Wide-scale lockdowns, including shop and school closures, have reduced COVID-19 transmission rates in Europe enough to control its spread and may have averted more than three million deaths, researchers say.
In a modeling study of lockdown impact in 11 nations, Imperial College London scientists said the draconian steps, imposed mostly in March, had “a substantial effect” and helped bring the infection’s reproductive rate below one by early May.
The reproduction rate, or R value, measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass the disease on to. An R value above 1 can lead to exponential growth.
The Imperial team estimated that by early May, between 12 and 15 million people in the 11 countries – Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland – had been infected with COVID-19.
By comparing the number of deaths counted with deaths predicted by their model if no lockdown measures had been introduced, they found some 3.1 million deaths were averted.