Study: Emergency COVID Measures Prevented More Than 500 Million Infections

Megan Everts

A UC Berkeley study finds that emergency health measures helped slow the spread of the coronavirus.

A peer-reviewed study conducted by a UC Berkeley team and published in the journal Nature found that the implementation of emergency health measures in six major countries was vital in slowing down the spread of the coronavirus, reported Berkeley News.

  • The study looked at policies implemented in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, and the United States, starting from the emergence of the virus in January to April 6, 2020.
  • The researchers “studied how quickly the number of COVID-19 infections grew within different locations before and after policies were enacted, for the first time measuring how much each policy contributed to flattening the curve.”
  • Before crisis policies were implemented and helped slow the spread, “infections were growing 38% per day on average.”
  • They found that “travel restrictions, business and school closures, shelter-in-place orders and other non-pharmaceutical interventions averted roughly 530 million COVID-19 infections across the six countries.”
  • The researchers specifically highlighted home isolation, business closures and lockdowns as producing the clearest benefits.
  • For the United States specifically, the study estimated that policies averted roughly 4.8 million more confirmed cases and 60 million total cases.
  • Solomon Hsiang, the lead author of the study, noted: “It’s as if the roof was about to fall in, but we caught it before it crushed everyone. It was difficult and exhausting, and we are still holding it up. But by coming together, we did something as a society that nobody could have done alone and which has never been done before.”

This study can be valuable to other countries dealing with coronavirus infections, as it highlights how “seemingly small delays in policy deployment likely produced dramatically different health outcomes.”

Read more here.

Header image credit: Screengrab / @ColinKahl / Twitter

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