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Wow. @nature published a paper claiming that lockdowns cut the spread of #COVID-19 by hundreds of millions of cases. The @Washingtonpost (inevitably) lapped it up. A look at the paper reveals it is more full of holes than the mask I have (not) worn all week. Let’s discuss...
Okay, so your first clue this is bunkum is on THE VERY FIRST PAGE: Note when the paper was received. Yep, March 22, basically before the epidemic had EVEN begun in the United States or social distancing had been in place for very long anywhere else.
In other words, this is really a paper about China (as the authors basically admit - they say on page 2 that they lack “sufficient data” for detailed estimates of changes over time in any other country).
Further, the authors make NO effort to compare the #COVID spread in countries that DID use lockdowns with those that didn’t... they merely track the infection rate by day and assume any changes resulted from lockdowns (note to @ft - I got your tautology right here)...
But without comparing countries that DIDN’T lock down to those that did, they have no way of knowing if the decrease from the early rapid spread simple represents the natural and normal track of the virus...
And further, their own analysis shows that lockdowns reduced the speed of spread by less than 40% everywhere (about 30% in the US) - meaning spread was still very rapid post-lockdown. Even worse, when they look at individual policies in the United States...
They find almost no correlation between individual lockdown policies and ANY meaningful change in growth (to get around this little problem they create two catch-all categories called “other social distance” and “home isolation” which supposedly produce results.)
There’s some other stuff too but I think the point is made. I cannot believe @nature - one of the world’s most prestigious journals - published this junk. Then again after the @nejm @thelancet HCQ fiasco maybe I can.
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