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Were Lockdowns the 'Biggest Public Health Mistake' Ever Made?

Townhall Media/Julio Rosas

James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal has a devastating overview of what the pandemic lockdowns cost us and why they will continue to damage the U.S. far into the future.

The evolution of the lockdown strategy can be traced to nothing less than panic — panic by public health officials, government leaders, and much of the establishment. That panic led to closing schools despite the fact that it was known early on the children were not particularly susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor at Stanford University Medical School, recently said the lockdowns were the “biggest public health mistake we’ve ever made…The harm to people is catastrophic.” More recently, Dr. Bhattacharya wrote, “We will be counting the catastrophic health and psychological harms, imposed on nearly every poor person on the face of the earth, for a generation.”

“At the same time, [lockdowns] have not served to control the epidemic in the places where they have been most vigorously imposed. In the US, they have – at best – protected the “non-essential” class from COVID, while exposing the essential working class to the disease. The lockdowns are trickle-down epidemiology.”

Dr. Bhattacharya and tens of thousands of other medical professionals have been arguing against lockdowns for months. Since October, the Great Barrington Declaration has gathered signatures on a petition that says:

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

Who is it who was “following the science”?

“The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection,” it says in the declaration.

If there’s any one aspect of the entire pandemic that showed why lockdowns had very little to do with “public health” and everything to do with “control,” I haven’t seen one.

It’s not that politicians didn’t know that the coronavirus wasn’t a threat to the vast majority of the population. Nor were they not warned about the mental health risks associated with prolonged lockdowns.

They knew. And did nothing.

Pro Publica:

The median age for COVID-19 fatalities in the U.S. is about 80. Of the nearly 500,000 deaths in the U.S. analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of early March, 252 were among those 18 or younger — five hundredths of a percent of the total.

And yet, children will bear the brunt of the negative effects of the lockdown.

The financial costs of lockdown will also punish children. By denying children education, shutdowns have robbed America’s youngsters of future earnings. University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan reported last year that just one day of nationwide school closures would cost America’s kids $1.6 billion of education.

At the same time, shutdowns necessitated massive government spending of borrowed money to offset the loss of normal economic activity. So U.S. children were handed a massive additional debt burden at the same time their ability to generate future income was reduced.

Some sort of congressional investigation is called for to investigate the origins of the lockdown policy as well as its ultimate, true cost. Democrats would never agree and Joe Biden would never allow it. But perhaps if Republicans can take control of both chambers in 2022, Biden wouldn’t have any choice.

What an unnecessary tragedy.