Much of the pathology underlying COVID policy arises from the fantasy that it is possible to eradicate the virus. Capitalizing on pandemic panic, governments and compliant media have used the lure of zero-COVID to induce obedience to harsh and arbitrary lockdown policies and associated violations of civil liberties.
Among all countries, New Zealand, Australia, and especially China have most zealously embraced zero-COVID. China’s initial lockdown in Wuhan was the most tyrannical. It infamously locked people into their homes, forced patients to take untested medications, and imposed 40-day quarantines at gunpoint.
On March 24, 2020, New Zealand imposed one of the most onerous lockdowns in the free world, with sharp restrictions on international travel, business closures, a prohibition on going outside, and official encouragement of citizens to snitch on neighbors. In May 2020, having hit zero-COVID, New Zealand lifted lockdown restrictions, except quarantines for international travelers and warrantless house searches to enforce lockdown.
Jay Bhattacharya is a Stanford University medicine professor and National Bureau of Economics Research research associate. Donald J. Boudreaux is a senior fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) and economics professor at George Mason University.
Editor’s Note: The full version of this piece can be found on The Wall Street Journal.