Saturday, January 22

European ‘stop and go’ COVID policies ‘saw more deaths than nations that eliminated the disease’

Australia, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea – all countries that used aggressive public health measures to try to eliminate COVID-19 infections – have had fewer deaths and better economic outcomes than others, a new study revealed.

COVID-19 deaths per million people in these five countries was 25 times lower than in countries that chose to mitigate the spread of the virus rather than try to eliminate it, according to the study published in The lancet on Wednesday he said.

Mitigation as a technique is the use of specific measures aimed at protecting health systems rather than fast and strict closures aimed at completely stopping community transmission.

“We have seen over the past year that those countries that acted preventively and took rapid action against local outbreaks were able to control the virus, while others were always at least one step behind,” said Professor Bary Pradelski of the National Center for Scientific Sciences of France. Research and Oxford-Man Institute.

The researchers analyzed COVID-19 deaths, gross domestic product (GDP) growth, and lockdown restrictions during the first 12 months of the pandemic for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, they said. .

However, they pointed out that “although all the indicators favor elimination,” the analysis “does not prove a causal connection” between the response strategies to the pandemic and the results.

OECD countries that use specific restrictions to mitigate the virus, like many EU countries, also have more economic problems, said the researchers from France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Spain.

“GDP growth returned to pre-pandemic levels in early 2021 in the five countries that opted out, while growth remains negative for the other 32 OECD countries,” the researchers wrote in their analysis.

In a statement, investigators criticized the “stop-and-go” approach to the closures.

“The intermittent strategy is detrimental to long-term economic growth because it prevents companies from planning for the long term. Instead of investing in innovation, they accumulate cash to face the next lockdown. Instead of investing in skills, they hire in the short term.” said Professor Philippe Aghion, an economist and professor at the Collège de France and INSEAD.

They also said that civil liberties appeared to be affected more in OECD countries that opted for mitigation strategies than in those that opted for elimination. This was based on a “stringency index” developed by researchers at the University of Oxford.

Meanwhile, the rapid blocks were shorter in duration, the researchers said.

“Evidence suggests that countries that opt ​​for swift action to eliminate SARS-CoV-2, with strong support from their people, also better protect their economies and minimize restrictions on civil liberties compared to those that fight for mitigation, “say the researchers in the study.

Many of the researchers who published the study have argued in favor of a zero COVID strategy.

They also say that relying solely on vaccination is not enough to control the spread of COVID-19 due to the emergence of new variants and questions about the duration of immunity from vaccination.

The World Health Organization and other public health experts have also asked countries to choose to reduce infection rates before reopening.

Many have criticized EU countries that pursue mitigation strategies for reacting only when it is too late, forcing them to implement strict lockdowns.

But others point out that, in European countries, an elimination strategy could be more difficult to implement due to land borders and cross-border workers.

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