BALTIMORE, MD — Johns Hopkins University has released the results of a study aimed at looking at the belief that lockdowns reduced COVID-19 mortality. It concluded that they've done very little to save lives and instead have proven more harmful than beneficial.
"While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted," a portion of the study reads. "In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument."
Drafted by three economists, the study determined that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2 percent on average. Shelter-in-place orders were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9 percent on average.
According to the study, early epidemiological studies predicted large, beneficial effects of lockdowns. An often-cited model simulation study by researchers at the Imperial College London predicted that a suppression strategy based on a lockdown would reduce COVID-19 mortality by up to 98 percent.
"These predictions were questioned by many scholars," the study said.
Johns Hopkins University researchers said several factors prompted them to look more closely at the effectiveness of lockdowns, including the fact that there was no clear negative correlation between the degree of lockdown and fatalities in the spring of 2020.
"Given the large effects predicted by simulation studies such as [Imperial College London] Ferguson et al. (2020), we would have expected to at least observe a simple negative correlation between COVID-19 mortality and the degree to which lockdowns were imposed," researchers said in the study.
Two studies also spurred Johns Hopkins University researchers' interest in the effectiveness of lockdowns.
The first study, Atkeson et al. (2020) showed that “across all countries and U.S. states that we study, the growth rates of daily deaths from COVID-19 fell from a wide range of initially high levels to levels close to zero within 20-30 days after each region experienced 25 cumulative deaths.”
A second study, Sebhatu et al. (2020) showed that “government policies are strongly driven by the policies initiated in other countries,” and less by the specific COVID-19-situation of the country.
Meanwhile, following the study's release, some scientists have called the study flawed, such as University of Oxford’s Seth Flaxman, the lead author on a 2020 study which supported lockdowns as an effective measure to save lives.
“Smoking causes cancer, the earth is round, and ordering people to stay at home (the correct definition of lockdown) decreases disease transmission," a portion of Flaxman's statement reads. "None of this is controversial among scientists. A study purporting to prove the opposite is almost certain to be fundamentally flawed."
To read the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 lockdown study in its entirety, click here.