European Union countries risk another wave of the virus if they ease restrictions now, health officials warn.
There is a high risk of an increase in the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths in European countries with insufficient vaccination coverage if they relax restrictions on Covid-19 in the coming weeks, according to a new report from the European Center for disease prevention and control.
So far, just over 62 percent of the European Union’s total population is fully vaccinated, and only three of its 27 member countries have fully vaccinated more than 75 percent of their residents, according to data from the ‘agency.
This level of vaccine coverage is not enough to prevent the spread of the virus when the restrictions on Covid-19 are relaxed, the agency warned, especially now that the highly contagious Delta variant is behind almost all new ones. coronavirus cases reported on the mainland.
“Countries should continuously strive to increase their immunization coverage in all eligible age groups, regardless of current immunization coverage levels,” said Andrea Ammon, director of the agency.
Anticipating a wave of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths if precautions are relaxed soon, Ms Ammon said it may be necessary to maintain Covid-19 restrictions until the end of November.
The report comes at a time when most children in the European Union have resumed their studies in person, with no coronavirus vaccines having yet been cleared for children under 12. For this reason, it is particularly important that the education system implements preventive measures, says the report. The European Medicines Agency, the block’s medicines regulatory body, said last week that it would decide in early November whether or not to approve the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children under 12.
Overall, the European Union is well advanced in vaccination efforts; more than 73 percent of adults in the block are fully vaccinated. But there are considerable differences from country to country.
Eastern countries like Romania and Bulgaria are far behind richer countries to the west, putting a large part of the bloc’s population at risk. The agency’s report said it was crucial for these countries to increase their immunization rates, understanding why residents are not getting immunized and adopting appropriate policies to reach groups with particularly low immunization.