Prokop: Another wave of covid would be expensive, only “cheap” measures make sense

Prokop: Another wave of covid would be expensive, only “cheap” measures make sense
Prokop: Another wave of covid would be expensive, only “cheap” measures make sense

The number of people infected with covid in the Czech Republic is still growing only slightly. The Ministry of Health promises that there will be no extraordinary measures in the fall. Would households dealing with the constant rise in energy prices and record inflation be able to handle them at all?

Special broadcast guest I’m asking sociologist Daniel Prokop was from Karlín Barracks, together with Minister of Health Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09) and biochemist Jan Konvalinka.

From the beginning, the Covid pandemic had a hard impact not only on the Czech healthcare system, but above all on Czech society. People changed their behavior for many months, limited contacts and travel, and children studied on the computer instead of going to school for many months. Lockdowns fundamentally affected the business of many – they deprived people of their earnings and deprived some of their business.

Sociologists have already studied how people react to the measures during the individual waves of the pandemic. They measured how people believe in government measures, how they do not want to follow the restrictions due to chaotic proposals and frequent changes. But they also measured the extent to which people were subject to misinformation and how much it complicated the fight against the pandemic.

What lessons have we learned from previous waves? Why were there significantly more victims in some states than others? And in what state has covid left Czech society?

You can play the entire interview in an audio player, in your favorite podcast app or in a video.

What was said in the conversation?

1:00 a.mWhy did the Czechia not handle the epidemic as well as other countries? The epidemic was not just a medical problem. Eastern Europe and part of the Mediterranean fared badly. Among other things, because they have a lot of multigenerational households. This is not the case in Scandinavia, which ended up being almost the best. It limits transmission to parents or the elderly. At the same time, the industrial structure of the economy means that significantly fewer people can switch to a home office. Some countries have done better as a result. This is not possible here and in Poland.

2:40 a.m – There is also an element of trust, there is not much trust in measures here. We have much less social or institutional trust, trust in the meaningfulness of those measures, which moreover do not make much sense. Then also the fact that, against Western Europe, countries like Germany, Austria, Sweden, we have a 60 percent sick leave. In the countries I named, it is 90 to 100 percent. We also have low nursing fees. So there are better set motivations in public policy not to go to work sick, to have fewer contacts at workplaces. And finally, a big factor is of course the better health status and less obesity of people in those countries.

4:00 a.m – I agree that with these incidences, widespread testing does not make sense. But it would make sense for anyone who has contact with an at-risk person to have a free preventive test. In my opinion, testing in companies would make sense. We followed it in research.

6:05 am – In one month of testing, 100 thousand cases were detected in the industry. In the months when testing began in companies, the increase in cases was smaller than the predictions of the best Czech models. When you put together the detected cases and the evidence from our data, we see a sharp increase in protest and detection of those diseases among people who are in contact with those at risk. And that’s the point of testing, I think it made sense. But it makes sense for a short time when the prevalence is very high and it makes sense to test with antigen tests.

7:02 a.m – I don’t think covid has radically changed society, it is quite resilient. 40 to 50 thousand people died, which is a tragedy. We also don’t have much mapped out the consequences of long covid. In America, there is now a study that two to four million people are out of work due to long covid. So it is also something that cannot be underestimated. Maybe covid has mainly undermined trust in the state and its ability to solve such crises.

7:55 am – Has people’s behavior returned to normal? Of course not at all, for example visits to theaters and the like have not returned to normal. And for example, we have also not returned to the pre-covid numbers of people with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Before the covid crisis, it was about six percent of people. Then it went up to 19 percent and never went back below 10. Unfortunately, the economic crisis and inflation are added, so a second crisis follows that stresses part of society. So it’s hard to tell if it’s still a covid effect.

9:00 – What effect has covid had on young people? They had one of the biggest increases in depression and anxiety symptoms as social contact was reduced. I promote the home office, but you could see that the increase was simply higher among people in the home office, whose personal and work life fell apart. We have seen big drops and increases in those difficulties among young people, it changed very dynamically in response to the lockdowns.

10:00 a.m – In my opinion, we should have fought against disinformation, we talked about it, but at the moment when it was practically impossible to fight against it, it made sense at the beginning. On the contrary, we underestimated measures that could reduce risks – such as 100% sick leave. That would reduce those concerns. I think we sometimes overestimate it, we focus on what is very difficult to fight. Or you have to start the information campaign very well. It doesn’t make sense after a year.

1:20 p.m – The most basic thing that was absent is for the VZP to send people in time for 50 years with some kind of information campaign that would explain the meaning of vaccination and provide information on where I can get the nearest vaccination. We talked them into doing it for x months. Then it is difficult to fight against disinformation if there is no willingness to do such a basic thing. – Why was the idea of ​​mandatory vaccination abandoned? If there was mandatory vaccination of the vulnerable population, people in the health sector, people in social services, then – and we investigated this – it would have much more support in the population than a measure such as there would be no mandatory vaccination, but those unvaccinated people would not go to pubs or anywhere much elsewhere. At one time it was so that they could not even with a negative test, which in my opinion was a measure that was quite illegitimate and rather made everything worse.

2:55 p.m – In certain waves of covid, hospitals were overcrowded, elective care and prevention were neglected. Given that the rest of the taxpayers bore the risks and paid for it by postponing their treatment and the like, I would say that, for example, at the time of the introduction of the delta variant, the compulsory vaccination really made sense. But Petr Fiala’s government decided on it so late that it practically made no sense at that time, it was sometime at the end of December.

4:10 p.m – Concerns have decreased extremely. Although the risks are low, the costs will still be so huge in case of further development of the infection that it makes sense to take cheap measures – for example, vaccination. Starting a campaign in mid-September is not ideal. If the demand of only the more vulnerable population was to be met, it would be two million doses. It will take two to three months to vaccinate such a number of people.

20:00 – How are the Czechs coping with the current crisis? Last fall, according to our household research, 20% of them managed essentially to zero. They basically spent all of their monthly income, they had a maximum of 500 crowns left. Some of them were even below zero. Today it is about 30% of the 20%, so the situation is definitely getting worse. The poorer half of families with children, pensioners living independently, single parents… If we started programs like kuzarbeit now, it would help. Now the situation is devastating for many households. And if there were to be shortfalls in the incomes of the self-employed and contract workers, which were in the spring of 2020, many families would not wait any longer. So I’m a little afraid that if this happens and similar measures come again, they will have much worse effects than back then in the spring.

I’m asking

You can find the archive of all parts here. Write us your observations, comments or tips via social networks under the hashtag ptamseya or by e-mail: [email protected].

The article is in Czech

Tags: Prokop wave covid expensive cheap measures sense

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