COVID Lessons Learned: A Retrospective After Four Years

Scott W. Atlas, M.D.

Robert Wesson Senior Fellow in Health Policy Hoover Institution,
Stanford University Former Advisor to the President and Member,
White House Coronavirus Task Force

Steve H. Hanke, Ph.D.

Professor of Applied Economics at The Johns Hopkins University
Founder and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics,
Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise

Philip G. Kerpen

President of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity
Founder of American Commitment

Casey B. Mulligan, Ph.D.

Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago
Senior Fellow at the Committee to Unleash Prosperity
Former Chief Economist of the White House Council of Economic Advisers

Executive Summary

This report reviews the major policy errors and lessons learned during the COVID pandemic from a balanced perspective that includes health, economic, educational, and civil liberty considerations. We outline ten key lessons that must be learned to avoid mistaken policy responses to future pandemics and other crises.

Lesson #1: Leaders Should Calm Public Fears, Not Stoke Them

Lesson #2: Lockdowns Do Not Work to Substantially Reduce Deaths or Stop Viral Circulation

Lesson #3: Lockdowns and Social Isolation Had Negative Consequences that Far Outweighed Benefits

Lesson #4: Government Should Not Pay People More Not to Work

Lesson #5: Shutting Down Schools Was a Major Policy Mistake With Tragic Effects on Children, Especially the Poor

Lesson #6: Masks Were of Little or No Value and Possibly Harmful

Lesson #7: Government Should Not Suppress Dissent or Police the Boundaries of Science

Lesson #8: The Real Hospital Story Was Underutilization

Lesson #9: Protect the Most Vulnerable

Lesson #10: Warp Speed: Deregulate But Don’t Mandate


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