Never before have lockdowns been used as a pandemic prevention measure. China, no stranger to human rights abuses, implemented a highly publicized lockdown in Wuhan. The WHO appeared impressed with that approach, despite a lack of supporting evidence, and recommended it to the rest of the world. Several countries subsequently used computer models predicting disastrous outcomes to justify temporary lockdowns to “flatten the curve” and protect hospitals from overwhelm.
After many months of sustained lockdowns throughout the world, we now have empirical evidence demonstrating that they are not only ineffective, but cause greater harm than they seek to prevent and increase mortality. Applying a cure that is worse than the disease is perhaps the worst manifestation of the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It seems therefore that the only way to avoid the mistakes of the COVID-19 management in the future is to avoid managing any future medical crisis by means of emergency powers. Emergency powers should be used only in case of war.” (Yanovskiy & Socol, 2021).
LOCKDOWNS DON’T SAVE LIVES
Disease mitigation measures in the control of pandemic influenza
This study details pre-COVID19 pandemic guidelines
“Isolating symptomatic influenza patients, either at home or in the hospital, is probably the most important measure that could be taken to reduce the transmission and slow the spread of illness within a community. “
“A policy that persuades sick individuals to voluntarily stay at home unless they are critically ill would allow hospitals to focus efforts on those most seriously threatened.”
“There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the spread of influenza.”
“A World Health Organization (WHO) Writing Group, after reviewing the literature and considering contemporary international experience, concluded that “forced isolation and quarantine are ineffective and impractical.”
“Travel restrictions, such as closing airports and screening travelers at borders, have historically been ineffective. The World Health Organization Writing Group concluded that “screening and quarantining entering travelers at international borders did not substantially delay virus introduction in past pandemics.”
“In previous influenza epidemics, the impact of school closings on illness rates has been mixed. A study from Israel reported a decrease in respiratory infections after a 2-week teacher strike, but the decrease was only evident for a single day. On the other hand, when schools closed for a winter holiday during the 1918 pandemic in Chicago, “more influenza cases developed among pupils … than when schools were in session.”
“It has been recommended that individuals maintain a distance of 3 feet or more during a pandemic so as to diminish the number of contacts with people who may be infected. The efficacy of this measure is unknown…And such a recommendation would greatly complicate normal daily tasks” (Inglesby et al., 2006)
COVID-19 lockdown policies: An interdisciplinary review
“Lockdowns are associated with reduced mortality in epidemiological modelling studies but not in studies based on empirical data from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“lockdowns may exacerbate stressors such as social isolation and unemployment that have been shown to be strong predictors of falling ill if exposed to a respiratory virus.”
“economic level of analysis points to the possibility that deaths associated with economic harms or underfunding of other health issues 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 treating other conditions.” (Robinson, 2021)
Lockdown effects on SARS-CoV-2 transmission
The evidence from Northern Jutland
“Our analysis shows that while infection levels decreased, they did so before lockdown was effective, and infection numbers also decreased in neighbour municipalities without mandates. Direct spill-over to neighbour municipalities or the simultaneous mass testing do not explain this. Instead, control of infection pockets possibly together with voluntary social behaviour was apparently effective before the mandate, explaining why the infection decline occurred before and in both the mandated and non-mandated areas.” (Kepp & Bjørnskov, 2021)
A country level analysis measuring the impact of government actions, country preparedness and socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes.
“Increased mortality per million was significantly associated with higher obesity prevalence (RR=1.12; 95%CI: 1.06–1.19) and per capita gross domestic product (GDP)” “Rapid border closures, full lockdowns, and wide-spread testing were not associated with COVID-19 mortality per million people.” (Chaudhry et al., 2020)
Evaluating the effects of shelter-in-place policies during the COVID-19 pandemic
“Shelter-in-place orders had no detectable health benefits, only modest effects on behavior, and small but adverse effects on the economy.” (Berry at al., 2021)
Assessing mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closure effects on the spread of COVID‐19
“We do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs. Similar reductions in case growth may be achievable with less restrictive interventions.” (Bendavid et al., 2021)
Covid-19 mortality: A matter of vulnerability among nations facing limited margins of adaptation
“The national criteria most associated with death rate are life expectancy and its slowdown, public health context (metabolic and non-communicable diseases (NCD) burden vs. infectious diseases prevalence), economy (growth national product, financial support), and environment (temperature, ultra-violet index). Stringency of the measures settled to fight pandemia, including lockdown, did not appear to be linked with death rate.” (De Larochelambert et al., 2020)
Did lockdown work? An economist’s cross-country comparison
“I explore the association between the severity of lockdown policies in the first half of 2020 and mortality rates. Using two indices from the Blavatnik Centre’s Covid 19 policy measures and comparing weekly mortality rates from 24 European countries in the first halves of 2017-2020, and addressing policy endogeneity in two different ways, I find no clear association between lockdown policies and mortality development.” (Bjørnskov, 2020)
Full lockdown policies in Western Europe countries have no evident impacts on the COVID-19 epidemic
“This phenomenological study assesses the impacts of full lockdown strategies applied in Italy, France, Spain and United Kingdom, on the slowdown of the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. Comparing the trajectory of the epidemic before and after the lockdown, we find no evidence of any discontinuity in the growth rate, doubling time, and reproduction number trends” (Meunier, 2020)
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and policy responses on excess mortality
“We find that following the implementation of SIP [shelter-in-place] policies, excess mortality increases. The increase in excess mortality is statistically significant in the immediate weeks following SIP implementation for the international comparison only and occurs despite the fact that there was a decline in the number of excess deaths prior to the implementation of the policy. At the U.S. state-level, excess mortality increases in the immediate weeks following SIP introduction and then trends below zero following 20 weeks of SIP implementation. We failed to find that countries or U.S. states that implemented SIP policies earlier, and in which SIP policies had longer to operate, had lower excess deaths than countries/U.S. states that were slower to implement SIP policies. We also failed to observe differences in excess death trends before and after the implementation of SIP policies based on pre-SIP COVID-19 death rates.” (Agrawal et al., 2021)
A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality
A systematic review and meta-analysis of lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-place order (SIPO) studies, and specific NPI (non-pharmaceutical interventions) studies found ” lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality”. On the other hand, “they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.” (Herby et al, 2022)
This graph is for illustrative purposes. It represents a negative correlation between two variables.
The more one variable increases, the more the other decreases.
This graph represents real-life data from a meta-analysis performed by Johns Hopkins University. The scatter plot indicates no correlation between the stringency of Covid-19 measures and deaths. The measures did not save lives.
The long-term impact of the COVID-19 unemployment shock on life expectancy and mortality rates
“We estimate the size of the COVID-19-related unemployment shock to be between 2 and 5 times larger than the typical unemployment shock, depending on race and gender, resulting in a significant increase in mortality rates and drop in life expectancy. We also predict that the shock will disproportionately affect African-Americans and women, over a short horizon, while the effects for white men will unfold over longer horizons. These figures translate in more than 0.8 million additional deaths.” (Bianchi et al., 2021)
Harms of public health interventions against COVID-19 must not be ignored
“Social distancing may also negatively affect people with addiction disorders. In North America, which is in the midst of an opioid epidemic, limited access to clinics for opioid use disorders because of physical distancing measures, for example, may inadvertently exacerbate drug diversion and opioid overdoses. Ontario and British Columbia (Canada) have seen a spike in overdose deaths since the lockdown started. Orders to stay at home or isolate can also increase child abuse and domestic violence rates. Reports from Hubei (China), France, Argentina, Singapore, and several US cities show a substantial increase in domestic violence during the lockdowns.” (Bavli et al., 2020)
The neurobiology of social distance
“Over recent years, evidence emerging from various disciplines has made it abundantly clear: perceived social isolation (i.e., loneliness) may be the most potent threat to survival and longevity.
…For example, a longitudinal analysis of ~6500 British men and women aged 50–59 years found that being socially isolated increases the risk of dying in the next decade by ~25%….Although short periods of loneliness in humans rarely have any long-term adverse outcomes, persistent loneliness escalates the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and depression.” (Bzdok & Dunbar, 2020)
COVID-19: Rethinking the lockdown groupthink
“Considering this information, a cost-benefit analysis of the response to COVID-19 finds that lockdowns are far more harmful to public health (at least 5–10 times so in terms of wellbeing years) than COVID-19 can be.” (Joffe, 2021)
COVID-19 library. Filling the gaps.
“Enormous progress in life expectancy, health status, sharp decrease in infant mortality – all followed the economic progress and were clearly explainable by economic progress. Lost income means lost lives. In Israel, e.g., at least 500,000 life-years were lost to lockdowns.”(Yanovskiy & Socol, 2021)
Projected death of despair form COVID-19
“nine different scenarios, additional deaths of despair range from 27,644 (quick recovery, smallest impact of unemployment on deaths of despair) to 154,037 (slow recovery, greatest impact of unemployment on deaths of despair) (Petterson et al. 2020)
Suicide ideation and attempts in a pediatric emergency department before and during COVID-19
Results indicated a significantly higher rate of suicide ideation in March and July 2020 and higher rates of suicide attempts in February, March, April, and July 2020 as compared with the same months in 2019. … Months with significantly higher rates of suicide-related behaviors appear to correspond to times when COVID-19–related stressors and community responses were heightened (Hill et al., 2021)
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer deaths due to delays in diagnosis in England, UK: a national, population-based, modelling study
“compared with pre-pandemic figures, we estimate a 7·9–9·6% increase in the number of deaths due to breast cancer up to year 5 after diagnosis … For colorectal cancer, we estimate … a 15·3–16·6% increase; for lung cancer, … a 4·8–5·3% increase; and for oesophageal cancer, … 5·8–6·0% increase up to 5 years after diagnosis. For these four tumour types, … the total additional YLLs [Years of Life Lost] across these cancers is estimated to be 59 204–63 229 years. (Maringe et al., 2020)
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