"International comparisons of COVID-19 case and mortality data and the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions: a plea for reconsideration"
Stephen Thomson, Eric Ip and Shing Fung Lee
Journal of Biosocial Science
Published online on 27 October 2021
Abstract: International comparisons of the effectiveness of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) based on national case and mortality data are fraught with underestimated complexity. This article calls for stronger attention to just how extensive is the multifactorial nature of national case and mortality data, and argues that, unless a globally consistent benchmark of measurement can be devised, such comparisons are facile, if not misleading. This can lead to policy decisions and public support for the adoption of potentially harmful NPIs that are ineffective in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and damaging to mental health, social cohesion, human rights and economic development. The unscientific use of international comparisons of case and mortality data in public discourse, media reporting and policymaking on NPI effectiveness should be subject to greater scrutiny.
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