Lockdowns Spread Bugs Faster Than Liberty


William M. Briggs, statistician and co-author of The Price of Panic, has an interesting piece on his blog in which he explains that lockdowns are not simply ineffective – they actually increase virus transmission.

Suppose a bug is 100% transmissible. Everybody in contact with somebody infected therefore gets it, and passes it on with certainty to the next person they meet.

A lockdown will spread this bug faster than allowing people to remain at liberty.

Lockdowns are not quarantines in the old-fashioned sense of that term, where infected people were isolated, kept separate in every way from the non-infected. If you think lockdown and hear quarantine your ears are busted. Quarantines can make sense; lockdowns never do.

Lockdowns are merely forced gatherings. People in lockdown are allowed to venture forth from their dwellings to do “essential” activities, like spending money at oligarch-run stores. These stores are collection points, where people are concentrated. Some are allowed to go to jobs, such as supporting oligarch-run stores…

Lockdowns are not quarantines. Lockdowns concentrate people into fewer areas. Lockdowns are only pain.

Lockdowns allow people outside to mingle for a time, then it forces them back inside to mingle with a vengeance.

It’s clear that our 100% transmissible bug will spread much faster when people are forced to spend more time indoors with each other. Once one person gets it, he will spread it to those at his home immediately. If people were at liberty, and therefore more separated, the bug would still spread to everybody, but more slowly (the speed here is relative).

Now suppose the bug only has a 1 in a 1,000 chance of spreading per contact. Low. Lockdowns will still spread it more quickly than liberty. And for the same reason. Lockdowns force people together. The venues they are allowed to venture to are restricted, and therefore concentrate contact, and they force people inside their homes where it’s obvious contact time increases. Lockdowns concentrate contact spaces and times.

Transmission rate, then, has little to do with the efficacy of lockdowns. There is no efficacy of lockdowns preventing transmission, only in controlling where the transmissions will take place.


Worth reading in full.