COVID-19: Scientists tell White House without govt intervention, 22 lakh people could die in US, 5 lakh in UK 

The study by an epidemic modelling group at Imperial College, London reveals that social distancing and restrictions on public gatherings are most effective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Representative Image
Representative Image

NH Web Desk

Around 2.2 million people in the United States could die if the government does not take any effective action and if the individuals do not fight on its own to curb the spread of coronavirus, New York Times quoted a recent scientific report.

While taking the action on the warning after researchers had shared their projections with the White House task force about a week ago, the White House announced federal recommendations for Americans on Monday to limit their activities and which said that gatherings should be limited to 50.

The report suggests “the only viable strategy at the current time” is social distancing and restrictions on gathering at public places till the development of the vaccine which could take about 18 months.

The drastic measures like quarantine facilities and isolating patients can help to bring down the death toll by half, the new report suggested.

The advisory proposed Americans to remain indoor, avoid unnecessary shopping trips and refrain from eating in restaurants and work from home in the time of the epidemic. Some states and cities have already imposed stricter measures, including lockdowns and business closings.

Dr Deborah Birx, one of the task force leaders explained, “What had the biggest impact in the model is social distancing, small groups, not going in public in large groups. The most important thing was if one person in the household became infected, the whole household self-quarantined for 14 days. Because that stops 100 per cent of the transmission outside of the household.”

Dr Birx’s explanation reaffirmed the findings of an epidemic modelling group at Imperial College, London. Neil Ferguson, an epidemiology professor had revealed that they had shared their findings with the White House about a week ago. Comparing the epidemic with the flu outbreak of 1918, Ferguson and the team said that about half a million people in the United Kingdom can die if no precautions are taken.

NDTV quoted Tim Colbourn, an expert in global health epidemiology at University College London as saying that the projections in the study signalled "tough times ahead".

Regarding the fatality estimate, this report says that eight to nine per cent of people in the most vulnerable age group, 80 and older, could die if infected.

“The major challenge of suppression is the length of time that intensive interventions would be needed. We predict that transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed,” the scientists said.

The researchers said that the long-term social and economic effects were likely to be profound and that the measures were not guaranteed to succeed and could themselves have a significant impact on health and well-being, reported the New York Times.

“No public health intervention with such disruptive effects on society has been previously attempted for such a long duration of time. How populations and societies will respond (to it) remains unclear,” the researchers added.

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