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Researcher Says Lockdowns ‘One of the Greatest Peacetime Policy Failures in Canada’s History’

Prakash Gogoi
Prakash covers news and politics for Vision Times.
Published: May 19, 2021
Customers order drinks at a deserted cafe terrace on March 9, 2020 on Piazza Vittorio in Turin, Italy. A Canadian researcher has found lockdowns have done 282 times more harm than lives they have purportedly saved.
Customers order drinks at a deserted cafe terrace on March 9, 2020 on Piazza Vittorio in Turin, Italy. A Canadian researcher has found lockdowns have done 282 times more harm than lives they have purportedly saved. (Image: MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Research by an economics professor at Canada’s Simon Fraser University examining the effect of lockdown measures to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2 have not only been ineffective, but have caused exponentially more harm than good. 

In April, Douglas W. Allen published a paper titled Covid Lockdown Cost/Benefits: A Critical Assessment of the Literature, which examined more than 80 papers focused on the effect of lockdowns to control the pandemic. Allen found his peers’ studies tended to “over-estimate the benefits and under-estimate the costs of lockdown,” also finding lockdowns themselves have only had “a marginal effect on the number of Covid-19 deaths” at best.

“They were built on a set of assumptions. Those assumptions turned out to be really important, and the models are very sensitive to them, and they turn out to be false,” Allen said in an interview with The Epoch Times.

In the study, the professor conducts a cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns in Canada based on “how many years of lost life will have been caused by the various harms of lockdowns versus how many years of lost life were saved by lockdowns.” 

In analyzing data, Allen makes use of a study conducted by economist Bryan Caplan that estimates quality of life lost during lockdowns. Caplan’s study is based on a proposition, “Suppose you could either live a year of life in the COVID era, or X months under normal conditions. What’s the value of X?” 

Taking a conservative value of 10, Caplan estimated that people were likely willing to sacrifice two months of their life to avoid lockdown effects like social isolation and disruption.

As such, one year of lockdown means 2 months of life lost per person. Multiplying it by the Canadian population, which is 37.7 million, gives a total cost of 6.3 million years of life lost from the lockdown. 

Allen uses this number in his cost/benefit analysis.

Lockdowns by no means ‘saving lives’

Based on a model Allen calls “closer to reality” in which COVID-19-associated deaths would be 10 percent higher if there were no lockdowns, he finds that there would have been 2,271 additional deaths in the country. 

Allen says this can be estimated at 22,333 years of lost life due to COVID-19 deaths because the statistical average age of death in Canada is 80-years-old and the average life expectancy for an 80-year old is only 9.79 years. 

Thus, the theoretical benefit of lockdown was the prevention of 22,333 lost years in the elderly. However, the cost of lockdown was 6,300,000 years of lost life across all age brackets. The resulting ratio is a staggering 282 times worse, leading Allen to posit that political measures may have caused 282 times more harm to Canadian society than it has benefited.

Allen even took up the notoriously flawed projections made by the Imperial College of London, according to which Canada’s lockdown policies would have prevented 177,281 deaths. This would mean that the lockdown prevented 1,735,580 years of lost life. Even under such a scenario, the cost/benefit ratio is still 3.6. 

In his report, Allen raises the possibility that the lockdowns might have been “one of the greatest peacetime policy failures in Canadian history.” Several studies are quoted in the report to explain the various ways government’s heavy handed restrictions have negatively affected society, some of which are briefed below: 

  • Reduced educational opportunities for the young. Children from low-income nations, who have poorer access to online resources, suffered the most, says a December 2020 study;
  • The closure of schools heightened the risk of mental health conditions in children, according to a November 2020 study, while an August 2020 study found school closures ended up inhibiting reports of child abuse;
  • An August 2020 study calculates that around 418 to 2,114 excess suicides took place in Canada during the pandemic year. A December 2020 study using data from life expectancy, unemployment, and mortality predicted unemployment shock caused by arbitrary closure of businesses will result in 800,000 additional deaths in the United States during the next 15 years;
  • A June 2020 study discovered that incidences of depression, anxiety, and stress had substantially increased during lockdowns, and a November 2020 study found in the U.S. states that went into lockdown, the number of people contemplating suicide rose with each passing month. In states that did not implement lockdowns, these numbers remained stable;
  • A March 2021 study discovered that a rise in domestic violence during the pandemic was directly linked to an increase in the consumption of alcohol; and
  • A July 2020 study estimated that almost one-third of excess deaths during 2020 in the United States were not caused by COVID-19 itself.

“The limited effectiveness of lockdowns explains why, after one year, the unconditional cumulative deaths per million, and the pattern of daily deaths per million, is not negatively correlated with the stringency of lockdown across countries,” says the report.

Allen highlighted Canada’s one-voice media’s control over pandemic debate, saying the public has been shown only one side of the debate with regard to restrictions. Legacy media has not played its traditional role as a public estate and examined the other side of the story.

He also stated that views contrary to official government response were censored on Big Tech’s social media platforms, including his own published study.

“In some sense, these are private platforms. They can do what they want. But on the other hand, I feel kind of sad that we live in the kind of a world where posing opposing opinions is either dismissed, ignored, or … name-called, [and] in some ways canceled,” he said.

Psychological operations and censorship

14 months since the pandemic began, several Canadian jurisdictions continue to follow the same policies which were established at the beginning of the outbreak, something which Allen attributes to politics.

While speaking to The Epoch Times, he stated that politicians tend to take credit for reducing COVID-19 infections and deaths by implementing lockdown measures. A report by BBC in late April noted that almost 85,000 fines were issued in England to people accused of breaching lockdown rules. In Wales, the number stood at 8,000.

Some of the fines were as high as £10,000 ($14,177 USD approx.), which MPs on the UK’s Joint Committee on Human Rights said were “muddled, discriminatory, and unfair.”

Several scientists in the UK’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviour (SPI-B) recently claimed they regretted the “use of fear” to manipulate public behavior during the SARS-CoV-2 hype, The Telegraph reports.

Last March, the group asked ministers to increase the “perceived level of personal threat” from the pandemic since it felt that a large number of people did not feel threatened enough by the viral outbreak.

“Clearly, using fear as a means of control is not ethical. Using fear smacks of totalitarianism. It’s not an ethical stance for any modern government. By nature, I am an optimistic person, but all this has given me a more pessimistic view of people,” Gavin Morgan, a psychologist on the team, said to author Laura Dodsworth whose new book A State of Fear brought attention to the government tactics implemented amidst the pandemic.