This article originally appeared in the Brownstone Institute.
Three years ago, Covid-19 struck the world. In the face of a rapidly evolving public health crisis, governments and institutions implemented policies to mitigate the spread of the virus. Today, we can look back and see the unintended consequences of these policies, which have had a lasting impact on public trust and our society.
Firstly, the healthcare system experienced significant disruption as a result of the disease but arguably more so from Covid policies themselves. Medical errors increased in hospitals due to the constraints on healthcare resources and mandates. Millions of cancer screenings were missed, potentially causing a future surge in late-stage cancer cases. HIV testing was disrupted, leading to delayed diagnoses and treatment. Additionally, the pressure to report Covid deaths led to inaccurate death counts, prompting more fear and furthering egregious policies.
Many of the Covid models that informed these policies proved to be flawed or unreliable, further eroding trust in the institutions that promoted them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) faced multiple controversies, including accusations of hiding data, unreliable data, and tracking millions of Americans’ phone locations. Additionally, the influence of unions on CDC policy raised concerns about political interference in public health decisions.
Privacy and censorship concerns related to Covid policies also loom large. Governments and private companies used Covid apps to expand surveillance, stop protests, and profit from user information. Reports of CDC collusion with Big Tech have prompted multiple hearings on Capitol Hill.
These concerns were exacerbated by evidence of collusion between the CDC, the White House, and Big Tech companies to suppress free speech and control the narrative surrounding the pandemic. The Twitter blacklisting of Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a respected medical expert, is just one example of how dissenting voices were silenced.
The massive spending on Covid relief programs also had significant consequences. In Canada, billions were wasted in poorly managed programs. Similarly, in the United States, billions in aid went to hospitals that didn’t need the funds, raising questions about the allocation and oversight of such spending.
One of the most significant consequences of Covid policies has been the impact on child health and development. Lockdowns led to a distressing increase in infant abuse and a surge in anxiety among children. Notably, the restrictions had a devastating impact on teenagers, as well as causing developmental delays in babies.
The Covid regulations also led to a rise in child labor worldwide, with millions of additional child marriages predicted as a consequence of the pandemic. These policies contributed to a significant crisis in child development.
Furthermore, the development of children was negatively impacted by masks and isolation, as evidenced by issues stemming from Covid’s social distancing, such as speech and expression difficulties. The incidence of child abuse increased significantly during lockdown periods, and the cancellation of sports activities had a severe impact on children. The reporting of abuse was also diminished by lockdowns, and the implementation of Covid regulations led to an increase in cases of child sexual abuse.
The consequences of Covid regulations on education were equally severe. Learning loss was a significant outcome of lockdowns, as remote learning proved to be unsatisfactory and even a complete failure. The learning of 1.6 billion children was disrupted due to Covid regulations, worsening the global learning crisis. Students were greatly affected by the disastrous impact of lockdowns, leaving them ill-equipped for the future.
Despite evidence showing that immunocompromised children have a low risk of contracting Covid and that it is uncommon for children to experience Long COVID, the debate around vaccination and its effectiveness in children continues. The UK has initiated compensation payments for vaccine-related injuries, and some experts advise against children receiving boosters due to potential risks.
Interestingly, interacting with children has been shown to improve Covid outcomes, suggesting that isolation measures may not have been the most effective approach. However, vaccination rates for other diseases among children are still declining, raising concerns about future public health challenges – and loss of trust in health institutions.
The Covid policies and their aftermath have had far-reaching impacts on our society. People now have lowered trust in public institutions, raised worries about privacy and freedom of speech, and the financial ramifications will persist for a long time. As we face the challenges posed by this pandemic and its policy outcomes, it’s vital to draw lessons from these missteps so future responses are more balanced, open, and successful in tackling public health crises without compromising civic rights and public confidence.