Medical expert: ‘Told you so’ about lockdowns being a mistake

A Stanford epidemiologist declared back in March it was a mistake to implement mass, long-term lockdowns against COVID-19, warning of unintended social harms.

Now, Dr. John Ioannidis says it provides him no satisfaction to see that borne out.

In an article in March for STAT, he wrote “we don’t know how long social distancing measures and lockdowns can be maintained without major consequences to the economy, society, and mental health.”

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“Unpredictable evolutions may ensue, including financial crisis, unrest, civil strife, war, and a meltdown of the social fabric.”

Over the weekend, in an interview with the Greek Reporter, he noted unemployment numbers matched only by the Great Depression, business closures from small to large, drug abuse and suicide spikes, and social unrest.

“I feel extremely sad that my predictions were verified,” Ioannidis said.

He pointed out the major consequences for the economy, society and mental health.

“I hope they are reversible, and this depends to a large extent on whether we can avoid prolonging the draconian lockdowns and manage to deal with COVID-19 in a smart, precision-risk targeted approach, rather than blindly shutting down everything,” he said.

“Similarly, we have already started to see the consequences of ‘financial crisis, unrest, and civil strife.’ I hope it is not followed by ‘war and meltdown of the social fabric.’ Globally, the lockdown measures have increased the number of people at risk of starvation to 1.1 billion, and they are putting at risk millions of lives, with the potential resurgence of tuberculosis, childhood diseases like measles where vaccination programs are disrupted, and malaria.

“I hope that policymakers look at the big picture of all the potential problems and not only on the very important, but relatively thin slice of evidence that is COVID-19.”

He noted their reliance on bad models, predicting as many as 40 million would die.

“The predictions of most mathematical models in terms of how many beds and how many ICU beds would be required were astronomically wrong,” Ioannidis said. “Indeed, the health system was not overrun in any location in the USA, although several hospitals were stressed.”

He said there already are “more than 50 studies that have presented results on how many people in different countries and locations have developed antibodies to the virus.”

“Of course none of these studies are perfect, but cumulatively they provide useful composite evidence,” he said. “A very crude estimate might suggest that about 150-300 million or more people have already been infected around the world, far more than the 10 million documented cases.”

That, he said, suggests a fatality risk far lower than some estimates. For those under 45 years old, it’s “almost 0%.” It increases significantly for those over 85.

The mass lockdowns of entire populations were a mistake, he said, though they may have made sense when experts believed the fatality rate of COVID-19 was as high as 3% to 5%.

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