When the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading across the globe in 2020, it caused near-panic as doctors and governments struggled to understand and control it. Deaths mounted day by day as hospitals and healthcare workers in some cities were crushed by the sheer numbers of the sick and dying.

One “solution” that governments uniformly imposed in countries around the world, which was encouraged by international health organizations, were lockdowns – stay-at-home orders, school closures, business closures, travel bans, etc. Two years later, it’s fair to ask the question: Did lockdowns work?

The overwhelming weight of evidence says “no,” according to researchers at Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise. The effect on mortality was marginal at best, they say, and lockdowns caused a variety of social ills that we are still dealing with.

The study, called a “meta-analysis,” first looked at the entirety of studies conducted around the world since the pandemic’s beginnings – over 18,000 of them – and narrowed the list down to the 34 most relevant.

The conclusions drawn were startling.

“While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted,” the authors wrote. “In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”

How little is little?

“More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average.”

Shelter-in-place orders were only marginally more effective, according to the study. Those reduced mortality by only 2.9%.

As a policy to deal with the pandemic, however, the lockdowns were a failure in light of the other consequences of their imposition.

“The use of lockdowns is a unique feature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns have not been used to such a large extent during any of the pandemics of the past century. However, lockdowns during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic have had devastating effects. They have contributed to reducing economic activity, raising unemployment, reducing schooling, causing political unrest, contributing to domestic violence, and undermining liberal democracy. These costs to society must be compared to the benefits of lockdowns, which our meta-analysis has shown are marginal at best. Such a standard benefit-cost calculation leads to a strong conclusion: lockdowns should be rejected out of hand as a pandemic policy instrument.”

One particularly negative aspect of lockdowns that has been a major topic of our reporting at The Daily Citizen is the government-mandated closure of churches and restrictions imposed on church gatherings. Such closures and/or attendance restrictions have been the subject of First Amendment court challenges across the country, many of which made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. And in the cases that reached the nation’s highest court, the justices in no uncertain terms condemned closure orders that treated houses of worship differently than similarly situated businesses and public establishments. Many state legislatures, upset by mandates issued by governors and health officials, passed laws protecting churches from future closure orders. Other states revised their public emergency laws to restrict the authority granted to governors to impose closures and other mandates.

There’s also no question that the school closures and remote learning imposed on the nation’s students resulted in all sorts of harms to their well-being and educational progress.

There’s little doubt the lockdowns and other mandates restricted civil liberties and resulted in harms to society. Now that we know that the health benefits of such mandates accomplished next to nothing, we should be in a position to say no to future attempts by government to repeat the same failed policies.

Photo from Shutterstock.