Scientific study: Empirical evidence fails to show that coronavirus lockdowns are as effective as advertised

Do the controversial lockdowns, the preferred strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic, actually work?

This is a critical question, because virtually the entire American population has been sent into hiding at a mega-trillion cost to the economy, based on the scientific (we are told) evidence that it is the best and, perhaps, the only way to fight the pandemic.

But such evidence is hard to find because an entire nation of some 330 million people has never been shut down, leaving a big void in scientific literature.

So, Wilfred Reilly, an assistant professor of political science at Kentucky State University, set out to answer the question: Did lockdown states experience fewer Covid-19 cases and deaths than social-distancing states?” He concluded:

The answer? No. The impact of state-response strategy on both my cases and deaths measures was utterly insignificant.

Considering the millions of jobs lost, the devastating impact of shutting down

Wilfred Reilly

Wilfred Reilly

society and, and, most importantly, the thousands of deaths cause by the coronavirus, Reilly’s research is bound to be viciously attacked.

Reilly understands that and invites researchers to access his research and run their own  by requesting it here. In other words, he’s inviting anyone to conduct their own peer review.

He’ll be challenged on the basis that in trying to compare the effectives of the shutdown in states that imposed it and those that didn’t he will be comparing apples to oranges because states are so different demographically.

Using regression analysis, Reilly took into account those differences by including the demographic variables of  population, population density, median income, median age, diversity (measured as the percentage of minorities in a population), and the state’s Covid-19 response strategy (0 = lockdown, 1 = social distancing).

The result: “There is no relationship between lockdowns and lower Covid-19 deaths.”

So, how did we get to the point where lockdowns became the only accepted strategy? Reilly writes:

The original response to Covid-19 was driven by an understandable fear of an unknown disease. The epidemiologist Neil Ferguson projected that 2.2 million people could die in the US alone, and few world leaders were willing to risk being the one who would allow such grim reaping to occur.

However, as time has passed, new data have emerged. A top-quality team from Stanford University has pointed out that the infection rate for Covid-19 must logically be far higher than the official tested rate, and the fatality rate for the virus could thus be much closer to 0.1 per cent than the 2 to 4 per cent that was initially expected. And empirical analyses of national and regional response strategies, including this one, do not necessarily find that costly lockdowns work better against the virus than social distancing.

Posted in the interest of rational debate. 

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  • OK. But shouldn't you wait until other scientists replicate his results?

  • Why? What if no one chooses to peer review the study? It should never see the light of day? As a science writer, I didn't have to wait for peer review before scientists would be willing to be interviewed about their work. The job of journalists is to provide important news. This clearly is an example of it.

  • Yes, you, as well as, many other people might consider it important news. But that's not how science works. There needs to be confirmation of his results in order to say anything definitive about them.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I know how science works, thank you. So, let me ask. Where are the peer reviewed studies that show that lockdowns do work?

  • As a journalist, you may find more reliable information on the success and limitations of lockdowns at Science Magazine. You may want to begin with this article and continue with other reports on Covid-19 research at their website:

  • As a journalist, you may find more reliable information on studies showing that lockdowns work at reliable scientific websites. For example, Science Magazine has much scientific information on Covid-19, including the following article: "The Lockdowns Worked--but What Comes Next?"

  • In reply to jnorto:

    I've read that article and think that is a good summary of the situation. Thanks for the link. Reporting on all aspects of the pandemic is difficult because there are so many different angles and news popping up all the time. So much more to learn. If I had the drive in my old age, I'd be getting ready to write a book about it. There'll be a flood of them, all having the advantage of retrospect.

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