Europe “urgently” needs measures to deal with the outbreak of the pandemic of coronavirus, because otherwise the health burden will be “too heavy” between January and March 2022, said a European Union agency on Wednesday, 24 hours after a WHO warning about the risk of a catastrophe this winter.
With more than 2.5 million cases and nearly 30,000 deaths registered in a week, The Old Continent is by far the region of the world most affected by the pandemic, according to official data collected by AFP. And the trend continues to rise, especially in countries where the vaccination rate is lower.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the EU health agency in charge of epidemics, recommended this Wednesday speed up vaccination and generalize a booster dose for all citizens over 18 years of age, giving priority to people who are over 40 years old.
The European agency also urged an increase in the general level of vaccination in the EU, especially in the most backward countries.
Europe faces the risk of having to bear a “too heavy” health burden in the middle of winter “if public health measures are not applied urgently,” the ECDC warned.
On Tuesday, the WHO Europe said it fears an additional 700,000 deaths before the boreal spring in its area as a whole, which includes 50 countries in Europe and Central Asia. This entire area has already registered 1.5 million deaths.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus, highly contagious, reduced to 40% the effectiveness of vaccines against the transmission of the disease, highlighted on Wednesday the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
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“Vaccines save lives, but they do not totally prevent the transmission of covid-19”, explained. “There is data that suggests that before the arrival of the delta variant, vaccines reduced transmission by 60% but, with the appearance of this variant, they fell to 40%”, noted during a press conference.
The general level of vaccination in the European Union and the three countries of the European Economic Area, still less than 70% of the total population, reflects a wide lack of vaccination “which cannot be resolved quickly and leaves the virus free to spread” ECDC stressed on Wednesday.
In the EU, 67.7% of the population has received two doses of the vaccine, but the differences between countries are enormous. For example, only 24.2% of Bulgarians are vaccinated, against 86.7% of Portuguese.
“We must urgently focus on compensating for this delay in immunity, proposing booster doses to all adults and reintroducing non-pharmaceutical measures”, ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said in a video statement.
This same Wednesday, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, assured that the booster doses of the anticovid vaccine should be “available” for adults in the EU, in priority for those over 40 years of age.
“The doses have to be available to adults, prioritizing people over 40 and vulnerable people”, the person in charge said in a message on Twitter.
On Wednesday, Sweden announced that it was offering a third dose to all adults.
In other European countries, restrictions increase due to the advance of the pandemic. France prepares to announce new measures on Thursday, among them the “acceleration of vaccination”, the “reinforcement of the health passport” and of social distance and use of a mask.
In Italy, the government decided that from December 6, unvaccinated people will not be able to access restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters, nightclubs or gyms.
In addition, all Italians over 40 years of age will be able to receive the third dose, once at least five months have elapsed since the second.
New restrictions were also enacted in Slovakia, with the closure of nonessential restaurants and shops starting Thursday.
In a context of generalized population fatigue, the fight against the pandemic faces social discontent. In recent days, Austria and especially the Netherlands, registered violent demonstrations against the sanitary measures reinstated to stop this new wave of the virus.
According to the WHO, the rise in the pandemic in Europe is explained by the prevalence of the highly contagious delta variant, insufficient vaccination and the relaxation of anticovid measures.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.