The restrictive measures will continue to play a crucial role in the first phase of the vaccination campaign in Italy: they will have to be adequately maintained, at least until the most vulnerable subjects are fully immunized, so that the new viral variants do not cause infections and deaths to rise again.
This is demonstrated by a study published in Nature Medicine by the University of Trento in collaboration with the Policlinico San Matteo and the University of Pavia, the University of Udine and the Polytechnic of Milan.
The epidemiological modeling work evaluated the health costs (deaths, occupancy of beds and intensive care) related to different scenarios of the evolution of the epidemic, simulated by varying parameters such as the speed of vaccination, the contagiousness of the new variants and the severity of the restrictions. .
The data shows that "vaccination affects the epidemic curve less than restrictive measures," explains Giulia Giordano, first author of the study and researcher in the industrial engineering department at the University of Trento. "The restrictions can contain infections even without vaccines, and remain essential in the first phase of the vaccination campaign to reduce health costs and deaths". The second important fact that emerges from the models concerns the alternation of openings and closings. "With the same duration of the opening and closing periods - says Giordano - a preventive strategy that anticipates closures significantly reduces hospitalizations and deaths compared to a late intervention: we could avoid up to 20,000 deaths by January 2022, without aggravating social costs- economic ".
In the worst case scenario, with a vaccination campaign at stake and mild restrictions, another 300,000 deaths from Covid could be counted in Italy by next January. "If the vaccination proceeds quickly, reaching 90% of the population by the year, we could reduce the new deaths to 51,000, even with reduced restrictions," adds the researcher. "If vaccination were to be compromised by the blockade of supplies, we could still reduce the new deaths to 30,000 by implementing the restrictions."