". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Lessons Learned from the COVID Pandemic: ‘There Needs to Be an Honest Discussion’

March 19, 2024

Roughly four years ago, life as we know it changed dramatically. With the COVID-19 pandemic came lockdowns, masks, social distancing, a controversial vaccine, and a toilet paper shortage. Students were forced to spend months of learning time almost exclusively online. Trips were canceled, events postponed, and a wave of fear swept over the globe as civilians were unsure of just how dangerous this virus was.

The U.S. government certainly faced its share of backlash from experts who disagreed with how it handled the pandemic. Even now, the scrutiny continues. A new report published by the nonprofit Committee to Unleash Prosperity (CTUP) found that “lockdowns, school closures and vaccine mandates were ‘catastrophic errors’ resulting in many Americans losing faith in public health institutions,” Fox News reported.

The report emphasized “lessons learned” from COVID and states: “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.” And they emphasized 10 major lessons:

  • “Leaders should calm public fears, not stoke them.”
  • “Lockdowns do not work to substantially reduce deaths or stop viral circulation.”
  • “Lockdowns and social isolation had negative consequences that far outweighed benefits.”
  • “Government should not pay people more not to work.”
  • “Shutting down schools was a major policy mistake with tragic effects on children, especially the poor.”
  • “Masks were of little or no value and possibly harmful.”
  • “Government should not suppress dissent or police the boundaries of science.”
  • “The real hospital story was underutilization.”
  • “Protect the most vulnerable.”
  • “Warp Speed: Deregulate but don’t mandate.”

The full report details the reasonings behind each lesson, but on Monday’s episode of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of health policy at Stanford University, discussed his take on the study’s findings.

“It’s striking to read the lessons in that report,” he said. “It’s actually hard to think of something the government really got right from the very start of the pandemic.” He explained that out of all the variables to consider, “They absolutely got it [all] wrong. [B]usinesses closed, churches closed, people … became depressed. And there are people that are dead today as a result of the government’s mismanaging the pandemic.” In addition to these factors, Bhattacharya pointed out that “they censored critics in order to create an illusion of consensus that they were right,” which he considered to be one of the worst aspects. Out of all the lessons learned, “there needs to be an honest discussion,” he urged. The “First Amendment protects American health.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins agreed and highlighted that Bhattacharya was among those censored. “I know why they censored you,” he said. “You were right, and they were wrong.”

And ultimately, Bhattacharya shared that these findings aren’t completely surprising. “If you look back over the past century,” he said, you will find that pandemics were “better focused on the people who are most at risk” and not disrupting society. But with the COVID pandemic, the government chose to “ignore a century of evidence and then suppress anyone” criticizing them. “I have no idea why the government thought that was going to work out,” he stated.

Additionally, the report suggested that elected officials should have been more in charge of the decisions, rather than “hiding behind” health agencies. “Limiting health agency power is a way to begin holding elected officials accountable to the citizens.” Bhattacharya agreed, saying that elected officials are “responsible to the public” and can be voted in and out of office depending on their actions. However, he emphasized, the COVID pandemic showed that “experts are not in any way held accountable” as they should be.

“And that’s a part of … going forward,” Perkins concluded, “that Congress takes some actions to restrict the ability of governments to really trample upon fundamental freedoms and restrict the flow of information. [It’s] critical to have those voices out there that … the elected leadership can hear from and then make totally informed decisions that take in the whole array of issues.”

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.