A study evaluating COVID-19 responses around the world found that mandatory lockdown orders early in the pandemic may not provide significantly more benefits to slowing the spread of the disease than other voluntary measures, such as social distancing or travel reduction.
Background and Aims
The most restrictive non‐pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for controlling the spread of COVID‐19 are mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures. Given the consequences of these policies, it is important to assess their effects. We evaluate the effects on epidemic case growth of more restrictive NPIs (mrNPIs), above and beyond those of less restrictive NPIs (lrNPIs).
We first estimate COVID‐19 case growth in relation to any NPI implementation in subnational regions of 10 countries: England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and the US. Using first‐difference models with fixed effects, we isolate the effects of mrNPIs by subtracting the combined effects of lrNPIs and epidemic dynamics from all NPIs. We use case growth in Sweden and South Korea, two countries that did not implement mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures, as comparison countries for the other 8 countries (16 total comparisons).
Implementing any NPIs was associated with significant reductions in case growth in 9 out of 10 study countries, including South Korea and Sweden that implemented only lrNPIs (Spain had a non‐significant effect). After subtracting the epidemic and lrNPI effects, we find no clear, significant beneficial effect of mrNPIs on case growth in any country. In France, e.g., the effect of mrNPIs was +7% (95CI ‐5%‐19%) when compared with Sweden, and +13% (‐12%‐38%) when compared with South Korea (positive means pro‐contagion). The 95% confidence intervals excluded 30% declines in all 16 comparisons and 15% declines in 11/16 comparisons.
While small benefits cannot be excluded, 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.
- Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.
- Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.
- We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young.
- COVID-19 is less dangerous for children than many other harms, including influenza.
- All populations will eventually reach herd immunity.
- Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.
- Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19.
- Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal.
- Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold.
- Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home.
- Restaurants and other businesses should open.
- Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume.
Stanford University study founds antibodies in 50 to 85 times more people than previously thought in Santa Clara County, California. Covid-19 lethality of 0.12% to 0.2% which is in the range of severe influenza.