Tuberculosis is the deadliest infectious disease in the world. The WHO is highlighting Copenhagen Consensus research on ending the scourge.


Bjorn Lomborg

Like all other policies, corona restrictions need analysis of costs and benefits

In order to keep deaths from COVID-19 low, we might have to maintain social restrictions for most of what could be a two-year wait before vaccinations are hopefully available. However, the shutdown policies we are seeing implemented in many countries around the world now are not sustainable long-term, as they have devastating effects on the economy while not protecting us from a huge secondary wave of corona. Therefore, we need to map a middle course that both saves most lives and avoids a catastrophic recession.

This middle ground is more like what Sweden has been doing — recommending people to work from home if possible, and asking those who are sick and over 70 to avoid social contacts. But most people still work, children go to school, most of society is still running. This is long-term sustainable.
Lomborg argues in his new column that we need to discuss the trade-offs between tougher shutdowns and economic calamity openly. The article has been published around the globe, including Forbes (USA), China Daily, Economic Times (India), The Australian, Berlingske (Denmark), Milenio (Mexico), El Universo (Ecuador), Weltwoche (Switzerland), Bergens Tidende (Norway) and El Periodico (Guatemala).

The shutdown is unsustainable

On 60 Minutes Australia, Lomborg argues that we need to have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of shutdown policies to make informed policy choices going forward. We consider similar trade-offs between saving lives and keeping society going in other areas of our lives, too: For example, we could prevent all traffic deaths by setting the speed limit to 5 km/h. But of course this would have huge social ramifications and there are very good reasons for society not to choose such a restrictive approach.

In interviews with Ben Shapiro and Stuart Varney on the Fox Business Channel, Lomborg reaffirms that it's important to find a smart middle ground where we protect people AND keep the economy going. We need restrictions to the point where the curve flattens, but not so much that there is no curve left, as the second wave of corona would hit much harder after opening up society. Sweden's approach has been very successful in terms of keeping society running while not overloading the health care system. The country's chief epidemiologist even thinks that Stockholm will reach herd immunity in May.

It's time to end TB

For World Tuberculosis Day 2020, the World Health Organization highlighted the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, urging to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

In its campaign for action, the WHO is citing Copenhagen Consensus research showing that for every dollar invested to end TB, $43 is returned as the benefits of a healthy functioning society.

In some countries, these societal payoffs can be even more impressive. New research for Ghana Priorities shows that three interventions to tackle TB in the West African nation will yield social and economic benefits worth 38, 166 and 190 cedis respectively for every cedi spent. These benefit-cost ratios are some of the largest in the entire Ghana Priorities project.

Bjorn Lomborg wrote about this new research for Ghana's leading newspaper Daily Graphic.

Preorders are now open for Bjorn Lomborg's new book

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Cleaner air for every household in Ghana

Emissions caused by the use of solid fuels such as wood and charcoal for cooking are one of the leading health concerns in many developing countries. Globally, over 1.6 million people died in 2017 from diseases related to poor household air quality, and in Ghana, 10,000 lives are lost to this cause annually.

Research for Ghana Priorities finds that while LPG solutions can deliver large health benefits per household, they also come at a significant cost. The most cost-effective solution is changing from traditional cookstoves or open fire to improved, more energy-efficient stoves that generate less smoke.

Every cedi spent will yield benefits worth 9 cedis in a rural setting and 8 cedis in urban areas.

Learn more in Bjorn Lomborg's op-ed for Ghana's leading newspaper Daily Graphic.

The smartest ways to fight malaria

Malaria remains a major public health concern in Ghana. With one of every five citizens affected every year, it is the leading cause of death and disease and a great toll on all of society. The disease places an enormous demand on the country’s health system and economy, with an estimated annual burden of 1-2% of GDP.

Among the initiatives analyzed for Ghana Priorities, increasing testing to confirm suspected malaria cases in health facilities proves to be most effective. Near-universal coverage of testing and treatment will yield phenomenal societal returns of 134 cedis for every cedi spent.

Find out in Bjorn Lomborg's article for Daily Graphic which other policies can be highly cost-effective in the fight against malaria.

Focused actions to reduce poverty

Another new research paper for Ghana Priorities assesses actions to reduce poverty. Overall the researchers suggest that poverty graduation is likely to be the most effective use of public funds aimed at reducing poverty directly, yielding 1.8 cedi in social and economic benefits for every cedi invested.

However, Bjorn Lomborg concludes in Daily Graphic that it is possible that other, indirect approaches to poverty might be more effective. This could focus on improved education or better health care, which for the same amount of cedis often can help much more.

Lomborg on social media:

Corona: moderate social distancing is best

Why lockdown is the wrong strategy

School closure not or only little effective for reducing corona infection

How Economists Are Trying to Answer Coronavirus Questions

Half to two-thirds of the deaths from corona would have died anyhow this year

For many in India, the biggest concern isn't coronavirus. It's hunger.

Other voices citing Copenhagen Consensus research:

Women, Peace And Security - Challenges And Opportunities In Light Of The Corona Pandemic
Forbes (USA)


About Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus 

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg researches the smartest ways to do good in the world, and has repeatedly been named one of Foreign Policy’s top 100 public intellectuals.

He is the author of several best-selling books, Visiting Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and works regularly with many of the world’s top economists, including seven Nobel Laureates.

His think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, was named Think Tank of the Year in International Affairs by Prospect Magazine. It has repeatedly been top-ranked by University of Pennsylvania in its global overview of think tanks.

Lomborg is a frequent commentator in print and broadcast media, for outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, CNN, FOX, and the BBC. His monthly column is published in dozens of newspapers across all continents.
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