Are the northern countries more efficient? Let’s talk about vaccines

It seems the world upside down. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has stated that he is very concerned about the health situation in countries like Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. On the other hand, he has communicated that at the moment the advance of the virus in countries such as Malta, Portugal, Italy or Spain is little or very little worrying.

Some international media such as the ‘Financial Times’ have expressed their perplexity: the country with the lowest vaccination rate Europe is… Switzerland, where around a third of the population has refused to even take the first dose. There, counted the newspaper, the riot police had to mount a device around the main train station in Zurich, where a vaccination center had been installed, before the attack of protesters who were protesting against vaccines and were symbolically armed with ‘trycheln’, gigantic cow bells that are the emblem of rural Switzerland.

Germany is – along with Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg – among the countries where a greater part of the population refuses to be vaccinated (only 68% of German adults has the complete guideline). Remarkably, some of the regions with the most anti-vaccines are the richest, such as Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg. Last Monday, Joachim Sauer, the always discreet husband Angela Merkel and a chemist by profession, could not take it anymore: she stated in an interview that the reasons why many Germans refuse to be vaccinated are the “laziness and complacency”.

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The Germans, lazy?

The efficient south

This pandemic has taught us that conclusions about efficacy are fleeting: everything changes so fast that it is better not to do analysis with a lasting vocation. But, at this point, the contrast between north and south is striking. The northern countries are considerably richer; traditionally its Protestantism with a austerity and efficiency, and until not long ago its politics seemed to reflect that advanced character: pragmatic, relatively calm, dominated by technocracy. And, periodically, they scold those of the south: in principle, because of the tendency to economic waste, investment in unprofitable projects and a unstable politics and noisy; in fact, those criticisms hide a certain moral superiority and his sense that Southern Catholics are made more for the good life than for the job.

Photo: The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, in a conference on European recovery funds.  (EFE) Opinion

However, now the southern countries have proven to be more ideologically moderate -there are antivacunas, but much less—, have a greater sense of responsibility —Even its right-wing authoritarian parties, such as Vox, have preferred not to openly express their opposition to vaccines, unlike Alternative for Germany or the Austrian Freedom Party — a greater respect for scientific evidence and even a major discipline.

A negative reading could also be made, according to which in countries like Spain or Italy we citizens subordinate ourselves to a greater extent to the dictates of the State, we easily renounce our individual freedoms before the claim of our leaders or, even, that the consensus is fruit of a conspiracy of the elites. It is possible that the first two arguments have some truth. But, in reality, what these societies have shown in this case is different: they have simply been efficient and have effectively assumed the best solution to a colossal problem: a vaccine against a virus. And that is, by contrast, striking.

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What happens in the north?

Although countries linked to German culture are still more efficient in many ways, and tend to be better managed than those in the south, in recent years their reputation – and, incidentally, their self-esteem – has received a few strokes. The Government of Austria fell apart in 2019 after the publication of a video in which Heinz-Christian StracheA leader of the right-wing authoritarian party and a junior partner in the ruling coalition, he was offering a woman – who he believed to be the daughter of a Russian oligarch – public contracts in exchange for donations to his party. Sebastian Kurz, who continued to rule, but with a different partner, the Greens, resigned this october after being implicated in the possible delivery of public money to the media in exchange for favorable coverage.

Photo: View of a German flag.  (EFE)

In Germany, the ‘dieselgate‘, the trick of the emissions detection system in Volkswagen cars to market them without complying with the regulations, and the Wirecard scandal, the German electronic payments system that turned out to be a huge scam protected by the regulators, seriously damaged the reputation of the elites of the country. Afd’s electoral boom – now slowed down – and its enormous influence on ideological margins The country’s anti-vaccine, neo-Nazis, Russian state media, anti-Semites and other anti-establishment expressions have also embarrassed Germany. “In this country we have two viruses “said Markus Söder, the Conservative Prime Minister of Bavaria. “We have the coronavirus and we have this poison [de los antivacunas] that are spreading the ‘querdenker’ on a large scale [nombre que se dan quienes creen que el virus es una conspiración, cuya traducción es ‘pensadores laterales’] and parties like Alternative for Germany ”.

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Evils of others

The south should not feel ‘shame‘(joy at the misfortune of others) for this accumulation of bad news in the German world: we had better take note of the many lessons we can learn from its economy, its politics, its democratic culture and its nonconformity. But the brutal and counterintuitive gap between vaccination management in the North and the South shows that it is absurd to idealize rich countries from the heart of Europe. Perhaps for a long time we rightly wish we had their problems instead of ours. But, for once, countries like PortugalItaly or Spain, which have often been scorned in the north, can now show a small, prudent and moderate pride. Maybe we are able to manage some things.

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