Germany's coronavirus lockdown 'not responsible' for pandemic decline, study finds

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A new study from a German university found that the country’s COVID-19 infections were already falling prior to each government-mandated lockdown. 

Statisticians at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich analyzed the infection rates around the time of national lockdowns in Germany. 

The study concluded that the rate of infection was already declining when the government mandated more extreme measures in an effort to combat the spread of the virus. 

Protestors gather in front of the Brandenburg Gate before a demonstration against the coronavirus measures by the German Government in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020.
(Christophe Gateau/dpa via AP)

The study focused on the number of people each infected person infected with the virus, which statisticians argue is harder to distort with fluctuating test rates, according to the Telegraph. 

Each time a lockdown was initiated, the data already indicated a decline in infections. 

This has led some anti-lockdown supporters to claim that the lockdowns had “no effect” on stopping the pandemic spread, but the study’s authors have stressed that it is not clear what effect the lockdowns might have otherwise had. 

“The measures taken could have had a positive effect on the course of the infection, but are not solely responsible for the decline,” the study’s authors wrote.

Professor Ralph Brinks argued that “you can’t tell” if a lockdown was necessary. 

“All that it shows is that the start of the lockdown and the fall in infections do not coincide,” Brinks said during an interview on German television. 

Angela Merkel’s administration initiated several lockdowns during the pandemic.

No one has disputed the study’s figures, but some scientists argued that the mere discussion and debate about lockdowns may have influenced people’s behavior. 

Germany initiated a “lockdown lite” with only bars and restaurants closed in November, moving to more complete lockdowns in December and again in April. 

Medical journalist Christoph Specht claimed on public radio Deutschlandfunk that the number of infections fell because of vaccinations rather than the “emergency brake” lockdown Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s administration initiated. 

“Yes, I think so – not necessarily because of the emergency brake, but because more vaccine is not only popular, but has actually been delivered in the last few days,” Specht said. 

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