Are Lockdowns Justified? Evaluating the costs and benefits

Dec 7, 2020, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
Free and Open to the Public



Event Description

Ira W. DeCamp Bioethics Seminar

Abstract: In several countries, lockdowns have reduced the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and thereby of deaths from COVID-19. Despite this, they have been controversial.  Some claim that they violate basic rights or freedoms.  This seminar will focus on a different objection: do the benefits of lockdowns outweigh the costs?  Asking that question leads to others: how do we compare loss of life with other harms suffered by a much larger number of people?  These include: loss of income; illness and death resulting from reduced attendances at regular health check-ups; reduced government revenue leading to fewer social and health care services; mental health problems associated with long-term unemployment and deprivation of opportunities to socialize; reduced educational opportunities for children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds; and increased extreme poverty in low-income countries caused by lockdowns’ impacts on the economies of high-income countries.  Even when counting deaths, should we give the same weight to deaths caused by COVID-19 – most of which are in those over 70 – as we give to deaths of younger people? 

These questions are difficult, but if we do not try to answer them, how can we reach a rational assessment of lockdowns? To start the discussion, we will hear from:

Professor Olga Yakusheva, Director of Health Care Innovation Impact, University of Michigan School of Nursing. Dr. Yakusheva is an economist with research interests in health economics and health services research.

Professor Jay Bhattacharya, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, Director of the Stanford Center on the Demography of Health and Aging, and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.  Dr. Bhattacharya is one of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration which expressed grave concerns about current lockdown policies.

Dr. Michael Plant, a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Wellbeing Research Centre, holds a D.Phil. in philosophy from the University of Oxford. He is the Founder-Director of the Happier Lives Institute.

Peter Singer, Ira W. Decamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University will chair.

To register in advance for this webinar, click here.