Here’s something that’s worth thinking about. We’ve closed down the economy of, well, of everwhere, for some two to three months now, absolutely and certainly the most expensive government action anywhere and anywhen. The cause of it this coronavirus, this Covid-19 that has, so far, caused some half a million deaths:
Global Coronavirus Deaths Near 500,000 As Number Of Cases Surpasses 10 Million
The number of cases there is a clear and obvious underestimate. There’s no one serious who thinks that the fatality rate for this disease is 5%. There are – must be – many tens of millions more at least who have had it but are not being reported as having done so.
But here’s the real thing to think about:
Not that the usual annual influenza season kills around this number each year. Bad ‘flu years are worse, of course.
And, note, we didn’t close down the economy even in those bad years.
Entirely true, the correct measure is not how many deaths have occurred with the lockdown but how many would have occurred without it? The cost of the lockdown being whatever the costs has been, the benefit the lives not lost. And it’s true, places like Sweden that didn’t lockdown seem to have had more deaths than most so far. But not more deaths than all so far at all. There is also useful evidence that the infection rate was already falling before the official lockdown – people change their behaviour on their own as well as when government tells them to.
It’s actually possible that the benefit of lockdown has been nothing, all cost. It’s probably true that the gross benefit has been trivial at best. And it’s certainly true that we’ve allowed, by reacting to it so strongly, the cost today top be vastly greater than the costs of those past pandemics.