New Stanford Study Claims Lockdowns Are Not Effective To Stop Spread of COVID


by Arjun Walia, Collective Evolution:

  • The Facts:Four professors from Stanford School of Medicine have published a paper showing that lockdowns, stay at home orders and business closures are not an effective tool for stopping the spread of COVID. There are many studies claiming the same.
  • Reflect On:Why is information, science and evidence that opposes recommendations that governments are making sometimes ridiculed, censored, and largely unacknowledged? Why is scientific debate being discouraged?

Over the last few months, I have seen academic articles and op-eds by professors retracted or labeled “fake news” by social media platforms. Often, no explanation is provided. I am concerned about this heavy-handedness and, at times, outright censorship. – Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH (source)


What Happened: study published by four medical professors from Stanford University has failed to find evidence supporting the use of what they call “Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions” (NPIs) like lockdowns, social-distancing, business closures and stay at home orders. According to the study, these measures have not been sufficient and are not sufficient to stop the spread of COVID and therefore are not necessary to combat the spread of the virus. Although they do mention that “the data cannot fully exclude the possibility of some benefits” they mention that “even if they exist, these benefits may not match the numerous harms of these aggressive measures.”

The authors used England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden and the United States for the study. They found “No clear, significant, beneficial” effects of the methods being implemented (lockdowns, business closures, stay at home orders etc) to combat COVID case growth in any country.

You can access the full study here for a deeper discussion/analysis.

This Isn’t The Only Study: The recently published study by the Stanford professors is not the first. There are many examples.

A country level analysis measuring the impact of government actions, country preparedness and socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes” by Rabail Chaudhry, George Dranitsaris, Talha Mubashir, Justyna Bartoszko, Sheila Riazi. EClinicalMedicine 25 (2020) 100464. “[F]ull lockdowns and wide-spread COVID-19 testing were not associated with reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.”

Was Germany’s Corona Lockdown Necessary?” by Christof Kuhbandner, Stefan Homburg, Harald Walach, Stefan Hockertz. Advance: Sage Preprint, June 23, 2020. “Official data from Germany’s RKI agency suggest strongly that the spread of the coronavirus in Germany receded autonomously, before any interventions became effective. Several reasons for such an autonomous decline have been suggested. One is that differences in host susceptibility and behavior can result in herd immunity at a relatively low prevalence level. Accounting for individual variation in susceptibility or exposure to the coronavirus yields a maximum of 17% to 20% of the population that needs to be infected to reach herd immunity, an estimate that is empirically supported by the cohort of the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Another reason is that seasonality may also play an important role in dissipation.”

Comment on Flaxman et al. (2020): The illusory effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe” by Stefan Homburg and Christof Kuhbandner. June 17, 2020. Advance, Sage Pre-Print. “In a recent article, Flaxman et al. allege that non-pharmaceutical interventions imposed by 11 European countries saved millions of lives. We show that their methods involve circular reasoning. The purported effects are pure artefacts, which contradict the data. Moreover, we demonstrate that the United Kingdom’s lockdown was both superfluous and ineffective.”

Did COVID-19 infections decline before UK lockdown? by Simon N. Wood. Cornell University pre-print, August 8, 2020. “A Bayesian inverse problem approach applied to UK data on COVID-19 deaths and the disease duration distribution suggests that infections were in decline before full UK lockdown (24 March 2020), and that infections in Sweden started to decline only a day or two later. An analysis of UK data using the model of Flaxman et al. (2020, Nature 584) gives the same result under relaxation of its prior assumptions on R.”

Professor Ben Israel’s Analysis of virus transmission. April 16, 2020. “Some may claim that the decline in the number of additional patients every day is a result of the tight lockdown imposed by the government and health authorities. Examining the data of different countries around the world casts a heavy question mark on the above statement. It turns out that a similar pattern – rapid increase in infections that reaches a peak in the sixth week and declines from the eighth week – is common to all countries in which the disease was discovered, regardless of their response policies: some imposed a severe and immediate lockdown that included not only ‘social distancing’ and banning crowding, but also shutout of economy (like Israel); some ‘ignored’ the infection and continued almost a normal life (such as Taiwan, Korea or Sweden), and some initially adopted a lenient policy but soon reversed to a complete lockdown (such as Italy or the State of New York). Nonetheless, the data shows similar time constants amongst all these countries in regard to the initial rapid growth and the decline of the disease.”

Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions against COVID-19 in Europe: a quasi-experimental study” by Paul Raymond Hunter, Felipe Colon-Gonzalez, Julii Suzanne Brainard, Steve Rushton. MedRxiv Pre-print May 1, 2020. “The current epidemic of COVID-19 is unparalleled in recent history as are the social distancing interventions that have led to a significant halt on the economic and social life of so many countries. However, there is very little empirical evidence about which social distancing measures have the most impact… From both sets of modelling, we found that closure of education facilities, prohibiting mass gatherings and closure of some non-essential businesses were associated with reduced incidence whereas stay at home orders and closure of all non-businesses was not associated with any independent additional impact.”

Full lockdown policies in Western Europe countries have no evident impacts on the COVID-19 epidemic” by Thomas Meunier. MedRxiv Pre-print May 1, 2020. “This phenomenological study assesses the impacts of full lockdown strategies applied in Italy, France, Spain and United Kingdom, on the slowdown of the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. Comparing the trajectory of the epidemic before and after the lockdown, we find no evidence of any discontinuity in the growth rate, doubling time, and reproduction number trends. Extrapolating pre-lockdown growth rate trends, we provide estimates of the death toll in the absence of any lockdown policies, and show that these strategies might not have saved any life in western Europe. We also show that neighboring countries applying less restrictive social distancing measures (as opposed to police-enforced home containment) experience a very similar time evolution of the epidemic.”

Lockdowns and Closures vs COVID – 19: COVID Wins” by Surjit S Bhalla, executive director for India of the International Monetary Fund. “For the first time in human history, lockdowns were used as a strategy to counter the virus. While conventional wisdom, to date, has been that lockdowns were successful (ranging from mild to spectacular) we find not one piece of evidence supporting this claim.”

There are dozens upon dozens of examples of published research showing and claiming that lockdown and other non-pharmacological methods for combating COVID have no benefit whatsoever on reducing the spread of the virus, so why are we being forced into these measures?

Below is a video of Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician and epidemiologist (also one of the authors of the study mentioned at the beginning of this article)  where the initiators of the declaration. Together, they created The Great Barrington Declaration. The declaration has an impressive list co-signers, and has also now been signed by more than 50,000 doctors and scientists and more than 700,000 concerned citizens, which is pretty impressive given the fact that it’s received no attention from mainstream media.  Follow their twitter account here.

The declaration explains why these health professionals and scientists strongly oppose lockdown measures, and also brings up the topic of herd immunity. In the video below they explain their belief of why there should be a different response to the pandemic.

The Consequences of Lockdown: The consequences of lockdown are many. And we are doing so for a virus with a 99.95 percent survival rate for people under the age of 70, and a 95 percent survival rate for people over the age of 70.

In Ontario, Canada, a member of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s caucus is speaking out against his own government’s policies and calling for an end to the province-wide pandemic lockdown.“The lockdown isn’t working,” writes York Centre Progressive Conservative MPP Roman Baber in a letter to Ford.  “It’s causing an avalanche of suicides, overdoses, bankruptcies, divorces and takes an immense toll on our children. Dozens of leading doctors implored you to end the lockdowns.” (source)

A letter to the editor published in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Open Schools, Covid-19, and Child and Teacher Morbidity in Sweden” has found that “Despite Sweden’s having kept schools and preschools open, we found a low incidence of severe Covid-19 among schoolchildren and children of preschool age during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic…No child with Covid-19 died…Among the 1,951,905 million children who were 1 to 16 years of age, 15 children had Covid-19, MIS-C, or both conditions and were admitted to an ICU, which is equal to 1 child in 130,000.”

Many experts  who are opposing lockdowns are not advocating for no measures to be taken, instead many of them believe we don’t have to shut down businesses and keep people inside to protect the vulnerable. They advocate for a more focused type of protection, especially in light of all the harms that lockdown measures seem to be creating.

These harms were pondered early on in the pandemic, a report published in the British Medical Journal titled Covid-19: “Staggering number” of extra deaths in community is not explained by covid-19″  has suggested that quarantine measures in the United Kingdom as a result of the new coronavirus may have already killed more UK seniors than the coronavirus has during the months of April and May .

response by Professor David Paton, Professor of Economics at the University of Nottingham and Professor Ellen Townsend, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Nottingham School of Medicine, to an article  published in the the BMJ in November titled “Screening the healthy population for covid-19 is of unknown value, but is being introduced worldwide” states,

Taken together, the data are clear both that national lockdowns are not a necessary condition for Covid-19 infections to decrease and that the Prime Minister was incorrect to suggest to MPs that infections were increasing rapidly in England prior to lockdown and that without national measures, the NHS would be overwhelmed…Lockdowns have never previously been used in response to a pandemic. They have significant and serious consequences for health (including mental health), livelihoods and the economy. Around 21,000 excess deaths during the first UK lockdown were not Covid-19 deaths. These are people who would have lived had there not been a lockdown.

It is well established that the first lockdown had an enormously negative effect on mental health in young people as compared to adults. The more we lockdown, the more we risk the mental health of young people, the greater the likelihood the economy will be destroyed, the greater the ultimate impact on our future health and mental health. Sadly, we know that global economic recession is associated with increased poor mental health and suicide rates.

According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, lockdown and social distancing measures are strongly correlated with an increase in suicidal thoughts, attempts and behaviour.

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