Governments around the world responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with policies to slow the growth rate of infections. Many actions, such as closing schools and keeping people in their homes, have large costs for society. Researchers have looked at the benefits of these policies in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, and the United States. Their goal was to assess what impact the policies (such as stay at home orders, social distancing, mask wearing) had on the growth rate of infections. They found that these measures prevented or delayed 530 million total infections. Elsewhere other researchers have suggested that, overall, between 3.2% and 4.0% of the population have been infected with COVID-19. The lockdowns and other measures may have contributed to this low number, but this also means that further waves of COVID-19 could occur unless a vaccine is developed.
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