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White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week that the country may never know if coronavirus lockdowns were “worth it.”
“You know, I don’t think we’re ever going to be able to determine what the right balance is,” Fauci told BBC’s Sunday Morning when asked if lockdowns were “worth it” or “too severe.”
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“I think the restrictions — if you want to use that word, which I tend to shy away from, lockdown — they certainly prevented a lot of infections, prevented a lot of hospitalizations, and prevented a lot of deaths. There’s no doubt about that,” Fauci added.
Fauci did acknowledge that lockdowns came with “unintended negative consequences” particularly when it comes to children who were unable to attend school.
Fauci’s statement received criticism on Twitter from conservatives who have been vocal about opposition to lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions.
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“They weren’t,” Knox County Tennessee Mayor and WWE star Glenn Jacobs tweeted.
“i DOnT tHiNk We’RE eVer gOINg tO Be aBLe tO dEterMinE,’” Abigail Marone, press secretary for Republican Sen. Josh Hawley tweeted.
“Um… yeah we will,” author and former gymnast Jennifer Sey tweeted.
“Progress!” Stanford University Professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya tweeted. “First time I’ve heard Dr. Fauci admit there are lockdown harms at all. Even the blind shall see. Eventually.”
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Fauci’s comment comes after a multitude of studies both during the coronavirus pandemic and after have suggested that coronavirus lockdowns did not stop the spread of the coronavirus and in some cases may have done more harm than good.
A study from Johns Hopkins University concluded earlier this year that lockdowns during the first coronavirus wave in the spring of 2020 only reduced COVID-19 mortality by .2% in the U.S. and Europe.
“While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted,” the researchers wrote. “In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”
In the same BBC interview, Fauci suggested that Americans should be prepared for more coronavirus restrictions in the future to combat new variants.
“I don’t want to use the word ‘lockdowns. That has a charged element to it. But, I believe that we must keep our eye on the pattern of what we’re seeing with infections,” Fauci said. “Having said that, we need to be prepared for the possibility that we would have another variant that would come along. And then, if things change and we do get a variant that does give us an uptick in cases and hospitalization, we should be prepared and flexible enough to pivot toward going back – at least temporarily – to a more rigid type of restrictions, such as requiring masks indoors.”