Lockdowns can only end when vaccine is found, says Lancet study


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 09 Apr 2020

PETALING JAYA: The lockdowns enforced around the world to curb the spread of Covid-19 can only end when a vaccine against the disease is found, says a new study on China's experience.

The Guardian reported that while China's aggressive controls over daily life brought the first wave of Covid-19 to an end, the danger of a second wave was very real.

The study was published in the medical research journal The Lancet.

"While these control measures appear to have reduced the number of infections to very low levels, without herd immunity against Covid-19, cases could easily resurge as businesses, factory operations, and schools gradually resume and increase social mixing, particularly given the increasing risk of imported cases from overseas as Covid-19 continues to spread globally," said Prof Joseph T Wu from the University of Hong Kong, who co-led the research.

The study said that while China had pushed the reproductive number or RO from two or three to below one, this number could rise again if normal life was allowed to resume too quickly.

The RO represents the number of people contaminated by an infected person.

"Although control policies such as physical distancing and behavioural change are likely to be maintained for some time, proactively striking a balance between resuming economic activities and keeping the reproductive number below one is likely to be the best strategy until effective vaccines become widely available," Wu was quoted as saying.

The study, based on modelling of the epidemic in China, shows that the death rate in mainland China was far lower, at less than 1%, compared to in Hubei province, specifically, at nearly 6%.

It also varied according to the economic prosperity of each province, which was related to the healthcare available.

"Even in the most prosperous and well-resourced megacities like Beijing and Shanghai, healthcare resources are finite, and services will struggle with a sudden increase in demand.

"Our findings highlight the importance of ensuring that local healthcare systems have adequate staffing and resources to minimise Covid-related deaths," senior author Prof Gabriel M Leung from the University of Hong Kong was quoted as saying.

The research said allowing the rate of infections to rise again "would probably incur both marginally higher health and economic loss", even if tough measures were put back in place to bring the numbers of cases back down.

Beginning March 18, Malaysia enforced a movement control order (MCO) with people instructed to stay at home and movement is heavily restricted, with only "essential" services allowed to operate.

The first phase of the MCO was supposed to end on March 31 but was extended to April 14.

Bernama reported that the government would be announcing the if the MCO would be extended again on Friday (April 10).

According to the data released by National Security Council, there are currently 20 red zones in Peninsular Malaysia, with Selangor being the state with the highest number with 1,020 Covid-19 positive patients and the most red zones, which are areas with more than 40 Covid-19 cases.

As of Wednesday (April 8), a total of 4,119 cases of Covid-19 had been detected in the country, with 65 deaths reported.

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Lockdowns , Covid-19 , Vaccine , Lancet

   

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