Lockdowns are a powerful tool against the COVID-19 pandemic
Lockdowns and other distancing measures have had resounding success at thwarting the new coronavirus, according to two independently conducted studies that examined different countries and measures of effectiveness.

Following the emergence of a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its spread outside of China, Europe the American nations have experienced large epidemics. Governments around the world are responding to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with unprecedented policies designed to slow the growth rate of infections. (1) Many countries have implemented unprecedented non-pharmaceutical interventions such as closure of schools and national lockdowns. These actions impose large and visible costs on society and their benefits cannot be directly observed. (2–4)

Samir Bhatt at Imperial College London and his colleagues used data on COVID-19-related deaths to model viral transmission in 11 European countries.The team found that in those nations, the combination of policies aimed at slowing the virus’s spread prevented more than 3 million deaths from the epidemic’s start to early May. They estimate that, for all the countries considered, current interventions have been sufficient to drive the reproduction number (Rt) below 1 (probability Rt< 1.0 is 99.9%) and achieve epidemic control; and that across all 11 countries, between 12 and 15 million individuals have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 up to 4th May, representing between 3.2% and 4.0% of the population. In each country, the actions taken were enough to halt the epidemic. Lockdowns — stay-at-home orders and policies that restrict face-to-face contact — were especially effective, reducing transmission by 81%. These results show that major non-pharmaceutical interventions and lockdown in particular have had a large effect on reducing transmission. (5)

On the other hand, Solomon Hsiang at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues analysed how the growth rate of infections changed over time in China, the United States and four more countries that applied policies to prevent viral spread. New data on 1,717 local, regional, and national non-pharmaceutical interventions deployed in the ongoing pandemic across localities in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, and the United States (US) was compiled and empirically evaluated to measure the effect that these anti-contagion policies have had on the growth rate of infections.

In the absence of policy actions, the authors estimated that early infections of COVID-19 would exhibit exponential growth rates of roughly 38% per da. They also concluded that anti-contagion policies have significantly and substantially slowed this growth. Some policies had different impacts on different populations, but there was consistent evidence that the policy packages deployed achieved large, beneficial, and measurable health outcomes. Across the six studied countries, interventions prevented or delayed about 62 million confirmed cases, corresponding to averting roughly 530 million total infections. Lockdowns — policies that require people to stay at home whether or not they are infected — were therefore deemed effective at stemming viral spread. (6)

References:

  1. Wu F, Zhao S, Yu B, Chen Y-M, Wang W, Song Z-G, et al. A new coronavirus associated with human respiratory disease in China. Nature. 2020 Mar;579(7798):265–9.
  2. Chinazzi M, Davis JT, Ajelli M, Gioannini C, Litvinova M, Merler S, et al. The effect of travel restrictions on the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Science. 2020 Apr 24;368(6489):395–400.
  3. Ferguson N, Laydon D, Nedjati Gilani G, Imai N, Ainslie K, Baguelin M, et al. Report 9: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand [Internet]. Imperial College London; 2020 Mar [cited 2020 Jun 8]. Available from: http://spiral.imperial.ac.uk/handle/10044/1/77482.
  4. Kraemer MUG, Yang C-H, Gutierrez B, Wu C-H, Klein B, Pigott DM, et al. The effect of human mobility and control measures on the COVID-19 epidemic in China. Science. 2020 May 1;368(6490):493–7.
  5. Flaxman S, Mishra S, Gandy A, Unwin HJT, Mellan TA, Coupland H, et al. Estimating the effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe. Nature. 2020 Jun 8;1–8.
  6. Hsiang S, Allen D, Annan-Phan S, Bell K, Bolliger I, Chong T, et al. The effect of large-scale anti-contagion policies on the COVID-19 pandemic. Nature. 2020 Jun 8;1–9.

further
reading

cosmetic products

New Amendments to the European Cosmetics Regulation – CMR Substances

The European Commission published the Commission Regulation (EU) 2022/1531, which amends Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 in regards to the use in cosmetic products of certain substances classified as CMR. This amendment introduces new entries to Annex II and Annex III and revises an entry to Annex V to Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009.

Read More »
medical devices

EUDAMED – harmonized practices and alternative solutions for IVDR until the database is fully functional

EUDAMED is one of the key aspects of the new rules on in vitro diagnostic medical devices – Regulation (EU) 2017/746. However, it is only expected to achieve full functionality by the second quarter of 2024. Until then, how is the information submitted and/or exchanged between manufacturers, notified bodies and competent authorities?

Read More »
medical devices

EUDAMED – update on timelines

EUDAMED is one of the key aspects of the new rules on medical devices (Regulation (EU) 2017/745) and in vitro diagnostic medical devices (Regulation (EU) 2017/746), and it is expected to achieve full functionality by the second quarter of 2024.

Read More »
cosmetic products

UK OPSS call for data on six cosmetic ingredients

On 14 July 2022, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS – the UK regulator for cosmetic products) issued a call for data on the safety of the following six cosmetic ingredients to investigate any suspected endocrine disrupting properties. 

Read More »
cosmetic products

European Commission Recommendation on the Definition of Nanomaterial

Nanomaterials are increasingly used in cosmetics and personal care products. They are similar to other chemicals/substances, but with specific risks associated to their use. The European Commission has published a new Recommendation to clarify the definition of ‘nanomaterial’. This definition may serve different policy, legislative and research purposes when addressing materials or issues concerning products of nanotechnologies.

Read More »
cosmetic products

Expected Restriction on the Use of Methyl Salicylate

The European Commission has notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of a draft amendment to the Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products. Annex III to Regulation will be amended, and the use of Methyl Salicylate in cosmetic products will be restricted.

Read More »