Commentary

A line of people wait outside a COVID-19 testing site in Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 7, 2020.

A line of people wait outside a COVID-19 testing site in Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 7, 2020. (Jae C. Hong / AP)

 By Abby Liebing  February 1, 2022 at 4:02pm

COVID-19 lockdowns were not effective, according to a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins.

The study evaluated three different kinds of COVID intervention studies: lockdown stringency index studies, which look at overall stringency of a government’s response in a daily basis, shelter in place order studies and non-pharmaceutical intervention studies.

The report included an analysis of 24 studies — separated into the three categories.

“An analysis of each of these three groups support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2 percent on average,” the report said.

“SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9 percent on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.”

Studies looking into non-pharmaceutical intervention showed that there is no broad-based evidence that it had an effect on COVID mortality.

“We find no evidence that lockdowns, school closures, border closures and limiting gatherings have had a noticeable effect on COVID-19 mortality,” the researchers wrote.

The study pointed out that lockdowns have not been used for any major pandemics in the past century, so there was no real precedent for them being imposed.

Do you believe COVID lockdowns were ineffective?

While the lockdowns had nearly no effect on the mortality rate, the study did mention that it had damaging effects on the economy.

“However, lockdowns during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic have had devastating effects. They have contributed to reducing economic activity, raising unemployment, reducing schooling, causing political unrest, contributing to domestic violence and undermining liberal democracy,” the study reported.

Based on this evidence, the researchers outright condemned the whole idea of lockdowns.

“These costs to society must be compared to the benefits of lockdowns, which our meta-analysis has shown are marginal at best. Such a standard benefit-cost calculation leads to a strong conclusion: Lockdowns should be rejected out of hand as a pandemic policy instrument.”

The study noted that when the pandemic arrived, there were really only two options for how society could have responded: voluntary behavioral changes or mandated behavioral changes.

Clearly, the U.S. and Europe went the route of mandated changes. But as already concluded, this ended up being almost entirely ineffective for mitigating COVID.

The study looked more specifically at the individual measures taken during COVID — border closures, limited gatherings, school closures — and concluded that individually, these also had little effect.

“Overall, lockdowns and limiting gatherings seem to increase COVID-19 mortality, although the effect is modest (0.6 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively), and border closures has little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality,” the study said.

Researchers did note that school closures had a small effect; however, they said this may be due to “other effects such as seasonal and behavioral effects.”

While the study concluded that face masks and the closing of some non-essential businesses may have had some impact, overall, the mandated behavioral changes of lockdowns were unhelpful.

This study is not the first time the effectiveness of the lockdowns has been disputed. For about a year now, more and more people have been speaking out about the ineffectiveness of lockdowns.

In May 2021, the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal said that lockdowns did not stop COVID.

Forbes reported on another study that confirmed this point back in March 2021.

Many have continued to argue that while lockdowns and other mandated measures did not stop COVID outright, they were not entirely unhelpful.

But this new study from the Johns Hopkins researchers uses meta-data to statistically prove that mandated measures were ineffective.

It is unfortunate lockdowns were so ineffective. Many predicted this, and now we are still dealing with the aftermath of the economic destruction of worldwide lockdowns.

Though it is frustrating that only now, two years after the pandemic, people are finally starting to confirm that lockdowns were a bad idea, at least that false narrative is finally starting to be cracked. And it is not just being cracked by opinion, but by hard data.

Hopefully this growing realization and the acknowledgement of the data will stop our society from ever imposing such harmful behavioral mandates again.

Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.

Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.

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