REPORT: Millions of Years of Life Lost to Shutdown ‘far beyond what the virus itself has caused’

RALEIGH – The debate about executive edicts shutting down states out of fear of coronavirus has been raging since the the outset. It was incorrectly framed early on, by proponents of lockdown policies, as an ‘economy vs lives’ or ‘money vs lives’ debate.

Most of us know that this is a false dichotomy that’s is only propelled by those that support lockdown policies and demonize all opposed to them as wanton killers. In reality, the consequences of shutdown policies weigh on public health conditions even more than the virus itself.

That is the conclusion of a report by conducted by three distinguished business professors, published in the Hill, about the effects of the unprecedented mandated recession on Americans lives. One of them the authors has a North Carolina connection; Ralph L Keeney is professor emeritus in business at Duke University.

The report highlights all the missed healthcare checks, new bouts of depression, and how economic deterioration translates into negative health outcomes. It’s especially disruptive because this recession was mandated, and health checks essentially discouraged for weeks. It makes the ‘collective/common good’ argument of shutdown supporters completely moot, and demonstrates the massive costs paid in unintended consequences when government leaders rush to the rescue with arbitrary power.

From the Hill:

“Our governmental COVID-19 mitigation policy of broad societal lockdown focuses on containing the spread of the disease at all costs, instead of “flattening the curve” and preventing hospital overcrowding. Although well-intentioned, the lockdown was imposed without consideration of its consequences beyond those directly from the pandemic. 

The policies have created the greatest global economic disruption in history, with trillions of dollars of lost economic output. These financial losses have been falsely portrayed as purely economic. To the contrary, using numerous National Institutes of Health Public Access publications, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and various actuarial tables, we calculate that these policies will cause devastating non-economic consequences that will total millions of accumulated years of life lost in the United States, far beyond what the virus itself has caused.

Pandemics have afflicted humankind throughout history. They devastated the Roman and Byzantine empires, Medieval Europe, China and India, and they continue to the present day despite medical progress. 

The past century has witnessed three pandemics with at least 100,000 U.S. fatalities: The “Spanish Flu,” 1918-1919, with between 20 million and 50 million fatalities worldwide, including 675,000 in the U.S.; the “Asian Flu,” 1957-1958, with about 1.1 million deaths worldwide, 116,000 of those in the U.S.; and the “Hong Kong Flu,” 1968-1972,  with about 1 million people worldwide, including 100,000 in the U.S. So far, the current pandemic has produced almost 100,000 U.S. deaths, but the reaction of a near-complete economic shutdown is unprecedented.

The lost economic output in the U.S. alone is estimated to be 5 percent of GDP, or $1.1 trillion for every month of the economic shutdown. This lost income results in lost lives as the stresses of unemployment and providing basic needs increase the incidence of suicide, alcohol or drug abuse, and stress-induced illnesses. These effects are particularly severe on the lower-income populace, as they are more likely to lose their jobs, and mortality rates are much higher for lower-income individuals.   

Statistically, every $10 million to $24 million lost in U.S. incomes results in one additional death. One portion of this effect is through unemployment, which leads to an average increase in mortality of at least 60 percent. That translates into 7,200 lives lost per month among the 36 million newly unemployed Americans, over 40 percent of whom are not expected to regain their jobs. In addition, many small business owners are near financial collapse, creating lost wealth that results in mortality increases of 50 percent. With an average estimate of one additional lost life per $17 million income loss, that would translate to 65,000 lives lost in the U.S. for each month because of the economic shutdown. [CONTINUE READING]


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