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(LifeSiteNews) — One of the most prestigious medical institutions in the world has published what is being hailed as the most rigorous evidence yet that COVID-19 lockdown policies failed to save lives.

Just published in Johns Hopkins University’s Studies in Applied Economics by Jonas Herby of the Center for Political Studies in Denmark, Lars Jonung of Lund University in Sweden, and Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins, the paper A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on Covid-19 Mortality is a meta-analysis of 24 studies (narrowed down from a pool of more than 18,000) on how effective restrictions on individuals’ movement and activity were at reducing COVID deaths.

“An analysis of each of these three groups” — lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-place order (SIPO) studies, and specific non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) studies — “support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality,” the study found. (NPIs are defined as “any government mandate[s] that directly restrict peoples’ possibilities, such as policies that limit internal movement, close schools and businesses, and ban international travel.”)

“More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average,” the abstract reads. “SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.”

“While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted,” the authors conclude. “In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”

Reviewing the meta-analysis for the Brownstone Institute, Joakim Book explains that the authors made sure to avoid the errors of pro-lockdown studies, such as “forc[ing] data to fit a certain model” for a predetermined conclusion, as well as the pitfalls of previous anti-lockdown compilations, such as “amassing confirming evidence for a certain hypothesis rather than comprehensively investigating how the full range of studies measure up.”

“The best case we can make for lockdowns is that the minor impact they may have had in temporarily averting deaths, are not worth the hassle, the pain, the societal upheaval, the misery and human suffering that accompanied them,” Book concludes. “Is anyone responsible ever going to admit that policy error?”

The paper is only the latest in a series of indictments of lockdown policies. In April 2021, Simon Fraser University economics professor Douglas Allen published a study reviewing more than 80 research papers on lockdowns across the world, which concluded that while lockdowns saved 22,333 years’ worth of lost life they also caused 6.3 million years of lost life, making the policy’s net long-term harm 282 times worse than its benefits, thanks to the combined toll of canceled or delayed care for other medical issues, and the psychological harm of lost jobs and social isolation, among other factors.

In October, a study by Marine Baudin, Jérémie Mercier, and Denis Rancourt attributed much of the U.S. COVID death toll to “persistent chronic psychological stress induced by the long-lasting government-imposed societal and economic transformations during the COVID-era [which] converted the existing societal (poverty), public-health (obesity) and hot-climate risk factors into deadly agents.”

That study also argues that many “COVID-19-assigned deaths may be misdiagnosed bacterial pneumonia deaths,” and that the “massive vaccination campaign … had no detectable mitigating effect, and may have contributed to making the younger population more vulnerable,” presumably by encouraging riskier behavior through exaggerated impressions of the vaccines’ effectiveness. 

Prominent figures in the federal health bureaucracy, who originally advocated “devastating” responses to lockdown critics, have in recent weeks backed away from their more restrictive prescriptions, though they have justified their about-face by citing the omicron variant, vaccine availability, and even political pragmatism rather than admit any fault in their previous positions.