Social Distancing A Week Earlier Could Have Saved 36000 Lives

There are no drugs or vaccines to fight coronavirus epidemic till now. the only way that has been proven effective in slowing the spread of the virus is perhaps social distancing.

Scientists from Columbia University have now estimated that if social distancing had been put in place just a week earlier in United States, it would have saved thousands of human lives. These findings were published in the pre-print server medRxiv and have not yet been peer-reviewed.

These findings are based on infectious disease modeling that calculates how physical distance between people since mid-March, would have slowed transmission of the virus.

The researchers calculated the differences in scenarios, if people would have started physical distancing just a few weeks earlier. They saw how these differences impacted the spread of infections and deaths until May 3.

The study revealed that if America had imposed social distancing measures one week earlier before it did in March, nearly 36,000 people would have been spared from death caused by coronavirus. These estimates come from the leading epidemiologists in the country.

The study also showed that if the country had initiated lockdown from the first day of March, meaning two weeks earlier than it did, nearly 83 percent of deaths that have occurred could have been prevented. This could have meant 54,000 lesser deaths from the viral disease.

The research revealed that just a little hesitation from the top officials in closing down the economy resulted in unforgiving number of coronavirus cases and fatalities.

Even if the lockdown would have spared a few, it could have meant an exponential difference in numbers of people hit with the pandemic that cost lives in New York, New Orleans, and other major cities.

These estimates represent a huge chunk of coronavirus cases in the United States. If controlled in the growing phase, the curve could have been less sharp and could have been controlled sooner, according to the epidemiologists conducting the study.

The results also show that as the different states will reopen, outbreaks will become frequent and uncontrolled. This can only be stopped if the officials use scientific method and contact tracing to stem out cases in the initial phase of the outbreak. The study is a lesson for public health officials that waiting for just a few days could have a huge impact on outcomes of the outbreak.

United States only started seriously implementing lockdowns once they saw the effects of the pandemic in Italy and the state of New York. President Trump resisted implementing a lockdown for a long while and said that the risk of the virus for an average American is very low.

By the time the President initiated a nationwide lockdown, it had been too late. According to studies, by then the virus had infected ten of thousands of people, but they were undetected because of shortages of tests.

In response to these estimates, the White House issued a statement on Wednesday where the administration continued on their stance that restrictions on travel from China in January and Europe in mid-March slowed the spread of the virus.

The President limited travel and urged people to stay home from work and schools since March 16. This was one day after mayor of New York; Bill de Blasio closed the city’s schools.

Soon after governor New York, Andrew M. Cuomo issued a stay-at-home order on March 22. These changes seriously altered the course of the pandemic according to many researchers.

But these measures were too slow for metropolitan cities like New York where by May 3, more than 21,000 people had died. According to the latest estimates, if these measures had been enacted a week earlier, only 4,300 people would have died.

Many public health experts have said in response to this new study that though it is hard to calculate for certain how many people could have been spared by earlier preventative measures, these numbers do ring true. Just two weeks of earlier interventions could have meant lesser COVID-19 cases and deaths by early May, not just in the state of New York but the whole United States.

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