Lockdowns and other anti-Covid-19 measures may have saved 3.1m lives in Europe – UK study

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Large-scale lockdowns and other non-pharmaceutical interventions in Europe have been successful in averting three million deaths across Europe from Covid-19 according to a new study from Imperial College London scientists.

The results of the study were published online by the Nature journal and suggests that lockdown measures have been sufficient to control the growth of the epidemic.

The Imperial team used death data to estimate changes during the COVID-19 epidemic as a result of non-pharmaceutical interventions. They analysed data from 11 countries in Europe, including Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland up to May 4th.

The research indicated that between 12 and 15 million individuals in these countries had been infected with Covid-19 (3.2% to 4% of the population).

By comparing the number of deaths against those predicted by their model in the absence of interventions, the researchers believe that 3.1 million deaths have been averted due to non-pharmaceutical measures.

Dr Samir Bhatt, study author said in statement: “This data suggests that without any interventions, such as lockdown and school closures, there could have been many more deaths from COVID-19.

“The rate of transmission has declined from high levels to ones under control in all European countries we study. Our analysis also suggests far more infections in these European countries than previously estimated.

The research also suggests that the measures put in place in these countries in March 2020 were successful in controlling the epidemic by driving down the reproduction number and significantly reducing the number of people who would have been infected by the virus.

A second study by scientists in the United States, published alongside the Imperial-led one in the journal Nature, estimated that anti-contagion lockdown policies implemented in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States prevented or delayed around 530 million COVID-19 cases.