How Deadly Were the Covid Lockdowns?
Covid-19 is deadly, but so are draconian steps to mitigate it. During the first two years of the pandemic, “excess deaths” – the number of deaths above the historical trend – significantly exceeded the number of deaths attributable to Covid. In a paper we just published in the Inquiry, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we found that “excess non-Covid deaths” reached nearly 100,000 per year in 2020 and 2021.
Even these figures are likely to overestimate deaths from Covid and underestimate those from other causes. Covid testing has become ubiquitous in hospitals and the official count of “Covid deaths” includes people who tested positive but died of other causes. On the other hand, some deaths from Covid at the beginning of the pandemic were not diagnosed as such. We adjusted for the latter effect but not the former.
What are excess non-Covid deaths? During the pandemic, deaths from accidents, overdoses, alcoholism, and homicide all increased, as did deaths from hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. From April 2020 to December 2021, deaths from Covid averaged 350,000 per year for Americans 65 and older, 100,000 per year for those 45 to 64, and 20,000 per year for those 18 to 44. This produced excess deaths for these age groups of 16%. , respectively 19% and 11%. (Percentages reflect the lower base death rate for younger age groups as well as raw numbers.)
The excess non-Covid deaths are more evenly distributed among these age groups, 35,000 among the elderly, 33,000 among the middle-aged, and 29,000 among the young. As a percentage, however, this is a large increase for young adults. While deaths from hypertension, heart disease and diabetes dominate non-Covid excess deaths for the elderly, other causes – accidents, overdoses, alcoholism and homicide – skew younger, poorer and with a disproportionate effect on minorities. It is also worth noting that these young adult deaths, 27% above historical trends, take many more years of life than excess deaths for older age groups.
CDC data shows that the rate of excess non-Covid deaths in the first half of 2022 was even higher than in 2020 or 2021. Therefore, these deaths are likely to already exceed 250,000, disproportionately among young adults . We are witnessing many health care emergencies, but resources and attention are still directed towards Covid.
Non-Covid excess deaths have shown no signs of abating, at least until mid-2022. We now have more overdose deaths each year than all the military deaths of the last 60 years combined. Alcohol-related homicides, accidents and deaths are collectively tens of thousands a year above pre-pandemic rates. Given the significant weight gains that were common during pandemic lockdowns, natural non-Covid deaths from heart disease and diabetes appear unlikely to recede anytime soon.
If the response to the pandemic was to involve the wholesale disruption of ordinary life, the public health community should have actively monitored its effects on the millions of Americans we knew were suffering from drug addiction, diabetes, and many other health conditions. potentially lethal. It is not too early to acknowledge and begin to mitigate the collateral damage from Covid policies.
Mr. Arnott is the founding chairman of Research Affiliates, an asset management firm based in Newport Beach, California. Mr. Mulligan, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and a fellow at the Committee on Unleashing Prosperity, was chief economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers, 2018-19.
Wonderland: Like other world leaders who hunkered down in isolation, Joe Biden and the Democratic Party are now realizing how complicated the private economy really is and how easy it is to destroy it. Images: AP/Shutterstock/Bloomberg/Zuma Press Credit: Mark Kelly
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