How many more advanced cancer cases and how many more cancer deaths will we see because of the economic shutdown? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few of the recent articles pointing to health consequences from shutting down the economy:

  • Flu bug has essentially disappeared.
  • Rapid increase in alcohol deaths in England and Wales during the lockdown.
  • One study finds being at home is more dangerous than being at work.
  • Three articles point to the harsh medical consequences of the drop in cancer screenings; people are dying because of lack of access to health care during the lockdown.

I hope someday there will be accountability for the politicians and public health officials who put us in this place.

4/29/21 – Scientific American – Flu Has Disappeared Worldwide during the Covid Pandemic – Since the Covid pandemic began the incidents of influenza have shrank to level of inconsequential. One expert is quoted as saying there is “no flu circulating.”

Tally of deaths in the United States from influenza:

  • 34,000 – 2018-2019 flu season
  • 22,000 – 2019-2020 flu season
  • 600 – 2020-2021 flu season, yes 600

Article has graph of influenza cases per week in North America. Graph of the previous eight flu seasons shows huge spike a couple months ago. The graph for the 2021 flu season is a flat line indistinguishable from zero. Looking at the graph you assume that flu has completely disappeared from North America.

“Experts” mentioned in the article unanimously attribute the disappearance to the same protocols used in an attempt to limit Covid infection – wearing masks, washing hands, frequent use of hand sanitizers, and social distancing.

Amusingly, missing from the article is even the mere possibility of considering that there might perhaps be the option of miscoding or erroneous diagnosis. There is no hint that could even possibly happen.

5/6/21 – Lockdown Skeptics – Alcohol Deaths Rise to Highest Level Since Records Began in England and Wales – Deaths from alcohol abuse have been rising for many years in England and Wales. However, there is a 20% increase in 2020 over 2019 with most of the acceleration happening after the lockdown began.

Speculation as to the specific link is people who already had liver damage increasing the level of alcohol consumption pushing their livers over the edge.

Detail of the acceleration by time frame shows in the first quarter of 2020 there was an 8% increase in fatalities. In the fourth quarter there was a 30% increase over prior year quarter. First quarter – eight percent. Fourth quarter – thirty percent.

Speculation on the emotional link is many people used alcohol to cope with the anxiety and boredom and isolation of the lockdowns.

Oh, by the way… Impact is disproportionately on poor people.

Why are public health officials killing people?

5/11/21 – PJ Media – Lockdowns in Vain? Homes More Dangerous for Covid Spread Than Work and School, Study Claims – An economist at the University of Chicago took a look at infection rates after businesses started applying infection control protocols and found that those organizations (businesses and schools) had lower infection rates than homes.

Staying at home is the highest risk thing you could do. According to his analysis, being at home is more dangerous than being at work.

That suggests we shrank the economy, took away a year of education for most children, and permanently closed at least 100,000 businesses for nothing.

5/4/21 – Propublica – A Crisis of Undiagnosed Cancers Is Emerging in the Pandemic’s Second Year – With great compassion, article tell story of a dear woman who has sacrificed much to raise her precious three children being afraid to seek medical help for her swollen and painful breast, which was warm to the touch.

Reason for the delay in treatment? The pandemic. Fear of getting sick if she entered the hospital.

The result? An aggressive invasive cancer spread throughout one breast and metastasized to many places in her body. Treatment will postpone the inevitable, but statistically the oncologist says nobody lives longer than six or seven years with this cancer.

The oncologist has seen a huge surge in cancer patients since January with large portions of those being well advanced.

The reason? Unavailable cancer assessments. Fear of seeing a doctor. Fear of losing a job from the lost time of getting treatment.

5/7/21 – Foundation for Economic Education – Cancer Screenings Plummeted in 2020. The Results Are Grim. – Article highlights, interprets, and expands on the above Propublica report.

Stats mentioned by this article and the one in Propublica regarding cancer screenings:

  • 94% drop – reductions in cancer screenings across the country in January through April 2020
  • 96% drop – changing mammograms at Mount Sinai hospital in those four months
  • 80% drop – one month decrease in diagnoses of skin cancer at University of Pennsylvania Health system in March 2020
  • 86% drop – decline in cancer screenings during the peak of the pandemic
  • 60% drop – decline in cervical cancer screenings during peak

Another study says that in 2020 the number of cancer screenings dropped by 50% in total.

Some portion of that collapse in cancer screenings is due to fear. A huge portion of it is due to medical offices being completely closed. Another portion is due to all capacity of open facilities being diverted to Covid treatment with other departments (like cancer screenings and cancer treatment) shutdown.

It will take several years for the impact of the shutdown to show up in cancer deaths. The number of cases in total and the number of advanced cases in particular has increased. Treatment will postpone deaths, but there will be an increase.

How much?

There are only guesses at the moment.

  • 10,000 excess deaths – that’s the prediction from the National Cancer Institute of increased deaths in the next decade due to treatment delays with the estimate for breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
  • 21,000 excess deaths – that’s the estimate from the Mayo Clinic for increased deaths from only colorectal cancer.

The delayed screenings, primarily caused by government ordered shutdowns of those operations, has tragic results. The oncologist treating the woman featured in the Propublica article said the cancer would have been fully treatable six months earlier. With a six-month delay and the cancer having time to metastasize into ribs, sternum, hip, and lymph nodes, her cancer is now incurable.

Article closes by explaining the economic concept that there are no solutions, merely trade-offs.

Covid infection is a severe illness. There is no way to deal with it without causing other consequences. There are always trade-offs. By adopting harsh, severe steps to control Covid infection rates there are harsh, severe consequences.

Like treatable cancer transitioning to incurable. For tens of thousands of people.

5/3/21 – Wall Street Journal – The Consequences of Skipping Doctor Appointments During the Covid Pandemic – Article quotes a host of doctors and professors pointing out there will be significant health consequences for all the skipped cancer screenings and missed treatments.

Really?

Tell us something we haven’t known for, oh, about the last 10 months.

Eventually medical researchers will be able to quantify the impact.

It will take time, but hopefully we will eventually find out the consequence of locking people in assisted living facilities and prohibiting them from seeing a doctor for six or nine months.

It will also take time to calculate the number of cancer deaths caused by the government ordered economic shutdown.


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