Covid-19: a trying lesson in humility

Editorial of the “World”. By dint of learning more about Covid-19 every day, European leaders hoped to be able to guarantee their populations affected by the epidemic an end-of-year truce. Alas, many of them suddenly had to back down. On Saturday, the British government announced the express re-containment of London and south-east England in an attempt to stem a surge in contaminations attributed to a new variant of the virus which could be up to 70% more contagious than the previous one.

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A few days earlier, the German Chancellor and the federal authorities, powerless to curb the epidemic, had been forced to announce the closure, at least until January 10, of non-essential shops, bars, restaurants, schools and nurseries, as well as the limitation of the number of people invited for the Christmas holidays. Italy and Spain have drastically restricted the conditions for interregional travel.

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France, which had confined earlier than its neighbors, is trying to save the evening of December 24, but the time is really not for joy or recklessness. The extraordinary health defense council convened on Sunday at the end of the afternoon by a President of the Republic himself ill with Covid-19 and subjected to isolation set the tone for the weekend: fear has supplanted the hope. Fear of a third wave which would force, very quickly, to adopt new measures involving deprivation of liberty, against the backdrop of a serious economic recession and deep collective depression. Fear, also, of dealing with a new, more virulent variant of the virus which would thwart established strategies. In a few hours, and in the greatest disorder, most of the UK’s neighbors, including France, decided to cut themselves off in an attempt to avoid contamination. Like a Brexit before its time.

Failed strategies

What has just happened over a weekend is a trying lesson in humility for European leaders. By dint of learning from their mistakes and better coordinating their efforts, they believed they had made progress in controlling the virus. Each in their own way, they tried to reconcile health control and the maintenance of minimal economic activity, juggling as best as possible between coercive measures and respect for individual freedoms.

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However, whatever the strategies put in place, the failure is obvious. Cited as an example during the first wave of the epidemic, Germany and its federal system are now no better than France and its Jacobinism. Sweden, which had seen fit to go it alone by letting the virus spread to aim for collective immunity, had to admit that it was wrong. Once again since October the epicenter of the pandemic, Europe has recorded more than half a million deaths since the appearance of the virus. France deplores more than 60,000, and the World Health Organization warns of a ” high risk “ resumption of the epidemic in the region in early 2021.

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However, we must be right. Even if the isolation measures decided on Sunday against the United Kingdom by France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy or Luxembourg refer to the most archaic remedies for the fight against an epidemic, it does not must not forget all the progress made over the past year. Thanks to the exceptional mobilization of the international community, the virus was sequenced in less than three weeks and, in less than a year, innovative messenger RNA vaccines were manufactured.

The vaccination campaign is starting, giving a glimpse of hope. The setbacks experienced in recent days simply show that patience will still have to be part of the game, accompanied by a strong sense of responsibility – including at the time of the end of the year holidays. The more the barrier gestures are respected, the more individual behaviors will be controlled, and the more chances we have of getting out of this collective tragedy.

The world


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