Coronavirus: Vital Statistics Raise Profound Questions
In this time of the coronavirus, social distancing and lockdown policies have saved many thousands of lives. Yet what is the cost? Is the damage from these policies greater than the damage from the virus itself?
What would happen if governments continued these two policies indefinitely? If social distancing and lockdown policies were implemented permanently, many thousands of lives could be saved worldwide every year from decreased deaths due to the seasonal flu and other contagious diseases.
Yet is this really how we want to live our lives?
The vast majority of people would not likely be comfortable with making these policies permanent, even if they would save thousands of lives worldwide. The cost to humanity socially and spiritually would significantly outweigh the cost of those lives. Society as we know it would be drastically different and great freedoms would be lost. Not to mention the many deaths that would result from these policies due to suicide, domestic violence, poverty, and how many people's jobs and careers would be ruined or lost.
This raises an important and profound question in these most challenging times. When is it beneficial to implement these policies? Are the economic and social damage caused by the lockdown greater than the damage caused by the virus itself? How do we weigh the balance between the number of lives saved as a result of these policies and the number of deaths actually caused by the policies in addition to the suffering caused socially, economically, and spiritually?
A New York Times article titled "Coronavirus Crisis Could Plunge Half a Billion People Into Poverty" states that according to an Oxfam report, "Estimates show that, regardless of the scenario, global poverty could increase for the first time since 1990. This could throw some countries back to poverty levels last seen some three decades ago."
David Beasley, the winner of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize and executive director of the World Food Program, has stated, "At the beginning of this year , 135 million people already faced starvation. Now, 270 million people are on the brink of starvation." If he is anywhere near accurate, this means well over 100 million people have been pushed to the brink of starvation not by the virus, but by the lockdown measures.
Why are so many focused on deaths from the coronavirus and so few talking about the deaths from starvation, suicide, domestic violence, and much more due to lockdown policies that have already left over 100 million with not enough food to eat?
These factors are being weighed seriously by the few countries not implementing shelter in place and lockdown policies. This despite intense pressure from the major media and governments worldwide. Notable examples are Sweden, the Netherlands, and Japan.
The risk here is great. Not implementing a lockdown will most certainly result in more deaths. The question is: How many more deaths will there be? Will the number of excess virus deaths be outweighed by the number of deaths caused by the lockdown in the long run? Is it worth it in the long term if say 25% more people die from the virus, but millions of businesses go bankrupt and millions die from poverty, suicide, and more? This certainly seems possible.
I've been following three countries which have not instituted lockdowns to see how they compare with other countries which have. The countries are Sweden, Japan, and the Netherlands.
Sweden's top epidemiologist believes lockdown will do more harm than good. This CNN article relates how "life goes on as usual" there, despite a relative high per capita rate of infection. Here's a quote from the article:
Restaurants and bars are open in the Nordic country, playgrounds and schools too, and the government is relying on voluntary action to stem the spread of Covid-19. The Swedish government is confident its policy can work. Sweden's actions are about encouraging and recommending, not compulsion. Much of Sweden's focus has been to protect the elderly. Anyone aged 70 or older has been told to stay at home and limit their social contact as much as possible.
Note the that media, which seems intent on painting Sweden in a negative light, regularly compares this Nordic country to its immediate neighbors Finland and Norway, who are doing much better than most countries. Yet unlike these two, Sweden was hit hard in the beginning before any countries (other than China) locked down. It is much more reasonable to compare Sweden to Italy, Spain, and Belgium, which were also hit hard in the beginning. Sweden has less deaths per million than all of these, yet the media consistently fails to mention this.
Then there is Japan. According to this Washington Post article:
Tokyo’s coronavirus “state of emergency” is as surreal as they come. Though the streets are noticeably quieter than normal, subways and buses are still jammed with commuters. Stock trading goes on as normal. Many bars, restaurants and cafes are abuzz. So are barbershops, beauty salons and home improvement centers.
And this Dec. 12, 2020 article in The Economist states:
Japan has suffered just 18 deaths per million people ... by far the lowest in the G7, a club of big, industrialised democracies. (Germany comes in second, at 239.) Most strikingly, Japan has achieved this success without strict lockdowns or mass testing—the main weapons in the battle against covid-19 elsewhere.
The Netherlands is calling their policy an "intelligent lockdown" in which, according to this Forbes article, "only the most important sources that may spread the coronavirus are closed."
In my extensive research, I've been following the coronavirus number of deaths closely both globally and in eight countries, including these three. The number of cases reported is not very reliable, since testing in the U.S. and elsewhere has been highly inconsistent from place to place. The numbers of hospitalizations and deaths are a much more accurate measure of how the disease is progressing. As data comparing the number of hospitalizations per country is very difficult to find, I've been following the number of deaths very closely in these countries.
Many would expect these three countries with their more lax policies to experience a far greater increase in fatalities than most, if not all other countries. Yet this has not been the case.
For a comparison, here's an informative chart showing the rank of countries worldwide by deaths per million population from the coronavirus. As of early July 2021, Sweden is ranked #32, Netherlands is #48, while Japan is #95 out of 155 countries.
If lockdowns and mandatory social distancing made a big difference, we would expect these three countries to be at or at least near the top of the list of deaths per million. They were willing to take the risk of more deaths, feeling that the social, economic, and emotional cost of these policies would be too great. And yet surprisingly, their death rates have been lower than many other key countries implementing these policies. Why isn't this being talked about at all in the media? (Possible answer here) And what does this suggest about the effectiveness of the lockdowns?
With the great economic loss, many millions losing their jobs, and the rate of poverty, suicide and domestic violence rising all as a result of lockdown and social distancing policies, how wise is it to lock things down so tightly when the few countries which aren't doing this are showing lower death rates than many of the rest? Not to mention the literally trillions of dollars being thrown around (due almost solely to the lockdown), the large majority of which is going into the pockets of the uber rich.
This Sept. 30, 2020 Forbes article states, "the combined wealth of all U.S. billionaires increased by $821 billion or 28% between March 18, 2020 and September 10, 2020." Yet for the majority of citizens, average income has dropped, and unemployment and bankruptcies have soared worldwide.
There are many important factors to consider here in addition to the numbers of people dying and being hospitalized by the virus. How much do we give up our freedoms in the name of safety and security? How will the fear of germs and the fear of being close to others play out once the pandemic fades? And then there are the countless small and medium-sized businesses that have gone or will go bankrupt, with a high likelihood that – as in previous recessions – many will eventually be bought out by the wealthy elite for pennies on the dollar.
And what about our children. Do we really want them to grow up afraid to hug and touch and play with each other? Do we want them to live in fear of disease and death. Children need in person socialization to grow into healthy adults. Why isn't anyone talking about this?
Many thousands of lives have been saved, yet how much emotional damage are the lockdowns causing to our children. And how many more jobs and lives will be damaged and lost in the long run as a result of these policies that infringe on our civil liberties?
May calmer heads prevail as we face these huge challenges. And may we remember that we're all in this together, even when we may disagree sharply about how to go about doing this.
If this information raises questions about how and why all of this is happening, remember that fear is used by many groups, corporations, and even governments to gain greater control and reap immense profits. Explore an excellent two-page essay titled "Creating a New Paradigm," which shows how and why we are controlled through fear, and – more importantly – what we can do about it. By educating ourselves and spreading the word, we can rise above the fear and make a difference in our world. Thanks for caring.
Note: For lots more important information on this, see our Coronavirus Information Center. The thought-provoking article at this link explores how the power elite are taking advantage of this shock to the system to forward their agendas of power and control. This penetrating essay explores the long-term implications for humanity of the coronavirus and the choices we have right now.
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