Should the Third World Lockdown?

For instance, take Sub-Saharan Africa. Median age is ~18 years, and only 3% of the population is above the age of 65 (for Italy, these figures are 45 years and 24%, respectively). Their mortality rates are already very high, so the net impact on their life expectancy will be modest, since age is the single biggest risk factor. Any population loss, even under the most pessimistic scenarios, will be recovered in months (whereas the US will take up to half a decade to recover from a loss of 4.3 million people, which is what happens if the losses in Italy’s epicenter are projected across the entire country; meanwhile, some European countries with declining populations – and, for that matter, White Americans – may never recover their absolute numbers at all for the foreseeable future).

Conversely, lockdowns are harder on poor countries. For denizens of the industrialized world, they may range from an inconvenience to bankruptcy at the extremes (though governments can, and many are, taking steps to mitigate that). However, most assuredly nobody is going to starve, and non-coronavirus related mortality is actually likely to decrease. However, this may not be true for the Third World, where far more people are at the edge of subsistence (child malnutrition rate in S.S. Africa and South Asia is around 40%). Informal economies are much larger, and there is much less state capacity to insulate the population against economic cataclysms on account of both resource constraints and institutional shortfalls.

Nonetheless, the “Third World” – India, Pakistan, even SSA – has been surprisingly conscientious about combating the coronavirus. Many African countries have closed borders. Modi has imposed a 21 day lockdown on India, causing severe hardships to tens of millions of stranded workers.

But should even be bothering? Main potential problem for those of us in the Global North is that this will complicate efforts to contain Corona at the global level. As I pointed out, letting the novel coronavirus become an endemic disease – and assuming it would retain its virulence and subsequently behave like a seasonal flu – would permanently subtract 2-3 years from developed world life expectancy relative to what it would have been otherwise (much less for the Third World, though it would still increasingly impact on them in the future as they age unless it is eradicated by vaccine). As such, First World countries that do manage to deal with Corona, at least for the time being, will impose much stronger barriers to movement from “red zones” that do not contain their epidemics. Will Nigerian elites be OK with curtailing their shopping trips to Harrods? Or they may even want to impose sanctions on such countries (though I think this is a purely theoretical possibility).

That brings us to Iran. It now looks like they’re going to be the first major country to throw in the towel on seriously economically disruptive measures to contain its spread. Median age – 30 years, i.e. in between Europe and S.S. Africa. And they are already living under sanctions as it is – in fact, the IMF has just denied them a $5 billion emergency loan thanks to US interference. Although Iran is hardly Third World, it’s not particularly rich either. I allow that on balance they might be better off letting coronavirus burn through their population with just low-cost interventions to flatten the curve. The resultant mortality spike can be, with substantial legitimacy, be blamed on the US.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. Just how much of a hit do you think that Iran is going to take in its population and its economy as a result of the coronavirus, Anatoly?

  3. Will Nigerian elites be OK with curtailing their shopping trips to Harrods?

    Can Nigerian elites create their own version of Harrods in Nigeria? I mean, they’ve certainly got the bling-bling for this, don’t they? Or would that still require too much interaction with Westerners/First Worlders?

  4. jimmyriddle says

    The Chicoms have reopened the wet markets, bats and all. We will need to permanently quarantine the bush meat eating countries.

  5. While Japanese only eat rice, seafood, and seaweed, Chinese eat EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bats, pangolins, armadillos, cats, dogs, snakes, et cetera!

  6. Ali Khamenei says

    Hey Zionists,

    My name is Ali and I hate every single one of of you. All of you are pathetic, brainwashed, Jew slaves who spend all day fighting stupid ass wars for Israel. You are everything bad in the Middle East. Honestly, have any of you ever done anything to support the Palestinian Resistance? I mean, I guess it’s fun waging genocidal campaigns against the peoples of the Islamic world in service of your Jew masters, but you all take it to a whole new level. This is even worse than allying with the apostate Saudi monarchy.

    Don’t be a stranger, just come at me with your newest drone. I’m pretty devout. I am the highest ranking Shi’ite cleric in the world and the Supreme Leader of Iran. What countries do you lead, other than “ZOG colonies”? I also have multiple wives, and I have an internationally feared general (he just achieved martyrdom, shit was so glorious). You are all Zionists who should just kill yourselves. Thanks for listening.

    Pic Related: It’s me and my general

  7. I doubt it will be permanent reduction. Even if it mutates, our immune system will still fight even that version better, until it radically mutates again. So even if it becomes endemic, it won’t be as bad as it is now every season.

    That also brings us to another question – viruses that kill the host are bad viruses. No host, no reproduction after all. So it will keep getting less and less lethal over time. Unless it really is from animals who are immune, then we dun goofed

  8. Just Passing Through says
  9. Felix Keverich says

    Speaking of Third world countries, how is the Ukraine doing right now? There haven’t been a lot of news since they abolished public transport. The government in Kiev performed a grand total of 5,493 tests according to worldmeter and reported 1,308 cases of COVID – that’s 24% positive rate. I suppose you can’t have epidemic, if you don’t test. 😉
    So where do they go from here?

  10. The Alarmist says

    The denizens of the Third World live much closer to the dirt than we in the Developed World, so, ironically, it will certainly the “rich and powerful” who are hardest hit (not the 0.1% criminal elite, just their social underlings in the 99.9%) as the Developed World self-destructs into the New Third World. For most in the Old Third World, it will be just business as usual.

  11. Greg Cochran:

    … about evolution always favoring milder strains that spare the host: apparently nobody told smallpox about this, since its CFR was around 30% for thousands of years.

  12. Nonetheless, the “Third World” – India, Pakistan, even SSA – has been surprisingly conscientious about combating the coronavirus.”

    Most likely because they are afraid of the mass protests, civic disobedience, and sensitive to elections which might get hijacked by the opposition.

    Modi’s response has been dramatic but ill thought off It was not planned . More than 500 hundred thousands migrants workers got stranded and homeless . Many died while trekking 100- 400 kilometers trying too reach home . We dont know how many shed the virus to other while mixing jowl by cheek in Delhi ’s train station .

  13. Asking the wrong question, the amount of deaths will have no real long term impact of any significance. What needs to be asked is how this will impact mass migration into Europe, will there be surge of decline after this? One would think that with the economies falling apart there will be a big push back against more non whites entering, however I can already see the “rotting in the fields” arguments being made to revive the economy with cheap labour.

  14. Europe Europa says

    India is hardly even a real country, it’s made up of numerous of peoples, languages, Castes and religions who frankly despise each other. People tend to assume that India is fairly homogeneous like China but it really isn’t at all.

    India as one country is really no different than if the entire continent of Africa became one country and all people who live there became African citizens.

  15. Wrong target. Most people on this site are not Zionists. They are probably outnumbered by rabid anti-semites. It is a free-speech site. You get all sorts.

  16. Just Passing Through says

    You will be surprised at how many countries in this world are not “real countries”, increasingly the West is also going down this route…

    On a side note, it is interesting how India has managed to last this long as a single country, even Pakistan could not manage to keep their Bangladeshi brothers in line despite the strong Islamic brotherhood, maybe the Indian government system is quite decentralised?

  17. Ukraine is locking down.

    Today, according to the news, in Kiev, all people are banned from leaving the home, if they are not wearing a “mask”. However, masks are only being sold there with an order of magnitude price increase.

    Masks seem to be common in Ukraine, earlier than in other countries. People in Ukraine said it was common all over last week.

  18. Ukraine was panicking more locking down early, compared to developed countries.

    From the climate point of view in February (where people argued then that the most dangerous temperature for the development of epidemic was around 11°C), Kiev was one of the cities which was expected to have an epidemic in March/April, so in my opinion it was not a bad idea for them to lock down early considering the limited healthcare situation there.

    New York, London, are accurate ones so far in that prediction.

  19. Daniel Chieh says

    Another powerful commentator.

  20. I wonder how much of the continued economic growth in Africa is dependent on international flights. It might be a pretty high percentage. Still, it might be better to try for a quick burn.

    Moldburg jokingly proposed going back to pre-1492. Isolating the New World from the Old World, going forward. Might be better to isolate the First World from the Third, if Corona-chan becomes endemic by hopping villages and mutating.

  21. about evolution always favoring milder strains that spare the host

    I’ve been wondering where this myth came from. Scratching my head for a while, I’ve thought of a possible answer to at least account for a part of it: The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.

    IIRC, the exact subplot isn’t specifically about repeated propagation in people, facilitating attenuation, but the “virus” does mutate into a somewhat harmless form by the end of the story.

  22. Just institute mandatory quarantine for travelers from much of sub-Saharan Africa and China to the rest of the world, until these places get their act together, moving forward. Most of the West has failed to act competently, but the problem didn’t come from us in the first place.

  23. Just institute mandatory quarantine for travelers from much of sub-Saharan Africa

    The gay lobby is probably too powerful for this. That is to say, to ban tourism in Africa.

  24. The viruses that kill the host must be a bunch of obtuse ignoramuses who do not know that evolution does not favor them.

    The evolutionist doublespeak usually restates in its own language what in fact is a trivial obvious obviousness and then usurps it as a profound insight of the theory of evolution.

  25. Doing well by Karlin’s book is putting your country into (at least) intermittent lockdown until a cure is found; essentially imprisoning your entire population and ruining their lives with no solid plan for abatement.

    And yet, Iceland’s ratio of those “recovered” to those who have died is 1:100. Iceland also has the best testing regime in the world. This is not a coincidence. Nor has its testing regime caught all of the cases and the usual conflating of deaths ‘with’ and deaths ‘of’ is still potentially a factor there.

    Importantly, “recoveries” lag “deaths” and therefore their CFR is considerably lower than 1%. Their IFR is even lower. Notice how no one mentions this more relevant number even though it represents a true picture of the disease?

    Regardless, a toxic ad hoc alliance of those craving a command and control society, bitter Unzian propogandists for the CCP and those drowning in their own hysteria, would like to pretend that this tiny risk is what you need to give up your entire life for…

  26. Well the Philippines is going with a hard lockdown, and lockeddown way earlier than Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, or Japan, when it had only confirmed 20 cases.

  27. Brás Cubas says

    It obviously is, just not by Greta individually of course, rather by the people she represents. I have suggested so in a previous comment, by the way, to no response (most commenters on this site probably put me in ‘ignore’ long ago).

    And it is smart as hell. It has managed to unite the right and the left; the rare exceptions have been made totally feckless and negligible. If political leaders (and press bosses, and big business tycoons) were younger people, this would probably stand a smaller chance of working, but as the world is now, the key fits the lock perfectly.

    I am a little revolted right now, although I do not know exactly what I stand to lose. Let us say that my sense of justice has been aroused. It is sad to witness the world fall for a lie, and somehow not be able to see the big hole it is stepping into. Well, at least will be a clean-aired hole.

  28. Brás Cubas says

    The Third World is imitating the First by trying to ‘flatten the curve’, and thus it will go broke by its own initiative. So, it doesn’t really matter how the pandemic per se would affect its economy. It probably wouldn’t, but we will never know.

    There is a Portuguese saying that goes like this: the stupid one aks God to kill him and the Devil to carry him.

  29. Felix Keverich says

    This shit is pretty extreme

    • People are no longer allowed to be outside without a mask (in a country where masks are impossible to buy!)
    • People under 14 and over 60 can’t be outside without a parent.
    • Groups of people above 1 are not allowed.

    Ukrainian “national guard” is supposed to enforce these new rules, so a Nazi death squad might haul you away, if you don’t obey.

  30. Ukrainian “national guard” is supposed to enforce these new rules, so a Nazi death squad might haul you away, if you don’t obey.

    LOL @ Ukraine’s National Guard being “Nazi death squads.” Been reading too much of the Saker?

  31. Felix Keverich says

    It was created as an umbrella organisation to legalize various Ukronazi gangs that participated in Euromaidan. In practice militant groups that make up “National guard” retain a great deal of autonomy and answer directly to Avakov.

  32. Europe Europa says

    Iceland is a glorified town and a wealthy one at that, I suspect getting the public to comply with government schemes there is much easier than in most other countries.

    Iceland is also a very ethnically homogeneous nation and I would imagine a much higher percentage of people than average are related to or acquainted with members of the countries’ elite. People in most countries tend to see their elites as very distant and having little in common with themselves, but I doubt that is the case in a country like Iceland.

  33. Iran seems to have ridden the peak. And it did it quite better than European countries.
    May be the Persian younger population was less affected.

  34. How is that relevant to my post? Iceland has one of the world’s highest cases per million.

  35. Mr. Hack says

    These “gangs” were the ones that were at the front lines of the Euromaidan shielding other Ukrainian patriots from the Yanukovych gang (Berkut) that was gassing and shooting them. Say, don’t you reside in Rostov? That’ where Yanukovych lives nowadays, maybe you should apply as one of his shoe-shine boys, since you’re such a supporter of his cause?

  36. Here is the Ukrainian National Guard’s band:

    In your world they are a “Nazi Death Squad.”

    Here is Ukrainian National Guard members in Kiev:

    The woman at :30 probably has a bunch of impaled people in her apartment. Watch out!

    Here is Russian RT showing Ukrainian National Guard members demanding pay from the government:

    Totally scary “Nazi death squads.”

    Russians have such strange ideas about Ukraine.

    I am aware that some militia groups committed war crimes but its rather extreme histrionics to claim that even they, or their opponents who also committed war crimes, are “Nazi death squads.”

  37. Toronto Russian says

    The government in Kiev performed a grand total of 5,493 tests according to worldmeter and reported 1,308 cases of COVID – that’s 24% positive rate. I suppose you can’t have epidemic, if you don’t test.

    For a reference, Iceland (which is doing uniquely extensive testing and has covered over 7% of its population) has 5.7% of positive test results.

    The Canadian province of Alberta, more comparable to “normal” countries (with population in the millions and not a rocky island with little inhabitable space), also testing extensively, got 2% of positive results for now.

  38. Two points:

    1. Populations in “The West” are not declining, thanks to massive third-world immigration. Sure, the native fertility rate is low – because of the pressure of all that third-world immigration on living standards!

    Here are current annual growth rates for a few western countries taken from wikipedia:

    UK: 0.75%
    Switzerland: 1.07%
    United States: 0.74%
    Belgium: 0.85%
    Norway: 1.32%
    Germany: 0.11%

    OK Germany is low, but it’s not declining. Japan is about the only ‘western’ country that is truly declining, but with 130 million people on a relatively small amount of land, so what? Ask me again in three centuries.

    And one should recall that even a growth rate of “only” 1%/year means a doubling in 70 years!

    Bottom line: ‘western’ countries will most likely very easily make up any population declines from the coronavirus.

    1. Coronavirus mortality rates are low for young people IN GOOD HEALTH. What are the mortality rates for kids in Pakistan and Bangladesh that are so badly malnourished that they are growing up physically stunted? I guess we will find out.
  39. From what I understand, Iran’s reported deaths from the coronavirus are widely believed to be inaccurate. They obviously haven’t experienced the apocalypse or anything like that, but it is questionable whether they have done better than European countries.

  40. I just read the graphs. I don’t claim Iran have better healthcare than European countries. I think Iran did it better because of a younger population. LE in Italy and Spain is around 85 years old. France is near behind them.

  41. Ukraine is one of the last countries that can afford an uncontained Corona epidemic – First World age structure coupled with Third World healthcare infrastructure.

    So kudos on Ukraine for being highly rational about what it should – I was not expecting it.