A study comparing daily deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Sweden, New York, Illinois and Texas indicates the lockdowns had no impact on fatalities.
Dr. Gilbert Berdine, an associate professor of medicine at Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center, assembled the data and created a chart comparing deaths per million of population.
"The data suggest that lockdowns have not prevented any deaths from covid-19," he wrote in an article for the Mises Institute.
"At best, lockdowns have deferred death for a short time, but they cannot possibly be continued for the long term," he said. "It seems likely that one will not have to even compare economic deprivation with loss of life, as the final death toll following authoritarian lockdowns will most likely exceed the deaths from letting people choose how to manage their own risk."
He concluded: "After taking the unprecedented economic depression into account, history will likely judge these lockdowns to be the greatest policy error of this generation."
Meanwhile, the seven-day rolling average of new coronavirus infections in the United States dropped below 50,000 on Tuesday for the first time since July 6, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Berdine said he used Sweden as a control group because of its limited restrictions in response to the pandemic. Schools, up to high school, were kept open, and aside from barring gatherings of more than 50 people, the decision to close businesses, use masks and social distancing was left to the people.
"For all practical purposes, the covid-19 epidemic is over in Sweden," he wrote. "Almost certainly herd immunity has been achieved in Sweden irrespective of any antibody test results."
Mortality in Sweden attributed to COVID-19 hit a high of 11.38 deaths per day per million population on April 8.
The professor noted Sweden "has been abused internationally, much as South Dakota has been abused in the U.S., but the outcome in Sweden has been good, and in South Dakota, excellent."
In New York, where a full lockdown was implemented March 20, 2020, a daily mortality rate of 50 per million was reached by April 7.
That's nearly five times the daily mortality rate that was observed in Sweden.
Significantly, Berdine wrote, "the decline of deaths from the peak levels in New York, with its harsh lockdown, has followed roughly the same time course as what has been observed in Sweden without any lockdown."
"It is unclear whether the lockdown interfered with herd immunity or not. This will not be known until after the economy and schools are completely reopened for at least a month," he said.
In Illinois, Berdine concluded, "flattening the curve" led to more deaths.
The state implemented a harsh lockdown on March 20. There was no nursing home order there, as in New York, and the daily mortality rate increased more slowly than it did in New York and Sweden, reaching a peak of over 15 deaths per day per million population on May 17.
The daily mortality has declined more slowly in Illinois than in New York and Sweden, and it remains significantly higher than the rates in those places.
"The most likely explanation for the Illinois data is that the lockdown did indeed slow the rate of transmission among the young and healthy but also allowed a longer time for transmission from young people to elderly people," Berdine said.
"The lockdown appears to have made more deaths from covid-19 in Illinois than would have occurred without it. Almost certainly herd immunity has not been achieved and will not be achieved until the schools and economy are reopened."
In Texas, Berdine said, it "would appear that covid-19 deaths were deferred rather than prevented by the lockdown."
The state closed nonessential businesses on March 31 and began a phased reopening of the economy on May 1. In late June, the reopening was paused, with a rescinding of some relaxations of measures, after the daily mortality rate rose.
The Texas daily mortality rate hit a peak of more than 10 deaths per day per million population on July 31.
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