Research Suggests Lockdowns Didn’t Reduce COVID Deaths

Multiple studies find lack of evidence that lockdowns had meaningful impact on pandemic
March 25, 2021 Updated: March 25, 2021

A review of data from 87 regions worldwide found that in about 98 percent of the comparisons, there was no evidence that lockdowns reduced the number of COVID-19 deaths.

The locking down of healthy people in their homes in order to prevent the spread of disease is an unprecedented public health move that has had devastating effects on the economy and has set a dangerous precedent for freedom and human rights.

If the lockdowns saved millions of lives, most people would feel they could be justified. But if these lockdowns have been ineffective, they’re easily—as Stanford professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Ph.D., put it—the “biggest public health mistake we’ve ever made.”[i] Increasingly, research is confirming that lockdowns, in fact, were largely ineffective in reducing deaths from COVID-19, while also causing “catastrophic” harm to the public.[ii]

Bhattacharya is a professor of medicine at Stanford, and research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research. He’s also a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and at the Stanford Freeman Spogli Institute.

‘No Evidence’ COVID Deaths Reduced by Staying Home

In November 2020, an international group of researchers released a study in the journal Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine. It was based on a sophisticated mathematical model that found that staying at home, on its own, didn’t have a major role in COVID-19 disease transmission.[iii] Building on this, researchers from Brazil set out to determine the association between COVID-19 deaths per million people and the percentage of people who remained in their residences on lockdown.[iv]

Using a combination of data from Google’s COVID-19 Mobility Reports,[v] Our World in Data,[vi] and the Brazilian government,[vii] including 87 regions worldwide, they used a novel approach for the study, assessing the association between staying at home and the reduction or increase in COVID-19 deaths. Specifically, they noted:[viii]

“If the variation in the difference between the number of deaths/million in two countries, say A and B, and the variation in the difference of the staying at home values between A and B present similar patterns, this is due to an association between the two variables.”

“In contrast, if these patterns are very different, this is evidence that staying at home values and the number of deaths/million are not related (unless, of course, other unaccounted for factors are at play).”

The researchers published their study in Scientific Reports earlier in March. It has encountered criticism and is currently undergoing a type of peer review and discussion, with the publication waiting to hear from all voices before any final conclusions.

Both a restrictive and global analysis were performed in the study. In the restrictive analysis, direct comparison of two regions took place if three of the four following conditions were similar: population density, percentage of urban population, human development index, and total area of the region. The global comparisons included regions and countries worldwide.

In the restrictive analysis, only one comparison (or 3 percent)—between the state of Roraima, Brazil, and the state of Rondonia, Brazil—was significant, while in the global comparisons, only 1.6 percent were significantly different. “Indeed,” the researchers wrote, “the global comparison confirmed the results found in the restrictive one; only 1.6 percent of the death rates could be explained by staying at home.”[ix]

Put another way, in about 98 percent of the comparisons, there was “no evidence that the number of deaths/million is reduced by staying at home.” The findings were backed up by real-world examples taking place at the time. For instance:[x]

“Our findings are in accordance with the dataset of daily confirmed COVID-19 deaths/million in the UK. Pubs, restaurants, and barbershops were open in Ireland on June 29th and masks were not mandatory; after more than 2 months, no spike was observed; indeed, death rates kept falling.

“Peru has been considered to be the most strict lockdown country in the world, nevertheless, by September 20th, it had the highest number of deaths/million.”

They believe the stay-at-home orders represent a case of “exception fallacy,” also known as stereotype fallacy, in which conclusions are made about an entire group based on data or observations from one individual.[xi]

Great Barrington Declaration Calls for End of COVID Lockdowns

Bhattacharya, along with Sunetra Gupta, Ph.D., a professor at Oxford University, and Martin Kulldorff, Ph.D., a professor of medicine at Harvard University, wrote the Great Barrington Declaration in October 2020 to call attention to the devastating short- and long-term health effects being caused by lockdown policies and calling for a return to normalcy for those at low-risk.[xii] A number of harms resulting from lockdowns were identified by the team, including:[xiii]

  • Worse cardiovascular disease outcomes
  • Deteriorating mental health
  • A rise in opioid and drug-related overdoses
  • Increases in dementia-related deaths
  • Catastrophic learning losses for students
  • Increase in all-cause mortality among 25- to 44-year-olds

The imposed social isolation that occurs during lockdowns deprives human beings of their innate need for social interaction. At least 13 studies demonstrate that social isolation increases mortality risk, and many Americans are experiencing mental crises as a result of the lockdowns and COVID fear-mongering being perpetuated by mainstream media. According to Bhattacharya and colleagues:[xiv]

“In Massachusetts, emergency departments have seen about four times more children and teens in psychiatric crisis than usual. One in four young adults in the U.S. seriously considered suicide this past June.”

Since October, thousands of public health scientists, medical practitioners, and researchers have endorsed the Declaration,[xv] which recommends “focused protection” in lieu of lockdowns, putting strategies in place to protect the elderly at high risk from infection while protecting those who are non-vulnerable from the immense harms of “radical” lockdown measures.

Public health, after all, is about more than infection control; it’s intended to look out for the health and well-being of the entire population, they note, adding:[xvi]

“There is more than a thousand-fold difference in COVID-19 mortality between the oldest and youngest. Children have lower mortality from COVID-19 than from the annual influenza. For people under the age of 70, the infection survival rate is 99.95 percent.”

“For the non-vulnerable, who face far greater harm from the lockdowns than they do from COVID-19 infection risk, the lockdowns should be lifted and—for those who so decide—normal life resumed.”

The GMI Research Group is dedicated to investigating the most important health and environmental issues of the day. Special emphasis will be placed on environmental health. Our focused and deep research will explore the many ways in which the present condition of the human body directly reflects the true state of the ambient environment. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Sign up for the newsletter at www.GreenmedInfo.health

References

[i] Newsweek March 8, 2021 https://www.newsweek.com/stanford-doctor-calls-lockdowns-biggest-public-health-mistake-weve-ever-made-1574540

[ii] Newsweek March 8, 2021 https://www.newsweek.com/stanford-doctor-calls-lockdowns-biggest-public-health-mistake-weve-ever-made-1574540

[iii] Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine November 2020, Volume 196, 105642 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0169260720314759?via%3Dihub

[iv] Scientific Reports volume 11, Article number: 5313 (2021) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-84092-1#Sec5

[v] Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Report https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/

[vi] Our World in Data, Coronavirus https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus

[vii] Covid.saude.gov.br https://covid.saude.gov.br/

[viii] Scientific Reports volume 11, Article number: 5313 (2021) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-84092-1#Sec5

[ix] Scientific Reports volume 11, Article number: 5313 (2021) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-84092-1#Sec5

[x] Scientific Reports volume 11, Article number: 5313 (2021) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-84092-1#Sec5

[xi] Enago Academy https://www.enago.com/academy/what-is-an-exception-fallacy-and-how-does-it-affect-academic-research/

[xii] Great Barrington Declaration https://gbdeclaration.org/

[xiii] Great Barrington Declaration, Focused Protection https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30555-5/fulltext

[xiv] Great Barrington Declaration, FAQs https://gbdeclaration.org/frequently-asked-questions/

[xv] The Lancet Respiratory Medicine November 24, 2020 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30555-5/fulltext

[xvi] The Lancet Respiratory Medicine November 24, 2020 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30555-5/fulltext