The likes of France, Spain, Italy and the UK have enforced strict lockdown measures in a bid to prevent the mass spread of COVID-19. Researchers believe that up to 120,000 lives across Europe have already been saved thanks to strict lockdown laws, although more than 25,000 people have died in Europe as a result of COVID-19.
Experts at Imperial College London ran simulations of likely social interactions of normal life, without the presence of coronavirus, across 11 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The simulation took into consideration the amount of people one person infects, on average 2.5, and also the death rate – around 1.4 percent.
The simulation revealed that up to 120,000 lives have already been saved as a result of coronavirus.
It also showed that, without the stringent measures which have been put in place, million more Europeans could have been infected.
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Professor Axel Gandy, Chair of Statistics within the Department of Mathematics, said: “Our results suggest that interventions such as social distancing or lockdowns have already saved many lives and will continue to save lives.
“The impact of the pandemic is extreme—but it would have been much worse without the interventions. Keeping interventions in place is crucial for controlling it.”
Dr Samir Bhatt, report author and Senior Lecturer from the School of Public Health, said: “It is of course a difficult time for Europe, but governments have taken significant steps to ensure health systems do not get overwhelmed. There is sound evidence that these have started to work and have flattened the curve.
“We believe a large number of lives have been saved. However, it is too soon to say if we have managed to fully control epidemics and more difficult decisions will need to be taken in the coming weeks.”
Dr Seth Flaxman, first author on the latest study, added: “Even as the death toll continues to mount, we see enough signal in the data to conclude that sustained, drastic actions taken by European governments have already saved lives by driving down the number of new infections each day.
“But because these interventions are very recent in most countries, and there is a lag between infection and death, it will take longer—from days to weeks—for these effects to be reflected in the number of daily deaths.”
Professor Christl Donnelly, Professor of Statistical Epidemiology within the School of Public Health, said: “Europeans, like many people elsewhere, have changed their lives profoundly in recent weeks.
“This report makes clear early evidence of the benefits of these social distancing measures. By keeping our distance from each other, we limit the opportunities for the virus to spread and reduce the risks of illness and even death among those around us.”
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