This essay will evidence with facts, statistics, logic and wit…
That CV19, in itself, poses a very, very low threat to humanity, relative to other risks. That the response of governments to it is too costly, in terms of lives, livelihoods, lifestyles and money.
That irrational, hysterical, populistic risk aversion, on an international scale, imperils civilization.
In respect of the essay…
It’s written fairly plainly, so it’s reasonably easy to read (style aside though, even when the prose is clumsy the numbers speak for themselves).
It tries to be light-hearted (its attempts at humour are laughable – and funny considering the subject).
It needs to be better edited.
It’s split into three sections:
A critical summary of the current crisis
A critical proposal for how the next pandemic is handled
A critical conclusion
A critical summary of the current crisis
CV19, though a pretty ugly bug – being fatal for some, and tragic for their families – is not that scary compared to cancer, heart disease and other, more familiar ills and risks, for example, though at time of writing some 300,000 have died worldwide from CV19, some 1,500,000 die of TB each year, some 1,400,000 lose their lives on the roads each year, some 770,000 die of AIDS, some 400,000 are murdered, some 400,000 die of malaria, etcetera.
More tragic than these arguably preventable menaces though, some 9,000,000 people starve to death each year – a fact to bear in mind when considering the staggering sums wasted on vain attempts to tackle CV19.
If a fraction of the money spent on combatting CV19 had been spent on battling these, and other, deadlier perils, how many lives could have been saved? Moreover money spent on them would have been effective, whereas money spent on CV19 has been mainly thrown away, as will be plainly illustrated.
Every day 160,000 people die in the world, meaning that if the global CV19 death toll reaches 400,000 then, once those fated to die within the year are taken out of the equation, it will roughly represent a yearly increase of 0.5% or less (which however sad for the deceased, and their kith and kin, is statistically a small uplift).
Every year 600,000 people die in the UK alone, meaning that if the UK CV19 death toll reaches 40,000 then, once those fated to die within the year are taken out of the equation, it will roughly represent a 2-3% increase – hopefully this won’t happen, and the death toll, so % increase, will be lower, but either way, compared to cancer, heart disease etcetera, CV19 presents little risk to the vast majority of the population and, effectively, no risk at all to young people and children.
Now I’m no expert, but it seems to me that as the current UK CV19 death toll stands at circa 33,000, and nine out of ten of these victims had an underlying health condition, only some 3,300 ostensibly healthy people, out of a population of some 66,000,000 have died of it over the last five months which, however terrible for the said dead, means most people in the UK needn’t be too troubled by the bug.
Turning to an expert, according to Sir David John Spiegelhalter, Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at the University of Cambridge:
“As a rough rule of thumb, if you get the virus your chance of dying is roughly about the same as you would have had this year anyway. And if you’re not worried about dying this year, you shouldn’t be so worried about getting the virus”.
Of greater concern is the menace that stems from the lockdown of national economies through extreme, anti-social social distancing restrictions, for not only does this strategy, apparently, cause almost as many deaths as CV19 from the outset – as other illnesses are neglected, left untreated and undetected – over time its lethal legacy will far surpass it, due to the impact recessions have upon health, through unemployment, poverty, depression, loss of tax revenue and so on.
Consequently, though it makes sense to quarantine a region of a nation state where there has been an outbreak of CV19 to prevent the infection from spreading – or leastwise contain it to such an extent that detect-and-trace measures can be successfully effected – once it has already spread throughout a sovereign country the only purpose a lockdown serves is to stop its hospitals from becoming so overrun that they can’t provide care for all who need it.
Once hospitals can cope though, national lockdowns become counterproductive, and ultimately prove more deadly than the bug itself, for when a region of a country is locked down, the remainder of the nation can suffer the cost, and so prevent further losses, but when an entire country is locked down this is not the case and, as will be shown, such a measure, with time, does more harm than the virus.
In way of an illustration, in the UK from January – when the bug must have been in the country – through to mid-May the CV19 death toll had reached 33,000, whilst the primary lockdown death toll due to missed treatment and diagnosis reached 10,000 after just four weeks, and looks set to continue at this rate as long as the lockdown lasts (albeit this is hard to judge, as the state is being tight-lipped about the excess death rate during lockdown).
Furthermore, by the 10th May alone hospital waiting lists for consultations and operations had risen by some 3,000,000 – how many of these millions will die, or suffer unnecessarily?
Only next year though will the secondary lockdown death toll be known, as the cancers, heart conditions and so on that were detected late, and/or not properly treated during the lockdown, take their ghastly toll (on the young as well as the elderly, unlike CV19).
Ultimately, if the UK-boondoggle… sorry, UK-lockdown triggers a marked recession – and at present the biggest crash in 300 years is predicted by the Bank of England – then its long-term, third-wave or tertiary death toll is estimated to reach 140,000-400,000 souls (possibly more – the University ofBristol’s upper figure being 675,000), due to the mass impact upon lifespan that it will have, which would mean, if correct, that the UK government’s lockdown response to CV19 killed many, many more people than the bug itself did – indeed, the UK government would have killed more British people than Hitler did (Covid-psychosis it seems, being deadlier than the virus).
Why the UK government changed its lockdown policy is thus a mystery…
…or does the virus affect the mind? The UK’s leaders apparently became infected with it before psychotically swapping the lockdown’s objective…
…or was it that, as reported at the time, the French government told the UK government to either copy its lockdown or it would stop cross-channel traffic, which would have meant that the UK couldn’t feed itself – something the government couldn’t admit to the public as it would show it’d been fibbing about Britain’s strength in respect of Brexit….
…or was it that, knowing the catastrophic economic consequences of a lockdown, the UK government saw an opportunity to camouflage any damage from its Brexit strategy….
…or was it that the UK government believed that, though hundreds of thousands more people would die from its lockdown policy than of CV19, those deaths would go unnoticed over the years whereas, having made the public think it faced a Biblical plague, it either had to act as if CV19 were the Black Death, or admit that it had calamitously panicked the country, and face the political fallout…
…or was it that, as irrational fear spread on social media, the government thought it must respond to it, however illogical, immoral, and costly it was to do so (political considerations now outweighing ethical action – leaders who follow, the will of ill-informed people, inevitably misdirecting them)…
…all supposition of course, but whatever the ‘reasoning’ behind it, the UK’s lockdown strategy went from a sensible exercise in managing hospital capacity, to a vain, obsessive attempt to defeat the virus by way of semi-social-distancing, whatever the cost to life, civil-rights or the economy (as for R values, in a nation where a virus has already spread, even if semi-social distancing slows transmission, it won’t stop it, and the ultimate pain will stay the same – NB as viruses naturally die out, beware of snake-oil salesmen who claim to have slain them).
When CV19 arrived in the UK the government was ill-prepared to respond to it so that, unable to test for the bug on the scale necessary for rational analysis, and panicked by Yellow media – which governs modern political policy – it cravenly embraced the worst of worst-case scenarios, sans reference to common sense, or other, soberer scientific models (the PM switching from an ersatz-Churchill to a Chicken Little who, to prevent an inevitable run of severe infections from coming at once as a flood, released a tsunami of misery, by locking-down an entire society, in a heavy-handed, ham-fisted, open-ended fashion).
In short, the government introduced public measures that, for the vast majority of people, and almost all of the economy, were akin to using Chemo to kill a cold – pray God another pandemic doesn’t follow too soon, as our economic immunity has been weakened, by a viral crisis and a toxic remedy.
Still, despite lockdowns taking more lives than they save, at least they still save many, many lives, no? No, no, no. In the absence of a vaccine, and herd immunity, only total isolation can prevent viral infection, to which end those at high risk should have entirely confined themselves, and been assisted to do so (though as most of these people need medical assistance, and as 50% of infected healthcare workers show no symptoms, their contact with it was and is all but unavoidable).
As was freely admitted by the UK government at the onset of the problem – but has been forgotten amid populistic hysteria – unless a vaccination programme is only a few months away, the only purpose a national lockdown serves is that it prevents hospitals from becoming overrun whilst the virus runs its course and herd immunity is achieved the hard way. To iterate, provided hospitals have adequate capacity to treat casualties, a national lockdown achieves little. Such lockdowns slow down the rate of death, but don’t really reduce it much, and do so at a cost that is mortally and morally, economically and socially insufferable.
As said already, and as will be stressed repeatedly, boondoggle-lockdowns cost lives and ruin them (interestingly, early research at Tel Aviv University indicates that, regardless of their lockdown strategies, infection rates across nations broadly follow the same pattern – if correct, then UK cases should tail away in mid-June [watch this space]).
Basically, because CV19 is a contagious micro-virus – that wafts past masks, breezes with ease ten-to-twelve metres, and stays on surfaces and groceries for days – once it has already spread throughout a nation, all social distancing measures therein, outside of living alone on an island, will ultimately prove ineffective, and whether you stop football matches or not won’t matter a jot, other than in respect of hospital capacity – that is the math. That is the fact. If you’re an adult, handle it (sorry for the lack of bedside manner, but do the unthinkable, and think it through yourself – forget political rhetoric, remember common sense).
Consequently, once hospitals could cope, the response to the pandemic should have changed in character and – akin to cancer, and heart disease – become a private, not a public matter, whereby only those infected suffered, and only those at risk were isolated, while the rest of society worked at looking after them. Instead, as will be evidenced under the heading of Perspective, the UK alone is looking to incur a cost of £1,150,000,000,000 by dint of imposing an illogical lockdown (yes, you read that right, one trillion, one hundred and fifty billion pounds – didn’t the government give out this figure? Odd. It is official [ref. Perspective below]).
Still, though scarier and deadlier than CV19, the effects of national lockdowns – fascistic charades, that free-thinkers are forced to laugh at – can be corrected over the years, such that, notwithstanding all the unnecessary death, distress and hardship they cause, and the vast sums of money they crazily waste, as with the bug, national lockdowns aren’t too troubling, in respect of their impact on humanity.
What’s however truly frightening, is the danger presented to civilisation by dint of panicky, irrational, populistic risk-aversion, for if every time a novel peril presents itself the global economy closes, freedom is forgone, education ceases, culture is quashed and socialising is criminalised, then, make no mistake, its end is nigh, for how will it cope with the true horrors that must, from time to time, be visited upon it, especially now its enemies are privy to its weaknesses?
Consequently the illogical, and myopic, cravenly-histrionic and economically-impossible response to the present threat must never be repeated – Covid-psychosis killing more people than its physical symptoms – to which end the proper response to a pandemic is to PAMPER it, to wit…
A critical proposal for how the next pandemic is handled
As viruses don’t respect borders, creeds or nationalities, any effort to prevent their spread must be internationally managed, thus nation states need to agree a set of legally-binding measures, and impose trade and, especially, travel restrictions on any country that refuses to sign up to them, or abide by their requirements, which should be:
1. All forms of economic or social activity that encourage inter-speciel transmission of diseases (such as wet markets, bestiality, bat sandwiches and so on) must be forbidden.
2. All research facilities engaged in activities that could potentially result in the creation, release or transmission of pathogens must be subject to international oversight.
3. 0.5% of all government expenditure must be allocated to the prevention, management and remedy of catastrophes, including the provision of aid to poorer nations, so they too are braced to face them.
4. Post an outbreak of a pathogen there must be total transparency, sharing of data and cooperation between signatories.
5. Post an outbreak of a pathogen an international task force – kept on perpetual standby – must head to the affected area, observe the sovereign response, and assist as necessary.
6. Every nation must have dedicated laboratories and teams of experts at the ready, all of which are internationally networked. Likewise every nation should have emergency, overflow hospital facilities – well stocked with ventilators, protective clothing and palliative medicine – plus mortuaries that can become operational within twenty-four hours (with one-in-ten front line medical workers being trained in respect of epidemics, and paid extra to be on-call, so that the said facilities can be up and running at the drop of a hat [or death of a bat]).
7. Cities and regions should, periodically, run pandemic drills to test their readiness.
As for enforcement, in the event of a pandemic, any country that had failed to respect these measures should be made to pay compensation to every other country that suffered as a result of its negligence, non-cooperation or lack of transparency. To this end, if it failed to settle the debt forthwith, any assets it or its citizens owned abroad should be seized and sold until the debt is met – it being left to the state in question to compensate affected parties – and if this income proved insufficient, then tariffs should be imposed upon all goods sold to or bought from it, and likewise travellers to and from it should be taxed, as should its use of airspace.
If this sounds harsh, it is better than war – war being called for, when one country causes another to suffer, and kills tens of thousands of its nationals.
Once blighted by a significant virus a society should…
1. Restrict access to and from affected areas, preferably by way of testing for infection (travel and communication being essential, whilst liberty, rightly, is undeniable).
2. Roll out random, and mass-testing to ensure that infected people are swiftly identified and isolated, and that infection and fatality rates are accurately calculated, such that the scale of the hazard can be established, and disruption minimised.
3. Seek to achieve herd immunity by encouraging the interaction of those at low-risk of illness.
4. If a particular group of people, or section of society is especially menaced by a virus, then they should be encouraged to voluntarily isolate themselves until herd immunity is achieved, and be fully supported in doing so (thus in the case of CV19, people over seventy-five, and those with certain underlying health conditions, should have been encouraged to self-isolate, but ought to have received compensation and hospitality for their sacrifice – albeit any such benefits must be conditional on them consenting to an element of surveillance [ref. Recompense, below]).
5. Ensure the necessary legislation is in place so that, if medical services were going to be overwhelmed, those over eighty, or with an already terminal condition, or who were grossly obese, would not be admitted to hospital, to wit, would only receive whatever care could be administered to them at home, until such time that the hospitals could cope. The same rule should apply too, to anyone in a vulnerable group who hadn’t self-isolated themselves.
As well as preventing hospitals from becoming overloaded, this measure would, of course, encourage those at risk to shelter, and thereby help to save them (as for any who died, or suffered as a result of being denied hospital admission, they, or their families, should be compensated – ref. Recompense, below).
6. Restrict socialising by way of imposing admission charges to pubs, restaurants, theatres, stadiums and so on, the proceeds of which should go to the affected businesses, so as to compensate them for reduced trade. Such charges would diminish participation in activities deemed risky, plus help the economy, without infringing on people’s liberty.
7. Impose ad hoc, hypothecated, punitive taxes to manage people’s activities, without denying their freedom to pursue them.
8. If necessary, restrict purchase quantities to prevent panic buying and supply chain disruption (mindful that such restrictions result in more shopping expeditions), otherwise, for example, as sure as eggs is eggs, eggs will fly off the shelves (no yolk, for some folk).
9. If efficacious, encourage social distancing (albeit any such recommendations must be as generous as possible, and for the briefest amount of time, as social distancing is psychologically detrimental, economically damaging – and ultimately unsustainable – unnatural, anti-social and inhuman).
10. As best as possible, honestly illustrate to the populace the short and long-term cost of any measure – implemented or prospective – in respect of loss of life, plus its economic, academic and cultural price.
Caveat re damage limitation: A state ought to always endeavour to prevent a specific hazard from cross-contaminating other healthy areas of society, like education, infrastructure, and particularly the economy, which must remain fit and fully functional to fund the fight against the said peril, finance the medical care it warrants, and compensate its victims (it must be remembered: you can have an economy without hospitals, but you can’t have hospitals without an economy, nor personal freedom or a rule of law).
Disruption to recreation and travel should likewise be kept to an absolute minimum whilst, crucially, other, curable medical conditions must not go untreated due to undue focus upon a novel menace.
Basically, to spell it out for them who’re ethically dislexic – modern politicians? – contagion must be contained, not spread. Conversely, at present every member of society has been made to suffer, in degrees ranging from boredom to death, by dint of a governmental obsession with a low-risk threat, and the vain quest that followed, to prolong the lives of a fated minority, whatever the cost to the healthy majority (prolonging, not saving for, as life’s a fatal game, it inevitably ends in death – death, vitally, qualifying life [to which end threats goad progress]).
Caveat re generational betrayal: It mustn’t be forgotten by any government, that the liberty and the economy of its people doesn’t belong to it, to wit, is not a gift it has given them, which it has a right to restrict, or remove as it capriciously pleases.
Moreover even the people themselves don’t have any legitimate right to surrender the freedom their forebears won, or trash the economy they’ve inherited, for it is incumbent on them to enhance and pass on these benefits to the generations who follow.
In short, millions upon millions of people, over hundreds and hundreds of years – indeed, millennia – have fought, toiled and died to create what we, at least, ought to be looking after, and truly should be improving.
To sacrifice the freedoms, economic machinery, and cultural riches won for us through the blood and sweat of others, who intrepidly imperilled themselves to achieve them so that – though it pains one to say it – a few unfortunate, mainly infirm and elderly people can be kept alive for a while, is unnatural, for we, like those before us, should place the interests of our children before our own, or those of our parents.
To iterate, for every eighty-year old life that is prolonged by a year or two, hundreds of young people, and entire young families, are having their lives shattered, and their futures reduced – anyone who thinks this is good, is either thick, sick or malicious (NB loss of livelihood can be worse than loss of life, subject to the length of the respective measures, viz. almost anyone, even if they were sixty or older, would sooner live until they were eighty with their wealth and success intact, than live to eighty-two in poverty).
Caveat re tin foil hats: It has been accepted by experts across the scientific spectrum, including specialists at Imperial College London, that wearing a tin foil hat offers no protection against any known pathogen, and as such is pointless (even if shaped like a cone). That having been said though, though as useless as many other social-distancing placebos, the hats at least aren’t harmful and, as source of hilarity, serve an important purpose at a time of unhappiness.
Testing: It is imperative in a pandemic that mass testing is rolled out and repeated, such that the level of risk can be swiftly established, the infection rate can be accurately calculated, and those infected can be isolated.
Recording: It is essential that victim statistics are compiled, are updated daily, and made openly available, so as to inform the choices of both the general public, and those in authority at every level (the age, sex, race and underlying health conditions of the afflicted being critical information).
Alongside these statistics though should be set risk-comparisons so that the general public, and those in authority at every level, can safely gauge the danger that the threat presents, make sensible risk assessments, and duly act judiciously.
Similarly, the costs of any preventative measures put in place also need to be honestly and openly disclosed so that the citizenry, and those in authority at every level, can ensure they don’t cause more injury than the menace they would remedy.
Monitoring: It is important that the responses of other countries to a pandemic are monitored in respect of their impact and efficacy, to which end every nation should be obligated to admit observers from other states, and likewise be compelled to send their own unto them, especially ones that adopt innovative, unconventional, or controversial measures.
Such dialogue would prevent errors from being repeated, circulate success and, in turn, stop wheels being reinvented.
Second opinions, peer review and criticism: It is critical that governments seek qualified advice from multiple sources, and have experts with differing opinions work together to recommend collective, consensual strategies (strategies modified by compromise, and moderated by concession, erring to be wiser than any divined by a single mindset).
As it stands, government spokesmen and women in every locked-down economy have parroted that they’re following THE science in respect of the pandemic, as if there was one universal truth to refer to, when in fact the egg-heads are a sixes and sevens as to how to treat and deal with CV19 – you pays your boffin, you takes your choice.
In the UK the government it seems decided that Imperial College alone should be consulted, as they alone knew THE science – unlike, for example, the epidemiology team at Oxford University, who had A science but not THE one – and thus it opted to follow the advice of one Professor Fergusson, whose previous pandemic predictions apparently include…
BSE: His prediction, UK 50,000 deaths – actual deaths, 177
Swine flu: His prediction, UK 65,000 deaths – actual deaths, 457
Bird flu: His prediction, worldwide 200,000,000 deaths – actual deaths, 282
…all of which display a margin of error that a layman would – hee-haw – guffaw at. The UK government though, as ever, knew better than to reference common-sense, or talk to other experts, and accepted sans equivocation that the likely death toll without a lockdown would be 250,000 to 750,000 souls – which seems a little meaty, considering that the global death toll at the time stood at about 50,000.
John Ioannidis, Professor of Epidemiology & Statistics at Stanford University, has stated that Imperial College’s modelling was based on early, unreliable data, that grossly underestimated the non-lethal rate of infection, and ergo overestimated the deadliness of the disease, which in fact…
“….has a fatality rate comparable to that of a severe flu season, at least in areas where hospitals have not been overwhelmed”.
THE truth is that, in the absence of scientific consensus – impossible with a novel threat – politicians must mainly, and bravely, base their decisions on horse sense, past experience, and risk-statistics that are based on established facts, not theoretical projections.
Dispassionate Analysis: It is vital that party-political considerations are removed from any decision-making equation, and that the relative risk to life – itself a terminal condition – is level-headedly weighed against the cost of preventative measures, in terms economic, moral, cultural and ethical, as well as merely medical (man not being made of flesh and bone alone).
Consequently any deaths incurred due to a catastrophe must be set against the level of everyday death, and expressed as a percentage, such that, for example, with 600,000 people dying in the UK each year, a CV19 death toll of 40,000 would equate to a 6.6% annual increase, but from this one would then have to subtract the deaths of people who would have died in the said year anyway, along with the very elderly, who likewise stood a good chance of dying that annum.
Following this reduction, a CV19 death toll of 40,000 will probably amount to an annual increase in UK deaths of 2-3% or so at worst (a statistically unremarkable fluctuation).
Meanwhile 140,000-400,000 are set to die in the UK at present because of its economic lockdown, which equates to a 23-66% increase in an annual death rate, and makes no allowance for the collateral misery caused by the said arrest, ranging from failed lives and damaged educations, to untreated toothaches, sick pets, and recreational deprivation.
When considering pandemics, or any other menace, one mustn’t lose sight of perspective, in respect of which the first thing to remember, and always bear in mind, is that it’s impossible to save a life, for life itself is incurable (thus, for example, when you pull a drowning man from the water, what you’ve done is prolonged his time alive, not made him immortal).
This is, of course, to state the bloody obvious, yet mortality errs to be forgotten in politico-medical reckoning, and certainly doesn’t figure in CV19 thinking, so, to refresh everyone’s memory, what is significant in the allocation of resources, and medical energy, isn’t the amount of lives you save, but the amount of lifetime you enable, which creates in effect a lifetime equation whereby, for example, if a life is taken as 80 years, saving the life of a healthy two year old is the equivalent of saving thirty-nine seventy-eight year old lives, etcetera – admittedly a clumsy measure, but nevertheless one that’s logically grounded, and provides a basic basis for pricing life.
Price of life: Whilst it’s oft said that life is priceless, this estimation’s in truth worthless for, as readily evidenced by charity, expenditure on hospitals, policing, sanitation and so on, life, sadly, does come at a price, a hard fact that’s recognised in budgeting for healthcare – in the UK for example the National Institute For Health & Care Excellence has valued a quality adjusted life year (QALY) at £15,000 – £30,000, subject to the health of the person in question.
By this measure, the current cost to the UK taxpayer of CV19 means that if 250,000 lives were saved in their entirety – which is to say if 250,000 one-year olds were saved – then the price paid by the state of £1,200,000 per life would be a bargain.
But it is not one year olds that are being saved. In fact the average age of CV19 victims is seventy-nine years, six months.
If 250,000 seventy-nine year olds were saved then the £1,200,000 per person price of giving them an extra year or so of life is not such good value (especially when the price of protecting an entire classroom of African schoolchildren from going blind through Trachoma is £5).
But 250,000 lives of seventy-nine year olds won’t be saved by the national lockdown – as already said, the only purpose a national lockdown serves, in the absence of a vaccine, is that it prevents hospitals from becoming overrun whilst the virus runs its course thus, provided hospitals have adequate capacity to treat casualties, a lockdown achieves next to nothing.
So how many lives were saved by locking down the UK, when its hospitals never reached full capacity? A sceptic would say None, but even if 20,000 lives were saved, and even if the average age of these lives was sixty-five not seventy-nine, then the price which should have been paid for their salvation as per QALY is £300 million, not £300 – £350 billion, videlicet the country would have overspent by £299.7 – £349.7 billion (when the price of correcting a kid’s hair-lip in the developing world is £100).
But all of this math is incorrect for, sickeningly, it is ‘merely’ based on a cost of £300-£350 billion, which is ‘only’ the cost of government intervention. What of lost wages? What of lost profits? What of the lost taxes derived thereof? What of the cost of perishable goods that have been thrown away? What of the cost of companies, once worth hundreds of thousands, or even millions, that are rendered worthless and driven into insolvency? – What value these costs?
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research has estimated that this cost could amount to £800 billion over 10 years, which would mean that the UK lockdown cost an unbelievable, and very noughty (drumroll please, or maybe a fanfare of discordant vuvuzelas)…
£1,150,000,000,000 or, in words that leave one speechless, one trillion, one hundred and fifty billion pounds. Ouch. An eye-watering, jaw-dropping, hair-raising, gut-wrenching, mind-numbing sum (a cost over thirty times greater, as best as I can tell, than that of the UK’s decade of austerity that, it’s alleged by the Left, resulted in the loss of 130,000 lives)….
This means, as far as I can reckon without a Turkish calculator, that the UK will have spent £57,000,000 per 15 years of added lifespan IF – and it’s a big if – the lockdown gave 20,000 people an additional 15 years of life (in a world where 25,000 people, mainly children, starve to death every day).
So much for the monetary cost, but what of the misery? What value is attached to this? None, it would seem, by those in power, whose lives were little effected by the lockdown – their jobs, secure, their wages, unchanged, their affected careers, unaffected.
Collateral loss:Whenever whatever the cost is the measure, it ever proves too costly, and this is true of CV19 for, as already said, the UK death toll due to the lockdown is currently running at circa two to three thousand per week – as best as one can tell with little information – while the final, long-term death toll is estimated to reach 140,000-400,000 (meaning the Tories may kill more British than the Nazis).
These lives, it seems, are not worth £57,000,000, or even £1,200,000.
These lives, it seems, are priced tuppence a head – thus are worth sacrificing for political niceness.
Social injury index [SII, or ‘sigh’]: So that when a future menace presents itself politicians don’t overreact or act rashly – when panicking, politicking or playing to the gallery – akin to QALY, but devised across academic disciplines, a Social Injury Index, or some other governmental metric ought to be formulated, so that the benefit of any given measure can be logically weighed against its probable cost to the country, in every respect.
This way the danger of safety could be gauged, so that when a government had an anxiety attack, prepared to act irrationally, or looked to put its short-term political interest ahead of the national one, parliament, with a sigh, could prevent it (the civil service and judiciary too ought, with a sigh, to be able to formally object to a government policy, and thus make its folly common knowledge).
One would have imagined, in this age of slick gadgetry that, as long as spending data is kept updated, and underlying mortality causes are accurately recorded, the benefit of every pound spent by the state in respect of life expectancy could be reckoned – whether it pays for education, innovation or training, policing, well-being or infrastructure, healthcare, medicine or science – so that state expenditure was properly qualified when tackling a hazard, while the economic knock-on effects of any policy were likewise fully considered.
For example, if it cost £100,000 to save ten lifetimes, but the same sum spent elsewhere would save a hundred lifetimes, then the funds should be allocated to the latter.
Similarly, if an action saved ten lifetimes, and cost the government nothing, but carried a collateral economic cost that, with time, would cause twenty lifetimes to be lost then, again, it should be avoided.
In respect of the present peril, what if the said metric, namely a sigh, was applied to the acts of the UK rulers? (For locked-down men are ruled not led). I think we all know the answer for, shelving AI, and super-computing, a back-of-a-fag-packet calculation readily evidences that the politically-driven response of the UK supremos to the current bug is absurd, clumsy, scattergun and will, as sure as night follows day, cost more lives than it saves, and harm more than it heals (if we had SII I could say QED).
Consequences of myopic obsession: Before imposing restrictions on business and liberty, by locking down an entire society, every consequence of such radical, abhorrent action needs to be weighed in the equation, including…
Its effect on mental health, and education…
Its effect on the elderly and depressed (long-term isolation will kill more of them than CV19, believe you me)…
Its effect on children in dysfunctional households…
Its effect on people’s immune systems, as they are denied fresh air, exercise, fun and sunshine…
Its effect on peoples stress levels (stress itself causing death)…
Its economic consequences, and their knock-on effect upon every aspect of society, including the provision of future healthcare…
Its effect on obtaining herd immunity…
Its effect on young people unaffected by the virus, whose immune systems need contact with it to maybe one day save their lives…
…but that’s enough. This list could go on forever, which kind of begs the question, can putting a society under house arrest, sans reference to age, sex, health, lifestyle etcetera, ever be justified in fighting a virus?
Caveat re scaremongering: In any crisis or catastrophe, it’s the duty of leaders to calm the citizenry, so that they don’t panic or act erratically, whilst giving them hope and encouragement (keep calm and carry on, invariably being the best message). To this end, whilst not lying, any menace should be played down and joked about – just kidding – while its risk relative to other familiar conditions and hazards is continually illustrated (as said, as everyone’s already on death row, they mustn’t worry too much about things that’ll kill them – life being fatal. Frightening? Sublime).
As for the economy, as in any time of crisis, it’s the job of government to keep it running smoothly, and predictably, to which end, when society is faced with danger, the state should encourage the stoic, sangfroid, courageous fatalism that created our civilisation (and without which it will fail).
In this current crisis however governments around the globe have vied to terrify their people the most, the most frequent lie being to compare dealing with CV19 to a war, which is only true in as much as; the young are being made to suffer for the benefit of their elders; that those in command won’t suffer the losses they demand of others; and that truth’s been the first casualty.
In wars the present is sacrificed for the future, whilst in this mad pandemic, the future is sacrificed for the present, which seems an odd swap for, as best as I can tally on a napkin, though gifted by the past, the present is ephemeral, whilst the future goes on and on and… and so on.
Similarly, in wars lives are sacrificed for freedom, whereas in the inverted world of CV19, the freedom of entire societies is sacrificed to prolong a, relatively, tiny amount of lives – as said, an odd conflict this (We having sleepwalked, it seems, into the bad-dreams, of Orwell, Huxley and Zamayatin).
In truth the only war the world is now waging is against itself, not CV19, for the mercury it’s currently drinking, is worse than the infection in question (risk-averse, neurotic civilisation, being unwittingly masochistic).
Caveat re Yellow media: Bad news sells papers. Fear sells papers. Good news and comforting facts though don’t sell as well. Thus editor’s look to cry wolf at every opportunity, and fan the flames of any calamity, however irresponsible their agitation may be, however depressing their message is. Consequently the press has an unfortunate habit of spreading its Yellowness into society, at great economic cost – a price which, in turn, costs lives, though the damage done by media seldom gets reported.
Abetting this error, indeed fuelling its fire, the AI and algorithms used by social media platforms promote extreme, sensationalist content, and ergo amplify fake news, apocalyptic predictions, hyperbolic statistics, worst case scenarios and so on, which duly scare their users, whose unfounded fears populist politicians then look to assuage by way of unnecessary measures, disproportionate responses, fatuous acts and empty rhetoric, all of which serve, in reverse, to lend credibility to the delusions they respond to (whilst unsexy threats go unchecked, and long-term projects are neglected).
An insidious feedback loop has thus emerged, not through any specific conspiracy, but through the collective negligence of media platforms, media outlets, and governments that has allowed the irrational howls of mobs to dictate political action – presumably it was because of this pernicious circle that governments around the world responded to CV19 in a loopy fashion (their longing to be right-on, leading them to act wrongly).
Consequently, at all times – but especially at a time of crisis – media must be regulated, and be made to continually illustrate the relative risk of any danger that a nation faces (for more comments and proposals re media regulation ref. www.theprospectofbabel.com pg. 174-182).
Illustration of risk: To reiterate a point already well made, in a pandemic situation it is imperative that the relative risk of the ill in question is continually illustrated to the people, so as to give them peace of mind, plus ensure that the peril is dealt with sensibly, by both the public, and those in authority at every level; for example, in the UK in 1968 30,000 people were recorded as dying from the flu, though the true death toll would have been much greater, say 50,000 plus. In response to this, displaying British* spirit, neither the public nor the government flinched, life continued as normal, and the economy was unaffected, thereby saving many lives, and securing the national future – how sad then that the people who shrugged off this bug must now look on as a misled britain shi… sorry, discredits itself, for while it’s true that some, mainly healthcare workers, have shown courage by continuing to work despite being told by the press it will kill them, the majority of people have been tricked, or forced into acting like chickens (*Britishness is a way of thinking, that’s unrelated to UK citizenship – anyone can have a British spirit, though not that many choose to).
In the spirit of risk-illustration, let us together remember…
• The average age of those who die of CV19 is 79.5. The average UK lifespan is 81 years.
• 90% of CV19 victims have underlying health conditions.
• A young person has more chance of being eaten by a shark than dying of CV19 (even if they live in a city).
• Notwithstanding that some 27,000 people die or are seriously injured on the roads each year in the UK, UK citizens think nothing of travelling on them on a daily basis, despite the fact they could get killed, or bent-up like a pretzel – why are so many of the same people then so scared it seems of CV19? One for the press I guess (though as most people cope with the everyday dangers that hang over them, through rationality, habit and normalcy, and all of these have been lost amid the Covid-frenzy, small wonder, I suppose, that fear has spread – fear a virus of the mind).
Value of humanity: Though the Price of life has been discussed, what of the value of humanity? People are humans, not disease vectors, and must be treated as such – handshakes and hugs, funerals and celebrations, operas, shows, sports matches and so on, all hold a worth, a worth of such magnitude that it’s far better that one in a hundred people die, at least, than ninety-nine live like monks, and it’s better that one in ten die, at least, than people live like prisoners, or obedient doe-eyed creatures.
It can be argued of course that this cost-equation is non-applicable to lockdowns, on the basis that lockdowns are not permanent, and that people are only being asked to temporarily suspend their life, liberty and humanity – if this is possible – but any such criticism itself overlooks the fact that as an average UK life lasts 960 months, three months taken from 320 people by effectively imprisoning them equates to the same – by way of which measure, assuming that every life in the UK is so affected, then some 208,000 lifetimes have been lost by dint of the current idiocy (assuming it only goes on for three months).
When this tally is added to the 140,000-400,000 or more who will probably lose their lives because of the lockdown, through missed medical treatment, delayed diagnosis, and the effects of recessions on health and longevity, it gives a sickening figure.
As for the elderly, is it right that, having lived all their lives as free people, they’re now caged to, at best, delay the fate of a few among their number?
As for the terminally ill, is it right they end their days in gaol?
If, as suggested in Prevention,every nation allocated 0.5% of its annual state expenditure to the management of catastrophes, this would ensure that when the next pandemic happens there is an international network of laboratories and hospitals ready to dedicate their energies on the rapid development, manufacture and distribution of a vaccine or, if this proves impossible, on perfecting treatments to cure the afflicted.
Similarly the mechanisms, infrastructure and resources would be in place so that extensive testing could be carried out to determine the rate, pace and nature of contagion, by virtue of which information vaccines could be better developed and distributed, and preventative measures likewise effected, until herd immunity was achieved (be it either via a vaccine, through the intelligent spread of the pathogen, or a combination of both).
Compensation: Whilst pandemics err to affect every member of society, some are affected considerably more than others, both medically, economically, and in respect of lifestyle – some missing out on holidays because of them, while others die, or become bankrupt.
Consequently the state should look to proportionately compensate people affected by a catastrophe, and the measures implemented in response to it, including economic losses incurred by individuals or businesses for the good of the commonwealth (albeit that, as a responsible government would do everything within its power to prevent economic disruption, these losses should be minimal).
Thus, for example, rather than spending £57,000,000 on extending the life of an elderly person by a year – too great a cost for any society – it is better to regretfully accept their loss, lessen the burden on the healthcare system, and compensate their family (especially if they had an underlying medical condition that was set to take them anyway, odds-on in a demeaning and degrading way – let’s not dread the undiscovered country, and suffer ill, and deny right action, through fear of blessed rest).
Likewise, at-risk groups who volunteer to have restrictions placed on their liberty should be compensated for their loss of freedom, plus provided with hospitality and given every assistance (unless their lifestyles had caused their vulnerability), albeit to obtain these benefits they would have to consent to an element of non-invasive surveillance.
Lastly, but in no way leastly, medical professionals and care-workers who imperil themselves for the good of the society should receive bonuses.
Regional compensation: It goes without saying, but let’s say it anyway, that when a region of a sovereign nation has been locked-down to stop a virus from spreading throughout it, then the rest of the said sovereignty should aid it to the upmost and, when the restrictions are lifted, compensate it and its citizens in respect of any suffering and disruption.
Funding: In way of funding these initiatives, shelving the fact that their cost pales into insignificance compared to what governments are currently spending on effectively ineffective, politically directed measures, the expense could be met in several ways, to wit:
• Firstly, unaffected businesses and sections of society could be subject to temporary, ad hoc, hypothecated tax rises.
• Secondly, certain luxury activities could have one-off charges applied to them (such measures being used to implement behavioural change as well, in keeping with a state’s Arrest strategy). Thus, for example, a person who wished to go drinking down a pub, at a time when those over sixty were denied this privilege by dint of being at risk, then the said drinker should subsidize the beer and wine that was delivered to the elderly, etcetera.
• Thirdly, and most significantly, outside of times of crisis, every citizen and business should pay 0.5% of their earnings into a government insurance fund for this specific purpose.
Insurance: Notwithstanding that, due to economies of scale and social equity, insurance is both a natural and a moral monopoly that can only be ethically provided by the state – ref. www.theprospectofbabel.com pg. 265 – it’s incumbent on government to create a national insurance fund to cater for catastrophes so that when they happen, whilst those affected are compensated, all individuals, companies and markets can have confidence that the costs attached to addressing the hazard can be met sans economic impact.
Six-day weeks: If necessary, rather than being furloughed or sacked, low-riskworkers should be morally compelled to work an additional day a week, the wages for which, along with any profit generated by their activity, should be given to the commonwealth to aid those in distress, unable to work and so on.
More broadly, in the extremely unlikely event an abhorrent lockdown is ever warranted in any society that has adopted a PAMPER strategy, then all those who have been furloughed should work six, or seven day weeks thereafter to make up for lost productivity.
Penalties: Any country which henceforth fails to cooperate in the management of a pandemic ought to be made to pay compensation to any other country that suffers as a result of its negligence, non-cooperation or lack of transparency, to which end, until their reparation obligations are met, assets they own abroad should be forfeited, penalty tariffs should be imposed upon their goods, and travellers to and from them should have to pay taxes.
A critical conclusion
To repeat the comment at the close of the opening section, the illogical and myopic, cravenly- histrionic and economically-impossible response to the present threat must never be repeated but, notwithstanding PAMPER – relevant only to infections – the only way civilization can stop itself from succumbing to tomorrow’s horrors is to rid itself of the socially-toxic, implicitly-prejudicial, party political systems of government, which prevent honest, objective, and long-term action, and block the administration of necessary, but unpleasant medicine (ref. www.theprospectofbabel.com pg. 51).
For example, in the UK, despite knowing that, as sure as night follows day, a pandemic must happen, no British government ever thought to put meaningful measures in place to respond to it, or monitor it when it came, for every successive regime was too busy with party-political bickering, and short-term, hollowly-popularist policies to waste any time or energy in planning for such a catastrophe (each party praying it happened on the other’s watch).
Getting away from the UK’s failings though, more broadly, in view of modern technology, and the interconnectivity it brings, mankind cannot live much longer in a divided world, riven with conflicting interests and jurisdictions, radically different standards of living, human rights etcetera, for…
…as long as business is international, but taxes and regulations are national, corporations will exploit their differences, to the detriment of common people…
…as long as the dangers people face in chaotic places are greater than the penalties they face when they flee to safe ones, illegal immigration will not cease (such that the said safe places become dysfunctional, while dysfunctional countries are deprived of those with drive)…
…as long as natural resources are not internationally managed, national hostility must arise…
…as long as hostile, and jostling nations hold nuclear, chemical and biological weaponry, its use, like the coming of pandemics, is inevitable (be it accidental, negligent or belligerent)…
…as long as some countries, through misrule, disadvantage or both, continue to pollute and ravage the planet, no matter how environmentally-mindful other countries are, climatic damage will continue, and natural life will die (globally beneficial initiatives must be globally applied, funded and subsidised)…
…as artificial intelligence advances, it can only be controlled and regulated by virtue of global authority (if left unchecked, this spectre presenting the greatest threat to the human condition)…
…..and so on, thus mankind must unite or fight itself, to which end international travel, trade and cultural exchange is vital as states, while retaining their national character, look to politically align themselves over the next century, for only a globally-federal governmental system can tackle international hazards (political homogeneity but cultural heterogeneity being ideal for humanity – ref. www.theprospectofbabel.com pg. 38 and 182).
Civilization, sustained through strength, and humanity, fails through frailty and hatred, thus the lesson to be learnt from CV19 in respect of addressing catastrophes, is that safety presents its own dangers, while the lesson to be learnt from CV19 in respect of preventing catastrophes, is that social closeness, not distance, is needed.
Either way though ‘one day mankind will unite, be it by dint of catastrophe, or by virtue of humanity’ (ref. www.theprospectofbabel.com pg. 38).
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