Covid-19 NZ - WHERE IS THE SENSE OF PROPORTION By Alex Davis

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Covid-19 NZ - WHERE IS THE SENSE OF PROPORTION By Alex Davis

Unread post by David McCarthy » Sat Apr 18, 2020 9:13 am

WHERE IS THE SENSE OF PROPORTION

By Alex Davis - a business executive and director of several companies in New Zealand and overseas.

New Zealand just recorded a further four Coronavirus deaths. As of April 14, 2020 that brings the total to nine……

Woman, aged 70’s with an underlying health condition.

Female, aged 90’s with an underlying health condition.

Male, aged 80’s with an underlying health condition(s).

Male, aged 70’s with an underlying health condition(s).

Male, aged 80’s with an underlying health condition(s).

Male, aged 90’s with an underlying health condition(s).

Male, aged 80’s with an underlying health condition(s).

Male, aged 90’s with an underlying health condition(s).

Male, aged 70’s with an underlying health condition(s).

Interestingly, for all individuals from three onwards, I had to burrow into the Ministry of Health’s briefings to determine that all had underlying health conditions.

The mainstream media failed to report that key fact.

The death of any individual is clearly tragic – everyone is someone else’s mother/father/sister/brother and their loved ones will be heartbroken.

But we also need to place these unfortunate deaths in context. In 2017 (the latest data released 2019 from the Ministry of Health) 33,599 people died.

That’s an average of 92 New Zealanders dying per day. Of the 33,599 people who died in 2017 the top 5 causes were:

10,438 circulatory (heart) related diseases

9,368 cancer

3,234 respiratory-related illnesses

2,113 external causes (accidents, crime, etc)

917 diabetes

2017 also recorded 668 suicides and 378 road deaths. All those individuals were someone else’s mother/father/sister/brother too.

This means that since the lockdown started on 25 March to today approximately 1,933 people have died in New Zealand.

However, in none of these instances did the government suspend parliament, rescind fundamental civil liberties or lock down the country and the economy.

Every decision comes with consequences. The cost of this lockdown is roughly $1 billion PER DAY.

The government itself is spending roughly $500 million per day directly. That means (so far) the lockdown has cost New Zealand roughly $21 Billion.

To put this in context, $21billion would pay for:

#More than our entire health budget for the year. treasury.govt.nz/information-and-services/financial-management-and-advice/revenue-and-expenditure

#42 times what we spend on cancer every year. health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/new-zealand-cancer-plan-2015-2018

#Our entire education budget for 1.5 years. treasury.govt.nz/information-and-services/interest-areas/education-and-skills

#Roughly 10,500 km worth of median barriers (Auckland to Wellington 16 times). newshub.co.nz/home/shows/2018/06/revealed-govt-s-median-barriers-plan-to-make-our-deadliest-roads-safer

#10 times the entire NZ Police’s budget (maintenance of law and order). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NewZealandPolice

#525 times what was allocated as a boost by the government to the Suicide Prevention (remembering suicide claimed 668 lives). budget.govt.nz/budget/2019/wellbeing/index

Almost 15 brand new, modern hospitals health.govt.nz/our-work/hospital-redevelopment-projects/dunedin-hospital-redevelopment-project

And that is all in just 21 days. If the lockdown ends on time those numbers will have increased another 25%.

How many cancer sufferers’ lives could be saved with this money? How many road deaths averted? How many suicides prevented?

How many children educated? And all of this money will need to be paid back either via future taxes or reduced services (or both) for decades to come.

Well-intentioned people will, of course, argue that “we locked the country down to prevent 80K deaths.”

However, based on offshore data it is now clear that this figure was almost certainly significantly inflated

and is based on the increasingly discredited work of Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London which heavily influenced New Zealand’s own response.

When giving evidence in the UK parliament a few days ago, Prof. Ferguson said that he now expects fewer than 20,000 Covid-19 deaths in the UK,

but importantly, two-thirds of these people would have died anyway. spectator.co.uk/article/how-to-understand-and-report-figures-for-covid-19-deaths-

If Neil Ferguson is now expecting 20,000 deaths in the UK with a population of 66.5 million then New Zealand with a population of 4.9 million (13 times smaller) should proportionately have 2,711 deaths.

This would be a tragedy, but first, this number is a long way short of the predictions of 60,000 to 80,000 that our government used to justify the lockdown;

and secondly, even if we hit that terrible number it would be less than 8% excess mortality over New Zealand’s usual 33,000 deaths per year; and third, currently we have nine deaths.

In short, there is an increasing body of evidence from an ever-larger number of medical researchers, doctors and academics who are calling into question the proportionality of the response to the COVID-19 crisis.

According to data from the best-studied countries such as South Korea, Iceland (buzzfeed.com/albertonardelli/coronavirus-testing-iceland) and Germany,

the overall lethality of COVID-19 is in the one per thousand infections range and thus about ten times lower than initially assumed by the WHO, and broadly in line with seasonal influenza.

A key study from Italy also found that 99% of those who have died had other illnesses and almost half had three or more co-morbidities.

For an excellent summary of articles on this topic see here: swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-covid-19/

The decision to enter (or exit) lockdown also needs to take into account the misery, deaths and collateral damage caused by the lockdown itself

in terms of increased rates of family violence, depression and suicide (UK suicides are up 25%), business failure and unemployment.

There is also the fact that delays to surgery and medical treatment will almost certainly lead to otherwise preventable deaths.

How are these deaths and the grief of their families measured against COVID-19 victims?

As Michael Burry, the man who blew the whistle on the US housing market (made famous in the firm The Big Short), tweeted,

“If COVID-19 testing were universal, the fatality rate would be less than 0.2%. This is no justification for sweeping government policies,

lacking any and all nuance, that destroy the lives, jobs, and businesses of the other 99.8%.”

Finally, at an international level, Oxfam estimates the decision by developed nations to shut down the world economy in response to COVID-19 could push half a billion people

(6% of the global population) into poverty, resulting in millions of deaths – the majority of them children and women – from unsanitary conditions, malnutrition and preventable disease.

The effect could be to set back the fight against poverty by a decade and as much as 30 years in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa.
More than one million Bangladeshi garment workers (80 percent of whom are women) have already been laid off after orders from western clothing brands were cancelled or suspended.

For a Prime Minister who claimed she entered politics “for one reason: child poverty” the actions of her government are curiously opposed to that goal.

The lockdown is likely to lead to the largest destruction of value (and consequently the largest increase in poverty), New Zealand has ever experienced, with all the associated negative social and health outcomes.

There is no question we are faced with difficult decisions and none of the foreseeable outcomes are good, but we can’t afford to panic.

We need to balance the costs and consequences carefully and do what is right for all New Zealanders, young and old, healthy and ill.

We need to maintain a sense of proportion. We are in great danger of being the elephant who, having seen a mouse, stampedes off a cliff to its death.
But he has nothing on at all, cried at last the whole people....

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