Not worth it? New report by economists say COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns were not effective

Some economists say lockdowns didn't really help prevent some severe effects from COVID-19.

A report from economists, including one from Johns Hopkins, concluded that lockdowns at the onset of the pandemic reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2%. The report also warned against using lockdowns as a pandemic measure in the future, because of the low effectiveness on mortality but consequences for the economy.

The report used a set of 24 studies, bit it has not been peer-reviewed. 

Health expert reacts

Former Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble is skeptical about the report's findings.

"I’m not refuting what they’re saying, that interventions didn’t work. I’m just saying I’m going to need a lot more, especially when I see it’s not in a journal. It's not peer reviewed," said Humble.

In some cases, the report's authors found that lockdowns may have increased mortality by isolating people in close quarters.

"We had a study out of New York City back in 2020 that showed 20% of the spread occurred in households, only 1% of the spread happened on transportation. We said ‘wait a minute.’ We’re keeping people home, they’re not going to work, guess what they’re doing? At home spreading COVID-19," said Fox News Medical Contributor Dr. Marc Siegel.

"If you remember in the summer of 2020, in June, we were on an exponential upswing in cases. We got to the point where the Governor and former [AZDHS] director [Cara] Christ paused the operation of bars, restaurants and nightclubs for about five weeks, and that dropped the number of cases by about 80%," said Humble. "The studies most likely to show results were the very studies this team excluded from their analysis."

The report did find that closing non-essential businesses reduced mortality by 10%, likely due to bar closures.

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COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

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