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Covid-19: quarantines of up to 18 months will be necessary according to experts

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British scientists at Imperial College London believe that containment and social distancing measures should continue for up to 18 months in order to end the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic once and for all.

In a report published online March 16, scientists at Imperial College London (UK) on the Covid-19 epidemic believe that current measures of containment and social distancing may be necessary for 18 months if we want to fight the coronavirus effectively.

Based on currently available data, modeling experts estimated that "the effectiveness of any intervention performed in isolation is likely to be limited, so it is necessary to combine several public health measures to have a substantial impact on transmission." Clearly, isolating people with Covid-19 without any other associated measures would not be enough to slow the progression of the virus.

Until a vaccine is available, scientists detail the two possible strategies:

Mitigation, which focuses on the quarantine of infectious individuals and repression, whose objective is to reduce transmission by isolating those who are not infected, in other words, measures of containment and social distancing for all.

Why deletion is the preferred option

"We found that optimal mitigation policies (combining home isolation of suspected cases, home quarantine of people living in the same home as suspected cases, and social distancing of older people and people at highest risk of contracting a serious illness) could reduce the demand for medical care by 2/3 and halve the number of deaths", British experts detail in the summary of their report.

"However, the resulting mitigated epidemic is likely to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (including intensive care units) will be repeatedly overwhelmed," they said. Furthermore, "for countries that can do this, elimination is therefore the preferred option," say the scientists.

But if this containment and distancing strategy is the most effective, this type of drastic measure "will have to be maintained until a vaccine is available (potentially 18 months or more)," as the epidemic quickly resumes if these measures stand up or mitigate, warn experts. If containment measures are lifted too soon, the number of new cases will likely increase again, scientists say.

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