Shutdown orders prevented about 285 million novel coronavirus infections in China and about 60 million in the United States, according to a research study published Monday that examined how stay-at-home orders and other restrictions limited the spread of the contagion.
A separate study from epidemiologists at Imperial College London estimated that the shutdowns saved approximately 3.1 million lives in 11 European countries and dropped infection rates by an average of 82 percent, sufficient to drive the contagion well below epidemic levels. Both reports were published Monday in the journal Nature.
The two reports provide fresh evidence that aggressive and unprecedented shutdowns, which caused massive economic disruptions, were necessary to halt the exponential spread of the novel coronavirus.
The first study, from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, examined six countries — China, the United States, France, Italy, Iran and South Korea — and estimated how 1,717 interventions, such as stay-at-home orders, business closings and travel bans, altered the spread of the virus. The report concluded that those six countries collectively managed to avert 62 million test-confirmed infections, which the researchers estimate would correspond to roughly 530 million total infections.
One striking finding: School closures seemed to have no significant effect, although the authors said the issue requires further study. Banning large gatherings had an effect in Iran and Italy but not the other four countries.