Lancet letter: ‘Lockdown is not egalitarian: the costs fall on the global poor.’ #epitwitter

We wrote this letter a couple of months ago in response to an editorial in the Lancet suggesting that opposing lockdowns was neoliberal. I continue to be surprised by how the world hasn’t noticed that, in fact, extreme measures to combat COVID-19 shift the burden from the wealthy to the poor, who suffer more from the measures than from the disease. It’s a disease that primarily affects the old, and thus primarily the wealthy. This is true even if people who are of the same age fare worse if they are lower down the socioeconomic scale. That is unsurprising, extremely so; what is surprising, and what outweighs that effect massively, is that this disease is so much more dangerous for demographics that are dominated by the wealthy of the world. I still feel that has not been grasped in the global north. So, I’m very pleased to have this letter out. Maybe it will change the perspective just a little towards a more global one.

Chief of Health at UNICEF Stefan Peterson @stefanswartpet tells @Telegraph what he told us weeks ago: that the lockdown will kill children and most likely more people than it saves

It’s important to bear in mind that the appropriate comparison is not lockdown-or-bust, but lockdown vs. some more moderate and contextually feasible social distancing measures in conjunction with protection of vulnerable groups.

The documentary where he told us this to us is below.

7 minute low-res version:


30 minute high res version:

At 18:30 South Africa time I’m part of a panel: “Ethics and Applicability of the Social Distancing Model in the Global South” organised by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law #epitwitter @ujphilosophy @ujmedia

South Africa, W Europe 18:30 | UK 17:30 | USA East 12:30

To join the event, RSVP here

From the organisers:

“Having first emerged in high and upper-middle income countries (China, Europe, USA), the dominant response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been to try to ‘flatten the curve’ through social distancing, while buying time to develop vaccines and cures. Almost all affected countries in the global north have pursued this strategy, with only a few exceptions such as Sweden, which has refused to order social distancing. It is too early to tell if Sweden will pay a heavy price for its heterodox approach, just as it is too early to know the social and economic costs of social distancing edicts in the north. However, at a moment when the pandemic has begun to shift to the global south, it is appropriate to reflect on the trade-offs of the social distance-dominated mitigation model, as well as its applicability across all environments.”

Read more… | RSVP here to join the event


Professor Alex Broadbent, Director of the Institute for the Future of Knowledge; and Professor of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg (South Africa)

Professor Margaret Gyapong (BSc, MSc, PhD), Director, Institute of Health Research, University of Health and Allied Sciences (Ghana)

Dr. Catherine Kyobutungi (MBChB, MSc, PhD), Executive Director at the African Population and Health Research Center (Kenya)

Professor Alicia Yamin, Senior Advisor on Human Rights at Partners in Health; Senior Fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School; and Advisor at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation and the Bergen Center on Ethics and Priority Setting (United States)


Professor Jackie Dugard, Scholar in Residence at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, NYU School of Law; Associate Professor at the School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Read more… | RSVP here to join the event

COVID on the Breadline

The Institute for the Future of Knowledge at the University of Johannesburg has partnered with Picturing Health to make a short documentary depicting the impact of severe lockdown measures on those living in poverty in the developing world.

COVID on the Breadline from PICTURING HEALTH on Vimeo.

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