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COVID-19 will cost the US $16 Trillion

A new study by two Harvard Economists has estimated that the coronavirus will cost the United States about $16 Trillion, assuming the virus is contained by the fall of 2021. This is roughly 90% of the annual US GDP and essentially translates to a loss of $200,000 by each US family of 4.

Lockdowns contributed a lot

The authors of the study arrive at the estimates by summing up financial losses due to mortality, morbidity, mental health conditions as well as direct economic losses. The corona virus-induced recession, a big result of the lockdown, has significantly impacted unemployment, as the study explains;

Since the onset of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in March, 60 million claims have been filed for unemployment insurance. Before COVID-19, the greatest number of weekly new unemployment insurance claims (based on data from 1967 on) was 695 000 in the week of October 2, 1982. For 20 weeks beginning in late March 2020, new unemployment claims exceeded 1 million per week; as of September 20, new claims have been just below that amount.

Recessions feed on themselves. Workers not at work have less to spend, and thus subsequent business revenue declines. The federal government offset much of the initial loss owing to the shutdown, which has averted what would likely have been a new Great Depression. But the virus is ongoing, and thus full recovery is not expected until well into the future. The Congressional Budget Office projects a total of $7.6 trillion in lost output during the next decade.

Additionally, the lockdowns perpetuated isolation and loneliness, which when coupled with other ongoing factors exacerbated mental health conditions among people. Mental health conditions present a huge cost to individuals as well as society. And according to the study, the number of people reporting mental issues during the pandemic soared, effectively raising costs.

 …The proportion of US adults who report symptoms of depression or anxiety has averaged approximately 40% since April 2020; the comparable figure in early 2019 was 11.0%.5 These data translate to an estimated 80 million additional individuals with these mental health conditions related to COVID-19. If, in line with prevailing estimates, the cost of these conditions is valued at about $20 000 per person per year and the mental health symptoms last for only 1 year, the valuation of these losses could reach approximately $1.6 trillion.

What is worth noting about the study is the fact half of the total $16 Trillion is directly a result of the Covid-19 Induced recession. While the authors do not say it, the coronavirus induced recession has been mainly a result of cruel lockdowns that people have had to reckon with since the beginning of the pandemic. So, this in other words means that the government-mandated lockdowns will cost Americans $8 Trillion.

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