DCU academic among consortium calling for a sustained effort across Europe to suppress COVID-19

A consortium of European doctors, scientists, economists and senior academics have called for a sustained effort across Europe to strongly suppress, or eliminate circulating COVID-19 from the continent. Prof Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems at DCU, and a member of the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group on COVID-19 is among those calling for a European strategy to better manage the virus and the development and implementation of synchronised actions across European states.

In a paper published in The Lancet, the group articulates that Europe’s response to the pandemic has been generally fragmented and poorly coordinated, and as a result Europe has experienced both high rates of sickness and deaths, as well as job losses, and huge economic disruption. They argue that this will continue until a successful vaccine campaign has been completed, which is likely to be by December 2021. 

While waiting for this, European governments can choose to continue their current inconsistent policies, with recurring lockdowns as other control measures fail, or decide to get ahead of the virus, and minimise the costs to lives and jobs

remarked Prof Staines. 

To better manage the COVID-19 pandemic, the consortium have proposed a strategy with three core elements; focussing on achieving low case numbers, keeping case numbers low and developing a longer-term common vision. Chief among their recommendations are to aim for no more than 10 new COVID-19 cases per million per day and to take firm action to reduce case numbers quickly, highlighting the effectiveness of strong and timely interventions. They highlight that such actions should be synchronised across all European countries, and by doing so it will enable European borders to remain open. 

In relation to attempts to keep case numbers low, any easing of restrictions should be carefully managed and there should be an increased focus on mitigation measures such as mask wearing, moderate contact reduction. They also argue that local outbreaks require a rapid and rigorous approach, including travel restrictions. There are calls for the development of a longer-term common vision approach to suppressing the virus through the development of “context-sensitive regional and national actions plans as well as European-level goals. There is synergy between countries. – If one has their numbers down, it is easier for the others.”

Calling for Pan-European commitment for rapid and sustained reduction in SARS-CoV-2 infections is published in The Lancet, Embargo Dec 18, 23.30. 

The consortium contains doctors, scientists, economists and senior academics from institutions such as the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, Queen Mary University of London, Inserm in France, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Germany, Institut für Höhere Studien in Austria, Università Di Trento in Italy and L-Università ta’ Malta.

Source: Dublin City University

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