Coronavirus Outbreak. Lockdown and school closures. School boy with face mask watching online education classes feeling bored and depressed at home. COVID-19 pandemic forces children online learning.

Hastings Center Report

Rethinking the Ethics of the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdowns

Abstract: Public health responses to the Covid-19 pandemic included various measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. Among these, the most restrictive was a broad category referred to as “lockdowns.” We argue that the reasoning offered in favor of extended lockdowns—those lasting several months or longer—did not adequately account for a host of countervailing considerations, including the impact on mental illness, education, employment, and marginalized communities as well as health, educational, and economic inequities. Furthermore, justifications offered for extended lockdowns set aside a basic tenet of public health ethics: restrictions on liberty and autonomy should be the least intrusive means of achieving the desired end. Since it is now clear that extended lockdowns cause severe harm to many vulnerable populations, the burden of proof is on those who would advocate for them, and there must be a much higher bar to implement an extended lockdown, with high-quality evidence that the benefit would substantially exceed its harm.

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