Lockdowns have had little effect on bringing down COVID-19 deaths and could be one of Canada’s biggest policy failures in history, a professor wrote in a research paper published this month.
Douglas W. Allen, economics professor at Canada’s Simon Fraser University, reached the conclusion after examining over 80 papers on the effects of lockdowns implemented worldwide by governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy forced the closure of businesses, supply chains, various sector activities, among other activities in daily life.
He found that many of the early cost/benefit research started off on false assumptions and greatly overestimated the benefits of lockdowns while underestimating their harms. Allen noted that one great mistake found in those papers’ modelling is their negligence of voluntary changes in people’s behaviors that render lockdowns ineffective.
“Lockdown jurisdictions were not able to prevent noncompliance, and non-lockdown jurisdictions benefited from voluntary changes in behavior that mimicked lockdowns,” Allen stated.
Roughly 20 studies that distinguished voluntary and mandated lockdown effects show “mandated lockdowns have only marginal effects and that voluntary changes in behavior explain large parts of the changes in cases, transmissions, and deaths.”
“Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been no public evidence that either the federal or provincial governments of Canada have considered both the benefit and cost sides of their policy decisions,” Allen stated.
“Furthermore, when research results contrary to the official government response were shared on social media, they were often pulled from social media platforms,” he noted.
Allen’s own cost/benefit analysis is based on the calculation of the “life-years saved” which determines “how many years of lost life will have been caused by the various harms of lockdowns versus how many years of lost life were saved by lockdowns.”
“The benefit of lockdown, therefore, was the avoidance of this extra 22,333 years of lost life. However, the cost of lockdown, as noted, was 6,300,000 years of lost life.”
Based on this lost-life calculation, lockdown measures have caused 282 times more harm to Canadian society over the long-term than it has benefits.
Allen noted that Many of the lockdown costs will not be known for years as they work out in reduced graduation rates, reduced future earnings, and reduced long run health status.
“It is possible that lockdown will go down as one of the greatest peacetime policy failures in Canada’s history,” he wrote.