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COVID-19 Lockdowns Did Not Work
Johns Hopkins University performed a very thorough meta-analysis to establish the credibility of COVID-19 lockdowns regarding their ability to affect death rates from COVID-19. This was a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine this widely held idea that mandated lockdowns will reduce mortality during a pandemic. Their review found the lockdowns did not work.
The Numbers Show COVID-19 Lockdowns Did Not Work
John's Hopkins researchers found the average mandated COVID-19 lockdown in Europe and the USA only reduced mortality by 0.2% compared to policies where the government simply provide recommendations. They found shelter-in-place orders were also ineffective. They reduced COVID-19 mortality by only 2.9%
Studies show that lockdowns, facemasks, border closures, and limiting gatherings also had no significant effect on COVID-19 mortality. They did note that closing non-essential businesses reduced mortality by 10.6%, and they think it was due to closing the bars down. They point out that masks may help, but there was only one study that examined universal mask mandates and it did not show any significance.
The Final Conclusion
Their conclusion is that COVID-19 lockdowns were not effective at reducing mortality rates during the first wave of the pandemic when this was studied. They note the World Health Organization in 2006 had stated "Reports from the 1918 influenza pandemic indicate that social-distancing measures did not stop or appear to dramatically reduce transmission [...] In Edmonton, Canada, isolation and quarantine were instituted; public meetings were banned; schools, churches, colleges, theaters, and other public gathering places were closed; and business hours were restricted without obvious impact on the epidemic."
They share their opinion that their collected data shows that most people will social distance and increase hygiene during a pandemic no matter what the government mandates. Therefore, in areas where it was suggested to do so as opposed to areas where it was mandated, there was little or no difference. One study found that people voluntarily changed to low risk behavior that included not visiting non-essential businesses, and therefore, forced mandates do not improve the situation beyond what people would naturally do any way.
They also note that some aspects of mandates such as hygienic hand washing, coughing etiquette and distancing can not actually be enforced. Therefore you don't know if everyone complies with the mandates.
They also theorized that unintended consequences may play a big role. For instance, they suggested that limiting people to safe outdoor spaces, and outdoor gatherings pushed people into indoor areas with each other and might have increased death rates.
Some Reviews of Studies Had A Different Result
They give an explanation of why two other review studies who did meta-analysis on this same subject had different results. For instance they mention that one group included 10 computer modeling studies and there were only 14 studies in total. So, they were based mostly on computer modeling. In my opinion and in the opinion of the reviewwers, computer modeling studies are useless, as they are based on theoretical calculations and these simulations can't account for everything. John's Hopkins researchers removed the computer modeling studies as poor studies. It is normal in reviews of studies to remove poor studies. You have to if you want to use only those studies that are good scientific studies representing what really tood place. They also examine objections to their conclusions and explain why those objections are not correct. I was overall quite impressed with their work. This meta-analysis conducted by John's Hopkins carefully removed computer modeling studies and all other poorly created/instituted studies from the meta-analysis that did not meet immpecable study criteria. This is how a review of studies should be performed and I am glad they took the time to do a good review.
You can see their complete data on which studies were used and why as well as their results at this link.
In my opinion, we should be looking very closely at how the lockdowns did or did not work. This won't be the last time a new virus shows up.Lockdowns were not only devastating to our economy, but they have ben very hard on individual's emotional and mental status. Many people have a hard time without social interaction, and people do not do well when their basic freedoms are taken away. The lack of exercise in open spaces, in fresh air is also hard on our health status. As pointed out by the researchers, this may have added to mortality.