Reluctance to vaccination
The number of cases may be high in some Western European countries, but thanks to vaccines, Covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations have remained largely stable compared to their Eastern counterparts.
From Monday, Romania will reintroduce nighttime curfews and make health passes mandatory for most sites, days after registering 19.25 deaths per million people – one of the Covid death rates – 19 highest in the world per capita.
Neighboring Ukraine reported its highest daily count of Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began on Thursday, of 22,415 cases, days after President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with nationals to get vaccinated, saying it ‘was the only way to prevent a lockdown.
“There are two paths at this crossroads: vaccination or lockdown,” Zelensky said in a TV interview with Ukrainian broadcaster ICTV on Monday. “Every day we face this challenge and this choice. I am totally against containment … because of the economy.”
“Of course, not everything that needed to be done to inform and explain the inevitability and importance of vaccination,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters as the Kremlin recognized partial responsibility for the low vaccination rates. “But at the same time, the citizens of our country need to take a more responsible stance and get vaccinated,” he said.
No silver bullets
Western Europe will not reach the crisis levels we have seen in the past – with the establishment of field hospitals – [because] vaccines have definitely been a game-changer and in that sense there should be plenty of reasons for optimism, ”said health expert Drobac.
The UK is showing, however, that vaccines are not a silver bullet, he added.
But his government has rejected such a move even as hospitalizations and deaths rise. Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Care, told Sky News on Sunday that the country’s health services were already in “a terrible place” due to Covid-19. Emergency services across the UK are “already struggling to cope” with the “big queues” of ambulances piling up outside, she said.
Instead, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people over 50 and those at high risk of Covid-19 to get a booster shot in a bid to overcome the decline in vaccine protection after six months.
This will not be enough amid skyrocketing cases which may be fertile ground for the creation of new variants. The UK Health Security Agency on Friday named a descendant of the Delta variant, AY.4.2, a “variant under investigation” due to “some early evidence that it may have an increased growth rate in the UK compared to Delta, ”the government said. agency wrote.
“In the UK, the strategy has been very much about letting vaccinations do all the work. And I don’t think that’s going to be enough,” Drobac said.
It is a dangerous strategy that relies on infecting the unvaccinated, such as children, to create a “level of overall population immunity against natural infections and vaccination,” he said. “The problem with this, of course, is that it not only allows an unacceptable level of hospitalizations and deaths, but also that it may not work,” he added.
As UK drags its feet on new measures, Ireland holds back dropping pandemic restrictions amid resurgence of cases despite one of Europe’s highest vaccination rates – by 92% of the fully vaccinated population, according to ECDC.
At a press conference last Tuesday, Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said that passes for the Covid-19 vaccine will remain in place for hospitality and indoor events, masks will continue to be mandatory in Indoor public spaces and indoor hospitality will be limited to table service only.
Tara John has written and reported from London. Rob Picheta, Niamh Kennedy, Ivana Kottasová, Frederik Pleitgen, Hannah Ritchie, Sharon Braithwaite, Allegra Goodwin and Katharina Krebs contributed to this piece.