Do lockdowns and border closures serve the “greater good”?
A cost-benefit analysis of Australia’s reaction to COVID-19
Gigi Foster with Sanjeev Sabhlok
Paperback, 242 pages, $29.95
September 29, 2022 Release
“It’s eye opening and I hope it changes a lot of minds.”
--Jay Bhattacharya MD, PhD, Professor of Health Policy, Stanford University
“You can count on two hands the number of Australians academics and
civil servants who spoke out strongly against the novel ‘public health’
measures Australian governments imposed throughout 2020 and 2021,
including multiple lockdowns, school and business closures, highly
coercive vaccination, and the heartless separation of families from
But none did so as cogently, analytically and courageously as Gigi
Foster and Sanjeev Sabhlok, whose latest book lays out in depressing
detail the costs Australians endured for precious little benefit, in
what may well be the greatest peacetime disaster in Australian history.
I’m confident their conclusions, however controversial today as Covid19
hysteria lingers, will become the consensus in years to come.”
-- Adam Creighton, Washington correspondent for ‘The Australian’.
“Foster and Sabhlok's work provides a treasure trove of data and
analysis on the costs and benefits of the covid lockdown decisions by
the Australian state and federal governments, which may be the most
substantial interventions in the
Australian economy since WW2. The decision to enter a war may not lend
itself to formal CBA, but lockdown decisions do as evidenced by the
work of Foster and Sabhlok, and many others. Different analysts may
estimate costs and benefits differently, and there
is room for a range of views. However the most startling aspect of
Foster and Sabhlok's work is not the details, or even the conclusion
that costs massively outweighed benefits (with which I agree), but their
claim (which seems to be correct) that no Australian
state or federal government performed a CBA, either at the time of the
lockdowns or subsequently. The most important lesson to learn from all
this is the legally mandated necessity for any future pandemic-related
decisions by governments to be accompanied
by a CBA in support of them.”
-- Dr Martin T Lally, Capital Financial Consultants Ltd.
The world has been shaken by the response of governments to the COVID-19
pandemic in a way unlike what we have seen in any prior global health
event. What started as a local health anomaly in one Chinese province
quickly became a world-stopping crisis affecting every major nation in
2020. Industries from travel to manufacturing suffered sudden, acute
disruptions due to political action to lock down cities and block the
free movement of people and goods within and between countries. Was all
of this necessary to save lives, or did it on net produce human damage?
This report aims to evaluate whether Australia’s COVID lockdown policies
– a central feature of our COVID policy response – were on net helpful
Gigi Foster is Professor of Economics, UNSW Business School, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
Sanjeev Sabhlok is a PhD economist formerly of the Department of Treasury and Finance in Victoria.