We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.

April 22, 2020

Can we afford a second lockdown?

Easing the lockdown will not be the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. Only a small fraction of people seem to be infected. First studies suggest that in most countries infection percentage rates are in the single digits. This is not enough for collective immunity as not enough people have developed antibodies against the new coronavirus. And there is no guarantee that those will not be infected again. 

These are still early days of testing. Whether or not they get the numbers right depends on the testing method as well as the tests' reliability. Official statistics only grasp a small part of the picture and says little about those in the population that developed no symptoms and therefore were not tested. Random antibody tests may give a better picture, but the WHO finds that even those suggest low infection rates. A Stanford university study using antibody tests suggest that only 3% of the whole population in the hard-hit region of Santa Clara, in California, have been infected. Other studies use blood donations that tend to be biased towards healthy adults. A study of 7,000 blood donors in the Netherlands also found that just 3% had antibodies. The Institute Pasteur in France used models applied to hospital and death data to predict that only 6% of the French population will have been infected by the end of this lockdown in May. This may be on the low side, as earlier studies suggested 14% for France and Germany. But even these figures are nowhere near collective immunity. 

Once in lockdown there is no way back to ride the wave out of the pandemic through collective immunity. This was a bifurcation of policy decision-making. The UK was first set on collective immunity before switching to complete lockdown. Now there is some serious money involved in keeping the economy floating. Can countries afford a second or third lockdown? If not, how will governments protect the public and restart the economy? Will it be through mandatory vaccines, if and when they become available, and more financial support? Could Sweden have gotten it right by opting for collective immunity? Their state epidemiologist said last week that he estimated that Stockholm would reach collective immunity in May based on their mathematical model. These results are only as good as the data they put in. But, compared with other countries, they are most certainly ahead in the curve towards collective immunity after choosing to leave schools, restaurants, cinemas, gyms, pubs and shops open.

Show Comments Write a Comment

April 22, 2020

EU to help hardest-hit tourism sector

Tourism was the first sector to be hit by the pandemic and will be the slowest to recover. Overnight, both domestic and international tourists have stopped booking hotel rooms or airplane tickets and have cancelled travels already booked. Schengen might open for the summer holidays, so this could go on for quite a while. What is clear already is that no other sector will be affected so badly. This will also lead to discrepancies among member states. Some regions in Italy, Spain and Greece depend heavily on tourism. The EU will play an important role helping those regions with its funds.

The figures are truly staggering. Europe accounts for 50% of the world's tourism market. The Covid-19 crisis might result in a 20-30% reduction in international traffic according to the World Tourism Organisation. The OECD expects tourism to decline by 45-70% this year, depending on how long the lockdown lasts. 

Thierry Breton, internal market commissioner, told MEPs that a special EU summit to deal with the fallout for the tourism industry is to be held in September or October. Breton said he will fight for the tourism sector to be the main beneficiary of funds yet to be agreed by EU leaders this week. He advocates 20-25% of those funds going towards the tourism industry. 

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.


Recent News

  • September 17, 2020
  • Johnson's conservative friends are pushing him towards no-deal
  • May 12, 2020
  • Brexit decision is slowly approaching
  • EU will remain closed for a while yet
  • January 06, 2020
  • A decade that started with a bang
  • What to expect of Spain's next government
  • Divide et impera: Macron's pension reform strategy
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • April 24, 2019
  • May's final and biggest gamble
  • Will the EP be Brexit's great parliamentary beneficiary?
  • Can Loiseau fight the far right given her past?
  • December 21, 2018
  • Not just Brexit makes 2019 a year of EU uncertainty
  • Sentiment is fickle, especially about sentiment
  • Father Christmas - French edition
  • King suspends Michel's resignation
  • EP has objections to the withdrawal treaty
  • Let's break the law
  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • April 19, 2018
  • Greece fears escalation after Erdogan calls snap polls
  • Towards repeat elections in the Czech Republic?
  • Lords defeat UK government on customs union - but it’s not what it seems
  • December 19, 2017
  • German pre-coalition talks to conclude mid-January
  • Shall we talk about Brexit?
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • April 10, 2017
  • Nein, nein, nein, und nein
  • Sounds like a bad Brexit story, but ain’t
  • On how not to exit the euro
  • December 12, 2016
  • Renzi without Renzi
  • Shall we compensate the losers of globalisation?
  • The need for a partnership with China
  • August 18, 2016
  • Watch out for a return of the Ukraine crisis
  • Moody's is relatively optimistic on the UK
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 17, 2020
  • Johnson's conservative friends are pushing him towards no-deal
  • September 01, 2020
  • What just happened in front of the Reichstag?
  • When revolutions fail
  • August 17, 2020
  • How Putin could divide the EU over Belarus
  • The impossible mission of forming a federal government in Belgium
  • July 27, 2020
  • Germany is one of the most unequal countries in Europe
  • July 14, 2020
  • Why the far-right might win in the end
  • July 03, 2020
  • What needs to happen for EU and UK to agree a deal
  • France raises stakes over Turkey
  • June 22, 2020
  • What we learned from Trump in Tulsa
  • Greece seeks EEZ deal with Egypt to counter Turkey
  • Political pressure on French judiciary in Fillon probe?
  • June 11, 2020
  • Europe needs to re-engage in Libya
  • Who should succeed Centeno?
  • June 02, 2020
  • Watch out for Söder
  • Libya exposes European divisions
  • May 26, 2020
  • French fashion stores - lockdown is one crisis too many
  • An important German supreme court ruling against VW
  • Public scrutiny over lockdown rules
  • May 18, 2020
  • Why this won't be a symmetric shock
  • Towards a new cold war
  • May 10, 2020
  • On court rulings and folk economics
  • EU regions - some far better on Covid-19 but not on downturn
  • May 04, 2020
  • What is and isn't true about the Wuhan lab conspiracies
  • Towards a new government in Ireland
  • April 29, 2020
  • Will the first be the last? Virus edition
  • Don't hurry your exit strategy
  • April 27, 2020
  • The EU’s trickery of a fake MFF
  • Philippe to put down cards as trust evaporates
  • April 24, 2020
  • Thinking through the details of a recovery fund
  • April 22, 2020
  • Can we afford a second lockdown?
  • EU to help hardest-hit tourism sector