Lockdowns are typically portrayed as prudent precautions against Covid-19, but they are surely the most risky experiment ever conducted on the public. From the start, researchers have warned that lockdowns could prove far deadlier than the virus. People who lose their jobs or businesses are more prone to fatal drug overdoses and suicide, and evidence already exists that many more will die from cancer, heart disease, pneumonia, tuberculosis and other diseases because the lockdown prevented their ailments from being diagnosed early and treated properly.
No ethical scientist would conduct such a risky experiment without carefully considering the dangers and monitoring the results, which have turned out to be dismal. While the economic and social harms have been enormous, it isn’t clear that the lockdowns have brought significant health benefits beyond what was achieved by people’s voluntary social distancing and other actions.
In a comparison of 50 countries, a team led by Rabail Chaudhry of the University of Toronto found that Covid-19 was deadlier in places with older populations and higher rates of obesity (like the United States), but the mortality rate was no lower in countries that closed their borders or enforced full lockdowns.
John Tierney, a contributing editor for City Journal, is the co-author of “The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It.” Adapted from City Journal.
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