Balancing lives saved with the economic costs
Bulletin 15 | Peter Tompkins
The paper "J-value assessment of how best to combat COVID-19" by Philip Thomas, Professor of Risk Management in the Faculty of Engineering at Bristol University made headlines by asserting that the economic consequences of policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic may cost more lives than the disease itself.
It is perfectly reasonable to attempt to balance short and longer term impacts on the health and life expectancy of the population, and we support the paper in seeking to tackle these difficult questions.
However, certain issues that we have identified on review of this paper lead us to question the author’s key conclusion, in particular that a substantial lockdown would have life expectancy outcomes less acceptable than the base case “do nothing” scenario.