The scientific case against lockdowns
Less costly pandemic mitigation measures may slow the spread of the coronavirus just as well as lockdowns — if not better — according to a new study published in Nature Human Behaviour.
Why it matters: As cases continue to rise in the U.S., Americans may be more palatable to interventions that are less painful than the spring's stay-at-home orders.
What they're saying: "A smaller package of such measures can substitute for a full lockdown in terms of effectiveness, while reducing adverse impacts on society, the economy, the humanitarian response system and the environment," the authors write.
Details: The study examined the impact of more than 6,000 non-pharmaceutical interventions implemented in March and April in 79 territories worldwide.
What they found: "Surprisingly, communicating on the importance of social distancing has been only marginally less effective than imposing distancing measures by law," the authors write.
- Food assistance and other financial supports for vulnerable populations are also highly effective, because they can help people stay home while sick without risking losing their job, for example.
- The study also endorsed some of the component restrictions the U.S. has imposed — banning public gatherings, limiting people's movements, closing schools and border restrictions — over the more sweeping lockdowns in other countries, some of which barely allowed people to leave their homes, even to be alone outside.
Yes, but: The U.S. does not have clear, authoritative political communication about the need for social distancing, and Congress is not likely to pass a financial aid package that would enable many Americans to stay home for very long.