A new study, published as a working paper for the leading U.S. think tank National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), has shown (once again) that lockdown policies produced no discernible reduction of the pandemic death toll. If anything, they increased it.
The study uses excess deaths rather than Covid deaths to avoid the problems of different ways of counting Covid deaths, and also to capture policy deaths from lockdowns and other Government responses. It looks at the death tolls in 43 countries and all U.S. states to see how they varied with the length and timeliness of lockdown “shelter-in-place” (SIP) orders.
The authors find that longer lockdowns led to more excess deaths: “Countries with a longer duration of SIP [shelter in place] policies are the ones with higher excess deaths per 100,000 residents.” For U.S. states the finding was similar but less pronounced.
In U.S. states, earlier lockdowns were associated with slightly higher excess deaths rather than lower as lockdown theory would predict. In the comparison of countries, on the other hand, the predicted relationship was found.
To account for differences between countries and states (such as demographics) the authors carried out “event studies” to see how much each country or state’s excess deaths changed following lockdown from its pre-lockdown trend. This analysis showed that, prior to implementing lockdown policies, the trend of lockdown countries was towards having lower excess deaths than countries that didn’t implement lockdowns. However, after lockdown those trends were reversed so that lockdown countries started to have progressively worse excess deaths compared to no-lockdown countries.