May 12, 2020
Randall Denley in the National Post asks how much is this going to cost? Good point. Of course, you can hear the wailing of “you can’t put a price on a human life” crowd even now. But of course, every day of our lives we do just that. The insurance companies make a living out of it; every day you drive to work you accept a risk of dying in a car crash and your family receiving monetary compensation based on your life insurance policy.
As of Monday, 1,669 Ontarians had died, the vast majority in homes for the elderly.
Throttling the provincial economy can be seen as a great success in terms of public health, with the significant exception of the death toll among the elderly. The economic and fiscal cost has been colossal and unprecedented.
Absent the care home deaths then a few hundred people in Ontario have unfortunately died from Covid-19. How many of them had comorbidities like obesity and diabetes? Then even fewer people in reasonable health have actually died from Covid-19. And the livelihoods of millions, yes millions, of people have been destroyed because of this? Things have to be weighed in the balance. The costs for our province are becoming unbearable. Some getting back to work while accepting and dealing with a higher level of risk must be accepted—and most people will because they are reasonable. As for the models:…
…That Ontario model predicted that 100,000 people could die if nothing were done, but that between 3,000 and 15,000 would die with strong health measures, including closing down much of the economy. As of Monday, 1,669 Ontarians had died, the vast majority in homes for the elderly.
Likewise, similar happenings in Sweden. There were two models in Sweden used to model the plague, inspired by the Imperial College model from April. As noted in the Spectator:
Here are the models’ prediction of the number of Covid-19 patients in Swedish intensive care units, ICU (the highest curve is a model without lockdown):
H. Sjödin et al: ‘Covid-19 health care demand and mortality in Sweden in response to non-pharmaceutical (NPIs) mitigation and suppression scenarios’, 7 April. The graph suggests critical care demand would peak above 16,000 patients per day by early May, and pre-pandemic intensive care unit capacity would be exceeded 30-fold….
…Then came J. Gardner et al, ‘Intervention strategies against Covid-19 and their estimated impact on Swedish healthcare capacity’, 15 April. It was an even more pessimistic assessment, showing a peak of over 20,000 patients by early May – with an ICU need around 40 times capacity.
So what has been actually happening?
Gardner et al predicted that Sweden would have 82,000 Covid-19 deaths by 1 July. That implies around 1,000 deaths every day since the paper was published in mid-April. However, the total number of Swedish Covid-19 deaths at the time of writing is 3,313.
One reason why the models failed is that they – just like most countries’ politicians – underestimated how millions of people spontaneously adapt to new circumstances. They only thought in terms of lockdowns vs business as usual, but failed to consider a third option: that people engage in social distancing voluntarily when they realise lives are at stake and when authorities recommend them to do so….
…The Swedish experiment casts huge doubts on the models, and makes the case for trusting the public.
“…Although I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it’s beginning to look like….. the Swedes might be right.”
It’s time for all governments to take a valium and get to grips with reality. And that reality is not locking down or locking up entire populations indefinitely. Let’s get back to work.