Excess mortality is a term used in epidemiology and public health that refers to the number of deaths from all causes during a crisis above and beyond what we would have expected to see under normal conditions. It compares the overall number of deaths with the total in previous years.
After analyzing data from 44 countries and all 50 states in the U.S., the authors of the study found that stay-at-home mandates resulted in either no change or significant spikes in excess deaths. They also found that countries and states with longer duration of lockdowns had higher excess deaths.
Countries or states that implemented lockdown mandates earlier did not have lower excess deaths than countries and states that were slower to put restrictions in place. States did not see decreases in excess deaths until 20 weeks after the lockdown policies were brought into effect. (Related: Report: States that imposed lockdown have more COVID-19 deaths per million compared to no-lockdown states.)
There were some exceptions, including Australia, Malta, New Zealand and the island of Hawaii, where orders to stay at home resulted in a slight decrease in excess deaths.
Over the past year, economic researchers, data analysts and medical professionals have found that stay at home orders and other lockdown policies are useless in combating COVID-19.
Figures from 2020 have shown no convincing evidence that strict lockdowns reduced the death toll from COVID-19. But it was clear that there were more deaths from other causes, especially among the young and middle-aged, minorities and the less affluent.
Excess mortality rose among older Americans because of COVID-19, but it rose at an even sharper rate among people aged 15 to 54 – and most of those excess deaths were not attributed to the virus.
While some of those deaths could be undetected COVID-19 cases or unrelated to the lockdowns, preliminary reports pointed to some obvious lockdown-related factors. For example, there was a sharp decline in visits to emergency rooms and an increase in fatal heart attacks due to failure to receive prompt treatment; fewer people were screened for cancer; and social isolation because of lockdowns contributed to excess deaths from dementia and Alzheimer's.
In January, a report from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam) demonstrated the impact of worldwide lockdowns and their far reaching socio-economic ramifications. The Oxfam report showed how the lockdown mandates have undone the last 30 years of progress made against extreme poverty. The report claimed that millions of people were being pushed towards famine as a direct result of lockdowns.
The annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report didn't pin the blame solely on lockdowns. It said that the economic policies enacted by governments around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have widened the gap between the wealthy and the poor.
"The rise in wealth inequality was likely not caused by the pandemic itself or its direct economic impacts, but was instead a consequence of actions undertaken to mitigate its impact, primarily lower interest rates," the report's authors said.
In other words, the actions to offset the effects of the pandemic contributed to a sizeable increase in wealth inequality.
But the dire consequences of lockdowns were not limited to economy and finance. It has been thoroughly documented that lockdown measures have led to a drastic rise in the following: drug use and subsequent overdose deaths; deaths by suicide nationally and internationally, including child suicide; domestic violence, including sexual assaults and child abuse; and human trafficking.
An article published by Waking Times said that lockdown mandates "should be regarded as a crime against humanity." The article claimed that "policymakers were rash, reactionary and criminally negligent."
"Blood is on their hands, and a lot of it. The decision of lawmakers to enact these policies is directly contributory to the deaths of countless people. They are culpable, and liability should most certainly be applicable," the article said.
As unemployment surged and mental-health and substance-abuse treatment programs were interrupted by lockdowns, the reported levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts increased dramatically – as did alcohol sales and fatal drug overdoses. (Related: More people died from fentanyl overdose than coronavirus in San Francisco last year.)
The number of people killed last year in motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. rose to the highest level in more than a decade, even though Americans did significantly less driving than in 2019. It was the steepest annual increase in the fatality rate per mile traveled in nearly a century, apparently due to more substance abuse and more high-speed driving on empty roads.
The number of excess deaths not involving COVID-19 has been especially high in U.S. counties with more low-income households and minority residents, who were disproportionately affected by lockdowns.
Nearly 40 percent of workers in low-income households lost their jobs during the spring, triple the rate in high-income households. Minority-owned small businesses suffered more, too. During the spring, when it was estimated that 22 percent of all small businesses closed, 32 percent of Hispanic owners and 41 percent of black owners shut down.
Martin Kulldorff, a professor at Harvard Medical School, summarized the impact: "Lockdowns have protected the laptop class of young low-risk journalists, scientists, teachers, politicians and lawyers, while throwing children, the working class and high-risk older people under the bus."
Follow Pandemic.news for more news and information related to the coronavirus pandemic.