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World Why going 'zero-COVID' could put an end to Europe's worst outbreak

13:06  14 august  2020
13:06  14 august  2020 Source:   nbcnews.com

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It can take a long time for the tide to go out - possibly years. It is clear the current strategy of But the coronavirus is not going to disappear. If you lift the restrictions that are holding the virus back, then Developing drugs that can successfully treat a Covid -19 infection could aid the other strategies too.

For much of Europe , the peak of Covid -19 infections has passed. But while hospitals are no longer awash with acute cases, there are thousands of She, like many others, has not had a positive test but her physician has put suspected covid on her formal sick notes for work. When she fell ill at the end

LONDON — The United Kingdom has been battered by the coronavirus.

a large crowd of people at a beach © Provided by NBC News

The government’s response has been heavily criticized, the human and economic costs have been huge and a "second wave" may be looming.

Of the 20 countries most affected by COVID-19, the U.K. has the highest deaths per capita — more than 70 per 100,000 — according to Johns Hopkins University.

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This is why . Why might a vaccine fail? Earlier this week, England’ s deputy chief medical officer Researchers at Oxford University recently analysed blood from recovered Covid -19 patients and Hopes for eliminating the virus start with a vaccine but do not end there. “If and when we have a

RUSSIA IS MORE successful in fighting covid -19 than the West, thanks to its superior health-care system Moscow admitted that the real number of cases could be significantly higher than officially We will put an end to all this,” Mr Gorbachev told his politburo at the time. Mr Putin, who began his This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline "The anatomy of lies".

But an increasing number of experts believe it doesn't have to be this way.

Scientists are warming to the idea that the U.K. might be able to follow in the footsteps of another island nation, New Zealand, and eliminate community transmission in a matter of months.

New Zealand had gone 102 days without any new infections, before four new infections prompted the city of Auckland to lock down on Wednesday. Prime Minister Jacinda Adern has urged people to stay home and stop the spread.

This "zero-COVID-19 approach" has already been adopted by the governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland, both of which are part of the U.K. but have national governments that set their own health policy.

a police car parked on the side of a road: Image: Ireland (Charles McQuillan / Getty Images file) © Charles McQuillan Image: Ireland (Charles McQuillan / Getty Images file)

And supporters of a zero-COVID-19 approach are now imploring British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has faced criticism for what political opponents and some health experts call a sluggish and lackluster response to the pandemic, to do the same in England.

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Weeks after lifting stay-at-home orders, some states are seeing record numbers of hospitalizations from Covid -19. "We're going to have to face the harsh reality in some states that we may need to shut down again," one doctor says.

A New Statistic Reveals Why America’ s COVID -19 Numbers Are Flat. More than two months into the country’ s outbreak , this remains the most important question for its people, schools At least 630,000 people nationwide now have test-confirmed cases of COVID -19, according to The Atlantic’ s COVID

"It's like peeing in a swimming pool," said Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh and an adviser to the Scottish government.

"Just because someone is peeing in one side doesn't mean everyone isn't going to get dirty," she said, referring to the idea that a COVID-19-free country or region could still be vulnerable to importing infections from outside if it doesn't impose quarantines and other restrictions.

The current policy in England is to prioritize the reopening of society where possible, while imposing local lockdown measures in areas where the virus flares up. The government likens this to hitting a car's gas or brake pedal depending on the desired speed.

Critics worry that this reactive strategy, accepting that the virus will circulate at a certain level, will lock the nation in purgatory, putting businesses in an impossible bind if they are forced to open and close repeatedly.

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The number of deaths in Europe was less than the negative numbers reported by Spain that day. Geographic distribution of 14-day cumulative number of reported COVID -19 cases per 100 000 population, worldwide, as of 8 August 2020.

Unlike America and much of Europe , South Korea has never instituted a complete lockdown. Even at the height of the outbreak people remained mostly free to go Similar efforts are starting to appear in Europe . In March Germany’ s public-health institute put out a job advertisement aimed at students for

A zero-COVID-19 approach, on the other hand, would favor immediate caution in the hope of a larger pay-off later. In theory, this would stamp out transmission within the community and then use an aggressive testing regime to find and isolate any imported new cases.

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I put Covid -19 on a couple of certificates, and not on a couple of others. I do know that other doctors put down Covid -19 on anyone who died from early March onwards. Those supporting lockdown, and advising governments, can point to how deadly Covid was, and say we were right to do what we did.

Why deliberately inflate your figures? For pointing out the over-reporting of Covid -19 deaths and daring to claim that Covid -19 is no worse than a bad Covid -19 has certainly been a serious disease, but the flu epidemics of 1957 and 1967 were just as bad , if not worse , with regard to total fatalities.

It doesn't aim to just "flatten the curve" — but to crush it.

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Lockdown measures would be eased more slowly than they have been in England. And there would be quarantines and restrictions on nonessential travel, not only at external borders but inside the country, too, if domestic hot spots emerge.

These might sound extreme, but such policies have already been imposed in New Zealand. Only citizens and residents are allowed entry — everyone else is barred without a good reason — and even then they must pay $2,000 for the cost of their own 14-day government-enforced isolation. In Australia, the border of the virus-hit state of Victoria has been closed to nonessential travel.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Image: Barcelona (Nacho Doce / Reuters file) © Nacho Doce Image: Barcelona (Nacho Doce / Reuters file)

However, New Zealand is far smaller than the U.K. in terms of its economy and population, so if England were to go down this route there would be huge implications for international trade and vacations.

Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London, told NBC News that New Zealand should to be congratulated on its success.

Still, with fewer than 6 million people and very low population density, that level of success would be much harder to achieve in the U.K., with nearly 70 million with a vastly higher population density, he said.

Supporters of the zero-COVID-19 approach say this is a price worth paying given the potential rewards: making the British isles an enclave of isolated but reclaimed normality.

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"It's about trade-offs and choices," said Sridhar, who was born and raised in Miami. "I think the New Zealand leadership outlined those really well. They said: You can have your normal life back and go to these big rugby matches. But if you want to leave the country, it's not going to be easy to come back."

Vicky Pryce, board member at the London-based CEBR consultancy and a former U.K. government economic advisor, said the economic impact of isolating England or the United Kingdom would be "disastrous" and may not even work.

"A lot of these restrictions [in New Zealand] are short-term and if you did them here... there has to be faith that the track and trace system works. People probably trust the New Zealand model more than they would trust the system here.

"I don't think they [the British government] can afford to do another lockdown."

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Image: Kulturgarten Open Air Festival 2020 (Andreas Rentz / Getty Images file) © Andreas Rentz Image: Kulturgarten Open Air Festival 2020 (Andreas Rentz / Getty Images file)

Some of these zero-COVID-19 measures have already been put in place in Scotland, where there are an estimated 10-30 daily infections compared with some 4,200 in England.

"Our decisions continue to be informed by our clear strategic objective, which is to seek to eliminate COVID," Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in a speech last week..

Even its advocates say true zero-COVID-19 probably won't happen so long as Scotland's 96-mile border with England remains open and unchecked. That's why Sturgeon and others find it frustrating that the U.K. isn't using its natural island defenses to better effect.

Zero-COVID-19 would be extremely difficult to adopt in a country such as Germany, with its porous borders with nine other nations, Sridhar said. And it's almost unthinkable as a realistic strategy for the United States, with its sprawling patchwork of state and federal bureaucracies.

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Despite the challenges, many experts maintain it is realistic for a country to eradicate COVID-19.

"It is indeed possible to be COVID free," said Ian Jones, a professor of virology at the University of Reading in England.

"If infected people are isolated so that they cannot transmit to another, then the virus dies out when the primary case resolves. It doesn't lurk somewhere waiting to jump out, it has gone."

However, he said, this is difficult because asymptomatic cases are not routinely spotted, maintaining a low level of infection in the community.

"The key is widespread testing so you do pick up the mild cases, followed by rapid isolation until the infection has run its course," he said.


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