The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Cost Benefit

As the months pass, we're finally beginning to see analysis of the pandemic that is thoughtful, scientifically supportable, and accurate. Analysis that is based on long standing measures of mortality around the world and then adjusted to account for the obvious fudging that many countries applied when reporting COVID deaths. Maxim Lott provides a truly in-depth analysis that should have been standard output from the CDC but was not.

Lott examined the excess mortality associated with COVID deaths per capita around the world and then analyzing the "fudge factor" that many countries applied as they reported COVID data. Surprisingly, to me, was the U.S. "fudge factor" was 1.13, meaning that we had 13 percent more deaths than reported by the CDC. Because early anecdotal data indicated significant over-reporting in 2020 and 2021 (pre-vaccine) and data granularity was purposely vague (e.g., no real-time breakdown of age or co-morbidities) I believed that the fudge factor in the U.S. was likely less than 1.0. After examination of Lott's data, I was wrong on that count.

But that's not all there is to the story. The supposed COVID mitigation policies (lockdowns, school closures, mask mandates, etc.) espoused by blue city, state and federal governments were instituted with virtually no cost-benefit analysis, and as a consequence, did far more harm than good. But what was the cost-benefit of all of those policies? Lott discusses this:

The US had 3,400 extra deaths per million during the pandemic so far, which works out to 1.1 million total extra deaths.

I then take the age breakdown of Covid deaths, match it with the expected years of life left in each age bracket, and calculate the total years of life lost.

I calculate that 14.5 million years of life were lost in the US due to Covid deaths.

14.5 million years of life lost, divided by a population of 330 million, = 0.04 years of life lost per person = 14.6 days of life lost per person.

This is imperfect because, for instance, people who died were on average less healthy than others in their age groups; see footnote for a full list of caveats.

Let’s say the probably range is around 10-to-15 days of life lost, per person, due to the US not following an Australia-like model [draconian long-term total lockdowns, travel bans, forced vaccinations].

Just to help get our heads around the number: for comparison, I used the same methods to calculate that if all driving deaths could be prevented during a 2-year period, that’d save 3 million years of life, or 3.3 days of life for every person. So, Covid ended about 4 times as much life as driving did in a similar period (it certainly got more than 4x the attention, of course.)

Here’s a question: would you have preferred to live through a total travel ban and total lockdowns, like Australia’s, to save yourself 10-to-15 days of life?

Is stopping that worth it to you?

My personal answer is: No. It would not be worth it to me. I’d take that loss in expected lifespan, in order to travel and live freely for a couple years.
Yet, there are bitter-enders, almost all blue-pilled, who remain in their metaphorical basements because they fear COVID. They have essentially lost 2.5 years of their lives in order to avoid the statistical likelihood of losing 10-to-15 days of life.To the many millions of us who would prefer to live free, that seems crazy, but it's harmless—as long as we never again adopt policies that refuse to assess cost-benefit before they are instituted and instead adopt irrational, anti-scientific restrictions that do little good and much harm.