Studies in Applied Economics: A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality

(sites.krieger.jhu.edu)

Abstract

This systematic review and meta-analysis are designed to determine whether there is empirical evidence to support the belief that “lockdowns” reduce COVID-19 mortality. Lockdowns are defined as the imposition of at least one compulsory, non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI). NPIs are any government mandate that directly restrict peoples’ possibilities, such as policies that limit internal movement, close schools and businesses, and ban international travel. This study employed a systematic search and screening procedure in which 18,590 studies are identified that could potentially address the belief posed. After three levels of screening, 34 studies ultimately qualified. Of those 34 eligible studies, 24 qualified for inclusion in the meta-analysis. They were separated into three groups: lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-place- order (SIPO) studies, and specific NPI studies. An analysis of each of these three groups support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.

While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.

So … they’ve done almost nothing to help the situation. The economic prosperity of billions of people has been upended, freedoms revoked, and communities divided … for almost zero gain.

Almost 5% of my life — and 50% of my kid’s life — has been restricted for almost zero gain.

North Korea ups ante with apparent longer-range missile test

(www.japantimes.co.jp)

Sunday's launch appeared similar to a May 2017 test of a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile and hit a maximum altitude of around 2,000 km, flying 800 km for roughly 30 minutes.

The International Space Station orbits at an altitude of 408km, meaning North Korea launched something five times farther into space? How does something have a “maximum altitude of 2000km” if the thing flew only 800km?

Is this NYTimes subsidiary using the same math for North Korean rockets as they do for COVID case counts? 🤨

Google to free G Suite users: Pay up or lose your account

(arstechnica.com)

Google has long offered a service that lets you use Google apps on a custom domain, allowing you to have a Google email address that ends in your domain instead of "gmail.com." For the first six years of the service's life, the basic tier allowed you to create a custom domain account for free. Now, you have to pay for the privilege of using a custom domain with a Google account. Google turned off the ability to create these accounts for free in 2012, but it wouldn't take away accounts from existing users, would it?

It would.

[…] Google's custom domain started in 2006 as "Google Apps for Your Domain." The service has been through a bunch of name changes since then—"Google Apps for Work," then "G Suite," and now "Google Workspace"—but the setup has always been the same: You get Gmail and other Google apps, but they've been custom branded for your company, giving them a more professional appearance than a gmail.com email address. Today, the service starts at $6 per user, per month, with higher tiers available for higher storage needs. From 2006 to 2012, the basic tier was free.

$6 per user per month? And no viable alternatives? Yeah … this is going to hurt a bunch of people pretty quickly. It’s not like email can be self-hosted anymore 😑

It's a miracle! Apparently climate crusaders are immune to COVID!

(nationalpost.com)

Is there anyone with a thinking mind who does not see that COVID-19 and all its laws, biological or political, operates differentially depending on a person’s status, position, wealth and political orientation? Let too many people into a restaurant in Ontario and face fines, being closed down or even imprisonment. Send 200 from cabinet and bureaucracy to a foreign city for two weeks of close and personal immersion with 30,000 from all over the world, and all is not only well, but all manner of things shall be well.

Because COP26 is about global warming. Which is as an elixir, a magic wand, a fiat from Zeus himself, against every reality. As energy supplies dry up, as green policies advance ruin upon the economies of nations, as prices inflate and gasoline costs soar, the ludicrously righteous assembly in Glasgow gets exempted from the plague of all the rules and regulations imposed with force of law and threat of job loss on everyone else but them.

And why? So that very special people who are protected from the bleak effects of what for 26 years they have preached, can with suffocating certitude issue more bulletins to the rest of us, guaranteed to make what is already extremely troubling, even more drastic.

Rex Murphy has a very “Ward Cleaver” view of the world. While there’s a lot that he says which strikes me as being 70 years out-of-date, there’s a great deal more that he says — often with the subtlety of a brick tossed towards a window — that cuts through the noise published by a lot of other newspapers.

Man uses bow and arrows to kill five people in Norway, police say

(nationalpost.com)

A man armed with a bow and arrow and walking around the town centre killed five people and injured two in attacks in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg on Wednesday, local police said. […]

Following the attacks, the police directorate said it had ordered officers nationwide to temporarily carry firearms. Norwegian police are normally unarmed but officers have access to guns and rifles when needed.

Two things here:

  • regardless of how angry one might be with the world, walking around and attacking people is unwarranted
  • the Norwegian police are generally unarmed? Wow. Even Japanese cops carry a gun when out on patrol, and damn near nobody an hour’s drive from a city even owns one. Norway must be ridiculously safe …

Rex Murphy: You want to eat that doughnut here? Show me your papers

(nationalpost.com)

In the province of Ontario, it is now legal to buy a doughnut, but illegal to eat it in the restaurant without the proper paperwork. The threatened fines for “eating without a license” rival those that previously went to billionaire fraudsters operating pyramid schemes.

My second conclusion is that the present Ontario government has a hatred of all restaurants and food chains and all who work within them. Short of hiring a fleet of bulldozer operators to plow every one of these into the ground, they could not have done more than they have done over the last year and a half to put them out of business, drive their owners and operators into depression and their poor, harried staff into a permanent and hopeless melancholy.

My third conclusion is that the rickety, always changing, sometimes completely reversing and awesomely inexplicable policies they have been bringing in defy any consistent rationality whatsoever. Whatever COVID is, or whatever variation it mutates into, when it comes to Ontario’s response to it, there seems to be no design, no consistency of approach, gravely unequal treatment of various sectors of the economy, one rule for the lower class and another for those insulated by their vocation or wealth.

My final conclusion, for today, is that many COVID policies have no virtue beyond protecting the authorities that are supposedly managing the crisis, no appreciation for those they are harming in ways other than medical and usually come with wonderful exemptions for those who can skate above ordinary reality.

That last point is pretty spot on. Even here in Japan, the policies are designed to protect politicians from further blame and little more.

Bitcoin falls as China deems all cryptocurrency transactions illegal

(financialpost.com)

China intensified a crackdown on cryptocurrency trading on Friday, vowing to root out “illegal” activity and banning crypto mining nationwide, hitting bitcoin and other major coins and pressuring crypto and blockchain-related stocks.

Ten Chinese government agencies, including the central bank as well as banking, securities and foreign exchange regulators, said in a joint statement they would work closely to maintain a “high-pressure” clampdown on trading of cryptocurrencies.

This is interesting. If China is clamping down on crypto, then that’ll do a lot towards carbon emissions.

The PBOC also barred financial institutions, payment companies and internet firms from facilitating cryptocurrency trading. The moves come after China’s State Council, or cabinet, vowed in May to crack down on bitcoin mining and trading as part of efforts to fend off financial risk, sparking a major sell-off of cryptocurrencies.

Ah … that explains a few things.

Virtual currency mining had been a big business in China before a crackdown that started earlier this year, accounting for more than half of the world’s crypto supply.

The NDRC said it will work closely with other government agencies to make sure financial support and electricity supply will be cut off for mining. The national planning body also urged local governments to come up with a specific timetable and road map to eradicate such activities.

This could result in quite a “value” drop in crypto. That said, it doesn’t really affect NFTs, which I’m thinking about for posts …

Wuhan scientists sought to infect bats with coronavirus 18 months before first case, documents show

(nationalpost.com)

Scientists in Wuhan were planning to release enhanced airborne coronaviruses into Chinese bat populations to inoculate them against diseases that could jump to humans, reveal leaked grant proposals dating from 2018.

Oh?

Documents show that just 18 months before the first COVID-19 cases appeared, researchers submitted plans to release skin-penetrating nanoparticles containing “novel chimeric spike proteins” of bat coronaviruses into cave bats in Yunnan, located about 2,000 km southwest of Wuhan.

Umm …

They also planned to create chimeric viruses genetically enhanced to infect humans more easily and requested US$14 million from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

DARPA? Seriously?

They hoped to introduce “human-specific cleavage sites” to bat coronaviruses which would make it easier for the virus to enter humans. When COVID-19 was genetically sequenced, scientists were puzzled about how the virus had evolved such a human-specific adaptation at the cleavage site on the spike protein, which is why it is so infectious.

The documents were released by an investigations team called Drastic, set up by scientists to look into the origins of COVID-19. Drastic said: “Given that we find in this proposal, a discussion of the planned introduction of human-specific cleavage sites, review by the wider scientific community of the plausibility of artificial insertion is warranted.”

Global ramifications. Global ramifications. The stress that billions have been under because of COVID …

If this is even half-true, China must — at the very least — throw the Wuhan Institute of Virology under the bus.

Replacing Suga as prime minister will do little to resolve Japanâs political crisis | Paul O'Shea and Sebastian Maslow

(www.theguardian.com)

Despite its unpopularity, the ruling LDP party looks unassailable. The country is stagnating because of it, say academics Paul OâShea and Sebastian Maslow

This article is so off the mark on so many fronts it’s embarrassing …

Computer Engineering for Babies Book

(www.kickstarter.com)

Computer Engineering for Babies is a simple board book designed to keep your baby engaged while they learn about the stuff that computers are made from. If you skipped CE150, or just happened to miss the first couple of days, then this book ought to catch you up.

This is incredibly unique. The video is fun to watch, though I wonder how much of it the kids actually “get” … 🤔