London: A combination of robust vaccination programmes and strict physical distancing rules could avoid recurring peaks of Covid-19 outbreak without the need to rely on stay-at-home restrictions, according to a new study.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, predicts that in most cities, vaccination programmes and physical distancing combined will be enough to contain virus resurgence without the need to greatly restrict population mobility.
“Our research provides a framework and set of outputs that can be used by policy-makers and public health authorities to identify appropriate levels of intervention to keep Covid-19 outbreaks in check over time,” said researcher Shengjie Lai from the University of Southampton.
For the study, the team used anonymised mobile phone geolocation data with epidemiological and coronavirus case data from China to model the potential impact of vaccination and physical distancing on virus transmission. They predicted the effect of different combinations of interventions on low, medium and high-density cities in the country.
The impact of physical distancing in containing future resurgences of Covid-19 depends greatly on the intensity of measures, population density, and the availability of vaccines across geographical areas and time. The researchers set out to gain a greater understanding of the relationship between these factors, the researchers said.
The researchers report cities with medium and high-density populations will need both vaccination and distancing to prevent future intense waves of Covid-19 until herd immunity is reached.
However, they suggest cities with low populations and effective vaccination could fully interrupt transmission without the need for physical distancing. In all cities, full ‘stay-at-home’ lockdowns would no longer be necessary. The team’s results also suggest that strong physical distancing interventions implemented for short periods of time may be more effective than mild, long term ones.