The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to determine the effect of lockdowns, also referred to as ‘Covid restrictions’, ‘social distancing measures’ etc., on COVID-19 mortality based on available empirical evidence. We define lockdowns as the imposition of at least one compulsory, non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI). We employ a systematic search and screening procedure in which 19,646 studies are identified that could potentially address the purpose of our study. After three levels of screening, 32 studies qualified. Of those, estimates from 22 studies could be converted to standardised measures for inclusion in the metaanalysis.
There is no evidence that shielding benefited vulnerable people during the Covid pandemic, according to a study.
Swansea University compared 117,000 people shielding in Wales with the rest of the population of three million.
The study found deaths and healthcare usage were higher among shielding people than the general population.
The Welsh government said shielding was introduced on medical and scientific advice and it will continue to review evidence from the pandemic.
The study also found the Covid rate was higher among those shielding – 5.9% compared to 5.7%.
The researchers said the data raised questions about whether the policy worked.
But whatever the reason, mask mandates were a fool’s errand from the start. They may have created a false sense of safety — and thus permission to resume semi-normal life. They did almost nothing to advance safety itself. The Cochrane report ought to be the final nail in this particular coffin.
There’s a final lesson. The last justification for masks is that, even if they proved to be ineffective, they seemed like a relatively low-cost, intuitively effective way of doing something against the virus in the early days of the pandemic. But “do something” is not science, and it shouldn’t have been public policy. And the people who had the courage to say as much deserved to be listened to, not treated with contempt. They may not ever get the apology they deserve, but vindication ought to be enough.
Jefferson and his colleagues also looked at the evidence for social distancing, hand washing, and sanitising/sterilising surfaces — in total, 78 randomised trials with over 610,000 participants.
Jefferson doesn’t grant many interviews with journalists — he doesn’t trust the media. But since we worked together at Cochrane a few years ago, he decided to let his guard down with me.
Interestingly, 12 trials in the review, ten in the community and two among healthcare workers, found that wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to influenza-like or Covid-19-like illness transmission. Equally, the review found that masks had no effect on laboratory-confirmed influenza or SARS-CoV-2 outcomes. Five other trials showed no difference between one type of mask over another.
There is uncertainty about the effects of face masks. The low to moderate certainty of evidence means our confidence in the effect estimate is limited, and that the true effect may be different from the observed estimate of the effect. The pooled results of RCTs did not show a clear reduction in respiratory viral infection with the use of medical/surgical masks. There were no clear differences between the use of medical/surgical masks compared with N95/P2 respirators in healthcare workers when used in routine care to reduce respiratory viral infection. Hand hygiene is likely to modestly reduce the burden of respiratory illness, and although this effect was also present when ILI and laboratory‐confirmed influenza were analysed separately, it was not found to be a significant difference for the latter two outcomes. Harms associated with physical interventions were under‐investigated.
Published 20 December 2010
If peer review was a drug it would never be allowed onto the market,’ says Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal Of the American Medical Association and intellectual father of the international congresses of peer review that have been held every four years since 1989. Peer review would not get onto the market because we have no convincing evidence of its benefits but a lot of evidence of its flaws.
Yet, to my continuing surprise, almost no scientists know anything about the evidence on peer review. It is a process that is central to science – deciding which grant proposals will be funded, which papers will be published, who will be promoted, and who will receive a Nobel prize. We might thus expect that scientists, people who are trained to believe nothing until presented with evidence, would want to know all the evidence available on this important process. Yet not only do scientists know little about the evidence on peer review but most continue to believe in peer review, thinking it essential for the progress of science. Ironically, a faith based rather than an evidence based process lies at the heart of science.
A statement from Dr. Joseph Fraiiman, co-author of the study, Serious adverse events of special interest following mRNA COVID-19 vaccination in randomized trials in adults
The purpose of this study is to determine the ECG parameter change and the efficacy of ECG screening for cardiac adverse effect after the second dose of BNT162b2 vaccine in young population. In December 2021, in cooperation with the school vaccination system of Taipei City government, we performed a ECG screening study during the second dose of BNT162b2 vaccines. Serial comparisons of ECGs and questionnaire survey were performed before and after vaccine in four male-predominant senior high schools. Among 7934 eligible students, 4928 (62.1%) were included in the study. The male/female ratio was 4576/352. In total, 763 students (17.1%) had at least one cardiac symptom after the second vaccine dose, mostly chest pain and palpitations. The depolarization and repolarization parameters (QRS duration and QT interval) decreased significantly after the vaccine with increasing heart rate. Abnormal ECGs were obtained in 51 (1.0%) of the students, of which 1 was diagnosed with mild myocarditis and another 4 were judged to have significant arrhythmia. None of the patients needed to be admitted to hospital and all of these symptoms improved spontaneously. Using these five students as a positive outcome, the sensitivity and specificity of this screening method were 100% and 99.1%, respectively. Conclusion: Cardiac symptoms are common after the second dose of BNT162b2 vaccine, but the incidences of significant arrhythmias and myocarditis are only 0.1%. The serial ECG screening method has high sensitivity and specificity for significant cardiac adverse effect but cost effect needs further discussed. What is Known: • The incidence of cardiac adverse effects was reported to be as high as 1.5 per 10 000 persons after the second dose BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine in the young male population based on the reporting system. What is New: • Through this mass ECG screening study after the second dose of BNT162b2 vaccine we found: (1) The depolarization and repolarization parameters (QRS duration and QT interval) decreased significantly after the vaccine with increasing heart rate; (2) the incidence of post-vaccine myocarditis and significant arrhythmia are 0.02% and 0.08%; (3) The serial ECG screening method has high sensitivity and specificity for significant cardiac adverse effect.
The goal of all professors is to get tenure, and right now, tenure continues to be awarded based in part on how many peer-reviewed publications they have. Tenure committees treat these publications as evidence that the professor is able to conduct mature research.
Sadly, however, many academic articles today are merely exercises in what one professor I knew called “creative plagiarism” — rearrangements of previous research with a new thesis appended on to them.
This study explores the effect of in-person schooling on youth suicide. We document three key findings. First, using data from the National Vital Statistics System from 1990-2019, we document the historical association between teen suicides and the school calendar. We show that suicides among 12-to-18-year-olds are highest during months of the school year and lowest during summer months (June through August) and also establish that areas with schools starting in early August experience increases in teen suicides in August, while areas with schools starting in September don’t see youth suicides rise until September. Second, we show that this seasonal pattern dramatically changed in 2020. Teen suicides plummeted in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S. and remained low throughout the summer before rising in Fall 2020 when many K-12 schools returned to in-person instruction. Third, using county-level variation in school reopenings in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021—proxied by anonymized SafeGraph smartphone data on elementary and secondary school foot traffic—we find that returning from online to in-person schooling was associated with a 12-to-18 percent increase teen suicides. This result is robust to controls for seasonal effects and general lockdown effects (proxied by restaurant and bar foot traffic), and survives falsification tests using suicides among young adults ages 19-to-25. Auxiliary analyses using Google Trends queries and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey suggests that bullying victimization may be an important mechanism.
Download the PDF: https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w30795/w30795.pdf
During the COVID-19 pandemic sizeable groups of unvaccinated minorities persist even in countries with high vaccine access1. Consequently, vaccination became a controversial subject of debate and even protest2. Here, we assess whether people express discriminatory attitudes in the form of negative affect, stereotypes and exclusionary attitudes in family and political settings across groups defined by COVID-19 vaccination status. We quantify discriminatory attitudes between vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens in 21 countries, covering a diverse set of cultures across the world. Across three conjoint experimental studies (N=15,233), we demonstrate that vaccinated people express discriminatory attitudes towards the unvaccinated, as high as the discriminatory attitudes suffered by common targets like immigrant and minority populations3,4.5. In contrast, there is an absence of evidence that unvaccinated individuals display discriminatory attitudes towards vaccinated people, except for the presence of negative affect in Germany and United States. We find evidence in support of discriminatory attitudes against the unvaccinated in all countries except Hungary and Romania and find that discriminatory attitudes are more strongly expressed in cultures with stronger cooperative norms. Prior research on the psychology of cooperation has shown that individuals react negatively against perceived free-riders6,7 including in the domain of vaccinations8,9. Consistent with this, the present findings suggest that contributors to the public good of epidemic control (i.e., the vaccinated) react with discriminatory attitudes against perceived free-riders (i.e., the unvaccinated). Elites and the vaccinated general public appealed to moral obligations to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake10,11 but the present findings suggest that discriminatory attitudes including support for the removal of fundamental rights simultaneously emerged.
All too often, study results were used by experts who dipped into the pandemic – who have now dipped out – to back up positions of certainty. Such dogma led to the breakdown of constructive discussion. Consequently, destructive policies went largely unchallenged.
So we have one more casualty of the Covid 19 pandemic: science. This is based on free, civilised discussion and recognition of the presence and role of uncertainty – the vital ingredients for its progress. Following “the science” was not a potent force for effective policymaking when so much of the “science” was flawed.
New study finds choral society outbreak that sparked panic was misunderstood, with most choristers having been infected outside of rehearsal
The Covid choir ban was based on flawed evidence, scientists have concluded, after showing that a church outbreak early in the pandemic was not caused by a singing super-spreader.
Studies have been linking red meat consumption to health problems like heart disease, stroke, and cancer for years, but these invariably suffer from methodological limitations.
In an unprecedented effort, health scientists at the University of Washington scrutinized decades of research on red meat consumption and its links to various health outcomes, introducing a new way to assess health risks in the process.
They only found weak evidence that unprocessed red meat consumption is linked to colorectal cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and ischemic heart disease, and no link at all between eating red meat and stroke.
SARS-CoV-2 vaccination was associated with higher risk of myocarditis death, not only in young adults but also in all age groups including the elderly. Considering healthy vaccinee effect, the risk may be 4 times or higher than the apparent risk of myocarditis death. Underreporting should also be considered. Based on this study, risk of myocarditis following SARS-CoV-2 vaccination may be more serious than that reported previously.
While 100 retractions over a short period of time may be eye-popping, it’s also not surprising, and is a reminder that PLOS ONE has invested in expanding its research integrity team in recent years. It began issuing more retractions around 2018 as its team worked through hundreds of reports from Elisabeth Bik about papers with duplicated images, at least some of which are clearly linked to paper mills.
Could masks be making us sick? That’s the suggestion in a Japanese study, published this week in Nature’s Scientific Report’s journal, which looked at bacterial and fungal growth on face masks worn during the pandemic. The results may put you off your tea.
The study looked at the masks of 109 people and shows that bacteria grows in bigger colonies on the inside of the mask compared with the outside. The opposite was true for fungus. Wearing the same mask for a long period of time ‘significantly’ increased the amount of fungus growing on a mask but had no effect on the amount of bacteria.
Every mask bar one – 99 per cent of the masks examined – contained bacterial colonies on the inside and 94 per cent on the outside. The type of mask worn – cloth or disposable – made no difference to the spread of bacteria. On the other hand, fungus was found on the outside of 95 per cent of masks and on the inside of 79 per cent. An interesting finding was that bacterial counts were lower on the insides of masks worn by women. It suggested this may be because they wear makeup and take better care of their skin.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led people to wear face masks daily in public. Although the effectiveness of face masks against viral transmission has been extensively studied, there have been few reports on potential hygiene issues due to bacteria and fungi attached to the face masks. We aimed to (1) quantify and identify the bacteria and fungi attaching to the masks, and (2) investigate whether the mask-attached microbes could be associated with the types and usage of the masks and individual lifestyles. We surveyed 109 volunteers on their mask usage and lifestyles, and cultured bacteria and fungi from either the face-side or outer-side of their masks. The bacterial colony numbers were greater on the face-side than the outer-side; the fungal colony numbers were fewer on the face-side than the outer-side. A longer mask usage significantly increased the fungal colony numbers but not the bacterial colony numbers. Although most identified microbes were non-pathogenic in humans; Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Cladosporium, we found several pathogenic microbes; Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus saprophyticus, Aspergillus, and Microsporum. We also found no associations of mask-attached microbes with the transportation methods or gargling. We propose that immunocompromised people should avoid repeated use of masks to prevent microbial infection.
Epidemiological literature on the health risks associated with non-optimal temperature has mostly reported average estimates across large areas or specific population groups. However, the heterogeneous distribution of drivers of vulnerability can result in local differences in health risks associated with heat and cold. We aimed to analyse the association between ambient air temperature and all-cause mortality across England and Wales and characterise small scale patterns in temperature-related mortality risks and impacts.
See commentary from The Daily Sceptic: Eighty Times More Excess Deaths Associated With Cold Each Year than Heat