Covid-19: Cutting infection period may avert cases, save dollars

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 08, 2021

A new computational analysis suggested that a vaccine or medication that could at least cut short the infectious period of Covid-19 that may potentially prevent millions of cases and save billions of dollars.

The study was published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology and led by Bruce Y Lee, a researcher at the Public Health Informatics, Computational, and Operations Research (PHICOR).

For the research, Lee and the team developed a computational model that simulates the spread of SARS-CoV-2. They used the model to explore how a medication that can reduce the contagious period might mitigate the clinical and economic consequences of the pandemic.

The simulations noted that reducing the contagious period by half a day could avert up to 1.4 million cases and over 99,000 hospitalisations. This could further save $209.5 billion in direct medical and indirect costs--even if only a quarter of people with symptoms were treated.

Under the same circumstances, cutting the contagious period by 3.5 days could avert up to 7.4 million cases. Expanding such treatment to 75 per cent of everyone infected could avert 29.7 million cases and save $856 billion.

Commenting on the findings, Lee said: "This study showed that even relatively small changes in how long people are contagious can significantly affect the transmission and spread of the virus and thus save billions of dollars and avert millions of new cases."

James McKinnell, a co-author of the study said: "This study shows that vaccine and medication development efforts for COVID-19 should focus on the impact to actually help curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, not just benefits of a single patient."

"Widespread treatment, in combination with other prevention efforts, could prove to be the tipping point," he added.

Published on January 08, 2021

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