Britain Leads the World: Harshest Lockdown in West, But Significant Death Rates

Police officers walk past a Covid-19 information board alongside the Clydeside Expressway in Glasgow on January 20, 2021. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
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People in the United Kingdom live under one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, an Oxford observatory has found, but this appears to have had a questionable impact on health outcomes for the country, which has one of the highest known coronavirus fatality rates worldwide.

The global ranking of ‘government stringency’ in responding to the coronavirus, compiled daily by the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, makes the United Kingdom out as the strictest lockdown nation in the Western world, scoring 86 out of a possible 100. Only Eritrea, Venezuela, and Lebanon score higher globally.

The rating, which weighs up new public health restrictions — such as stay-at-home-orders, mask mandates, and school closures — but does not consider the effectiveness with which the rules are enforced, also sees other European nations score highly. Following the United Kingdom’s fourth-place ranking globally is the Republic of Ireland on 85 points out of 100, Germany at 83, Italy at 82, and Spain at 71.

The United States is down the rankings, indicating a higher level of freedom, at 68 out of 100 points.

The Blavatnik team puts Britain’s extremely high rating down on the fact it has closed schools, something even the harshest locked-down European nations have tried to avoid, reports the Daily Telegraph in their roundup of the research. The country is also under a blanket stay-at-home order, with the legal requirement to not go outside remaining in place at least until the end of March, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted this week.

Lockdowns aren’t the only pandemic response that the United Kingdom has approached with an enthusiasm hardly seen elsewhere in the world. Having moved quickly to contribute to the development of vaccines and order doses of them, Britain has massively outpaced its European neighbours on inoculations. Indeed, by Tuesday the British government had given 27 per cent of residents a first coronavirus dose, whereas the European Union average was just six per cent.

While the British government may be able to boast it has stopped at no expense or restriction on liberty in service of its people against coronavirus, in the key areas where it counts questions may one day be raised over the extent to which these measures actually worked. Relying on official figures, at least, the United Kingdom has one of the highest death rates per capita in the world at 1,781 per million head of population.

Only a handful of countries worldwide can match that figure, but all of them are in Europe. Belgium, home to the EU capital of Brussels, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia come in over 1,800 deaths per million.

The United States has had 1,512 deaths per million population.

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