It was about time that someone took a real, honest look at the ethical consequences of the COVID-19 lockdowns, especially because there is the potential that we are on the verge of them starting up again.
Alvin Moss appeared on a recent episode of “The Highwire” to discuss a paper by him and Daniel Miller entitled “Rethinking the Ethics of the COVID-19 Lockdowns.” The conclusions came after much discussion and study and deserve a solid read. I will break them down here, but please check the paper yourself.
Mental Health and Inequity
The lockdowns were directly responsible for an increase in the rate of adolescent suicide, alcohol-related deaths, and opioid overdose. Teenagers, particularly teenage girls, sadly committed suicide at a rate 50% higher in 2020 than a year prior. PTSD was also at an all-time high, but not for the reasons you may think; PTSD spiked in those barred from seeing their loved ones who were dying in hospitals. Woven throughout this paper is a common theme—humanity’s rooted need to support dying friends and family, as well as a dying human being’s deep-rooted need to be around the ones they love as they work through the stages of death. Locking down people at low risk of severe illness or death in favor of saving a small percentage of the population had devastating societal consequences.
And for what, exactly? A series of studies found that the lockdowns had little to no effect on mortality. However, they were associated with excess mortality. Delayed medical care for serious health issues like hypertension, heart disease, obesity, and drug-induced causes was responsible for over 97,000 excess deaths through the end of 2021. The paper doesn’t even factor in death and injury from the novel COVID-19 shot.
The paper also found that these lockdowns disproportionately affected a population the government claims to care so much about—disadvantaged and marginalized populations. One of the most significant impacts of this was felt in education, where young people who were forced to attend school virtually couldn’t do so and never returned. They also faced a more burdensome learning curve. Students who were behind more than their peers could not catch up.
And economically, the longer a state was locked down, the more workers were affected. Black and Hispanic workers experienced higher rates of job loss and were less able to transition to remote work. These are hard truths, but are, indeed, truths.
The Costs We Can’t Measure…
What about what we can’t put into statistics and dollars and cents? Liberty. People take risks every day and are left to their own devices when deciding what those look like. The government doesn’t bar people from driving a car or flying, even though there is a definite risk. Obviously, the lockdowns placed severe limits on personal liberty, something we value immensely in our society.
And dignity. The lockdowns all but obliterated human dignity. During his interview with Del Bigtree, Moss talked about how a once shy nurse was drawn to speak out at a roundtable. She told the story about how, in her long-term care facility, the nurses resorted to keeping patients in the kitchen as a quarantine strategy. Speaking for myself, I communicated with dozens of families who told of their loved ones being held against their will in quarantine in hospitals or long-term care facilities with little to no contact with the outside world or their family at a time when it was desperately needed. Moss discusses how patients told him they couldn’t get a haircut, a shave, or their toenails cut because of the restrictions. This caused immeasurable pain and emotional distress for the elderly and aging – many already waning in their lives—stripping from them a will to live.
Damage to Public Health
Trust and confidence in public health are at an all-time low. Honestly, I look at this as a benefit, not a downside. The paper details that as of January 2022, only 44% of Americans trusted the CDC. By August 2022, only one-third of Americans had followed the CDC guidelines to get a booster shot. People also opened their eyes to the lopsided way decisions were made during the pandemic, and that skepticism filtered out to a whole-of-industry mentality. Additionally, the fact that they were wrong on almost everything, from vaccine effectiveness to lockdowns to masking, exacerbated the “problem.”
From a personal standpoint, this is the single biggest “win” of the pandemic. We have spent far too many years with a blind and undying loyalty to a health establishment that has done far more harm than good. The unholy alliance of Big Pharma and government was finally exposed for the country (and the world) to see. As a result, we have a prime opportunity to educate and inform. And the team at “The Highwire” intends to do just that.