If closure policies are not widely implemented – such as ordering people to stay in their homes and close schools – after the coronavirus has reached the United States, there will be nearly 60 million other coronavirus infections nationwide, a new pilot study and suggests.
The study, published Monday in the scientific journal Nature, included a modeling technique commonly used to estimate economic growth to measure the impact of closure policies across six countries: China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, and the United States.
These estimates indicate that without specific policies in place from the start of the epidemic in January to early April, there will be roughly:
- Another 285 million cases in China
- 38 million more injuries in South Korea
- 49 million more injuries in Italy
- 54 million more injuries in Iran
- 45 million more injuries in France
- Over 60 million total infections in the United States
Overall, the study indicates that Covid-19’s emergency policies prevented more than 500 million coronavirus infections in all six countries.
The study period ended on April 6, but keeping closure orders in place after that time probably avoided further coronavirus infections – despite the difficulty of maintaining these measures, the study’s lead author, Solomon Hsiang, Professor and Director and Policy Lab Global University of California, Berkeley, in a press release on Monday.
“The past several months have been very difficult, but through our individual sacrifices, people everywhere have contributed to one of humanity’s greatest collective accomplishments,” said Hsiang in the press release.
“I don’t think any human endeavor saved so many lives in such a short period of time. There were huge personal costs for staying at home and canceling events, but the data shows that every day making a big difference,” Hsiang added. “Using science and cooperation, we changed the course of history.”
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, included data across the six countries on daily infection rates, changes in definitions of coronavirus cases and the timing of the publication of 1717 policies – including travel restrictions, social divergence procedures and home closures – from the earliest available dates This year until April 6.
Researchers analyzed this data to estimate how the rate of daily infection growth could change over time within a particular site if there were different groups of broad-based policies enacted. The data showed that, with the exception of Iran, the infection growth rate was about 38% per day on average before policies slowed down.
In all six countries, the researchers found, shutdown interventions prevented or delayed nearly 530 million total injuries – which, based on testing procedures and how cases are identified, translate into about 62 million confirmed cases.
Researchers did not estimate the number of deaths that may have been prevented.
“Our analysis focuses on confirmed injuries, but other outcomes, such as hospitalization or mortality, are also of policy interest. Future work on these findings may require additional modeling methods because they are relatively more dependent on context and condition,” the researchers wrote. In the study.
remember: The study had some limitations, including that available data on infection and measures across countries were limited and the study could only suggest estimates of what would have happened.
“Our experimental results indicate that large-scale infection control policies slow the COVID-19 pandemic,” the researchers wrote in the study. “Because infection rates in the countries we study would have initially followed rapid exponential growth if no policies had been implemented, our results indicate that these policies provided significant health benefits.”