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To lock down or not to lock down? An evidence-based approach to anti-covid measures

Science and Philosophy – Massimo Pigliucci: “As you might have noticed, we have been in the middle of a pandemic for about nine months now. There has been much talk, and much controversy, about what does and does not work to counter the spread of the covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) inducing agent, known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Just the other day I was having a conversation about this with a follower on Twitter, who was rather skeptical of government lock-downs. He presented me with some home generated graphs drawn from public databases that seemed to make his point. I was, however, a bit skeptical of his skepticism. At some point I thought, wait a minute, surely by now there are serious peer reviewed studies on this! Let’s take a look. Sure enough, a quick Google Scholar search turned out a number of peer reviewed papers. I picked two in particular, on the basis of three criteria: they are very recent (both published this month), they are fairly comprehensive in terms of datasets and anti-covid interventions, and they were published in the two top scientific journals in the world: Nature and Science. You can download the full articles here (Nature) and here (Science), but of course they are fairly technical, especially in terms of methodology and statistical analyses. So I’ll do my best to summarize the key findings, because they have tremendous consequences for public discourse on covid as well as on the implementation of public policies…”

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