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Travel Restrictions Should be Imposed in the Early Stage of Pandemic: Study

Travel restrictions useful in early, late phases of pandemic

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Pandemic travel
Travel restrictions are most useful in its early and late phases to fight any pandemic. Pixabay

In order to fight a pandemic, travel restrictions are most useful in its early and late phases, a new study suggests. This is a lifestyle news.

Analysis of human mobility and epidemiological data by a global consortium of researchers, led by the University of Oxford in the UK and Northeastern University in the US, shows that human mobility was predictive of the spread of the epidemic in China.

“Our findings show that early in the coronavirus outbreak travel restrictions were effective in preventing the import of infections from a known source,” said study researcher Moritz Kraemer from the University of Oxford. Restrictions of travel from Wuhan province in China, unfortunately, came too late.

The research, published in the journal Science, showed that the impact of travel restrictions declines as the epidemic grows. Provinces outside Hubei that acted early to test, track and contain imported coronavirus cases fared the best in preventing or containing local outbreaks, the study said.

Mobile geolocation data from China-based search engine giant Baidu Inc, combined with a rich epidemiological dataset from the Open COVID-19 Data Working Group, showed that local person-to-person transmission happened extensively early on in the coronavirus outbreak and was mitigated by drastic control measures.

Pandemic travel
Travel and mobility restrictions are the most useful right at the start, when local transmission has not yet become a factor. Pixabay

However, with an average incubation period of five days, and up to 14 days in some cases, these mobility restrictions did not begin to positively impact the data on new cases for over a week — with things appearing to get worse in the 5-7 days immediately after the lockdown as local transmission was well under way.

According to the researchers, among the cases reported outside Hubei, 515 had a known travel history to Wuhan and a symptom onset date before January 31, 2020, compared with only 39 after this date, illustrating the effect of travel restrictions in decreasing the spread to other Chinese provinces. “This is where a full package of measures, including local mobility restrictions, testing, tracing and isolation need to work together to mitigate the epidemic,” Kraemer added.

Chinese provinces and other countries that have successfully halted internal transmission of COVID-19 need to consider carefully how they will manage to reinstate travel and mobility to avoid the reintroduction and spread of the disease in their populations, the researchers said.

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“Mobility restrictions are the most useful right at the start, when local transmission has not yet become a factor,” said Samuel V Scarpino, Professor at Northeastern University. “After transmission is established, physical distancing and the quarantine of sick individuals will work, but it takes time,” Scarpino added. (IANS)

Next Story

Can TB Vaccine Fight COVID-19? Here is the Answer

TB vaccine a potential new tool to fight COVID-19: Study

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vaccine
Researchers have found that Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB), could be a potential new tool in the fight against the disease. Pixabay

Examining how the COVID-19 has impacted different countries, researchers have found that Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB), could be a potential new tool in the fight against the disease.

The study that appeared in the pre-print repository medRxiv, proposed that national differences in COVID-19 impact could be partially explained by the different national policies respect to BCG childhood vaccination.

The BCG vaccine has existed for almost a century and is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines.

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BCG vaccine has a documented protective effect against meningitis and disseminated TB in children.

vaccine
The BCG vaccine has existed for almost a century and is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines. Pixabay

It has also been reported to offer broad protection to respiratory infections.

For the study, the researchers compared large number of countries BCG vaccination policies with the morbidity and mortality for COVID-19.

“We found that countries without universal policies of BCG vaccination (Italy, the Netherlands, the US) have been more severely affected compared to countries with universal and long-standing BCG policies,” said the study conducted by researchers from New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) College of Osteopathic Medicine in the US.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US has increased to 142,502, the highest in terms of infections globally, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).

The CSSE data showed that at least 34,026 people have died due to the disease in the country.

In Italy, which is one of the worst affected countries, 10,779 people have died due to COVID-19.

In this latest study on impact of BCG vaccination on COVID-19, researchers also found that countries that have a late start of universal BCG policy, for example, Iran had high mortality, consistent with the idea that BCG protects the vaccinated elderly population.

“There was a positive significant correlation between the year of the establishment of universal BCG vaccination and the mortality rate, consistent with the idea that the earlier that a policy was established, the larger fraction of the elderly population would be protected,” said the study.

vaccine
BCG vaccine has a documented protective effect against meningitis and disseminated TB in children. Pixabay

“For instance, Iran has a current universal BCG vaccination policy but it just started in 1984, and has an elevated mortality with 19.7 deaths per million inhabitants.

“In contrast, Japan started its universal BCG policy in 1947 and has around 100 times less deaths per million people, with 0.28 deaths. Brazil started universal vaccination in 1920 and also has an even lower mortality rate of 0.0573 deaths per million inhabitants,” the resulst showed.

Iran announced 2,901 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday as the total number of confirmed cases soared to 38,309. Also, the death toll from the disease reached 2,640 in Iran, while 12,391 patients have recovered.

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As the numbers of tuberculosis cases dropped in the late 20th century, several middle high and high-income countries in Europe dropped the universal BCG policy between years 1963 and 2010.

“The combination of reduced morbidity and mortality makes BCG vaccination a potential new tool in the fight against COVID-19,” the researchers concluded.

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Gonzalo H. Otazu of NYIT is the corresponding author of the study.

The COVID-19 death toll in Europe climbed to over 21,000 out of more than 360,000 confirmed cases. (IANS)