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According to a new report, COVID-19 can be tackled with measures aimed at reducing community transmission and international travel by 80% for eight weeks.

A large team of Chinese and Norwegian researchers analyzed the spread of the COVID-19 virus using a mathematical model. They noted that global collaboration for rapid and intense intervention is fundamental for future management of the virus. It is likely that there will be more waves of COVID-19 disease in the years to come.

The new study suggests that reducing community transmission and international travel by 80 percent for eight weeks could prevent approximately 90 percent of clinical cases worldwide. This reduction should be enough to avoid a collapse in the economy and national health systems due to patient overload with COVID-19, provided that the reduction is initially carried out in densely populated locations and the busiest international airports at the same time.

The Chinese and Norwegian scientists behind the new report, recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), have extensive experience researching epidemiology and pandemics. They conducted this study because they believe the virus will be a global problem in the years to come.

“Every year a new shot”

Until a vaccine against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is available, we will have to rely on so-called non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) like social distancing, wearing masks, etc. It may also be necessary after we have a vaccine.

“Vaccines for COVID-19 will likely work like the influenza vaccines we are used to. This means you will most likely need a new shot every year,” says Professor Nils Chr. Stenseth at the University of Oslo. He is one of the 31 scientists behind the new paper.

“I agree with Nils. The COVID-19 virus is mutating and changing all the time, and that means the vaccine has to keep changing too,” says Ruiyun Li. The Chinese-born scientist is the first author of the new scientific report and is more scientific Staff at Imperial College London.

Pandemics are not uncontrollable

The good news in the scientific report is that global pandemics are far from uncontrollable. The scientists also argue that global collaboration is necessary to establish and maintain control over the virus, and their calculations show how to do it.

“The eight-week interventions we recommend should be efficient, provided they are conducted concurrently in particularly high-density locations and international travel. High population densities facilitate the transmission of the disease, and international travel accelerates the spread of the virus to other countries,” says Ruiyun Li.

“Interventions in the primary hot spots should be followed by implementation in other high-risk locations,” she adds.

“One of the main messages of this study is that there is a need to have global coordination of interventions in the hot spots we have identified. This will make it easier to control the pandemic. Without coordination, we will not be able to control it . ” Virus, “says Professor Stenseth.

59 global locations with high risk

The scientists used a relatively simple metapopulation model in their study. The model takes into account seasonal fluctuations in community transmission and temporal and spatial diffusion (spatio-temporal diffusion) at 59 global locations with high risk. The model also includes data on the total population and how many people are vulnerable, exposed, or infected – and those who have recovered or died in each city and therefore no longer spreading the virus.

The seasonal variations are an important element of the model as the virus spreads between people more efficiently in winter. The reason is most likely because people in cold climates spend more time indoors, with closer gaps between them. But it can also be that the general health conditions of people are weakened in winter.

When the scientists fed their data into the model, they concluded that a tiered strategy could be very effective. You have categorized global locations in a hub-and-spoke intervention network based on the risk of transmission at each location. The locations are divided into 15 hubs with the highest number of international travel and 44 secondary hubs.

The strategy envisages the initial implementation of interventions at the hub locations, followed by timely interventions at the secondary high risk locations (the “spoke” locations).

“The model tells us that using this strategy over eight weeks could avert approximately 90 percent of the cases and effectively control transmission in most locations,” explains Ruiyun Li.

The Chinese lock worked

The COVID-19 disease was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan and is currently an ongoing pandemic. Human-to-human transmission was confirmed by the WHO and Chinese authorities through January 20, 2020.

In mid-January, Chinese authorities introduced unprecedented measures to contain the virus, banning entry and exit to Wuhan and 15 other cities in Hubei province, home to more than 60 million people. Flights and trains have been suspended and roads have been blocked.

“In my opinion, China’s handling of the COVID-19 virus is a success story, while many other countries handling is largely a catastrophe. If the rest of the world had acted immediately and started intensive interventions after January 20th, I think that the situation would have been very different today. Instead, we have seen that every European country has adopted its own strategy and the US has more than 236,000 deaths from the virus, “says Stenseth.

Cooperation on global issues

Nils Chr. Stenseth and Ruiyun Li add that pandemics are global in nature, such as climate change.

“No one in their right mind would dream of controlling climate change in a single country – without caring about other countries. It is obvious that we need to develop international strategies against climate change. We have to think globally, but act locally. The situation is exactly the same for this virus and pandemics of this type in general. This paper is strong support for a strategy based on international cooperation – act local but think global, “says Stenseth.

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More information:
Ruiyun Li et al. Global COVID-19 Pandemic Requires Joint Interventions to Suppress Future Waves, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2020). DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.2012002117 Provided by the University of Oslo

Quote: Reduced traffic from the world’s busiest airports is a tool against future waves of COVID-19 (2020, November 13th), released on November 13th, 2020 from world-busiest-airports was -tool.html

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