Remember folks, the shutdowns over COVID-19 were not only necessary, but they saved countless lives and prevented literally tens of millions of infections.
Shutdown orders prevented about 60 million novel coronavirus infections in the United States and 285 million in China, according to a research study published Monday that examined how stay-at-home orders and other restrictions limited the spread of the contagion.
A separate study from epidemiologists at Imperial College London estimated the shutdowns saved about 3.1 million lives in 11 European countries, including 500,000 in the United Kingdom, and dropped infection rates by an average of 82 percent, sufficient to drive the contagion well below epidemic levels.
The two reports, published simultaneously Monday in the journal Nature, used completely different methods to reach similar conclusions. They suggest that the aggressive and unprecedented shutdowns, which caused massive economic disruptions and job losses, were effective at halting the exponential spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Without these policies employed, we would have lived through a very different April and May,” said Solomon Hsiang, director of the Global Policy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley, and the leader of the research team that surveyed how six countries — China, the United States, France, Italy, Iran and South Korea — responded to the pandemic.
He called the global response to covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, “an extraordinary moment in human history when the world had to come together,” and said the shutdowns and other mitigation measures resulted in “saving more lives in a shorter period of time than ever before.”
The two reports on the effectiveness of the shutdowns come with a clear warning that the pandemic, even if in retreat in some of the places hardest hit, is far from over. The overwhelming majority of people remain susceptible to the virus. Only about 3 percent to 4 percent of people in the countries being studied have been infected to date, said Samir Bhatt, senior author of the Imperial College London study.
“This is just the beginning of the epidemic: we’re very far from herd immunity,” Bhatt said Monday in an email. “The risk of a second wave happening if all interventions and precautions are abandoned is very real.”
COVID-19 remains a marathon effort, not a sprint, but 60 million COVID-19 cases, nearly a fifth of the US population, would have resulted in millions of deaths and the collapse of our health care system as a whole.
Thankfully, America's governors (mostly) did the right thing and saves lives. Lord knows Trump would have let us all die if it were up to him.
Stay safe out there.