What Europe’s new Covid surge means – and what doesn’t

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MIT Technology Review

“We need a combination of measures,” said Spector, who leads the ZOE Covid study at King’s College London. “How high these rates should be depends on our complacency and our relaxation of some of the rules that we thought were excessive last year and that I find inadequate this year.”

Even so, vaccination rates are the most important factor that explains the differences between countries like Croatia and Italy.

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

With higher vaccination rates, this leads to less severe illnesses and deaths – even with high transmission. For example, in the UK, 80% of people over the age of 12 have received two doses of the Covid vaccine.

“The countries that do best are those that have a high vaccination rate and effective measures,” says Salathé. “The worst countries are those that have neither. Most are in between. “

But even if vaccination rates are high and falling pressures are relatively low, that may not be enough for long-term protection – especially given the dwindling effectiveness of vaccines over time.

“The UK launched a vaccination program earlier than most countries, so it saw the effects of declining immunity sooner,” said Michael Head, senior research fellow on global health at the University of Southampton. “The boosters here in the UK are clearly having an impact on hospital admissions and new cases among older populations.”

This means that further vaccinating people and boosting the immune response of people who were vaccinated at the beginning of the cycle is still of vital importance.

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

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