Today’s Solutions: April 18, 2024

The coronavirus has taken hundreds of thousands of lives, but we can now see in hindsight that the death toll could have been a whole lot worse. According to a team of researchers at Imperial College London, lockdowns have saved more than three million lives from coronavirus.

With that being said, the researchers warn that only a small proportion of people had been infected and we were still only “at the beginning of the pandemic”. Another study argued global lockdowns had “saved more lives, in a shorter period of time, than ever before”.

The Imperial study assessed the impact of restrictions in 11 European countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK – up to the beginning of May. By that time, around 130,000 people had died from coronavirus in those countries.

The researchers used disease modeling to predict how many deaths there would have been if lockdown had not happened. And the work comes from the same group that guided the UK’s decision to go into lockdown. They estimated 3.2 million people would have died by 4 May if not for measures such as closing businesses and telling people to stay at home. That meant lockdown saved around 3.1 million lives, including 470,000 in the UK, 690,000 in France, and 630,000 in Italy, the report in the journal Nature shows.

While lockdowns save lives and prevent excessive strain on our health care systems, the researchers do point out that because so many people have avoided infection, we are still susceptible to new outbreaks and should bear in mind that pandemic is by no means over. For now, it’s probably wise to continue best practices such as wearing face masks and gloves.

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