Full lockdowns and widespread testing were NOT associated with reduced COVID-19 mortality, the Lancet study shows
With fear of second wave of coronavirus, many states in the United States are in the process of re-imposing the stay-at-home lockdown measures. These states are basing their decisions partly on recommendations from the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Early this month, Dr. Fauci pushed for more lockdowns, even as other health experts warn prolonged shutdown will cost Americans millions of years of life.
Now, medical journal Lancet just came out with new study that shows full lockdowns and widespread testing were not associated with reduced COVID-19 mortality. In a research paper published yesterday, team of researchers accessed publicly available COVID-19 surveillance data from the top 50 countries in terms of reported cases to assess the impact of population health interventions (e.g. containment measures such as lockdowns, border closings), country-specific socioeconomic factors, and healthcare capacity on overall COVID-19 cases (recovered or critical) and deaths.
The researchers found that “government actions such as border closures, full lockdowns, and a high rate of COVID-19 testing were not associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.”
When COVID-19 mortality was assessed, variables significantly associated with an increased death rate per million were population prevalence of obesity and per capita GDP (Table 4). In contrast, variables that was negatively associated with increased COVID-19 mortality were reduced income dispersion within the nation, smoking prevalence, and the number of nurses per million population (Table 4). Indeed, more nurses within a given health care system was associated with reduced mortality (Fig. 1). Mortality rates were also higher in those counties with an older population upon univariate analysis, but age as a factor was not retained in multivariable analysis (Fig. 2). Lastly, government actions such as border closures, full lockdowns, and a high rate of COVID-19 testing were not associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.
They also found that “an increased scale of national testing was not associated with the number of critical cases, or deaths per million.”
There were a series of predictors with significant associations with the outcome variables that require careful interpretation. An increased scale of national testing was not associated with the number of critical cases, or deaths per million. The government policy of full lockdowns (vs. partial or curfews only) was strongly associated with recovery rates (RR=2.47; 95%CI: 1.08–5.64). Similarly, the number of days to any border closure was associated with the number of cases per million (RR=1.04; 95%CI: 1.01–1.08). This suggests that full lockdowns and early border closures may lessen the peak of transmission, and thus prevent health system overcapacity, which would facilitate increased recovery rates.
You can read the entire research paper here.