The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ( OECD ) believes that Europe has failed to cope with the coronavirus pandemic , as has been done in other countries such as South Korea or New Zealand. The international organization has ensured that the European countries affected by the first outbreak acted when community transmission already existed.
This has been certified in a report on the state of Health in Europe published this Thursday, in which he has analyzed the responses to the health emergency and other issues such as the incidence of obesity, smoking or pollution in public health and the European economy.
Community transmission already existed
The OECD has insisted on the importance of a rapid implementation of measures to curb infections and minimize the economic impact. In this regard, he has pointed out that the countries that were hit first by the epidemic applied mitigation and containment strategies at a time when community transmission already existed.
For example, public spaces were closed less than ten days before the country reached the threshold of ten deaths per million inhabitants in Italy (one day), Spain (four days), France (seven days), Belgium (seven days ) and the United Kingdom (ten days).
By contrast, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and the Slovak Republic were able to implement measures before reaching these figures. “The fact of having been able to learn from the experiences of the countries affected for the first time by COVID-19 seems to have helped those countries to control the first outbreak of the pandemic,” he said.
Even so, the international body considers that as a whole Europe has not been able to stop the pandemic and its consequent economic crisis in a similar way to other countries such as South Korea, an example of “rapid, effective and selective measures to avoid closures totals “, and New Zealand.
Although, the OECD has pointed out that some European countries such as Finland, Norway and Estonia have been able to better contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the economic consequences, “partly due to geographical factors (lower population density), but also due to the rapid application of selective containment measures and a high level of trust and respect of the populations of those countries for the recommendations of public authorities. ”
Spain, among the hardest hit despite the measures
The OECD has placed Spain among the European countries hardest hit by the coronavirus, both health and economic, despite the ability to increase screening tests and containment measures at the beginning of the pandemic.
According to the document, Spain is in the group of European countries that carried out the most coronavirus tests between February and June: around 225 tests per 100,000 inhabitants , behind Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Lithuania. All of them, however, were surpassed by Germany, which registered 434 tests per 100,000 inhabitants, almost double. At the other end of the spectrum, some countries reported much lower numbers, notably Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Switzerland, and France, with fewer than 50 tests per 100,000 people.
In addition, according to the report, between the first and second month after reaching ten deaths per million inhabitants, nine countries including Spain (together with Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom). Kingdom), managed to at least double the accumulated number of tests per inhabitant .
The OECD has also highlighted the announcements of increased spending on Healthcare made by European countries in response to COVID-19, with Spain being the fourth country with the highest announced disbursement per capita behind Ireland, Germany and the United Kingdom.
A late answer for residences
The international organization has highlighted in its report the high mortality of the virus in the elderly population and with chronic diseases . In almost all countries, at least 90% of deaths due to COVID-19 occurred among people aged 60 and over, and in many of the states, almost half or more of those who died lived in residences, according to has aimed.
And it is that in France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom (England and Wales), there was a lag of at least two months between the first reported cases of COVID-19 and the publication of guidelines on the prevention of contagion in the institutions of care for the elderly and dependents.
According to data collected by the OECD, mortality rates among people aged 60 and over were more than 3,000 deaths per million inhabitants in the United Kingdom and Belgium, and more than 1,000 deaths per million inhabitants in Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands.
Poor and vulnerable people, most likely victims
People with lower incomes and living in more deprived areas, as well as ethnic minorities, have been affected by COVID-19 “disproportionately” , according to the OECD.
This trend has also been seen in Spain , where according to a study the inhabitants of the poorest neighborhoods in Barcelona were six to seven more likely to be infected with the virus than those in rich areas.
More investment and prevention
The Paris-based organization has emphasized the consideration of healthcare as an investment that, however, until now has not focused on “preventing”, but on “curing.”
The pandemic has been a test for European health systems and has revealed their differences. If we look at the rate of beds and Intensive Care Units per 1,000 inhabitants, the capacity of Spanish hospitals was already at the tail end of the European Union before the COVID-19 crisis, according to the comparison established in the report.
On the other hand, the OECD expects that as a result of the pandemic, problems in European systems such as waiting lists for surgeries, delays in cancer treatments or neglect of mental health will worsen.
It has also warned of other important risk factors for public health such as smoking, obesity and pollution, with important effects on European mortality and, therefore, also on the economy.