Pandemic: two steps forward, one step back?

All Europe's governments have now relaxed the restrictions imposed to slow the spread of Covid-19 to varying degrees. Experts are debating whether and to what extent this could lead to a second wave of infections. Commentators reflect on what life will be like with the virus in the coming months.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Virus will remain part of everyday life

This is the start of the most difficult phase in the pandemic, Der Standard suspects:

“In March and April most Austrians strictly adhered to the rules. But with every passing day the restrictions are being taken less and less seriously. That's understandable: the individual risk of infection is now negligible. ... The economy has to get going again, people want to go out, do sport, travel - and on an individual basis that's fine. But a single infection in the wrong place will be enough for the number of cases to skyrocket again. ... The virus threatens to remain part of everyday life for years to come. That life may very well include social events, culture and holidays. But we'll have to go without a lot of things we used to take for granted.”

Večernji list (HR) /

What happens next is unclear

Although Europe and the world are slowly easing the lockdown many questions about the virus remain unanswered, Večernji list points out:

“Firstly, the virus has not disappeared and the only real prerequisite for a return to full normality is a vaccine. ... The question of mass production and distribution of any vaccine that is discovered remains open. ... Secondly it is questionable whether Croatia should receive guests from countries like Sweden during the summer holidays. ... Thirdly, digital tools that track those with whom newly infected people have had contact and who should therefore be tested or specifically isolated can be sophisticated weapons in the fight against the epidemic. ... But whether our government is really dealing with this or just trying to convey the impression that it is remains unclear.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Don't face future shocks unprepared

The time has come to prepare properly for future crises, sociologist and economist Mauro Magatti warns in Corriere della Sera:

“The complexity of the world we have built exposes us to systemic shocks of various types and magnitudes. ... In the past twenty years there have been three: 9/11, which was linked to cultural and religious tensions triggered by globalisation processes; the financial crisis of 2008, which exposed the inadequacy of the global financial systems; and now Covid, which spread across the globe within a few weeks. ... We know that further shocks will hit us in the years to come. This means that we must prepare ourselves in good time, with the necessary investments and restructuring, (for example in healthcare and debt management).”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

There will be no Corona Victory Day

Radio Kommersant FM fears that the current sense of relief in Russia is only temporary:

“There'll be a lot of back-and-forthing before we get a vaccine. New waves of the disease may require new quarantine periods, even if they won't be as long as the current one. So we can't just go about our business, we have to reinvent it. Not only technologically, but also regarding fundamental questions such as working hours and workplaces. ... There will be no day of victory over the virus, no hugs and no pats on the back. The future has just begun, and it's turning into everyday life as we watch. And we have to get used to it. But this won't be the first challenge we've faced.”

Krytyka Polityczna (PL) /

A quiet change of strategy

Krytyka Polityczna believes that until the vaccine is approved the only option is the herd immunity model:

“What the governments are calling 'controlled easing' of the restrictions is actually a controlled transition to the model of herd immunity. For obvious reasons, governments can't openly admit this. It's not even known whether and for how long people who have already had the virus are resistant to repeated infections. It's therefore much better for governments to pursue their goal quietly and cover it in a fog of understatement - in the hope that the vaccine will be ready before most people are infected.”

Yetkin Report (TR) /

Second wave could hit companies even harder

If we really want to protect the economy the lockdown rules must be eased slowly, economics professor Selva Demiralp comments on Yetkin Report:

“The economic costs of a second wave are rather sizable. As the number of infections increase, consumer confidence does not return to normal and demand remains weak. Hence the desirable economic recovery does not occur even if the businesses are open. Let’s not forget that the virus is still there. Hence, being cautious until the vaccine comes out and obeying social distancing rules will minimize the risks of a second wave. This is the guideline to protect our health as well as the economy.”

Népszava (HU) /

Mass testing is key

We should prepare for the second wave but also for future pandemics, writes Péter Márfai, a former MP with the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), in the left-leaning daily Népszava:

“The current rules of procedure will no longer be suitable for reacting to more dangerous and deadly pandemics. ... We must prepare for the pandemics of the future by testing the entire population several times over. This kind of preparation that encompasses the entire population is simply a matter of organisation. ... The second wave is an event that will undoubtedly occur: So it's just a question of commitment and money.”