Lockdown - The key question: What proportion of those who died from Covid 19 contracted the disease either in hospital or in care homes?
Forming a consistent opinion about lockdown has been difficult with new information appearing and contradicting existing information. Perhaps the key question to answer is this: What proportion of those who died from Covid 19 contracted the disease either in hospital or in care homes?
It was shocking to learn recently that Captain Tom Moore died after contracting the covid-19 while in hospital for pneumonia. After a year of contending with the virus we have still not achieved what was always the essential objective of any strategy: to protect the vulnerable. What is more shocking is that it is possible, therefore, that lockdowns have in fact resulted in a higher death toll than we would have incurred without them. The logic of this hypothesis stems from the key question. It must be stressed that this is a hypothesis and that the key question enables us to interrogate it.
In simple form this is the hypothesis: A large proportion of covid-19 deaths are from cases contracted in hospitals or care-homes. Therefore, had we focussed all our efforts on protecting the vulnerable including ensuring hospitals and care homes don’t become reservoirs of contagion, the death toll would have been lower. Thus, the choice to lockdown rather than to protect the vulnerable has resulted in a higher death toll. This is an assumption that depends on the hypothesis being tested.
Opposition to the assumption could include the opinion that a strategy of protection would have failed for the same reason: the inability to prevent transmission in hospitals and care homes. However, this is also an assumption as the efficacy of a protection strategy to prevent contagion in hospitals and care homes cannot be known. Moreover, it is an assumption that stems from the significant and tragic failure of the lockdown policy itself to protect the vulnerable. The failure of lockdowns to protect vulnerable citizens does not logically lead to the assumption that a strategy of protecting the vulnerable would similarly have failed in its objective.
Another opposition to a protection strategy could be that more vulnerable people would have contracted the virus without lockdowns. This rests on the assumption that such a strategy would not have been effective and, again, cannot be known as the efficacy of a protection strategy cannot be tested.
Overall, the appropriateness of the lockdown strategy depends on one’s opinion as to what proportion of deaths from covid-19 contracted in hospitals and care homes is tolerable. This proportion can only be subjective and will be determined in part by one’s worldview. However, the proportion of deaths from covid-19 contracted in hospitals or care homes must be objectively established before a subjective opinion can be formed according to any reasoned measure.
Ivan Starrymist, February 2021