According to a study discussed today in the Wall Street Journal (behind a paywall), the nationwide lockdown was never necessary. The vast majority of states should have followed Sweden’s example:
We ran a simple one-variable correlation of deaths per million and days to shutdown, which ranged from minus-10 days (some states shut down before any sign of Covid-19) to 35 days for South Dakota, one of seven states with limited or no shutdown. The correlation coefficient was 5.5%—so low that the engineers I used to employ would have summarized it as “no correlation” and moved on to find the real cause of the problem. . . .
Sweden is fighting coronavirus with common-sense guidelines that are much less economically destructive than the lockdowns in most U.S. states. Since people over 65 account for about 80% of Covid-19 deaths, Sweden asked only seniors to shelter in place rather than shutting down the rest of the country; and since Sweden had no pediatric deaths, it didn’t shut down elementary and middle schools. Sweden’s containment measures are less onerous than America’s, so it can keep them in place longer to prevent Covid-19 from recurring. Sweden did not shut down stores, restaurants and most businesses, but did shut down the Volvo automotive plant, which has since reopened, while the Tesla plant in Fremont, Calif., was shuttered by police and remains closed.
How did the Swedes do? They suffered 80 deaths per million 21 days after crossing the 1 per million threshold level. With 10 million people, Sweden’s death rate‒without a shutdown and massive unemployment‒is lower than that of the seven hardest-hit U.S. states—Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey and New York—all of which, except Louisiana, shut down in three days or less. Despite stories about high death rates, Sweden’s is in the middle of the pack in Europe, comparable to France; better than Italy, Spain and the U.K.; and worse than Finland, Denmark and Norway. Older people in care homes accounted for half of Sweden’s deaths.
History will record the one-size-fits-all economy-destroying COVID-19 lockdown of 2020 as one of the most colossal public policy blunders in the history of the world.
27 Replies to “The Data Are In: A Nationwide Lockdown Was Never Necessary”
Here’s a timeline that gives some idea of how little the people who were herding – and shrieking at – all of us really knew. If they finally hit on a strategy that works, we are all lucky. But we should also be wiser about vast claims by and for experts.
I will give it this much the lockdown showed us a lot of peoples true colors
So what if you’re in the dangerous age range and you have younger adults living in your home. Can they come and go, putting the older ones at risk daily? Our multi generational families living together?
Also, let’s say we know this now. But could we have known it when it was pertinent to know?
There is a lot of facts about this virus which do not add up. Different mortality rates in different countries, different virus strains in different countries, a very high probability for the country of origin (whatever this country might be) to do all it can to redirect the blame (and the infection wave) to someone else, etc. etc.
It is just naive to assume that if numbers look good in one specific place then it means that the same numbers would have been observed in all the other places. It is even more naive to believe that both the Chinese and the Russians are that stupid to lock-down entire cities for no good reason.
…However, I can understand that TPTB need to work on removing the lock-downs in the US and then encouraging as many people as possible to go get the virus. TPTB have no other solution as we’re very unlikely to get the vaccine any time soon if ever.
When the United States does things in violation of the Constitution, bad trends follow. Up until, 1929, the economy took a hit every nine years. It took about a year to recover, sometimes less, and then the economy would come back stronger than before. It never lasted longer than a year and people could prepare, since it was cyclical in nature.
In 1920, the market took a greater hit than 1929. The government did, in 1920, what it had done every nine years prior. Let it run its course and return. We went from a severe crash to the Roaring ’20s. 1929 saw a different approach led by government overreach in violation of the Constitution. The actions of the government led to the Great Depression and the continued interference means we have never returned to the cyclical nature of the economy.
No state can put an undue burden on interstate commerce without violating the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. All state are bound under the Supremacy Clause and there are no exceptions provided by the Constitution to allow any state to violate the Constitution for any reason.
The lack of Constitutional limitations being followed by states has already brought about an increase in suicides, abuse in homes, fear of not being able to get a job, fear of not being able to get food. President Trump should have had the Attorney General’s office send letters to every state threatening to shut down businesses, but he failed to get ahead of the situation. States are committing rebellious acts in the name of safety and should be dealt with through legal means, not sent checks.
Yes, Barry, the data are in. so far, Sweden has more hospitalisations per capita, and more deaths per capita that its Nordic neigbours.
I also have to point out that in another important aspect, the data aren’t in. One argument for the Swedish approach is that it is better in the long term. We haven’t reached the long term yet.
Barry, with his immense understanding of statistics will be able to explain to you all several reasons why this is a nonsense approach.
Just saw on the news that Sweden has had a high rate of deaths in nursing homes.
Everyone thinks they have 20-20 hindsight. But the fact is nobody has 20-20 foresight. Like the fog of war there is a fog which comes with every crisis.
The so-called models have turned out to be, in most cases, wrong to very wrong but does anyone believe that we would be okay if we had done nothing?
Why is Germany doing so much better than the US? Their leader was a scientist, not a mentally deficient narcissist.
JT, the truth is, as OWID has been showing, that the advanced countries have tracked as a band, including the US. Doubling in 2 – 3 days at first then slowing down. Your patent hostility is distorting your inferences.The real problem is to get effective antiviral treatments and we see that a process that easily costs a billion and takes a decade or more just doesn’t fit a pandemic age. We need to deal with the gold standard fallacy and with associated utterly anti-agile regulatory frameworks. KF
And Sweden’s death rate is lower than the hardest hit states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey and New York) Italy, Spain and the U.K.
Well, Bob, I’ll give it a go.
You see, for Bob this (determining whether this is a statistical relationship between the time of shutdown and outcome) is a nonsense approach because it does not support his preconceived narrative, and he hates it when studies do not support his confirmation bias.
Comparing Germany with the U.S. is apples and oranges. According to Google, the German population is 83.02 million (2019.) The U.S. population is 328.2 million (2019.) Take away the NYC metropolitan area, how would the U.S. be doing? Maybe know-it-all Jim can do the math for us.
So a materialistic evolutionist is the President of the US? Really?
Barry @ 12 – yes, and it’s even lower for all of Sweden’s neighbours. That suggests it’s not the lockdown that’s the difference.
No, Barry. Let’s make it easy. Do you think it’s possible that there is only one thing that affects death rates?
Let’s make it even easier. Do you think that through statistical analysis one can isolate a particular variable and determine whether there is a correlation between that variable and a particular outcome?
That’s some rigorous statistical analysis there Bob. Thanks. Can you please favor us with the confidence interval? What about your correlation coefficient? What, you can’t? Do you mean your conclusion is seat-of-the-pants stuff? And you are using your seat-of-the-pants intuitions to challenge a rigorous statistical analysis? As a professional statistician you certainly know better. And that means we can’t ascribe this nonsense to ignorance. That leaves stupidity or lying as alternatives. FWIW, I don’t think you are stupid Bob.
Bob, you have the tools to do better. That you don’t speaks volumes.
This absolutely proves that socialized medicine prevents COVID 19…
Barry @ 18 – that depends on the data and how it was collected.
Barry @ 19 –
Indeed. It’s as rigorous as yours. The issue here isn’t what statistics you quote, but that the correct statistrics are calculated. In particular, that the correct comparisons are made.
The point I’m trying to make is that a comparison of Sweden with several US states is dodgy, at best, because there are many differences between Sweden and the US, both in culture and health care systems. Sweden is more similar to the other Nordic states, so that comparison should be better (although, of course, still might not be perfect). I would have hoped that this would be apparent to you, at least at some level.
There is a deeper point, that statistics isn’t just about making calculations, it’s about understanding data, and all of the potential issues it might have. Observational dsta, like this, is going to have a lot of confounders, so a simplistic analysis with one covariate should be viewed with scepticism.
This is just idiotic Bob. I did not do a statistical analysis and you know it. Experts in statistics did a rigorous statistical analysis, and you countered it with your seat-of-the-pants intuition.
To your other points, the statistical analysis is not actually between Sweden and the US. It is among US states, which are, presumably, more similar to each other than to Sweden. I would have hoped you would be able to grasp this. But apparently in your zeal to dismiss the data, you did not bother to read the data. Sweden is mentioned not because it was part of the analysis, but because its experience is consistent with the US states who did not rush to lockdown (or that never locked down at all).
Bob, as an expert in statistics, you should be ashamed of yourself. You, of all people, should know that seat-of-the-pants intuitions such as those you advance should never be used to counter a rigorous statistical analysis. I am embarrassed for you even though you do not seem to have sufficient self awareness to be embarrassed for yourself.
No, but you didn’t look at the problem like a statistician. fair enough, you’re not a statistician.
No, what they did was rubbish. I think I can claim a bit more authority in being able to judge statistical rigour, having taken more than a couple of hours of courses. Indeed, having taught more than a couple of hours courses.
Now, if you actually have a counter-argument as to why my criticiam is wrong, let’s hear it.
Smithfield Foods in Crete, Neb., will be shuttering as COVID-19 cases continue to rise among plant workers. The plant harvests 10,000 hogs a day.
According to an email sent to employees, the location will be shut down for at least two weeks, News Channel Nebraska reports. As of Sunday, there were 47 positive tests of COVID-19 at the pork processing plant.
Operations halted Sunday at the Leprino Foods dairy foods processing plant in Fort Morgan after a high number of employees, some without symptoms, tested positive for coronavirus, a plant spokerperson told CBS4. The plant will remain closed for a minimum of five days, according to Kim DeVigil. A reassessment is planned for Friday.
Aside from a complete cleaning of the facility, DeVigil said all remaining employees who have not been tested will undergo testing. Also, employees 65 years old and older will be held out of the workforce indefinitely. They will receive pay.
When the plant restarts, employees will answer a questionnaire and receive temperature checks upon entering, and be required to maintain social distancing once inside. All will be required to wear nose and mouth coverings as well.
Cass County – home of Tyson Food’s Logansport pork processing plant – saw 439 new cases of the novel coronavirus in Monday’s count, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. That is nearly half of the 963 new cases reported across the state Monday.
The county now has 1,025 confirmed cases, the third highest in the state after Marion County and Lake County. That number has more than tripled since Friday, when there were only 313 positive cases.
The county has just under 38,000 residents, according to census data.
In response to a growing number of people in the surrounding communities testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), including 15 positive cases among its 2,500 employees, Indiana Packers Corp. (IPC) on April 24 began winding down production at its Delphi pork plant. The company said it would close the facility for up to two weeks, as the state of Indiana is expected to see infection cases peak in the coming days.
The plant is the second large pork processing facility in the state to be closed due to coronavirus. Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. on April 22 announced it would close its Logansport operation while it tested all of its 2,200 workers for the virus.