New study casts doubt on effectiveness of COVID-19 border closures – CTV

March 3, 2023

A new study comparing data from 166 countries that closed their borders during the first 22 weeks of the pandemic says most targeted closures – aimed at travellers from COVID-19 hotspots – did little to curb the crisis.

By contrast, total border closures barring all non-essential travel did slow the spread of COVID-19, but at such a high cost that the writers warn they should only be considered in the future as a last resort.

The report was published Feb. 28 in the medical journal PLOS Global Public Health by researchers from York University’s Global Strategy Lab, and looked at both global and country-level impacts of closures.

“People just assumed at the time that these measures were effective, but that’s not necessarily the case,” the paper’s lead author, Mathieu Poirier, said in a media release. Poirier is a social epidemiology professor at York and co-director of the Global Strategy Lab.

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