In a 2023 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Mohsen Farhadloo, an assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management and Business Technology at the John Molson School of Business, and James Peters, a doctoral candidate at Concordia University, argue that governments' measures should be taken to prevent the spread of the disease Measures implemented around the world during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic “were generally effective in mitigating the impact of the health consequences of COVID-19.”
Ten non-pharmaceutical measures implemented between January and June 2020 were analyzed, including the wearing of face coverings, school and business closures, social distancing and travel restrictions.
The research consists of a systematic review that integrates quantitative data from 44 studies around the world. The aim, therefore, was to “review research that has examined the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions on some aspects of health, such as the number of cases (of COVID-19) or the impact of interventions on hospitalizations or on mortality rates.” of the population,” explains Dr. Farhadloo during an interview with The Canadian Press.
Researchers noted that previous studies focused almost exclusively on reducing mortality rates and wanted to change that. “It was important for us to consider the impact not only on mortality, but also on cases and hospitalizations, as these were relevant consequences of the pandemic,” explains James Peters via email.
According to Mohsen Farhadloo, research that focuses on only one variable, namely the impact on mortality, can lead to incorrect conclusions.
The researchers' findings show that wearing a mask would have led to a reduction in cases worldwide of 2.76 cases per 100,000 people and a mortality rate of 0.19%. According to Dr. Farhadloo, travel restrictions have reduced the growth rate of cases by 10% and school closures by 8%.
For James Peters, the most surprising result of the study is the time between the announcement of a health measure and its concrete effects. “We found, for example, that containment measures resulted in a decrease of 2.9 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, but these effects were only observed four weeks after their implementation,” he mentions. According to the study, the closure of restaurants and bars only had an impact after four weeks, namely a reduction in mortality.
The researchers urge policymakers to take this delay in results into account when it comes time to develop or evaluate these measures.
Overall, for these researchers, the results prove that the measures all had at least one impact, either on reducing the number of cases, hospitalizations or deaths related to COVID-19.
This research, launched in 2022, is “a response to existing misinformation about health on social networks,” says Dr. Farhadloo.
In his opinion, it is still very easy to contribute to disinformation on the Internet or even in scientific literature.
The researcher noted that there is a lot of misinformation on social networks, which represents a “very serious” problem. “Raising public awareness of the spread of health-related misinformation is critical, and it is important to understand that we need to provide the public with ways to evaluate the quality of the health information they receive on social networks,” he adds.
Dr. Farhadloo is currently conducting research into the quality of health information distributed on the social network X, formerly Twitter.