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What if the containment had not taken place? New study examines terrible alternative

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Suppose the world has never put in place a global containment system to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic: chances are hundreds of millions more people will have contracted COVID-19.

The Global Policy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley has examined the effects of more than 1,700 different prevention measures for coronavirus, in six countries: the United States, China, South Korea, Italy, the France and Iran. These preventive measures included restrictions such as travel bans, school closings, suspension of religious services, cancellation of events, and orders for shelters (on-site).

According to researchers, if there had been no restrictions on the movement and interaction of people in the United States (as in other countries), the number of infections would have almost doubled every other day, from March 3 to April 6. This means that around 60 million more people could have been infected. Note that the United States has so far reported 1.9 million cases.

And containment was even more effective in China, according to the study. In fact, the researchers discovered that the policies implemented from January 16 to March 5 in China have saved approximately 285 million people from the disease. To date, the nation has reported only around 84,000 cases. The first restrictions imposed by China were applied in Wuhan, where the pandemic was born. A March study found that quarantining Wuhan on January 23 prevented tens of thousands of infections across Hubei province. According to new research, without containment, cases in the Hubei region would have been 65% higher.

Also according to the researchers, the containment measures also prevented around 54 million infections in Iran, 49 million in Italy, 45 million in France and 38 million in South Korea. ”  The deployment of anti-contagion policies in the six countries has slowed the pandemic considerably,” said the researchers.

However, ”  seemingly short delays in the deployment of policies have likely produced radically different health outcomes,” added the researchers. In other words, countries like China have benefited from early quarantine, while delays in the government response to the pandemic in the United States and Italy may have resulted in otherwise preventable deaths.

Indeed, Columbia University disease modellers recently estimated that the United States could have prevented 645,000 infections and 36,000 deaths by quarantining the country one to two weeks earlier than was the case. case.

In addition, the various strict containment measures in place in Europe may well have prevented millions of deaths. A team of researchers in Italy recently determined that the quarantine of the country had prevented about 200,000 hospitalizations between February 21 (when the first Italian case was reported) and March 25.

Another study by Imperial College London estimated that containment restrictions prevented some 3.1 million deaths in 11 European countries between the time these measures were implemented in March and May 4. According to the study, Italy avoided around 630,000 deaths during this period. France, meanwhile, avoided around 690,000 deaths (the highest result of the 11 countries).

In Germany, while less than 1% of the population has contracted the virus, the nation has prevented about 560,000 deaths from March to May, according to the study. In contrast, Spain and the United Kingdom, where more than 5% of the population has been infected, have reportedly avoided more than 400,000 deaths.

The Nordic nations avoided the fewest deaths: around 34,000 in Denmark, 26,000 in Sweden and 12,000 in Norway. Note that around 3% of the Swedish population is infected, compared to 1% in Denmark and less than 0.5% in Norway.

Overall, the researchers determined that the containment measures had a ” significant impact on transmission. In the 11 countries, the current number of spawners (the number of new people infected with a sick person, on average) is significantly less than 1. This means that on average, a person with COVID-19 transmits the virus to a person (or less) only: a sign that an epidemic is contained. ” We cannot say with any certainty that current measures will continue to help control the epidemic in Europe,  ” the researchers wrote. ”  However, if current trends continue, there is reason to be optimistic, ” they added.

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