Short- and Medium-Term Impacts of Lockdowns on Non-COVID-19 Mortality in China

Peer Reviewed
28 November 2021

The effects of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) public health policies on non-COVID-19-related mortality are unclear. Here, using death registries based on 300 million Chinese people and a difference-in-differences design, we find that China’s strict anti-contagion policies during the COVID-19 pandemic significantly reduced non-COVID-19 mortality outside Wuhan (by 4.6%). The health benefits persisted and became even greater after the measures were loosened: mortality was reduced by 12.5% in the medium term. Significant changes in people’s behaviours (for example, wearing masks and practising social distancing) and reductions in air pollution and traffic accidents could have driven these results. We estimate that 54,000 lives could have been saved from non-COVID-19 causes during the 50 days of strict policies and 293,000 in the subsequent 115 days. The results suggest that virus countermeasures not only effectively controlled COVID-19 in China but also brought about unintended and substantial public health benefits.

Jinlei Qi, Dandan Zhang, Xiang Zhang, Tanakao Takana, Yuhang Pan, Peng Yin, Jiangmei Liu, Shuocen Liu, George F. Gao, Guojun He, Maigeng Zhou

EfD Authors
Sustainable Development Goals
Publication reference
Qi, J., Zhang, D., Zhang, X., Takana, T., Pan, Y., Yin, P., Liu, J., Liu, S., Gao, G. F., He, G., & Zhou, M. (2021). Short- and medium-term impacts of strict anti-contagion policies on non-COVID-19 mortality in China. Nature Human Behaviour, 6(1), 55–63.
Publication | 8 August 2022