The study, published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine, created a new model to look at the spread of the disease and prevention efforts that could help stop it.
If people washed their hands regularly, wore masks, and kept their social distance from each other, these three simple behaviors could stop most all of the Covid-19 pandemic, even without a vaccine or additional treatments, according to a new study.
The contact rates in the study were based on people’s interaction in the Netherlands, but the model is appropriate for other Western countries, the researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht said
“A large epidemic can be prevented if the efficacy of these measures exceeds 50%,” they wrote.
If, however, the public is slow, but does eventually change behavior, it can reduce the number of cases, but not delay a peak in cases, according to the model.
If governments shut down early, but no one takes additional personal protective steps, this would delay but not reduce a peak in cases. A three month intervention would delay the peak by, at most, seven months, the study found.
If government-imposed physical distancing was combined with disease awareness and personal steps, the height of the peak could be reduced, even after government imposed social distancing orders were lifted.
There are limits to the model. It doesn’t take into effect demographics, nor does it account for the imperfect isolation of people who are sick with Covid-19, meaning they can infect others who care for them in a health care setting or at home. It also doesn’t account for the possibility of reinfection.
Medical reference: CNN Health