The U.K. lockdowns cost more lives than they saved and must not happen again, scientists have told MPs.
The comments came at the latest meeting of the Pandemic Recovery APPG, a group of MPs and Peers from across the political spectrum united by their aim to find new pandemic solutions which prevent avoidable suffering and loss. Chaired by Labour MP Graham Stringer, the group listened to evidence on whether lockdowns were an effective or ethical public health measure.
All the experts voiced serious concerns about the catastrophic damage lockdowns have done to society and the untested departure they represented from previous public health policy.
Dr. Mark Woolhouse, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh and author of The Year The World Went Mad, opened the expert testimony:
I never imagined that in early 2020 we would come up with a public health intervention that risked causing even more damage than the disease. Were lives saved during the lockdowns? Yes, but it is not widely known that most of the people who died in the first wave got infected during lockdown. We should have put far more effort into protecting those people and those around them – lockdown didn’t save them. At the same time, we should have dropped the least effective measures much more quickly than we did and avoided the second and third lockdowns entirely.
There are lessons to be learnt here: if your pandemic response plan involves anything as damaging as lockdown you need to plan in advance to deal with the collateral harms too. It was difficult to have a proper debate about the pros and cons of lockdown in the frenzied atmosphere of March 2020 but we must have that debate now if we are to avoid such a harmful policy in future pandemics. If we’d taken a more balanced approach in 2020 we could have saved many lives and largely kept out of lockdown too. That is why I wrote my book, to elucidate the damage to people’s lives, to education, to the economy, and to health thanks to people being told to stay away from the NHS. Lockdowns were not a proportionate or sustainable intervention and the forthcoming inquiry needs to take a critical view of their role.