Lockdowns Could Be 10 Times More Costly to Public Health Than No Lockdowns: Study

December 22, 2020 Updated: December 22, 2020

A recent report that reviewed the cost-benefit balance of lockdowns, widely imposed by governments around the world to prevent the spread of the CCP virus, said the restrictions do more harm to public health quality than no restrictions.

“The decision to adopt repeated or prolonged lockdown measures cannot be based on COVID-19 numbers alone. Instead, we need to better recognize the risks and trade-offs inherent in our public health measures against COVID,” Ari Joffe, a specialist in pediatrics, pediatric infectious diseases, and pediatric critical care medicine at the University of Alberta, wrote in a report (pdf).

The report, titled “Rethinking lockdowns: The risks and trade-offs of public health measures to prevent COVID-19 infections,” Joffe pointed out three major mistakes in the current way of evaluating the impacts of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

First, early estimates of lethality were based on “case fatality rate,” which looks at the number of deaths in confirmed cases of COVID-19. However, this method grossly over-estimates death rates, as most infections are mild and asymptomatic; 99.95 percent of people age less than 70 infected with SARS-CoV-2 survive.

Governments should target public health resources on the elderly, which have the highest risk of severe outcomes, rather than on the entire population, the report states. The risk of death in infected children is 100 to 1000 times lower than in those above 80 year-old.

“In Canada, the risk of death from infection for those less than 65 years is 100 times lower than for those equal to or greater than 65 years,” Joffe wrote. “About 80 percent of deaths from COVID-19 in Canada during the first wave occurred in nursing homes, where elderly people were not adequately protected from infection.”

He said governments should achieve “herd immunity” by vaccination, as an exit strategy from lockdowns.

Natural herd immunity is achieved when enough people are exposed and develop immunity to a pandemic and transmission in the population is kept at a low level. However, lockdowns measures further prevent natural herd immunity, Joffe said.

“Given that people have different connectivity and social mixing, for example, roughly 80 percent of SARS-CoV-2 infections come from just around 10 percent of infected people, this would likely require up to 40 percent of the population to be infected,” he wrote.

Joffe used the “Quality Adjusted Life Years” (QALY) metric to measure the cost-benefit effect of lockdowns. The model assumes that health is a combination of “length of life” and “quality of life,” and the QALY is the “sum of years lived by the population, weighted by the health quality of those years.”

The global economic recession caused by mandated lockdowns costs 250 million QALY, while imposing lockdowns can save roughly 25 million QALY. This means the cost-benefit balance comes out about 10 times against lockdowns, according to the study. In Canada alone, the cost-benefit balance is 17 times against lockdowns, with the cost of 2.05 million QALY against the benefit of 121,040 QALY.

In his suggestion to future government policy, Joffe suggests focusing on protecting people at high risk, particularly the elderly population in nursing homes. Schools should remain open to prevent disrupting education, as children have low morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, the disease the CCP virus causes.

“Do not lock down everyone, regardless of their individual risk,” he wrote.