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A new mathematical model suggests that loosening the lockdown must go hand in hand with wider and more effective use of control measures such as face masks, including vaccinations, in order to suppress COVID-19 more quickly and reduce the likelihood of a new lockdown.

The model developed by scientists from the Universities of Cambridge and Liverpool is published today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. It uses math equations to provide general insights into the spread of COVID-19 under different potential control scenarios.

Control measures that include face masks, hand washing, and short distance (1-2 meters) social distancing can limit the number of virus particles that can spread between people. These measures are referred to as “non-spatial” measures to distinguish them from a second category of “spatial” control measures, which include lockdown and travel restrictions that reduce the spread of virus particles. The new model compares the effectiveness of different combinations of measures to control the spread of COVID-19 and shows how non-spatial control must be increased if the lockdown is lifted.

“More effective use of control measures like face masks and hand washing would help us stop the pandemic faster or get better results in interrupting transmission through the vaccination program. This also means we could avoid another possible lockdown,” said Dr. Yevhen Suprunenko. a research fellow in the Department of Plant Sciences at Cambridge University and first author of the paper. The authors emphasize that their predictions are based on such non-spatial control measures being effectively implemented.

The model also took into account the socio-economic impact of both types of measures and how they will change during the pandemic. The socio-economic impact of spatial measures such as closure has increased over time, while the cost of non-spatial control measures has decreased. For example, face masks are more widely available and people have got used to wearing them.

“Measures like barriers that limit how far potentially infected people move can have a greater impact on controlling the spread of disease, but methods that reduce the risk of transmission when people mingle offer an inexpensive way to supplement them “said Dr. Stephen Cornell at the University of Liverpool, co-author of the paper.

The model emerged from a broader research program to identify control strategies for plant diseases that threaten staple foods. Using a mathematical approach instead of a conventional computer simulation model, the authors were able to gain general insights into dealing with newly emerging infectious diseases in plants and animals for a large number of scenarios.

“Our new model will help us study how various infectious diseases can spread and become endemic. This will allow us to find better control strategies and stop future epidemics faster and more efficiently,” said Professor Chris Gilligan of the University’s Department of Plant Cambridge Sciences, co-author of the paper.

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More information:
Analytical Approximation for Invasive and Endemic Thresholds and Optimal Control of Epidemics in Spatially Explicit Individual-Based Models, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, rsif.royalsocietypublishing.or… .1098 / rsif.2020.0966 Provided by the University of Cambridge

Quote: According to scientists (2021, March 30), accessed March 31, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-03-widespread-facemask-vital-suppress-pandemic, the widespread use of Face masks vital to quenching the pandemic .html

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