New research published in the journal Nature has recently shown that the nationwide lockdowns implemented by the majority of the countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic around the world successfully saved millions of people from getting infected.
More specifically, the researchers found that coronavirus-related restrictions prevented sixty million new cases in the US.
On the other hand, the Chinese government saved around two hundred and eighty-five million people from getting infected by imposing limitations on traveling, businesses, and completely shutting down Wuhan, the previous epicenter of the coronavirus infection.
In addition, another study by epidemiologists at the Imperial College London, whose findings also appear in the journal Nature, highlighted similar effects of imposing lockdowns in Europe.
In accordance with the second study’s findings, economic lockdowns and other restrictions prevented over three million cases in almost eleven countries in the continent, with 500,000 cases only in the United Kingdom.
Secondly, restrictions in the past three months also significantly lowered the rate of infection by eighty-two percent which is enough to control a health epidemic in a country.
Although the team of researchers for both of the published reports used completely different research methodologies, the findings were the same.
Both of the studies highlighted how even though the lockdowns and shutting down of businesses caused great economic progress, they are the primary reason why many countries were able to avoid the exponential spread of the coronavirus.
The director of the Global Policy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley and one of the leading investigators, Solomon Hsiang stated that without nationwide lockdowns there would have been many more casualties especially in the months of April and March.
Hsiang also deemed the global response to the coronavirus pandemic as nothing like ever before as the majority of the countries came together for a collective fight and won.
He added that the temporary implementation of lockdown may have had its own negative effects but it avoided more deaths in a very short span of time than ever before.
However, while both the reports accentuate the positive impact of efforts to control the infection at the time, they also give a similar warning which is that the coronavirus pandemic is far from being controlled.
Even though some of the hardest-hit regions and countries have successfully controlled the spread of the infection, the vast majority remains to be susceptible to contracting the virus.
Samir Bhatt, who was among the senior investigators of the report from Imperial College London, states that only around three of four percent of populations of the countries that have been studied have contracted and been infected by the virus, which shows there is still a very long way to go in order to achieve herd immunity.
Bhatt further added that the coronavirus pandemic is still at its early stages and the risk of a second wave of coronavirus, which may possibly be deadlier is very high if people discontinue following all preventive measures.
However, this does not mean countries need to stay in lockdown forever. With some limitations, many of the businesses can reopen and operate, according to the Imperial College London team.
On the other hand, the Berkeley team also highlighted how the timing of implementation of lockdowns, related restrictions, and easing is fundamental for the control of the coronavirus pandemic.
Delays in timing could actually lead to very different outcomes, Hsiang stated. Countries that are choosing to ease their restrictions completely due to their impact on the economy could face exponential growth in a very short span of time.
Therefore, it is fundamental for governments to be very careful with decisions related to restrictions as they can either prevent further infections or pave the way for the second wave of coronavirus.