Just two years ago, the nation was about to plunge into an unprecedented series of actions in response to a global pandemic.  The most sweeping were a series of lockdowns – the closures of businesses, schools, transportation, and other avenues of public life.

The intention was to stop the spread of a little understood disease in order to save lives. Were the lockdowns effective? According to economists at Johns Hopkins University, the answer is a resounding “no.”

An analysis of each of these three groups support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. SIPOs [ shelter-in-place- orders]  were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI  [non-pharmaceutical intervention] studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.

While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.

More research, of course, would help add other dimensions to this research. The bottom line is that shuttering economies and forcing people to isolate failed to stop the virus. But they did spur a host of other problems that we will be wrestling with for years to come.