2020-12-22

A common European strategy against COVID-19

HZI researchers participate in statement on sustainable reduction of case numbers

Currently, high numbers of infections with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 are being recorded in many European countries. This leads to increased numbers of deaths and is a burden for society, health systems and the economy. An international initiative of scientists is calling for a European strategy to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases quickly and sustainably. The statement was written by several experts, including Prof Melanie Brinkmann, virologist at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig. The more than 300 signatories, including other HZI researchers, call for a strong, coordinated European response with clearly defined medium- and long-term goals. The strategy should aim to achieve and maintain low case rates across Europe.

3D representation of coronavirus particles ©Adobe Stock/Naeblys3D representation of coronavirus particles ©Adobe Stock/NaeblysControl of the coronavirus pandemic by vaccines, which are currently close to approval, is not expected until later in 2021. Until then, SARS-CoV-2 case numbers must be controlled through non-pharmaceutical measures such as contact reductions, hygiene measures and case tracking. A recent statement calls for these measures to be coordinated across Europe. This is to avoid repeated import of COVID-19 infections between different countries, thereby making it possible to leave the borders between countries open. The core elements of the position paper are to achieve low case numbers quickly, to keep case numbers low afterwards and to develop a common, long-term vision.

The position paper was initiated by Dr Viola Priesemann from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and written by 20 scientists from various fields. Among them is virologist Melanie Brinkmann, head of the research group "Viral Immune Modulation" at HZI and professor at TU Braunschweig. In addition to Brinkmann, Prof Dirk Heinz, Scientific Director of HZI, Prof Michael Meyer-Hermann, head of the department "Systems Immunology", Prof Luka Cicin-Sain, Research Group Leader "Immune Aging and Chronic Infections" and Dr Berit Lange, clinical epidemiologist from the department "Epidemiology" signed the position paper.

The concept paper first appeared in the journal The Lancet and has been translated into other languages.

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