Ordering people to stay home is useless. The famous rate R0 (r with zero, the greater the R0 the higher the risk of spreading the epidemic), the value that indicates the number of infections produced by a person during his infectious period, it is reduced very little: it drops by only 3% after one month from the application of the total restrictions, the so-called lockdown.
The reason is explained by a study by the University of Edinburgh published yesterday by the journal The Lancet and which is based on the spread of the pandemic taking into account the measures adopted in 131 countries.
People cannot really comply with the draconian measures imposed by lockdowns because, even if they are ordered not to go to work or school, they go shopping, they have to go to the doctor, to the pharmacy (and some of them still have to go to work. ).
Lockdowns would work if we locked up millions of people at home and supplied them with everything in total isolation. But we are not a military regime and a dictatorship like China, we add, and luckily you cannot force millions of people into their homes and shoot them in the head if they contradict orders. All the more so with a virus that has a relatively low mortality rate. The ability to mediate and interpret the “orders” that come from above do the rest.
The University of Edinburgh study, signed by Professor Harish Nair and 6 other scholars, found that the main flaw of lockdowns is the inability to ensure compliance with the behavior of millions of people. And it could only be so. The protocols adopted by a dictatorial system are not necessarily suitable for our societies. The research used data from daily estimates at the national level of R0 of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (London, United Kingdom), by cross-referencing them with the country-by-country specific policy data of the NPIs of the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, available between 1 January and 20 July 2020.
Even the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people reduces the R0 by only 3%, also raising doubts about the value of the rule of “no more than 6 people” together.
The researchers found that very few measures have the ability to significantly reduce the impact of spread. For example, the closure of schools reduced the circulation rate by 15%, the ban on public events by 24% but in four weeks. However, due to lack of data, it is not clear what the reasons for the timing are. It is assumed that people are unable to adapt to new behaviors immediately. It is no coincidence that even during the most serious phase of the pandemic (the initial one), events with large numbers of audiences continued, such as football matches that have only increased the spread of the virus.
It is only in combination that the measures work the most, which may explain why recent local restrictions in England have been unsatisfactory.
The lifting of bans on gatherings of more than 10 people resulted in a 25% increase in the circulation rate.
A combination of measures seems to be the best approach when trying to reduce the transmission rate of Covid-19.
“And if you ask people not to meet in groups you have the same problem: it’s about adherence. Banning mass events or closing schools, on the other hand, ensures compliance, ”Harish Nair said.
Because it is an imposition. But the problem becomes the economy of some sectors that should be supported with central banks and not with promises. The desperation of people without an economic income could cause more damage than Covid itself.
The study confirms that the prophylaxis to be adopted remains the same: avoiding gatherings, keeping the elderly and people with pathologies isolated and for the age groups under 75, use the tools that guarantee physical distancing.