Covid access pass having very little effect on pandemic, experts say
The effect of the 3G coronavirus access pass policy on the pandemic is currently so limited that it may as well be abolished, three experts said to NU.nl. Though they added that if the access policy is scrapped, other measures will have to take its place.
There are three levels of Covid-19 access policy commonly used in the world. The Netherlands works on the 3G policy, which allows access to things like restaurants to people who have been vaccinated against, recovered from, or tested negative for Covid-19. The term 3G comes from the three G's in Dutch words gevaccineerd (vaccinated), genezen (recovered), and getest (tested). 2G allows access to vaccinated and recovered people. With 1G everyone must test negative, vaccinated or not.
A recent study by TU Delft showed that the 2G and 3G access policies aren't very effective against the current high number of Covid-19 infections caused by the extra contagious Omicron variant. The 1G policy would be more effective, though there are practical problems with testing so many people every day. 2G and 3G are also more effective if the group not protected against Covid through vaccination or recovery is larger. In the past weeks, infections skyrocketed, resulting in more people building up natural protection.
Niek Mouter, the author of the TU Delft study, therefore believes that a discussion can be held on whether the access policy is still a proportionate measure. He doesn't want to comment on which measures should go and stay. "But the effect has become a lot smaller. I am happy that the discussion can now be held," he said to NU.nl.
Epidemiologists Patricia Bruijning and Frist Roosendaal told NU.nl that the 3G access policy is still dampening the spread of the coronavirus, but the effect is minimal. And that effect will become smaller in the coming weeks, Bruijning said. The Netherlands is still moving towards the peak of the current coronavirus wave, which means that even more people will become infected and build up protection. "Once you're at this stage, it doesn't add a whole lot more."
Roosendaal adds that 3G is aimed at slowing down the pandemic. "That doesn't work now because you can get the virus everywhere. It's a matter of mopping with the tap open. Vaccines also don't prevent all Omicron infections. So the mop you're using is also broken."
As the access policy is still having some effect, scrapping it would mean taking other measures to fill the gap it leaves, the epidemiologists said. For example, the catering establishments would have to close early for a longer period of time. And then, the question is whether it is fair to move away from the access policy. "You actually keep things away from people who were properly vaccinated. I find that a bit storage," Roosendaal said.
"You have to do it in steps and prioritize things," Bruijning said to the newspaper. "You have a toolbox to prevent the spread of the virus. Each measure individually does not do much, but together it does. At the next moment of consideration, the question is, what is your priority? Abandoning 3G? Or, for example, keeping bars open for longer?"