Researchers propose model to avoid second wave of COVID-19


Individual behavior could have a significant effect on preventing a large second wave of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections, with social distancing and other interventions such as the use of face masks and hand hygiene potentially removing the need for future lockdowns, according to new research published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

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 researchers said.

In the modeling study, the research team presented projections based on a model that divided 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, according to the study.

The use of face masks, hand hygiene, and shelter-in-place mandates have already demonstrated benefits. The aim of this study was to quantitatively evaluate their relevance as containment strategies. The results show that the length of the first confinement will affect the timing and magnitude of subsequent waves, and that gradual deconfinement strategies always result in a lower number of infections and deaths, when compared to a very fast deconfinement process.

The results show that, even in countries that do not have the resources to test and trace all cases and contacts, social empowerment through the use of masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing, is key to stopping viral transmission.

The model considered total lockdowns and used data available through May 25 but did not consider a possible effect of temperatures on viral transmission.

Editor's note: Click here for more information and ongoing COVID-19 updates for integrative healthcare professionals.