COVID: “Lockdowns Aren’t A Public Health Policy”


Professor Mark Woolhouse, a leading British epidemiologist, speaks out against the lockdown policy


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 4 January 2022,




Media are reporting about a forthcoming book about the pandemic which seems to be of great interest for all socialists and democrats who oppose the COVID Counterrevolution. The book – titled “The Year the World Went Mad: A Scientific Memoir” – is written by Professor Mark Woolhouse, an expert on infectious diseases at Edinburgh University and one of Britain’s leading epidemiologists.


The Guardian – one of the most influential liberal dailies in the Anglo-Saxon world – has published an interview with Professor Woolhouse which provides us with an insight in his analysis. In this article we will summarize the main arguments and draw a few conclusions. [1]


First Professor Woolhouse takes issue with one of the favorite statements of the protagonists of the COVID Counterrevolution, quoting one of the Tory ministers, Michael Gove, who said in March 2020 that the virus did not discriminate. “Everyone is at risk,” he announced. Against this claim, the expert states: “I am afraid Gove’s statement was simply not true. In fact, this is a very discriminatory virus. Some people are much more at risk from it than others. People over 75 are an astonishing 10,000 times more at risk than those who are under 15.


He therefore strongly condemns the policy of long-lasting, national lockdown which has been repeatedly imposed by the British as well as nearly all other capitalist governments around the world. Professor Woolhouse rightly says that this policy is morally wrong and highly damaging. “We did serious harm to our children and young adults who were robbed of their education, jobs and normal existence, as well as suffering damage to their future prospects, while they were left to inherit a record-breaking mountain of public debt,” he argues. “All this to protect the NHS from a disease that is a far, far greater threat to the elderly, frail and infirm than to the young and healthy. We were mesmerised by the once-in-a-century scale of the emergency and succeeded only in making a crisis even worse. In short, we panicked. This was an epidemic crying out for a precision public health approach and it got the opposite.


The epidemiologist also refers positively to Sweden as an example how one should have dealt with the pandemic. Sweden, as the RCIT has been pointed out many times, has been one of the few countries in the world which did not impose a policy of Lockdowns and focused on voluntary measures. Woolhouse says: “You can see from the UK data that people were reducing their contacts with each other as cases rose and before lockdown was imposed. That, coupled with Covid-safe measures, such as masks and testing, would have been sufficient to control spread.


Professor Woolhouse also emphasizes that the government should have put far more effort into protecting the vulnerable. “The nation could have spent several thousand pounds per household on provision of routine testing and in helping to implement Covid-safe measures for those shielding others and that would still have amounted to a small fraction of the £300bn we eventually spent on our pandemic response, he argues. Indeed, Woolhouse is particularly disdainful of the neglect of “shielders”, such as care home workers and informal carers. “These people stood between the vulnerable and the virus but, for most of 2020, they got minimal recognition and received no help. Britain spent a fortune on suppressing the virus and will still be servicing the debt incurred for generations to come, he adds. “By contrast, we spent almost nothing on protecting the vulnerable in the community. We should and could have invested in both suppression and protection. We effectively chose just one.


The expert has no doubts about the main conclusion “that further lockdowns are not the way to deal with future waves of Covid-19. “Lockdowns aren’t a public health policy. They signify a failure of public health policy,” he states.




A confirmation of revolutionaries’ stance against the Lockdown policy




Professor Woolhouse’s forthcoming book and his main arguments are to be highly welcomed by socialist and democratic opponents of the dystopian counterrevolutionary offensive of capitalist governments since early 2020. Since that time, the ruling class has imposed a draconic regime of lockdowns and state of emergencies all over the world, later to be added by mass or even compulsory vaccination. From China to Italy, from France to Chile and from South Africa to Nigeria – the ruling class has drastically expanded the powers of army and police, abolished fundamental democratic rights, and created gigantic business opportunities for Big Pharma, Big Tech and the military-industrial complex.


For these reasons, the RCIT characterizes this policy as COVID Counterrevolution which is driven not by health concerns but rather by political and economic interests of the monopoly bourgeoise. We refer interested readers to the extensive literature of our tendency which has published more than 100 documents on this issue – including a book and a number of pamphlets. [2]


Professor Woolhouse’s book is remarkable in several aspects. He is obviously not an outsider but one of the leading epidemiologists in Britain. It is meaningful if such a figure speaks out against the key strategy of the ruling class in the current period – albeit we shall note, such a book could have been published a bit earlier than two years after the beginning of this dystopian and anti-democratic offensive!


The interview shows that the British expert states a number of fundamental criticisms against the official pandemic policy which have been raised by the RCIT and other democratic opponents of the COVID Counterrevolution since its very beginning two years ago.


While we do not know the political views of Professor Woolhouse, it is obviously that he is not a right-wing libertarian as he calls for a “precision public health approach” with a focus on the elder and vulnerable as well as on the care home workers and informal carers. He is certainly not a Marxist but possibly an honest liberal or democrat.




“Panic reaction”?




Hence, Professor Woolhouse is not in a position to identify the political agenda behind the COVID Counterrevolution. Her rather explains this policy as a panic reaction of the government. This is obviously nonsense as governments all over the world do not implement a uniform policy – and for two years – “in panic”! No, people in panic run hysterically in different directions and do all kind of crazy things. They do not march for two years like a disciplined army in a single direction! So, even if we assume that there existed an element of panic in the very first phase of the pandemic, this was soon over overcome and resulted in a deliberate exploitation of this once-in-a-century opportunity for the ruling class!


In reality, the capitalist governments have concrete political and economic interests for expanding the repressive power of the ruling class state apparatus as well as the increasing of the profits of imperialist monopolies. [3] The ruling class desperately needs such a policy since capitalism has entered a period of irreversible decay – characterized by a series of crisis, catastrophes, and global instability. [4]


But it would be too much asking a leading university professor – someone who is part of the establishment – to recognize or even to publicly state such a Marxist analysis. In fact, it is already a praiseworthy performance of Mark Woolhouse that he criticizes the “public health” narrative of the counterrevolutionary Lockdown policy.




A liberal professor who stands head and shoulders above the Lockdown Left




This is, in any case, much more than the so-called left has achieved! These opportunists have capitulated – also nearly uniformly – to the COVID Counterrevolution. [5] All of them have refused to oppose the authoritarian state of emergency measures, some are even calling for more draconic attacks (e.g. the notorious “Zero COVID” policy as it is implemented in China).[6]


As a result, we have to recognize that a liberal university professor is able to understand much more about the COVID Counterrevolution than the useless and domesticated left!


We repeat that authentic socialists must break with the Lockdown Left and join forces in fighting against the COVID Counterrevolution. We must create a new revolutionary vanguard leading the masses in the struggles against the reactionary offensive of the ruling class. The RCIT and all authentic revolutionaries dedicate their forces to this task!


[1] Robin McKie: Britain got it wrong on Covid: long lockdown did more harm than good, says scientist. A new book outlines the mistakes and missteps that made UK pandemic worse, 2 Jan 2022 All quotes are from this article.

[2] The RCIT has analysed the COVID-19 counterrevolution extensively since its beginning. Starting from 2 February 2020 we have published about 100 pamphlets, essays, articles and statements plus a book which are all compiled at a special sub-page on our website: In particular we refer readers to two RCIT Manifestos: COVID-19: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive. We are at a turning point in the world situation as the ruling classes provoke a war-like atmosphere in order to legitimize the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes, 21 March 2020,; “Green Pass” & Compulsory Vaccinations: A New Stage in the COVID Counterrevolution. Down with the chauvinist-bonapartist police & surveillance state – defend democratic rights! No to health policy in the service of the capitalist monopolies – expand the public health sector under workers and popular control! 29 July 2021,; In addition, we draw attention to our book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020, Almedina Gunić and Michael Pröbsting: On Some Ideological Features of the COVID Counterrevolution. Comments on an interesting interview with a German liberal historian, 14 November 2021,; See also our very first article on this issue by Almedina Gunić: Coronavirus: "I am not a Virus"... but WE will be the Cure! The chauvinist campaign behind the “Wuhan Coronavirus” hysteria and the revolutionary answer, 2 February 2020, See also a number of Spanish-language articles of our Argentinean comrades: Juan Giglio: La izquierda de la "Big Pharma", dejó de defender las libertades, 1.10.2021,; Juan Giglio: ¿Por qué la izquierda no cuestiona las políticas de la OMS? 8.9.2021,

[3] We have published many articles on the economic gains for the capitalist monopolies during the pandemic period. Another useful overview about the same issue can also be found in an interesting article by the Brazilian Trotskyists of the Liga Bolchevique Internacionalista - Quarta Internacional. (LBI-QI: PANDEMIA A SERVIÇO DO GRANDE CAPITAL: FORTUNA DE BILIONÁRIOS AUMENTOU US$ 1 TRILHÃO EM 2021...RICOS FICAM CADA VEZ MAIS RICOS E POBREZA "VIRALIZA", 3.1.2022,

[4] See on this e.g. the compilation of RCIT documents on the Great Depression of the capitalist world economy at a sub-page on our website:

[5] We have published many documents elaborating our critique of the Lockdown Left. They are compiled on a special sub-page on our website: See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Why Do Some Socialists Refuse to Support the Mass Struggle against the “Green Pass”? PTS/FT, PSTU/LIT, IMT and PCL in the face of the latest stage of the COVID Counterrevolution, 15 October 2021,; by the same author: COVID-19: The Current and Historical Roots of Bourgeois Lockdown “Socialism”. Police State and Universal Basic Income are key elements of the new version of reformist “War Socialism” of 1914, 19 December 2020,

[6] For our critique of the ZeroCOVID campaign see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: COVID-19: Zero Socialism in the “ZeroCOVID“ campaign. Following the model of China and Australia, some British Stalinists and “Trotskyists” call for a “total and indefinite lockdown”, 22 December 2020,; “ZeroCOVID” Left Calls for the Authoritarian State – A Practical Example. A revealing article shows that the Lockdown Left calls for the expansion of the police and surveillance state, 8 April 2021,