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Dimiter Toshkov on the Salem Radio Network in the US over the European policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic

‘European countries with higher trust and more freedoms were more reluctant to impose restrictive measures to handle the coronavirus. But it seems that this did not work so well for managing the pandemic.’

Toshkov, Associate Professor at the Institute of Public Administration, discussed the differences in the national policy responses of the European countries, the effects of the policies on the containment of the coronavirus pandemic, and the difficulties in measuring the total impact of COVID-19 on mortality with Dan Proft, the host of the popular Dan Proft Show and the Chicago’s Morning Answer on the Salem Radio Network. 

‘The speed with which countries imposed restrictions on movement and social distancing had a big impact on the number of cases and number of deaths they had a month down the line’, argues Toshkov. That’s why understanding the reasons why some governments acted faster and more decisively than others is so important.  
‘Governments that we generally regard as more efficient and having higher capacity, like the Western European governments in The Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK took more time to decide to close down the schools and to impose lockdowns – and in the case of Sweden they did not close down the schools at all… One possible explanation for this surprising result is that other governments, that we generally regard as less efficient, knew that they did not have a lot of hospital capacity, so they tried to stop the virus spreading in the first place, because they knew they had very little capacity to manage the consequences.’

The host and Toshkov agreed that it’s too early to provide precise estimates of the ultimate effects of the different government responses, because data on mortality is quite insufficient yet. ‘It is by now undeniable that the number of deaths directly caused by the virus is underestimated’ in many countries, according to Toshkov. Not only is excess mortality higher, but in many cases it is much higher than the official number of deaths registered as directly caused by COVID-19. ‘The implication is that the death toll from the virus is likely way higher than we currently know.’

Click here to listen to the entire interview. The working paper with the analysis of government responses to COVID-19 (joint work with Kutsal Yesilkagit and Brendan Carroll) is available here. You can follow Dimiter Toshkov on Twitter at @DToshkov.

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