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Home » Discover Rackham » Modeling the Benefits of Masks and Social Distancing

As researchers look for new tools to help public health officials understand and combat COVID-19, a team of U-M scientists found that some of the smallest actions have some of the biggest impacts, according to a new article.

Rackham student April Nellis was part of a team from the U-M Department of Mathematics that developed a mathematical model designed to show how various lockdown levels affect the mortality rate of COVID-19, as well as the economy. According to their results, taking personal safety precautions, specifically wearing masks and practicing social distancing, reduced the infection rate and, therefore, the duration of a lockdown—leading to both a much lower mortality rate and limited economic losses.

The model also predicts that the United States may achieve herd immunity before a vaccine can be developed, though Nellis states that does not diminish the importance of a vaccine—as an individual’s immunity fades over time, a vaccine can help ensure long-term protection from the disease.

“There are some personal behaviors that affect the transmission of the virus,” Nellis says. “If you combine a lockdown with people being more careful—all these things help with slowing the spread of the virus, which means our lockdowns can be shorter.”

Read the full story at the University Record.

 

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