Lockdowns are clearly the questionable mitigation method used during the pandemic and previous studies have concluded they didn’t reduce Covid-19 deaths and resulted in large economic costs for little benefit (HERE, HERE, and HERE for just a few).

Image.by Tumisu from Pixabay

Now a new study from Canada concludes it is possible that lockdown will go down as one of the greatest peacetime policy failures in modern history.

An examination of over 100 Covid-19 studies reveals that many relied on false assumptions that over-estimated the benefits and under-estimated the costs of lockdown.

Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been no public evidence that governments around the world have considered both the benefit and cost sides of their policy decisions.

The author looks at the counterfactual number of cases/deaths, the exogenous behavior assumption, the assumed value of life, the issue with lockdown costs and reviewed lockdown cost/benefit studies.

The author concludes:

The consideration of any policy must consider all costs and all benefits of that policy. All estimates of costs and benefits depend on various assumptions of parameters and structural model forms, and many of the studies examined (especially the early ones) 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.


Using a cost/benefit method proposed by Professor Bryan Caplan the most reasonable cost/benefit ratio of lockdowns in terms of life-years saved in Canada is 141. However, given their limited effectiveness, lockdowns still fail under extremely conservative estimates of costs. Furthermore, if the fall of 2021 results in many cases resulting from the more transmissible delta variant among a shrinking number of unvaccinated people, then the expected benefits of lockdown policies become even smaller. Lockdowns are not just an inefficient policy, they must rank as one of the greatest peacetime policy disasters of all time.