Monday, March 30, 2020

Coronavirus could kill 1.8 million people worldwide

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Researchers at Imperial College London stress, however, that their study only provides “insights into the possible trajectories” of the epidemic.

The coronavirus epidemic could kill 1.8 million people worldwide even with strict measures to reduce its spread, according to an estimate made public this Thursday by researchers from Imperial College London.

These hypotheses are based on mathematical simulations constructed according to what we know at the instant T of Covid-19 disease (contagiousness, supposed mortality, etc.) and therefore do not constitute “predictions”, as the researchers emphasize. .

Nightmare scenario

A previous report from Imperial College in mid-March estimated that the epidemic could kill up to 510,000 people in the UK and affect 81% of the population there, in a purely hypothetical case where no action had been taken. taken.

This publication had been the subject of numerous criticisms, notably methodological in the scientific community, but had however led the British government to change its strategy on the epidemic in the face of such a nightmare scenario.

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In the hypothetical case of an epidemic against which no action has been taken in the world, the authors model a number of victims of up to 40.6 million deaths, for 7 billion people infected, i.e. almost all of the some 7.6 billion people on the planet.

Then taking into account different variables in different regions of the world (age pyramid, income, accessibility of care …) they model the expected reduction in mortality rates according to the speed of entry into force of measures to combat epidemic, in particular screening by tests, quarantine of infected persons and measures of social distancing.

“Insights into possible trajectories”

By taking strict containment measures early enough to contain the death rate at 0.2 per 100,000 per week, their modeling results in a world total of 1.85 million deaths for nearly 470 million people infected.

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With measures taken later and containing only the death rate at 1.6 per 100,000 per week they lead to 10.45 million deaths, for 2.4 billion people affected.

The authors stress, however, that their study provides only “insights into the possible trajectories (of the epidemic) and the impact of measures to help reduce the spread of the virus, based on the experience of countries affected at the start of the disease. ‘epidemic”.

“However, they point out, it is not possible at present to predict with any certainty the exact number of cases for a given country or the precise mortality and the weight of the epidemic that could result from it.”

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