The 2006 Origins of the Lockdown Idea

Source: American Institute for Economic Research.

I see comments from time to time which suggest the concept of “social distancing” as a pandemic response is based on science. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this article, shared here for the second time, explains.

Social distancing was a plausible-sounding, but untested, non-peer reviewed, hypothesis that became part of our national strategy via President Bush’s original pandemic response plan, which both the Obama and Trump administrations substantially implemented to counter viral threats.

The scientific “truth” of social distancing takes on new relevance now with the reported spread of Covid within the White House. Some critics have even leapt to the conclusion that the President and the White House staff ignored their own public health policy guidelines to social distance properly. But given that social distancing was a half-baked idea to begin with, it is more likely the coronavirus made its way to the White House just as any other virus naturally might.

I’m intrigued by the possibility that social distancing protocols may actually and inadvertently be conducive to viral transmission. A virus wouldn’t have to be very contagious or deadly to convert shelter-in-place spots into superspreading incubators, for example. Or, suppression of normal herd immunity processes might, in fact, accelerate virus transmission.

The only thing that seems clear about social distancing as a pandemic response is that we’ve all just been exposed to a massive social/biological experiment. I’m not complaining, just saying the findings have yet to be determined.

13 thoughts on “The 2006 Origins of the Lockdown Idea

  1. I believe the concept of social distancing is being refined, but mask wearing was part B of that idea. Apparently not wearing masks in the White House was the “in” thing to do.

    Recirculated air indoors is another issue.

    In addition, the 6 feet guideline has now been questioned as studies reveal. It needs to be further since the micro droplets linger longer and travel further than previously thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “Apparently not wearing masks in the White House was the ‘in’ thing to do.”

      Is that a fact?

      In any case, I suspect the “science” about facemasks is almost as dubious as the “science” about social distancing. Early in the pandemic, I posted an article on masks that surveyed the literature. The source is no longer available, but I remember that no definitive general conclusions could be drawn from the collection of mask study results.


      1. More than a few articles, left and right, have discussed the relaxed use of masks and social distancing in the White House. They thought that daily testing was enough. Except it isn’t since people can be infected and test negative in the early stages.

        There are several staffers and others who attended the Rose Garden meeting a few days back that are now sick. Few masks used.

        I don’t think the article takes into consideration the severity of this virus. It is very contagious and carriers can be asymptotic long after exposure. The seasonal flu does not become contagious until symptoms arise. Huge difference.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. RE: “I don’t think the article takes into consideration the severity of this virus.”

        No, it doesn’t, but why should it? The purpose of the article and the reason I shared it for a second time is to challenge the assumption that social distancing as a pandemic response is based on science. It isn’t.

        RE: “It is very contagious and carriers can be asymptotic long after exposure.”

        I recommend this Popular Science article from February to you. It does a nice job explaining the basic concepts that apply when discussing how contagious a pathogen may be:

        The CDC estimate is that Covid-19 is slightly more contagious than flu and vastly less contagious than measles. Combined with the fact that greater than 99% of infected Covid patients survive the infection (averaged across all age groups) it is hard to justify the claim that the White House did something wrong to cause the outbreak it is now experiencing. The “science” just won’t support the accusation.


  2. The author and you seem to be somewhat confused between the idea of “quarantine” and the idea of “social distancing.”

    “Quarantine” is a response when a sick or possibly contagious person is isolated for the protection of others.

    “Social distancing” is a response when the infection is spread THROUGH THE AIR by people all around who are not sick and there is no way to know who is contagious and who is not. The purpose of EXTENSIVE testing is to reduce the need for “social distancing” by finding out who is contagious and putting them in “quarantine.”

    Science tells us that a primary way that this virus is spread is by being carried on the micro-droplets of water that everyone exudes when they cough, sneeze or even breathe. Science also tells us that these droplets, though subject to the laws of gravity, hang suspended in the air for some time after being exhaled. There are only two ways to protect yourself from these airborne droplets. One is to be far enough away from the source that gravity has a chance to pull them to the ground (“social distancing”) or, second, breathe through a filter that blocks them from being inhaled (a tight fitting mask). Masks also serve the purpose of blocking the droplets at the source. We wear them to protect others if we might be unknowing carriers.

    It is very clear that the categorical claim that the concept of “social distancing” is not based on science is rubbish.

    It seems to me that the materials that you have linked to is a very clear example of someone who is letting their political ideology get in the way of not just science, but common sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “The author and you seem to be somewhat confused between the idea of ‘quarantine’ and the idea of ‘social distancing.'”

      No confusion, and not relevant.

      The article describes clearly the origins of the social distancing concept. Those origins had no basis in epidemiology, virus transmission or even biology, despite the “truthy” explaination in your comment: “Again, the idea was born [out of] agent-based modelling techniques having nothing at all to do with real life, real science, or real medicine.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Social distancing, if nothing else, has bought us time for doctors to learn how to best treat the disease.

    The chance of dying if infected today is only a fraction of what it was in April.


    1. Speaking of treatment, from articles that I have seen, HCQ was not considered for the president.

      Instead a antibody shot and now Remdisivir are the protocols.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sure, If I had access to Remdisiver on an outpatient basis I would choose it over HCQ. Same goes for convalescent plasma.

        But I don’t. The FDA and the State only allow those after you are sick enough to be hospitalized, when it is too late.


        1. Lest we forget, the FDA issued an EUA for HCQ and, as the data on adverse reactions came rolling in, decided to pull that EUA. Your repeated advocacy for this substance seems to me to be based on loyalty to Dear Leader rather than on the balance of evidence of efficacy vs risk.

          Given the danger to their careers for scientists in Trump’s government basing decisions on evidence, this action on HCQ carries more than the usual credibility.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Perhaps in your world everything is about Trump. You have my sympathies.

            My interest in HCQ, which precedes Trump’s mention of it, is in remaining alive and not a cardiac cripple should I be exposed.

            The basis for the FDA’s EUA was a setup to failure. It allowed use of HCQ on severely ill, hospitalized patients. At that point it is too late for the antiviral effect and there are better choices for the anti-inflammatory stage(see the explanation I posted under ‘are they murdering Trump’

            If Tamiflu, which saves tens of thousands of lives every year from the seasonal flu, were tested under the same rules the FDA imposed on HCQ, it would also fail.

            Regarding the concerns over heart arrhythmias, it was based on a Lancet study which has been retracted. The only instance of severe arrythmias with HCQ used for COVID was in a Brazilian study which used 6 times the recommended dosage and in combination with Azithromycin which has cardiac problems of its own.

            HCQ is taken daily by millions for years for a number of other uses and produces no ill effects at recommended dosage. It is literally safer than Tylenol.

            In any case. the balance of risk and benefit of a known safe drug for a specific use is a decision to be made between me and my doctor and not dictated by the FDA or Northam.

            My body, my choice.


          2. You know quite a bit more than full time professional peer-reviewed scientists in quite a number of fields. Quite remarkable.

            Trump made HCQ about Trump. I didn’t. Approving of its widespread use for Covid-19 – just like disapproving of masks – is required for full membership in the cult.

            Liked by 1 person

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