Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Charley Hooper and David Henderson clearly explain the differential impact of Covid-19 – and of protections aimed at mitigating Covid-19 – on the young as compared to the elderly. Two slices:
Now that the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be abating, it’s a good time to look at lessons that observers have, or should have, learned. The list of mistakes is long, but the most glaring was the failure to understand and act on the virus’s propensity to attack the old and vulnerable. Policy makers failed, in other words, to understand the enemy.
Some clear thinking based on data that were available last spring would have led to two insights. First, the benefits of protecting the old and vulnerable exceed the costs. Second, the costs of protecting the young and healthy exceed the benefits.
Assuming that reduced lifetime earnings are the only costs and reduced life-expectancy losses are the only benefits, the 18-year-old faces a cost of protection of approximately $102,000 and a benefit of 31% of a day. Would you pay $102,000 to live an extra 7.5 hours? What 18-year-old values his time at $13,600 an hour? The costs for the 85-year-old are close to zero (remember, this person is probably retired) and the benefit is 65 days. To be sure, there are other costs for both groups. For the 18-year-olds, that makes protection even less of a good deal. The 85-year-old, by contrast, may be willing to endure more risk for the sake of time with loved ones.
In hindsight, the 18-year-old should have invested only minimally in protection; the costs exceeded the benefits. Work, school, sports and socializing should have continued, perhaps with some minor precautions. But the 85-year-old should have worked hard to protect himself—the benefits exceeded the costs.
SARS-CoV-2 is highly discriminatory and views the old as easy targets. Had policy makers understood the enemy, they would have adopted different protocols for young and old. Politicians would have practiced focused protection, narrowing their efforts to the most vulnerable 11% of the population and freeing the remaining 89% of Americans from wasteful burdens.
(DBx: Note that Hooper’s and Henderson’s essay supports the advice offered in the Great Barrington Declaration.)
Some people not only admit their interest in exploiting the crisis—they celebrate it.
“Crises have always granted reformist policymakers powers to bypass legislative gridlock and entrenched interests,” exulted Cornell University historian Nicholas Mulder last March. “The coronavirus crisis is already allowing the implementation of ideas that would have been considered very radical just months ago.”
Mulder did his happy dance before governments further tightened lockdowns, extended their control, and restricted the speech of those who disagree. Once-radical ideas are, in fact, becoming the norm in even nominally free countries.
The ratchet effect doesn’t explain why limits on government, rule of law, and protections for liberty were eroding even before COVID-19 arrived on the scene. The ongoing, years-long decay of liberal democracies is a puzzle with which experts grappled before the pandemic and, no doubt, will debate after it has passed. But the environment in which they continue their discussions is likely to be less free and open as a result of the symptoms of long-haul “emergency” measures that the world just can’t shake.
Similarly, in this short, powerful two-minute speech, Irish political philosopher David Thunder expresses well the fear that I, and some others, have long had about Covid Derangement Syndrome: People will be too compliant to be tyrannized by the biosecurity state whenever even a mildly more than normal respiratory disease is reported.
It was Marcantonio Spada, professor of addictive behaviours and mental health at London South Bank University, and Ana Nikčević, a psychology professor at Kingston University, who identified and named the phenomenon of Covid-19 anxiety syndrome.
Early in the pandemic, they hypothesised there would be a number of coping behaviours people would adopt in relation to the perceived threat of Covid, which, while initially helpful, may over time become problematic, especially during the process of reintegration. These behaviours – which may include not touching things, avoiding using public transport, worrying, and monitoring our environment and other people for the presence of the virus – could potentially keep us “stuck”, they suggested.
Sixteen tests, at a cost of £1,600. That’s what a family of four faces if they want to go on holiday to Spain this summer, and then be allowed home again.
According to the latest research from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), even with the cheaper tests (that are few and few between), more than half of British travellers will be priced out of getaways in countries headed for the Government’s ‘amber list’ this season; and that’s most of Europe, by the looks of things.
Even those returning from one of the few likely ‘green list’ destinations will have to open their wallets. Even if you’re coming back from Gibraltar, where 100 per cent of the population is vaccinated. Even if you yourself have had both jabs. Even though your jaunt would therefore pose significantly less risk to your fellow countrymen than you coming home with nits.
What possible excuse could the Government have left for requiring you to pay for an inevitably negative test? And people wonder why conspiracy theories are rife.
Our Government, having illegalised even our most basic freedoms on-and-off for more than a year, and laughed in the face of democracy over a virus with – and this cannot be repeated enough – a survival rate of at least 98 per cent, long before we had vaccines – is now essentially slapping extra taxes onto all those who dare to escape our shores this summer; and at exorbitant rates.
As of May 3rd — and excluding Gibraltar and San Marino for their tiny size — 10 European countries have coronavirus death rates of over 2000 people per million population: 8 of these are in Eastern Europe, added to by Belgium (2088 per million) and Italy (tenth out of ten, with 2001 per million).
Czechia (with the second worst death rate, of 2738 per million) has followed strict lockdowns all winter, with restrictions imposed in October and again in February. In Hungary, Viktor Orbán’s rule-by-decree was widely condemned when he introduced it in March 2020, and several severe lockdowns have followed – but the country currently has the worst death rate in the world, at 2895 per million. Bosnia (with the third worst rate, at 2620 per million) has also seen tight restrictions when Covid cases have risen.
What is behind this data? Regardless of the lockdown policies followed, it seems, something else has been going on – and some commonality is likely to exist among neighbouring countries with such severe mortality rates. More than lockdown policy, the thing that these Eastern European countries have in common is a comparatively low GDP compared to Western Europe.
(DBx: Question to all pro-lockdowners and anti-anti-lockdowners: Do you recognize that the unprecedented fraying, over the past 15 months, of the complex globe-spanning web of economic relationships ensures that humanity will be poorer than otherwise in the future – and, hence, less healthy and safe?)
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