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Coronavirus lockdowns prevented 3.1 million deaths throughout Europe, according to new study

Published on 09/06/20 at 12:45pm
Photo by Nicola https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Nicola

The widespread lockdowns implemented throughout Europe are estimated to have prevented 3.1 million deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is according to a modeling study that was published in Nature and was carried out by a team at the Imperial College London. It analysed 11 European countries which included Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, up until 4 May.

The study found that in all the countries, the lockdown measures were effective enough to drive the ‘R’ number, or how much one infected person will spread the virus, to below 1. In the UK specifically, the researchers believe the lockdown reduce its R number from 3.8 to 0.63, although this is beginning to increase in many parts of the country since lockdown measures were relaxed. The study also believes that between 12 and 15 million people had COVID-19 across these 11 countries, with 130,000 fatalities as of 4 May.

Among the predicted 3.1 million deaths the researchers believed would have occurred without the lockdown, 470,000 would have been in the UK, 690,000 in France and 630,000 in Italy. The report also estimated the lockdowns prevented 530 million infections across these countries.

The study did make some assumptions to reach these figures, namely no one would have changed their behaviour without the lockdown, and hospitals would not have been overwhelmed resulting in a surge of deaths. It also did not take into account the health issues that lockdowns may cause.

Dr Samir Bhatt, study author from Imperial College London, said: “This data suggests that without any interventions, such as lockdown and school closures, there could have been many more deaths from Covid-19. The rate of transmission has declined from high levels to ones under control in all European countries we study.

“Our analysis also suggests far more infections in these European countries than previously estimated. Careful consideration should now be given to the continued measures that are needed to keep SARS-CoV-2 transmission under control.”

Conor Kavanagh

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