How Poland lost the war against COVID-19

The pandemic has cut Poles’ life expectancy by 1.4 years, making it one of the worst results in Europe

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: K. Klinger, J. Kapiszewski
A man waits in a vaccine center after getting a shot against COVID-19 in in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday Dec. 7, 2021. Poland and several other countries across central and eastern Europe are battling a massive surge of infection and death fueled by the transmissible delta variant. Now they face the specter of the another variant, omicron, with vaccinations rates far lower than in the Western Europe. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Poland belongs to the group of countries where the pandemic had the most disastrous effect, according to a pandemic summary prepared by the European Commission and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The pandemic has decreased the average life expectancy of Poles by 1.4 years — one of the worst such results in Europe. Poland is also second when it came to the number of surplus deaths.

The report’s authors pointed out that this result was due to long-term negligence within the health care sector.

Among the countries with the best results were the Scandinavian countries, along with Cyprus and Ireland. Not only did life expectancy not drop in these countries, the number of deaths also was not higher than the one predicted prior to the pandemic.

One of the main reasons for this are efficiently functioning health care systems but also the quite good health state of those countries’ citizens. For example, people in Cyprus are among the longest to live in the EU.

There are several reasons for Poland — alongside Romania, Bulgaria, Spain and Lithuania — being among the countries which lost the war against COVID-19 the most. The authors point to insufficient financing of the health care system, lack of staff (the lowest number of doctors and nurses), long waits for medical appointments (which was also true during the pandemic), and high surcharges for medical care.

The report also emphasized the low quality of data necessary to monitor the pandemic which impeded the process of making correct decisions.

Poland also had a clearly much fewer coronavirus tests carried out than the EU average — the number of tests rarely exceeded 1,000 tests for every 100,000 citizens per week. The EU average was 2.5 times higher.

Only 5 percent of Poles used the app, which allowed for contact tracing. In comparison, between 40 to 50 percent of people in Finland and Ireland used such an app.

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