Responses to the Spanish Flu could have implications for how to proceed with social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic, Bloomberg News reports.

Harvard University economist Robert Barro writes that “the likely reason” school closings, prohibitions on public gatherings, and quarantines and isolation in various U.S. cities didn’t save many lives is that they “had an average duration of only one month.” 

“The lesson for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in 2020 is that, to curtail overall deaths, the NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions] used have to be maintained for substantially longer than a few weeks. Most likely, 12 weeks work much better than 4-6 weeks,” Barro writes in the National Bureau of Economic Research working paper.

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