Horowitz: More than money: GDP loss from lockdowns will cost millions of life yearsFri 9:43 am +01:00, 7 Aug 2020
In 1957, America was faced with a flu-like virus that had a similar fatality rate to COVID-19 and was even more disruptive in some ways. Yet, Americans understood that these viruses cannot be stopped, and they slogged along without shutting down their economy and infringing upon liberties. Which, as I mentioned before, is why almost nobody living at the time remembers it. Contrast that to 2020 when we have compounded inevitable viral deaths with avoidable man-made deaths from lockdown – no matter how much these policies fail to deliver.
On July 30, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released the GDP numbers for second quarter and revealed that the economy had contracted by an unfathomable 32.9%. This number shocks the conciseness and blows out the worst quarter of the Great Depression, yet the announcement barely stayed in the news cycle beyond a few hours. But behind that loss of money is a loss of life that few are trying to quantify and balance against the policies that have induced this misery.
In May, four professors with backgrounds ranging from medicine to economics attempted to quantify the number of lives lost from the devastation of the lockdown itself – something our government failed to simulate when it embarked on this novel policy. They used a formula based on government data assuming one life lost from suicide, alcohol or drug abuse, or stress-induced illnesses per $17 million of economy productivity lost. Now that we have hard data of GDP losses, I wanted to revisit those numbers.
According to BEA, the current‑dollar GDP decreased by $2.15 trillion in the second quarter and by $186.3 billion in the first quarter, primarily in the final days of March. The total loss of $2.3 trillion in GDP is roughly in line with what Scott Atlas of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, John Birge of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Ralph Keeney of Duke University, and Alexander Lipton of the Jerusalem Business School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem predicted in their May article in The Hill.com.
Using their formula of one life lost per $17 million in decreased economic productivity, that would equal roughly 137,000 lives lost just from the drop in economic activity through June. Those numbers have likely grown by tens of thousands over the past five weeks, and based on the trajectory of our existing problems, will continue for months on end. In other words, the death toll just from the economic stress alone (not to mention the delayed health care) will be more than the eventual excess deaths from COVID-19.
But it’s worse than that. Most people who die from the virus are at or above the age of life expectancy. Even Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College of London, the primary advocate for lockdown policies, predicted that two-thirds of the fatalities would be among people who would have died within the year. Contrast that to a younger generation of adults and even children who are now committing suicide and overdosing on drugs due to the disproportionate anxiety and social isolation being imposed upon their lives thanks to the national masochism and panic. This will result in millions of years of live lost.
Just take drug deaths in Davidson County (Nashville), Tennessee, for example. Even with our liberal counting, there have only been 205 coronavirus deaths. At the same time, from March through July 25, there have been 354 fatal drug overdoses. Drug overdose deaths are up 47% this year in Davidson County. That alone accounts for a good chunk of the excess deaths. The deaths will likely skyrocket in the future because so many more are getting hooked on the drugs now, as indicated by the non-fatal ER visits in recent months that will likely translate into fatalities later on because of intractable addiction. Here is a look at the rate of increase in drug-related ER visits, according to the Davidson County Health Department:
And most of these deaths are among young adults who have many years left to their lives.
This is just a snapshot of the real-life consequences of treating every virus case as if it’s stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It winds up taking priority over every other social, medical, and economic consideration. The tragic irony is that none of these policies have even helped reduce the fatalities from the virus itself, even with this myopic and paranoid focus of our government and society.
A new research paper published in JAMA Network reveals that the mean weekly number of new cancers diagnosed plummeted by 46.4% for six forms of cancer: breast, colorectal, lung, gastric, pancreatic, and esophageal. No, the virus is not that novel – it doesn’t cure cancer. It means that in our paranoid obsession over coronavirus, treating it as if it is worse than cancer, has ensured that so many would-be stage 3 diagnoses will not be caught until stage 4. What ever happened to the trope – “if we can only save one life….”?
Author: Daniel Horowitz
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.