Hard choices needed to prevent months-long lockdown: Outbreak expert

AMSTERDAM - It is "incredibly important" that the Cabinet dares to make hard choices if the Netherlands is going to get through this winter without a months-long hard lockdown, medical microbiologist and outbreak team member Marc Bonten said to Nieuwsuur. He echoed the urgency of his colleague Diederik Gommers, ICU expert and OMT member.

Earlier on Tuesday, Gommers urged the Cabinet to stop arguing about the 2G access policy and start looking at a hard lockdown because hospitals are fast approaching "code black." Then there are not enough hospital beds available for everyone who needs treatment, and doctors have to choose between patients.

"Look at what it is like in hospitals. Look at today's figures. Look at the figures of recent weeks. Look at the support for the current measures and how they are being implemented. Something has to be done, and politicians have to take responsibility for this. Both the Cabinet and the parliamentary factions," Bonten said to Nieuwsuur on Tuesday evening.

According to Bonten, politicians are currently trying to prevent code black while not taking harsh measures and not coercing anyone to get vaccinated. And that is a combination that will not work.

"If measures are not negotiable, then the vaccination rate has to be increased very quickly. Until then, the hospitals have to survive. If we can't talk about the vaccination rate, only one option remains: tighten the measures further to keep the hospitals afloat. With this, people do not build up further immunity. That means we will probably have to continue measures until the spring gets us out of the crisis. So: politicians, Cabinet, and parliament now really have to make choices."


Bonten listened to recent debates in parliament. "It's dramatic. They really have to stand together and ensure we get the country through this crisis instead of arguing about details. They are focused on the wrong topics. We have to make sure we get the country through this winter without needing a lockdown of three, four months."

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