A top official at the World Health Organization is urging world leaders to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” against the coronavirus.
What’s the background?
When COVID-19 struck the world, most countries responded by enacting strict nationwide lockdowns. The decision plunged the world economy into an immediate recession, the consequences of which are still being felt even months after most countries have lifted their strict lockdown measures.
In fact, experts estimate the pandemic, and the ensuing lockdowns, plunged around 100 million additional people into “extreme poverty.”
From the Wall Street Journal:
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown between 88 million and 114 million people into extreme poverty, according to the World Bank’s biennial estimates of global poverty. The reversal is by far the largest increase in extreme poverty going back to 1990 when the data begin, and marks an end to a streak of more than two decades of declines in the number of the extremely impoverished, which the World Bank defines as living on less than $1.90 a day, or about $700 a year.
What did the WHO official say?
Dr. David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy on COVID-19, told the Spectator last week that lockdowns are not the answer to COVID-19.
“We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Nabarro said.
“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted,” he added. “But by and large, we’d rather not do it.”
Nabarro pointed to the devastating economic side-effects of the lockdown as evidence for why world leaders should not enact further lockdowns.
“Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” he explained. “Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world because their markets have got dented. Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”
“This is a terrible, ghastly, global catastrophe, actually,” Nabarro added. “And so we really do appeal to all world leaders: Stop using lockdown as your primary control method.”
“Develop better systems for doing it,” he continued. “Remember, lockdowns have just one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.”