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COVID-19 and the Science of Social Distancing

COVID-19 and the Science of Social Distancing

Medscape published great article discussing the science behind social distancing and the NPI guidelines.


“Social distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) have proven to be effective tools in most pandemics. But their effect on the spread of the novel coronavirus is not yet clear, experts say.

The goal of NPIs — which include personal actions, such as staying at home when sick and washing hands, and communal ones, including school closures and canceling mass gatherings — is to flatten the height of the infection curve and build herd immunity, thus buying time to increase hospital capacity and to come up with drugs or vaccines to treat the illness.

State and local officials have been issuing stay-at-home and social distancing orders and closing schools at different times and with varying levels of restrictions.


Marc Lipsitch, DPhil, director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, says that social distancing is one of the only tools left to contain the spread, because the time has passed for widespread testing and contact tracing — the initial steps that could have been taken.

“I’m trying to look forward rather than back, because looking back makes me so sad,” Lipsitch said during a March 25 teleconference convened by the American Public Health Association and the National Academy of Medicine.

Although social distancing has bad effects on everyone — especially the disadvantaged — it’s paramount to try it, Lipsitch continued. “If we waste this time and don’t do everything to build up capacity for testing, for personal protective equipment, for ventilators, for intensive care beds — all the things we know we need — it will be a further tragedy.”

“There is a lot of science on this. We do know that these measures work,” said Nancy Messonnier, MD, referring to NPIs during the telebriefing…”


Read the entire article here.


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