In an interview this weekend, the World Health Organisation’s Special Envoy on Covid-19,  Dr David Nabarro, seemed to reverse the global body’s advice on Covid-19 lockdowns. 

Talking to the Spectator’s Andrew Neil, Dr Nabarro urged world leaders to stop using lockdown as a “primary control method” and warned that lockdowns would increase poverty and hit those most disadvantaged hardest – with a doubling of child malnutrition possible.

Dr David Nabarro, who is also professor of Global Health at Imperial College London called on countries to work together to find better ways of dealing with the virus.

 

“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr Nabarro told the Spectator.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

He said that countries needed to consider the global impact of national lockdowns, explaining that poorer economies were being hardest hit – and world poverty expected to double.

“Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” he said.

“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. … Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”

“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” Dr Nabarro said.

“And so, we really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method. Develop better systems for doing it. Work together and learn from each other,” he added.

The WHO ‘s envoy’s advice comes as the Irish government is mulling another level 5 lockdown, even as a continued level 3 lockdown is forcing many small businesses to close.

The Spectator’s Andrew Neil also referenced Professor Sunetra Gupta, an epidemiologist at Oxford University who co-authored The Great Barrington Declaration which states that lockdowns are doing “irreparable damage.”

“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection,” read the petition. “Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.”

Recent figures from the World Bank show that for the first time in 30 years, the number of people in extreme poverty globally, is rising. Extreme poverty, as defined by the World Bank, entails surviving on less than $1.90 a day.