Monday, June 22, 2020

A second COVID-19 wave could be avoided if social distancing and the use of face masks are maintained

News from ISGlobal

Individual behaviour has a significant effect on preventing a large second wave of COVID-19 infections. In fact, maintaining social distancing and other interventions such as the use of face masks and hand hygiene could remove the need for future lockdowns, according to a modelling study performed by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). The findings, published in Nature Human Behaviour, also show that, in countries that have not yet reached the peak of active cases, lockdowns must remain in place for at least 60 days and deconfinement must be gradual in order to decrease the risk of second waves.

Several countries that initially imposed strict lockdown measures to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 are in the process of lifting them. However, how and when to ease the restrictions is a difficult decision – a delicate balance between the need to reactivate the economy and the risk of a second wave of infections that could overwhelm healthcare systems. "The problem is that assessing this risk is difficult, given the lack of reliable information on the actual number of people infected or the extent of immunity developed among the population", explains Xavier Rodó, head of ISGlobal’s Climate and Health programme. In this study, Rodó's team present projections based on a model that divides the population into seven groups: susceptible, quarantined, exposed, infectious not detected, reported infectious and confined, recovered and death. It also allows to simulate both the degree of population confinement and the different post-confinement strategies.


Lopez L and Rodó X. The end of social confinement and COVID-19 re-emergence risk. Nature Human Behaviour. June 2020. DOI: 10.1038/s41562-020-0908-8

More information:
ISGlobal website