Therapeutic State

The Failed Experiment of COVID Lockdowns

In their new book, The Big Fail, veteran journalists Joe Nocera and Bethany McLean try to get some perspective on many of the policy choices the United States made during the acute phase of the COVID pandemic. They note some successes — including the Operation Warp Speed vaccine initiative and the state programs to roll out the shots — but mostly they find lessons to be learned. Among them, they believe, is that governments should rethink lockdown policies — that, in general, measures in this broad category should be employed only to prevent hospitals from being overrun during an early phase of a pandemic. Joe and Bethany make the case that in a society as large and complex as this one, the longer-term social and economic (and human) damage outweighs the benefits of sticking with lockdowns in any extended way. As the authors would be the first to concede, however, we are still making sense of the pandemic’s legacy, and there is a need for a much larger discussion on the subject. They believe now is the time to start that conversation.

—Jebediah Reed, editor, Intelligencer

COVID Lockdowns Were a Giant Experiment. It Was a Failure. A key lesson of the pandemic.

Photo: JOHN TAGGART/The New York Times/REDUX

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