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Why is England doing worse against Covid than its European neighbours? | Christina Pagel and Martin McKee

Instead of relying on vaccines alone, countries such as France and Germany are using extra measures to keep cases and deaths low

Only two months after being forced at the last minute to “cancel Christmas” in 2020, Boris Johnson committed to a “cautious and prudent” roadmap out of lockdown that recognised the evolving epidemiology of the virus. But memories are short. On 19 July, all social distancing and face-covering requirements, as well as limits on the number of people at indoor or outdoor events, were lifted in England. As the summer progressed, international travel restrictions were eased and fully vaccinated people and children were no longer required to isolate if they had been in contact with someone who contracted Covid-19.

Some people in England, and many more elsewhere, watched with astonishment. Israel, a world leader in vaccinations, was already seeing the beginning of a rapid increase in cases driven by the new Delta variant. England had a rising number of cases; 54% of the population was fully vaccinated by 19 July. CNN, capturing a widespread view, called England’s approach an “experiment” (a leader in the Irish Times prefaced that word with “reckless”). Fortunately the large increase in cases that some feared would arrive after 19 July didn’t materialise. According to the Sage modelling subgroup, this was largely due to a slow return to pre-pandemic behaviour, school holidays and continued home-working.

Christina Pagel is director of UCL’s Clinical Operational Research Unit, which applies advanced analytical methods to problems in healthcare. Martin McKee is professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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