Experts warn of new corona wave: ‘Government acts only in case of panic’ NOW

The number of infections is stable and few people with corona are hospitalized, but the pandemic is not over yet. In fact, a new corona wave in the fall is likely. The government is not well prepared for this, experts say during a roundtable discussion with members of parliament on Monday.

“If there’s a new wave, we do not know when it will be, it can raise complicated questions. Will there be another lockdown?” Tanja van der Lippe, professor of sociology at Utrecht University, wonders.

Among other things, Van der Lippe wrote the report, which was published in September last year ‘Navigating and anticipating in uncertain times’, a publication of the Council for Government Policy (WRR) and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW).

“Now is the time for that. It’s relatively quiet. Is COVID-19 care a priority, or can it no longer be made available to those who are already on the waiting lists?” said Van der Lippe.

According to the scientist, it is important to talk about it now so that radical measures can be more easily accepted if they are to be taken.

The WRR / KNAW report sets out five scenarios that the government should take into account. It ranges from ‘back to the old normal’ to a worst-case scenario where the pandemic requires more victims each year and continues to circulate around the world, the scientific institutes wrote last autumn.

‘Our care is not flexible enough to absorb the next wave’

“We are now sailing on the most likely scenario called the ‘flu-plus’ scenario,” says Xander Koolman, health economist at VU Amsterdam. In that scenario, WRR and KNAW assume that corona is no longer a pandemic with recurrent, seasonal resuscitation.

Koolman: “But even in that scenario, I think there’s a chance we’ll move towards a lockdown because our care has not become flexible in a way that is necessary to treat future waves in a normal way. . “

It is impossible to train many more nurses in a short time, says Koolman, but they can be deployed differently if the situation requires it. It is only difficult for the Netherlands specifically, according to the professor.

Koolman describes the Dutch healthcare system as a field with many different healthcare providers. Some are for profit, others are not, but they all have a great deal of leeway.

That freedom is only given up when there is panic, Koolman believes. “The government seems to be waiting to act until there is panic again. It is very unfortunate because we could have changed that.”

‘There is no data to predict’

André Knottnerus, professor of epidemiology and medical statistics at the University of Maastricht and also author of the WRR / KNAW report, emphasizes that it is especially important now, ‘in peacetime’, to be as well prepared as possible. “We have often found that we thought we were paying attention, but when the virus was over, it broke down again. Then you are vulnerable as a society.”

In itself, society is “shockproof and resilient”, says Van der Lippe, but there are also groups that were smaller, as has been shown in recent years. These were not only vulnerable from a medical point of view, but also the group that had little access to socio-economic assistance. “The government has a responsibility to protect them. They are less self-reliant,” Van der Lippe said.

Therefore, in her view, it is important that the government thoroughly reviews the five scenarios. “So we know what to do for safety’s sake.”

We do not know which way the virus will go. “There is no data to make a prediction,” Knottnerus says.

RIVM is jealous of Denmark and the United Kingdom

Nevertheless, RIVM would like more insight to gain and maintain an overview of the virus, says Susan van den Hof, head of the Center for Epidemiology and Surveillance of Infectious Diseases in RIVM during the same roundtable discussion.

She is somewhat jealous of her colleagues in Denmark and the United Kingdom, where, according to her, data sharing is well organized. “It gave them a very good overview of what was going on.”

Leave a Comment