Study: Dems COVID19 Lockdown Measures Causing Most Deaths

Written by Joel Smalley MBA

New statistical study shows a pattern of adverse and counter-intuitive effects resulting from governmental measures (‘lockdown’) to limit the spread of COVID-19. In short, the more counter measures taken by a government the worse the outcome.

In ‘An empirical analysis of the relationship between excess mortality and lockdown severity in the United States‘ (June 2020) author, Joel Smalley identifies a statistical pattern whereby Democrat-run states have substantially worse mortality rates than Republican.

Summary

According to hypothetical epidemiological models, certain non-pharmaceutical interventions like population-wide social distancing combined with home isolation of cases and school and university closure ought to have a very substantial impact on COVID-19 mortality.

However, the results of analysis of empirical data on mortality and counter-measure severity of all 50 US states, actually shows a statistically significant INCREASE in mortality associated with HIGHER degrees of counter-measure severity.

The results also show that Democrat states have roughly double the average severity as Republican states and account for 75% of all the excess mortality during the observable period of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic.

It is evident that Democrat states have a much stronger tendency towards intervention and this has led to much poorer outcomes for citizens of those states. Given the significantly heterogeneous nature of SARS-CoV-2 in terms of risk demography, it would not be a surprise to see homogeneous interventions having no impact on outcomes. However, it is difficult to explain why outcomes should be materially worse.

The author tentatively proposes a hypothesis whereby an explanation may be assigned to the nature of collectivism versus individualism. In this instance, Republicans might be more likely to take appropriate responsibility for their own welfare, making decisions and taking actions according to their own perceived risks. Conversely, members of collectivist states may be more inclined to rely on the diktats of the state even though they may not be logical or reasonable. This conjecture would need much deeper investigation to be upheld.

Introduction

On 16th March 2020, Professor Neil Ferguson’s Imperial College model forecast a worst-case scenario of 2.2 million American deaths from COVID-19 if no mitigation action was taken[i]. The report advised that the only option to avoid significant death was “population-wide social distancing combined with home isolation of cases and school and university closure”.

On 26th March, Ferguson revised his UK death forecast down by 96% as a result of the implementation of such measures, which would put the US number in the region of 88,000. In fact, most countries and states went further than the recommended measures that only called for reductions of 75% of contact outside the household, implementing draconian lockdown orders instead.

It is, therefore, a reasonable hypothesis that the degree to which the individual states of America applied the recommended mitigation should result in a range of mortality outcomes, significantly skewed in favour of those states that applied the measures most stringently.

Methods

In order to measure the outcome of the mitigation strategies employed by each state of America, it is necessary to have a measure of mortality that is free from bias and an objective measure of mitigation severity.

COVID-19 reported deaths are unreliable[ii]. However, excess deaths are an unbiased measure of deaths that occur as a result of a shock to the natural death process.

Modelling data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)[iii], it can be seen that deaths in the USA follow a predictable, smooth process. The start and end of each year has a slightly higher rate than the middle summer months due to seasonal influenzas. The curves can easily be fitted with a 4-order polynomial. The polynomial for 2019, for example, has a an R2 of 97%, an extremely good fit.

Data analysts commonly compare an individual year with the average of the preceding five years in order to determine the excess (positive or negative) mortality for the year in question.

However, in the case of America, 2020 started almost exactly in line with 2019 so we have adopted the polynomial fit of 2019 as our baseline expectation of mortality against which we can derive the “excess” mortality for 2020. Using this method, it is very clear to see the COVID-19 “shock” that first occurred in week 12.

We apply the exact same methodology for each state’s mortality data (again from the CDC) to derive an excess number of deaths for each week, having observed similarly good degrees of fit of the expected curve. For the period in question, we are only interested in positive excess mortality during the period we know that SARS-CoV-2 was circulating through the population, i.e. from week 12.

Since it is quite apparent whether there is excess mortality and its duration, using this method, we tally the total excess for the observed period. This results in a range of excess death that spans a different number of weeks for each state (0 to 12). For Republican states, the average duration is 7.4 weeks and for Democrat states it is 7.9 weeks.

In order to standardise the data for comparative purposes, we express the resultant number relative to the average expected death per week for the same period. Thus, our target variable is the excess death expressed in number of weeks of expected death and ranges from 0 to 24.2.

To measure the severity of counter-measures, we count the number of weeks that lockdowns, i.e. “stay-at-home”, “shelter-in-place” or equivalent orders were effectively imposed by each state governor[iv] [v] [vi] [vii]. The number of weeks ranged from 0 to 14. For Republican states, the average duration is 4.0 weeks and for Democrat states it is 7.8 weeks.

In order to test for confounding explanatory variables, we also measured excess death, as calculated above, relative to the proportion of deaths of nursing home residents since it represented a significant number of COVID-19 deaths[viii].

Results

The total number of excess deaths using this method by summing the excess deaths of each state amounts to 119,302 which is broadly in line with the reported COVID-19 deaths of 127,000[ix]. 25% of these deaths occurred in Republican states and 75% in Democrat states.

Plotting excess deaths against lockdown duration reveals a significantly positive correlation which is contrary to the hypothesis.

In fact of the 12 states that have experienced no excess death at all during the period in question (Alaska (R), Arkansas (R), Hawaii, Idaho (R), Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota (R), Oklahoma (R), South Dakota (R), and West Virginia (R)), 5 of them (Arkansas (R), Kentucky (D), North Dakota (R), Oklahoma (R), and South Dakota (R)) had no ostensible lockdown. In fact, only three “no-lockdown” states had any excess at all (Nebraska (R), Utah (R) and Wyoming (R)) and were all at the low end of the range.

There were three outliers. New York City (24.2 standard excess vs 10 lockdown weeks) and New Jersey (11.3 standard excess vs 12 lockdown weeks) are both omitted from the chart due to scale. Hawaii, with its unique geographical properties benefited with no excess mortality for the period but actually has endured the longest duration of lockdown at 14 weeks which is very difficult to explain.

There is no materially discernible error in any of the state data.

Testing for confounding in the relationship between excess mortality and proportion of deaths in nursing home residents did not reveal anything of statistical significance.

Conclusion

The hypothesis that “population-wide social distancing combined with home isolation of cases and school and university closure” should lead to significantly better outcomes in terms of mortality from COVID-19 cannot be supported given the empirical data that is available.

On the contrary, the empirical data very strongly suggests that mortality outcomes are improved with fewer interventions.

The argument that, relying only on the hypothetical model itself, it is still possible to claim that the counter-measures were responsible for what might have been an even larger number of deaths is difficult to accept where the empirical data shows such a strong contrarian correlation.

Moreover, it is even more difficult to reconcile the fact that all of the states that effectively deployed no significant measures at all have resulted in virtually no excess deaths. There is low feasibility that this could be due to confounding or particular attributes of those states since they all share their borders with states with otherwise very different outcomes.

It is evident that Democrat states have a much stronger tendency towards intervention and this has led to much poorer outcomes for citizens of those states. Given the significantly heterogeneous nature of SARS-CoV-2 in terms of risk demography[x], it would not be a surprise to see homogeneous interventions having no impact on outcomes. However, it is difficult to explain why outcomes should be materially worse.

A possible reason could be in the nature of collectivism versus individualism, where Republicans might be more likely to take appropriate responsibility for their own welfare, making decisions and taking actions according to their own perceived risks, whereas members of the collectivist states may be more inclined to rely on the diktats of the state even though they may not be logical or reasonable. This conjecture would need much deeper investigation to be upheld.

[i] https://evidencenotfear.com/evidence/

[i] https://www.npr.org/2020/05/01/847415273/south-coronavirus-related-restrictions-by-state

[ii] https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/23/us/coronavirus-which-states-stay-at-home-order-trnd/index.html

[iii] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/emergencies-closures-states-handling-coronavirus-200317213356419.html

[iv] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/states-reopen-map-coronavirus.html

[v] https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2020/05/26/nursing-homes-assisted-living-facilities-0-6-of-the-u-s-population-43-of-u-s-covid-19-deaths/#5ec19e7d74cd

[vi] https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

[vii] https://spiral.imperial.ac.uk:8443/bitstream/10044/1/77482/14/2020-03-16-COVID19-Report-9.pdf

[viii] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-covid-19-deaths-are-counted1/

[ix] https://data.cdc.gov/

[x] https://evidencenotfear.com/evidence/


About the author: Joel Smalley holds an MBA from the University of Toronto and  works as a Blockchain architect and early stage, polymath data-driven technologist, specializing in fintech, healthtech and IoT. He is currently CEO of Supermoney Ltd and CIO and CTO of Toucan Labs


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Comments (12)

  • Avatar

    Doug Harrison

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    There is no problem that is known to mankind to occur that cannot be made worse by government interference

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Luis G de la Fuente

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    “However, it is difficult to explain why outcomes should be materially worse.”

    I think the key to understand what has happened in those states and many European countries are the care homes. Thousands of people where locked there mixing infected with non infected people and denying them a proper treatment at hospitals, which ‘had to be available’ for younger people that actually never arrived.

    The excess mortality has been caused by criminal decisions that led to the death of a lot of elderly people.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      JaKo

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      Very valid point Louis,
      We had at least 80% of so called ‘COVID-19’ fatalities just from the retirement/long-term-care facilities in Canada; well, ~95% of them all in Quebec (64%) and Ontario (31%)…
      JaKo

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Herb Rose

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    After holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is an increase in the number of deaths in nursing homes. After family and friends leave the reasons and will for living longer (For what purpose?) decreases and without joy and purpose people will give up. By isolating the people in nursing homes and removing their reason for living the authorities successfully killed them even without the virus.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    JaKo

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    I wanted to scribble this comment on the bottom of the previous article (Swedish C19…), but with the wait came extra weight…
    All these studies, observations and experiences from around the world seem (IMHO) to point to the validity of the original hypothesis: The CoViD-19 aka ‘plandemic’ was meant to be the front, and as it turned out, it became also the background ‘scamdemic’ (thanks Marjorie), for the coming economic collapse and ensuing depression.
    Is there any other plausible explanation?
    Nothing to cheer about,
    JaKo

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Joe C.

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    Would it have been a better study if the author had taken into account reduced deaths from traffic accidents due to the lockdown ?

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Herb Rose

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      Hi Joe,
      Trouble is CDC is counting traffic fatalities, gun shot victims, etc as COVID-19 deaths if they have the virus.. They would also have to figure in the increase in deaths from suicide brought on by the lock down.
      Herb

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Finn McCool

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    An interesting analysis for US states.
    However, the hypothesis is some sort of psycho political mubo-jumbo. It is not measurable.
    But why only use 2019 for the polynomial regression? the same thing could have been done with a 5 year average and a curve fitted line.
    As JaKo suggested above, it would be more interesting to see a similar analysis on excess deaths in Care Homes. What are the differences in age demographics in the different states?
    There are a lot of questions to be answered by Governments over the imbecilic policies which have led to the unnecessary death of old people.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Chris

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    They have also changed the symptoms. A diseases symptoms don’t change, this indicates fraud.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Aury

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    I would think that the lockdowns would have the effect of causing most citizens to stay indoors, which would in turn provide them less benefits from being in fresh air and getting the needed amounts of sunlight. Many people don’t think of freah air and light as being key components to growth or health, but there are numerous studies that back it. Even newborns are supposed to receive some time in the sunlight to make sure that they get an adequate amount of Vitamin D.

    Reply

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