Coronavirus shutdowns may have stopped 60 million infections in the U.S. — and more than 285 million in China, despite concerns about the communist country’s suppression of information early on, a new report states.
Epidemiologists at Imperial College London say in a draft report published by the journal Nature Monday that steps taken in six countries can be models others can study worldwide.
“Our hope is to learn from the recent experience of six countries where early spread of the virus triggered large-scale policy actions, in part so that societies and decision-makers in the remaining 180+ countries can access this information,” the researchers wrote.
Some of the simulations used came from the Cambridge-based National Bureau of Economic Research that is also closely following the “trade-off” of doing nothing vs. more deaths.
The Imperial College team studied the “deployment of anti-contagion policies” in the U.S., China, Italy, Iran, France and South Korea. In all, 1,717 local, regional and national steps taken in those half dozen countries were factored in.
Having no policy at all was basically a doomsday scenario, the researchers stated, calculating the virus was doubling every two days early on — and 34% per day in U.S. to 68% per day in Iran.
In Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, “there were concerns that information about the outbreak was suppressed,” the researchers wrote.
Yet, they add, “the deployment of anti-contagion policies in all six countries significantly and substantially slowed the pandemic.”
This coincides with what President Trump and members of his coronavirus task force said early on in the pandemic, that social distancing and working from home may have prevented 2 million deaths in the U.S.
As of Monday, 404,360 people have died worldwide from coronavirus — 110,876 in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins University map of the virus. To date, the U.S. has suffered the most.
The Imperial College team writes that acting fast is the key.
“In the early stages of an epidemic,” they state, “a large proportion of the population remains susceptible to the virus, and if the spread of the virus is left uninhibited by policy of behavioral change, exponential growth continues until the fraction of the susceptible population declines meaningfully.”
The charts and graphs included in the report show how the coronavirus could have metastasized in already hard-hit Italy, Iran, the U.S. and in the region in and around Wuhan. Curiously those same charts show the western side of China was all but spared.
Northern Italy and America’s Northeast regions, however, are soaked in red showing how deep COVID-19 cut into the population.
© 2020 the Boston Herald
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