STUDY: China could have prevented 95% of Covid-19 infections

A Chinese couple wear masks as they visit the Tiananmen Gate. (Photo courtesy: NBC NEWS)

(, Mar15’20) – As the global spread of the Covid-19 pandemic continues at an alarming rate globally, especially in a few countries, a research has suggested that China could have prevented 95 per cent of the infections if it had taken timely vigorous action when the outbreak occurred in its central city of Wuhan, reported Mar 14. The total infections worldwide has now exceeded 154,000,with more than 5,800 being killed by what has now become a global pandemic, including more than 80,900 and 3,200 respectively in China itself.

China should have begun taking measures to contain the disease’s spread three weeks earlier, the report said, citing a research from the University of Southampton, United Kingdom. However, China only took vigorous action in late Jan 2019 – weeks after police silenced a doctor for trying to raise the alarm, it noted.

The study, published this week by population mapping group WorldPop, measured the effectiveness of nonpharmaceutical interventions. The researchers examined how China isolated ill persons, quarantined exposed individuals, conducted contract tracing, restricted travel, closed schools and workplaces, and cancelled mass gatherings, the report said.

The analysis was stated to show that early case detection and contact reduction were effective in controlling the virus while combined measures could reduce transmission. Such measures could also delay the timing and reduce the size of the epidemic’s peak, thus buying time for healthcare preparations and drugs research.

The research was also stated to show that Covid-19 cases could have been reduced by 66 per cent if the measures were taken a week earlier, or by 86 per cent if action began two weeks earlier. It was also stated to show that if action was taken three weeks later, then the situation could have worsened 18-fold.

The report noted that most efforts to tackle the outbreak took place in late January, weeks after Wuhan ophthalmologist Dr Li Wenliang had tried to warn about the mystery disease on Dec 30. He was among eight people who were punished by police on Jan 1 for allegedly spreading “rumours” about the then unknown virus.

Chinese police made Li to sign a letter, stating he had made “false comments” and had “severely disturbed the social order.” He died last month of the disease, aged 34, prompting widespread outrage in China.

China is also known to have ignored offers of help in January from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Nevertheless, “China’s vigorous, multifaceted response is likely to have prevented a far worse situation, which would have accelerated spread globally,” the study was quoted as saying.


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