At least 36,000 people who died from COVID-19 complications in the United States could have been saved if the country imposed a lockdown one week earlier, according to new data.
The estimates from a new Columbia University study showed that social distancing measures could have prevented the deaths if they were announced around March 7, a week earlier than most states did.
They also reveal that about 83 percent of deaths recorded in the country could have been prevented if it had declared the anti-coronavirus measures two weeks earlier.
The US President Donald Trump has been accused of delaying in his response to the health crisis, though he insisted early measures were announced to nip it in the bud.
The country, which is the worst hit by the pandemic with 1.6 million cases and 95,000 deaths, went into a national emergency over the health crisis on March 13.
As of the time, it had recorded just 1,700 cases of the disease while the death toll was at 41.
Columbia University disease modellers, however, report that about 54,000 fewer people would have died by early May if early measures were announced to curb the spread of the disease.
Results from the study also show that as states reopen, the spread of the virus can easily get out of control unless there is close monitoring of infections, with each day of delay coming at a great cost.
Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist and the leader of the research team, told New York Times such early measures are critical in reducing the casualty figure.
“It is a big, big difference. That small moment in time, catching it in that growth phase, is incredibly critical in reducing the number of deaths,” Shaman said.
Globally, over five million people have been infected with the coronavirus which has killed not about 330,000.
In Nigeria, parts of which are now relaxing restriction measures, at least 6,600 people have been infected while 202 have died from the disease.