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Covid-19 out of control in Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jan 7th, 2021 at 12:07:33 PM EST

Having generally done a relatively good job of containing the pandemic (Ireland currently ranks 62nd. for cases/million, and 47th. for deaths/million in the world), at least compared to our nearest neighbours, the government seems to have lost its way recently. In its determination to offer some respite to the hospitality industry and allow people some semblance of a normal Christmas, it has allowed the pandemic to get out of control to a far greater extent than ever before:

Partly, this may be due to the upsurge in the much more infectious English variant of the virus, but there is no doubt the level of social mixing got out of control over the holiday season resulting in a renewed lockdown and closure of schools.

But the even more serious issue is that the vaccination programme has gotten off to a very slow start and shows no sign of accelerating rapidly any time soon. The government and its public health advisers have been very good at lecturing the public on how to behave, less good at organising what should be their primary responsibility - an efficient vaccination roll-out programme. Hence my letter to the editor published today:

Ireland is here unfortunately joining the broader trend of not being able to control Covid this timee around.

Here is a graph from 91-Divoc with cases/100k population. It's EU countries (minus tiny ones) and plus UK and Norway. This is total cases, which may not be comparable between countries and certainly not camparable with spring, but should be comparable within countries. If any country had the spread under control the line would go flat or almost flat (like during the summer).

Ireland looked like it had things under control there for a while, but has now rejoined the rest. Increase is - with actions taken to decrease spread - more or less linear in almost all countries, and not much tendency to get it flat again.

In Sweden, with massive amount of actions taken to increase ICU wards, ICU wards are now running out of beds. Crises clauses has been triggered in the staffs employment agreements, increasing weekly work hours (with increase in pay of course), but there is a limit as to how long the staff will be able to cope with increased work load and increased hours. During the spring new ICU cases was pretty fast going down, but now the only real hope is vaccination. (And I sincerely hope the new RNA vaccines has been sufficiently tested before they were approved, or things will really go haywire.)

And for new readers: despite what you might have read, Sweden's strategy isn't and wasn't heard immunity by not doing anything, and death rates in Covid in Sweden is pretty much at the EU average. It's Norway and Finland that are exceptional and far as I can see the reasons for that are not very clear.

by fjallstrom on Thu Jan 7th, 2021 at 04:34:31 PM EST
My guess is they took distancing and masking seriously which led to limited spread so the disease never reached the exponential growth number - the 'take off point' on your graph.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Jan 7th, 2021 at 05:07:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Finland masks really became the norm only in late autumn but distancing, as Reuters said, is something we have been doing naturally even before the pandemic. People have been joking that the two meter requirement is uncomfortable close to other people.

Seriously though, according to Eurobarometer poll three quarters of Finns say restrictions have had no effect in or have raised their quality of life.

According to the professionals the biggest factor in keeping the numbers down now was the very efficient one month blockade of the capital area in spring, which prevented the virus from spreading to the rest of country before August. Thus we started the second wave from less than 10 daily cases nationally.

Contact tracing has been quite decent, and it's one of the metrics used for regional restriction schema. Basically the regional R-number and ratio of contact tracing define the level of restrictions in force on that region. But I assume Sweden does it similarly, so it's unlikely to explain the difference.

One factor discussed earlier is that Sweden stopped BCG vaccinations in 1975, while Finland only in 2006 and Norway in 2009. There were supposed to be studies in spring last year if BCG provided some level of protection against Covid-19, but I haven't heard from those since.

by pelgus on Thu Jan 7th, 2021 at 08:12:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The more infection control measures you employ and the more stringently you employ them, the less infections/deaths you will have. The more you drive it down to zero, the more stability you will have. Therefore don't lift restrictions too early like in Ireland - especially if you have an infectious northern neighbour. It's not that difficult.

Because of the exponential nature of the spread, this is one of the few situations where black-and-white thinking is appropriate. People should stop trying to find explanations in external factors like culture, geography or what not. In the second wave there are no excuses.

Finland/Norway are European champions because -among other lessons learned from the first wave- they are vigilant about travel. That's why there are travel restrictions, mandatory quarantine after entry and Norwegian soldiers guarding the border to Sweden. The first wave was accelerated by ski trips (Ischgl etc.) and the second wave was found by genetic sequencing to have been fuelled by summer vacations in Spain.

The new, more infectious [English] mutant B.117 is now changing the situation in an unfavourable way. In Ireland it was found in 9% of samples before Christmas. Last week it was 25%. If the new English and South African variants cause infectiousness (R0) to go up then control measures will have to be even more stringent and vaccination rates will also have to go up to end this crisis. But this is what happens when you let the virus circulate, it mutates into something more infectious and sometimes it becomes deadlier. Thanks. What's especially grating in the UK is the weak monitoring of borders. For decades the Brexiters have been going on about border control, and now that it is essential, Johnson and his ilk couldnt be bothered. Instead there are exemptions for highly capitalized businesspeople. What a shitshow.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Fri Jan 8th, 2021 at 01:09:17 PM EST
Further down the thread:

Another reason why "Go hard. Go early. Eliminate!" has to be the standard. Other strategies of 'managing' the virus are akin to gambling (experimenting on your population really) and invite much more pain down the line. Because the damage accrued and the necessary measures will be that much harder.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Sat Jan 9th, 2021 at 05:23:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Meanwhile in China they have 11 million people in tight lockdown, and 5000 testing centers with enough kits to test everybody, because of 120 new cases.
by asdf on Fri Jan 8th, 2021 at 06:12:11 PM EST
Yeah, but they are inscrutable Chinese Communists and, so, not a proper role model for dealing with the pandemic.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Jan 8th, 2021 at 06:56:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Mon Jan 11th, 2021 at 04:54:34 PM EST
There it is..

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Jan 11th, 2021 at 06:20:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dutch lockdown extended: Curfew under consideration, Schools could open early; PM: Don't Travel

"Due to the great concern about the British variant, we have to look at what we can do extra. There is a lot of resistance to a curfew, also from myself," Rutte said.

Specifically mentioned London and Ireland .... compare the Dutch with the worst makes the Dutch look good. 🙃

I'm so sick and tired of his rhetoric of falsifications and placing blame elsewhere. Rutte and his policy is quite laissez-faire similar to Johnson and Trump. In one word: desastreus.

by Oui on Tue Jan 12th, 2021 at 07:38:47 PM EST

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