Yet Another Study Shows—Yet Again—That Lockdowns Don’t Work
Although advocates for covid-19 lockdowns continue to insist that they save lives, actual experience keeps suggesting otherwise.
On a national level, just eyeballing the data makes this clear. Countries that have implemented harsh lockdowns shouldn’t expect to have comparatively lower numbers of covid-19 deaths per million.
In Italy and the United Kingdom, for example, where lockdowns have been repeatedly imposed, death totals per million remain among the worst in the world. Meanwhile, in the United States, states with with the most harsh lockdown rules—such as New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are among the states with the worst total deaths.
Lockdown advocates, of course, are likely to argue if researchers control for a variety of other variables, then we’re sure to see that lockdowns have saved millions of lives. Yet research keeps showing us this simply isn’t the case.
The latest study to show the weakness of the prolockdown position appeared this month in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation, authored by Eran Bendavid, Christopher Oh, Jay Bhattacharya, and John P.A. Ioannidis. Titled “Assessing Mandatory Stay-at-Home and Business Closure Effects on the Spread of COVID-19,” the authors compare “more restrictive non-pharmaceutical interventions” (mrNPI) and “less restrictive non-pharmaceutical interventions” (lrNPI). More restrictive interventions include mandatory stay-at-home orders and forced business closures. Less restrictive measures include “social distancing guidelines, discouraging of international and domestic travel, and a ban on large gatherings.” The researchers compare outcomes at the subnational level in a number of countries, including England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States. This is then compared against countries with less restrictive measures, primarily Sweden and South Korea, where stay-at-home orders and business closures were not widely implemented.
We find no clear, significant beneficial effect of mrNPIs on case growth in any country …In none of the 8 countries and in none out of the 16 comparisons (against Sweden or South Korea) were the effects of mrNPIs significantly negative (beneficial). The point estimates were positive (point in the direction of mrNPIs resulting in increased daily growth in cases.
That is, the more restrictive lockdown measures pointed to worse outcomes.
This data suggests the theoretical underpinnings of the lockdown philosophy is wrong. As summed up by Bendavid, et al,
The conceptual model underlying this approach is that, prior to meaningful population immunity, individual behavior is the primary driver of reductions in transmission rate, and that any NPI may provide a nudge towards individual behavior change, with response rates that vary between individuals and over time. lrNPIs could have large anti-contagion effects if individual behavioral response is large, in which case additional, more restrictive NPIs may not provide much additional benefit. On the other hand, if lrNPIs provide relatively small nudges to individual behavior, then mrNPIs may result in large behavioral
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