5.     Lockdowns, Isolation & Social Distancing

Summary:
The science, including our knowledge of the immune system, in addition to the impact of lockdowns previously observed and also observed in current studies, indicates no justification for lockdowns, making them a significant violation of human rights.

  • “An analysis of each of these three groups [lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-place-order (SIPO) studies, and specific NPI (non-pharmaceutical intervention) studies] support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality (Herby et al., 2022).

  • “Social connectedness and resilience are protective against loneliness and have been adversely affected by the COVID pandemic…Conclusions: Loneliness was commonly reported among older adults during the COVID pandemic. Loneliness was negatively correlated with social connectedness and resilience. Compared to cognitively intact counterparts, those with cognitive impairment reported significantly lower social connectedness.” (Padala et al., 2022) [Interpretation: isolation potentially makes loneliness worse in those already suffering from a psychopathology (in this case cognitive impairment)]

  • “We are social creatures. Social interplay and cooperation have fuelled the rapid ascent of human culture and civilization. However, social species struggle when forced to live in isolation. The expansion of loneliness has accelerated in the past decade…Such efforts [e.g., UK ‘Campaign to End Loneliness’] speak to the growing public recognition and political will to confront this evolving societal challenge. These concerns are likely to be exacerbated if there are prolonged periods of social isolation imposed by national policy responses to extraordinary crises such as COVID-19. Social deprivation in childhood and in late adulthood both impact on neurobiological architecture and functional organization. The ensuing loss of social and cognitive capacity has significant public health consequences. On the individual scale, this can result in people becoming less socially engaged and, hence, at greater risk of developing antisocial behavior. The result is likely to be a drain on the public purse, either in terms of caring for individuals in psychological and physical decline or of the incarceration of disorderly individuals. If social isolation during development happens on a sufficiently large scale, it is likely to have significant consequences for community stability and social cohesion.” (Bzdok and Dunbar, 2020)

  • Raony et al. (2020)
    • “In the CNS the virus can lead to increase in cytokines levels (e.g., IL-2, IL-6, TNF-[alpha], IL-1[beta], INF-[gamma], and IL-10) due to its local or peripheral actions. Increased cytokine levels are associated to neuronal death, synaptic plasticity impairments, dysfunction in the neurotransmitter metabolism and in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis. Likewise, social isolation can also lead to these neuroendocrine-immune disturbances, for instance: increase in cytokine levels, changes in neurotransmitter systems, HPA axis hyperactivity and disturbances in neuroplasticity-related signaling pathways. Through these common mechanisms, both SARS-CoV-2 infection and social isolation can lead to mental health impairments [e.g., impaired memory, depression, psychoses, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD)]. IL, Interleukin; TNF-[alpha], tumor necrosis factor alpha; INF-[gamma], interferon gamma.”

    • “Based on the similarity of SARS-CoV-2 with other coronaviruses, it is conceivable that changes in endocrine and immune response in the periphery or in the central nervous system may be involved in the association between SARS-CoV-2 infection and impaired mental health. This is likely to be further enhanced, since millions of people worldwide are isolated in quarantine to minimize the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and social isolation can also lead to neuroendocrine-immune changes. Accordingly, we highlight here the hypothesis that neuroendocrine-immune interactions may be involved in negative impacts of SARS-CoV-2 infection and social isolation on psychiatric issues.” [Interpretation: The isolation and quarantine amplify the potential mental health impact of COVID itself through potentially common mechanisms!]

  • Children and adolescents are probably more likely to experience high rates of depression and most likely anxiety during and after enforced isolation ends. This may increase as enforced isolation continues.” (Loades et al., 2020)

  • Increase in child abuse as a result of lockdowns, etc. and their consequences:

    • “…the proportion of children reported to the county that received medical evaluations was higher in 2020 compared with in 2019. This suggests that the pandemic was related to an increase in the occurrence of maltreatment serious enough to warrant medical evaluations, or perhaps in the relative number of serious cases identified.” (Metcalf et al., 2022)

    • “Income instability such as income reduction and job loss amplified the risk of severe and very severe child physical assaults but protected children from psychological aggression.” (Wong et al., 2021)

    • “Job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic is a significant risk factor for child maltreatment.”(Lawson et al., 2020)

  • “During the COVID-19 outbreak people have encountered an invisible and dark enemy and an experience of impotence. Due to the feelings of frustration and agitation, aggression arises with possible transgenerational transmission of trauma and violence.” (Mazza et al., 2020)

  • Evidence of the significance of human relationships, clearly impacted by COVID-19 measures, on mental health: “Relationship quality was related to mental health during COVID-19. The prevalence of depressive symptoms increased according to relationship quality from 13% up to 35%. Relationship per se was not associated with better mental health, but the quality of the relationship was essential. Compared to no relationship, a good relationship quality was a protective factor whereas a poor relationship quality was a risk factor [for bad mental health]” (Pieh et al., 2020)

  • Galea et al. (2020)
    • “While these steps [“physical distancing (called in most cases “social distancing”) in countries all over the world, resulting in changes in national behavioral patterns and shutdowns of usual day-to-day functioning”] may be critical to mitigate the spread of this disease, they will undoubtedly have consequences for mental health and well-being in both the short and long term. These consequences are of sufficient importance that immediate efforts focused on prevention and direct intervention are needed to address the impact of the outbreak on individual and population level mental health”.

    • Additionally, among the potential mental health consequences listed in the paper, which indicates how the consequences of the irrational steps taken were not elusive to science, the authors state: “In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears likely that there will be substantial increases in anxiety and depression, substance use, loneliness, and domestic violence; and with schools closed, there is a very real possibility of an epidemic of child abuse.” – all predictions that have been proven true!!!

  • Given the governmental directives to close churches and cooperation of church officials that has taken place over the past 2 years it is interesting to note that “R/S [Religiosity/Spirituality] seem to have an important role on the relief of suffering, having an influence on health outcomes and minimizing the consequences of social isolation. These results highlight the importance of public health measures that ensure the continuity of R/S activities during the pandemic and the training of healthcare professionals to address these issues.” (Lucchetti et al., 2020)

  • Social distancing: “We found that the evidence base for current guidelines is sparse, and the available data do not support the 1- to 2-meter (≈3–6 feet) rule of spatial separation. Of 10 studies on horizontal droplet distance, 8 showed droplets travel more than 2 meters (≈6 feet), in some cases up to 8 meters (≈26 feet). Several studies of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) support aerosol transmission, and 1 study documented virus at a distance of 4 meters (≈13 feet) from the patient. Moreover, evidence suggests that infections cannot neatly be separated into the dichotomy of droplet versus airborne transmission routes. Available studies also show that SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in the air, and remain viable 3 hours after aerosolization.” (Bahl et al., 2020)

  • Negative impact of lockdowns has been shown
    • “During home confinement, high scores of depression, insomnia, loneliness, and everyday fatigue were observed.” (Bartoszek et al., 2020)

    • “…results indicate that it [isolation] alters physical activity and eating behaviours in a health compromising direction.” The authors make this statement while at the same time starting the statement with “While isolation is a necessary measure to protect public health…”! (Ammar et al., 2020)

    • Allen (2021)
      • “An examination of over 80 Covid-19 studies reveals that many relied on assumptions that were false, and which tended to over-estimate the benefits and underestimate the costs of lockdown”

      • “the cost/benefit ratio of lockdowns in Canada, in terms of life-years saved, is between 3.6-282 [Interpretation: at best lockdowns made things 3.6 times worse; at worst, 282 times worse]. That is, it is possible that lockdown will go down as one of the greatest peacetime policy failures in Canada’s history.”

    • Charbonnier et al. (2021)
      • “Depressive symptoms are significantly higher during lockdown periods compared to unlockdown periods. Anxiety symptoms are likewise particularly high during the two lockdowns, but also when the universities reopen. At different times, anxiety and depressive symptoms were positively associated with maladaptive strategies, such as the self-blame and negatively with adaptive strategies, such as the positive reframing”

      • “The trajectory of anxiety, which is elevated even in the absence of lockdown, raises concerns about the long-term effects of the pandemic on these symptoms”

    • Gismero-Gonzalez et al. (2020)
      • “Quarantine entails a difficult situation to endure, involving separation from loved ones, loss of liberties, insecurity about possibly getting infected, among others, and of course boredom, which can also have negative effects….It is also associated with a perceived loss of control and the feeling of being trapped…”

      • “…the data indicated an increase in negative affects (e.g., “upset,” “afraid,” “distressed”) and a decrease in positive affects after 8 weeks under lockdown, as well as a general decline in overall mood. The largest increases in negative affects were observed in young adults (18–35 years) and women.”

    • Brooks et al. (2020)
      • “Quarantine is often an unpleasant experience for those who undergo it. Separation from loved ones, the loss of freedom, uncertainty over disease status, and boredom can, on occasion, create dramatic effects. Suicide has been reported (Barbisch et al., 2015), substantial anger generated, and lawsuits brought following the imposition of quarantine in previous outbreaks.”

      • “Most reviewed studies reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. Stressors included longer quarantine duration, infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma.”

    • Reynolds et al. (2008)
      • “Health-care workers (HCW) experienced greater psychological distress, including symptoms of PTSD.”

    • Hawryluck et al. (2004)
      • “All respondents described a sense of isolation.”

      • “Infection control measures imposed not only the physical discomfort of having to wear a mask but also significantly contributed to the sense of isolation.”

      • “Our results show that a substantial proportion of quarantined persons are distressed, as evidenced by the proportion that display symptoms of PTSD and depression as measured by validated scales.”

      • Stigma: “Following quarantine, 51% of respondents had experiences that made them feel that people were reacting differently to them…”

    • “There are clear linkages between PSI [Perceived Social Isolation] and the cardiovascular system, neuroendocrine system, and cognitive functioning. PSI also leads to depression, cognitive decline, and sleep problems. The mechanisms through which PSI causes these effects are neural, hormonal, genetic, emotional, and behavioral. The effects of PSI on health are both direct and indirect.” (Bhatti and Haq, 2017)