Abridged Repost from an article by in NewsWeek

England Lockdown

A new study shows that mandatory lockdown orders may not provide more significant benefits to curbing the spread of COVID-19 vs voluntary measures such as social distancing and travel restrictions. Here, one pedestrian walks on the pavement in central London in the morning on March 24, 2020 after Britain ordered a lockdown. JUSTIN TALLIS/Getty

A study evaluating COVID-19 responses around the world found that mandatory lockdown orders early in the pandemic may not provide significantly more benefits to slowing the spread of the disease than other voluntary measures, such as social distancing or travel reduction.

The peer reviewed study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation on January 5, and analyzed coronavirus case growth in 10 countries in early 2020.

The study compared cases in England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the U.S. – all countries that implemented mandatory lockdown orders and business closures – to South Korea and Sweden, which instituted less severe, voluntary responses. It aimed to analyze the effect that less restrictive or more restrictive measures had on changing individual behavior and curbing the transmission of the virus.

The researchers used a mathematical model to compare countries that did and did not enact more restrictive lockdown orders, and determined that there was “no clear, significant beneficial effect of [more restrictive measures] on case growth in any country.”

“We do not question the role of all public health interventions, or of coordinated communications about the epidemic, but we fail to find an additional benefit of stay-at-home orders and business closures,” the research said.

However, the researchers also acknowledged that the study had limitations, and noted that “cross-country comparisons are difficult,” since nations may have different rules, cultures, and relationships between their government and citizenry.

The study was conducted by researchers affiliated with Stanford University, and was co-authored by Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine and economics who has been a vocal opponent of coronavirus lockdowns since March.

Bhattacharya was also among a group of scientists who wrote The Great Barrington Declaration, a controversial statement that encouraged governments to lift lockdown restrictions to achieve herd immunity among young and healthy people, while focusing protections on the elderly.