by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
That’s the subtitle of a recent Manhattan Institute peice by John Tierney. Here are the opening paragraphs:
Lockdowns are typically portrayed as prudent precautions against Covid-19, but they are surely the most risky experiment ever conducted on the public. From the start, researchers have warned that lockdowns could prove far deadlier than the coronavirus. People who lose their jobs or businesses are more prone to fatal drug overdoses and suicide, and evidence already exists that many more will die from cancer, heart disease, pneumonia, and tuberculosis and other diseases because the lockdown prevented their ailments from being diagnosed early and treated properly.
Yet politicians and public-health officials conducting this unprecedented experiment have paid little attention to these risks. In their initial rush to lock down society, they insisted that there was no time for such analysis—and besides, these were just temporary measures to “flatten the curve” so as not to overwhelm hospitals. But since that danger passed, the lockdown enforcers have found one reason after another to persevere with closures, bans, quarantines, curfews, and other mandates. Anthony Fauci, the White House advisor, recently said that even if a vaccine arrives soon, he does not expect a return to normality before late next year.
And here’s my favorite part with my favorite passage highlighted:
What experimental drug would ever be approved if there were so much conflicting evidence of its efficacy and so much solid evidence of its harmful side effects? The cost-benefit analysis becomes even bleaker if you switch from the metric favored by journalists and politicians—the running total of lives lost—to the metric that’s typically used in evaluating medical efficacy. It’s called the QALY, for quality-adjusted life year, a wonky term for what we think of as a “good year” of life, free from disease and disability. No politician wants to admit publicly that young people’s lives are more valuable than older people’s because they have more healthy years remaining, but using this guide is the most sensible way to allocate health resources—and it’s long been favored by some of the same progressive health-care experts now clamoring for lockdowns.
By the QALY measure, the lockdowns must be the most costly—and cost-ineffective—medical intervention in history because most of the beneficiaries are so near the end of life.
For thousands of years, doctors have taken the Hypocratic oath which includes the promise “to do no harm.” Maybe we need an oath like that for politicians!