The source and contact investigation that was done during the corona epidemic has had little effect on the epidemic. This is evident from new research reported by de Volkskrant.
For the source and contact investigation, the GGDs set up call centers so that they could warn close contacts of people who tested positive. Thousands of employees were deployed.
But people who had themselves tested did so mainly because they had complaints or knew people who were infected. The source and contact investigation added little to this, it appears. And the corona app, which warned if you had been with a positively tested person for more than fifteen minutes, also made little contribution.
Of people who visited a test street in Amsterdam at the end of 2020 and early 2021, only 2 to 5 percent did so after a report from a source and contact investigator. And only 2 percent did so after a report from the CoronaMelder app, researchers from UMC Utrecht, RIVM and GGD saw.
Research leader and medical epidemiologist Janneke van de Wijgert (UMC Utrecht) finds it striking that people mainly came to the test street because they had complaints or were warned by acquaintances.
She had expected that the group of people warned by the GGD would be larger, she says in the NOS Radio 1 Journaal. “Because a lot of people were hired at the GGD to do this work, they had the capacity to call and warn a lot of contacts.”
She did see the relatively small CoronaMelder effect coming, because there had already been evaluations of it before. “But I didn’t necessarily expect that this would also apply to the regular source and contact investigation of the GGD.”
Everything on everything
Van de Wijgert does understand that the call centers were set up. “Certainly with a new virus, it is very logical that the source and contact investigation is done, then you pull out all the stops to stop it.”
However, the question is whether it should have been continued later in the epidemic, when more was known. “The GGD could not keep up. The virus spread so quickly, it was impossible to counter that.”
It is a good instrument for infectious diseases such as HIV and TB, says the researcher. “They spread much more slowly than the corona virus. They are also infectious diseases with very major consequences. You want to do everything you can to prevent the spread.”
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