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Lockdowns prevented just 300 deaths in the UK

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Lockdowns during the Covid pandemic didn’t work.  They prevented just 0.2 percent of deaths—roughly 300 deaths in the UK and 1,800 in the US—compared to letting people use their own common sense.

And far from saving lives, the policy may even have contributed to the increased death rate, say researchers from Johns Hopkins University.  People were discouraged from going outdoors, and instead isolated at home where they were more likely to pass on the virus to other family members.

The researchers took another look at 24 studies that had explored the effectiveness of lockdowns and other measures that tried to restrict the spread of the virus.  Of the five options that countries adopted, working from home was the most effective, reducing deaths by around 10 percent, while school closures were the second most effective, reducing deaths by 4.4 percent.  Stay-at-home orders cut deaths by 2.9 percent, while mandatory lockdowns were the least effective.

Lockdowns were only slightly more effective than looser government guidelines, such as was adopted in Sweden.  As the researchers point out, lockdowns regulate only a fraction of the population, and cannot enforce good practices such as handwashing or maintaining social distancing.

Although their effectiveness was slight, lockdowns had an enormous downside, from economic collapses, pushing people into poverty, closing businesses, and putting millions onto hospital waiting lists.  Lockdowns also had a profound effect on people’s mental health.

(Source: Studies in Applied Economics, 2022; 200)

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Article Topics: Effect, effectiveness
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