A coronavirus projection study painted a grim picture with hundreds of thousands of deaths which forced the British government to take drastic measures. The researchers said that the pandemic would have resulted in more than half a million deaths in the UK and 2.2 million in the United States in case of no mitigation measures.
In the modelling study led by Neil Ferguson, professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London, the researchers used the gathered from Italy to project the impact of the pandemic if positive interventions are not made at the earliest. The team predicted the two possible scenarios of the impact depending on the intensity of the interventions and combinations.
According to the researchers, the first of the two fundamental strategies was to focus on slowing down the spread of the virus but not necessarily stopping the spread. The study said that the first strategy would have helped reducing peak healthcare demand while protecting those most at risk of severe disease from infection. While the second strategy with more intensive interventions could interrupt transmission and reduce case numbers to low levels and maintaining the situation indefinitely.
In the first scenario, such epidemics are predicted to peak over three to four months during the summer. With home isolation of cases, home quarantine and social distancing of those over 70 years of age could reduce the peak healthcare demand by two-third and reduce deaths by half. But it would still likely to result in the deaths of 250,000 people.
In the second case, however, the numbers are predicted to rise when the interventions are relaxed. In the context of the UK and the US, it requires a combination of social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of cases and household quarantine of their family members.
“This may need to be supplemented by school and university closures, though it should be recognised that such closures may have negative impacts on health systems due to increased absenteeism,” the study said.