Altough the rate of new infections and the number of daily deaths from the virus is going down “exponentialy’ (halving every few days) in many countries (see for a log per country: @yaneerbaryam on Twitter) that have at last taken the right drastic countrywide measures, the total number in the world is still growing. See above picture.
Link for this graph= https://twitter.com/yaneerbaryam/status/1271590421349781506/photo/2
It is significant that knowledge about what the virus is and how it exactly spreads (Aerosol tiny particles, patterns of spreading, do facemarks work, what happens in the body???) is still not widely studied, verified and shared so everybody can learn from experiences in the field and use that knowledge to halt further spreading. In countries like New Zealand they have declared that the country is Corona Free, but the world traveling makes it so interconnected that Covid-19 or a new mutation can suddenly appear again.
And we should learn more about how to treat the AFTER EFFECTS. Very many people who survived the infection suffer very long very serious ailments, resiratory and otherwise. Their bodies are harmed, by small blood clots(?). Fatigue and loss of muscle energy.
So lives can be saved if we share research that has been done on a wide scale. Examples of such studies are discussed below, in a GUEST BLOG. @falsel_net (on Twitter) picked this up in Germany, translated it into English and offered it to me for publication here.
The studies are about “Lockdown” and its effects in a number of countries.
jaap van till, TheConnectivist
PS my contribution to all this was very low level. I wrote a short tutorial on why Corona is so VIRAL and dangerous: If you are infected you can spread it for a number of days before you notice its effects yourself, and it doubles until isolation by locdowns and masks takes place. https://theconnectivist.wordpress.com/2020/03/30/what-makes-the-corona-virus-so-viral/
Study results on the lockdown in Europe: There would have been three million more deaths
Borders closed, working time reduction, school closures, curfews: Was all this really necessary in the fight against the coronavirus? Researchers have analyzed the effects of the measures – and they all agree: Never before in the history of mankind have so many lives been saved in such a short time.
Volkhart Wildermuth in conversation with Christiane Knoll ((Editor of Deutschlandfunk))
The lockdown imposed by the Corona crisis is now gradually being lifted, shops are open, people can go out dining again, and children are allowed to go back to school. At the same time, aid measures of unprecedented proportions are being initiated, the short-time work allowance has been extended, large companies and small self-employed persons have been able to receive money directly, and there will be support for parents and major economic stimulus programmes. The costs of the COVID-19 measures are thus becoming increasingly clear. On the other hand, their track record seems questionable to many: “Was all this really necessary?”
“People can be very proud”
The magazine “Nature” published two articles on this subject, which try to give an answer to this question. And Solomon Hsiang from the University of California Berkeley in the USA writes about the worldwide measures against the spread of COVID-19:
“The world was working together at that moment and it worked, the virus was stopped. Never before in human history have so many lives been saved in so little time. We all did it together by acting together on a global scale. I think people can be very proud of that.”
How did school closures, the ban on major events, and finally the lockdown, really work?
The two analyses from Imperial College in London and the University of California at Berkeley really agree on this: without the drastic restrictions, COVID-19 would really have got out of control. Hundreds of millions more people would have been infected, and in Europe alone there would have been three million more deaths. According to the American economist Solomon Hsiang, we can all be proud that we have slowed down SARS-CoV-2 at immense economic, personal and psychological cost in many countries.
The two research teams have chosen different approaches. How did the scientists from Berkeley, California proceed?
Both teams each looked at how COVID-19 would have spread in different countries if governments had not acted, and then they looked at how the epidemic responded to the different measures. Solomon Hsiang’s American team focused on six countries – specifically China, South Korea, Italy, France, Iran and the USA. In the beginning, the number of infections rose by 38 percent every day. This means that every two or three days the numbers double. In the six countries, there were more than 1,700 interventions at different times and in different regions. School closures, banning major events, closing borders, a lockdown. The bottom line is that 500 million infections were prevented in these six countries alone by the beginning of April.
What have the scientists from London done?
They didn’t look at the infection figures, which is where problems arise, because not the same amount of testing is done everywhere. They looked at the death figures and from there they went back to cases of illness and finally to the infection figures. And then compared again, how the numbers would have developed without countermeasures? Then the researchers around Sami Bhatt assumed that in the period up to May 4th in these European countries over three million deaths could have been prevented, and that currently COVID-19 is on the retreat everywhere. There are considerable differences in the spread of the virus in different countries. In Belgium, eight percent of the population has now been exposed to COVID-19, in Sweden 3,7 percent in Germany only 0.85 percent. In other words, different strategies have indeed been effective in reducing the virus to varying degrees.
Can the teams calculate the effect of the individual measures separately?
In both analyses this is only possible to a limited extent, partly because the different measures were introduced so quickly one after the other, the effects are blurred, so to speak. It is clear, unsurprisingly, that a complete lockdown has the greatest effect. The least effective seems to be the closure of the borders. On the other hand, travel restrictions in the country, the call for social distancing and the ban on major events are worthwhile. The effects of school closures remain unclear. For both groups, the decisive statement is that the political measures taken together have worked and are working, but unfortunately the details still cannot be deduced with certainty.
What conclusions can be drawn from the analyses for the future?
First of all, for all countries currently struggling with major COVID-19 outbreaks, time is a critical factor. China and South Korea have reacted very quickly and have almost stopped the spread of the virus. Other countries were more hesitant. The analysis shows that just a few days difference has dramatic consequences for the spread of the virus two weeks later. The speed is crucial, even if you may not be able to do some things very quickly – that is the most important message of the analysis for Solomon Hsiang. As said, the significance of individual measures can still only be predicted to a limited extent. Another important message for Europe is that countries here are still far from achieving herd immunity, which would require well over half the population to have undergone the infection, and even in Belgium the figure is less than ten percent. And that means that the virus is still there and will spread again if it gets the chance. Both groups agree on that.
The articles from the magazine “Nature”:
„Estimating the Effects of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions on COVID-19 in Europe“
Bhatt et. al. Nature 8.6.2020
„The Effect of Large-Scale Anti-Contagion Policies on the COVID-19 Pandemic“
Hsiang et. al. Nature 8.6.2020
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