Epidemiologist explains: ‘We could open up again, and forget the whole thing’

by WorldTribune Staff, May 17, 2020

The reason given for coronavirus lockdowns in the United States was so that hospitals would not be overrun with infected patients.

“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,” said epidemiologist Dr. Knut M. Wittkowski.

Dr. Knut M. Wittkowski

For 20 years, Wittkowski was the head of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at The Rockefeller University’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

In an interview with spiked.com, Wittkowski noted that he hopes “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.”

In New York City, Wittkowski noted that “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 utilization 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.”

Wittkowski said that panicked media reports of a possible second wave are “an invention to justify a policy that politicians are afraid of reversing.”

On social distancing mandates, Wittkowski said: “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.”

Asked if the U.S. was on the way to herd immunity, Wittkowski said: “All the studies that have been done have shown that we already have at least 25 percent of the population who are immune. That gives us a nice cushion. If 25 percent of the population are already immune, we are very quickly getting to the 50 percent 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.”

A video in which Wittkowski points out that achieving herd immunity is the best way to combat the coronavirus pandemic quickly went viral on YouTube, getting more than 1.3 million views. YouTube censors then removed the video.

“With all respiratory diseases, the only thing that stops the disease is herd immunity,” Wittkowski, former head of biostatistics, epidemiology and research design at Rockefeller University, said in the video. “About 80 percent 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.”

Dr. Scott Atlas, former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, also made a case for herd immunity in an April appearance on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

“Instead of total lockdown going on which prevents that, we have a chance to have people develop their own antibodies and eventually have enough people have these antibodies to block this sort of network of progression and contagion to the people who are vulnerable,” Atlas told Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Wittkowski said he considers social distancing and lockdown measures to be unnecessary and even counterproductive.

YouTube called Wittkowski’s video a violation of their “community standards,” the New York Post reported Saturday.

“I was just explaining what we had,” Wittkowski explained to the Post’s Jon Levine, adding that he did not know why the video was taken down. “They don’t tell you. They just say it violates our community standards. There’s no explanation for what those standards are or what standards it violated.”

Levine noted that Wittkowski’s argument is “still well within mainstream thought and currently is the basis for Sweden’s non-lockdown approach to the pandemic.”

In articles and interviews across the web, Wittkowski has likened COVID-19 to a “bad flu.” That likely made him a target for YouTube, which said in April it would be “removing information that is problematic” about the pandemic.

“Anything that goes against [World Health Organization] recommendations would be a violation of our policy and so removal is another really important part of our policy,” CEO Susan Wojcicki told CNN.

While Wittkowski might have been too hot for YouTube, he has found a home at the American Institute for Economic Research, which is currently hosting the video online.

The Post’s Levine noted that, “across social media, censors have been racing to limit the flow of verboten information.”

“We have broadened our definition of harm to address content that goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information,” Twitter said in April shortly after removing two tweets by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

That same month Facebook conceded its censors had been working with state governments in California, New Jersey and Nebraska to remove pages for lockdown protest events.

“It’s the kind of totalitarian thinking and conduct that has cost millions of lives in recent world history. The fact that it’s being done by private companies and not government doesn’t change that,” Ron Coleman, a prominent First Amendment lawyer, told the Post.

The Post noted that Wittkowski “flouts New York’s coronavirus restrictions, walking around his Upper East Side neighborhood maskless and eating in underground restaurants.”

“We don’t have to fear anything but fear,” he said. “Wasn’t that an American who said that?”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday: “The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google,” Trump tweeted. “The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation.”

The message came with a tweet featuring video of conservative commentator Michelle Malkin decrying tech censorship. Twitter later removed the video of Malkin from their platform.

State and federal regulators are preparing to initiate antitrust proceedings against Google, arguing that its dominance online is undermining free-market competition on the web.

“We’ve issued [civil subpoenas] to Google and impacted third parties. We hope to have the investigation wrapped up by fall,” Texas AG Ken Paxton told The Wall Street Journal. “If we determine that filing is merited we will go to court soon after that.”

The states’ investigations are said to center on Google’s online advertising business and on broader concerns that the tech giant is stifling competition, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Attorney General William Barr has made the case a priority and has said he wants the Department of Justice to make a decision on it this summer.

The Wittkowski video can be seen here

See Wittkowski’s full interview with spiked.com here

The Malkin video can be seen here


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