• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

HSE Experts Analyze the Lifting of Quarantine Restrictions in 30 Countries

HSE Experts Analyze the Lifting of Quarantine Restrictions in 30 Countries

© HSE University

In a recent report, HSE experts evaluated the world’s 14 countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic based on data (including the number of recorded deaths) from May 1, 2020 or later. The report also examined 16 other countries whose experience was considered significant. While refraining from making generalizations, experts nonetheless noted that leaders in Europe and the United States have generally not responded to the situation as effectively as their Asian counterparts. Africa, meanwhile, follows its own course, while the situation in Brazil is worse.

A team of experts from HSE University led by Andrey Zhulin, HSE Vice Rector and Director of the Institute for Public Administration and Governance, presented the report, ‘Back to the Races or a False Start? Lifting Coronavirus Quarantine Restrictions in the Spring of 2020 (An Analysis of 30 Countries)’, at the XXI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development.

The report was made in cooperation with Intexpertise, a Russian economic research centre that specializes in assessing foreign economic risks. This collaboration made it possible to put together a group of full-time HSE researchers and create a wide network of experts and specialists from many other Russian and foreign research centres and industries in a short time.

The report comes at a particularly pivotal time in Russia, when, after a short period of economic and social restrictions, officials are determining how to ease lockdown rules and deciding what course the country should take.

In total, the team analyzed the pandemic responses of 30 countries, which collectively account for 83% of the 3.7 million recorded COVID-19 cases worldwide and 93% of recorded deaths (totaling 258,000 as of May 6). The most reliable data, in the unanimous opinion of the team, is that of recorded deaths, since a country’s number of recorded infections is determined by the scale of that country’s testing and can hardly be considered reliable. As of May 6, 2020, the most deaths have been recorded in the United States.

  • Number of deaths from COVID-19:

    USA — 72 271

    United Kingdom — 29 427

    Italy — 29 315

    Spain — 25 613

    France — 25 531

These five countries account for 71% of all coronavirus-related deaths worldwide. The report examines the course of the outbreak in these and other countries, as well as in countries that did not impose strict quarantines, such as Sweden and Belarus.

Each of the 30 country profiles in the report provides a brief summary of the course of the outbreak, statistics, and a brief overview of the measures taken in that country.

In addition, researchers examined the principles, approaches, reasoning, and decision-making processes behind the lifting of restrictions. They looked at what centres and expert groups were formed, what statistical indicators were considered, what data were analyzed, what technological solutions to control the population and the spread of the virus were used, what factors gave rise to disagreements, who the country provided aid to, who the country requested aid from, and, finally, what explained the need for and procedure for lifting restrictive measures.

© iStock

‘We examined the role of expert communities, institutes, and universities. In different countries, the leading role in consolidating expertise at the national level is played by medical centres, universities, technological centres, consulting companies, interdisciplinary project teams, and administrative structures,’ the report authors noted.

For each country, the factors determining the decision to lift restrictions can be divided into three groups: 1) economic; 2) socio-political (the population is tired of quarantine; the continuation of quarantine measures has been met with protests); and 3) medical (such as the extent to which the healthcare system is overloaded or the rate of infection). ‘We examined the ratio of these factors, which varied from country to country depending on the circumstances,’ the researchers write.

In many countries, decisions were made amid discussions that were not always constructive, taking into account short-term party and factional interests and being conducted under pressure from opposition groups and the media. Contradictions between government branches, industry lobbies, trade unions and, of course, contradictory relations between regional and central authorities all played an important role in decision-making. State systems varied in their flexibility and ability to adapt and respond to the extraordinary crisis situation.

Changes in the dynamics between federal and regional structures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak was a particularly interesting point of comparison. For example, in China, federal power was strengthened, whereas in Brazil, it was the states who took on more authority in responding to the crisis. Meanwhile, there are almost no examples of an increase in interstate structural cooperation.

Streets of Oslo during the quarantine
© iStock

Systems of citizen control and surveillance were implemented in different ways and to different degrees. China and South Korea introduced de facto tracking systems immediately and without public discussion. Many European countries have relied on citizen awareness. For example, Norwegians have demonstrated a strong willingness for cooperation: on the first day of access to the country’s contact tracking mobile application, 730,000 Norwegians voluntarily downloaded it and installed it.

The coronavirus crisis has revealed the strengths, weaknesses, as well as simply the features of government and public institutions around the world. The pandemic has functioned as a spotlight which has allowed experts to analyze and compare different countries in their responses to it. ‘The preliminary result is quite predictable — leaders in Europe and the United States have generally not responded to the situation as effectively as their Asian counterparts. Africa, meanwhile, remains on its own course, while the situation in Brazil is worse.’

At the same time, the HSE experts deliberately refrained from making generalizations in their report. ‘There are hypotheses, work is underway to verify them, and the results will be presented. Now we consider it of paramount importance to bring to our colleagues and a wide circle of experts the information we have collected and verified so that they can use it in their work,’ they emphasize.

Recovering from the coronavirus pandemic will be a complex process that must grapple with a large number of factors, the experts say. ‘It is already clear that some institutions, enterprises, industries and even entire countries will not only recover as a result of this process, but will also strengthen their influence. Many countries are already, as they lift restrictions, trying to identify and support areas of future growth, and not just rebuild the most affected sectors of the economy.’

See also:

Life in Quarantine at the HSE Dorms

After HSE University transitioned to distance learning, life in the HSE dormitories changed: most students have gone home. The number of onsite staff and service employees has been reduced. Large events have been cancelled. Student trips into the city have been limited. HSE University Life spoke with students and staff about what life under quarantine is like in the dorms.

Stockholm COVIDians: The Origins and Results of the Swedish Model for Combating the Coronavirus

Sweden is the only country of the European Union that has not taken strict measures against the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s COVID-19 death rate is growing, unemployment is close to record high levels and GDP could fall by 10%. But does this prove that Sweden’s strategy is ineffective? The HSE School of World Economy invited experts to assess its implications for Swedish society.

World Bank—HSE University Webinar Examines the Costs of School Closures During the Covid-19 Pandemic

On May 21, the joint webinar series, ‘Education under COVID-19: Problems, Solutions, Perspectives, Research’ began with a session about the effects of school closures under the pandemic. Harry Anthony Patrinos of the World Bank presented the results of a model that he and a team of researchers developed in order to predict the extent to which the closures may reduce learning and lead to future losses in labor productivity and earnings for today’s students. The webinar was moderated by Isak Froumin (Head of the HSE Institute of Education), while Professors Tommaso Agasisti (School of Management, Politecnico di Milano) and Sergey Kosaretsky (Director, HSE Centre of General and Extracurricular Education) served as discussants.

Participants of Escapes from Modernity Online School Discuss Post-Coronavirus World

Experts, participants and moderators gathered to share their predictions about the future of the humanity after the pandemic. What paradigm will replace anthropocentrism? What will happen to globalization, consumer civilization, and megalopolises? How will the virus impact policy and democracy and what will post-COVID ethics and anthropology look like?

From Moscow to Brazil, South Africa, and China: Panelists Discuss Challenges and Potential for BRICS Countries in the Global Economy

On May 14, as part of the ‘World Economy’ session of the XXI April Conference 2020 an online panel attended by representatives of BRICS Network University took place. The session was devoted to the topic ‘BRICS Countries in the Global Economy’.

HSE Report on Innovative Development in Russian Agriculture

The world’s modern food systems are going through a fundamentally new stage of technological development known as Agriculture 4.0. This digital approach relies on the use of robotechnics, the Internet of Things, biotechnologies, and other smart solutions. Is Russian agriculture ready for this transformation? What should be the government’s role in this process? These issues are the focus of the report, ‘Innovative Development of Russian Agricultural Industry. Agriculture 4.0».

Up Close with the Epidemic: From Russia to China and Back

China was the first country to be hit by the coronavirus, and other countries have looked to its handling of the outbreak as a model. Former HSE student Sergey Stepanov, who has been studying and working in China for the past four years, shared his personal experience with the COVID-19 outbreak while in China.

Meeting Happiness: How Social Activity Affects the Well-being of Europeans over 50 Years Old

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely restricted social contacts for people everywhere, and especially for the elderly. Yet, HSE researchers found that meeting with friends and relatives was one of the key conditions for happiness among Europeans aged 50 and older. In fact, such social contacts were just as important for them as their health, material well-being, or professional fulfilment. The report on the results of the study was prepared for the XXI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development.

Unknown Mortality Rate: Why We Don’t Know the True Scale of COVID-19

Demographers have been thrust to the frontlines of the world’s efforts to evaluate the coronavirus pandemic, but so far without any weapons. Lacking data, they cannot reliably assess the situation. And this is despite the fact that the Internet, it would seem, is flush with statistics. A webinar hosted by the HSE International Laboratory for Population and Health discussed the paradoxes of quantitative approaches to COVID-19. IQ.HSE spoke with webinar participants Vladimir Shkolnikov, Inna Danilova, and Dmitry Jdanov.

‘Data Mining Can Help Forecast the Pandemic Situation with an Accuracy Within 2.5%’

A mathematical model of Covid-19 spreading in Nizhny Novgorod Region, which has been created by the Big Data Laboratory at Nizhny Novgorod Development Strategy Project Office, has been widely discussed in the media and on social networks. The research was led by Anastasia Popova, a master’s student of HSE University in Nizhny Novgorod, repeat winner of machine learning competitions, and winner of Ilya Segalovich Award by Yandex. In the following interview given on April 15, Anastasia speaks about how the model was developed, the data it uses, and long-term potential applications.