2023-08-25 10:28

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The Impact Of COVID Across Europe - 8 April 2021

Derek Maylor, NW BT Unions H&S Co-ord member and Health & Safety Officer (Telecom section) of the CWU's Grter Mersey Amal Branch; reports on a Royal Society Of Medicine webinar, looking at the Covid situation across Europe:

Today’s speakers were:

Professor Walter RicciardiProf. of Public Health, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, & Past President, Italian National Institute of Health;

Professor Melanie Brinkmann Prof. Institute of Genetics, Technische Universität Braunschweig & Head of Viral Immune Modulation research group, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research:

Professor Karine Lacombe Head of Infectious Diseases Department, Saint-Antoine Hospital, Paris.

Figures remain very high in France, notably the patients are now younger and their stay in hospitals are becoming longer, therefore they are longer in ICUs, so less deaths but beds are in short supply. In Germany the situation is similar; things are developing in a bad way.

Alarmingly a major issue is that medical personal are exhausted, some are questioning their roles. We need to look at staffing across the board not lose them. They have had a year of intense pressure; they are not leaving directly because of the virus but the overwork and stress often created by poor government decisions.

Other countries where they have had SARS and/or MERS previously they took the right decisions quickly, Australia and New Zealand acted decisively whereas Europe was too fragmented; consider the situation over vaccines in Europe. Australia and New Zealand are open and have created a travel bubble so they can go to each other’s country.

France has a evening/night curfew but not a lock down so during the day people can go out shopping and use public transport. There are 400 deaths a day in France, a plane crash every day. In Germany schools have been closed for several months but then they went back two weeks before Easter, politicians feel that they are under pressure to open up.         

If we don’t explain what we need to do honestly and fully we will just go round in a circle, it is not good psychologically for people, and they have to be told the uncomfortable truths. New Zealand politicians were called fascists when they quickly introduced very strict measures and controls a year ago but those critics have vanished and government actions have been proved correct. 

Vaccines hesitancy was a major issue for many reasons, but now the race is to get sufficient quantities of the vaccine, it is still not as good as the roll out in the UK or the USA.

It was difficult to get all the 27 countries in EU to agree at the beginning and this held the vaccination roll out back. In Hungary they have imported vaccine from Russia and China and they are building their consensus slowly as politically they are in a very different place still. 
It was noted that the World Health Organisation is not an international policeman; it is there to promote global health for all, so more about advice, equity, direction and consensus. Individual countries maintain sovereignty over what they do or don't do, it’s not WHOs fault if they do nothing or the wrong things.

The summer is coming but the virus is not seasonal like flu, however people will be happy to be outdoors and distance because it’s a sunny day, if a family goes to the beach they look for space. Scientists are not here to tell politicians what to do, but to provide the evidence and the modelling, all for better or for worse, and then the politicians take the decisions.

Need to critically look at all societies and how they have coped, deaths and socially, look at communications or will have yo-yo lock downs. We need a European solution, it is no good getting rid of the virus if you next door neighbour still has it. It’s not gone until it’s all gone.

The Royal Society of Medicine www.rsm.ac.uk

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