No ‘Magic Moment’ to Lift COVID Restrictions


April 6, 2022

There isn’t a “magic second” for states to raise COVID-19 restrictions comparable to face masking guidelines with out dealing with a ensuing rebound in COVID-related deaths, says a new study printed within the Journal of the American Medical Affiliation Well being Discussion board.

Researchers at Massachusetts Basic Hospital, Boston Medical Heart, and Georgia Tech used a simulation mannequin to challenge pandemic deaths in every state between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2022, and predicted how the variety of deaths would possibly change if restrictions had been lifted throughout completely different instances of the yr. 

“In most states, no important second was recognized after which it might be potential to raise NPIs (nonpharmacologic interventions) with out anticipating to see a rebounding surge in deaths,” the examine says. “The message that there isn’t any ‘magic second’ to raise restrictions is vital for each side of the present masking debates within the U.S. These against masks mandates ought to acknowledge the antagonistic well being outcomes associated to stress-free transmission mitigation measures.”

Nevertheless, no quantity of ready to raise restrictions can stave off an inevitable rise in COVID-related dying of a point, the examine mentioned. 

“There may be doubtless no quantity of extra ready time in any state after which eradicating NPIs won’t result in an increase in morbidity and mortality,” the examine says.

Benjamin P. Linas, co-first creator and a professor of medication at Boston College Faculty of Drugs, mentioned the Omicron variant was the primary explanation for the ensuing improve in deaths.

“The inevitable rebound in mortality was instantly attributable to the Omicron variant — once we repeated the evaluation, assuming the infectivity of the earlier Alpha and Delta variants, the mannequin didn’t challenge such rising mortality after stress-free masks mandates,” he advised The Harvard Gazette.

“A tough trade-off lies on the horizon,” co-senior creator Jagpreet Chhatwal, director of MGH’s Institute for Expertise Evaluation, advised The Harvard Gazette. “Whereas there may be ample proof in our evaluation {that a} March 2022 lifting date results in rebound mortality in lots of states, the simulation additionally means that with the Omicron variant, each time states do take away mandates will face the identical tough selection between elevated COVID-19 mortality and the freedoms of returning to a pre-pandemic norm.

“The one intervention that may mitigate this not possible selection is ongoing COVID-19 vaccination with boosters,” Chhatwal mentioned.

The examine mentioned that coverage makers on the state stage should make tough choices, weighing rising deaths in opposition to a return to normalcy.


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