A new study by the University of Texas, in the United States, revealed that each day without social distance means 2.4 more days in the Covid-19 pandemic . This research is being evaluated by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will be published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases .

To carry out the research, Covid-19 outbreaks in 58 Chinese cities were analyzed. Thus, it was taken into consideration when the first cases of the disease were detected in these areas. As well as, the date on which social distance measures were implemented and when the outbreak was controlled.

Time is of the essence to face the current pandemic

One thing that the study makes quite clear is the fact that time is of the essence in facing the current pandemic. “Every day saves time, saves effort, saves infected people and probably saves lives,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, co-author of the study. “This is particularly important for us to think about in the coming weeks and months,” he added.

These findings are extremely important for countries that are experiencing the first outbreaks of the new coronavirus. However, discoveries are also applicable in regions that may face a second wave of the virus . So, for example, waiting a week after the first signs of a resurgence of cases from Covid-19 may require another 17 days of social detachment.

In such cases, places with a large number of agglomerations are the most worrying. “The impact of these ‘delays’ can be particularly important for communities prone to rapid transmission , such as nursing homes, colleges, schools and prisons,” noted Spencer Fox, who also participated in the analysis. “We need concrete plans for when and how to respond to growing cases and to avoid unnecessarily long and expensive restrictions,” he added.

So far, the study has failed to determine which measures of social distance are most effective. However, it showed that the moment of the first intervention, regardless of type, has a great impact. “We provide direct evidence based on data that the timing of interventions has a substantial impact on the duration and severity of the outbreak, ” explained Meyers.

How long should social distance measures last?

According to another study, it is estimated that measures of social distance may last until 2022. However, these are estimates for a scenario without a vaccine or improved treatment. This research was published in the journal Science and does not present a very optimistic scenario. Therefore, research led by scientists at the Harvard University School of Public Health contradicts the expectations of some governments. For example, according to the United States government, the pandemic would be controlled later this year. However, with the spread of contagion , much is still uncertain.

As far as we know, the advance of Covid-19 may last until 2025. According to the study, “intermittent distance may be necessary until 2022, unless the capacity for intensive treatment is substantially increased”. Or also, until “a treatment or vaccine becomes available”, as stated in the study. In other words, our greatest hope is still in the search for an effective vaccine. But until then, people need to stay at home.

The study also draws attention to the fact that short-term containment is not recommended. Thus, there is a great risk that a second wave will come with more force. Once the population returns to its regular daily life, the virus can spread abruptly.

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