Instead, Boris Johnson surrounded himself with a very small group of advisers – almost all of them medics, all with the same pro-lockdown views. No room has been made for highly respected anti-lockdown epidemiologists (there are many), economists or others with a broader perspective.
The absence of such a formal cost-benefit analysis leading up to a policy that has already caused the deepest depression in three centuries, put our national debt into orbit, and destroyed thousands of businesses and millions of livelihoods, this which is much more to come, is simply amazing.
Some well-respected independent economists have produced such studies – including former Monetary Policy Committee member David Miles and Professor Robert Rowthorn in Cambridge.
Their analysis suggests that the lockdowns cannot be justified. One of the reasons, as harsh as it sounds, is that we know that the vast majority of people at risk of dying from Covid-19 are older people – over the age of 75, often with pre-existing, life-threatening conditions.
This means widespread lockdowns that are extremely damaging to society as a whole – in terms of both the economy and mental health, as well as the impact on non-Covid healthcare – save relatively little money. ‘”Quality adjusted life years”, to use the jargon. So does it make sense, in these circumstances, to impose national lockdowns denying both current and future citizens, in terms of health, well-being and future national prosperity?
Even for health reasons, of course, countless scientists wonder if such lockdowns work. Great Barrington’s statement, written by scientists at Oxford, Harvard and Stanford, calls for age-stratified shielding – and has been signed by tens of thousands of doctors.
It is based on the established fact that young people, especially those under 40, are extremely unlikely to be harmed by Covid, and therefore should be free to live their lives and manage the economy. Older adults at risk could then protect themselves if they wanted and be helped by others to do so, until the companies were vaccinated or otherwise achieved herd immunity.
Savings levels during lockdowns indicate how much money could have been spent on the economy this year.