Children whose education is disrupted because of our mandate that schools and universities move online activities, and young people who lose their jobs or enter the labor market during the recession we make, will have an impact on this disorder for years.
The discovery of drugs for diseases other than COVID-19 will be postponed; IVF babies will not be born; our progress in lifting tens of thousands of Australian children living in poverty will decline.
The future we have now is worse than the future we can have without the policy response we see.
The comparison of what we will have with what we can have can be expressed in terms of quality-adjusted years of life (QALYs) and years of life adjusted for well-being (WELLBYs), and compared directly with the estimated costs of QALY and WELLBY from COVID-19 deaths and suffering avoided by our policy.
When you make this comparison, correctly, the evidence is clear that the Australian lock is a mistake.
Come to think of it, instead of reacting out of fear, our government can understand its primary role early on to control and reduce the fear of the population; it can establish proportional and targeted policies, not overall policies (for example, extreme locking is not what drives the decline of peak infections in Australia: when many of the hardest actions are taken, infections have decreased); and that could always pay attention to the massive economy and hence the cost of human welfare implied in every decision to stop trade, pull children out of school, or lock people away from their friends and family.
In normal time, we jump around and fill national airwaves about changes in GDP or unemployment rates that are less than what we see now. Under normal conditions, we do not track the single digit daily death rate from any cause as a primary indicator of whether it is safe to roam outside, knowing that hundreds of people in Australia die every day due to various causes. In normal times we talk about working for health not through sitting at home and avoiding others, but by building our strength and supporting our immune system. People today have lost their perspective of what is normal.
When the costs of our decisions become clearer, over time, our fears will stop controlling our thoughts. I hope that the perspectives of the public and policymakers return quickly, so we have the opportunity to deal better with the problem if the next wave of viruses strike again which is now one of the most immunologically unprepared high-income countries in the world: Australia.
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