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Only vaccines or drugs will end social distancing

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Significance

Studies currently estimate that only a small fraction of people were infected prior to strict social-distancing enforcement. A major second wave of COVID-19 cases and deaths is likely if countries exit lockdowns without strategies to reduce transmissibility of the virus. However, policymakers have few tried-and-tested strategies to fall upon as the situation is unprecedented. Researchers are now rushing to produce models to estimate the impact of epidemic mitigation strategies while they wait for more data.

Impacts

  • A new London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine platform, pooling worldwide interventions, could help clarify intervention effects.
  • Long-term social distancing will particularly harm the wellbeing of the unemployed, self-employed and elderly in particular.
  • Continued remote working or cyclical return to work will help moderate demand on healthcare capacity in the medium term.
  • International travel restrictions will have a lasting impact on the travel and tourism sectors.
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