Covid-19 lockdowns shaved 3.5% off U.S. GDP in 2020 even as the federal government spent more than $2.6 trillion in relief measures. Millions of children fell behind in learning and nearly 100,000 businesses closed for good.
Conventional wisdom holds this was worth it because lives were saved by shutting workplaces and schools and telling people to stay home. But a new study by University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan shows the opposite. After the first month of the pandemic, organizations that adopted prevention protocols became safer places than the wider community. Officials who didn’t see that coming forgot that organizations are rational and look for cooperative solutions that improve the welfare of the group, such as reducing the risks of communicable disease.
…Meanwhile, Mr. Mulligan found that there is no evidence that homes became “places of solitary confinement and zero transmission.” That’s putting it mildly. Humans are social animals. Lockdowns were leaky at best with stir-crazy family members venturing out to see friends and relatives.
Johnson & Johnson privately reached out to Covid-19 vaccine rivals to ask them to join an effort to study the risks of blood clots and speak with one voice about safety, but Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. declined.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week that his state is ending its mask mandate and business capacity limits. While Democrats and many public-health officials denounced the move, ample data now exist to demonstrate that the benefits of stringent measures aren’t worth the costs.
…We have since learned that the virus never spreads exponentially for very long, even without stringent restrictions. The epidemic always recedes well before herd immunity has been reached.
Amid the dire Covid warnings, one crucial fact has been largely ignored: Cases are down 77% over the past six weeks. If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we’d call it a miracle pill. Why is the number of cases plummeting much faster than experts predicted?
In large part because natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing. Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.
…explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.
Around one-third of hospital deaths during the initial COVID-19 peak were due to inappropriate treatment.
“We were intubating sick patients very early. Not for the patients’ benefit, but in order to control the epidemic & to save other patients,” Dr. Iwashyna said “That felt awful.”
…As a safety precaution, doctors and hospitals limited the access of health-care workers to coronavirus patients on ventilators, giving them fewer opportunities to check on them. That meant patients required more powerful sedatives to keep them from pulling out throat tubes.
…Overall, survival for Covid-19 patients increased 28% from April to September at HCA hospitals.
…Before the pandemic, between about 30% to more than 40% of ventilator patients died, according to research. Numbers were sharply higher in Wuhan, China. As the pandemic grew, hospitals in the U.S. reported death rates in some cases of about 50% for ventilated Covid-19 patients.
There is little purpose in using tests to check asymptomatic children to see if it is safe for them to come to school. When children are infected, most are asymptomatic, and the mortality risk is lower than for the flu. While adult-to-adult and adult-to-child transmission is common, child-to-adult transmission isn’t. Children thus pose minimal risk to their teachers. If a child has a cough, a runny nose or other respiratory symptoms, he should stay home. You don’t need a test for that.
Sweden was the only major Western country that kept schools open for kids 15 and younger throughout the pandemic, with no masks or mass testing. How did it turn out? Zero Covid-19 deaths among 1.8 million children attending day care or school. Teachers didn’t have an excess infection risk compared with the average of other professions.
New data shows that ockdowns correlated with a greater spread of the virus.
Six months into the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. has now carried out two large-scale experiments in public health—first, in March and April, the lockdown of the economy to arrest the spread of the virus, and second, since mid-April, the reopening of the economy. The results are in. Counterintuitive though it may be, statistical analysis shows that locking down the economy didn’t contain the disease’s spread and reopening it didn’t unleash a second wave of infections.
Considering that lockdowns are economically costly and create well-documented long-term public-health consequences beyond Covid, imposing them appears to have been a large policy error. At the beginning, when little was known, officials acted in ways they thought prudent. But now evidence proves that lockdowns were an expensive treatment with serious side effects and no benefit to society…
Measuring from the start of the year to each state’s point of maximum lockdown—which range from April 5 to April 18—it turns out that lockdowns correlated with a greater spread of the virus. States with longer, stricter lockdowns also had larger Covid outbreaks. The five places with the harshest lockdowns—the District of Columbia, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts—had the heaviest caseloads.
In response to the novel and deadly coronavirus, many governments deployed draconian tactics never used in modern times: severe and broad restrictions on daily activity that helped send the world into its deepest peacetime slump since the Great Depression.
The equivalent of 400 million jobs have been lost world-wide, 13 million in the U.S. alone. Global output is on track to fall 5% this year, far worse than during the financial crisis, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Five months later, the evidence suggests lockdowns were an overly blunt and economically costly tool. They are politically difficult to keep in place for long enough to stamp out the virus. The evidence also points to alternative strategies that could slow the spread of the epidemic at much less cost. As cases flare up throughout the U.S., some experts are urging policy makers to pursue these more targeted restrictions and interventions rather than another crippling round of lockdowns.