00:08 GMT26 May 2020
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    The comments come as anti-lockdown protests continue in parts of the US and beyond, while congressional Republicans and Trump Administration officials begin to eye the exit out of the unprecedented social distancing restrictions.

    Trump Administration economic adviser Peter Navarro said during an interview on Sunday with NBC’s Meet the Press that the Coronavirus lockdown will “indirectly” kill more people than the disease itself.

    “Opening up this economy is not a question of lives versus jobs. The fact of the matter is, and what President Trump realised early on, is that if you lock people down, you may save lives directly from the China virus but indirectly, you’re gonna kill a lot more people,” said Mr Navarro.

    Revealing the underlying logic of that statement, Mr Navarro went on to say that, “we know statistically that based on our experience with the China trade shock in the 2000s, that unemployment creates more suicide, depression and drug abuse. But we also know… in this crisis, as we’ve basically locked down our hospitals for everything but Covid, women haven’t been getting mammograms, or cervical examinations for cancer. We haven’t been able to do other procedures for the heart or the kidneys, and that’s gonna kill people as well.”

    While critics may doubt Mr Navarro’s comments, they have recently been substantiated by, among others, a group of experts at Johns Hopkins University who wrote that, “it is well-documented that economic downturns not only cause human suffering due to scarcity, but also lead to health problems and increases in mortality. In short, the virus is lethal; but so is poverty.”

    “Social distancing will save lives. Its economic costs are staggering… Even looking at the issue purely in terms of lives lost, injuries sustained, and lifelong psychological damage, there are tradeoffs that we feel have not been sufficiently acknowledged,” the experts added.

    Mr Navarro’s comments come amidst increasing calls from within the Trump Administration, including from the president himself, to begin turning the wheels of the US economy. Those positions are despite warnings from senior public health advisers, like Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading figure in the White House Coronavirus Task Force, that easing restrictions could cause a resurgence of Coronavirus cases.

    On Friday, May 16, during a White House press briefing in the Rose Garden, President Trump declared that the US will begin the process of reopening, “vaccine or no vaccine.”

    The president however proclaimed that the US would be initiating “Operation Warp Speed” to create a vaccine. The effort will be “a massive, scientific, industrial and logistical endeavour unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project,” the president said in reference to the US’ 1939-46 development of the first nuclear weapons.

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    lockdown, COVID-19, Trump administration, Peter Navarro
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