- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2020

Two of the U.S.’s major weapons against the coronavirus–––lockdowns and wide testing––do not reduce death rates, according to a study posted in the British medical journal Lancet.

The study comes as Democratic governors, such as Gavin Newsom of California, want to keep many businesses and all schools closed. 

Four scientists from institutions in Canada, Greece and Texas consumed huge amounts of website data  for 50 countries and their various government health authorities, such as the the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, came to this conclusion:

“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.”

That conclusion is stiff push back to the prevailing policies in the U.S. and Europe. It would seem to be vindication of Sweden’s policy response to COVID-19 infections: no shut downs and no wide spread testing. After suffering a peak in deaths this spring, Sweden’s daily death count in mid-July has plunged to the single digits. 

Observers credit the decrease to “herd immunity”–––a natural build up of anti-bodies that thwarts the virus’ spread.

There is now a robust debate between small-government conservatives who want the U.S. economy and schools open versus state officials, mostly Democrats, who want to constrained public encounters and keep kids home. The Lancet study would seem to bolster the open-up side.

The  review site Yelp reported on Thursday that 55 percent of businesses who shut down won’t reopen.

“The United States has had challenges enforcing lockdowns, with citizens in several states publicly protesting public health measures to limit viral transmission, and encouraging open revolt,” the Lancet post said.

The U.S. is experiencing  a surge in new virus diagnoses and COVID-19 deaths.

The study also cast doubt on a nearly universal belief that massive testing is the vehicle to identifying the infected and isolating them to reduce deaths.  President Trump has touted the United States as the testing capital of the world. Market Watch said the U.S. wants to conduct 6 million tests daily by year’s end.

The Lancet study does not explicitly  say why lock downs and massive testing do result in lower death rates. But statistically it found a higher morbidity  rate in countries that have increased  obesity and gross domestic product. The U.S. fits both categories. America has one of at the world’s highest obesity rates. The CDC puts the adult rate at over 40 percent. 

And the study notes that Asia has enjoyed better results from closures than Western nations.

“Although containment measures implemented in countries like China, South Korea, and Taiwan have reduced new cases by more than 90%, this has not been the case in many other countries such as Italy, Spain, and the United States,” it said.

There has been one lockdown achievement: increased patient recovery rates. 


• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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