Calls for ‘radical Europe-wide lockdown’ grow louder

The #ZeroCovid's online petition has been signed by almost 45,000 people in the first three days

In order to effectively contain the pandemic, an initiative made up of scientists, activists and members of the health staff is calling for a radical rethink in the corona crisis. The so-called #ZeroCovid initiative advocates for a Europe-wide shutdown of all non-vital areas. It also suggests the introduction of an EU solidarity tax to cushion the financial consequences of the shutdown.

Since the previous flatten-the-curve strategy has not led to any lasting success in containing the corona pandemic, the campaigners now urge Member States to consider a new strategy to reduce new infections to zero.

“The strategy of controlling the pandemic has failed. It has restricted life permanently and has still brought about millions of infections and tens of thousands of deaths. We now need a radical change in strategy: not a controlled continuation of the pandemic but its end. The aim cannot be 200, 50, or 25 new infections – it has to be zero,” the online petition says. 

“Measures implemented by governments are not enough: they are prolonging the pandemic instead of ending it, and they are putting our lives in danger,” it adds.

In order to make a change, five goals are named in the initiative's call - the restriction of contacts to a minimum and the closure of non-life-relevant areas of the economy; financial security for everyone; the expansion of the health and care sector; the abolition of patents the corona vaccines; as well as Europe-wide solidarity levies on high assets, corporate profits and financial transactions. 

On the last goal, the initiative suggests that Europe’s “enormous wealth”, held by a “few individuals”, should assist people on low incomes via a “covid-solidarity fee on high estates.”

"With this wealth, the comprehensive break from work and all measures of solidarity can easily be funded. This is why we demand the introduction of a European Covid-solidarity tax on high wealth, company profits, financial transactions, and the highest incomes," the campaigners say.

The first signatories of the # ZeroCovid call included over 300 people from science, health, care, education, trade unions, culture and political initiatives from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. These include, among others, the climate activist Luisa Neubauer, the journalist Margarete Stokowski, the author and satirist Leo Fischer and the founder of the Sea-Watch aid organization, Ruben Neugebauer.

Within the first day of the initiative's online appeal launch, it was signed by another 25,000 people and as of the moment of writing, they are almost 45,000.

Overall, the #ZeroCovid initiative is based on the international call for consistent containment of the corona pandemic in Europe, which scientists published under the title “Contain Covid-19” in the specialist journal “The Lancet” in December last year. Over 300 researchers from all over Europe called for stricter measures such as comprehensive lockdowns and a European strategy to contain the coronavirus. Even then, the initiator Viola Priesemann, head of a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen, emphasized that individual measures in certain areas were not sufficient.

Rather, she argued that school closings, restrictions in work and private life as well as in public transport could only lead to success if they are applied everywhere. 

For Germany, the Robert Koch Institute also spoke out on Thursday (January 14, 2021) for tightening the previous lockdown. RKI boss Lothar Wieler criticized that there were still too many exceptions. "These measures that we are taking now - for me it is not a complete lockdown," said Wieler.

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