You have collected countless data on Corona and made accurate forecasts. Will we ever be able to overcome the pandemic?
I can only speculate about that. I believe that the virus will become endemic over time, meaning that it will only occur in a localized manner. Because it’s very hard to wipe it out all over the world. As a result, the virus will mutate over and over again. But that doesn’t mean it’s getting more and more aggressive. The most likely scenario is that it will act like the flu. People will develop immunity, whether naturally or through vaccination. Another scenario is that the virus will maintain its aggressiveness and we will have to be vaccinated against new variants over and over again. But I very much hope that won’t happen.
How is the pandemic changing our society?
In many ways. It is obvious that we have become more aware of this type of virus. The consequences of working from home are not that obvious. Many people have got used to working from home. And the more people do this, the better the technologies get. As a result, people can work from wherever they want. And they can choose jobs in countries where the tax rate is lower. So there will be tax competition. On the other hand, companies do not necessarily have to employ people who are also on site. They can have their employees in Ukraine or India. And if it costs them half, they will too.
So the home office leads to offshoring?
Yes. So far, mainly production facilities have been outsourced. In the future, however, this will also happen to employees in office, retail and service companies. As a result, Europe will have fewer opportunities to tax this generation of workers.
What is the most pressing task at this point in the pandemic?
Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. We need to increase production and make the vaccine in every part of the world, not just developed countries. It doesn’t help us if we get the third and fourth booster in Europe, but the people in Africa have not yet been vaccinated. Because in this way the virus can continue to mutate. At the same time, we have to accelerate the approval of vaccinations if they are adapted for mutations. We cannot consider the risks to the same extent as we did before the pandemic and we also have to make decisions with less available data.
The vaccination campaign stalled earlier than expected. What did we do wrong?
I think the message was not conveyed properly. The willingness among the elderly is higher because the mortality rate is also higher in this group. Many younger people, on the other hand, think why should I get vaccinated if the virus is not so dangerous for me. It must be clearly communicated to them that there is still a risk of long covid. And this is at least ten percent. It can reduce the IQ, for example; these problems can only appear ten to 20 years later. That is to be taken seriously. It also needs the message from the political side: You don’t just protect yourself with the vaccination. It’s like a driver’s license. You don’t have to have it. But if you want to drive you need it. The same goes for vaccination. You don’t have to be a part of social life, but if you do, you need it.
So is it necessary to have a general vaccination requirement?
No, apart from that, the state has sufficient leverage. So he can say: everyone who works in the public service must be vaccinated. And also everyone who wants to participate in public life. One cannot put others in danger because of one’s personal sensitivities.