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Lockdown: Poking the bear?

Will it save more lives than those it will take through poverty?
The author presents a ‘very rough thought experiment’, but is sure of one thing. Image: Shutterstock

There is no doubt – poverty kills more people than all the other nasties put together.

And there is no doubt that the current lockdown will lead to more poverty – which, accordingly, will kill more people.

So will the lockdown save more lives than the number that will be taken as a result of poverty?

Wealth is good and poverty is bad. Everything that most people regard as good correlates with wealth: good education, good health systems, low crime, long lives and so on. Correspondingly, everything perceived as bad relates back to poverty, from unemployment and low life expectancy to corruption and, as the saying goes, much, much more.

Against this background, I want to present a rather edifying piece of data: Europeans are approximately three times wealthier than South Africans and they expect to live, on average, to the ripe old age of 80. Our live expectancy, on the other hand, is a mere 60 years, which basically means that our lives are cut short by an average of 20 years, for no other reason than poverty.

We have been in lockdown for almost three weeks with more than two to go, and poverty will skyrocket.

Here are some of our (continuously changing) estimates:

  • GDP contraction of around 7%
  • Fiscal deficit to GDP – 12%
  • State revenue under-collection approximately R200-R300 billion
  • Below budget, state debt to exceed 80% of GDP in two years
  • More than one million jobs lost, more social and political tension
  • A fall in life expectancy, and
  • The list goes on.

All these statistics point to another certainty, namely that the income of the average South African will fall, likely by about 10%. Some will lose all their income, and others a part of their income while a few lucky ones stand to gain. Imagine a stretched budget. Now imagine your income falling sharply, or even worse, disappearing altogether.

Despite these real and dire possibilities, some people still argue that heartless economists choose ‘money’ before lives. This is not true.

A healthy economy shelters healthy citizens. The health of a country equates to the wealth of a national economy.

The current lockdown is intentionally undermining the economy – obviously in the belief that it will lower or limit the number of lives lost to Covid-19 as opposed to the number of lives lost as a result of increased poverty.

But is this so? Let’s see.

Precise modelling is not possible, particularly given the current high degree of uncertainty. However, based on a reasonable estimate, it’s certain that poverty will increase in tandem with a contraction in GDP. If more lives are lost to Covid-19 than to an increase in poverty, the lockdown might be justified. However, we need to keep in mind that the disease will spread after the lockdown, leaving us with an increased death toll due to poverty.

If “too many” lives are lost to poverty as a result of the economic impact of the lockdown, the solution is glaringly obvious: lift the lockdown!

I am admittedly no health expert or virologist, but as I understand it, the coronavirus can, in exceptional cases, kill up to 10% of those infected. Without getting embroiled in that debate, it seems to me that a more likely mortality rate is, in fact, less than 1% of those confirmed to be infected. But for argument’s sake, let’s go with a 1% mortality rate, and let’s assume that all South Africans get infected this year.

These estimates are unrealistically high. A more likely worst-case scenario is that fewer than 1% will perish while the infection rate is unlikely to be 100%. Hospitals and other medical facilities would not be able to cope with the huge numbers of people needing care.

What the full implications of such an event would be, I don’t know. However, a simple calculation shows that a 1% mortality rate out of a population of, say, 60 million, amounts to 600 000 people (again, if everyone in South Africa contracts Covid-19).

A more realistic worst-case scenario is approximately 300 000 deaths in SA.

It follows that whatever we do in terms of locking down the economy, the price in terms of deaths due to an increase in poverty must be less than 600 000 for the lockdown to make sense, or rather 300 000 or even much less to be more realistic.

Forming a picture

Trying to find a way to determine how many people will die because of an increase in poverty required some out-of-the-box thinking.

Here’s what I did: I decided to find a country that has experienced a huge collapse in economic activity to determine the impact of the corresponding increase in poverty on the number of deaths, and then to apply this experience to local data.

To make the exercise effective, it was important to choose a country with data as ‘clean’ as possible. By way of illustration: it doesn’t make sense to use the economic collapse(s) of, for example, Argentina, as many people were killed by their own army and not by poverty.

Similarly, it doesn’t make sense to look at countries that were at war or that experienced some other disaster, which is another reason I decided not to use South African data.

We have seen a huge increase in the number of deaths since the early years of this millennium when the economy was growing and poverty was falling – mostly because of the idiotic Aids policies of our government at the time.

After working through a lot of information in my search for a country that experienced economic hardship but not war or pestilence, I finally found the ideal candidate: Greece.

After joining the EU, Greece experienced amazing economic growth, with deaths per 1 000 remaining relatively stable at between 9.6 in 1999 and 9.7 in 2008. In the 10 years up to 2008, the figure averaged 9.6.

As we all know, Greece was particularly hard hit by the global financial crisis in 2008 and, like most countries, its economy experienced a huge contraction – and, consequently, an increase in poverty.

In 1999, the average Greek per capita GDP (constant 2010 $) was $22 489, which rose to a peak of $30 055 in 2007. From 2009 onwards this figure collapsed – reaching a low of $22 251 in 2013, after which it gradually increased.

By 2018 Greece’s per capita GDP was still lower than it was in 2008. For the 10 years from 2009 to 2018, the average Greek GDP amounted to $23 947, a decrease of more than 20% compared to the peak in 2007. A similar but opposite pattern emerges when it comes to deaths per 1 000. The stable average of 9.6 deaths per 1 000 from 1999 to 2008 increased to a peak of 11.6 in 2017 and an average of 10.6 for the period 2009 to 2018 – an increase of one per 1 000 compared to the previous 10 years.

In 2017 the country experienced two more deaths per 1 000 compared to the average of 1999 to 2008. Crunching the relevant numbers from these periods reveals that on average GDP per capita fell by 20.3% compared to the previous 10 years after the 2008 crisis, while deaths per 1 000 increased by one over the same period.

Ergo, for every 20% fall in GDP, deaths per 1 000 increased by approximately one.

Assuming this ratio will remain the same, a 10% fall in GDP will result in an increase in deaths of 0.5 persons per 1 000; one additional death per 2 000 people.

Assuming this ratio will be applicable to South Africa, how many people will die because of an increase in poverty?

Here one must keep in mind a number of other factors at play, such as the fact that we are still in the process of getting back to our pre-HIV/Aids days in terms of deaths per 1 000. In addition, and no thanks to a destructive government, we have been getting poorer on a per capita basis since 2014. Also relevant is the fact that the Greek population was older on average than the current South African population. Also, our population may have more underlying conditions, such as TB and Aids, which could make us particularly susceptible to the virus.

All in all, there were existing and well-established underlying trends, including the fact that our deaths per 1 000 have actually been falling in recent years, mostly thanks to the way in which Aids is treated these days. But let’s, for the moment, ignore these trends.

Let’s assume the effect on poverty and death due to a falling GDP will be the same as in Greece. And then let’s revisit the question.

How many South Africans will die because of the increase in poverty caused by the lockdown?

If the average GDP falls by 10% in 2020, a very likely scenario, deaths per 1 000 will increase by 0.5 persons. Our current deaths per 1 000 rate (2018) of 9.4 will increase to approximately 10 deaths per 1 000, an increase of more or less 30 000 per annum. It is probably fair to assume that it will take us at least 10 years to get back to our pre-crisis levels in terms of GDP, probably longer given the quality of our political leadership. Against this background, we can expect 300 000 more people to die over the next 10 years because of an increase in poverty.

The grim reality

The options are grim: to lock down the economy and kill 300 000 people over time due to the rise in the poverty rate, or not to lock down and potentially kill a maximum of 600 000 people if all South Africans get the virus in a short period of time, at a morality rate of 1% (mentioned above, far too ugly an estimate).

Unfortunately, it’s not an either/or choice; people will die of the virus whether we lock down or not.

In fact, some analysts reckon that everybody will eventually get the virus, and some will die. The sum of these statistics and projections are not encouraging.

The total number of South Africans that will die over the next 10 years could be more than 300 000 killed by poverty, plus the number that will die from the virus despite all efforts to limit or contain the spread.

That many people will die from the virus is a given. Locking down the economy will simply serve to increase the number of poverty-related deaths. This has been a very rough thought experiment and I am sure that the patterns emerging over the next few years will differ from the estimates I present here.

I am equally certain that other analysts will come to different conclusions. In fact, I am looking forward to seeing a wide variety of approaches.

Finally, and above all, I am convinced that the poverty that is being created by the lockdown as I write will also kill people. The only thing I’m not certain of is how many.

Shouldn’t we consider a different approach?

Dawie Roodt is chief economist at the Efficient Group.


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Good article. Thanks.

It seems people forget or believe that flattening the curve means less infections. The infections are just spread over a longer period of time if I understand it correctly.

So if you stay in lockdown and it works we will need to stay in lockdown for many months or years to keep the plateau intact. Cant happen. We struggle with 3 weeks.

The ANC spent over a century teaching people ill discipline so chances are a lockdown wont be effective anyway. I think we have all noticed this.

They have also made it about cigarettes and alcohol and now need the whole defence force and police force to enforce something that has nothing or very minimal effect on fighting the virus.

So we seem to have a lockdown that is not going to be effective but in the process the economy is destroyed.

There has to be another way. Oh and I think the defence force and police force can be put to much better use by actually going after real criminals.

Our leaders just seem to be stubborn in trying to employ the usual old socialist / communist / unionist methods in addressing problems.

I’m a doctor. There is a specific reason for us wanting to flatten the curve. Under normal circumstances, in the public sector, hospital beds are hard to come by. ICU and High care beds are even harder. By flattening the curve the idea to to try and not overwhelm a system which is already strained. It also allows us a little bit more time to try to prepare, get systems running smoothly and enough PPE for us to provide services without increasing the risks to our patients, families and ourselves. Many of the doctors and nurses are literally irreplaceable – if we don’t look after them and lose them we lose the foundation of our health system.
The ANC didn’t ‘teach’ people ill discipline – apartheid required those who weren’t privileged by it to actually stand up to the injustice but that’s a totally different discussion. South Africans in general are terrible at following the law regardless of race, political views or socioeconomic status.
The alcohol ban along with the lockdown has made a massive difference to the amount of trauma that we see in hospitals. The majority of people who we usually see in trauma sustain injuries under the influence of alcohol. Having less trauma admissions has reduced the numbers of inpatients, the numbers of emergency trauma related surgeries which both reduces the risk of people contracting covid in hospitals and frees up space for patients who will require admission. Patients who have covid have a significantly increased mortality risk with surgeries that last more than 2 hours which is why even those who wouldn’t otherwise be at high risk are now of increased concern.
The lockdown has bought us time. It’s not a cure but it’s a start at managing this disaster and I’m so glad that government has enough insight to be managing it as best as they can with the information that is currently available.

Thanks for an informed input !

Question: what do socialist govts do when they make a mistake?
Answer: they double down on the mistake.

SA’s much vaunted resilience may not have a lot left in the tank. Just one mistake too many.

This lockdowm, if necessary at all, was triggeted too early, too severely. We dont know if it was effective.
We do know it did massive damage to the economy already.
And so the ANC will double down and spin the data, no matter what.

Consider this. Yesterday on radio news. Official virus deaths during lockdown -34. Deaths by Taxi during lockdown in 2 accidents- 32. Minister berated Taxis for not obeying lockdown rules. Go figure. Only in Africa by ANC clowns.

David, allow me to add my bit. In my little ‘dorpie’ in the Western Cape a part of the community quietly started to do their bit. We’ve got a group of old ‘tannies’ making face masks, dishing it out free of charge to the taxi industry (yes, you read that right). We’ve got free care packets being dished out to the growing number of desperate people. We’ve got soup kitchens going bonkers – and many more initiatives. Two interesting things about this; it’s not the government supplying… they are, in fact, very hard to locate. Secondly, most of the donations and initiatives comes from the much hated colonists, either privately or via their businesses. In our country, with politicians spreading racial hate and the government actively persisting with their racial policies, I wish media will report on this as counterpoint to the continuing abuse of racial divide.

Yip once again WMC to the rescue, pity the government did not have a little store house, call it BMC.

Thanks Dawie. Insightful reasoning. Perhaps an added thought; Poverty, due to a lack of healthy nutrition and plenty of stress, might affect people’s immune systems too, which may make them even more likely to contract the virus, which they may not have, if fit and healthy otherwise.

Contrary to this, poverty, a tough upbringing with exposure to unhygienic conditions may raise immunity!?


But more likely exposure to some natural factors.

Exposure to a warmer climate (more than 95% of cases are in Northern Hemisphere, still in Winter, and more than 90% in Europe and USA). This virus, like ‘flu and many other viri, thrives in the cold but not above specific temperatures.

Also, greater exposure to sunlight (UltraViolet radiation, particularly UV3, is instantly deadly to virus).

Previous inoculations may have some contribution, but not proven so far.

The care of the ANC government for their people are best exemplified by Life Esisedimedi, their care about their populations safety by Marikana and their growth of the economy by the vast collapse over the last 25 years.

Enough said !!!!!

Agreed. Now they will get desperate for their gravy train to continue. What will they destroy next, since tax income will be obliterated?

Well argued, thank you.

Something I have not seen discussed here or explicitly elsewhere is whether individual suffering on the part of the person losing his life, and that of the family and friends losing someone, differs under the Covid-19 and lockdown scenarios.

Does the individual or his family fear death by Covid-19 more than death by poverty for himself or their loved ones, whether these are rational fears or not? What role does the media play in amplifying or dampening these fears? Is the State reacting to this fear? Do different socio-economic groups differ in their fears, and how do these differences play out given that the socio-economic groups have differing abilities to pull on levers of power?

Thanks. As an outsider to the field, it seems obvious that the biggest “strength” of the virus is that is spreads silently before symptoms appear, or the infection is entirely without symptoms, or very mild symptoms in some cases. Dr Fauci said about two weeks ago that 50% of cases could be asymptomatic. Preliminary data from a study of people tested entering China found 78% of positive cases had no symptoms. A report yesterday from our own experts mentioned a University of Austin, Texas study that reckoned there could be 50 unidentified cases for every one case that was discovered. High numbers are “good”, in that it means the disease in reality is much less deadly if 50 people can slip by “under the radar” for every one that gets ill.

But why don’t we mitigate and take control of the most dangerous period in the infection: those early silent weeks? Call for healthy young volunteers who are prepared to live in a University residence or in a football stadium for four weeks with *deliberate* low-initial-dose infection. Get our healthy young workforce through the COVID-19 gauntlet in a controlled, managed situation, with all the support they need. And with the guarantee that while their mojo-filled immune systems conquer the disease, they cannot cross-infect the more vulnerable members of their communities.

We need to focus some of our energy on building our societal herd immunity which we get when about 60-70% have immunity. And our young healthy people can do that for us with minuscule collateral damage, and help get the wheels of the economy back on track.

We have a lockdown for some but not for others.

Transport minister is hard at work spreading the virus but I am sitting at home.

Went shopping this week, some people with masks others no masks. You wash your hands and then touch a packet of carrots or a liter of milk. Was it washed? So whats the point, lets get on with the restart and take precautions.

Did HIV stop people having sex? No they took precautions.

The ANC’S mantra during the struggle was ‘To Make the Country Ungovernable ‘ . Looking at our situation
you have to acknowledge that it was a great success which unfortunately for all us still persists today . No one
has told the masses that the practice was suppose to be a temporary one …….

Great article Dawie.

But at the same time I’m somewhat irritated by this article. Not with Dawie, but the whole situation SA finds itself in.

This all makes for interesting debate around the braai and a few cold ones with mates (remember those days!), but in the end this is all just debate. As much as I respect Dawie, he doesn’t have the ear of Cyril, and these thoughts never enter the discussions at Luthuli house. So in the end, the man on the street (remember those days!) is simply left to the whims of some halfwit who is politically connected.

Anyway, keep up the good work Dawie!

I have read that up to twenty children die per day in SA as a result of hunger and malnutrition. To put that into perspective – we have had slightly more deaths than that in total from Covid 19. But how many more such deaths will we be causing as a result of the lockdown..?

Poverty as a result of the lockdown, specifically difficulty in getting food, will certainly cause more deaths than the virus. Especially of the poor, especially of young children.

The anc lives by stalins mantra:

A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.

Its funny to see how many “word warriors” are out there regarding the lockdown. Now dont get me wrong, I am no fan of the government but consider this:

Its a simple case of mathematics being the R naught. Flu has typically a value of 1, so 2500 people could infect a further 2500 for a total of 5000, then 5000 becomes 10000 etc without isolation. For covid-19 its around 2.5 so 2500 becomes 8750 becomes 30625 becomes 107000 approx. You see the problem? That’s ignoring the silent carriers. Also, to the word warriors, would YOU be prepared to work in offices and workplaces where many of your co-workers are sick with COVID-19? Unlikely…

I agree finance is critically important, being in finance myself, but you can’t “take money with you when you pass” but you can accumulate it with discipline if you have a reasonable level of health. Health being key..

That said, some form of reparations should be instituted against those who brought it to the world (and no, a few tonnes of faulty masks and PPE is not enough)..

A thought provoking article.

Dawie a lot of hard work and calculations for nothing, you must be bored mate. You dont need to calculate anything. You dont need to waste your money on feel good testing. Here is the problem.

You have a small window in which to test people.
You have to test the right people to get stats that are meaningful.
The tests will only tell you what the rate of infection is and thats it.
We have no idea how many people are currently infected and our guess is whatever we want it to be. World stats show that the more you test the higher the infection rate and the falling infection rate corresponds with a lower rate testing regime.
When lockdown ends everyone is going to get this anyway by then testing will be over and within less than 3 months social distancing will have been forgotten by the majority.
When we stop publishing figures of positives testing the virus itself will be forgotten by the majority.
Those that never got sick from it will not even believe the government that there was a virus.
No one can actually model or tell you with any certainly or even probability what the stats are on preventable deaths which you have highlighted.
Those horror pictures we have been shown of Italy, Spain etc will play out here and we cannot stop it unless we have a vaccine or for some reason our people are genetically different.
We kid ourselves that when this lockdown is finished we will somehow prove that 300 000 (your guess) dying over 6 months is somehow better than 300 000 dying over 3 months. Of course if they suddenly find a cure next month then you and I look like Adolf Hitler.

We have to have to get our mines back to full production. In January gold value was around R690 /per gram it is now around R910 /per gram. Just do the maths on the foreign income and taxes at these rates. We are in a fantastic bear run the likes that have not been seen for many many years and we sit idle watching the gravy train drive through our station without even stopping.

This country needs to go back to work ASAP.

Your assumptions are not quote correct about the virus, hoping not to speak too soon, but it looks like Australia has knocked the virus out of the ball park. Things are very soon going to be back to normal in Aus.

“Australia’s results have come despite less stringent restrictions. It has allowed more industries to continue operating, such as construction, and consumers can still get a haircut or buy a takeaway meal, keeping many workers on lower incomes employed.

“Australia is doing better than New Zealand without going to that extreme,” said Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician at Canberra Hospital who advises the Australian government.

Collignon questions whether New Zealand’s eradication strategy is realistic.

“The reality is this virus is everywhere, it’s all around the world,” he said. “So even if you’re successful for a short period of time, how long do you do this for? Six months? Two years? Invariably, you’re going to get the virus re-introduced.”

One concern is the phenomenon of asymptomatic transmission. The possibility that people can pass along the disease even though they show no symptoms underscores the challenge of containing the pandemic.”

“Australia is doing better than New Zealand without going to that extreme,” said Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician at Canberra Hospital who advises the Australian government.

Collignon questions whether New Zealand’s eradication strategy is realistic.

“The reality is this virus is everywhere, it’s all around the world,” he said. “So even if you’re successful for a short period of time, how long do you do this for? Six months? Two years? Invariably, you’re going to get the virus re-introduced.”

History has taught us that no matter what decision the ANC collective makes, it will be the wrong one. There is nothing that can be done to change this. This is the unintended consequences of a democracy. We are veering into the headlights of a police state.

When the hapless and the clueless meet to form a government, this is what you get. A fight against a virus turned into an experiment in prohibition.

I loathe to think what will happen if we have mass deaths in a very short period. Julius will milk it for all its worth. To have bodies pile up in townships will lead to mass protest and violence never seen before and it will not be the ANC they will blame. Don’t underestimate the hunger for blood when their loved ones have all died and we all cushy and and comfortable

Julius may start to realise that his worst enemy is not the white man, it’s his opposition (ex) political party.

Indeed. The anc will not sit by idly when the masses are baying for blood.

The casualties from the virus will pale into insignificance when compared to the casualties from the violence.

Interesting article but does not contextualise the root cause of poverty in Africa,which is endemuc corruption, maladministration and culture.

South Africa has never had a noncorrupt government, but we have gone from bad to wors with the ANC.

The current situation is a few hundred years in the making but what makes SA’s situation particularly difficult is having up to 9m more people to deal with through illegal immigrants and vastly extended squatter camps thanks in full to two political parties, the NP and the ANC.

The other contex worth noting is the world’s financial system, which is better known for its greed and boom bust than its ability to spread wealth, alleviate poverty and deliver better lives for all. In short, it is highly exploitative at the cost of lives (mostly poor persons lives).

So then Covid-19 is just exposing the core reality more sharply and while I agree that poverty is the bigger killer (between Covid-19 and poverty) the biggest killers are still corruption and the financial system.

Covid-19 just shows up that we need to change both but this is impossible withe the ANCin place.

Ah a typical article from an economist – so many “what ifs” and “if that happens” or “if that plays out” – then I as an economist achieved my goal – bull@@@% baffles brains

“so many “what ifs” and “if that happens” or “if that plays out”… As opposed to? A crystal ball. If you have hard info, do share …

No different to financial advisers who are clueless – 90% speculation and opinion. No one has ‘price’ in their technical analysis but it is the leading indicator. Of course some of them are right occasionally – just as a broken clock is right twice a day.

However, they are not alone with economists, the same is true of the media, IMHO 90% is speculation and opinion. The rest is fake news – lol !

Life’s uncertain and nobody can see the future. Get used to it. However, if you don’t plan, you will fail. Rather plan and give yourself a chance of reaching 50% of the goal, than do nothing and miss by 100%.

Well sorry to burst your bubble here but if you can tell any of us what the precise weather will be on this day the 13th May 2030 then by your rationale you are shooting yourself in the foot. No one can say with 100% clarity what the markets are going to do. That means local markets, global markets, which asset class will stand out above the rest etc. Sure if I look at the climate patterns for South African weather of years past I will have a general rule of thumb to predict what the weather will be like in future, sort of looking a historical rates of return for a fund over time with all things being equal. But to tar all advisers with the same brush is either very narrow or disingenuous. Sort of saying all Drs are glorified pill reps and more interested in the 19th hole at the golf course, all mechanics are crooks, all advisers are snake oil salesmen?

COVID death numbers are almost certainly way off. Firstly, most studies show a ‘herd immunity’ rate of about 50-60%. So infections would never run at 100%. 55% could be a reasonable number. Then 1% deaths is almost certainly way off. Roughly 18% of people need hospital treatment (at least meds + oxygen – more than just a bed in a conference centre or stadium) and about 1/4 of those need intensive (those mostly have comorbidities).
With exponential growth you will be able to treat very few of the 18% plus very few of non-COVID ailments requiring hospital treatment. You have a complete health system breakdown – which will extend for at least some months after the COVID peak. So something like 3-5% might be more reasonable. At 4% with 55% infected you are looking at 1.2M deaths. Having said that, Karim thinks exponential growth is unavoidable whereas other countries seem to be regarding the peak reached during this lockdown as their likely overall peak. So maybe we are in for it regardless.

Thanks Dawie, but perhaps you should consider this slightly differently:
Lockdown certainly doesn’t prevent all deaths from COVID-19, but it is designed to prevent a massive spike in infections and AVOIDABLE deaths by allowing our hospitals time to prepare and also deal with the inevitable influx of patients by spreading them over a longer period of time.
So, the question is, how many of the 300 000 (or 600 000) COVID-19 deaths are AVOIDABLE and how many aren’t? Also, how could deaths from other causes increase due to hospitals being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients? So, the mortality rate of 1% may not be the only factor you have to look at, as there could be deaths from other causes that coud’ve been avoided. Similarly, how many potential poverty deaths are AVOIDABLE? I realise this is probably impossible to calculate, but consider that we can also address the poverty issue over time, as deaths from poverty don’t occur over the course of a few days or weeks. COVID-19 deaths do, so the first priority must be to make COVID-19 manageable. Then we need to look at the economic fallout.
I do agree though, that a lockdown that is too long will “tip the scales” and make the economic fallout a lot harder, if not impossible, to manage

Runbird, I disagree with you saying death from Poverty will take time. There are kids suffering from malnutrition as we write and their parents don’t have a dime for food right now!!! The cure for malnutrition is not simply feeding, prolonged malnutrition causes so many long term health issues, tragically mental stinting amongst them. This lockdown model is not a fix for SA and where the ANC have put it, perhaps in more mature and advanced thinking countries yes!!! It’s a “horses for courses” approach and IMO SA have backed the wrong horse, sincerely hope I’m wrong!!

So, yes, death from other causes may just overwhelm our hospitals as the malnourished peoples immunities deteriorate! Toughest one yet!?

Well-reasoned – and useful – speculation, Dawie.

In the absence of a plethora of solid facts, and a developing crisis, one has to start – somewhere – with the best assumptions we can muster. This at least establishes a beginning framework from which to interrogate the problem.

So well done, Dawie!

My 2c is that Economists focus on the relatively superficial concepts of “Wealth” and its antithesis, “Poverty” WITHOUT any real inspection of what actually DRIVES these concepts one way or the other.

For example, we are now in one helluva bad situation.

Why us?

And not others?

Do CLEVER people generally AVOID getting themselves REPEATEDLY stuck in bad cul-de-sacs?

I think they do.

And therefore the REAL “Wealth of a Nation” is determined not by how much “money” or “resources” a nation has. These are just temporary. But by something MUCH more, valuable, powerful and enduring – how high the “average intelligence” of that nation is.

The premise of the article is accurate, though if one undertakes research on the topic of the relationship between increased unemployment/recession, and increased morbidity, as per published journals, it is seen that there is a marked difference between first world experiences, such as Greece (being part of the European Union) and Third World Economies.

In the Journal Article “Patterns of life expectancy before and during economic recession, 2003–12: a European regions panel approach”, it was shown that morbidity actually decreased in times of economic recession in first world countries, as with less economic activity, due to various factors such as social protection and the like.

That said, the position is very different in third world countries. in the Journal Article “Effect of economic recession and impact of health and social protection expenditures on adult mortality: a longitudinal
analysis of 5565 Brazilian municipalities”, the study found that, in respect of the period from 2012 to 2017, the mean relative increase in the adult mortality rate was 1·4% per 1 percentage-point increase in unemployment. The cumulative increase in unemployment experienced at the time was 3·1 percentage points, such that the recession was associated with a 4·3% increase in mean municipal mortality rate. That study did find that in municipalities with high expenditure on health and social protection programmes, no significant increases in recession-related mortality were observed.

What could this mean for South Africa? STATS SA, in their Statistical Release P0309.3, “Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2016:
Findings from death notification”, provided that in 2016, the number of deaths recorded in South Africa was 456,612. If the unemployment rate rises by 10%, which appears to be a conservative estimate, and the South African increase in morbidity correlates to what was experienced in Brazil, the increase in morbidity, per year, would be anticipated at 14%, or just under 64,000 persons per the 2016 death statistics. Double the increase in unemployment and you double the increase in morbidity.

In such event, the estimates recorded in the article are starting to look like very low-ball estimates.

Food for thought.

Many. many times more people, mostly poor, will die of poverty than from this virus.
Very likely that more will die from SAPS and SANDF brutality than from the f=virus.
Very very likely that more will suffer and die from corruption of the ruling party.

It amazes me how the sjw’s believe that saving one life from the virus justifies killing the economy.

Your analysis follows the path of environmental economics, that is to balance the marginal social costs with the marginal social benefits. In this situation it is important to think multidimensionally in order to develop win-win opportunites.

If we lockdown all those who are unemployed and those with weak immune systems as well as the elderly, then that leaves us with a maximum potential infected population of say 10million. If the mortality rate amongst this group is 0.5% (because they are healthy, though I think its closer to 0.1%). Then the potential deaths is 50,000. However this can be further reduced through testing, contract tracing and isolation.
This shows that the cost of poverty is actually much higher than the managed cost of the covid19 disease. The advantage of this is we create herd immunity so it reduces the future risk of the disease as it cant be spread by the majority who become immune.

In addition we have additional information that there are no known cases in some municipalities, since the incubation period is know less than the lockdown period we can unlock these municipalities, barracading them from hotspots.

The question is how do we separate healthy workers from the rest of the public? Solution: We use the empty hotels, B&B’s and school and university dormetries, we create camps outside work offices etc.

There is little doubt that our government has failed miserably at managing the poverty risks that our country faces.

You assume that activity would be normal in the absence of a legislated lockdown but that is far from being the case. Apart from the hospitality industry effects many would choose to behave differently out of caution and uncertainty.



I agree 100% with Dawie.

Here is a solution: SACRIFICE ME

I am over 60 and am thus in the “High risk” category. Do I expect you to sacrifice the country, the future of our children and grandchildren to lower my risk?

NO! I think if you ask most sane, high-risk people they will agree with me.

I can lower my own risk by self -isolation if I believe it to be necessary.

Let those who feel they are at high risk isolate themselves out of their own free will.

Let those who want to work, go to work. Let those who want to support the economy (customers) do so without restrictions. The young and strong who carry our economy will become immune to the virus.

Statistically the chances are about 4% that I will die if I get the virus. About 9% of South Africa’s population is over 60. Four percent of nine percent is about 0.36%.

If we stop the shutdown and expose ALL the high risk people to the virus maybe four in one thousand might suffer. If the high risk people isolate themselves this figure will be almost zero. If we do not stop the shutdown and crash the economy ALL (including the high risk people) will suffer.

The poor who need this country the most will be the hardest hit.


If we allow the high risk people to Isolate themselves, grow the economy and pay taxes through profits we will be able to put systems in place to take better care of the high risk people.

Free deliveries, special hours at supermarkets, free medical care with home visits etc.

Let government take the best possible care of employers. Only employers can create a strong economy.

If someone employs many people make him a hero, not the bad guy!

Reward him for employing people, do not punish him with more restrictions, rules and regulations.

Do not mix racism with economy.

Reward and be grateful for ANYONE that creates jobs and pay taxes regardless of colour, race or religion.

If we punish employers with crazy rules and allow them to be troubled by bad employees through things like unjustified CCMA cases we will destroy our employers and the economy.

I will take care of myself, let us all together take care of South Africa.

Pieter de Weerdt

CEO Dastek International

@PieterDW …..Pieter, your post is spot on

Unfortunately, all in vain

Good citizens like yourself are totally ignorant of the larger agenda behind this ‘plandemic’ as some are now calling it

End of comments.





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