From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject Fast-acting Countries Cut Their Death Rates. US Delays Cost 1000s of Lives
Date May 23, 2020 2:23 AM
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[Research that looked at 60 countries worldwide over the first 100
days of the pandemic found how important a quick response was for
reducing the death toll.] [[link removed]]

FAST-ACTING COUNTRIES CUT THEIR DEATH RATES. US DELAYS COST 1000S OF
LIVES  
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Joshua Aizenman
May 22, 2020
The Conversation
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_ Research that looked at 60 countries worldwide over the first 100
days of the pandemic found how important a quick response was for
reducing the death toll. _

,

 

If cities across the U.S. had moved just one week faster to shut down
restaurants and businesses and order residents to stay home, they
could have avoided over 35,000 coronavirus deaths by early May, new
research suggests [[link removed]]. If
they had moved two weeks earlier, more than 50,000 people who died
from the pandemic might still be alive.

Those U.S. estimates, from a modeling study released May 20 by
researchers at Columbia University, came to similar conclusions that I
and my colleagues from the University of Southern California found in
assessing policies and death rates around the globe in response to the
coronavirus pandemic.

Our latest research looked at 60 countries worldwide
[[link removed]] over the first 100 days of the
pandemic and found several recurring themes.

Overall, countries that acted quickly and implemented stringent
measures that kept most residents at home as the pandemic started to
spread were able to reduce their daily COVID-19 death rate faster than
countries with looser restrictions. Countries that had aggressive
policy interventions in place before their first coronavirus death,
such as Denmark and South Korea
[[link removed]], tended to have fewer deaths.

We also found that countries with large vulnerable populations
benefited more from fast, strict policy implementation than others.
For example:

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Countries with older populations that quickly implemented stringent
measures saw their death rates fall about 9% after two weeks, compared
to death rates falling 3.5% in the youngest countries with similar
rules.

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Similarly, countries in cooler climates, which offer more ideal
circumstances for the virus to spread
[[link removed]], benefited more from
stringent measures than warmer countries near the equator.

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Countries with greater population density, more personal freedom and
large numbers of residents working in jobs that leave them vulnerable
to exposure also benefited more from quick action, but the difference
wasn’t as stark as for those with older populations.

In general, countries with stricter rules saw their death numbers peak
after about 40 days, compared to 50 days for countries that also acted
quickly but had looser restrictions.

Italy vs. South Korea

These findings, published May 18 as a National Bureau of Economy
Research working paper [[link removed]], might help
explain the lower mortality rates in South Korea and Germany. Both
countries invoked stringent policies early on and invested in
upgrading their medical capabilities.

On the other hand, Italy’s high mortality reflects the absence of
stringent policies in place prior to COVID-19’s explosive mortality
wave there, along with the large share of seniors living in congested
regions and extended family households. Germany’s percentage of
residents over age 65 is only slightly lower
[[link removed]] than
Italy’s, yet it had far fewer deaths per capita.

The numbers stand out. In April, South Korea’s daily mortality rate
peaked at 0.1 deaths per million residents, while Germany and Denmark
had rates of roughly 2.8 deaths per million people. Sweden did not
fare as well, with 10.6 deaths per million, nor did Italy at 13.6 per
million or Spain at 18.6 per million.

The much lower death rate in Denmark also reflects the stricter
policies enacted there, as opposed to more relaxed policies in Sweden.

What’s next?

The key to ensuring social and economic stability during the COVID-19
pandemic is to remobilize workers, without risking a flood of new
cases and strain on the medical system. In many cases, governments
must balance the lives of their citizens against their livelihoods.

A country’s relative performance in the first phase of the pandemic
does not guarantee its future performance, however, particularly in
the case of a second wave of new cases.

Countries still need more and better-quality data to sharpen their
understating of the pandemic’s dynamics and the role public policies
play. The Columbia modeling study provides insight into how faster
action could have saved lives in the U.S.; however, like our and many
other studies explaining COVID-19, its findings were released before
the usual peer review process
[[link removed]].

Understanding the factors that might explain COVID-19 mortality rates
is essential for allowing a gradual resumption of economic activities
with greater safety. The sooner we can explain the patterns of the
pandemic, the earlier the opening of schools, universities and key
services.

[_Get facts about coronavirus and the latest research._ Sign up for
The Conversation’s newsletter.
[[link removed]]][The
Conversation]

Joshua Aizenman
[[link removed]],
Professor of International Relations and Economics, _University of
Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
[[link removed]]_

This article is republished from The Conversation
[[link removed]] under a Creative Commons license. Read
the original article
[[link removed]].

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