What We’ve Learned About So-Called ‘Lockdowns’ and the COVID-19 Pandemic

SciCheck Digest

Plenty of peer-reviewed studies have found government restrictions early in the pandemic, such as business closures and physical distancing measures, reduced COVID-19 cases and/or mortality, compared with what would have happened without those measures. But conservative news outlets and commentators have seized on a much-criticized, unpublished working paper that concluded “lockdowns” had only a small impact on mortality as definitive evidence the restrictions don’t work.

What evidence supports the use of face masks against the coronavirus?

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In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, as the virus spread around the globe, many countries implemented restrictions on movement and social gatherings in an effort to flatten the curve — or reduce sharp spikes in caseloads to avoid overwhelming health care facilities. Without vaccines or evidence-based treatments, these non-pharmaceutical interventions, or NPIs, were the only public health measures available for months to combat the pandemic.

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