Instigator / Pro

Lockdowns slow the spread of coronavirus


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics

After 3 votes and with 3 points ahead, the winner is...

Publication date
Last updated date
Number of rounds
Time for argument
One week
Max argument characters
Voting period
Six months
Point system
Winner selection
Voting system
Contender / Con

I am not necessarily arguing that lockdowns save lives, or that lockdowns were worthwhile, because whether people think something is worthwhile is subjective, according to their individual values and circumstances. I am arguing that lockdowns had an impact on the spread of covid. 3RU7AL said "There is no relationship between lockdowns (or whatever else people want to call them to mask their true nature) and virus control." coal said the same thing, and then blocked me when I said he was wrong. I aim to defend somewhat unpopular positions on this site, so I will debate this.

By spread I am referring to the transmission of covid from one person to another.

Con should be arguing there is no relationship between lockdowns and the spread of covid.

Round 1
Coronavirus spreads mainly from person to person transmission. 

"When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, droplets or tiny particles called aerosols carry the virus into the air from their nose or mouth. Anyone who is within 6 feet of that person can breathe it into their lungs. It can get into your lungs if someone who has it breathes out and you breathe that air in. 

Another way to catch the new coronavirus is when you touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on. Studies also suggest that virus particles can be found in infected people's poop. 

It's highly unlikely that you'll catch COVID-19 from packages, groceries, or food. The important thing is to limit your contact with other people."

Con must accept these methods for how coronavirus spreads, or offer another explanation.

A lockdown is a restriction policy for people or community to stay where they are, usually due to specific risks to themselves or to others if they can move and interact freely. The term "stay-at-home" or "shelter-in-place" is often used for lockdowns that affect an area, rather than specific locations.

During the coronavirus pandemic, when states went on lockdown the citizens were required to stay at home or shelter in place with the exception of first responders or "front line" workers, who hold jobs that were considered essential such as grocery store and pharmacy employees. As a result, many less people traveled outside the home. People were not going to work, not traveling for recreation, or socializing with others, so their proximity to those who were exposed was lessened then if there were no lockdown. For example a restaurant employee may have chosen to go to work absent a lockdown, because they felt they had no choice but to make money. Young people who are not at high risk of covid complications would have also socialized more freely without lockdowns, which we saw when lockdowns were lifted but people had the option to social distance and didn't. 

If Con accepts that coronavirus spreads from person to person contact, then he must explain how people staying where they are (staying at home, or sheltering in place)and therefore limiting contact with other humans, has no impact on the spread of covid. 
Pro offers a simple logical opening that makes sense logically, but lockdowns are far more nuanced than he thinks. Notice how he offers zero studies proving lockdowns' efficacy, and his lack of knowledge will prove to be fatal in the end. Notice how he admits that our lack of social distancing may also be part of the problem, rather than lockdown being the sole solution. 

My main evidence is a culmination of studies gathered by an article on the American Institute for Economic Research. [1] Through 32 different expert articles, the empirical results prove that lockdowns overall have very little impact, while offering some logic for why this doesn't work. Let's summarize through bullet points:


With countless studies noting that the pro-lockdown side is incredibly muddled and ambiguous results, it's clear that Pro's logic falls. 

  • country-level analysis by Chaudhry et al. -- no reductions
  • German analysis, Christof et al. -- herd immunity already cause the reduction rather than the lockdown
  • German analysis by Heiden et al. -- "no survey system... can make a statement about the current infection process"
  • UK Lockdown analysis from Cornell -- infections were already in decline before lockdown
  • Homburg and Christof -- Flaxman involved circular reasoning that was superfluous and ineffective
  • Prof. Ben Israel noting that time constants were similar in growth and decline, regardless of the disease
  • Hunter et al. realizing that prohibiting mass gatherings and closure of business was the main cause of stopping COVID, rather than stay at home orders
  • Meunier analyzing Western Europe highlights that there is no evidence in growth rate trends
  • Colombo et al. conclude that herd immunity is the big cause, supporting Homburg's conclusion
  • Christian, an economist, uses cross-country comparison to prove across 24 European countries that lockdowns have failed
  • Belarus has done no restrictions, rather, the people have been prepared with PPE, oxygen masks, and execute personal safety and has one of the lowest death rates, proving that Lockdowns are widely ineffective especially with the alternative being the people's protection early on
  • Harriet et al. observed no consistent changes in risk following school closure 
  • Trever Nell noted that the contradictions far outweighed the support, especially since developing nations did better than developed nations, proving that lockdowns weren't all there meets the eye. 
  • Adam McCann plots stats based on restrictions and finds death rates not reduced.
  • New Zealand's policy was ineffective 
  • Surjit found no evidence for lockdowns
  • Chin et al. Also proved the lockdown effects were exaggerated 
  • Bendavid et al. prove there was no significant benefit
  • Kepp and Christian reassert through Northern Jutland that "efficient infection surveillance and voluntary compliance make full lockdowns unnecessary"
  • Jonas also proves that behavior changes matter more, especially with curfew and facemasks
  • Soltesz et al. prove that the NPI effectiveness cannot be quantified, hence we don't know how many lockdowns actually contributed
  • Savaris et al. aren't able to deduce the effect of lockdowns. They admit that "we were not able to explain if COVID-19 mortality is reduced by staying at home in ~ 98% of the comparisons after epidemiological weeks 9 to 34"
  • Berry et al. prove that shelter in place order had no health benefits and that they are ineffective because they didn't alter social distancing.

In the long term, if the government does nothing then people are going to die anyway. With inaction on the scientific side, lockdowns are detrimental if implemented for too long. There is hefty economic impact on the people. The poor specifically are going to have trouble with medical issues. And hence they would die or get sick as a result of the lockdown.

  • Ken Rice investigates school closure and finds that "In the absence of an effective vaccination program, none of the proposed mitigation strategies in the UK would reduce the predicted total number of deaths below 200 000".
  • Shlomai et al. proves that the overwhelming economic effects destroy the people's finance which implicitly results in their death -- you need money to survive
  • Ted Cohen realizes that reducing the risk results in the increasing age at which infection occurs, which paradoxically shifts the burden towards older individuals. Remember that the elderly are weaker and more susceptible to die at hands of COVID.
  • Morris Altman agrees that the long run lets the government makes bad decisions and lowers human welfare to such a level that it negates any benefits lockdown may have had
  • Levan and Lois find that the 180 day of isolation produces more deaths if the vaccination is too late --thus the probability of getting infected is greater for the isolated individual
  • Atkeson et al. empirically determine that NPI policy and social distancing is key, rather than lockdowns. 
  • Quentin et al. notice that resilience can be better improved with physical fitness and immunity, which lockdown discourages (as people cannot leave their homes)
  • Taiwan had one of the worst responses but had one of the best health -- suggesting endogenous factors mattered rather than a political response 
Now I could go on and keep stacking more sources and information. But I'd argue 30+ studies is already overkill. Even the AEI economist Lyman Stone does his research on various countries across Europe and notices that lockdowns fail. [2] He realizes that travel restrictions, prevention on large gatherings, and wearing mask helps. But the problem with COVID is that people don't listen. You don't inform them of all the aspects of staying safe and assume that staying home is enough. But you have to go outside some time or another. And improperly social distancing or wearing masks is far more fatal even in the lone one or two hours you're at the supermarket. The success regarding control is when the people know the right prevention methods rather than being forced to stay away from medical facilities when they desperately need it, or governments sitting on their hands doing nothing, waiting for the virus to go away. 

Further Note
      One study takes an overarching broad view of the COVID fatality rates and puts the nail in the coffin why the lockdown in a vacuum won't work. The government has to be proactive, and the people must listen. Furthermore, we have other issues to fix in the core of the country. Authored by four experts, the analysis proves that " our study reveals that factors such as public health system, population age structure, poverty level and BCG vaccination are powerful contributory factors in determining fatality rates" [3]. Notice how there is no information given on lockdown. While the source analyzes the lockdown policies, each example proves that lockdown cannot work on its own. Within South Korea, they had to be prepared early, be transparent with data, and use high testing with isolated patients. While Sweden had local lockdowns, Griffiths noted that Sweden relied heavily on voluntary action, which is disrespected by many Americans. And finally, China's numbers are open to interpretation, while India's detriment to the economy is heavily criticized. Remember that when the government is heavily impacted, it's much harder for them to continue investing further resources into resolving the problem. This partially explains why my studies gather to show that vaccines must come out early, otherwise the long term deaths will be worse off with lockdowns. Clearly, lockdowns are widely ineffective, and other solutions are far more powerful, reasonable, and preferable.

Now back to pro.

Round 2
Round 3
Well, Pro had 2 chances to respond and failed to show up. Vote for me.