BASEL (dpa-AFX) – The border closings in Europe around a year ago came too late to stop the corona virus sustainably, according to a study. Already on March 8, 2020, there were about as many local infections with the virus in Europe as were brought in by travelers from abroad, report researchers working with mathematician and biostatistician Tanja Stadler from ETH Zurich in the specialist magazine “PNAS”. The EU only closed its borders on March 17th.
The researchers had traced the spread of the pathogen using sequenced virus genomes. “If you closed the borders with the aim of not letting the virus in: it was too late for that,” Stadler told the German press agency. In the event of an infection, as was already the case on March 8, a border closure would only make sense in conjunction with a drastic reduction in contacts in the country. Then the reduction in contacts from abroad will help to slow the spread.
Stadler and colleagues have examined the spread of Sars-CoV-2 in Europe using deciphered virus genomes from 19 European countries and the Hubei province in China. She works in the ETH Department of Biosystems, which is based in Basel.
According to Stadler, conclusions could be drawn about a possible new pandemic from the work-up. “If the danger of the pandemic had been recognized earlier, the focus of infection would have had to be dried out. From an epidemiological point of view, an early isolation of the starting point of the pandemic in the Chinese province of Hubei would have been central,” said the researcher. “It is extremely important to act quickly at the beginning to prevent a virus from circulating globally. But afterwards you always know more.”
In Germany, the first known chain of infection – after the infection of employees of the Webasto company in Upper Bavaria from a Chinese colleague – was interrupted at the end of January. This line is said to have expired and ended completely. But more infections were brought to Germany, from China and Italy, where the first major outbreak occurred in Europe.
In Italy, the on-site infections would have started around mid-February. “At the end of February, local circulation began in Germany,” said Stadler. The virus variant, which was rampant in Europe until late spring, probably spread largely from Hubei via Italy./oe/DP/mis