If large-scale shutdown policies – such as ordering people to stay home and closing schools – were not implemented after the coronavirus pandemic reached the United States, there would be roughly 60 million more coronavirus infections across the nation, a new modeling study suggests.
The study, published Monday in the scientific journal Nature, involved a modeling technique typically used for estimating economic growth to measure the effect of shutdown policies across six countries: China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States.
Those estimates suggest that, without certain policies in place from the beginning of the pandemic in January through early April, there would be roughly:
- 285 million more total infections in China
- 38 million more total infections in South Korea
- 49 million more total infections in Italy
- 54 million more total infections in Iran
- 45 million more total infections in France
- 60 million more total infections in the United States
Overall, the study suggests that emergency Covid-19 policies prevented more than 500 million total coronavirus infections across all six countries.
The study period ended on April 6, but keeping shutdown orders in place after that time has likely led to even more coronavirus infections being avoided – even though maintaining such measures has been difficult, the study’s lead author, Solomon Hsiang, a professor and director of the Global Policy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a press release on Monday.
“The last several months have been extraordinarily difficult, but through our individual sacrifices, people everywhere have each contributed to one of humanity’s greatest collective achievements,” Hsiang said in the press release.
“I don’t think any human endeavor has ever saved so many lives in such a short period of time. There have been huge personal costs to staying home and canceling events, but the data show that each day made a profound difference,” Hsiang said. “By using science and cooperating, we changed the course of history.”