Biostatistician Geert Molenberghs calls for border closures to prevent massive entry of the British variant of the coronavirus


“From an epidemiological point of view, then closing the borders would be a wise move,” said Molenberghs. “This issue is particularly sensitive at the political level, including in the context of international relations. But personally, I think – and I’m not speaking on behalf of the Gems (the official committee of experts, editor’s note) – that we should consider it anyway ”. His colleague Marc Van Ranst, meanwhile, believes in Het Laatste Nieuws that the rules can be relaxed in two months at the earliest, “unless politics decides otherwise”.

Closing borders also saves time for vaccinations, says Molenberghs. “Because once the new variant is in place, it’s too late. We must do everything in our power to prevent and delay this at home ”. Meanwhile, among our neighbors to the north, fears about the new variant are increasing. Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Tuesday that the lockdown will be extended for three weeks.

The fruits of vaccination in two months

No one really wants the borders to be closed, Mr Molenberghs also realizes. “But it is a question of knowing whether or not to rule out a new variant, and therefore a new epidemic”. Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (sp.a) stressed on Tuesday before the parliamentary health committee that the new variants are also “a source of concern” for our country. At the same time, he said closing the borders “for a small country like ours is extremely complicated”.

The current round of vaccination will only bear fruit, despite the accelerating pace, in two months, Mr Van Ranst said in the meantime. He estimates that we will hit the threshold of 75 hospitalizations in five to six weeks. Then, three more weeks are needed for consolidation. “Unless the politicians decide otherwise. Because if foreign countries relax before us, the pressure on our political decision-makers will be enormous ”.

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