Cost Benefit Analysis

By the President of Tel Aviv University, Apr 18, 2020: “Allow me to deviate from the protocol and add a few more words. One of the common failures of a cost-benefit analysis is to highlight the obvious and visible damages, while ignoring or diminishing the importance of other, no less serious, damage that are not foreseen at first sight. In our case, too, caution must be taken not to underestimate the burden of damages caused by the closure. I am not talking here only about the enormous economic damage, the unprecedented unemployment, the damage to the underprivileged population, the small and large businesses, but also to the damage to life and health. Each day, data is published on the increase in the number of people with the coronavirus disease and on the number of people who have died. But this is partial information that may be misleading. No one presents the number of those who are paying with their health, and in the near future also with their lives, because of their inability or deterrence from obtaining essential medical services these days. We do not know, for example, how many residents of the country will die in the coming years due to the non-disclosure of cancer or heart disease from which they suffer unknowingly, as public hospitals work at an output of 20% (other than for coronavirus patients). We also do not know how many patients who want to receive medical treatment and who are sent back to their homes will suffer. We also do not know how many patients who would normally go to hospitals for essential treatments are prevented from doing so because of the fear of death, although the risk of the coronavirus is negligible compared to the risk they are in. This is before we talk about the rise in domestic violence, the loneliness of the elderly and the impact it has on their health and lives, the mental health of the entire population, the nutritional damage that may befall entire families whose breadwinners have been fired and forced to change their dietary habits as a result, and more. I hope that the decision makers perform the cost-benefit analysis in a complete and exhaustive manner.”