In Belgium, a record of lethality, without catastrophism

With 20,121 deaths from Covid-19 as of January 12, Belgium has crossed a symbolic milestone. The small kingdom of 11.46 million inhabitants ranks second among the countries where Covid-19 kills the most. To this sad track record, established by John Hopkins University, Belgium comes just after the microstate of San Marino, landlocked in Italian territory, and before Slovenia, Italy and Bosnia. If we had to compare, the Belgian case fatality rate would have killed 117,000 in France, or 146,000 in Germany, which has just passed the 40,000 death mark.

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Curiously, this threshold is not perceived as catastrophic in Belgium where we repeat that the count was large at the start of the pandemic: all the deaths in nursing homes were counted, even those for whom the diagnosis of Covid -19 had not been formally asked.

No one expects sanctions

The fact that half of the deaths come from nursing homes is not scandalous either, although an Amnesty International report spoke on November 16 of a violation of the human rights of the elderly. The situation is being reviewed by Parliament, but no sanctions are in sight. The time is rather for optimism, all the indicators are down, in number of new hospitalizations (127 per day, or 9% less than during the week of January 2) as of deaths (53 per day on average of January 2 to 8).

However, even if it is too early to speak of a third wave, the figures for new contaminations have started to rise again (more than 2,000 per day), in part because of the extension of screening. The official goal is to vaccinate 60% to 70% of the population by September. The campaign began on January 5 in nursing homes, with patients and staff alike, and will extend in mid-February to those over 65, as well as to 45-65 year olds with co-morbidities.

The vaccine expected by 77% of Belgians

77% of Belgians are ready to be vaccinated, against 57% before the holidays, according to the latest inter-university barometer, of January 11. The 25-50 year olds are the most reluctant: 20% oppose it, against 12% of the over 50s and 14% of the 18-25s. ” What is rare appears to be more desirable ”, analyzes social psychologist Vincent Yzerbyt, from the Catholic University of Louvain. “From a psychological point of view, it will therefore be necessary to manage the impatience of some and from a logistical point of view, to make a faultless ».

Psychologist Olivier Luminet envisions a ripple effect: “ Intrinsically motivated people will take an active role in their environment and motivate others “. The dispassionate discussion between former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès and epidemiologist Marius Gilbert, vice-rector at the Free University of Brussels, gives a good overview of the atmosphere that prevails in Belgium.

The idea remains to work on the basis of the social contract, not through repressive practices. Everyone is sent back to their responsibilities. The relaxation in respect of barrier gestures at the end of the summer would partly explain the second wave observed in the fall.

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