Did the COVID lockdowns work? “Marginal at best,” conclude Johns Hopkins researchers
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread across the world in 2020, it caused near panic as doctors and governments struggled to understand and control it. Deaths rose day by day as hospitals and healthcare workers in some cities were overwhelmed by the huge number of sick and dying.
One “solution” that governments uniformly imposed in countries around the world, which was encouraged by international health organizations, was lockdowns – stay-at-home orders, school closures, business closures, bans to travel, etc. Two years later, it’s fair to ask the question: did the lockdowns work?
The overwhelming weight of evidence says “no,” according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Enterprise. The effect on mortality was marginal at best, they say, and the lockdowns caused a variety of social ills that we still face.
The study, called a ‘meta-analysis’, first looked at all of the studies conducted around the world since the start of the pandemic – more than 18,000 of them – and narrowed the list to the 34 most relevant. .
The conclusions drawn were surprising.
“While this meta-analysis concludes that the lockdowns had little or no public health effects, they imposed enormous economic and social costs where they were enacted,” the authors wrote. “Consequently, containment policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as an instrument of pandemic policy.”
How small is it?
“Specifically, studies on the Stringency Index find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States reduced COVID-19 mortality by only 0.2% on average.”
According to the study, shelter-in-place orders were only marginally more effective. These reduced mortality by only 2.9%.
As a policy to deal with the pandemic, however, the lockdowns have failed in light of the other consequences of their imposition.
“The use of lockdowns is a unique feature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns have not been used to such an extent in any of the pandemics of the last century. However, the lockdowns during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic had devastating effects. They have helped reduce economic activity, increase unemployment, reduce school attendance, cause political unrest, contribute to domestic violence, and undermine liberal democracy. These costs to society must be weighed against the benefits of lockdowns, which our meta-analysis has shown are marginal at best. Such a standard calculation of benefits and costs leads to a strong conclusion: Lockdowns should be rejected out of hand as a pandemic policy instrument.
A particularly negative aspect of the confinements which has been a major subject of our reports in The Daily Citizen is the government-imposed closure of churches and restrictions on religious gatherings. Such closures and/or attendance restrictions have been the subject of First Amendment legal challenges across the country, many of which have gone to the United States Supreme Court. And in cases that have reached the nation’s highest court, judges have unequivocally condemned closure orders that treated places of worship differently from similarly situated businesses and public facilities. Many state legislatures, upset by mandates issued by governors and health officials, have passed laws protecting churches from future shutdown orders. Other states have revised their public emergency laws to restrict the power given to governors to impose shutdowns and other mandates.
There is also no doubt that the school closures and remote learning imposed on students across the country have caused all kinds of damage to their well-being and academic progress.
There is no doubt that the shutdowns and other mandates have restricted civil liberties and caused damage to society. Now that we know the health benefits of such mandates have yielded next to nothing, we should be able to say no to future government attempts to repeat the same failed policies.
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