bne IntelliNews: Why is Georgia succeeding with the coronavirus where many Western countries are failing?

  • Georgia has had 54 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since February 26, 2020. No deaths have been reported. Eight of the 54 have recovered. Photo: bne IntelliNews.

Review by Gvantsa Gabekhadze

political editor, 23 Mar 2020, Tbilisi,Georgia

bne IntelliNews has released a story by Alexander Scrivener which praises the efforts of the Georgian government to respond to COVID-19.

“When the biggest health crisis in a century hits, where would you prefer to be: the Netherlands or Georgia?,” asks the author, stating that Georgia managed to prevent and mitigate the spread of the pandemic better than the Netherlands. 

The reality of the two countries’ response to the novel coronavirus, however, shows that being rich doesn’t guarantee effective policy in a time of crisis. If anything, the early signs are that wealthier European countries have tended to respond less effectively than poorer ones - at least initially.” 

The story says that Georgia and the Netherlands ‘are a good comparison’ as both confirmed their first cases at roughly the same time - Georgia’s first case was a day earlier. 

At the time of writing, the death toll in Georgia stands at zero, with just 43 confirmed cases, all imported or directly related to imported cases. In the Netherlands, 106 have died and, despite very narrow access to testing, there are 2994 confirmed cases. The Dutch government now considers the outbreak to be unstoppable and has essentially given up on fully supressing the virus.

The story reads that the Netherlands is a far more connected economy and as such a faster increase in imported cases would be expected. 

But the fact that both countries saw the virus arrive at the same time suggests that this does not account for the huge gap in outcomes. Nor are differential test-rates a possible explanation, as the Netherlands conducted extremely limited testing until relatively late. In fact, the death statistics (which are far more reliable) suggest that the real number of Dutch cases is in the tens of thousands, while Georgia is likely still in double figures.

Read more here.