March 23, 2021 | Julien Beresford, President and Founder, Beresford Research
As close observers of the global pandemic know, the Czech Republic has been the hardest-hit country on a per capita basis for several months. The news last Thursday that the country’s recent lockdown order (beginning March 1, 2021) must remain in place beyond Easter despite the continued vaccination of residents over 80 is just one indication of how the Republic’s response to the pandemic has gone horribly wrong.
We’ve been watching with dismay as the Czech Republic has leapt to lead the Top 25 Countries with COVID-19 cases over the past few months:
In an excellent piece by CNN’s Ivana Kottasová, we learn “How the Czech Republic slipped into a COVID disaster, one misstep at a time.” “There is no reason for the country to be among the worst hit,” Ms. Kottasová writes. “As a relatively wealthy nation and a member of the European Union, the Czech Republic has access to vaccines, medical equipment and track-and-trace tech solutions. It has a democratically elected government. Its health care system is well respected, its economy fairly strong.”
The article cites various experts to explain “the current Czech catastrophe” and identifies eight causes:
- Early success against the first wave of the pandemic using a lockdown resulted in early complacency (what health experts call the “Paradox of Success”)
- The government overruled its own scientific advisers and didn’t reinstate a mask mandate in the summer
- They reopened schools in September
- Retail shops reopened before Christmas after a brief decline in cases
- Failed to test sufficient COVID samples in early January despite warnings that the new UK variant in the country was more virulent
- Lack of adequate financial support for workers needing to quarantine
- Factories remained open, requiring at-risk workers to use public transportation
- Lack of quarantine enforcement
Politics also played a role; with an early October election, the Prime Minister was loathe to institute new restrictions just as the second wave of the virus required such measures to stop the rapid spread. The government didn’t follow its own rules on reopening safely for the Christmas shopping season.
The frightening situation in the Czech Republic is a warning to all ― especially to those in the United States who discounted mask-wearing, thought that schools and business should have remained open, and advocated a quick end to self-quarantining despite the scientific community’s consistent advice to implement social distancing, wear masks and stay home until vaccines were available.