Tuesday, December 14, 2021

trolley problem revisited again

On 3/26/2020, right at the start of the initial lockdowns, I wrote:

Step aleph: What confronts us is not a choice of whether to lock down our cities in order to save some unknown % of people, but rather a choice of whether to lock down our cities to save some unknown % of people AT THE EXPENSE of the cost IN LIVES (literally) of some other unknown % of people.  In other words, this a large scale version of the trolley problem, except here you don't know how many lives it will cost to save how many other lives....

Dr Scott Atlas, interview 12/13/2021 in the Daily Signal (bolding added by me):

This was an egregious immoral application of public health, because when you’re a public health leader, you are not supposed to say I’m going to stop this one infection at all costs, without regard for all of public health. These people, the advice that was done was directed solely at stopping these cases.

It failed, by the way. But it also inflicted massive harm because you have to remember, we shut down a lot of medical care. It wasn’t just cosmetic surgery or something like that, that was shut down. We had 650,000 people with cancer on chemotherapy. Half of them skipped their chemo just during the spring of 2020 out of fear. We had 85% of living organ transplants did not get done compared to the previous year. We had two thirds of cancer screenings did not get done. These people still have cancer.

They’re going to come back with widespread, what’s called metastatic disease. A lot of them are going to die. We had massive increases in drug abuse, in spousal abuse, in child abuse. 300,000 cases of child abuse were not detected during the spring of 2020, because, why, schools were closed and schools are the number one agency where child abuse occurs. So this was a massive harm and the harm, again, all the losses, we are almost on the verge of destroying a younger generation, by the way, we have a massive rise in anxiety disorder, in depressive disorder.

One out of four college students in 2020 in the United States thought of killing himself. We had tripling of medical visits to doctors by teenagers for self-harm in the United States compared to the previous year. What does that mean? That means these are kids putting out cigarettes on their skin, slashing their wrists out of the isolation. It’s the lockdowns that did this. It’s the isolation. It’s not the virus. The isolation was caused by the grossly wrong public health advice. And this is going to take decades to solve. 


  1. But hindsight is 20/20. At the time we had no idea what the damage from CoVID19 would be. What if it turned out to have a 10% mortality rate? What if it turned out to have a 25% mortality rate in those over 65? All we had to go on was our experience with SARS and MERS and those did have high mortality rates. Remember the point of the lockdown was originally three fold
    1) Keep the hospitals from getting overwhelmed
    2) Keep people from dying
    3) Eliminate the virus. Again, we had the experience of SARS and MERS where precautions did eliminate the virus. We thought we were in the same position with a much more contagious version, the worst of possible scenarios.
    So now almost 2 years later it's easy to look back and say "We overeacted". Based on what we know now, we did. Based on what we knew then, we didn't.

    1. I would go even further than @DrMike . Many healthcare facilities (starting w/ their personnel) _did_ get overwhelmed then; and many are getting overwhelmed now. Then, there was no vaccine; now, those facilities are being overwhelmed by unvaccinated patients. Of course there's corollary damage -- "stay at home" orders/lockdowns represent drastic (one might even say "wartime"-type) measures -- and that's what happens when one is at war. The real question for the Scott Atlases of the world is, "OK, big talker, what would you have done in Mar 2020?"