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For many months now, I’ve thought that one of the key challenges of social sciences for the coming 2020s decade will be to fairly assess both the costs, and the benefits, of lockdowns. This particular review explicitly excludes island nations which have closed borders and able to eradicate the virus, so isn’t applicable to the Isle of Man.

In addition, it found that lockdown jurisdictions were not able to punish sufficiently high numbers of people to enforce compliance. Obviously, this was not applicable in the Isle of Man, which suffered one of the world’s highest arrest rates for coronavirus breaches.

One of the most important points it makes is that when comparing the possibility of lockdowns, they need to not be compared with pre-lockdown society, but with the alternative, voluntary, changes that people make in their lives.

One of the most deeply flawed modelling errors (and there have been many!) appear to be to have been projecting horrific and monumental death totals based on people not changing behaviour in reaction to a global pandemic. The proper comparison is “pandemic lockdown” vs “pandemic voluntary changes in behaviour”. The deeply flawed comparison is “pandemic lockdown” vs “pre-pandemic behaviour”.

Research done over the past six months has shown that lockdowns have had, at best, a marginal effect on the number of Covid-19 deaths. Generally speaking, the ineffectiveness of lockdown stems from voluntary changes in behavior. Lockdown jurisdictions were not able to prevent noncompliance, and non-lockdown jurisdictions benefited from voluntary changes in behavior that mimicked lockdowns

Covid Lockdown Cost/Benefits: A Critical Assessment of the Literature

More studies will come in coming years. I wonder what the public, global, perception of lockdowns will be in 2030. It’s obviously impossible for me to contemplate all the potential costs and benefits, but I am interested to see what science finds in the coming decade.

Michael Josem

Michael Josem is a long-term consumer advocate, most prominently as a global leader in combating fraud in the online gambling industry. He was in part the inspiration for the 20th Century Fox Movie, Runner Runner, starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.

Josem has over a decade of experience as a senior business leader working across various high-tech and online industries, and takes action to build a better community. His primary volunteer roles include service for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Graih, the homelessness charity.