However, even with successful vaccinations, the virus is not expected to disappear. It seems likely that the combination of open borders in Europe and beyond along with a lack of universal vaccination coverage will require permanent management of residual Covid risks. This applies particularly if the focus is placed on strict contact restrictions, which can only ever be incomplete and temporary, and if the vaccination rates are too low.

The key to fighting the pandemic is to balance the cost of control against the damage of any remaining risk. It is doubtful that the marginal solution of complete risk elimination through temporary but harsh measures will lead to long-term protection against infection rates and thus be the economically superior option. Conversely, capacities to safely manage recurrent corona cases need to be strengthened.

Both during the resumption of public life when risks are declining and during the subsequent phase of long-term protection, vaccination, extensive testing, and better traceability of cases are needed, to respond quickly to impending outbreaks. The crucial importance of these two elements, however, was already clear at the beginning of the pandemic.