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Do lockdowns work in Europe?

July 28, 2021 - 22:56 -- Admin

Let us divide the countries in Europe that have at least 1 million inhabitants into three groups: the ones that had high movement restrictions in 2020, the ones with almost no restrictions, and the ones in between. The graph below gives you the punchline that countries with more restrictions had higher numbers of covid-deaths, but in order to discuss the many other implications, I need to explain how the graph was put together.

I take the data on restrictions from the Oxford Blavatnik Stringency Index that gives a daily severity level for all countries in the world since January 1st 2020. This stringency index combines information on nine government policies: school closures, workplace closures, cancellation of public events, restrictions on gatherings, closure of public transport, restrictions on internal travel, restrictions on foreign travel, and the presence of a covid-cautioning public information campaign. The lowest value is 0 and the highest 100. One can think of a lockdown as having a score above 70. By that metric, the UK spent 4 months of 2020 in lockdowns and Australia about 3 months. From January 1st 2020 to now, the average world citizen spent about eight months in lockdown.

I take the claimed numbers of covid deaths by countries from the Oxford Blavatnik website as well, which essentially reports the daily data as claimed by countries themselves (so sometimes when a country revises downwards you see negative numbers for that day). I define the high-restriction European countries as those with at least 60 days of lockdowns in 2020. That includes 92% of the population and most of the large countries. I define minimal restriction countries as those with average restrictions in 2020 below 40, which turns out to hold only for Belarus and Estonia. The pragmatic countries in between are all the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland), Switzerland, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Latvia. Interestingly, the Scandinavian countries all had very similar average restrictions. Denmark, for instance, had an average restriction level of 51 whilst Sweden scored 54. Only Sweden had no lockdowns at all in Scandinavia, whilst Finland had 18 days of lockdowns and Norway 34 days in 2020, for which the Norwegian health authorities later apologised.

The total deaths per million till July 26th was 1449 for the lockdown countries, 1123 for the pragmatists, and 433 for the minimalists.

The graph and the data shows and suggests many things:

  1. Lockdowns in Europe ‘do not work’ to prevent covid deaths. Rather, the data shows that the more restrictions in 2020, the more covid deaths in both 2020 and in 2021. So the data strongly suggests lockdowns lead to more recorded covid-deaths. At the very minimum the data shows that countries without lockdowns do not experience the covid-Armageddon that is even today prophesised by doom-medics in lockdown countries. That alone makes liars out of an entire layer of government advisers, model builders, and politicians throughout much of Europe.
  2. The lockdowns of spring 2020 (March-June) did not flatten any curves. Indeed the opposite: the lockdown countries have less flat curves than those of the pragmatists and minimalists.
  3. Covid-deaths are highly seasonal, with the numbers going down in summer times. This was not clear in 2020 when many believed (including myself) that covid was ‘done’ in much of Europe. Rather, new variants and differing circumstances lead to another winter peak.
  4. The covid-death numbers in the lockdown countries in the summer of 2021 look very suspect: we are now talking about vaccinated populations in a period where in 2020 there were no recorded covid deaths, and where in the pragmatist countries there are again no covid deaths in the summer of 2021. One has to strongly suspect that the lockdown countries are counting people as covid deaths that in truth died of other causes, but who tested positive for some test at some point in time. The suspicion has to be we are now looking in the lockdown countries at an artificially measured pandemic, either because of false positives in tests or due to counting of minimal covid-levels as the cause of death.
  5. The rest of Scandinavia does not ‘disprove’ Sweden: restriction levels are similar across Scandinavia and none of them are lockdown countries.