These 3 Things Could Prevent Almost All COVID Cases, Study Finds
These simple measures could significantly slow the spread of the virus, according to experts.
Specific public health measures may be as effective at fighting COVID as a vaccine, a new study reports. The research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Jan. 13, reveals that three specific practices combined can reduce your likelihood of spreading or catching COVID by up to 96 percent. Read on to discover what can help slash your COVID risk, and for more ways to stay healthy, Doing This to Your Mask Could Keep You Even Safer From COVID, Experts Say.
In a computer-simulated college campus setting, researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that practicing social distancing and implementing mandatory mask use could prevent 87 percent of COVID infections on college campuses. However, combining social distancing and mandatory mask use with regular COVID testing could prevent between 92 and 96 percent of new COVID cases, according to the study's authors—rates similar to the efficacy of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines currently available in the U.S.
"It is clear that two common non-medical strategies are very effective and inexpensive—and allow for some in-person instruction," explained Pooyan Kazemian, the study's co-senior author and an assistant professor of operations at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve. Read on to discover just how effective a variety of other prevention methods would be, and for more insight into where COVID is spreading, check out This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.
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Social distancing alone would only reduce COVID by a minimal amount.
While social distancing may be an effective means of reducing infection when combined with masks, if it's implemented alone, it won't do much, the study's authors found. In fact, "minimal social distancing" would only reduce infection rates by 16 percent. And for more on staying safe, check out If You're Not Doing This, Your Mask Won't Protect You, Study Says.
Online-only instruction would reduce case numbers less than masking and distancing.
Though it may seem like an effective means of lowering the spread of COVID among students, researchers found that doing online-only instruction actually meant more students ended up contracting COVID than if they were doing in-person instruction while taking preventative measures. The study's researchers found that switching to entirely online instruction would lower COVID rates on campus by just 63 percent, versus the 87 percent reduction accomplished through masking and distancing. And for the latest COVID news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Without any public health measures in place, the majority of students would catch COVID.
In the absence of social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing, COVID would spread like wildfire, the study's authors found. According to their research, close to 75 percent of students and close to 17 percent of faculty would be infected if neither measure was abided by. And for more on the latest with the vaccine, check out If You Take These OTC Meds, You Have to Stop Before Getting the Vaccine.
Mask wearing and practicing social distancing are the lowest cost options for preventing COVID.
Researchers found that the combination of mandatory mask use and social distancing could be done at a moderate cost. According to the study's model, the two measures would result in an associated cost of $170 per averted infection. And for the latest on the COVID variants recently discovered in the U.S., see why Dr. Fauci Says This One New COVID Strain Is "Disturbing."
Adding testing to the mix would increase the cost dramatically.
While the significant jump in efficacy associated with adding testing to on-campus COVID protocols may be appealing, including regular testing raises the cost of keeping students safe significantly. Depending on how often students are tested, the cost of combining all three measures could range between $2,000 and $17,000 for every case of COVID they prevent, researchers found. And for more insight into COVID testing, find out why The CDC Just Made This COVID Precaution Mandatory.