June 8 (UPI) -- The international response to the coronavirus pandemic saved more than 3 million lives in Europe and prevented hundreds of millions from getting sick, researchers said Monday.
The research, published Monday in the journal Nature, said large-scale intervention like lockdown and distancing measures prevented at least 3.1 million deaths in several European nations, including a half-million in Britain.
"Major non-pharmaceutical interventions and lockdown[s] in particular have had a large effect on reducing transmission," epidemiologists at Imperial College London wrote.
Researchers recommended that the measures be maintained to keep transmission of COVID-19 "under control," noting that just 4 percent of the population in 11 nations -- Britain, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland -- have so far been exposed to the virus.
"Our estimates imply that the populations in Europe are not close to herd immunity."
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, said lockdown measures in the United States prevented about 60 million cases in the United States and about 285 million in China, two major epicenters of the outbreak. All told, they said the measures averted 530 million cases in six nations -- China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States -- up to the beginning of April.
Without the intervention, experts concluded, early cases would have expanded by nearly 40 percent per day.
"We find that anti-contagion policies have significantly and substantially slowed this growth," they said.
Researchers said the study results could greatly aid nations that are now in the early stages of the pandemic.
"These findings may help inform whether or when these policies should be deployed, intensified, or lifted, and they can support decision-making in the other 180-plus countries where COVID-19 has been reported," they wrote.
To date, there have been more than 7 million coronavirus cases worldwide since the start of the pandemic and more than 400,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.