Study concludes U.S. coronavirus shutdown measures prevented 60 million additional infections

A person crosses the street on March 27, 2020 in New York City
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Coronavirus lockdown measures put into place in six countries prevented more than 500 million additional COVID-19 infections, including tens of millions in the United States, a new study has concluded.

A study published in Nature on Monday and conducted by University of California at Berkeley researchers found that measures implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the United States prevented 60 million infections up to April 6, The Washington Post reports.

The study looked at six countries and found that various shutdown policies and interventions prevented or delayed 530 million infections across the United States, China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and France, though the researchers say 62 million of the additional infections would have actually been officially confirmed as cases through testing, including 4.8 million confirmed cases in the U.S. The United States has confirmed about 1.9 million COVID-19 cases.

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In China, 285 million cases were prevented, the study says, with this including 37 million cases that would have been confirmed. The researchers looked at the effect of 1,717 policies put into place to slow the virus' spread in these countries.

"I don't think any human endeavor has ever saved so many lives in such a short period of time," lead author Solomon Hsiang said. "There have been huge personal costs to staying home and canceling events, but the data show that each day made a profound difference. By using science and cooperating, we changed the course of history."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.