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OK time to weigh in on the Gigi Foster COVID-19 view for Australia. I'll do this as academics should but to forecast I am disappointed she took these views to the media without research backup. [1/n]
There are two ways out of the COVID mess: immunity or suppression. Suppression, done properly, is the least damaging to both health and the economy. Many countries have done this including South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, Iceland, .... [2/n]
Suppression was also done for the last two coronaviruses -- SARS and MERS. Once you have a significant outbreak, you face a choice -- lockdown to get to a position to suppress properly OR give up and go for herd immunity. There is an economic trade-off at this point. [3/n]
Many countries have successfully locked down including Italy, France, Spain, Canada, the northeast US and notably, China. Their economies have returned and life is getting more normal -- albeit with masks and other inconveniences. It isn't perfect, because the virus still exists.
Finally, there are countries who gave up including Sweden, the Southern US and Brazil. The outbreaks are bad and continuing. They are the reason why countries who suppressed still have to be vigilant. [5/n]
If you want to make the argument that herd immunity is superior to lockdown in terms of lives saved as Gigi does, there is ample international variation to test that hypothesis. You could examine the data and make your case. The reason the onus is on you is because of precaution.
Precaution means we should lockdown because we *know* that will save lives as opposed to the more speculative assessment on what 'going about our business' will do. So Gigi should bring data to the case as that is an academic duty when advocating in public. [7/n]
But we already know what the data says. The data says that people don't want to die. The data says that people don't care about keeping the economy going. The data says that when faced with a pandemic people will adjust their behaviour. [8/n]
In other words, you can lament the 'economic loss' and its consequences as much as you want, but people are going to choose. And the last time I looked there was no 'market failure' argument to force people out to work when they don't want to. [9/n]
My book (coming out in November…) explains this. My earlier book, if you can't wait (…) does this but not as well. [10/n]
To the media in Australia: unless you think the government should force everyone out to work and restaurants, it is dangerous to weaken the effectiveness of the lockdown by giving equal weight to views on business as usual. Stop it. [11/11]
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