How Should We Evaluate Lockdowns? Disentangling Effectiveness, Context, and Politics

Very pleased to share a new blog post I’ve written with Herkulaas Combrink, Benjamin Smart and Damian Walker for the Center for Global Development’s commentary and analysis section.

https://www.cgdev.org/blog/how-should-we-evaluate-lockdowns-disentangling-effectiveness-context-and-politics

Is lockdown right? Bioethics, global health and COVID-19. Talk I’m giving for PhilHEAD workshop https://philhead.org/events/ 17 Oct, 3pm SA/EU

Excited to be giving these thoughts their first outing, in what I hope will be my considered philosophical paper on the thoughts I’ve been having during 2020. The event is open and you can join here: https://bit.ly/3lnxPci

Interview – why lockdowns didn’t work in South Africa – Radio 702 https://omny.fm/shows/early-breakfast-with-abongile-nzelenzele/why-lockdown-didnt-work

https://omny.fm/shows/early-breakfast-with-abongile-nzelenzele/why-lockdown-didnt-work

Commenting on a recent piece in The Conversation, related to a paper published in Global Epidemiology recently, indicating no obvious effect of lockdown over and above mitigation in South Africa.

Lockdown didn’t work in South Africa https://theconversation.com/lockdown-didnt-work-in-south-africa-why-it-shouldnt-happen-again-147682https://theconversation.com/lockdown-didnt-work-in-south-africa-why-it-shouldnt-happen-again-147682

Latest from our ongoing research project at the Institute for the Future of Knowledge with the Center for Global Development. We are looking at indirect health effects of lockdown, meaning the effects on things other than COVID-19. But in the process, we couldn’t help but notice the direct effects too – or rather, their absence…

https://theconversation.com/lockdown-didnt-work-in-south-africa-why-it-shouldnt-happen-again-147682

Paper just out in Global Epidemiology: COVID-19 in South Africa https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloepi.2020.100034 #epitwitter @CGDev @besmart

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590113320300183

With Herkulaas Combrink and Benjamin Smart.

Part of a project at the Institute for the Future of Knowledge funded by the Center for Global Development. The project looks at the indirect health effects of lockdown in multiple countries.

1-day Conference: Philosophy in Medical Education, Tue 15 Sep https://philosepi.org/2020/09/14/conf-phil-med-edu/

Conference: Philosophy in Medical Education

15th September 2020

Place:
Online, registration via eventbrite

The Sowerby Philosophy of Medicine Project at King’s College London invite attendees to a one-day online conference exploring theory and practice of teaching philosophy as part of the medical curriculum. This event is free, open to the public and all are welcome! Registered attendees will receive an access link shortly prior to the event’s scheduled start time. Please register by 8:30 AM on the 15th of September.

Programme
10:00 – 11:15Juliette Ferry-Danini (Paris) – “Considerations from the French experience: Why teaching philosophy should not mean humanising doctors.”
11:15 – 11:30Break
11:30 – 12:45Alexander Broadbent (Johannesburg) – “‘Either philosophy can make the difference between life and death, or it has no place in medical education.’ Discuss.”
12:45 – 13:45Lunch
13:45 – 15:00Raffaela Campaner (Bologna) – “What philosophical approaches in medical education? Theoretical and empirical issues.”
15:00 – 15:15Break
15:15 – 16:30Jonathan Fuller (Pittsburgh) – “Philosophy of medicine as a core discipline for learning the theory of medicine.”
16:30 – 17:00Concluding remarks: Alexander Bird (King’s/Cambridge)

General inquires can be directed to Harriet Fagerberg at harriet.fagerberg@kcl.ac.uk

Lots of people in Africa have already been infected with SARS-Cov-2. Good news, if frustrating for those of us predicting this since March https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/pandemic-appears-have-spared-africa-so-far-scientists-are-struggling-explain-why

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/pandemic-appears-have-spared-africa-so-far-scientists-are-struggling-explain-why

Lockdown was never right for Africa. Half the population is 19 or under, highlighted in this report; and known prior to COVID, of course. On the cost side of the balance sheet, other risks are massively dominant over that posed by COVID-19. Living conditions mean that suppression was never achievable in any case. Costs of lockdown were obviously going to be horrific, because recession means starvation in contexts of poverty. What a mess for those countries that did lock down. And those that didn’t seem to be doing fine, COVID-wise: e.g. Malawi, whose supreme court prevented the government from locking down.

Aside from all that, it’s clear that there’s a great deal of uncertainty about why some places get hit so much harder than others by COVID-19. Sweden is held up as being hit hard, and blamed; but that ignores the fact that many other European countries that did lock down were hit a lot harder. Why? I favour the following theory: we don’t know.

Epistemic humility in all matters relating to medicine is always appropriate.

Announcing a New Journal: Philosophy of Medicine

We are thrilled to announce the launch of a new academic journal, Philosophy of Medicine. The journal’s website is live for submissions at http://philmed.pitt.edu.

Philosophy of Medicine is an open-access journal that publishes exceptional original philosophical research and perspectives on all aspects of medicine, including medical research and practices. Through its public-facing section The Examination Room, it also publishes content for the wider public, including health professionals and health scientists.

The mission of Philosophy of Medicine is to serve as the flagship journal for the field by advancing research in philosophy of medicine, by engaging widely with medicine, health sciences and the public, and by providing open-access content for all.

The journal is led by Alex Broadbent as inaugural Editor-in-Chief and Jonathan Fuller as Deputy Editor in Chief (see the full editorial team here: https://philmed.pitt.edu/philmed/about/editorialTeam). It is published by the University of Pittsburgh Library System through Open Journal Systems (OJS) with generous financial support from the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh and the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Johannesburg.

Queries about the journal can be sent to phil.med@pitt.edu.

The editors of Philosophy of Medicine look forward to stewarding the journal through this exciting new phase in the development of our field.

Warmly,

Alex Broadbent and Jonathan Fuller

Co-Founding Editors

Philosophy of Medicine

I think Sweden handled this pandemic better than any other country. Here’s Anders Tegnell explaining the Swedish stance, again: https://unherd.com/2020/07/swedens-anders-tegnell-judge-me-in-a-year/

If I guess the time, and get it right, do I know the time? No, says common sense, and nearly all theoretical and formal epistemology. If I guess that it will rain tomorrow, am I any better off? Presumably not. Yet we assess predictions almost entirely by whether they are right.

I do think Swedish predictive work was broadly accurate, compared to, for example, the models produced by Imperial College London. But more importantly, I think their stance was rational. They did what was right given the evidence. That isn’t the same as being right in the sense of landing on the truth. But there’s nothing either epistemically or morally significant about the latter. The former, however, is both. Sweden behaved more reasonably than any other country, or perhaps at least as reasonably as the most reasonable, given that there was room for reasonable disagreement.

The stance on Sweden is another version of the intellectual intolerance of the age. And it ignores the evidence. Sweden has done well: not perfectly, but no country has, that I can think of. Whether it comes out tops long-term is up in the air. But there is good reason to think it will – at least as good as the reasons to think it won’t.