“I have seen the IHME study and I agree with the broad conclusions,” Richard Stutt, PhD, of the Epidemiology and Modelling Group at the University of Cambridge, UK, told Medscape Medical News.
“Case numbers are climbing in the US, and without further intervention, there will be a significant number of deaths over the coming months,” he said.
Masks are low cost and widely available, Stutt said. “I am hopeful that even if masks are not widely adopted, we will not see as many deaths as predicted here, as these outbreaks can be significantly reduced by increased social distancing or lockdowns.”
“However this comes at a far higher economic cost than the use of masks, and still requires action,” added Stutt, who authored a study in June that modeled facemasks in combination with “lock-down” measures for managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Modeling study results depend on the assumptions researchers make, and the IHME team rightly tested a number of different assumptions, Greenhalgh said.
“The key conclusion,” she added, “is here: ‘The implementation of SDMs as soon as individual states reach a threshold of 8 daily deaths per million could dramatically ameliorate the effects of the disease; achieving near-universal mask use could delay, or in many states, possibly prevent, this threshold from being reached and has the potential to save the most lives while minimizing damage to the economy.’ “
“This is a useful piece of information and I think is borne out by their data,” added Greenhalgh, lead author of an April study on face masks for the public during the pandemic.
You can visit the IHME website for the most current mortality projections.
Caplan, Greenhalgh, and Stutt have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
This article first appeared on Medscape.com.