Being Right


After the UK, Denmark, and — of course — Sweden lifted COVID restrictions, including mask and vaccination requirements, comes a study conclusively putting the lie on the futility, inanity, and insanity that are lockdowns.

The January 2022 paper from the Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise (“A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality” by Jonas Herby, et. al.) definitively declared:

“What does the evidence tell us about the effects of lockdowns on mortality? We provide a firm answer to this question: The evidence fails to confirm that lockdowns have a significant effect in reducing COVID-19 mortality. The effect is little to none.”

On the other hand, “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. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”

In case government and lockdown supporters still can’t understand what was just said: “Overall, we conclude that lockdowns are not an effective way of reducing mortality rates during a pandemic, at least not during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results are in line with the World Health Organization Writing Group (2006), who state, ‘Reports from the 1918 influenza pandemic indicate that social-distancing measures did not stop or appear to dramatically reduce transmission.’”

In fact, the damage wrought by lockdowns is emphatically not merely economic but also health-wise: “Several studies find a small positive relationship between lockdowns and COVID-19 mortality. Although this appears to be counterintuitive, it could be the result of an (asymptomatic) infected person being isolated at home under a SIPO [“shelter in place order”] can infect family members with a higher viral load causing more severe illness.”

Also, “unintended consequences may play a larger role than recognized. We already pointed to the possible unintended consequence of SIPOs, which may isolate an infected person at home with his/her family where he/she risks infecting family members with a higher viral load, causing more severe illness. But often, lockdowns have limited people’s access to safe (outdoor) places such as beaches, parks, and zoos, or included outdoor mask mandates or strict outdoor gathering restrictions, pushing people to meet at less safe (indoor) places. Indeed, we do find some evidence that limiting gatherings was counterproductive and increased COVID-19 mortality.”

Indeed, this statement alone shows the utter derangement of relying on lockdown policies: “According to stringency index studies, lockdowns in Europe and the United States reduced only COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average.”

The paper employed a “systematic review and meta-analysis” specifically “designed to determine whether there is empirical evidence to support the belief that ‘lockdowns’ reduce COVID-19 mortality.” “Lockdowns” here include to mean “policies that limit internal movement, close schools and businesses, and ban international travel.” The scope of the paper was utterly comprehensive, involving “systematic search and screening procedure in which 18,590 studies are identified that could potentially address the belief posed. After three levels of screening, 34 studies ultimately qualified. Of those 34 eligible studies, 24 qualified for inclusion in the meta-analysis.”

It’s time therefore for citizens, individuals, and companies to start making plans to sue the government or its officials for the damage they wrought in unjustifiably and arbitrarily insisting on destructive lockdown policies.

And let no one claim that when the pandemic started they didn’t know lockdowns were ineffective but harmful — experts have been shouting that fact from the beginning.

There is a common-sense reason why “lockdowns have not been used to such a large extent during any of the pandemics of the past century. However, lockdowns during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic have had devastating effects. They have contributed to reducing economic activity, raising unemployment, reducing schooling, causing political unrest, contributing to domestic violence, and undermining liberal democracy. These costs to society must be compared to the benefits of lockdowns, which our meta-analysis has shown are marginal at best. Such a standard benefit-cost calculation leads to a strong conclusion: lockdowns should be rejected out of hand as a pandemic policy instrument.”

Foreign corporations should study the possibilities of bringing a suit for damages before the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID; see “Foreign investment damages under lockdowns,” BusinessWorld, Nov. 12, 2020). The ICSID overcomes State immunity from suit by allowing private entities to protect the investments they made in a foreign country. Complaints could include improper expropriation of the investment or unfair treatment, either through violation of most-favored-nation or national treatment principles. Thus, Article 25 of the ICSID Convention: “The jurisdiction of the Center shall extend to any legal dispute arising directly out of an investment, between a Contracting State (or any constituent subdivision or agency of a Contracting State designated to the Centre by that State) and a national of another Contracting State, which the parties to the dispute consent in writing to submit to the Center. When the parties have given their consent, no party may withdraw its consent unilaterally.”

ICSID proceedings are self-contained: no appeals to local courts, no diplomatic protection, and once ICSID is engaged all other remedies are deemed excluded. The ICSID Convention obliges each contracting State to recognize and enforce pecuniary obligations imposed by awards of ICSID tribunals as if they were final judgments of the State’s own courts. Note that State immunity may still hold but then that State will have to answer for possible treaty violation.

Bilateral investment treaties may also provide an opening for recovery of damages. BITs will normally contain an “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” clause, which essentially allows foreign investors to sue a government for discriminatory practices.

The Philippines, for example, has entered into several BITs with ISDS clauses, amongst them the 2000 investment agreement with India. Aside from the Article IX (i.e., the ISDS clause), there is also: Article III.1 — “Each Contracting Party shall encourage and create favorable conditions for investors of the other Contracting Party to make investments in its territory, and admit such investments in accordance with its laws and policy.”

Furthermore, Article VI provides: “Investors of one Contracting Party whose investments in the territory of the other Contracting Party suffer losses owing to war or other armed conflict, a state of national emergency or civil disturbances in the territory of the latter Contracting Party shall be accorded by the latter Contracting Party treatment, as regards restitution, indemnification, compensation or other settlement, no less favorable than that which the latter Contracting Party accords to its own investors or to investors of any third State.”

Admittedly, a government can argue that its policies equally apply to both foreign and local companies, and that the latter suffered equally as well. A counter to this argument would be to charge the government as having violated the international “minimum standard of treatment,” which allows for greater and more effective protection to foreign investors than would have been available under Philippine domestic law. The point is that, in terms of holding governments accountable, the law and tribunals are certainly there.

In the local setting, citizens or private institutions can sue the national or local government, individual government officials, even private establishments, whether it be businesses, schools, or residential condominiums, for damages incurred due to illegal and unjustified COVID-19 measures, including lockdowns, mandatory vaccination, and even mask requirements.

The constitutional prescription that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or be denied equal protection of laws is applicable to all and the responsibility of all.

That responsibility has been further legislated specifically in the Civil Code, particularly Article 19 (every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due), Article 20 (every person who causes damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same), and Article 26 (every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following and similar acts, though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and other relief: meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another; intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends; vexing or humiliating another on account of his religious beliefs or other personal condition).

Then there is Article 32: Any public officer or employee, or any private individual, who directly or indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the following rights and liberties of another person shall be liable to the latter for damages, which includes: freedom of religion; freedom of speech; freedom from arbitrary or illegal detention; the right against deprivation of property without due process of law; the right to the equal protection of the laws; the right to be secure in one’s person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures; the liberty of abode and of changing the same; the right to take part in a peaceable assembly to petition the Government for redress of grievances.

The penal code also provides for criminal proceedings where private individuals, without authority of law, coerced people to do things or stay in a place against their will (see “illegal detention,” “unlawful arrest” or “grave coercion,” Articles 267, 268, 269, and 286, respectively of the Revised Penal Code) or where government officials, without authority of law, coerced people to do things or stay in a place against their will (see “arbitrary detention,” “violation of domicile,” “interruption of religious worship,” Articles 124, 128, 132, respectively, of the Revised Penal Code).

Somebody must be thoroughly held accountable for the incredible loss or damage to life, liberty, property, the national economy, individual livelihoods, people’s futures. All for what? For a measly “0.2%” benefit just so some people could satisfy their lazy dictatorial tendencies through never-ending lockdowns.

(For further information about “A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality” by Jonas Herby,,” visit — Editor)


Jemy Gatdula is a senior fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence