Did closing borders help limit the spread of the coronavirus?

Did closing borders help limit the spread of the coronavirus?

According to some studies, travel restrictions worked at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and became less effective with the second wave

(Photo: Pixabay) At the start of the pandemic, the strategy of closing frontiers has been found to be very effective in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. But now it doesn't seem to be that useful anymore. To tell Nature, at a time when Europe wants to close its borders with the United Kingdom to prevent the spread of the potentially more contagious new variant of the virus, were some experts who, estimating the effect of the strict restrictions on international travel since the start of the pandemic, they point out that border closures have been useful in the first period of the pandemic but, after the coronavirus has spread to many other countries, they have provided little benefit to limit its transmission.

Recall that before the Covid-19 pandemic, most states imposed travel restrictions and closures of their borders only for those countries where outbreaks of infectious diseases were concentrated. But, in most cases, the scientific community speculated that similar measures were largely ineffective, so much so that at the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO), for example, advised governments to keep borders open. .

Despite this recommendation, almost all countries have chosen to close their borders not only to regions with outbreaks, but also to all other nations, thus contributing to an unprecedented decline in tourism, which continues today. "We did not think that governments around the world would be willing to impose total border closures and related restrictive measures that would cost the global economy about $ 400 billion a month," York epidemiologist Steven Hoffman told Nature. University of Toronto.

What the studies say

Most of the studies that have examined the effects of travel restrictions are based on theoretical mathematical models (since observational studies require much longer). In a review published last month in medRxiv, for example, the research team at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, looked at as many as 29 studies. "The pandemic has shown researchers that, in some situations, travel restrictions help keep outbreaks under control," says study author Kelley Lee: "Previously, the general opinion was that they didn't work at all and undermine human rights" . However, the expert adds, the benefits of the closure of the borders were short-lived. last year they would have contributed to the increase of more than 10% of total coronavirus cases in 102 countries in the same month. While in September the positive effect of the closure of the borders decreased significantly. Results, therefore suggesting that border closures are not always justified, but must be analyzed from time to time.

"Countries should not automatically decide that, just because there is a pandemic, they must be limited travel, ”says study author Mark Jit, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Now, the researchers point out, observational studies will be needed in order to effectively evaluate the usefulness of completely closing the borders of a nation. “There's a good chance a lot of what we're doing is doing more harm than good,” concludes Hoffman.

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