Australia and New Zealand... The "Zero Covid" strategy was put to the test by the delta variable

Australia and New Zealand… The “Zero Covid” strategy was put to the test by the delta variable

Can Zero Covid Strategy Withstand Variable Delta? With the arrival of this strain, and the return of winter in some areas, it now appears that containment and isolation strategies in countries that have made the choice to remove the virus are cracking. Faced with these epidemiological difficulties, and the anger of the population, the zero-Covid countries are following each other. Of the 10 or so countries that chose to implement this strategy at the start of the pandemic, only four seem to still believe in it today: ChinaTaiwan, New Zealand and Iceland.

He explained last week that “the attacks of the coronavirus and its variants make maintaining the zero-Covid strategy very difficult, because the slightest penetration at the border allows the virus to rush silently and quickly into the region.” On Twitter, epidemiologist Antoine Flaholt. Because if these strategies show tremendous efficacy during the early stages of the epidemic, the delta variant has shuffled the cards. This new strain, which is twice as infectious as the alpha variant, and which considers itself more infectious than the strain discovered in China, is today the majority in the new contamination observed on the planet.

“Zero Covid”, which is on the one hand to prevent the virus from entering the territory as much as possible, through severe border and movement restrictions, and the implementation of the screening and testing strategy. It was favored by Singapore, Vietnam, Australia and New Caledonia. In Australia, for example, border restrictions were taken very early: in the last 560 days countless international flights have been stopped, and overseas travel has been reduced to a minimum. According to the data of the Ministry of the Interior, more than 100,000 applications to enter or leave the territory were rejected in the first five months of this year alone.

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‘Give their lives back to Australians’

But in these areas, pollution levels are starting to rise again. L’Australie a passé la barre des 1000 morts du Covid au début du mois de septembre et connaît, malgré des confinements stricts – Melbourne a vécu plus de 200 jours de confinement au cours des deux dernières années – une hausvese aux record cas noidentces the last days. This increase in cases makes it very difficult to identify and isolate new patients, which is the basis of the “zero covid” policy.

This strategy has already been criticized, and thus is today abandoned in favor of a major vaccination campaign. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that the country will begin next month to reopen its borders. Australians who have been vaccinated will be able to return home and travel abroad “in the coming weeks” once vaccination targets of 80% are met. “It is time to give their lives back to Australians. We are preparing for it, and Australia will be ready to take off very soon,” he said. The most populous state, New South Wales, currently has 64% of people over the age of 16 fully vaccinated and hopes to reach 70-80% by October.

Elsewhere, “Zero Covid” He is also facing unprecedented interrogation. New Zealand, which can boast of a highly effective virus containment strategy that has reduced the number of Covid-19 deaths to 27 since the start of the pandemic, is now facing the delta region. Auckland, the country’s largest city, is currently under Level 3 containment, the second-highest, and the number of new cases identified in the country has more than doubled in a matter of days. “Things have changed,” the strategy adopted by the state “is clearly not working,” This is what Judith Collins thinksThe leader of the National Opposition Party breaks with the consensus that has held for months. This politician is now calling for the barriers to be removed nationwide once 75% of the eligible population is vaccinated and the borders to be reopened from 85%.

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Better health performance

In New Zealand, as elsewhere, the strategy is still based on vaccination. Because the risk is great to see an increase in pollution turn into an increase in deaths. In these countries, Antoine Flaholt noted that “the hitherto highly protected populations have not been massively mobilized for their vaccination.” New Caledonia in recent weeks appears to have shown the danger of seeing the “zero COVID” strategy crack in poorly vaccinated populations. On September 22, the French territory recorded the largest number of deaths since the beginning of the epidemic with more than 16 deaths in 24 hours. Vaccination in New Caledonia has become compulsory, but only 30% of the population are currently fully vaccinated.


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However, can we describe the strategy as a failure? Epidemiologist Antoine Flaholt justified that “the countries that have adopted the “zero Covid” strategy “remain those that show the best health performance in terms of deaths since the beginning of the epidemic,” but added that these “the countries of zero Covid that fell in all battles have the same characteristic: no one gives up about the very low tolerance to allow the virus to spread.” A vaccine-based solution, the most effective tool to date for preventing deaths from SARS-CoV-2.


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In general, the cost of a year at Stanford University is about $100,000.Frederic Villox

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Etienne Chantrell is writing the column for this week's Société d'Economie Politique.Written by Etienne Chantrell, Head of the Integration Service at the Competition Authority, and member of the Société d’économie Politique.

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Patrick Artus is an economic advisor at Natixis.Patrick Artus

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Christoph Donner.By Christoph Donner

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