lockdown protest

Fact check: Anti- lockdown Covid-19 claims

Ferret Fact Service | Scotlands impartial fact check project

Protests against lockdown restrictions enacted to combat coronavirus in the UK have been taking place in Scotland and around the UK.

A demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament on 5 September was promoted with a leaflet, shared on social media, which made a number of statements about coronavirus and the government’s response. 

Ferret Fact Service looked at some of these claims. 

Covid 19 death rates are no higher than 0.1%; mainly over 80 years old with underlying illnesses

Estimating the proportion of people globally who contract Covid-19 and subsequently die is very difficult. Countries have established differing criteria for whether a death has occurred due to coronavirus, leading to contrasting figures. It is not yet known how many people contract the virus but do not display symptoms, meaning the number of people who have contracted Covid-19 may be significantly higher than official figures. Varying estimates have been put forward, with the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) estimating that 40 per cent may be asymptomatic in the US.

In a briefing on August 3, World Health Organisation epidemiologist Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said that recent estimates of the infection mortality ratio were around 0.6 per cent. That would equate to around one in 200 people dying after being infected with the virus. 

The majority of those who died from coronavirus are older people. This is true in both Scotland and the UK. According to statistics from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and Office for National Statistics (ONS) around 75 per cent of those who died from Covid-19 in the UK have been 75 or older. 

99.9% of people were not adversely affected. To most people it was a bad flu. No effects on children.

The long-term effects of coronavirus are yet to be seen. It is true that the majority of people diagnosed with the virus do not require hospitalisation, experiencing mild to moderate symptoms.

It is not correct to say the virus has no effect on children. Children often experience milder symptoms than adults. But serious symptoms have been recorded and a number of children have died from the virus in the UK. Fifteen deaths of people aged 19 or under in England and Wales had coronavirus mentioned on the death certificate. In Scotland no child under the age of 15 has died from the virus, but specific statistics are not available for 15-18 year olds.

A study of 16,749 patients admitted to hospital with coronavirus between February and April 2020, found that 239 (two per cent) were under 18 years old.

There was no justification to lockdown the healthy majority & destroy our economy & businesses

The UK’s coronavirus lockdown began on 23 March 2020, and was based on advice from public health experts.

There is evidence to suggest the restrictions have had success in reducing transmission of the virus in the UK. The number of cases and deaths reduced significantly after restrictions were put in place, after a consistent increase before the measures were announced.

We call for a campaign to eradicate Vitamin D deficiency in Scotland. The vulnerable should be given free immune boosting Vitamins D, C and Zinc. Widespread use of Vitamin D3 would have saved lives.” 

Vitamin D deficiency is common in Scotland, and the Scottish Government said that everyone should consider taking a daily Vitamin D supplement during the lockdown. As people are advised to stay indoors, many may be lacking in Vitamin D that comes from sunshine exposure.

The benefits of taking Vitamin D supplements as treatment for coronavirus are currently unproven. 

A recent study found a lack of Vitamin D could have a “significant negative impact” on a person’s immune response to infections. The research did not cover the role of Vitamin D relating to Covid-19. 

A review of evidence by Public Health England reported four studies which found a correlation between low levels of Vitamin D and development of Covid-19. However, factors such as body mass index (BMI) or underlying health conditions were not adjusted for.

In a report on 29 June, Public Health England stated there is currently “no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat Covid-19”.

We demand an independent enquiry into WIFI radiation health damage in schools and 5G in our communities: both cause cancers.

Links between 5G and coronavirus are regularly cited online, and conspiracies about 5G causing the disease are widely shared on social media.

There is no evidence for a link between coronavirus and 5G. The World Health Organisation stated that “no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies”.

There has not been any conclusive evidence linking either WiFi radiation or 5G to cancer. 

Concerns have been raised over the effects of radio frequency radiation (EMFs) but research has not yet provided clear evidence of negative health effects. 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified such radio frequency radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. Its research found some indications of an increased risk of a certain type of tumour for those who reported the highest 10 per cent of cumulative hours of cell phone use.

This means that a causal association “is considered credible, but chance, bias or confounding cannot be ruled out with reasonable confidence”. The WHO believes further investigation into the long term effects of such radiation is warranted.

The WHO says that an increased risk of brain tumours is not established, adding: “to date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use”.

Suicides are rising due to stress. Let our children be children: they are not affected by this virus.”

The impact of coronavirus and the ensuing lockdown on mental health has been widely commented on.

There is no official data available on the number of people who have taken their lives during the coronavirus lockdown period. 

Research from the National Child Mortality Database found there had been a slight increase in suicide deaths after the lockdown period compared to the three months before. However, this was not considered to be statistically significant. The numbers in the study were small, making it difficult to draw any conclusions from the report. 

The Samaritans said on 29 June 2020 that there “is currently no evidence of a rise in suicide rates”.

Scotland’s NHS and the Office for National Statistics does report on suicides each year, but there is no real-time monitoring of suicide rates. 

A number of experts and campaigners have warned that the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown will have a significant effect on mental health.

Analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that mental health has worsened substantially during the pandemic, as has research from University College London, and survey data from the ONS.

Photo thanks to Tim Dennell, CC BY-SA 3.0

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, and a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles. All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here. Want to suggest a fact check? Go to ideas.theferret.scot, email us at factcheck@theferret.scot or join our Facebook group.

Good journalism changes things

The Ferret was established in 2015 with a mission to publish fearless, high quality journalism.

Since then thousands of people have joined us. We hope you will too.

We're a cooperative with places reserved for both our writers and subscribers on the board.

We're independently regulated, and work hard to keep our overheads down. This means that all the money we get from our subscribers is invested directly in original public interest news.

We're avowedly non-partisan so we can treat everyone fairly. We don't publish click bait and we don't do favours for political parties or powerful vested interests. We do help to change things.

Or see your other subscription options.

Got a story idea?

Tell us what you'd like us to write about next and vote up the best ideas.