Thursday, February 18, 2021

Lockdown harms 10 times higher than benefits, MD reports

Canadian expert's research finds lockdown harms are 10 times greater than benefits | Toronto Sun - Ari Joffe, as told to Anthony Furey:

January 9, 2021 - "Dr. Ari Joffe is a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton and a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at University of Alberta. He has written a paper titled 'COVID-19: Rethinking the Lockdown Groupthink' that finds the harms of lockdowns are 10 times greater than their benefits. The below ... is [from] an exchange between Joffe and Anthony Furey.

[Dr, Joffe:] "There are a few reasons why I supported lockdowns at first. First, initial data falsely suggested that the infection fatality rate was up to 2-3%, that over 80% of the population would be infected, and modelling suggested repeated lockdowns would be necessary. But emerging data showed that the median infection fatality rate is 0.23%, that the median infection fatality rate in people under 70 years old is 0.05%, and that the high-risk group is older people especially those with severe co-morbidities. In addition, it is likely that in most situations only 20-40% of the population would be infected before ongoing transmission is limited (i.e., herd-immunity).... 

"Second, I am an infectious diseases and critical care physician, and am not trained to make public policy decisions. I was only considering the direct effects of COVID-19 and my knowledge of how to prevent these direct effects. I was not considering the immense effects of the response to COVID-19 (that is, lockdowns) on public health and wellbeing. Emerging data has shown a staggering amount of so-called ‘collateral damage’ due to the lockdowns. This can be predicted to adversely affect many millions of people globally with food insecurity [82-132 million more people], severe poverty [70 million more people], maternal and under age-5 mortality from interrupted healthcare [1.7 million more people], infectious diseases deaths from interrupted services [millions of people with Tuberculosis, Malaria, and HIV], school closures for children [affecting children’s future earning potential and lifespan], interrupted vaccination campaigns for millions of children, and intimate partner violence for millions of women. In high-income countries adverse effects also occur from delayed and interrupted healthcare, unemployment, loneliness, deteriorating mental health, increased opioid crisis deaths, and more.

"Third, a formal cost-benefit analysis of different responses to the pandemic was not done by government or public health experts. Initially, I simply assumed that lockdowns to suppress the pandemic were the best approach. But policy decisions on public health should require a cost-benefit analysis.... 

"In the cost-benefit analysis I consider the benefits of lockdowns in preventing deaths from COVID-19, and the costs of lockdowns in terms of the effects of the recession, loneliness, and unemployment on population wellbeing and mortality. I did not consider all of the other so-called ‘collateral damage’ of lockdowns mentioned above. It turned out that the costs of lockdowns are at least 10 times higher than the benefits. That is, lockdowns cause far more harm to population wellbeing than COVID-19 can. It is important to note that I support a focused protection approach, where we aim to protect those truly at high-risk of COVID-19 mortality, including older people, especially those with severe co-morbidities and those in nursing homes and hospitals....

"We should focus on protecting people at high risk: people hospitalized or in nursing homes (e.g., universal masking in hospitals reduced transmission markedly), in crowded conditions (e.g., homeless shelters, prisons, large gatherings), and 70 years and older (especially with severe comorbidities) – don’t lock down everyone, regardless of their individual risk. We need to keep schools open because children have very low morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, and (especially those 10 years and younger) are less likely to be infected by, and have a low likelihood to be the source of transmission of, SARS-CoV-2.

"We should increase healthcare surge capacity if forecasting, accurately calibrated repeatedly to real-time data (up to now, forecasting, even short-term, has repeatedly failed), suggests it is needed. With universal masking in hospitals, asymptomatic health care workers should be allowed to continue to work, even if infected, thus preserving the healthcare workforce."

Read more:

Read paper here: Joffe, A. COVID-19: Rethinking the Lockdown Groupthink. Preprints 2020, 2020100330 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202010.0330.v1). 

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