State COVID measures made a difference, both positive and negative

Kent Kroeger
11 min readFeb 14, 2022

By Kent R. Kroeger (February 14, 2022)

A depiction of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 (Graphic by and used under the CCA-Share Alike 4.0 International license)

Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci declared the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. is “exiting the full-blown stage.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Fauci, like the rest of the medical and scientific community, has been more hostage to the coronavirus than a prescient sage as to its future trajectory.

Like a broken analog clock, Dr. Fauci may be right this time, but what a price the world continues to pay for a virus whose behavior often has been unpredictable and whose origins still remain unknown.

However, getting more attention than Dr. Fauci’s declaration about the next phase for COVID-19 was a working paper (i.e., not peer-reviewed) by three economists who conducted a meta-analysis on the effects of public policy on COVID-19 mortality. In this study, economists from Johns Hopkins University, Lund University (Sweden), and the Center for Political Studies in Copenhagen, Denmark — Jonas Herby, Lars Jonung, and Steve H. Hanke — found that “lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2 percent on average.”

Apart from the predictable efforts by news media elites to smear the credentials of the study’s authors and the intellectual value of a non-peer-reviewed working paper, sober academics and medical experts found the study interesting but far from conclusive. [For example, the study only covered outcomes during 2020.]

Dr. Vinay Prasad, MD MPH, offers a balanced perspective on the this new lockdown study: “(This) early meta-analysis suggests (lockdowns) didn’t do that much. I don’t find it that incredible but I also think it’s not the right moment to do a meta-analysis because the lockdown’s effect is a massive perturbation on the economy and society (and) it’s not just about the short-run mortality. What about the long-run mortality? What about the mortality you’re paying for down the road because of all the disruptions to society?”

A common analytic tool employed in the studies analyzed by Herby, Jonung, and Hanke was Oxford University’s Covid-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) which collects systematic information on policy measures that governments have taken to tackle COVID-19. Included in their…



Kent Kroeger

I am a survey and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion (You can contact me at: