I’ll try to cover this topic from a statistical and logical standpoint — and not from any political ramifications. This systematic review of the literature and meta-analysis were designed by: Professor Steve H. Hanke, Founder and Co-Director of The Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, & the Study of Business Enterprise, Baltimore, MD, USA; Jonas Herby, MA economics, Special Advisor at Center for Political Studies in Copenhagen, Denmark; and Lars Jonung, Professor Emeritus in Economics at Lund University, Sweden. [See attached 62-page publication.] This topic is (tangentially?) related to gene-environment interactions. 😊
They wished to determine whether there is empirical evidence to support the hypothesis (“belief”) that “lockdowns” decrease COVID-19 mortality. Lockdowns are defined as “the imposition of at least one compulsory, non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI); NPIs are any government mandate that directly restricts people’s possibilities, such as policies that limit internal movement, close schools and businesses, and ban international travel.”
This study employed a systematic search and screening procedure in which 18,590 studies were identified that could potentially address the hypothesis posed. After three levels of screening, 34 studies ultimately qualified. Of those 34 eligible studies, 24 qualified for inclusion in their meta-analysis. These 24 studies were separated into three groups: lockdown stringency index, shelter-in-place-orders (SIPOs), and specific NPI studies. Analysis of each of these three groups supported the conclusion that lockdowns have had little, to no, effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies revealed that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. SIPOs were also ineffective, only diminishing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.
Whereas this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic hardships and social costs — at locations where they have been adopted. Consequently, authors conclude that lockdown policies are ill-founded; and they should be rejected as a “pandemic policy instrument.” ☹
Please study these 62 pages meticulously; there will be a quiz on this, next Friday morning. 😉
COMMENT: RP Hence, the Swedish model might be a better approach — if we ever have such a pandemic again?
COMMENT: WM Diminishing mortality is not the same as ‘having little to no public health effects.’ Although ‘NPIs’ may have short-term benefits, such as decreased hospitalization rates, which should lessen the impact on non-Covid patients and certainly decrease stress and drop-outs among health care workers, we unfortunately know very little about long-term ‘public health effects.’ Distinguishing effects of ‘NPIs’ from effects of immunizations will be very difficult, because the same populations either favor or oppose both. Long-term medical effects are already being seen in adult patients and in infants born to COVID-infected mothers.
A retrospective “meta-analysis” of 24 studies “cherry-picked?” from 18,590 studies does not strike me as having scientifically valid predictive value. The greatest weakness that physicians, healthcare workers, and health policy makers exhibit — is a profound reluctance to admit “WE DON’T KNOW.” Advocates on both ends of the political spectrum about COVID policy would be wise to remember that we just don’t know most of the answers (and probably will not know for many years).
In the words of one of America’s most noted philosophers, Yogi Berra, “It’s tough to make predictions … especially about the future.”
COMMENT: R D’A his study was headline news on the Drudge Report the other day. I hope they also undertake a study on mask wearing. Surely the data behind the studies selected are dirty; surely the authors know this. I wonder how the statisticians dealt with that.
I am not going to plow through 62 pages. Right off the bat, I wonder how good the death counts are — when hospitals are being offered $35,000 for each death coded as COVID-related.
COMMENT CBG – HANK YOU for sending this to everyone. This study has been slammed by Forbes (and also on Twitter, but there are many cogent arguments against this paper). I suspect that at least one of the authors is seeking to use this to support his ongoing argument against lockdowns in Sweden. This study would have been more credible if it had involved expertise beyond economists, and if it involved people who were truly objective and dispassionate.
NPIs could also include a mandate to wear a mask. But still very interesting to read.
Thanks again and warmest regards
COMMENT M I-H Yes, Sweden chose the right approach to this pandemic — from the very beginning..!!! No lockdowns, masks always optional, never mandated.