Prof. Ewa Szczurek from the UW Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics is one of the European scientists who initiated a pan-European call for a rapid reduction of COVID-19 case numbers. The call has been published recently in the journal “The Lancet”.
COVID-19 cases have been rising across much of Europe, resulting in repeated lockdowns. “The virus does not respect borders. Thus, increased spreading in one region endangers the stability in the neighbouring regions. It is clear: We need a joint European commitment to lower case numbers,” said Dr. Viola Priesemann from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, a leading author of a letter, calling for a pan-European vision to fight the viral spread.
Researchers urge governments throughout Europe to agree on clearly formulated common goals, coordinate their efforts, develop regionally adapted strategies to reach the goals, and thereby work resolutely towards low case numbers.
Panel: A joint European strategy for the COVID-19 pandemic
1 Achieve low case numbers
- (i) Aim for a target of no more than ten new COVID-19 cases per million people per day. This target has been reached in many countries, and can be reached again throughout Europe by spring, 2021, at the latest.
- (ii) Take firm action to reduce case numbers quickly. Strong interventions have proven efficient and balance the rapid achievement of low case numbers against the strain on mental health and the economy.
- (iii) To avoid a ping-pong effect of importing and reimporting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infections, the reduction should be synchronised across all European countries and start as soon as possible. This synchronisation will allow European borders to stay open.
Mitigating the huge impact of COVID-19 is a common goal for health, societies, and economies. And the goal is clear: Lower case numbers across Europe in a concerted manner.
2 Keep case numbers low
- (i) When case numbers are low, easing of restrictions is possible but should be carefully monitored. Continue and improve targeted mitigation measures, such as mask wearing, hygiene, moderate contact reduction, testing, and contact tracing.
- (ii) Even if case numbers are low, a strategy for surveillance testing (at the very least 300 tests per million people per day) should be in place so that an increase in case numbers can be detected in time.
- (iii) Local outbreaks require a rapid and rigorous response, including travel restrictions, targeted testing, and possibly regional lockdowns, to achieve a rapid reduction in prevalence.
3 Develop a longer-term common vision
The letter outlined the advantages of low case numbers and the necessary commitments. It has been published recently in the journal “The Lancet”: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32625-8.
More than 300 leading scientists signed the letter, including Prof. Anna Gambin from the UW Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics. The list of co-signatories is still growing.
Scientists and experts can co-sign the letter by filling in this form >>