Enforced Social-Distancing Produces Positive Results
A new study compares deaths for confirmed COVID-19 disease cases in China to 8 other countries during 2020.
In general, this analysis suggests that early adoption of social-distancing is more effective than delayed implementation, even of highly restrictive measures.
Published on March 25, 2020, this non-peer reviewed study calculated future trajectories of COVID-19 in these countries based on the observed Chinese fatality statistics, an estimate of the total fatalities, and maximum daily fatality rates over a defined period of time.
After implementing varying intensities and timing of social distancing measures, several appear to be converging onto the decline in the daily growth rate of deaths, or relative 2nd derivative of total deaths, as seen in China after the implementation of an aggressive social distancing policy.
If China’s policies aimed at achieving suppression represent a maximum possible reduction in transmission from initially high rates, then estimates based on their curve will undercount both the total deaths and maximum death rates for other countries and hence represent a reasonable lower bound for modeling.
The lowest estimate of total deaths in the models in Ferguson et al. is 5,600, similar to the expected value of 5,700, we predict if the UK follows China’s trajectory from 24/03/2020.
This implies there may be a threshold of intervention sufficient to achieve the desired trajectory.
South Korea’s policies, with intervention at an early stage, has been successful in reducing the rate of increase in deaths to that seen in the latter stages of lockdown in Wuhan.
If the present trend continues, the Netherlands’ policy of “targeted” lockdowns may also be achieving a similar result.
Our method of viewing the data may be helpful in monitoring the course of the epidemic, judging the effectiveness of implementation, and monitoring the relaxation of social distancing.
This simple method of viewing the data may be helpful in monitoring the course of the epidemic at national and regional levels, judging the effectiveness of implementation in individual countries, planning for and monitoring the relaxation of social distancing, and potentially improving time estimates for economic projections.
The countries included in this study were Italy, Spain, France, the USA, the UK, Germany, Netherlands, and South Korea.
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