This is not science…
Few things annoy me more than meta-studies, a study of studies, summarizing the existing literature, and presenting it as a valid study. Merely the fact that those in power fund most studies that seem to affirm the agenda of the funders is enough to make me suspect the findings – no matter which side the findings may fall.
We are seeing the “findings” of a Johns Hopkins’ study, “A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality,” that is being presented in the conservative media as a scientific sign that covid “lockdowns” did very little, if anything, to reduce the number of covid deaths.
This systematic review and meta-analysis are designed to determine whether there is empirical evidence to support the belief that “lockdowns” reduce COVID-19 mortality. Lockdowns are defined as the imposition of at least one compulsory, non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI). NPIs are any government mandate that directly restrict peoples’ possibilities, such as policies that limit internal movement, close schools and businesses, and ban international travel. This study employed a systematic search and screening procedure in which 18,590 studies are identified that could potentially address the belief posed. After three levels of screening, 34 studies ultimately qualified. Of those 34 eligible studies, 24 qualified for inclusion in the meta-analysis. They were separated into three groups: lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-place-order (SIPO) studies, and specific NPI studies. An analysis of each of these three groups support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.
While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.
Overall conclusion on specific NPIs
Because of the heterogeneity in NPIs across studies, it is difficult to draw strong conclusions based on the studies of multiple specific measures. We find no evidence that lockdowns, school closures, border closures, and limiting gatherings have had a noticeable effect on COVID-19 mortality. There is some evidence that business closures reduce COVID-19 mortality, but the variation in estimates is large and the effect seems related to closing bars. There may be an effect of mask mandates, but just two studies look at this, one of which one only looks at the effect of employee mask mandates.
Overall, our meta-analysis fails to confirm that lockdowns have had a large, significant effect on mortality rates. Studies examining the relationship between lockdown strictness (based on the OxCGRT stringency index) find that the average lockdown in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% compared to a COVID-19 policy based solely on recommendations. Shelter-in-place orders (SIPOs) were also ineffective. They only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 2.9%.
Studies looking at specific NPIs (lockdown vs. no lockdown, facemasks, closing non-essential businesses, border closures, school closures, and limiting gatherings) also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality. However, closing non-essential businesses seems to have had some effect (reducing COVID-19 mortality by 10.6%), which is likely to be related to the closure of bars. Also, masks may reduce COVID-19 mortality, but there is only one study that examines universal mask mandates. The effect of border closures, school closures and limiting gatherings on COVID-19 mortality yields precision-weighted estimates of -0.1%, -4.4%, and 1.6%, respectively. Lockdowns (compared to no lockdowns) also do not reduce COVID-19 mortality. <Source>
Pretty much the type of conclusions you might expect from authors who were economists rather than epidemiologists or other medical professionals. Look closely, and you will see that economists authored the majority of the 24 papers qualified for inclusion in this meta-analysis.
This is a non-peer-reviewed “working paper,” which is little more than the authors’ opinion backed with cherry-picked research. This is the type of “study” where the conclusions are mutable and depend on the inclusion mechanism; One might have expected to see some peer-reviewed epidemiological studies.
And, I would hesitate to refer to this paper as a Johns Hopkins product as it did not come from Medical School’s Coronavirus Resource Center, the center for most of the school’s medical research.
Even though I might emotionally side with those who believe strict lockdowns were less than effective, that does not change my opinion that this “study” is not science and is little more than an opinion piece.
We are so screwed.
“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!
“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw
“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell “Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar “Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell
“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar
“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS