Karol Sikora drew our attention to this exchange between the Prime Minister and Mr. Hugo Keith KC over whether the lockdown caused more harm than good.
Sunak was drawing attention to a particular type of economic analysis called cost-benefit analysis (CBA) performed by academics from Imperial and Manchester.
But also I think – analysis has been done subsequent to this that I wasn’t aware of at the time from professors of medicine and economics at Imperial and Manchester that applied a QALY analysis to the first lockdown and its duration. And their QALY analysis, which you’ll be familiar with, is a tool of health, a public health analysis, suggested that the lockdown in its severity and duration is likely to have generated costs that are greater than the likely benefit. So I think –
In a variant of the CBA analysis called cost-utility analysis (CUA), the benefit part is calculated by constructing a QALY or quality-adjusted life year, which weighs the length of life gained by its quality. One of the strengths of QALYs is that they wrap up in one measure with what economists call “intangibles” such as pain, grief and suffering, which we all know so well from the lockdowns.
The bottom line in the cost benefit analysis of the lockdown in the U.K. was negative in every scenario.
Future scenarios showed in the best case a QALY value of £220k (seven times NICE guideline) and in the worst‐case £3.7m (125 times NICE guideline) was needed to justify the continuation of lockdown.
Even in the best case scenario the benefits of lockdowns were substantially outweighed by the costs and far outweighed the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) threshold to justify a positive recommendation for intervening.
But Mr. Keith, faithful to the whole direction of the inquiry, was having none of it and closed down the PM by pronouncing the immortal lines “I don’t want to get into quality life assurance and models”.
Writing in today’s Telegraph, Sarah Knapton reported: “The exchange was telling, demonstrating a lack of scientific rigour from the inquiry barrister, while proving Sunak had a better handle on the evidence than many.”
Mr. Keith’s line shows the world the crass ignorance of the briefing that the KCs have received and the bias permeating every session.
It seems, the Government messaging to “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives”, as the lockdowns mandated, did anything but save lives.