Let’s just admit at the outset that we are sick and tired of hearing and reading about the Coronavirus. However, there is one avenue of discussion flying under the radar that needs to be put before the American public. Is a universal lockdown the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19? If you listen to the brilliant minds at MIT and Stanford – it appears the answer to that is no.
Lock ‘Em Up and Lock ‘Em Down
If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: What we are doing in ordering the American people to stay at home is working. Well, not so fast. An MIT white paper – prepared by people who think in terms of the equation shown here – find there is little in the way of evidence to back up that statement.
Moreover, they find that targeted lockdowns are much more effective. In a 38-page analysis, the MIT team teased out the data to see if universal shutdowns lowered the COVID-19 fatality rate. They discovered the opposite to be true:
“Our main result, however, is that better social outcomes are possible with targeted policies. Differential lockdowns on groups with differential risks can reduce both the number of lives lost and the economic damages significantly. We also find that the majority of these gains can be achieved with a simple targeted policy that applies an aggressive lockdown on the oldest group and treats the rest uniformly. These qualitative conclusions are quite consistent across different parameterizations of our model and are the main take away message from the paper.”
How is this possible, and why aren’t our politicians paying any attention to this conclusion? Excellent question. Could it be because it’s not simple and takes time to understand? Without getting too deep into the weeds, what these brilliant minds at MIT found out was that a more thoughtfully designed lockdown of the population would result in a lower death rate. In other words – be aggressive in making sure the elderly and those with serious health concerns stay out of the general population. But others should not be on lockdown:
For example, by adopting a semi-targeted policy we can keep economic damages the same as the 24.3% GDP decline we obtained above with an optimal uniform policy, but reduce the fatality rate of the (adult) population from 1.83% to approximately 0.71%. This would amount to 2.7 million lives saved out of the 241 million US adult (over 20) population because of better designed lockdown policy. The same reduction in fatalities could be accomplished using a uniform policy, but only by increasing the economic loss from 24.3% of one year’s GDP to approximately 57.2%.
The graph shown here demonstrates this conclusion. The red line represents a uniform lockdown policy while the blue and green ones are layered on top of each other, revealing a much lower fatality rate.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board used this study and rendered the following conclusion: “… these studies can inform governors as they consider how and what to reopen in their states. And in particular, they should inform government decisions about the kind of lockdowns to reimpose if there are coronavirus flare-ups, as there are likely to be until a vaccine or cure arrive.”
MIT’s is but one analysis that challenges the current public policy of universal lockdowns. Another study worth your attention was conducted by former Stanford fellow T.J. Rodgers, who is now CEO of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation. Rodgers and a few of his friends wanted to find out if those states that delayed shutdown orders experienced a higher Coronavirus death rate. In other words, if this universal shutdown really does work, then the states that implemented it more quickly should have fewer deaths. Right?
Well, that does not appear to be the case. The bottom line from Rodgers and company is that there is no correlation. “No conclusions can be drawn about the states that sheltered quickly,” they found.
What does all this mean? The Wall Street Journal may have put it best, “Protect the most vulnerable, but don’t put the entire state in economic cold storage in the name of a false choice between saving lives and saving money. On the growing evidence, targeted lockdowns can save more lives and more livelihoods.”
Perhaps it does take a genius to prove that knee-jerk public policy is not the most effective way to deal with this virus. As such, government authorities and elected officials might want to be more circumspect the next time the Coronavirus – or any other similar situation – arises.
For home study students and young people, Liberty Nation recommends…
All About Social Distancing
Elementary School: Social Distancing is Boring, but It Used to Be Worse
All About the First Amendment
Middle School: First Amendment: The Right to Assemble
Elementary School: First Amendment: The Right to Get Together
VIDEO: Why Free Speech Matters
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