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Scientists ranked which restrictions curb COVID-19 transmission the most

wallpapers Business 2020-08-29 >

COVID-19 delivered a first knockdown in the beginning of 2020. Now we’re living through the second wave of the pandemic and so far it’s not going great. Policy makers will have to institute a variety of restrictions to try and limit the speed with which COVID-19 is spreading. A team of scientists led by the University of Edinburgh ranked the effectiveness of those public health restrictions.

Scientists analysed data from 131 countries to measure the effect of individual public health measures on virus transmission, typically measured by the value R. When the R number is  above 1 it means that the spread is worsening, while R rates below 1 indicate a slowing rate of transmission.

Drive-through testing helped identify people who need to be isolated and monitor the overall situation in the country. Image credit: Henning Schlottmann via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Researchers took a deeper look into what kind of measures different countries have put in place from January to July 2020 and tried to see how those restrictions correlate with those R values. This allowed scientists to see which public health restrictions work and which ones do not deliver the desired result.

Scientists found that banning public events led to the greatest reduction in virus spread – this study showed that there was a 24 % drop in the R within 28 days since public events were banned. If gatherings of more than 10 people were banned as well, the R values dropped by 29 %. Meanwhile other measures, such as workplace and school closures, bans on gatherings of more than ten and calls for people to stay at home, were not effective on their own, but did deliver desired results when combined. Scientists found that the most effective package was also the most restrictive and included school and workplace closure, ban on public events and gatherings of more than ten people, limits on movement and a stay-at-home requirement. This package delivered an R value reduction of 52 % in 28 days.

Professor Harish Nair, one of the authors of the study, said: “As we experience a resurgence of the virus, policymakers will need to consider this to help lower the R number.  Our study can inform decisions on which measures to introduce or lift, but this will depend on the local context – the R number, healthcare capacity, and the possible social and economic impact”.

Naturally, scientists saw that relaxed restrictions caused an increase in R value and more people started getting sick. Policy makers had to find the right balance to keep R value below 1 and the economy going. But now as the second wave of COVID-19 is settling in, it will be harder and harder to do.

COVID-19 is going to be bothering us in 2021 as well. You have to recognize that. Restrictions help and need to be maintained, but maybe some of them are not effective? Scientists have to figure it out, because crippled economy is also dangerous.


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