Covid-19 Pandemic: Does the lockdown save lives?

April 29. 2020.  There has been considerable debate about whether the lock down is necessary to save lives.  Many countries closed their borders, closed all but essential services, closed schools and universities resulting in online learning, cancelled large social events, enforced social distancing and asked people to stay at home. We have been in lockdown since mid March here in Canada and lockdown is very much still in effective.

Some countries encouraged social distancing and some services closed but, otherwise, life remained fairly normal.  One of those countries is Sweden.  Two nearby Scandinavian countries, Norway and Denmark (Figure 1) enforced locked down and hence this provides a good opportunity to see how these three countries faired so far with the covid-19 pandemic..





Daily covid–19 cases peaked March 27 in Norway and April 8 in Denmark and then began to decrease (Figure 2).  In Sweden daily cases peaked April 24 and may finally be decreasing.

Daily covid-19 deaths are decreasing in both Norway and Denmark and appear to be cyclic in Sweden with peaks every 7-8 days (Figure 2).

Since Sweden has about double the population of Norway and Denmark a direct comparison cannot be made.  So I standardized the results per million population (Table 1).  The number of total covid-19 cases in Sweden exceeds those in both Norway (34%) and Denmark (25%) and the total number of covid-19 deaths in Sweden exceeds those in Norway and Denmark by 6-fold and 3-fold respectively, despite the fact that Sweden performed fewer tests per million population than either Norway or Denmark.

Based on these three countries it appears that lockdown was associated with reduced number of cases and a significant reduction in the number of deaths attributed to covid-19 per million population.

Similar analyses are needed to determine the robustness of this comparison.