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Discussion Starter #1
Medicine in the UK has for many years, if not always, been about balancing the quality of life against the cost of maintaining that life. For whatever reason, the NHS budget has always been limited and doctors have to balance the costs of treatment for one condition against the improvement in the quality of life. There are various mechanisms to do this, for example NICE.

Currently the authorities seem hellbent on driving the world into meltdown to save a small percentage but large number of the population. There may be disagreement over the figures, but the idea is the same regardless.

For aviation, motoring, rail travel etc. there is a generally accepted cost for improvements beyond which it is not required to go to save lives - somewhere between £0.5M - £1.5M depending on who admits to it. We have previously accepted 40,000 premature deaths per annum through pollution. I question whether the economic cost of our reaction to the current crisis has been costed on a similar basis.

We are a civilised modern society that protects the majority of our weak and vulnerable to some extent, but not completely. Is the reaction to the current crisis proportionate?
 

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The economic consequences of carrying on with loads of folk being off sick may be just as bad as the economic consequences of managing how many are off and shutting down a load of businesses. It's impossible either way.
 

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On the economics, the difference between doing something ( like Chinese, South Koreans, Italians, Norwegians, us etc and doing nothing is DEPRESSION versus RECESSION.

A bit of historical reading will make it clear there is a huge difference.
 

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For aviation, motoring, rail travel etc. there is a generally accepted cost for improvements beyond which it is not required to go to save lives - somewhere between £0.5M - £1.5M depending on who admits to it. We have previously accepted 40,000 premature deaths per annum through pollution. I question whether the economic cost of our reaction to the current crisis has been costed on a similar basis.
Let’s just go with your thought experiment for a moment.

If we did nothing, at least 50% of thee population would be infected. At least 5% of those would be in a ‘serious’ condition. Of those we can assume a 50% mortality rate, or around 10% of the total cases.

So that’s around 750,000 dead. We can take the government’s lower estimate of 500,000 dead.

So that would be a total economic ‘value’ of £250 Bn.

So maybe it’s economically advisable to isolate as well as ethically advisable?
 

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Just rough maths, but even if we spend £500Bn trying to mitigate the effects of Cv-19 (and that’s what we’re doing, it’s happening, the Titanic has hit the iceberg) and it saves (or prolongs) the lives of 475k versus doing nothing it’s approx £1m per person.

That’s in the same ballpark as the oft quoted ‘cost of a life’ figure?

That said, I can see why the Government were attached initially to the ‘do nothing’ option, until it was pointed out how morally bankrupt that approach was, and how it would just mean spending £500Bn in other ways anyway, and having prolonged waves of the virus for the foreseeable future.
 

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A small percentage of the population is a lot of people. The original "herd immunity" plan would have seen around 1.3 million deaths.

Of course the Tories don't actually care about people dying, unless it looks like a very significant number of Tory voters might bite the dust in which case Something Must Be Done. And since most of the people dying will be older folk who are the main Tory base he's trying to protect them in his own bumbling way.

Sorry if that sounds cynical but that's how Tories work.
 

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I think the herd immunity plan was more about stupidity really. It took it being ripped apart before they did anything. At some point reality has to take over and decisions have to be based on actual verifiable facts rather than beliefs. Them being schooled in how deluded they haven been can only be a good idea. It's a quick lesson as it shows up in weeks rather than slowly which can be blamed on other factors.
 

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It's a subject I've been pondering too and saw the same article this morning.

We are very much in the knee jerk, airplane crash, phase where public emotions trump everything. I mentioned suicide rates a few days ago, so as a thought experiment let's say:
Doing little might lead to 500,000 premature deaths, mostly of people with a limited life expectancy anyway.
Doing a lot might 'save' (defer) 400,000 of those but at a cost of huge.
But say the damage to the country from the latter results in 50,000 suicides of relatively young, healthy and potentially productive people, is that a reasonable trade-off? (Eight late lives saved per young life lost.)
Who is doing the math on that?
 

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It's a subject I've been pondering too and saw the same article this morning.

We are very much in the knee jerk, airplane crash, phase where public emotions trump everything. I mentioned suicide rates a few days ago, so as a thought experiment let's say:
Doing little might lead to 500,000 premature deaths, mostly of people with a limited life expectancy anyway.
Doing a lot might 'save' (defer) 400,000 of those but at a cost of huge.
But say the damage to the country from the latter results in 50,000 suicides of relatively young, healthy and potentially productive people, is that a reasonable trade-off? (Eight late lives saved per young life lost.)
Who is doing the math on that?
Given that currently most suicides are in middle aged men, and all suicides are an order of magnitude lower than the 50k figure mentioned, I’m not sure it’s a realistic assumption.

The younger people in my family and friends are way more social media savvy than me, in fact their social lives are intertwined with it. It’s a double edged sword though, it can spread despair as quickly as hope, but I still think they’re better equipped for what’s coming than many other groups, physically if not yet mentally.

Every generation is defined by something, maybe this is where the younger generation get their time to come out of the shadows. The younger people in my village have really stepped up, offering to run errands and get things from the local shops for those who can’t or won’t get out.

People like my father are in a far worse position, recently widowed, living alone and recovering from a serious cancer, the thought of even 12 weeks in even more isolation is worrying him. That’s before he worries about the almost certain death sentence catching Cv-19 would be for him. His mental health is going rapidly down hill, and the support services he was getting are drying up even faster.

It‘s very serious, and I do agree that for him I wish there was somewhere he could be safely ensconced with other people requiring similar protection.
 

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Unfortunately Europe did not prepare like Taiwan did and missed the boat on containing it when there was still a chance. These are difficult questions which we will face sooner or later till we have effective treatments. In America the number one killer of children under 12 are car accidents and yet nobody even thinks about that for a second when getting in the car. In Europe when dieselgate blew up there was a lot of foot dragging at first as well. Wood burners still allowed in most of Europe even though they pollute a lot more than the biggest SUVs.
The reason the public is accepting the current lockdown is because the virus epidemic is out of our control. The pollution we think we could control to some extent so we do not find it so terrifying which in turn means we don't do enough about it even though consequences are often equally tragic - especially for younger generation. So while we might not agree with some of the conclusions the OP reached the questions about trade offs are still valid. Once this is over we should re-evaluate our approach to funding for healthcare (the lowest in the western world in proportion to GDP), consumption, travel, pollution etc.
 

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When this is over spending a few tens of millions per year per developed country on an appropriately funded task force that is mandated with containing potential epidemics through testing, contact tracing and containment will look like a very cheap insurance policy.

Too late this time though.
 

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The Chinese government have banned the wet markets which have provided the vector for these sorts of diseases.

Hopefully they can police them properly.

Also, the ones in Africa.
 

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Yeah I think the cost of the action is too high. Half everyone's pension + investments down the drain, tons of debt and future inflation. The long term impact is going to be massive. All to save old/weak people who would have died relatively soon anyway. I think we should be measuring lives in fractions, e.g. 0.01 of a life remaining should not be considered saving 1.00 lives.
 

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A small percentage of the population is a lot of people. The original "herd immunity" plan would have seen around 1.3 million deaths.

Of course the Tories don't actually care about people dying, unless it looks like a very significant number of Tory voters might bite the dust in which case Something Must Be Done. And since most of the people dying will be older folk who are the main Tory base he's trying to protect them in his own bumbling way.

Sorry if that sounds cynical but that's how Tories work.
... and your evidence for that?
 

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Given that currently most suicides are in middle aged men, and all suicides are an order of magnitude lower than the 50k figure mentioned, I’m not sure it’s a realistic assumption.
It wasn't an assumption, it was just a number. I'm not sure that going from 6-7k in normal times to 50k in the near future is that crazy.
And yes, it is exactly that demographic I'm including in my 'younger' bracket, not kids. These are often small business owners with families to support. They are staring into the abyss. And many of their employees who will be in their 20s and 30s are not going to be much better off.

I wish it was that easy, abstracting everything to a bunch of numbers, positive column, negative column, done...
Do you have a better idea? Or do we just close our eyes, stick our fingers in our ears and hope it will all be OK?
Until it is your parents, children or spouse.... which column do they fit in?
Probably the same one that makes people go and clean out the supermarket so they and theirs will be OK and everyone else can go hang.
'Human interest' is great for selling news stories but is useless for solving a problem like this. The people in charge have got to be objective and since you mention them, spreadsheets are very useful tools for helping to get an objective answer.
 
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