LONDON - A study has found that the benefits of lockdown measures were a “drop in the bucket” compared to the costs.

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Lund University who analysed almost 20,000 studies on Covid measures across the world found that lockdowns in response to the first wave of the pandemic, when compared with less strict policies adopted by the likes of Sweden, prevented as few as 1,700 deaths in England and Wales.

They described lockdowns as a “policy failure of gigantic proportions”.

The United Kingdom’s (UK) first national lockdown was introduced on 23 March 2020 in an attempt to reduce the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus.

The pandemic claimed the lives of more than 220,000 people in the UK and, according to the World Health Organization, more than three million people around the world.

While the UK has avoided a technical recession, its economy remains 0.8% below its pre-pandemic peak in 2019, in contrast to the US, Canada, Italy, France and Japan, which have experienced growth over the same period.

Mental health

New research published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggests that while the pandemic has affected the lives of many people, the mental health of most did not deteriorate throughout the crisis.

Experts warned, though, that the review did not specifically focus on children, young people or those with existing mental health problems, who were most likely to be affected by the pandemic.


According to a 2021 report by UK think tank the Resolution Foundation, the wealth gap in Britain widened during the pandemic. The study revealed that the richest 10% of the population gained an average of £50,000, while the poorest third saw only marginal increases.

“The poorest had to increase their spending during the pandemic at the same time that those higher up the income chain were able to amass significant savings,” said Ruth Patrick, senior lecturer at the University of York, on the London School of Economics blog.

While lockdown and social distancing did reduce the ability of younger, lower-earning and less educated people to work, inequality in terms of disposable income did not appear to rise, according to a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, released in January 2022. Government job support programmes combined with an expanded welfare system meant that “if anything, disposable income inequality fell”, said the report.

But despite a dip during the pandemic, income inequality has now risen to a three-year high in the 2021/22 financial year, according to the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) data.

Ultimately, though, many health professionals agree with England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, who told MPs in December 2021, that lockdowns were necessary.