A new study by affiliate Solomon Hsiang and co-authors finds that emergency public health measures addressing COVID-19 lessened the spread of the pandemic in six major countries.
“Emergency health measures implemented in six major countries have ‘significantly and substantially slowed’ the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to research from a UC Berkeley team published today in the journal Nature. The findings come as leaders worldwide struggle to balance the enormous and highly visible economic costs of emergency health measures against their public health benefits, which are difficult to see.
In the first peer-reviewed analysis of local, regional and national policies, the researchers 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 in the study period ending April 6. Of these infections, 62 million would likely have been ‘confirmed cases,’ given limited testing in each country.
Continuation of these policies after the study period has likely avoided many millions more infections, according to lead author Solomon Hsiang, director of Berkeley’s Global Policy Laboratory and Chancellor’s Professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy.
‘The last several months have been extraordinarily difficult, but through our individual sacrifices, people everywhere have each contributed to one of humanity’s greatest collective achievements,’ Hsiang said. ‘I don’t think any human endeavor has ever saved so many lives in such a short period of time. There have been huge personal costs to staying home and canceling events, but the data show that each day made a profound difference. By using science and cooperating, we changed the course of history.'”
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