Greece failed in the pandemic. And trains.

As many wonder if anything will be done to avoid another tragic train collision in Greece I can already answer this with certainty: nothing at all will change. How do I know? Because many Greeks still think we did “great” in the COVID pandemic!

Source – Worldometer – 9 March 2023 totals
(but the ranking has been like that for a while)

You can choose various metrics to measure how well a country did but deaths seems the most solid one to focus on. Over time there aren’t really many ways to count them like cases. Greece is the 14th worse country on the planet in terms of COVID related deaths. Quite an achievement. Above Italy, the Italy we all pitied at first, above Brazil, above the USA and UK who many made fun of at various stages of their response. Excess mortality, quite a clear figure to work with, does not lie. Greece failed. Big time.

Source: Our world in Data

Greece didn’t fail on a single instance. Sure, at first nobody knew what to do. Even Sweden (with much lower death rates than those in the chart above) made a mistake initially in how they handled elderly care homes, it was a brief upshot of deaths. But no, Greece systematically did worse than most countries. So many Greek politicians tried to blame other factors like the slightly higher average age of Greeks. But with no data to back their claims of course. And very similar countries like Portugal systematically faired much better.

And then when we look at the vaccination graph, it is the inverse. Portugal was doing better almost all the time. That blimp in December where Greece had an upshot was the rare occasion when the government actually did try to do something to force health workers and the elderly to get vaccinated. But they didn’t insist of course, then they retracted and people kept dying in the long term.

Others try to blame the Greek psyche, as if we are naturally problematic in following rules. But again the data is clear. Greeks are less rebellious than many other countries that did better in terms of deaths.

There are many specific mistakes to point out, such as the changes to the health system which suddenly made the case fatality ratio much much worse for Greeks. Which they never fixed even though the entire planet could see from the data that something was very very wrong.

The red line rises , then starts dropping, then in Greece – and only Greece – it shoots up again suddenly after the government had essentially crippled the health care system with irrational changes.

From a governmental point of view it takes some skill to consistently make bad decisions. Even by chance we could assume they would occasionally get one right. But the data shows something quite different. The Greek government systematically did the wrong thing at the wrong time or the right thing at the wrong time.

The Greek government was not only totally incompetent in terms of protecting its citizens’ health, it also wrecked businesses by shutting it down in ways and for long periods which were clearly not necessary. How do I know? Because we can compare European countries’ responses and again the Greeks did the wrong thing at the wrong time or the right thing way too late or way too early. It is as if most European countries were in sync and the Greeks simply refused to listen to everyone.

And this is how I know with certaintly that nothing will be done about train safety. Because despite this proven total failure of the Greek government that let to thousands of deaths there isn’t even a committee (like in other countries) retrospectively allocating blame and making suggestions for the future.

We can argue about minor or major methodological issues, specific Greek government responses or anything else you like. But the simple fact remains that this Greek government is responsible for a lot of deaths. You could call it simple incompetence. When matched with the fact that not a single retrospective correction has been made and all these deaths are not leading to a greater readiness for the next pandemic, I would call it murder.

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