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How Much Difference Do COVID-19 Lockdowns Make?

Added 09-16-20 12:21:02am EST - “The comparison between Sweden and the U.S. casts doubt on the importance of broad legal restrictions.” - Reason.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Reason.com: “How Much Difference Do COVID-19 Lockdowns Make?”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

The New York Times describes Sweden's approach to COVID-19, which has been notably less restrictive than the policies adopted by other European countries and the United States, as "disastrous" and "calamitous." By contrast, Scott Atlas, the physician and Hoover Institution fellow who is advising President Donald Trump on the epidemic, thinks Sweden's policy is "relatively rational" and "has been inappropriately criticized."

The sharp disagreement about Sweden is part of the wider debate about the cost-effectiveness of broad lockdowns as a strategy for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. While it is premature to reach firm conclusions, the evidence so far suggests that Sweden is faring better than the United States, where governors tried to contain the virus by imposing sweeping social and economic restrictions.

Despite some early blunders (most conspicuously, the failure to adequately protect nursing home residents), Sweden generally has tried to protect people who are at highest risk of dying from COVID-19 while giving the rest of the population considerably more freedom than was allowed by the lockdowns that all but a few governors in the United States imposed last spring. That does not mean Swedes carried on as usual, since the government imposed some restrictions (including a ban on large public gatherings) and issued recommendations aimed at reducing virus transmission.

The consequences of that policy look bad if you compare Sweden to Denmark, Finland, and Norway, neighboring countries that have seen far fewer COVID-19 deaths per capita. Yet Sweden has a lower death rate than several European countries that imposed lockdowns, including Belgium, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.

The comparison between Sweden and the United States is especially striking. The per capita fatality rate in the U.S. recently surpassed Sweden's rate, and the gap is growing, since the cumulative death toll is rising much faster in the United States.

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