The research compares lives saved from COVID versus lives lost due to the recession. If you were in favor of shutting down, there’s compelling evidence it was the right call. If you’re opposed, the numbers show the cost hurt some more than others.
The study shows just how complicated responding to the pandemic was in those first few months. Researchers looked at the costs and benefits of lockdowns in the first six months of the pandemic, not in dollars, but in the numbers of lives and years to live.
According to the study, lockdowns beginning in March of 2020 saved between 866,000 and 1.7 million lives through stay-at-home orders and other orders. The recession caused by shutting down cost far fewer lives, between 58,000 and 245,000.
Things get less clear when talking about years of human life. Previous time held onto or lost with loved ones. The study estimates that between 5 million and 9 million years of human life were saved but between 2 million and 9 million years were lost.
Who benefited most and least was also looked at. The lockdowns overwhelmingly benefited the elderly and disabled, who likely have fewer years to live. Versus the negative impacts on the younger workforce. Although the study’s lead researcher said their findings aren’t for or against shutdowns.