Were lockdowns effective?

Friday, 30 September, 2022

Were lockdowns effective?

COVID-19 lockdowns were introduced to as an attempt to minimise the spread of infection, saves lives and protect our health system.

As life returns to normal, it is important to learn lessons from this unprecedented time so that we can respond effectively should another pandemic arise.

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has released two research papers questioning the effectiveness of lockdowns and highlighting the economic, social and humanitarian cost.

“The simple fact is our governments got it wrong,” said Scott Hargreaves, Executive Director of the IPA. “Research has confirmed that the lockdowns and restrictions have had a far greater impact on life and our economy than the pandemic itself.”

The paper suggests that the modelling used to indicate that the health system would be inundated with COVID-19 patients proved to be incorrect.

Whilst it is hard to prove definitively whether lockdowns eased the burden on our health system or not, it is true that lockdowns had knock-on effects on other health treatments.

International expert Professor Jay Bhattacharya, who holds an MD and PhD in Economics, welcomed the research. “Lockdowns cancelled screening and even treatment for cancer patients and made sure that diabetics skipped their check-ups and regular exercise,” Bhattacharya said. They also forced elderly people to die alone and prevented families from gathering to honour their elders’ passing, he said.

The research papers also reference previous scientific review and meta analysis which “fails to confirm that lockdowns had a large, significant effect on mortality rates”.

A further concern declared in the IPA reports is the deterioration in the mental health of Australians during the lockdowns and that the full impact of this situation will take some time to be understood.

“Australian states, like Victoria, were not alone in adopting lockdowns, but now they should be honest in accounting and acknowledging the harm done,” Professor Bhattacharya said.

The papers do not specifically address conditions within the Australian healthcare system during the pandemic. You can access the full reports here: Hard lessons: Reckoning the Economic, Social, and Humanitarian costs of Zero-Covid; The Crime of Criminalising Everyday Life: The Rule of Law Discarded in Victoria’s COVID Response

Image credit: iStock.com/Maridav

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