The worst possible answer... The French-style lockdown will very quickly prove to be the stupidest and most inept choice to manage this pandemic. And the later the release from lockdown occurs, the more criminal and suicidal it will become.
The figures speak for themselves. The European countries that are doing best are those that have chosen very flexible lockdown. In terms of deaths per inhabitant, Germany and Austria, which have chosen this response to the pandemic, are doing six and five times better than us respectively. The Netherlands, which has chosen collective immunization but has closed their schools and public places, are doing slightly better than us. These ratios do not take into account the final death figures in retirement homes, so they will only worsen to our disadvantage.
The most edifying example is Sweden. Almost all public places, restaurants and shops, are open there, as are primary schools. Teleworking is recommended there, as well as social distancing. Neil Ferguson, the crazy madman from Imperial College who scared all Western governments into a frenzy, predicted a Swedish apocalypse and God's wrath, at least 70,000 deaths. Fortunately, they saw him for what he really is. To date, they have less than 600 deaths, which, in relation to their population, represents a ratio of 4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, nearly 3 times less than us, once again before real figures from the retirement homes.
The abyss that separates us from these countries is not limited to these ratios. We will have far more suicides and deaths of elderly people who are dying from loneliness than they do. When we come out of lockdown, we will have an explosion of depressions and work leases that they will not have. Finally, we will have a never-ending collective trauma that they will not have to endure. Adult children who have been separated from their elderly parents and who have not even been able to attend their funerals will be haunted for a very long time by this pandemic, and this is just one example.
The final blow will be the economic cataclysm we will have to face after lockdown, which will be a double punishment for us. Our collective craziness will, of course, drag our neighboring countries into a serious economic crisis as well, but they will be in a much better position to deal with it than we are. They will start up again relatively quickly, not us because they will not have a deep collective trauma to deal with at the same time.
How could we have sunk into such a suicidal madness? The risk aversion of our ruling elites played a significant role. Terrorized themselves at the idea of facing a crisis for which nothing had prepared them, they have been constantly spreading this panic to the entire population for the past three weeks. They haven't stopped rehashing the most anxious speeches and the most negative figures over and over again. They have encouraged, at least implicitly, doctors, who should be looking after their patients, to predict the apocalypse day after day with the sole motivation of not being overwhelmed by the influx of patients in their departments.
Why have we chosen the worst-case strategy and persist in continuing to run into the ground? Why have we dragged an entire country into an economic disaster from which we may never recover? Emmanuel Macron had justified his decisions by the concern to protect our elders, which was to some extent understandable. The situation in the retirement homes, where the elderly have been left to die in absolute solitude so that the intensive care units, which have an occupancy rate of less than 70% to date, do not become overcrowded, reveals the insincerity of this commitment. To sum up, the President hid behind noble motives to hide his fear.
What can happen now? I have listened carefully to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe's lastest speeches and they do not give me cause to be optimistic. When I hear him say that it will still take several weeks to define the rules for exiting the lockdown, I tell myself that his panic is now palpable and that it doesn't promise anything good. Let's hope I'm wrong.
Mathias Matallah, CEO
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