Open Letter to the Dutch Parliament: Act now
This is being sent to all members of the Dutch Parliament. Dutch version to follow.
I am writing to you from Endcoronavirus.org, an organisation of 1200+ scientists and volunteers dedicated to stopping the COVID-19 pandemic. Together with scientists from Harvard, MIT and New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), we have been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 since January across China, South Korea, Italy & the US. We’re the largest such effort to fight this pandemic.
Research from China's CDC shows that when you have X known new cases, the real number of new cases is around 12X today and 29X in two weeks (see the graph in the attached paper). This meanswe’re underestimating the real number of cases by an order of magnitude. We think The Netherlands may already have over 8,000 casesright now. In the coming 14-24 days, many of these people will need to be hospitalised & isolated.
China locked down Hubei with 800 official cases, but still ended up with 80,000 cases. Even if we lockdown today with an official number of 804, we will likely end up having over 80,000 cases.
Linked is our COVID-19 Recommendations for Policy Makers. We urge you take this pandemic very seriously and apply these measures. We would like to speak with the leaders in the charge of the response in The Netherlands and explain these concerns in more detail. Here are the critical points:
Limit transportation from country to country, and between regions within The Netherlands, requiring at least 14 day quarantines for those transferring from region to region. A divide and contain strategy is essential.
Recognise that many countries in the EU & outside are experiencing multiple local outbreaks of COVID-19, cut all unchecked connectivity with them immediately. This will buy you time to slow the spread.
Lockdown communities with active transmission. Everyone except those providing essential services should stay home in these areas. Perform door to door search (with Personal Protective Equipment) for cases, and need for services, with community involvement
Collaborate with academic institutions, labs and companies for massive testing to identify as many cases as possible, including asymptomatic cases. When cases go unrecognised it will get progressively get harder to get ahead of the pandemic.
Recognise that isolating asymptomatic cases is critical to controlling the pandemic.
Increase hospital capacity and stock of essential medical resources.
Shut down schools & universities to prevent spread. Maximize work from home.
Due to the immense growth in cases, Italy is currently at 6.6% mortality rate and we expect it to go higher in the coming weeks. Recognise that Italy has a very strong healthcare system. Their situation is caused not by an inherent insufficiency of the system, but failure to take early measures. If you expect 70% of your population to get infected like Germany, prepare for thousands of avoidable deaths, our estimates are 500,000 deaths in The Netherlands.
The Netherlands will also need to prepare for a 15-20% hospitalisation rate & a 10% ICU admission rate among infected people. This will be very expensive & because the contagion is exponential, it will only get more expensive the longer you wait to act.
Containing this virus is possible. It's by getting ahead of the exponential curve. Act strongly and act now. Prevent needless deaths.