This is not to say that coronavirus is unimportant. It is though to say that it’s not as important as all that.
Coronavirus: UK schools and offices could close for up to two months
The only reason we might do that is because it has become pandemic. Yet, if it’s pandemic there’s no point in doing that.
After such ineffable logic we should actually go further.
So, the entire population gets it. Some 400,000 deaths perhaps. Horrendous, horrible, foul etc. There are 600,000 deaths a year in the UK. OK, back of envelope, call that a doubling of the death rate. Except, of course, it won’t be. Some goodly portion of those who die from Corvid-19 will be those who are about to die of something else. There’s a reason pneumonia was long known as the old man’s friend.
Of course, none of us wants to be one of them, none of us wants anyone else to be one of them either.
So, what should we be prepared to give up in order to avoid those extra, what, 200,000 (?) deaths?
The economic answer – no, not the one that is economical in the sense of saving money but economical in the sense of using economics to gain an answer – is where the number of deaths avoided is still larger than the number of deaths from our avoidance tactics. That’s the outer limit of how far we should be willing to go at least.
Close the economy for 2 months, as recommended here? That’s, again back of the envelope, a £400 billion hit to the economy. How many will die because of that reduction of 20% in production/consumption/incomes?
No, I dunno either but I’d certainly be willing to listen to people who tell me that it’s more than 200,000. After all, Marmot, Dorling, they tell us that tens of thousands have been killed just by government spending rising from 33% of everything to 34% of everything, that austerity.
Sure, it’s all horribly harsh and all that. But stopping the world because of coronavirus would indeed kill more than allowing it to let rip. So, there’s some limit to how much we want to stop the world in order to avoid it ripping, isn’t there?