Dr. Ari Joffe: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Lockdowns

Thanks for checking out the episode! Here’s a link to it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, and YouTube

A few notes:

Group think caused us to adopt lockdowns, not good thought. The strongest predictor of lockdown adoption was whether neighbouring countries did so too. Lockdowns should be voluntary rather than mandatory – people who are willing to take the risk should be free to do so. The exit will be when the R value of COVID is less than 1. 

Emergency management people should’ve been coordinating management, not doctors or medical officers of health (who aren’t good at making trade-offs). Modelling has repeatedly failed to predict outcomes, and it has failed to even predict next day results (see John Ioannidis, “Forecasting for COVID-19 has failed). It’s important to look at possible outcomes, but it’s better to look at who’s high risk and how we can protect them. 

If we had protected our older population, we wouldn’t worry about overloading our hospital capacity. And secondly, we don’t even know how large our hospital capacity is! Third, we should have surge capacity which doesn’t mean shutting down other healthcare. 

Lockdowns have terrible costs: loneliness, unemployment, economic recession, shortening population lifespan, etc. The goal of lockdowns has shifted from flattening the curve to preventing every case of COVID-19. Covid 0 is not a feasible goal. 

Loneliness and unemployment are in the ER are really important risk factors for many chronic diseases and shortened lifespan. Not to mention the millions who will starve to death in the developing world.  

It’s not “the economy vs lives”. It’s “lives lost from recession vs from COVID.” Recessions and reductions in public spending lower long-term population wellbeing. Even if lockdowns are 100% effective, the costs are still at least 10x higher. 

Quality adjusted life years, not just lives, are a good metric to compare lockdown costs and benefits.  

Joffe hasn’t seen a published plan by the government on what they’re doing and why. This should be part of the response to an emergency.

To judge your governments, looking at the following, instead of case counts:

  • How well have they protected those most at risk, like long-term care home residents? (Canada’s death rates are the highest of all OECD countries).
  • How well did they continue to provide critical infrastructure like health care (ie. did they develop surge capacity)?
  • And have governments minimized adverse economic impacts?

These questions are far more important than looking myopically at case counts.


COVID-19: Rethinking the Lockdown Groupthink:

Forecasting for COVID-19 has failed. Ioannidis.

Flying Blind. John Carpay, JCCF.

Here’s a detailed interview with David Redman: 

Estimation of US Children’s Educational Attainment and Years of Life Lost Associated With Primary School Closures During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic: 

Edmonton Zone Pandemic Committee Q&A: 

David Redman and Joffe’s commentary

The Committee’s response to Redman and Joffe’s commentary: 

My e-mail: eugenefds3 [at] yahoo [dot] com

My twitter: eugenefds

Here’s a machine generated transcript of our conversation (thanks to podscribe.ai). You can scroll through to see when we spoke about which issues.

One Reply to “Dr. Ari Joffe: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Lockdowns”

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