Brussels called on the EU governments to be “brave” to take new and drastic measures to “save lives”.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020 will go down in history as the day the pillars of the confinements of the second wave of the coronavirus. With infections growing at exponential rates in almost all of Europe and hospitals starting to overflow, most governments are beginning to feel the pressure and are studying the imposition of new house confinements. Brussels tried this Wednesday to take stock of the situation and coordinate the Member States to prevent each one from taking different and sometimes contradictory measures.
The president of the European Commission, Úrsula Von der Leyen, said that infections will continue to increase “in the next two or three weeks”, without clarifying whether they will stop increasing because restrictions will tighten or because lockdowns are just around the corner. or if they will do it for some other reason. It did ask governments to be “brave” to take the necessary measures “To save lives”.
The Commission is trying to coordinate the Member States so that at this Thursday’s summit – by videoconference – they commit to do not take unilateral measuresEspecially that they allow the borders to remain open because it is essential for cross-border workers and the transport of goods. Von der Leyen estimates that right now, of the 440 million residents in the 27 Member States, there are 1.1 million active cases.
The president of the executive arm of the European Union also said Wednesday that it is fighting against two enemies, the virus and the fed up of the citizens, but that we continue to depend on ourselves to stop the spread of the pathogen: “I understand that people are tired but we cannot lower our guard. We are in a serious moment ”.
Von der Leyen asked Europeans to “avoid crowds, close contacts and poorly ventilated places.”
Peter Piot, the Belgian epidemiologist who advises Von der Leyen – director of the London Institute of Tropical Medicine, discoverer of the Ebola virus, director of UNAIDS and who has passed through dozens of the most reputed medical schools on the planet – considers that there are “A ray of hope because even though many people still die, they are relatively less than in spring.”
That is due, he says, to the fact that “we know more about the disease and how we should treat it even if we do not have drugs.”
Piot calculates that the measures taken by the 27 have caused that approximately 60% of Europeans are wearing chinstraps, but that if we raised that percentage above 90% it would save hundreds of thousands of lives. Piot assures that, on average, 1,000 Europeans have died a day in the last week, but that “the risk of dying has been reduced by half compared to the spring.”
This professor believes that “in many European countries the situation is such at present, with such extensive community contagion, that some degree of home confinement is necessary to stop the virus and save lives.” Piot lamented that governments did not “fix the roof when the sun was shining,” because much more could have been done during the summer to prepare for this second wave.
Piot’s messages were not exactly optimistic: “we are in this for the long term” and “there are no shortcuts, shortcuts would cost millions of lives.” Also that “this will not end anywhere until it ends at all.” Piot considers that without drastic measures “the death toll will be enormous, something that in the 21st century we cannot accept, it is not ethical.”
Piot and four solutions: 1) that the virus mute and it becomes less infectious and less serious, something highly unlikely; 2) that the herd immunity, for which millions of people will have to die; 3) a long-term home confinement that will send to Europe to poverty; 4) a vaccine.
Von der Leyen added that “the vaccine will not be a miraculous event that changes everything from one day to the next.” And he said something that maybe we all know but don’t want to hear: “This year we will have another kind of christmas”.
Martin Blachier, one of the most listened to epidemiologists in France, assures that the incidence of the virus is so strong that there is practically no other option than another home confinement. And that this is true for France and for all of Europe.
Among Von der Leyen’s announcements, beyond the warnings, the most important is that the European Commission is going to directly buy antigen tests to distribute them to the Member States.
For this, it provides an expense of 100 million euros. It will also encourage Member States to recognize the results of tests carried out in any other Member State and will evaluate national testing strategies to recommend improvements if necessary.
Piot also warned that when this second wave of the virus passes, we must be very careful with the relaxation of restrictions and draw the lessons of the summer: “if we relax too much we will have a third wave.” Von der Leyen seconded him: “the exit strategy of the first wave was too fast, the restrictions were relaxed too