Restaurants and shops will be closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic on October 28, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. Oscar J. Barroso / AFP7 / Getty Images

Faster and tougher pandemic policies have likely saved tens of thousands of lives in certain European countries, researchers reported Tuesday.

And they didn’t necessarily have to issue full bans.

A review conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that when countries introduced mitigation measures last spring, there were fewer coronavirus spreads and fewer deaths.

“Countries that previously had strict policies may have saved several thousand lives compared to countries that have introduced similar policies but later. Implementing mitigation measures earlier, even within a few weeks, could be an important strategy to reduce the number of deaths from Covid-19, ”the research team wrote in the CDC’s weekly report, the MMWR.

Early actions included: cancellation of public events, school closings, restrictions on collecting and internal travel, closings of workplaces, border closings, closings of public transportation, stay-at-home recommendations, and stay-at-home orders. According to the report, mask requirements were not taken into account.

The CDC team checked the guidelines in 37 European countries and created an index from them. Those with a higher index, indicating either more guidelines or stricter implementation of guidelines, had fewer deaths per capita.

“Implementing strict mitigation measures earlier, even within a few weeks, appears important to prevent widespread transmission of Covid-19 and reduce the number of deaths,” the team wrote.

More lives could have been saved: The UK could have averted 22,776 deaths if mitigation measures had been taken earlier, the team said. France could have prevented more than 13,000 deaths and Spain could have averted 9,300 deaths.

The team said many guidelines were being rolled out at the same time, so they couldn’t tell if certain guidelines were working best.


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