Objective: To compare the inference regarding the effectiveness of the various non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for COVID-19 obtained from different SIR models . Study design and setting: We explored two models developed by Imperial College that considered only NPIs without accounting for mobility (model 1) or only mobility (model 2), and a model accounting for the combination of mobility and NPIs (model 3). Imperial College applied models 1 and 2 to 11 European countries and to the USA, respectively . We applied these models to 14 European countries (original 11 plus another 3), over two different time horizons .
Results: While model 1 found that lockdown was the most effective measure in the original 11 countries, model 2 showed that lockdown had little or no benefit as it was typically introduced at a point when the time-varying reproduction number was already very low . Model 3 found that the simple banning of public events was beneficial, while lockdown had no consistent impact . Based on Bayesian metrics, model 2 was better supported by the data than either model 1 or model 3 for both time horizons .
Conclusions: Inferences on effects of NPIs are non-robust and highly sensitive to model specification . In the SIR modeling framework, the impacts of lockdown are uncertain and highly model dependent.