Coronavirus: ‘lockdowns have already saved many lives’
Tuesday, 31 March 2020
Up to 120,000 deaths from the new coronavirus (Covid-19) may have already been averted in 11 countries according to an analysis by researchers at Imperial College London.
By calculating the impact of measures taken by 11 countries across Europe, researchers found that between 21,000 and 120,000 lives have potentially been saved already since “many European countries have implemented unprecedented non-pharmaceutical interventions including case isolation, the closure of schools and universities, banning of mass gatherings and/or public events, and most recently, widescale social distancing including local and national lockdowns,” as they pointed out.
“There remains a high level of uncertainty in these estimates. It is too early to detect substantial intervention impact in many countries at earlier stages of their epidemic (e.g. Germany, UK, Norway). Many interventions have occurred only recently, and their effects have not yet been fully observed due to the time lag between infection and death,” the researchers said.
“Our results suggest that interventions such as social distancing or lockdowns have already saved many lives and will continue to save lives,” said Professor Axel Gandy, Chair of Statistics within the Department of Mathematics and one of the analysis’ many authors. “The impact of the pandemic is extreme – but it would have been much worse without the interventions. Keeping interventions in place is crucial for controlling it.”
Belgium was one of the countries investigated in the study, with an estimated 560 lives saved since the start of the far-reaching measures enforced since 18 March. Taking into account the margin of error, the real number of lives saved could be anywhere between 160 and 1,500.
Around 3,7% of the Belgian population has contracted coronavirus according to their calculations, though that number’s probability interval ranges from 1,3% to 9,7%. The average across all 11 countries is around 3,87% of the population.