95% of COVID-19 cases in China could have been stopped by these interventions, says study

  • Spread of COVID-19 in China could been reduced by 95% if early non-drug related measures were taken three week early

  • If these measures would have been late by 3 weeks, infections could have increased by an 18 fold

A study by the University of Southampton says that if China could have shown early, coordinated and targeted measures that are called non pharmaceutical interventions(NPIs) which are basically non-drug related measures, then it could have reduced the COVID-19's spread by an utmost 95 percent.

The study estimated at the time by the end of February 2020, a total of 114,325 COVID-19 cases in China were recorded. The number would have been 67 times larger if China had not taken NPIs like early detection, isolation of cases, travel restrictions and cordon sanitaire.

Utmost 95 percent infections could have been reduced

If interventions in the country could have been conducted one week, two weeks, or three weeks earlier, cases could have been reduced by 66 percent, 86 percent and 95 percent respectively. We can see that three weeks could add 95 percent more to the number of infections. NPIs could have significantly limited the geographical spread of the disease. The study is published in a pre-print server (not peer reviewed). The research also received funds from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Suppose the NPIs were done one week, two weeks, or three weeks later than they were, the number of cases may have shown a 3-fold, 7-fold, or 18-fold increase, respectively.

Researcher Dr Shengjie Lai, at the University of Southampton said "Our study demonstrates how important it is for countries which are facing an imminent outbreak to proactively plan a coordinated response which swiftly tackles the spread of the disease on a number of fronts. We also show that China's comprehensive response, in a relatively short period, greatly reduced the potential health impact of the outbreak," reported Southampton's website.

These play a major role than travel restrictions

Representative image IANS

The research found that more than travel restrictions --early and rapid disease detection, isolation of cases and social distancing practices like cancelling of large public events, working from home and school closures—play a greater role in containing the disease suggesting that those should be continued for the next few months in China to prevent increasing cases.

Narrow window of opportunity globally

The Director of the University of Southampton's WorldPop group, Professor Andy Tatem, said that globally there is a narrow window of opportunity to respond to this disease given the absence of effective drugs and vaccines for months. Non-drug-related interventions are to be played out smartly he adds and says different countries may need different approaches, according to the report.

Related topics : Coronavirus