The analysis, published in the journal BMJ Global Health, examined claims that blockages cause more health damage than Covid-19 by examining their impacts on measures such as death rates, health services routine and mental health.
Using an international dataset of all-cause mortality from 94 countries, the researchers found that countries like New Zealand and Australia had no excess mortality last year. In contrast, places with few Covid restrictions like Brazil, Sweden, Russia and sometimes parts of the United States have seen large numbers of excessive deaths during the pandemic.
“This is… one of the most compelling pieces of evidence to support the idea that the cure was no worse than the disease,” said author, Professor Gavin Yamey, of the Duke Global Health Institute of the Duke University. “It appears that countries that acted quickly and aggressively have often killed fewer people than in previous years. One study showed that the lockdown may have reduced annual mortality by up to 6% by eliminating influenza transmission alone. “
The excess mortality data could not rule out lockdown damage or conclude whether lockdowns have a net benefit, however, especially given the very high excess mortality in many countries that have pursued such strategies as the UK, the researchers wrote.
Another line of inquiry was the health services. While data suggests a marked reduction in attendance at vital non-Covid health services during shutdowns, overwhelmed health services or a perceived high risk of infection in health facilities would also deter people from accessing care , the researchers suggested. “With the current evidence, it is simply not possible to adequately support either causal claim,” they concluded.
The relationship between mental health and lockdowns is often highlighted, but the link between large-scale Covid epidemics and depression and anxiety is often overlooked, the researchers noted. “The lack of school clearly affects children’s mental health, but so does the loss of a loved one to Covid-19. “
Read more about science correspondent Natalie Grover’s report here: Lockdowns don’t harm health any more than Covid, researchers say