Whenever COVID-19 infections are on the rise, calls to impose a lockdown begin. Proponents of lockdowns will invariably justify their advocacy by stating that it is what medical experts are calling for. Indeed, physicians, nurses, and virologists will usually support lockdowns as a means of reducing the spread of infections.
Governments often forget to do a cost benefit analysis in their zeal to lock things down and that involves listening to experts outside of the medical field.
Medical specialists are bound to promote whatever actions are possible to protect public health. They don’t think about the costs of lockdowns, only the potential benefits. Although their advice is critical and we should take it seriously, medical experts are only able to present part of the picture.
Economists are experts in their field as well. Many economists have been pointing out the fiscal damages being wrought through nearly two years of rolling pandemic restrictions. They are sounding the alarm as public debt becomes unsustainable and inflation rises. While we don’t want economists offering medical advice, we should be seeking their input when considering lockdowns. Rest assured, if the economy collapses it will cause very direct harm to people.
Logistics specialists are expressing concerns over world supply chain challenges. We are seeing unusual product shortages in everything from automotive computer chips to noodles for Asian restaurants. While the challenges presented by those shortages may seem trivial, they are warnings of a much larger potential problem.
The world population is nearing eight billion people. It is only through a massive, complicated, and sensitive supply-chain system that we are able to stave off mass starvation and economic breakdowns. When countries impose lockdowns, whatever products they supplied to the world are reduced or cut off. That leads to a whiplash effect which can cause all sorts of product shortages that may take months to resolve. Transportation issues have led to a fuel shortage in Great Britain. While that is manageable right now, what will happen in northern countries if fuel delivery fails in January?
We should consult with experts in sociology. What sort of impact are the lockdowns having on society at large? People have been stressed and divided. We certainly saw a lot of that in the recent federal election. How much damage is that causing to the cohesiveness of our society? How long will it take to recover?
Addictions experts have their hands full these days as we have seen a moderate opioid addiction crisis explode into a massive one. From April of 2020 when the pandemic began until March of 2021, nearly 7,000 Canadians died of opioid overdoses. That is an 88 percent increase over the same period a year before. We can’t pretend that lockdowns didn’t contribute to this. Let’s get input from addictions experts when we make decisions.
Some children are entering Grade 2 this year without ever having experienced a full school year in classrooms. What do early childhood experts have to say on how that impacts their development? We can’t turn the clock back on children. They are only that age once.
Post-secondary students are suffering as well. Online courses are a sorry substitute for many fields of learning. Our graduates are not going to be better for lockdowns.
Aside from experts on physiological health, we also have experts on mental health. We should consult them on the psychological impacts of lockdowns.
Medical experts tend follow the philosophy of “if it saves just one life, it’s worth it.” That outlook makes sense from a medical point of view but it’s unreasonable in practice.
How many fatal collisions would be avoided if we reduced all speed limits to 20 km/h?
How many lives would be saved if we had an ambulance on every street corner?
How many heart attacks would be avoided if we had a dietary consultant offering advice in every grocery store?
Why don’t we do those things? Because they would come at too much of a cost.
We have always applied a cost benefit approach with government policy. We seem to have forgotten that approach when it comes to COVID-19 lockdowns, however.
It is not being unreasonable or heartless to ask for other experts to weigh in before considering legislative moves as harsh as public lockdowns. Media and policymakers need to listen to a broad spectrum of specialists before acting. The perspective of an exhausted ICU nurse is important but so is the perspective of an economist.
Policy needs balance, and if we don’t listen to diverse opinions we may find that lockdowns are doing far more harm than good.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.