Lockdowns Averted Three Million Deaths In 11 European Nations – Study

People cycle with their bike down the Rue de Rivoli, by the Louvre museum, in Paris on May 19, 2020 as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus). THOMAS COEX / AFP
People cycle with their bike down the Rue de Rivoli, by the Louvre museum, in Paris on May 19, 2020 as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus). THOMAS COEX / AFP

 

Lockdowns prevented around 3.1 million deaths in 11 European countries, according to a new modelling study published Monday, as most nations tiptoe out of the strict measures to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.

Research by Imperial College London, whose scientists are advising the British government on the virus, found that restrictions such as stay-at-home orders had worked to bring the epidemic under control.

Using European Centre of Disease Control data on deaths in 11 nations in the period up to May 4, they compared the number of observed deaths in the countries against those predicted by their model if no restrictions had been imposed.

They estimated that approximately 3.1 million deaths had been averted by the policies.

Researchers also calculated that the interventions had caused the reproduction number — how many people someone with the virus infects — to drop by an average of 82 per cent, to below 1.0.

“Our results show that major non-pharmaceutical interventions, and lockdown in particular, have had a large effect on reducing transmission,” the authors said in the study, published in Nature Research.

READ ALSO: Pandemic Drives Broadest Economic Collapse In 150 Years – World Bank

“Continued intervention should be considered to keep transmission of SARS-CoV-2 under control.”

The researchers estimated that cumulatively between 12 and 15 million people had been infected in the period — or between 3.2 and four per cent of the population of the 11 nations.

This fluctuated significantly between countries, with only 710,000 people in Germany thought to have caught the virus, or 0.85 per cent of the population.

That compares with Belgium, with the highest infection rate of the countries at eight percent, and Spain, where some 5.5 per cent of the population, or 2.6 million people, were estimated to have been infected.

– ‘Large health benefits’ –

The authors said that since interventions such as restrictions on public events and school closures were imposed in quick succession, it is difficult to tease out the effect of each one separately.

But they found that lockdown measures taken as a whole did have an identifiable and “substantial” effect, reducing transmission by an estimated 81 per cent.

The 11 nations were: Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

The authors acknowledged that one limitation of their model was that it assumes each measure had the same effect on all countries, whereas in reality “there was variation in how effective lockdown was in different countries”.

In a separate study, also published in Nature, researchers from UC Berkeley used a different method — econometric modelling used to assess how policies affect economic growth — to evaluate containment policies in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States.

Researchers used data on daily infection rates and the timings of hundreds of localised interventions up until April 6. They then compared infection growth rates before and after those policies were implemented.

By comparing this to a scenario in which no policies had been put in place, they estimated that the interventions may have prevented or delayed around 62 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the six countries.

They said this corresponded to averting around 530 million total infections.

AFP

EU Plans To Accept 160,000 Migrants

migrantsEuropean countries have announced plans to accommodate as many as 160,000 migrants seeking asylum.

That plan of action has however been criticised by Germany, who claimed they can do more.

Germany’s Vice-Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, said thousands are estimated to arrive in Europe this year and when put together, the number of people expected in 2015, and 2016, will reach as high as 900,000.

On Wednesday, the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, announced plans to distribute 120,000 refugees from Greece, Italy and Hungary among member states, via binding quotas.

He described the plan as ‘a first step, if one wants to be polite.’

Thousands of migrants have been pouring in mainly from Syria, where a civil war has been ongoing for almost four years. And from Libya, which has been political unstable, since the death of Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011.

Earlier today, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, visited a home for refugees in Berlin.

Later, she said she hoped newcomers would integrate with the help of their children learning German in school.

Germany Sees Surge In Immigration From Crisis-hit Europe

An influx of people from crisis-hit southern European countries like Spain, Italy and Greece has led to the biggest surge in German immigration in nearly 20 years.

The Federal Statistics Office said 1.081 million immigrants flocked to Germany last year, up 13 percent from 2011 and the highest number since 1995.

Leading the way were arrivals from countries in eastern Europe and from southern euro zone countries struggling with recession and high unemployment as a result of the currency bloc’s three-year old debt crisis.

The number of immigrants coming from Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy rose by 40 percent or more compared to the prior year.

“The rise in immigration from EU countries hit by the financial and debt crisis is particularly strong,” the Statistics Office said.

Germany has been a rare pillar of strength during the crisis, benefitting from deep structural reforms introduced a decade ago, competitive small-and-medium sized companies and record low interest rates resulting from its status as a safe haven.

Unemployment, at 6.9 percent, is hovering just above a post-reunification low. By contrast, more than one in four workers in Spain and Greece are without a job, and youth unemployment in these countries is close to 60 percent.

This has made Germany, Europe’s largest economy, an increasingly attractive destination, despite barriers like the language.

Still, the numbers from southern Europe remain fairly small in total terms compared to those from the east.

A total of 34,109 people came from Greece and 29,910 from Spain in 2012. That compared to 176,367 from Poland and 116,154 from Romania.

EURO 2020 to be hosted by European continent –UEFA

UEFA general secretary; Gianni Infantino has confirmed that EURO 2020 will span across the the usual practice of one or two host nations as it has been decided that it will be staged in a number of cities across Europe, a decision that was taken during a meeting in Lausanne on Thursday, an idea that nurtured initially by UEFA president Michel Platini.

Gianni Infantino updated reporters after the meeting.

“Some important decisions have been taken,” he told reporters.

“UEFA Euro 2020 will be staged across the continent, in various major cities, following a decision taken today.

“The response has been extremely positive from all the national associations.”

The bidding process is scheduled to begin in March, when the format and number of host cities will be decided, although Wembley has already been put forward as a potential venue for the final.

FA chairman David Bernstein said: “Clearly Wembley is incredibly highly thought of by UEFA and it is something we will push for.

“UEFA want to hold the semi-finals and the final on the same ground, or in the same city and I think we would be on their shortlist – but there would be some strong competition.

“The public want it and we’d want it and it would be wonderful to have it here.” The company doesn’t release user numbers for the service, but said last year in a blog posting it had over 40 million users, although the majority of those are believed to be non-paying. Google competes with Microsoft’s “Office 365” online service, which offers an email service and online versions of its Word, PowerPoint and Excel programs from $6 per user, per month, which is increasingly integrated with the standard software versions.

A blog post Thursday by Clay Bavor, director of product management for Google Apps, said the service is used by “millions of businesses.” Bavor said eliminating the free version will help remove confusion about Google’s different offerings and provide a better experience for its business customers, who “quickly outgrow the basic version.”

Google has also worked to leverage its other properties to woo corporate customers. This includes offerings such as a service that lets businesses publish mobile Android apps for internal use on their own version of the Google Play online store, as well as online storage that scales up to thousands of terabytes.

Since launching a paid version of its online product in 2007, Google has gradually scaled down the size of businesses that can use it free of charge. In 2009, the limit was set at 50 users, and in 2011 it was lowered to 10 users, prior to ending the free portion of the service.