Have the advocates for lockdowns made their case? It's hard to see how they have. For one, advocates for lockdowns need to present evidence that lockdowns bring big benefits far in excess of the "no lockdown approach." They have not done so. Moreover, they have no shown that a lack of lockdowns is anywhere as dangerous as they have claimed in the name of pushing lockdowns to begin with. We can already see what the "no lockdown scenario" looks like. It looks like Sweden, and that's a better outcome than many pro-lockdown regimes can claim. Governments are nonetheless likely to continue claiming their lockdowns worked.
measures also have while
essentially expropriating private property. Mom-and-pop business owners were
told to shut their doors indefinitely, or face arrest. The unemployed were told
it was now illegal to work for a living if their careers were deemed
“non-essential.” Police for not “social
distancing” while by cops for attempting to
use playground equipment.
forcing large swaths of the
population to stay at home in the name of preventing the spread of disease.
politicians have long dreamed of forcing people into isolation . But it was most
recently revived during the George W. Bush administration. As reported in April,
Fourteen years ago, two
federal government doctors, Richard Hatchett and Carter Mecher, met with a
colleague at a burger joint in suburban Washington for a final review of a
proposal they knew would be treated like a piñata: telling Americans to stay
home from work and school the next time the country was hit by a deadly
Drs. Hatchett and Mecher
were proposing … that Americans in some places might have to turn back to an
approach, self-isolation, first widely employed in the Middle Ages.
How that idea — born out of
a request by President George W. Bush to ensure the nation was better prepared
for the next contagious disease outbreak — became the heart of the national
playbook for responding to a pandemic is one of the untold stories of the
concept of social distancing is now intimately familiar to almost everyone. But
as it first made its way through the federal bureaucracy in 2006 and 2007, it
was viewed as impractical, unnecessary and politically infeasible.
why was it considered impractical and unnecessary? There is more than one
reason, but one major reason is that lockdowns have never been shown to be
particularly effective. And this lack of success in containment must also be
weighed with the very real . This was explained in a 2006
paper in called
“Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza” by Thomas V.
Inglesby, Jennifer B. Nuzzo, Tara O’Toole, and D. A. Henderson. The authors
There are no historical
observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine
of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the
spread of influenza. A World Health Organization (WHO) Writing Group, after
reviewing the literature and considering contemporary international experience,
concluded that “forced isolation and quarantine are ineffective and
impractical.” Despite this recommendation by experts, mandatory large-scale
quarantine continues to be considered as an option by some authorities and
interest in quarantine reflects the views and conditions prevalent more than 50
years ago, when much less was known about the epidemiology of infectious
diseases and when there was far less international and domestic travel in a
less densely populated world. It is difficult to identify circumstances in the
past half-century when large-scale quarantine has been effectively used in the
control of any disease. The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are
so extreme (forced confinement of sick people with the well; complete
restriction of movement of large populations; difficulty in getting critical
supplies, medicines, and food to people inside the quarantine zone) that this
mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.
surprisingly, then, it’s now becoming apparent that lockdowns don’t work when
actually tried. Earlier this month, for example, Donald Luskin noted in:
from the start of the year to each state’s point of maximum lockdown—which
range from April 5 to April 18—it turns out that lockdowns correlated with a
greater spread of the virus. States with longer, stricter lockdowns also had
larger Covid outbreaks. The five places with the harshest lockdowns—the
District of Columbia, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts—had the
searched for a clear correlation between lockdowns and better health outcomes
in relation to Covid-19. He found none. He continues:
It could be that strict
lockdowns were imposed as a response to already severe outbreaks. But the
surprising negative correlation, while statistically weak, persists even when
excluding states with the heaviest caseloads. And it makes no difference if the
analysis includes other potential explanatory factors such as population
density, age, ethnicity, prevalence of nursing homes, general health or
temperature. The only factor that seems to make a demonstrable difference is
the intensity of mass-transit use.
We ran the experiment a
second time to observe the effects on caseloads of the reopening that began in
mid-April. We used the same methodology, but started from each state’s peak of
lockdown and extended to July 31. Confirming the first experiment, there was a
tendency (though fairly weak) for states that opened up the most to have the
lightest caseloads. The states that had the big summer flare-ups in the
so-called “Sunbelt second wave”—Arizona, California, Florida and Texas—are by
no means the most opened up, politicized headlines notwithstanding.
[T]here’s no escaping the evidence that, at minimum, heavy lockdowns were no
more effective than light ones, and that opening up a lot was no more harmful
than opening up a little. So where’s the science that would justify the heavy
lockdowns many public-health officials are still demanding?
lockdown was both superfluous (it did not prevent an otherwise explosive
behavior of the spread of the coronavirus) and ineffective (it did not slow
down the death growth rate visibly).
In fact, the overall
trend of infection and death appears to be remarkably similar across many
jurisdictions regardless of what non -pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are
taken by policymakers.
authors Andew Atkeson, found Covid-19 deaths followed a similar pattern “virtually
everywhere in the world”and that “Failing to account for this familiar pattern
risks overstating the importance of policy mandated NPIs [non-pharmaceutical
interventions] for shaping the progression of this deadly pandemic.”
suggest that the decline in infections in England and Wales began before full
lockdown, and that community infections, unlike deaths, were probably at a low
level well before lockdown was eased. Furthermore, such a scenario would be
consistent with the infection profile in Sweden, which began its decline in
fatal infections shortly after the UK, but did so on the basis of measures well
short of full lockdown.
measures require extraordinary evidence. And the burden of proof is on those
who seek to use the coercive power of the state to force people into their
homes, cripple the economy, and abolish countless basic freedoms for the
duration. Have the advocates for lockdowns made their case? It's hard to see
how they have. For one, advocates for lockdowns need to present evidence that
lockdowns bring big benefits far in excess of the "no lockdown
approach." They have not done so. Moreover, they have no shown that a lack
of lockdowns is anywhere as dangerous as they have claimed in the name of
pushing lockdowns to begin with. We can already see what the "no lockdown
scenario" looks like. It looks like Sweden, and that's a better outcome
than many pro-lockdown regimes can claim. Governments are nonetheless likely to
continue claiming their lockdowns worked.