What Europe’s new covid wave means – and what it does not

“We need a combination of measures,” said Spector, who runs the ZOE Covid study at King’s College London. “How high we want these rates to be is determined by our complacency and our relaxation of some of the rules we had in place, which I thought last year were on the high side, and now this year I think are inadequate.”

Despite this, vaccination rates are the most important factor explaining the difference between countries like Croatia and Italy.

Many Eastern European countries have lower vaccination rates than some of their neighbors: Croatia, for example. 46% fully vaccinated, while Slovakia has 43%. (The European average is around 56%.) Unvaccinated people are driving the increase in numbers, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said in announcing his country’s new shutdown: “The [daily infection] the rate for the unvaccinated is over 1,700, while for the vaccinated it is 383. ”

Where vaccination rates are higher, the result is less serious illness and death – even if the transmission is high. In the UK, 80% of people over 12 have e.g. received two doses of covid vaccine.

“The countries that do best are those with high vaccine coverage and effective measures,” says Salathé. “The worst countries are those that have none of the parts. Most people are in the middle. ”

However, even when vaccination rates are high and the pressure of cases is relatively low, it may not be enough for long-term protection – especially given the fading effectiveness of vaccines over time.

“The UK rolled out a vaccination program earlier than most countries and has therefore experienced the effects of declining immunity in the past,” said Michael Head, a senior researcher in global health at the University of Southampton. “The boosters here in the UK are clearly having an impact around hospital admissions and new cases in elderly populations.”

This means that it continues to be crucial to continue vaccinating people and to increase the immune response of people who were vaccinated early in the cycle.

“Where we see uncontrolled outbreaks, we also see the emergence of new varieties of interest and concern, and we really do not want any new varieties to become dominant and have a greater impact on the effectiveness of our vaccines,” he says. . “Ultimately, the world cannot completely relax until the vast majority of the world is vaccinated. The combination of hesitation with vaccines and lack of access to vaccines is everyone’s problem. “

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