A 14-year-old schoolgirl concocted the idea of lockdowns as a way of tackling pandemics that governments around the world utilized during 2020-2021, a blistering new book reveals.
In 2007, Albuquerque high school student Laura Glass and her scientist father Robert Glass produced a study that claimed isolating people from each other was as effective as a vaccine during an influenza pandemic.
The study focused on a control group of high school students, and concluded that ‘closing schools and keeping students at home during a pandemic would remove the transmission potention… and would be effective at thwarting its spread within a community’.
This idea was keenly adopted by a group of scientists asked to compile a preemptive pandemic strategy for the US by then-president George W. Bush.
The Bush team’s final document, published by the CDC, calling for the use of ‘social distancing measures to reduce contact between adults in the community and workplace’ in the event of a pandemic.
The Big Fail: What the Pandemic Revealed About Who America Protects and Who It Leaves Behind, by Joe Nocera and Bethany McLean, and serialized by New York Magazine argues that this became the cornerstone for decisions made during the covid outbreak in 2020.
The decision to shut schools during the pandemic is described by the authors of ‘The Big Fail: What the Pandemic Revealed About Who America Protects and Who It Leaves Behind’ as a ‘tragic policy choice’. The authors pointed to this poignant photo, showing two children learning outside a San Jose Taco Bell – the only place they could access free wifi
Lockdowns around the world, in main cities like Atlanta (pictured), came to a stand still during the pandemic
In New York (pictured) the chronic absentee rate was 40 percent — up from 26 percent before the pandemic
An extract of The Big Fail published by New York Magazine emphasizes the effect lockdown policy had on school-aged children.
The decision to close public schools and attempt full-time remote learning is described by Nocera and McLean as a ‘tragic policy choice’.
They cite a poignant moment, a photograph published by the San Jose Mercury News, showing two young children, seven or eight years old, sitting alone outside a Taco Bell with Google Chromebooks because it was the only place they could access free wi-fi.
A school in Baltimore was completely abandoned by students after its classrooms shut, with even free computers for remote learning shunned.
In their book, the authors said at least 50 prestigious studies concluded that lockdowns did not actually help save lives.
Among these was a study published by eClinicalMedicine, an offshoot of The Lancet printed a study in August 2020 that argued that ‘full lockdowns and wide-spread COVID-19 testing were not associated with reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.’
In 2007, Albuquerque high school student Laura Glass and her scientist father Robert Glass produced a study in 2007 that claimed isolating people from each other was as effective as a vaccine during an influenza pandemic. Pictured: The near-deserted Oculus transport hub in Lower Manhattan on March 15, 2020
Authors Joe Nocera and Bethany McLean argue that lockdown was a ‘tragic policy choice’ that caused more damage than they prevented
Eerie: Empty Las Vegas following pandemic lockdown restrictions in March 2020
Another, published in March 2021 by Christian Bjørnskov, an economist at Aarhus University in Denmark concluded that more severe lockdown policies have not been associated with lower mortality’ following an examination of his study of weekly mortality rates in 24 European countries.
Rather than preventing excess deaths, Nocera and McLean in fact argued that deaths rose due to cancers being undiagnosed, the postponement of critical surgeries, the large rise in drug and alcohol related deaths, as well as suicides.
Demonstrating the point, the book’s authors argue that OECD data shows the US had 19 percent more excess deaths in 2020 and 2021 than it normally saw in two years’ time; the UK had a 10 percent rise; yet Sweden – which did not put a lockdown in place – experienced just a 4 percent rise.
A child psychologist who spoke to the authors said the impact of lockdown on children, particularly the closure of schools, produced a ‘sickening mental-health crisis’.
The psychologist said her work with autistic children drove her to change her mind about the need for lockdowns.
‘What happens to a child when every single support is removed from them? What’s the impact on the family and the siblings? What I was seeing was complete regression. It was devastating,’ she said.
A temporary field hospital used by the Army Corps of Engineers during the first wave of coronavirus in the US
A view of The Dakota building during the coronavirus pandemic on April 15, 2020 in New York City
Responses to lockdowns and the closure of schools also inevitably became political, The Big Fail argues.
Nocera and McLean write in their book that Trump himself was a factor in turning Democrats further towards a policy of closing schools for longer.
Trump was pro opening the schools but ‘by this late stage in his presidency, most Democrats assumed that anything he said was a lie’.
‘If Trump said schools should reopen, that was reason enough for them to assume they should stay closed,’ they wrote.
Compounding the issue were the powerful teaching unions, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), who pushed hard to keep their members out of the classrooms instead of helping teachers see how small the risk was.
As a result of prolonged closures, the chronic absentee rate among children skyrocketed.
In New York, even after schools had reopened, the chronic absentee rate was 40 percent — up from 26 percent before the pandemic.
There were also health implications for school children as a result of the closures.
Studies cited by the book showed that public-school children got less exercise because they weren’t running around at recess and that they ate more junk food without access to free hot meals at school.
The health impacts were also galvanized by isolation at home as a result of school closures.
Parental emotional abuse was four times higher than in 2013, and parental physical abuse nearly doubled, two professors reported in The Atlantic in June 2022.
Possibly most alarmingly the book draws attention to the 230,000 students in 21 states who had become absent from school without explanation since their closures.
‘They had simply gone missing,’ the authors wrote.