Analysis

Evidence-based analyses of various issues related to Covid19

 

Herd Immunity or Death? 

Neither

Recently, a number of academic publications on the situation with CoViD-19 have appeared. In the paper, the authors, on the basis of 23 studies and reports, offer preliminary estimates of herd immunity against SARS-CoV-2 in Belarus as well as of its lethality. They also present a conceptual framework for analysing statistical biases related to counting CoViD deaths.

Key points

  • Immunity. Almost all countries, including Belarus, are far from the threshold of herd immunity against SARS-CoV-2, which means that the readiness of health services and anti-infective preventive measures must be maintained.
  • Lethality. The infection mortality rate from the novel coronavirus in Europe does not exceed 1.5%; many studies estimate it within the range of 0.3-0.7%.
  • Grey area. There is a significant ‘grey area’ in determining CoViD deaths. Often, it is difficult to establish a causal link between infection and death with a high probability. The grey area can be a factor of various biases, either towards understating the number of CoViD deaths, or towards overstating them.
  • Realism. Containing the spread of the coronavirus infection remains an important imperative, but it will be more productive if we act in solidarity and coordination, without unnecessary emotions and mutual suspicions.

 


Analysis # 1

May 22, 2020 (updated on June 1)

Piotr Rudkouski

70 Days without a Lockdown.

Belarus's Special Path in the Fight against CoViD-19

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization announced the global pandemic of SARS-CoV-2. Shortly after that, most of the world’s countries introduced so called lockdown measures to contain the spread of the infection and reduce the number of fatalities. Belarus is among few countries where lockdown measures have been minimal. What can be said about such an approach now - ca 70 days after the pandemic was declared?

Key points and predictions

  • Communication. The necessity to adjust experts’ conclusions to the (chaotic) expressions of the president disrupts the communication both within the government system and between government agencies and society.
  • Lukashenka. Belarus leader does not recognize the risks carried by the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to be serious. It would, however, be an exaggeration to see his joking statements about the virus (ʻI don’t see it around here!ʼ) as an attempt to deny reality and challenge the commonly accepted fact that the virus is spreading in Belarus.
  • Health ministry apparently tries to operate within the paradigm more action – less talk. However, this is the case where the ʻless talkʼ approach undermines not only the image of the agency but also chances to engage other spheres of society into the fight against the virus.
  • ʻStatistical anomalyʼ: Why is, according to official statistics, the number of CoViD deaths in Belarus far lower than in most other countries? There is a real probability that these data are intentionally underreported; it does not seem, however, that the number of underreported deaths is significantly high.
  • WHO recommendations: Belarus’s noncompliance with some of the WHO recommendations will hardly have any negative consequences. The raison d’être of lockdown measures (which were part of those recommendations) is questioned by several experts; even within the WHO there is probably no consensus on this point.
  • Solidarity rather than lockdown. In the current situation, it is important to build horizontal social solidarity to overcome the consequences of the pandemic. Social distancing remains a valid ethical imperative. However, we do not recommend calling for a nationwide lockdown in Belarus as its ethical merits are far from evident.

 



Could COVID-19 mean a new social contract for Belarus?

President Alexander Lukashenka faces his toughest challenge yet. But Belarusians won't forget that in this crisis, civil society has proved more resourceful than the state.

As a valuable voice in discussion, we recommend the article by Hanna Liubakova in OpenDemocracy, with comments from Vadim Mojeiko, BISS analyst. 

The opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect the position of BISS.

 

Trend analysis

May 7, 2020

Vadim Mojeiko


Coronavirus in Belarus: Controversial Decisions and European Solidarity

Despite the skepticism demonstrated earlier, the Belarusian authorities are forced to take additional measures to respond to the coronavirus epidemic. 

There are several reasons for this, including the electorate dissatisfaction with the previous authorities’ policies and the increase in coronavirus spread. Within April 2-28, according to the official statistics, the number of cases increased by 40 times (from 300 to 12,208 people), the death toll grew by 20 times (from 4 to 79). 

At the same time, the authorities’actions remain contradictory and inconsistent.

Photo by BELTA

 


Belarusians' response to the coronavirus

May 5, 2020

At the invitation of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Belarus, BISS analyst Vadim Mojeikotook part in the first #PodKAS episode.

He deliberated on how the Belarusian society reacted to the new coronavirus, explains what are the factors of such reactions and prognosticates on their consequences.

🎧 Listen to the PodKAS

 

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