Non-Pharmaceutical Strategies Are Capable For COVID-19 Control
Since the COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019, it has spread rapidly worldwide, resulting in a global pandemic. Even though more people are being vaccinated daily, the world is still struggling to resist the new, more infectious COVID-19 strains and has seen wave after wave of the pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, as of the last week of February 2022, a total of 426,624,859 confirmed cases and 5,899,578 fatalities attributable to the virus had been registered in 228 countries or territories around the world. Non-pharmaceutical strategies for COVID-19 control were extensively used as primary tools in those countries that were significantly hit early on, with encouraging outcomes. The NPI are community-based public health initiatives that aim at COVID-19 control. After vaccination, NPIs are the most effective public health therapy against COVID-19.
A group of researchers led by Xiao Zhou and Paolo Santi and affiliated with Renmin University of China's Gaoling School of Artificial Intelligence in Beijing, China, The University of Hong Kong's Department of Urban Planning in Hong Kong, China, the Senseable City Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, USA, and the Istituto di Informatica e Telematica del CNR in Pisa, Italy. The researchers used the US COVID-19 policy dataset, as well as epidemiological and mobility data aggregated at the state level, to quantify the correlations between mobility and critical measures of population-level transmission in the framework of the COVID-19 outbreak, both before and after the availability of the vaccines available in the US. They also assessed the efficiency of NPI combinations in specific states and established new best techniques for balancing public health and socioeconomic implications in COVID-19 management.
The six alternative solutions were better when the findings were compared to the current policy methods. This implies that it is required to investigate new potential solutions for improved trade-offs between COVID-19 regulation and mobility maintenance. Among these six optimum solutions, the NPIs of declaring a state of emergency, wearing face masks in places of commerce, shutting restaurants, movie theatres, and gyms, and issuing stay-at-home orders are predicted to be adopted with vigour. In contrast, the closure of non-essential firms seems unnecessary, consistent with the occurrence found earlier in assessing current optimum solutions—the primary differences between the probable optimum solutions revealed here and the current ones for phase 1. Essentially, the new recommended ideal solutions focus on the need to shut child care institutions and the flexibility of bar closures. The following important finding of the study was reported:
- There are significant disparities in optimum policy designs for the ten states analysed, suggesting the need of implementing unique and tailored COVID-19 response strategies in each specific condition.
- current policy strategies rarely appear in the list of newly proposed ones, implying that there are a significant number of alternatives available for COVID-19 control beyond current policy programs
- new solutions generated that are preferable to the current ones, offering potential solutions that could be considered to replace the existing ones to policymakers;
- For each state, two distinct stages exhibit vastly disparate methods in terms of policy categories and degree of policy enactment.
In particular, phase 2 designs involve fewer policy kinds and quantities than phase 1 in general. This characteristic may be explained by the availability of vaccinations in phase 2 when COVID-19 control no longer depends exclusively on NPIs. Another significant finding is the presence of underlying temporal relationships between human movement and viral transmission, which might be bidirectional and dynamic. People, for example, might modify their travel habits if there was a significant increase in coronavirus cases; and changes in mobility patterns would, in turn, influence confirmed cases within a few days.
The researchers presented thorough insights into the spatiotemporal dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak at various phases, emphasizing the critical importance of specific essential intervention portfolios in pandemic containment. Multiple linear regression analysis is utilized in a bivariate scenario to investigate the relationship between transmission and mobility variables using vector autoregressive models and the Granger causality tests. Vector autoregression is a popular statistical approach for analyzing multivariate time series. Granger causality analysis began in econometrics to study the directed interactions between time series.
According to the findings, the Granger causality link was substantial during phase 1 in California but not during phase 2. The phenomenon may be explained as persons adjusting their movement habits dramatically in phase 1 to news of confirmed coronavirus infections. However, this behavioral reaction was not as noticeable when vaccinations were accessible, suggesting that individuals felt better protected by vaccination. However, adopting non-pharmaceutical strategies for COVID-19 control provided better space for Governments to open businesses.
Getting vaccinated, staying at home, wearing masks in public, attempting to avoid congested areas, maintaining a safe distance from others, ventilation systems indoor spaces, managing possible exposure periods, washing thoroughly with soap and warm frequently and for at least twenty seconds, practicing good respiratory hygiene, and avoiding touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands have been the most critical non-pharmaceutical strategies for COVID-19 control.
Those who have been detected with COVID19 or suspect they may be contaminated are recommended to stay at home unless they need medical attention, call ahead before visiting a healthcare provider, wear a face mask before entering the healthcare provider's office and when in any room or vehicle with another person, cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, wash hands frequently with soap and water, and avoid sharing personal household items.