A new study has found that both 2G and 3G rules are largely ineffective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, highlighting instead that 1G rules would have a greater impact on infection rates and hospital admissions.
Dutch government considers expansion of COVID-19 certificates
Last summer, in an attempt to allow various industries to reopen safely, the Dutch government introduced a coronavirus certificate system – now generally referred to as 3G rules – that meant anyone who wanted to sit at a restaurant, attend an event, or watch a film at the cinema needed to present proof of vaccination, recent recovery, or a recent negative test via the CoronaCheck app.
With the current lockdown set to be lifted on January 25, the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) is due to discuss the expansion of the 3G rules and the potential introduction of 2G rules – where only proof of recovery or proof of vaccination are considered valid – later this month. Some sectors have voiced their support for the new rules if it allows them to reopen quicker.
However, new research conducted by TU Delft, UMC Utrecht, Populytics, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Erasmus MC suggests that the 2G and 3G rules proposed by the Dutch government are unlikely to have any significant impact on the spread of COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant.
2G and 3G would have little effect, 1G would be better
Research leader Niek Mouter says the introduction of a 2G or 3G policy would be “difficult to defend.” According to their investigation, 3G rules would decrease the R-number by only 5,4 percent, and 2G rules would decrease the value by less than 10 percent.
More importantly, neither system would help to get the R-number under one. According to the government’s coronadashboard, the R-number was 1,42 at the end of December but is likely much higher now.
Instead, the study found that the introduction of a 1G policy – where everyone has to present a recent negative coronavirus test – would be the most effective, and would reduce the R-number by as much as 45 percent. But Mouter points out it would still not be enough: “It is now impossible to get the R-number below one with any form of coronavirus certificate.”
Researchers say it’s too early to entirely dismiss 2G and 3G rules
Does this mean the government should scrap the ideas for 2G and 3G rules? Mouter is hesitant to say, emphasising the fact that the national coronavirus situation will continue to evolve and that a couple of weeks or months down the line, when more people have been vaccinated, boosted, or recovered from the virus, the outlook could be very different.
The new Dutch Health Minister, Ernst Kuipers, has voiced his support for the introduction of 2G rules, as did his predecessor Hugo de Jonge. The policy has proved controversial in the House of Representatives. On Tuesday, Kuipers sent the findings of the study to all members of the House to ensure they are properly informed about the proposed rules, but he is yet to say whether these findings mean the current plans will be scrapped.