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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Less costly pandemic mitigation measures may slow the spread of the coronavirus just as well as lockdowns — if not better — according to a new study published in Nature Human Behaviour.

Why it matters: As cases continue to rise in the U.S., Americans may be more palatable to interventions that are less painful than the spring's stay-at-home orders.

What they're saying: "A smaller package of such measures can substitute for a full lockdown in terms of effectiveness, while reducing adverse impacts on society, the economy, the humanitarian response system and the environment," the authors write.

Details: The study examined the impact of more than 6,000 non-pharmaceutical interventions implemented in March and April in 79 territories worldwide.

What they found: "Surprisingly, communicating on the importance of social distancing has been only marginally less effective than imposing distancing measures by law," the authors write.

  • Food assistance and other financial supports for vulnerable populations are also highly effective, because they can help people stay home while sick without risking losing their job, for example.
  • The study also endorsed some of the component restrictions the U.S. has imposed — banning public gatherings, limiting people's movements, closing schools and border restrictions — over the more sweeping lockdowns in other countries, some of which barely allowed people to leave their homes, even to be alone outside.

Yes, but: The U.S. does not have clear, authoritative political communication about the need for social distancing, and Congress is not likely to pass a financial aid package that would enable many Americans to stay home for very long.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Oxford University says its coronavirus vaccine is up to 90% effective

A scientist working during at the Oxford Vaccine Group's laboratory facility at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, England, in June. Photo: Steve Parsons/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The University of Oxford announced Monday that a COVID-19 vaccine it's developed with AstraZeneca is 70.4% effective in preventing people from developing symptoms, per interim data from Phase 3 trials.

Why it matters: The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is shown to work in different age groups and can be stored at fridge temperature. It is much cheaper than other vaccines in development and is part of the global COVAX initiative, designed to ensure doses go where they're most needed.

Operation Warp Speed leader: COVID vaccine push is "isolated from a political environment"

Moncef Slaoui in the Rose Garden on Nov. 13. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui, the White House's top scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, told Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the Trump administration's efforts to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine is "isolated from a political environment" and that a change in administration "doesn't, frankly, make a difference" on its efficacy.

Why it matters: Slaoui told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he has not yet had contact with Joe Biden's transition team, as the president-elect prepares to inherit one of the country's biggest crises ahead of an expected vaccine distribution effort that would require massive logistical cooperation between states and the federal government.

10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

California governor and family in quarantine after coronavirus exposure

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) tweeted late Sunday that he and his family are quarantining after being exposed to COVID-19.

Details: Newsom said they learned Friday that three of his children had come into contact with a California Highway Patrol officer who tested positive for the coronavirus. "Thankfully, the entire family tested negative today," Newsom said.

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