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Thursday, November 25, 2021

What Are The Impacts Of COVID-19? Are They Worse Than The Disease Itself?

When the pandemic started spreading in the world, governments of all the nations started imposing certain restrictions with one aim in mind- to curb the infection and save people. But were people really saved? 

Those who oppose these government restrictions have made some fair points arguing that lockdowns have harmed people more than the pandemic itself. They name factors such as loss of job, social distancing, depression and isolation. Health experts say that the line between the health effects of lockdown and the health effects of the pandemic is becoming blurred.

What Are The Impacts Of COVID-19? Are They Worse Than The Disease Itself?

Scientists from Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark and the United States collaborated to conduct this research. They took into consideration mental health effects, disrupted health conditions and the rate of suicide.

To examine the impact made on health by the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, the researchers studied the World Mortality Dataset. “Excess mortality” is a term used in this dataset that tells us the difference between the number of deaths that were predicted and the number of actual deaths. Excess mortality of 94 countries between the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 til the middle of 2021 was studied.

What Are The Impacts Of COVID-19? Are They Worse Than The Disease Itself?

The researchers found that countries like Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan had several lockdowns and restrictions, even though the infection rate was quite low. Researchers found that even though they had a number of restrictions, no excess mortality is found in 2020 in these countries. 

On the other hand, countries like Brazil, Sweden, and Russia imposed very few restrictions, and still recorded a huge number of excess mortality in the pandemic.

The School of Health and Society’s epidemiologist and lead author of the study, Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, said that if the regions that had few cases and imposed lockdowns did not see deaths caused by other reasons, then lockdown can not be the reason. He added that it is likely that benefits were mixed, but there is no consistent evidence to prove that lockdowns caused large numbers of deaths. 

The researchers insisted on the likelihood of lockdowns having a significant impact on the long-term and short-term health of people. 

A study in the UK found that the rate of heart attacks within the community had increased during the COVID-19’s first wave. The research was conducted but no direct connection was found proving that government restrictions caused this increase. 

The restrictions made several patients miss their cancer screening. A study suggested that this can be the reason for the increased number of deaths from cancer. Many researchers are worried that long-term pandemic effects may have long-lasting effects on the brain.

The researchers report that the evidence suggests that measures and controls imposed by the government to curb COVID-19 didn’t lead to an increased rate of suicide. 

Although, it should be noted that consistent evidence suggests that the pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health since the beginning of the pandemic. Isolation, anxiety, and depression have increased in lockdowns. 

An honorary research associate at Cardiff Psychology School in the UK, Dean Burnett, said that the focus on COVID-19, positive cases, death rates, hospitalization, etc sidelined the impact of the pandemic on mental health. 

Dean Burnett added that the figures and numbers help us track the pattern of the pandemic, but every single that figure includes a complex human being with all the situations, relationships and personal emotions. Their sickness and death affect all those around them. 

Due to a lack of required data, the study was unable to include long-term COVID-19 impact. Long COVID is the persistence of viral symptoms even after the onset of infection for around 3 months or more. Almost 1 in 10 people suffer from it.

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