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  • Dean Dwyer

The cost of COVID lockdowns

We all probably suspected that the costs of Covid-19 lockdowns would be gigantic. However, time and time again governments assured us that they were doing what was necessary to “keep us safe” and that no cost would be spared to do so.


A recent report by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has called this strategy into question by attempting to calculate the economic, social and humanitarian costs of zero-Covid. The document is entitled Hard Lessons: Reckoning the Economic, Social, and Humanitarian Costs of Zero-Covid and can be found on the IPA’s website. The study is not the first to do so, however. In September 2021 a critical assessment of Covid data, published in the International Journal of the Economics of Business, concluded that the lockdowns would ultimately cost more lives than they saved. The report doesn’t mince words: “Lockdowns did not work” it states bluntly. “The aggressive measures found in Australia were enabled by alarmist modelling at the start of the pandemic, based on a series of faulty assumptions. It is simplistic and myopic in that it assumes that totalitarian controls can be exercised over human behaviour without the detrimental costs of the lockdowns outweighing the benefits. There is a positive correlation between employment and life expectancy. Unemployment reduces life expectancy due to a number of well-documented causes, including cardiovascular disease, increased illicit substance and alcohol abuse, and suicide.”


The modelling in this report shows that the costs of joblessness and not working as a result of the first nationwide lockdowns in March and April 2020 were 31 times greater than the maximum possible benefits of all lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. While lives saved or lost is, of course, the most important metric for measuring the effectiveness of lockdowns, the study also examined the financial costs of these unprecedented restrictions. It measured net direct economic cost, state and federal government spending as well as the aggregated cost of the inflationary effects of zero-Covid policies. The final measured cost of the lockdowns was their significant impact on students. The authors concluded: “This detriment was most pronounced in Victoria (Australia). Students missed more than five terms of in-person schooling, which resulted in Year 9 students falling behind in reading and numeracy skills by the equivalent of 12 weeks and 17 weeks respectively.”


The report’s findings are certainly not unexpected for many people. Nevertheless, they make for sober reading and, appropriately, the researchers noted that there are numerous socio-economic, recreational, lifestyle and mental health harms as a consequence of lockdown measures. These have not yet been fully quantified but will be a significant ongoing cost of zero-Covid. Millions of Australians are experiencing ongoing harm, setbacks and trauma because of the extended and unnecessary lockdowns governments inflicted upon them. The cost can never be fully calculated, as Dr. Julie Sladden explains in the following narrative:


“I’ll come clean. Like most people defending their position on Covid vaccinations, I used to start my apology with I’m no anti-vaxxer! Having probably received more vaccines than most, given I am both a doctor and fairly well-travelled, I naïvely thought this approach might earn credibility with vaccine enthusiasts. I should have saved my breath. Over the last two years, the government-endorsed segregation and dehumanisation of those who exercised their right to refuse the vaccine has forced me to change my identity.


When Australia locked down in 2020, I soon tired of the daily command ‘Stay Home, Save Lives!’ mantra, turned the TV off and started researching. I discovered the government-imposed lockdown measures were replacing perfectly good pandemic plans that were updated in August 2019. These were plans which, from what I could tell, hardly saw the light of day despite how much they cost to put together. Australia, and much of the world, was ‘off script’. No attention was being given to the well-documented costs of lockdowns and no effort was directed toward early treatment options. Nor were there attempts to improve the immune health of Australians through measures like nutrition, reducing alcohol consumption, and exercising. Absolutely none! With all this hand washing, comfort eating and drinking, isolating and fear-mongering, Australians were sitting ducks as far as their health was concerned. Meanwhile, state governments and chief health officers told us to sit tight and wait for the ‘saviour’ vaccine to arrive.


“In August 2020, when Scott Morrison announced: 'I would expect (the vaccine) to be as mandatory as you could possibly make it' I felt my eyebrows rise. Just how was our Prime Minister going to do that? The ethical, medical, and legal implications concerned me. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) position statement on Covid vaccination arrived in the mail in March 2021, and I felt my eyebrows rise again. AHPRA effectively told doctors to fall in line with government policy, warning that regulatory action may follow if a practitioner promoted anti-vaccination statements or undermined the immunisation campaign. More groundwork being laid! Finally, in June 2021, Lt. General John Frewen was appointed as head of the National Covid Vaccine Task Force. It became apparent we were part of a military-style operation, especially considering there were actual military forces policing our streets.


When the vaccine arrived in Australia I decided to perform a personal risk/benefit analysis. As a cancer survivor (I’m well now, thanks for asking) it had taken years to regain full health and I was keen to stay that way. The Covid risk calculator estimated my chance of survival at over 99 percent. Not bad! I then looked at the mRNA vaccines. Early data from overseas showed some concerning safety signals and surprising evidence of similar transmission rates by both vaccinated and unvaccinated. I could only surmise: we had new drug technology with limited data, worrying safety signals and indications it didn’t prevent infection or transmission. For me the risks outweighed the benefits, especially if it meant I could still infect my patients.


When the Tasmanian government mandated vaccines for all healthcare workers I personally went, research in hand, and spoke to as many politicians as I could, recommending they adopt a risk-management approach. I spent hours writing, phoning and visiting – arguing the point based on scientific evidence, ethics and medical resource management. I reasoned our state couldn’t afford to lose any healthcare professionals who would rather walk than take the vaccine. I pleaded for the middle ground and a strategic approach, including personal protective equipment, rapid antigen testing and Telehealth Online Doctors — not just vaccination — to preserve both autonomy and the workforce so the healthcare system didn’t suffer further. Many sympathised behind closed doors, but were unwilling to speak publicly (except Senator Eric Abetz: thanks Eric). When the mandates came into effect I chose to remain unvaccinated along with hundreds of others, and was forced to stop work. I wasn’t even allowed to do Telehealth: can someone please explain that to me?


Now the truth is coming out. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated as the vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission. In addition, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has received more adverse reports in 2021 through June 2022 (18 months) for Covid vaccines than over the past 50 years for all other vaccines combined! This is not simply because of the number of Covid vaccinations! Around the world, there has been a significantly-higher rate of reported adverse events and deaths from Covid vaccinations when compared with non-Covid vaccines such as measles, polio and flu vaccines. And finally, the latest hospital admission statistics do not support the claim that the unvaccinated are more at risk of serious Covid disease, hospitalisation or death.


This ‘thing’ that we have been doing for the past two years is not healthcare. This was obvious from the start. It is not benefiting the 'greater good'. It is not looking after grandma. It is not 'doing our bit and protecting others'. It is not saving lives. As the fog of Covid-war lifts I suspect we will realise more people have been harmed because of this single-minded 'vaccine-or-bust' approach than any other intervention foisted on the people before now. It truly is a crisis caused by bureaucrat-prescribed 'medical' treatment.”


Perhaps realising that the game is up, now many are calling for an “amnesty” around the decisions made during pandemic. Lives have been destroyed, businesses have closed, schoolchildren are now behind in education, some churches have never recovered and many have suffered death and injury. What we need is a serious investigation into the decisions made by our leaders and, if necessary, the insistence that they be held accountable for their actions.

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