Lockdowns are 'the single biggest public health mistake in history', says top scientist

·2-min read
A Tube passenger during lockdown - Alex Davidson /Getty Images Europe
A Tube passenger during lockdown - Alex Davidson /Getty Images Europe

Lockdowns will be seen as the "single biggest public health mistake" in history, a Stanford University professor has warned.

Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine, told The Telegraph's Planet Normal podcast that there have been "enormous collateral consequences" of keeping people inside and isolating them from their loved-ones during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The epidemiologist believes many scientists have clung onto the perceived effectiveness of lockdowns, and they "remain attached" to the idea despite the "failure of this strategy".

"I do think that future historians will look back on this and say this was the single biggest public health mistake, possibly of all history, in terms of the scope of the harm that it's caused," said Prof Bhattacharya.

"Every single poor person on the face of the earth has faced some harm, sometimes catastrophic harm, from this lockdown policy.

"Almost from the very beginning, lockdown was going to have enormous collateral consequences, things that are sometimes hard to see but are nevertheless real."

Prof Bhattacharya gave the example of children who are abused at home, who may have been unable to get the help they need during lockdowns because there are no adults present who could step in.

In addition, many patients with serious illnesses or who may have an undiagnosed illness have been reluctant to attend hospital over fears of catching the virus, he said.

"All of those kinds of harms, I think, even from the very beginning were going on. And yet we closed our eyes to them because we were so scared about the virus and so enamoured with this idea that the lockdown could stop the virus."

Listen to Planet Normal, a weekly Telegraph podcast featuring news and views from beyond the bubble, using the audio player above or subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your preferred podcast app.

Join Allison Pearson and Liam Halligan to discuss lockdowns, public health and the latest Planet Normal episode in the comments section of this article at 11am on Thursday June 10.

Watch: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting