News Release

Would Earlier Measures Have Saved Tens of Thousands?


The New York Times is reporting in “Lockdown Delays Cost at Least 36,000 Lives, Data Show” on a study from Columbia University disease modelers that found that if physical distancing measures had begun “on March 1, two weeks earlier than most people started staying home, the vast majority of the nation’s deaths — about 83 percent — would have been avoided, the researchers estimated.”

ALISON GALVANI, alison.galvani at
Galvani is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis at Yale University. She said today: “This study makes a lot of sense and is consistent with some of our own modeling. It’s undeniable that more rapid implementation of public health interventions would have saved lives. The non-linearity of epidemiological dynamics means that the impact of early action or inaction is amplified over time as an outbreak progresses. The window of opportunity for the prompt containment of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States closed while messages of denial were being propagated by our President. Overall, we were exceedingly slow to implement control strategies.”

Galvani added that lifting distancing measures is now being done prematurely and such actions have “cost thousands upon thousands of lives. I fear that still many more Americans will die unless a more sustained and concerted effort is made to overcome this pandemic.”