Research which shows the negative effects of lockdowns.

Here research evidence has been accumulated which supports the need for an alternative, sustainable strategy to society-wide lockdowns.


Lockdowns were never part of any published pandemic plan by Federal, Provincial, or Municipal Government within Canada. The World Health Organization also states "workplace closure should be a last step" (see WHO Non-pharmaceutical Interventions Summary Table here). Never in human history have healthy asymptomatic citizens been forced to remain at home under penalty of fine or imprisonment. 

Allen, D. (2021). Covid Lockdown Cost/Benefits:A Critical Assessment of the Literature.
An examination of over 80 Covid-19 studies reveals that many relied on assumptions that were false, and which tended to over-estimate the benefits and under-estimate the costs of lockdown. As a result, most of the early cost/benefit studies arrived at conclusions that were refuted later by data, and which rendered their cost/benefit findings incorrect. Research done over the past six months has shown that lockdowns have had, at best, a marginal effect on the number of Covid-19deaths...lockdown will go down as one of the greatest peacetime policy failures in Canada’s history.


Altman, M. (2020). Smart thinking, lockdown and Covid-19: Implications for public policy. Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, 4(COVID-19 Special Issue).
"Globally, locking down the economy has been the major tool adopted to combat Covid-19. This was, and is, a simple solution to a complex problem and, therefore, was a relatively easy choice to make given crisis circumstances within which decisions had to be taken. I argue that this approach is an example of adopting inappropriate, error-prone, and highly damaging and even deadly heuristics. The approach taken also was a binary one for many: either lockdown the economy or keep it open with little or no controls or regulations imposed. This binary and narrow approach represents the application of an inappropriate mental model or analytical framework generating serious errors in decision-making. Although lockdown is an accepted mechanism to control or eliminate Covid-19, I argue that this approach is not supported even by a preliminary review of the evidence with respect to the desired outcome of minimizing deaths."


Aragona, M., Barbato, A., Cavani, A., Costanzo, G., Mirisola, C. (2020). Negative impacts of COVID-19 lockdown on mental health service access and follow-up adherence for immigrants and individuals in socio-economic difficulties.
"The lockdown-related reduction in numbers of patients accessing the mental health service makes it difficult to help vulnerable populations during a period of time in which their mental health needs are expected to increase. Moreover, the reduction seen in follow-up compliance increases the risk of treatment discontinuation and possible relapse. Proactive alternative strategies need to be developed to reach these vulnerable populations."


Bagus, P., Peña-Ramos, J., Sánchez-Bayón, A. (2021). COVID-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria.  International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 18.
"Negative information which is spread through mass media repetitively can affect public health negatively in the form of nocebo effects and mass hysteria. We argue that mass and digital media in connection with the state may have had adverse consequences during the COVID-19 crisis. The resulting collective hysteria may have contributed to policy errors by governments not in line with health recommendations....mass hysteria can be exacerbated and self-reinforcing when the negative information comes from an authoritative source, when the media are politicized, and social networks make the negative information omnipresent."

Bendavid, E., Christopher Oh, C., Bhattacharya, J., Ioannidis, J. (2021). Assessing mandatory stay-at-home and business closure effects on the spread of COVID-19. Eur J Clin Invest
"...there is no evidence that more restrictive nonpharmaceutical interventions (‘lockdowns’) contributed substantially to bending the curve of new cases in England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain or the United States..."


Bjørnskov, C. (2020). Did Lockdown Work? An Economist’s Cross-Country Comparison.
"The lockdowns in most Western countries have thrown the world into the most severe recession since World War II and the most rapidly developing recession ever seen in mature market economies. Comparing weekly mortality in 24 European countries, the findings in this paper suggest that more severe lockdown policies have not been associated with lower mortality. In other words, the lockdowns have not worked as intended."


Branley-Bell, D. & Talbot, C. (2020).  Exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and UK lockdown on individuals with experience of eating disorders. Journal of Eating Disorders.
"Findings suggest that the pandemic is having a profound, negative impact upon individuals with experience of eating disorders."


Cao, S. Gan, Y. Wang, C., Bachmann, M., Wei, S., Gong, J., Huang, Y., Wang, T., Li, L., Lu, K., Jiang, H., Gong, Y., Xu, H., Shen, X., Tian, Q., Lv, C., Song, F., Yin, X., Lu, Z. (2020). Post-lockdown SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid screening in nearly ten million residents of Wuhan, China.
"All city residents aged six years or older were eligible and 9,899,828 (92.9%) participated...There were no positive tests amongst 1,174 close contacts of asymptomatic cases."


Carr, A., Smith, J., Camaradou, J., Prieto-Alhambra, D. (2021). Growing backlog of planned surgery due to covid-19: Millions of people are now waiting and worried. BMJ
"...modelling suggests that around 28 million operations were cancelled or postponed globally...Additional resources and greater capacity will not be enough. Profound changes to the way we work will also be required, along with reform..."


Chaudhrya, R., Dranitsaris, G., Mubashirc, T., Bartoszkoa, J., Riazia, S. (2020). A country level analysis measuring the impact of government actions, country preparedness and socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes. EClinicalMedicine, 25, 1-8.
"...full lockdowns, and wide-spread testing were not associated with COVID-19 mortality per million people."


Chin, V., Ioannidis, J., Tanner, M., Cripps, S. (2020). Effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19:A Tale of Three Models.
"Inferences on effects of NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions] are non-robust and highly sensitive to model specification. Claimed benefits of lockdown appear grossly exaggerated."


Cotton, C., Crowley, B., Kashi, B., Lloyd-Ellis, H., Tremblay, F. (2020). Quantifying the economic impacts of COVID-19 policy responses on Canada's Provinces in (almost) real time.
Queen's University researchers estimate that COVID lockdowns have cost Canada’s economy between eight and 14 per cent of GDP. Canadian GDP in 2019 was $2.2 trillion which represents a negative impact of between $176 billion and $308 billion.


De Larochelambert, Q., Marc, A., Antero, J., Le Bourg, E., Toussaint, J-F. (2020). Covid-19 Mortality: A Matter of Vulnerability Among Nations Facing Limited Margins of Adaptation. Frontiers in Public Health.
“…higher Covid-19 mortality rates are mostly found in countries experiencing higher life expectancies and showing a recent slowdown of this progression. Most of these developed and aging societies are latitudinally located over the 25° parallel. They also have higher GDP and chronic diseases levels (e.g., CVD and cancer) associated with major metabolic risk factors (e.g., inactive lifestyle, sedentarity, and obesity). High temperature and UV levels are associated with low death rates such that northern and western countries pay the most severe toll to Covid-19.”


Forbes, H. et al. (2020). Association between living with children and outcomes from COVID-19: an OpenSAFELY cohort study of 12 million adults in England
"For adults living with children there is no evidence of an increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes....Concern that children act as an important source of spread of SARS-CoV-2 have led to school closures in many countries during the pandemic....overall our findings suggest that on a population level transmission from school age children does not result in an increased risk of serious outcomes among the adults they live with."


Gibson, J. (2020). Government mandated lockdowns do not reduce Covid-19 deaths: implications for evaluating the stringent New Zealand response. New Zealand Economic Papers.
"The New Zealand policy response to Coronavirus was the most stringent in the world during the Level 4 lockdown. Up to 10 billion dollars of output (≈3.3% of GDP) was lost in moving to Level 4 rather than staying at Level 2. For lockdown to be optimal requires large health benefits to offset this output loss. Forecast deaths from epidemiological models are not valid counterfactuals, due to poor identification. Instead, I use empirical data, based on variation amongst United States counties, over one-fifth of which just had social distancing rather than lockdown. Political drivers of lockdown provide identification. Lockdowns do not reduce Covid-19 deaths. This pattern is visible on each date that key lockdown decisions were made in New Zealand. The apparent ineffectiveness of lockdowns suggests that New Zealand suffered large economic costs for little benefit in terms of lives saved."

Homburg, S., Kuhbandner, C. (2020). Comment on Flaxman et al: The 1illusory effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe.
"In a recent article, Flaxman et al. [2020, Nature,] allege that non-pharmaceutical interventions imposed by 11 European countries saved millions of lives. We show that their methods involve circular reasoning. The purported effects are pure artefacts, which contradict the data. Moreover, we demonstrate that the United Kingdom’s lockdown was both superfluous and ineffective."


Ioannidis, J. (2020). Infection fatality rate of COVID-19 inferred from seroprevalence data. Bull World Health Organ.
[In data from 61 studies] "seroprevalence estimates ranged from 0.02% to 53.40%. Infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 1.63%, corrected values from 0.00% to 1.54%. Across 51 locations, the median COVID-19 infection  fatality  rate  was  0.27%  (corrected  0.23%):  the  rate  was  0.09%  in  locations  with  COVID-19  population  mortality  rates  less  than  the global average (< 118 deaths/million), 0.20% in locations with 118–500 COVID-19 deaths/million people and 0.57% in locations with > 500 COVID-19 deaths/million people. In people younger than 70 years, infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.31% with crude and corrected medians of 0.05%. The infection fatality rate of COVID-19 can vary substantially across different locations and this may reflect differences in population age structure and case-mix of infected and deceased patients and other factors. The inferred infection fatality rates tended to be much lower than estimates made earlier in the pandemic" [emphasis added]


Ioannidis, J. Cripps, S., Tanner, M. (2020). Forecasting for COVID-19 has failed. International Journal of Forecasting.
"Epidemic forecasting [i.e., modeling] has a dubious track-record, and its failures became more prominent with COVID-19. Poor data input, wrong modeling assumptions, high sensitivity of estimates, lack of incorporation of epidemiological features, poor past evidence on effects of available interventions, lack of transparency, errors, lack of determinacy, consideration of only one or a few dimensions of the problem at hand, lack of expertise in crucial disciplines, groupthink and bandwagon effects, and selective reporting are some of the causes of these failures."


Joffe, A. (2021). COVID-19: Rethinking the lockdown groupthink. Frontiers in Public Health.
"The collateral damage, and the cost-benefit analysis showed that lockdowns are far more harmful than a risk-tailored population specific response. 'Public health is the science and action of promoting health, preventing disease, and prolonging life...ensuring that Canadians can live healthy and happier lives.'"


Karáth, K. (2020). Covid-19: How does Belarus have one of the lowest death rates in Europe?
"...with a president in denial of COVID-19 how has Belarus ended up with one of the lowest death rates on the continent? Belarus’s large hospital capacity allowed the country to isolate people early on...Belarus also outperformed most of Europe in terms of mass testing during the first four months of the pandemic....Citizens began practicing self-isolation early on....Another factor is that Belarus has very few care homes, with most elderly citizens living separately. This has helped shield its most vulnerable."


Lundberg, J., Zeberg, H. (2020). Longitudinal variability in mortality predicts Covid-19 deaths.
"...the degree of social interactions are influenced by governmental policies ranging from milder regulations to lockdowns. The effectiveness of these measures in preventing the spread of infection and ultimately death is currently a matter of great debate. It seems clear to date that many countries that applied very strict measures have experienced very high infection rates and death tolls during the current is noteworthy that whatever factors that drove excess mortality rates in 2020 were present already in 2015-2019, i.e., during a period when no measures were undertaken in any country. Thus, our data suggest that there is an intrinsic susceptibility in certain countries to excess mortality associated with respiratory viral diseases including covid-19. We suggest that knowing about such susceptibility can be of value in preparing health care systems and directing timely help to a certain region when a pandemic hits a continent."


Melnick, E., Ioannidis, J. (2020) Should governments continue lockdown to slow the spread of covid-19? BMJ.
"The people infected outnumber those confirmed by polymerase chain reaction tests, anything from fivefold (Gangelt, Germany) to more than 500-fold (Kobe, Japan). Lockdowns were desperate, defendable choices when we knew little about covid-19. But, now that we know more, we should avoid exaggeration. We should carefully and gradually remove lockdown measures, with data driven feedback on bed capacity and prevalence/incidence indicators. Otherwise, prolonged lockdowns may become mass suicide."


Miles, D., Stedman, M., Heald, A. (2020). Living with COVID--19: Balancing costs against benefits in the face of the virus. National Institute Economic Review, 253.
"The evidence suggests that the costs of continuing severe restrictions in the UK are large relative to likely benefits so that a substantial easing in general restrictions in favour of more targeted measures is warranted."


Miles, D., Stedman, M., Heald, A. (2020).“Stay at Home, Protect the National Health Service, Save Lives”: A cost benefit analysis of the lockdown in the United Kingdom. Int J Clin Pract
"...we find the lockdown has consistently generated costs that are greater—and often dramatically greater—than possible benefits."


Meunier, T. (2020). Full lockdown policies in Western Europe countries have no evident impacts on the COVID-19 epidemic.
“....neighboring countries applying less restrictive social distancing measures (as opposed to police-enforced home containment) experience a very similar time evolution of the epidemic......This observational study....shows that full lockdown policies of France, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom haven’t had the expected effects in the evolution of the COVID-19 epidemic.”


Redman, D. (2021). An Emergency Management Doctrine. Preprints.
"When experts in Emergency Management follow the doctrine, they can coordinate all those involved to be sure that all aspects of any hazard are considered, and that all organizations/agencies, functions, activities, and resources of Emergency Management are coordinated and optimally active. Following this process is the only way to ensure the best outcomes from any emergency."

Rice, K., Wynne, B., Martin, V., Ackland, G. (2020). Effect of school closures on mortality from coronavirus disease 2019: old and new predictions. BMJ.
"It was predicted in March 2020 that in response to covid-19 a broad lockdown, as opposed to a focus on shielding the most vulnerable members of society, would reduce immediate demand for ICU beds at the cost of more deaths long term. The optimal strategy for saving lives in a covid-19 epidemic is different from that anticipated for an influenza epidemic with a different mortality age profile."


Sallis, R., Young, D., Tartof, S., Sallis, J., Sall, J., Li, Q., Smith, G., Cohen, D. (2021). Physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes: a study in 48 440 adult patients. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 0, 1–8.
"Consistently meeting physical activity guidelines was strongly associated with a reduced risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes among infected adults. We recommend efforts to promote physical activity be prioritised by public health agencies and incorporated into routine medical care." This article is particularly noteworthy because physical inactivity is one of the strongest risk factors for having severe COVID-19, hospitalization from COVID-19, and death from COVID-19. It is a strong and modifiable risk factor that people should act upon. By preventing physical activity lockdowns may have thus been a large contributor to adverse outcomes from COVID-19.


Schabas, R. (Jan 18, 2021). Open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford (click here).
"I served as Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health from 1987 to 1997.....First, estimates of infection fatality rate (IFR) from Covid have been declining as we learn more....the risk of dying is probably less than 0.2% overall and deaths are concentrated in the frail elderly....Second, lockdown was never part of our planned pandemic reponse nor is it supported by strong science. Third, there are significant costs to lockdowns – lost education, unemployment, social isolation, deteriorating mental health and compromised access to health care...the government has resorted to fearmongering to encourage compliance with lockdown."


Shlomai, A., Leshno, A., Sklan, E., Leshno, M. (2020). Modeling social distancing strategies to prevent SARS-CoV2 spread in Israel- A Cost-effectiveness analysis.
"A national lockdown has a moderate advantage in saving lives with tremendous costs and possible overwhelming economic effects. These findings should assist decision-makers dealing with additional waves of this pandemic."


Singh, S., Royb, D.,  Sinhac, K., Parveenc, S., Sharmac, G., Joshic, G.. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on mental health of children and adolescents: A narrative review with recommendations. Psychiatry Research, 293.
"COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has brought about a sense of fear and anxiety around the globe. This phenomenon has led to short term as well as long term psychosocial and mental health implications for children and adolescents."

Thakur, R. & Redman, D. (2021). A Year of Living with Discredited Mathematical Models.
"After a year’s experience of COVID-19 worldwide, the continuing hold of discredited mathematical models regarding lockdowns remain. As well, it is increasingly evident that medical specialists put in charge of public policy ignored existing pandemic preparedness plans, for better or worse."


Thomas, P., Professor of Risk Management, South-West Nuclear Hub, University of Bristol. (2020).
The Government's declared aim of keeping the basic reproduction number below 1.0 emerges as the worst option in terms of life preservation.  Loss of life due to economic impoverishment is likely to dominate over that due to Covid-19 unless the departure from lockdown occurs quickly.  A rapid but controlled exit, where the basic reproduction number is allowed to rise well above 1.0, will minimise overall loss of life and allow the economy to restart fully in 2021."