COVID-19 Lockdown Policies: An Interdisciplinary Review

38 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2021 Last revised: 17 Feb 2021

Date Written: February 9, 2021


Lockdown interventions employed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a suppression strategy have been evaluated via research at biomedical, economic, and psychological levels of analysis. The aim of this article is to integrate these perspectives into an interdisciplinary biopsychosocial review. Biomedical evidence from the early months of the pandemic suggests that lockdowns were associated with a reduced viral reproductive rate, but also that less restrictive measures had a similar effect. Lockdowns were not associated with reduced mortality in any studies apart from modelling studies. Psychological research supports the proposition that lengthy lockdowns may exacerbate stressors such as social isolation that have been shown to be strong predictors of falling ill if exposed to a respiratory virus. Research at the socioeconomic level of analysis points to the possibility that deaths associated with economic harms may outweigh the deaths that lockdowns save, and that the extremely high financial cost of lockdowns may have negative implications for overall population health in terms of diminished resources for other health issues. Suggestions for future research are provided to promote an increasingly fine-grained and nuanced evaluation of these policies.

Keywords: COVID-19, lockdown, health policy, non-pharmaceutical interventions, health policy, stress, interdisciplinary

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Oliver, COVID-19 Lockdown Policies: An Interdisciplinary Review (February 9, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Oliver Robinson (Contact Author)

University of Greenwich ( email )

30 Park Row
London, SE10 9LS
United Kingdom

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