Across Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing excess deaths, placing a burden on societies and health systems and harming the economy. European governments have yet to develop a common vision to guide the management of the pandemic. Overwhelming evidence shows that not only public health, but also society and the economy benefit greatly from reducing cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Vaccines will help control the virus, but not until late 2021.
If European governments do not act now, further waves of infection are to be expected, with consequential damage to health, society, jobs, and businesses. With open borders across Europe, a single country alone cannot keep the number of COVID-19 cases low; joint action and common goals among countries are therefore essential. We therefore call for a strong, coordinated European response and clearly defined goals for the medium and long term. Achieving and maintaining low case numbers should be the common, pan-European goal for the following reasons.