At this stage, the coronavirus may have increased total human life in Australia through fewer road accidents involving younger people.

Safe Work Australia reported a 7 per cent dip in workplace fatalities this year to 70, although the data, which was updated May 7, is preliminary and could change.
On the roads, deaths fell 14 per cent to 365 at the end of April, according to the federal Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.
More life saved
In the cold-hearted world of actuaries, the 60 fewer roads deaths average age about 40 represents more life than the 98 unfortunate and mostly elderly individuals who succumbed to COVID-19.
Among those who have likely lived are children and teenagers, at the dawn of their lives, who would have otherwise been killed in car crashes with parents, as pedestrians, or inexperienced drivers. Twelve fewer people under 17 died in the year ended April 30 than in the average of the previous four years.
Almost half the COVID-19 deaths were people who had already reached, or passed, the natural lifespan of the average Australian, which is 82.5 years, according to the Department of Health and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, a government agency.
Passengers from the Artania cruise ship are transported from the Fremantle Passenger Terminal on buses by a police escort to Perth International airport to board a chartered Condor flight to Germany on March 29. Getty
That suggests the net gain from the pandemic is around 2300 years of human life, at this point, based on the decline in road deaths between this year and the same period last year.
COVID-19 and road deaths are reported in age bands, making precise calculations of average ages difficult, although the relative medians are clear: virus victims are roughly twice as old as road fatalities.
Vicious debate
Why so few Australians have died is one of the great COVID-19 mysteries, and forms part of a fierce and often vicious debate between lockdown opponents and proponents.
The few deaths doesn’t mean shutting down parts of the economy was unnecessary. The appropriate counter-factual is not what did happen, but what could have happened.
But the possibility that more life has been saved than lost, at this point, does provide important context for assessing the success of the extraordinary policy responses.
The recession is going to kill people. Whether more than in the pandemic will depend on the severity of any secondary outbreaks and the depth of the economic downturn.
Monash University academic Neil Bailey and consultant Daniel West estimate that 6776 people will die from loneliness and unemployment-related suicide.
Bailey and West were also part of the institutional consensus that argued a coming wave of death made a once-in-a-century-level recession necessary.
In an article published on May 8, they predicted that some quarter of million people would die if Australians were allowed to return to work. Even under an eradication strategy similar to the current policy, they said COVID-19 deaths would top 27,000.
“While people are understandably concerned about their jobs, businesses, or investments, it seems highly likely that the cure is not worse than the COVID-19 disease,” they wrote in a long-form version of an article published by The Conversation website.
On Sunday, Bailey, a research fellow at the Epworth Centre for Innovation in Mental Health, said he had been impressed by the few deaths, and if he had more time for the study would have compared the quality of life lost to the virus with that to recession.
“Two months ago to hear what the number of cases is today is, I would have been surprised,” he said. “I think that’s always the case with models. you are never going to accurately predict things.”
Making policy in a crisis is hard. Hindsight is easy.
For some reason the novel coronavirus has been much less virulent in Australia than predicted. It is important for public health to find out why, because there is a lot more death to come in many cases alone, on the fringes of society, and not in well-equipped intensive-care wards.