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Ill Effects of Lockdowns are Far Greater Than Any Benefits

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Director at Public Health and American Well-Being Initiative
Joel M. Zinberg, M.D., J.D. is the Director of the Public Health and American Well-Being Initiative at Paragon Health Institute, and a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. A native New Yorker, he recently completed two years as General Counsel and Senior Economist at the Council of Economic Advisers in the Executive Office of the President.

A new study from Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for Applied Economics supports what I and others have long maintained: Lockdowns do not work, and their economic, social, educational and psychological costs far outweigh any health benefits they might bring.

Early in the pandemic, epidemiological modelers predicted catastrophic casualties that could be averted only with stringent lockdown measures. In response, nearly every country around the world imposed lockdown measures by the end of March 2020. Yet little evidence existed to support such actions, and the modeling studies were fatally flawed. 

Now the Hopkins literature review and meta-analysis, by professors Jonas Herby, Lars Jonung and Steve Hanke, finds that lockdowns — “defined as the imposition of at least one compulsory, nonpharmaceutical intervention (NPI)” such as school and business closures and limitations on movement and travel — “had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality.”

The authors reviewed thousands of studies and culled 34 that had reliable and sufficiently relevant data to review. The results were mixed: Several studies found no statistically significant effect of lockdowns on mortality; other studies found a significant negative relationship between lockdowns and mortality; and others found a significant positive relationship between lockdowns and mortality — i.e., that lockdowns actually increased COVID-19 deaths from COVID-19.

When the authors performed a meta-analysis — a statistical technique that combines the results of multiple studies addressing the same question and uses the pooled data to draw conclusions — they found that lockdowns failed to show a large significant effect on COVID-19 mortality: “the effect is little to none.” …

While lockdowns had little to no public-health benefits, they imposed enormous economic and social costs. Job losses in March and April 2020 exceeded 22 million and have not yet been fully recovered. Children lost years of educational and social development that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Psychological problems have soared throughout society. It’s hard to disagree with the Hopkins researchers’ conclusion that lockdowns “should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”

The full article is available in the New York Post.

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