30.07.2021

Lockdowns made little difference to deaths, disputed US study claims

The study looked at coronavirus death rates and cases from 50 countries badly affected by the novel disease, incorporating demographic factors such as smoking, obesity and age.

It calculated that only 33 out of every million people had died from the virus. However, this rate has been steadily increasing since May, according to the research, and now stands at 80 per million globally.

The study, published in The Lancet online journal EClinicalMedicine, stated that lockdown measures helped to reduce the burden in hospitals. However, this did not translate to fewer deaths.

Lockdown restrictions imposed in countries around the world have not greatly reduced the number of people who died from Covid-19, a disputed US study has claimed.

Researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of Texas said obesity and age had a bigger impact on coronavirus mortality rates.

Governments around across the globe introduced lockdowns during the pandemic in an attempt to limit the spread of the novel disease, but the researchers claim the restrictions were “not associated” with death rates.

Researchers concluded that obesity and age were bigger factors in Covid-19 fatality rates.

“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,” the study’s authors wrote.

“Consistent with reported Covid-19 outcome data from Europe, the United States, and China, higher caseloads and overall mortality were associated with comorbidities such as obesity and advanced population age”.

The authors added: “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.”

“Full lockdowns and early border closures may lessen the peak of transmission, and thus prevent health system overcapacity, which would facilitate increased recovery rates.”

“An increased scale of national testing was not associated with the number of critical cases, or deaths per million.”

But UK-based academics poured cold water on the research, suggesting the findings have been exaggerated.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter of the University of Cambridge told the Daily Mail: “A large number of possible predictors are put into a model with only 50 observations, and then the resulting formulae are over-interpreted.”

The study is also at odds with findings published by Imperial College London earlier this month.

Researchers at the university estimated that lockdowns have saved more than 3 million lives across Europe.

“Lockdown averted millions of deaths, those deaths would have been a tragedy,” Dr Seth Flaxman, from Imperial, said at the time.

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