On January 5, 2021 Dr Eran Bendavid and scientists from Stanford University in California published a study titled “Assessing Mandatory Stay‐at‐Home and Business Closure Effects on the Spread of COVID‐19“. TheEaglesWillFly.com presents a summary of the study for you here so you can be introduced to it, but we encourage you to read the complete research for yourself and draw your own conclusions.
As reported by TheBlaze.com , the Stanford paper was an international study examining the effectiveness of state-mandated coronavirus lockdowns compared to other voluntary pandemic safety measures found that the lockdowns were no better at stopping the spread of coronavirus than less restrictive measures, like social distancing or reducing travel.
The Stanford Study is peer-reviewed study examined how the virus spread in 10 countries in early 2020. It examined virus cases in countries that used “non-pharmaceutical interventions” — the academic term for lockdown policies — to those that did not.
Researchers examined cases from England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States, which all imposed lockdowns in early 2020, to two countries that decided to use less intrusive, voluntary social-distancing measures — South Korea and Sweden.
The aim of the study was to examine whether policies that closed businesses and forced people to stay in their homes were as effective as less restrictive policies to contain the spread of the virus.
To calculate this, the authors of the study used a mathematical model that subtracted “the sum of non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) effects and epidemic dynamics in countries that did not enact more restrictive non-pharmaceutical interventions (mrNPIs) from the sum of NPI effects and epidemic dynamics in countries that did.”
According to their analysis, “there is NO EVIDENCE that more restrictive non-pharmaceutical interventions (‘lockdowns’) contributed substantially to bending the curve of new cases” in countries that imposed lockdowns.
While lockdown policies may provide some benefits that voluntary measures do not, the study found that these benefits are not significantly better, and the harms imposed by lockdowns, “including hunger, opioid-related overdoses, missed vaccinations, increase in non-COVID diseases from missed health services, domestic abuse, mental health and suicidality, as well as a host of economic consequences with health implications.”
While the study found “no evidence of large anti-contagion effects from mandatory stay-at-home and business closure policies,” the researchers did note some important limitations to the underlying data and methods used in their research. The authors acknowledged that cross-country comparisons are difficult because nations have different rules, cultures, and relationships between the government and the citizenry. Additionally, some countries are better at providing coronavirus data than others. The study also relied on confirmed case counts for its analysis, which can be “a noisy measure of disease transmission.”
Given these limitations, the researchers could not conclusively declare that lock down policies had no benefits whatsoever. “However, even if they exist, these benefits may not match the numerous harms of these aggressive measures. More targeted public health interventions that more effectively reduce transmission may be important for future epidemic control without the harms of highly restrictive measures,” the study concluded.
The Stanford Study – The Abstract
Background and Aims
The most restrictive non‐pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for controlling the spread of COVID‐19 are mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures. Given the consequences of these policies, it is important to assess their effects. We evaluate the effects on epidemic case growth of more restrictive NPIs (mrNPIs), above and beyond those of less restrictive NPIs (lrNPIs).
We first estimate COVID‐19 case growth in relation to any NPI implementation in subnational regions of 10 countries: England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and the US. Using first‐difference models with fixed effects, we isolate the effects of mrNPIs by subtracting the combined effects of lrNPIs and epidemic dynamics from all NPIs. We use case growth in Sweden and South Korea, two countries that did not implement mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures, as comparison countries for the other 8 countries (16 total comparisons).
Implementing any NPIs was associated with significant reductions in case growth in 9 out of 10 study countries, including South Korea and Sweden that implemented only lrNPIs (Spain had a non‐significant effect). After subtracting the epidemic and lrNPI effects, we find no clear, significant beneficial effect of mrNPIs on case growth in any country. In France, e.g., the effect of mrNPIs was +7% (95CI ‐5%‐19%) when compared with Sweden, and +13% (‐12%‐38%) when compared with South Korea (positive means pro‐contagion). The 95% confidence intervals excluded 30% declines in all 16 comparisons and 15% declines in 11/16 comparisons.
While small benefits cannot be excluded, we do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs. Similar reductions in case growth may be achievable with less restrictive interventions.