Stricter Covid access policy won't help against Omicron: study
The introduction of a 2G policy for coronavirus access passes makes no sense at this time. Researchers who studied various scenarios at the request of the Ministry of Public Health came to that conclusion. Controlling access based on vaccination, recovery, or testing negative does work, but excluding people who have not been vaccinated and haven't demonstrably recovered does not add much.
When the Delta variant of the virus was dominant, the 2G policy would have worked better than the current 3G policy, the researchers wrote. Now that the Omicron variant is dominant, that is no longer the case. Coronavirus access passes alone are currently not enough to prevent an increasing number of infections, the researchers calculated. Testing everyone, also known as 1G, would work better. But there are all sorts of practical obstacles to this.
Minister Ernst Kuipers of Public Health sent the researchers' findings to parliament. He did not say whether the Cabinet would abandon 2G. He only forwarded the results "so you can take the results with you," he said in an accompanying letter to parliament.
The research was conducted by TU Delft, UMC Utrecht, Populytics, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Erasmus MC. Kuipers said before that the findings would become important for the assessment that ultimately has to be made by parliament. The Cabinet and parliament will "conduct the conversation on that basis," he said at the press conference on Friday.
The introduction of 2G is politically controversial, as it excludes people who haven't been vaccinated or recently recovered from the coronavirus. Under the current policy, they can still test negative for Covid-19 to access certain places. Many in parliament think the 2G system would put too much pressure on people to get vaccinated. Kuipers' predecessor Hugo de Jonge decided not to send the 2G proposal to parliament last year due to lack of support.
Coalition party ChristenUnie will play an important role in the discussion about this. The party was already against the 2G policy before this study. Parliamentarian Mirjam Bikker, the CU speaker on coronavirus matters, called the research a "tipping point." She'd rather work on the 1G policy. "Other countries proved that more testing is possible and works. After today, it is time for the Netherlands to act quickly."
Reporting by ANP.