This will be the physical distance on commercial flights 2:02

(CNN Spanish) – Since the arrival of the coronavirus and the increase in cases globally, governments around the world have established quarantines and strict measures of social distancing to prevent further spread of covid-19.

According to two studies published in the journal Nature, and carried out by Stanford University and the Imperial College of London, social distancing has prevented more than 500 million infections and more than 3 million deaths.

You can listen to this episode on Spotify or your favorite podcast platform or read the transcript below.

Hello, I am Dr. Elmer Huerta and this is your daily dose of information about the new coronavirus, information that we hope will be useful to take care of your health and that of your family. Today we will look at two studies that show that social distancing measures have saved millions of lives.

One of the buzzwords in these times of pandemic is “social distancing,” which is defined as the public health practice that aims to prevent infected people from coming into close contact with healthy people, to reduce the chance of contagion. of infectious diseases.

The first thing is to understand the scientific basis of social distancing.

When an infectious disease is transmitted through the respiratory tract – as is the case with covid-19 – it is impossible to stop the progression of the disease, if people are not separated by a certain distance.

In the case of influenza and this new coronavirus, that distance is approximately 1 to 2 meters.

The big question then is: How can we make the population at risk keep a distance of 1 to 2 meters from each other?

The easiest -and drastic- way to do this is through a quarantine, in which people are forced to stay at home, avoiding leaving, and therefore avoiding close contact with other people.

In addition to quarantine, social distancing also includes large-scale social measures, such as canceling group events or closing public spaces, some examples being the closure of schools, universities and workplaces, cancellation of sports, artistic and other forms of gathering of large groups such as religious services and conferences.

In other words, the objective of social distancing, then, is to make the disease – by reducing contagions – disappear (according to its degree of contagiousness). That was what happened in 2003 with SARS, a disease that was completely contained, carrying out tests to discover the virus, isolating positive cases and their contacts. The advantage also was that the SARS coronavirus was much less contagious than this new coronavirus.

And is there evidence that quarantines work?

Aside from the historical evidence related to the 1918 pandemic described in a previous episode, and that demonstrated an important benefit of quarantines, now, two recent studies show that social distancing measures have prevented millions of infections.

In the first study, published electronically in the journal Nature on May 8, American researchers at Stanford University study the impact of 1,717 local, regional, and national measures of social isolation in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, and the United States. Its objective was to evaluate the effect of these measures of social isolation on the growth rate of infections by the new coronavirus.

The study concludes that in these six countries, social distancing measures prevented or delayed approximately 62 million confirmed cases. Because most of these primary cases are rarely diagnosed and isolated, the actual number of total infections prevented is approximately 530 million.

Country analysis revealed that 285 million total infections were prevented in China, 49 million in Italy, 45 million in France and 60 million in the United States.

The second study, also published electronically in the journal Nature on May 8 by researchers at the Imperial College London, estimates the impact of social distancing measures in 11 European countries.

Their conclusion is that social isolation measures have prevented the deaths of 3.1 million people in those 11 countries, including half a million in England alone. The study also found that the total number of infections decreased by 82% in the 11 countries studied.

This study also finds – and this is a serious blow to the hope that the majority of the European population may already be infected and reach the so-called protection of the group or the herd – that only 3.2 to 4% of the population has been infected with the new coronavirus.

There is no doubt that until an effective medicine or vaccine is found or until 60 to 70% of the world population is infected, measures of social distancing will be an important part of controlling the pandemic.

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If you have any questions, you can send them to Dr. Elmer Huerta on Twitter. You can also go to for all the episodes of our podcast ‚ÄúCoronavirus: Reality vs. fiction”.