hospital reopens. Also here in Tulsa a major hospital laid off/furloughed almost 10% of their workforce and that includes nurses and doctors, because again lack of patients. So just exactly why do we need all of these lock-downs, social distancing, etc. against Covid-19? The numbers and the narrative, being pushed by the media and the politicians, does not match what is happening in reality.

  5. Harry D says:

    Our hospitals were supposed to be overrun – now they’re ghost towns cuz everyone’s afraid of them. Two big hospital ships with less than 50 patients between them – and NONE of those patients are infected. Is this merely another disguised push from more gubment controlled health care? I think so.

    “Never let a crisis go to waste” – Rahm Emmanuel.

  6. Skyjumper says:

    With all of these “professional opinionator experts” on the tv & internet, it’s damn near impossible to figure out what to do. Too many times they contradict each other so often that you wind up coming away from it all and saying “WTF”?.

    I’ll just keep on following Drs. Fauci & Birx’s advice. They seem to be doing a decent job.

    • Slow Joe says:

      “I’ll just keep on following Drs. Fauci & Birx’s advice. They seem to be doing a decent job.”

      What…Hahahahahhha hahaha haaaahhhhaahaha….
      That was so funny…..
      I can’t breath of laughing so much….

    • Skippy says:

      They both are BFFs with the Clintons and most of the DNC insiders
      It wasn’t that hard to find Trumps number one phobia and use it to take
      Him out….. the spending that’s going on now is mind numbing
      With no clear way of ever paying it back. This November scares
      The shit outta me to think Biden could be president after the crap
      He was involved with in the last election is chilling
      Wuhan virus is a Chi-com plant that take out trump

  7. OldSoldier54 says:

    I would be interested in learning, after exposure, when viral shedding begins and ends, and how long the virus survives outside a host. IIRC, surface type is a factor for survival time, also.

    All of this would influence the time required for herd immunity to develop.

  8. Doc Mike says:

    He is actually a statistician, not an epidemiologist. The two disciplines are in the same department at Rockefeller U. https://www.linkedin.com/in/knutmwittkowski/

  9. 11B-Mailclerk says:

    So, how many patients, total to date, have been treated in those desperately needed hospital ships?

    Hm.

  10. David says:

    Me, I’m looking for a mildly symptomatic lady for a spot of heavy necking. If it kills me, it kills me. As for the Covid… well, I drink the water and try pretty much all the local food wherever I go and so far none of it has even given me the trots (although the smell of durian fruit damn near gagged me. Dog vomit mixed with gasoline.) Let me get sick… I’ll bet my life I walk away OK.

    • OldSoldier54 says:

      Durian. DUDE!!

      Got a chance(?) to sample that while ministering medical/dental care up in the mountains of Thailand in a Lahu village.

      Surely, durian is the work of the Devil.

  11. Retired Grunt says:

    All death is sad… all death is also inevitable. I have to die of something and I would rather be able to live my life and what few years I have left of it. I am not prepared or willing to surrender my civil rights. I will do what I can to protect others if I were to be infected.

  12. Slow Joe says:

    I ran a model in my high speed computer using the same software Al Gore uses for Climate Change.
    It said we are all going to die in less than 1000 years unless we quarantine ourselves for the next 100 years.

    It must be right. Computer models are never wrong.

  13. nobunny says:

    Finally, a well spoken voice of reason, in addition to Poe, Hondo, Slow Joe, Retired Grunt, 11B, et al.

  14. timactual says:

    I am through giving blind credence to “experts”. The medical numbers change from day to day because their input data is crap (see video). The economic “experts” have only one tool, like the joke about the hammer, and their tool is spending vast amounts of money we don’t have to counteract the other “expert” advice to shut down and destroy a sizable part of the economy. And they are already saying the $2.2 isn’t enough although they have barely begun to spend any of it.

    • Skippy says:

      Let’s not forget and lot of deaths now are being called Wuhan Covid even without a test
      Natural deaths in NYC have disappeared over the last few weeks and are now all called COVID deaths I wonder what’s gives