The Lockdown Has Outlived Its Purpose – OpEd


When COVID crisis started catching the world unaware, several speculations were made about the cause and effect of COVID 19 and remedy for it. There was no clarity anywhere in the world beyond  the recommendation that social distancing is the only sure way of combating COVID 19 crisis. With no drug or vaccine for treating COVID 19 in sight and with World Health Organisation clueless, all the countries in the world resorted to the strategy of lockdown, concluding that this could be the only way out for the present.

Now, lockdown has been under implementation for  over six months world wide, with disastrous consequences to the world economy.  Many countries are now facing extreme level of economic and social hardships due to the lockdown and all countries are concerned as to how they would come out of this desperate situation.

The ground reality is that in spite of the extensive lockdown in many parts of the world, the COVID 19 crisis has not gone away. Though it is vaguely said that but for the lockdown, the severity of the COVID 19 crisis would have been much higher, there is no conclusive proof for this. The impact of the COVID 19 crisis have been vastly different between countries, for which there is no convincing explanation so far. There are some countries where claims have been made that the COVID 19 crisis have been successfully tackled by lockdown but even in these countries, COVID 19 crisis have recurred.

The concept of lockdown aims at maintaining social distancing between people, by enforcing the compulsive regulation of keeping the various industrial and economic activities shut down in different measures and keeping the people confined to their houses and with several activities including education, entertainment, sports being  nearly totally suspended.

After such experience, now the opinion is slowly spreading among the cross section of world community that lockdown is not the be all and end all solution for the COVID 19 crisis.

The question uppermost in the mind of the world community and being intensely discussed around the world is how long the lockdown should be prolonged and whether the price being paid by the world due to lockdown is much more severe than the harm done due to the COVID 19 crisis.

Scientists and medical researchers have pointed out that immunity level amongst the individuals and development of anti bodies has ensured that many people  have not been impacted by COVID 19. Even in densely populated country like India, in a population of around 1380 million, only less than 2.5 million people have been affected by COVID 19 and the recovery rate is around 70% and less than 50 000 people have died in the last six months.

Around the world, around  20 million people have been affected due to COVID19 and around 0.7 million people are reported to have died due to COVID 19 during the last six months. Several of the people who have passed away  are also reported to have other morbidity and terminal illness conditions.

The above figures of death should be seen in relation to the world wide death figures in normal times every year, which is reported to be around 60 million in 2019.

After all, death is natural and unavoidable and it cannot be said that COVID 19 has intensified the rate of death in the world to any alarming  level. 

No doubt, COVID 19 is a cause for concern and the world community is justified in being worried about it.  This crisis has to be tackled and in all probability, the development of appropriate vaccine, that may take place sooner than later, would save people from COVID 19.

Now, given the present scenario and considering the worldwide economic loss and poverty intensification due to prolonged lockdown, one wonders as to whether the world has resorted to a solution to tackle COVID 19 by imposing lockdown, which amounts to over reaction to the crisis.

Of course, there can be prolonged and intense arguments that would continue around the world for long time to come about the need or otherwise for the lockdown for prolonged period of several months.

One realization that is slowly getting into the mind of everyone is that any continued lockdown would be like slowing down the flow of blood in human body, which would impact every organ and ultimately lead to collapse of the human body.

After having experienced lockdown at the various level of intensity around the world and if social distancing is the immediate solution, people are well aware of it now.  In the next few months, whether there would be lockdown or not , social distancing as a health strategy would be observed by people all over the world. In other words, lockdown has served it’s purpose and any continued lockdown would amount to a counter productive exercise that would lead to diminishing returns.

Certainly, looking in a holistic manner, it is evident that the price  for lockdown being paid to tackle COVID 19 crisis is disproportionate and there is no case for continued lockdown. 

Let the normal life resume, let the people be allowed to breath fresh air and let the care and caution be observed by individuals  to protect themselves against COVID19 onslaught. 

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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