Ethics behind lockdowns has been a common topic for the past year and a half. I wanted to introduce some utilitarian philosophy to the discussion, backed by the facts so readers can draw an opinion on their own.
A bit of a disclaimer – there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to lockdowns. Some people values believe it’s more important to have more years in your life while others believe it’s more important to have more life in your years. Your opinion will also differ based on how your lockdown experience was. If your health diminished because your gym closed, causing you to lose 20 pounds of muscle, then lockdown affected you more than most. If you experienced domestic violence, then it was harder for you than for others. If you or a family member lost control of their disease (like cancer or Crohn’s disease) due to cancelled screenings, then it was worse for you and your family than it was for others. If you were one of the 1 million Canadian children who called the Children’s help phone in 2020, then again, it was harder for you than it was for most. If you were one of the businesses that went bankrupt, and you lost your livelihood, then the lockdown was harder for you than most.
I used Florida as the worst-case scenario, who was mocked in media for their decisions, which experienced 2.69 deaths per 1000 over Ontario which had 0.67 deaths per 1000. These two provinces/states sit on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to lockdowns. This table will show you the decision they made.
The difference between Florida’s and Ontario’s death rate is the reason Ontario decided to lockdown harder than any other province or state in North America. As you can see from the data, the 29,384 people saved are the reason behind dramatic lockdowns in Ontario.
These people (who are dying from COVID-19) have an average age of 84 in Canadian statistics, and according to Actuarial Life Table from the Social Security Agency, are expected to live another 7.56 years without COVID-19 implications.
With the average age of COVID-19 death being 84, it’s worth pointing out that life expectancy in Canada is 82.
Doing the math, you can see Ontario locked down for 15.1 million years of life to save 211k years of death (ratio of 71:1).
What’s the right answer? You decide. Ontario and Florida had opposing opinions. Florida sided with the 99% and Ontario sided with the 1%.
If you decide it’s worth locking down 14.6 million people for 29k lives, what would you define the threshold as? 1000 lives? 1 life? If you could lock down an entire nation for a year to save 1 person, would you still do it?
Let me know your thoughts and where you draw the line, in the comments below.