From the Polish Economic Institute's latest report titled: "Pandenomics 2.0. ‘How European countries coped with the second wave of the pandemic, the economic recession and what scenarios await us in 2021’ shows that Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland are the countries economically least affected by the COVID-19 crisis. 


As part of the analysis, Polish Economic Institute (PIE) experts identified four groups of countries with similar epidemic characteristics and comparable data in terms of morbidity, mortality, and the scale of implemented restrictions. Thus, as we read in the information, in group one, i. e. among the 'countries most strongly affected and blocked by the pandemic', there are seven countries: Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, as well as the United Kingdom.


They wrote that these countries had the highest incidence of morbidity and mortality during the first wave of the pandemic. In contrast, during the second wave, ‘these indicators were average compared to other country groups, but the level of economic constraint was relatively high throughout the crisis’. 


The second group, ‘countries in a deteriorating situation’, comprises 15 countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. They had, according to the PIE analysis, the lowest morbidity and mortality during the first wave, with average reductions compared to other country groups. However, these countries suffered much more during the second wave of the pandemic, ‘with high levels of morbidity and mortality and relatively moderate government restrictions’.


The third group, the so-called ‘happy losers’ consists of four countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Latvia. These countries had the fewest recorded cases and relatively low mortality during both first and second wave of the pandemic. In the fourth group, dubbed the ‘Outlier Duo’ by PIE analysts, were Sweden and Luxembourg. 


To accurately assess the economic slowdown in the EU27 and the UK, PIE has developed a new indicator, the Economic Forecast Index (EFI). It combines, as we can read, forecasts of GDP, unemployment rate, government deficit and debt, as well as imports and exports.


‘The six variables identified above were used to create rankings of European countries based on economic development projections for 2020 issued before the pandemic and during the pandemic in autumn 2020,’ they wrote. 


According to Andrzej Kubisiak, Deputy Chairman of PIE, quoted in the information, the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic means the biggest hit in decades on both developed and developing economies. 


‘Our analysis shows that the countries most affected by the pandemic in terms of morbidity and deaths, and those with the strongest closing economies, have suffered the most from the current crisis. On the other hand, countries that coped relatively well with the first wave or had fewer restrictions are doing better in the final tables,’ Kubisiak pointed out.


He also pointed out that in all the forecasts and outlooks for 2021, the key role is played by the further development of the pandemic. 


‘In our opinion, the situation can develop in three possible directions - optimistic, realistic and pessimistic. For Poland for this year, we assume the realization of a realistic scenario, the fulfilment of which would enable GDP growth to reach 4.2 per cent.’ - he said. 


In the optimistic scenario, PIE analysts assume that with the Global Immunisation Program, which started in late 2020, most vulnerable groups will be vaccinated by mid-2021, enabling the pandemic to be contained.


‘As a result, the number of COVID-19 cases that require intensive care will drop significantly, and after the summer of 2021, there will no longer be a need for restrictions,’ we can read. 


The realistic scenario, on the other hand, assumes that the pandemic will be contained in the second half of 2021. It was written that in some cases regulatory procedures for vaccines will be prolonged, which means that not all manufacturers will be able to produce as many doses as expected at the end of 2020. Under this option, the report says, the restrictions will continue until the fall of 2021.


The darkest pessimistic scenario is that the pandemic will not be contained until 2022 because of deficiencies in clinical trials or because of emerging doubts about their safety. ‘As a result, seasonal peaks of the disease are observed not only in 2021, but also in 2022, and the restrictions continue into 2022 as well,’ they wrote.