Now that the 2020 figures have been properly tallied, there is still no convincing evidence that strict lockdowns reduced the death toll from COVID-19. But one effect is clear: more deaths from other causes, especially among the young and middle-aged, minorities and the less affluent.
The best gauge of the pandemic’s impact is what statisticians call excess mortality, which compares the overall number of deaths with the total in previous years. That measure 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 weren’t attributed to the virus.
Some of those deaths could be undetected COVID-19 cases, and some could be unrelated to the pandemic or the lockdowns. But preliminary reports point to some obvious lockdown-related factors.
John Tierney, a contributing editor for City Journal, is the co-author of “The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It.” Adapted from City Journal.
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