Isolation may have saved the lives of three million people in Europe

Large-scale isolation measures, including the closure of shops and schools, have reduced the rate of transmission of the new coronavirus to Europe to bring its spread under control and may have prevented more than three million deaths, scientists said today.

In a study on the impact of isolation measures in 11 states, scientists at the Royal College of Physicians in London say draconian measures, introduced mainly in March, had a significant effect and helped reduce the rate of disease reproduction below one to the beginning of May.

The rate of reproduction indicates how many people are infected on average. A rate greater than 1 can lead to an exponential spread of infection. Scientists at the Royal College of Physicians estimate that by early May, between 12 and 15 million people were infected in 11 countries: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Comparing the number of deaths with the number of deaths predicted by their model that no measures were imposed, they found that about 3.1 million deaths had been prevented. The findings were published in the journal Nature.

A second study by American scientists, also published in the journal Nature, estimated that isolation measures in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States prevented or delayed about 530 million cases of infection.

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