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Jan 09, 2021 • • 6 minute read
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Dr. Ari Joffe is a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton and a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at University of Alberta. He has written a paper titled COVID-19: Rethinking the Lockdown Groupthink that finds the harms of lockdowns are 10 times greater than their benefits.
The below Q&A is an exchange between Joffe and Anthony Furey.
You were a strong proponent of lockdowns initially but have since changed your mind. Why is that?
There are a few reasons why I supported lockdowns at first.
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First, initial data falsely suggested that the infection fatality rate was up to 2-3%, that over 80% of the population would be infected, and modelling suggested repeated lockdowns would be necessary. But emerging data showed that the median infection fatality rate is 0.23%, that the median infection fatality rate in people under 70 years old is 0.05%, and that the high-risk group is older people especially those with severe co-morbidities. In addition, it is likely that in most situations only 20-40% of the population would be infected before ongoing transmission is limited (i.e., herd-immunity).
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Second, I am an infectious diseases and critical care physician, and am not trained to make public policy decisions. I was only considering the direct effects of COVID-19 and my knowledge of how to prevent these direct effects. I was not considering the immense effects of the response to COVID-19 (that is, lockdowns) on public health and wellbeing.
Emerging data has shown a staggering amount of so-called ‘collateral damage’ due to the lockdowns. This can be predicted to adversely affect many millions of people globally with food insecurity [82-132 million more people], severe poverty [70 million more people], maternal and under age-5 mortality from interrupted healthcare [1.7 million more people],