Focusing on all-causes mortality, and not just on COVID mortality, helps account for various potential indirect effects of lockdowns.
COVID lockdowns could have saved lives, by decreasing COVID deaths (and also incidentally decreasing some other deaths, for instance from auto accidents, from other communicable diseases, and the like). They also could have cost lives—for instance, through drug abuse deaths or suicides or homicides stemming from people being cooped up for months, drug abuse deaths or suicides or homicides stemming from economic damage and unemployment caused by the lockdown, cancers not caught early as people delayed early screening (even if such early screening would have been officially excluded from the lockdown), and so on.
What was the likely aggregate of all these effects? In particular, to look at just one data point (recognizing that it’s indeed just one data point), how did Sweden, which basically didn’t lock down, fare compared to other prosperous countries?
Sweden did have a higher COVID mortality rate than many other European countries, including the neighboring Norway, Denmark, and Finland. But what about what is sometimes called “all-cause excess mortality,” which is to say total mortality in the country compared, on a percentage basis, to the pre-COVID mortality? Moreover, some of the effects of lockdowns (positive and negative) could have lasted well after the lockdowns, indeed for years past them. What then about the all-causes excess mortality from 2020 to the present, rather than just based on the 2020 data or the 2020-21 data? – READ MORE