Governments Doubled Down on Lockdowns After Evidence Proved They Were Ineffective: Professor


A newly released essay by Douglas Allen, professor of economics at Simon Fraser University, examines why governments repeatedly used lockdowns during COVID-19 even after it became clear lockdowns were ineffective and “failed to isolate the virus and stop it from spreading.”

Lockdowns were sustained with political support, suggests Allen, and lockdowns had “many winners.”

He says for the “laptop class,” the lockdown was “the great vacation,” the “great excuse,” and the “great opportunity.” Lockdowns, said Allen, transferred wealth to this group.

Meanwhile, he says, public health campaigns repeatedly told citizens that “death was ‘at the door,’” ‘now is not the time to let our guard down,’ ‘we are all in this together,’” and ‘let’s not lose what we have gained so far.’

People came to believe in “the absurd goal of ‘zero-COVID,’” despite suffering from government lockdown policies, Allen says. As such, a fearful segment of citizens “supported the policies and actually helped enforce state regulations through social stigma and shaming of those who objected.”

Ultimately, the negative effects of lockdowns fell “disproportionately on the young, the poor, people of colour, those with health problems other than COVID-19, the least educated, blue collar workers, single parents, and many others at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.”

Enforcement

Allen said there were two reasons government officials panicked.

“First, many mistakenly thought that COVID-19 could be eradicated using a comprehensive track/trace/isolate strategy in the way SARS had been dealt with in 2004,” he wrote.

“Second, groups of applied mathematicians immediately called for lockdowns, and their apocalyptic predictions heavily influenced policymakers,” he said.

Yet, there was no “immediate massive death toll” as predicted, even after five waves, said Allen. Within months of the initial panic, it was clear the models were wrong.

A traveler walks past a “Mandatory COVID-19 Testing” sign at Pearson International Airport, in Toronto, Ontario, on Dec. 18, 2021. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

It was also apparent COVID could not be contained and affected only a select portion of the population, largely the elderly, and those with four comorbidities, on average, were most likely to die. It was also clear that lockdown restrictions had detrimental consequences on commercial activity, mental health, and educational opportunities, and had other health consequences.

But still, said Allen, governments persisted and enforcement became harsher, even after it was found that the mortality risk from COVID depended on age.

In other words, wrote Allen, COVID “was never a serious threat for healthy people under 60.”

All of these factors should have led to a change in approach by governments, said Allen. Instead, enforcement was ramped up.

B.C. still restricted gatherings in homes late into the Omicron wave, and both Alberta and B.C. required vaccine passports to attend church, go to restaurants, visit movie theatres, or do any other activity the government deemed non-essential.

Other provinces, noted Allen, enforced curfews and “threatened to withhold health services to the unvaccinated.”

Allen suggests it was clear by April 2020 that death counts “were going to be only three to six percent of what had been predicted, while the fiscal costs of lockdowns were already enormous.”

“To admit such a mistake would be exceptionally costly to a government, and this led to a bad ‘double down’ political equilibrium across most of the globe,” he said.

Soon, “two weeks to ‘bend the curve’ became a string of ‘circuit breakers’ and other insidious euphemisms for curtailed liberties,” wrote Allen. Most restrictions continued for two years in Canada.

“Initially people in favor of lockdown argued that the costs were just lost GDP [gross domestic product]. This was absurd. The vast amount of costs came in the form of deaths of despair, deaths from missed appointments, lost livelihood,” Allen told The Epoch Times.

Given that all viruses “reach a biological endemic stat eventually,” concluded Allen, all that governments had to do was “double down” on lockdowns and claim victory for defeating COVID-19.

China Model

China was the first country to put a lockdown in place on Jan. 23, 2020, and by April, half of the world’s population was under lockdown, the essay said.

From Jan. 5, 2021, Canada had stronger lockdowns than the United States, noted the essay. Lockdowns began in March 2020, with closures and restrictions of borders, Parliament, social gatherings, schools, restaurants, playgrounds, salons, spas, fitness centres, and daycare facilities.

This was the first time that lockdowns were enforced on healthy and non-symptomatic people.

Some lockdown measures remained in place until late spring 2022, despite the fact it was not part of any existing World Health Organization or Centre for Disease Control recommendations for dealing with a pandemic.

Marnie Cathcart

Marnie Cathcart is a reporter based in Edmonton.



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