Coronavirus lockdown ‘unnecessary’? Some Israeli researchers think so

JERUSALEM POST

“To say we want to minimize the number of infected people is ridiculous.”

Israel could have controlled the coronavirus outbreak without a lockdown, according to a team of Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers. In a new study published on http://www.arxiv.com, Profs. David Gershon, Alexander Lipton and Hagai Levine argue that in countries where the number of intensive care beds per million people is above the threshold of about 100, closures are “unnecessary.” “It was published that before the COVID-19 outburst there were 2,000 beds in Israel and currently around 3,000 beds,” Gershon told The Jerusalem Post. “This means that the lockdown was unnecessary and could be stopped and replaced with a responsible policy of hygienic behavior in public places.” To come to this conclusion, Gershon and his colleagues developed a model to calculate the consumption of ICU beds, and hospital beds in general, during the spread of the pandemic. The model considers each of the stages of the disease, separates between different population groups and calculates the rate of infection, hospitalization and ICU beds for the different populations. “When the numbers that correspond to Israel are plugged into the model then, under the worst assumptions and without any lockdown, the number of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients will not exceed 600,” Gershon said.

The model assumes that the goal is not to overburden the healthcare system, as opposed to reducing the amount of infection or saving lives. If lockdowns are being implemented to buy time until a vaccine is developed or a treatment for the virus found, then lockdowns may potentially protect people from dying of COVID-19. “However, such an approach will lead to economic mayhem, with many people dying from the consequences of economic and financial destruction,” the 24-page report says.

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