Please find our new statement here:
To support below call for action, we are calling for scientists to sign the statement
This statement was originally published in The Lancet on 2020-12-18.
Translated versions are available:
The reference version is the English one published in The Lancet. Translations are provided for your convenience. Thank you to our volunteer translators.
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Across Europe, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is causing excess deaths, placing a burden on societies and health systems, and harming the economy. Yet, European governments still have to develop a common vision to guide the management of the pandemic. Overwhelming evidence shows that not only public health, but also society and the economy benefit greatly from low COVID-19 case numbers. Vaccines will help control the virus, but not until late 2021. If we do not act now, further waves of infection are to be expected, with consequential further damage to health, society, jobs and businesses. Given open borders within Europe, a single country alone cannot keep the number of COVID-19 cases low; thus joint action and common goals among countries are essential. We, therefore, call for a strong, coordinated European response and clearly defined medium- and long-term goals.
Achieving and maintaining low case numbers should be the common, pan-European goal because:
To better manage the COVID-19 pandemic, we propose a strategy with three core elements:
Develop context-sensitive regional and national action plans as well as European-level goals, depending on the COVID-19 prevalence. Develop strategies for elimination, screening, vaccination, protection of those at high risk, and support for those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic 8.
It is crucial to clearly communicate the advantage of low SARS-CoV-2 incidence. The success of these measures depends crucially on the cooperation and involvement of the public. Making the case for the economic and social benefits of reducing case numbers will, if clearly communicated, greatly foster public cooperation.
Controlling COVID-19 will become easier: In the near future, increased immunization, more testing, and an improved understanding of mitigation strategies will further facilitate the control of SARS-CoV-2.
We urge governments throughout Europe to agree on clearly formulated common goals, to coordinate their efforts, to develop regionally-adapted strategies to reach the goals, and thereby work resolutely towards low SARS-CoV-2 case numbers.