by Bruce O’Hara

November 28, 2023

Sometimes the mainstream news prints important stories by accident, because they don’t think through the full implications of the story they are reporting on – like this article from last week in the Guardian.

The Guardian piece looks at new research from the University of Bangor indicating that those ‘unselfish’ people who most strenuously complied with the COVID lockdowns were still suffering in early 2023 from some combination of high stress, anxiety and depression – as well as continuing to self-isolate. In contrast, those ‘selfish’ people who questioned need for lockdowns and cheated on compliance, had quickly bounced back to something approaching normality. (Oh, the unfairness of it all!)

The Guardian article did allow that: “Trauma of pandemic having lasting impact on people’s mental health three years on, research reveals.” Talk about burying the lede! For me the obvious story here is that the pandemic never ended for a significant chunk of the British population. The study tells us that the group that was most compliant with the lockdown protocols is now from suffering serious and ongoing mental health problems. How big a group are we talking about here? Is it ten percent of the British population that is still seriously messed up? 20%? A quarter? I’d love to know.

This research project was small enough it should be considered a signal that more research is needed rather than as a substantive finding. The results were based on detailed surveys of only 850 people. Without knowing how those people were selected, its even difficult to know whether that small sample is representative of the UK population as a whole.

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