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Covid cases break records in Europe, prompting rethinking of recall fire

Coronavirus infections broke records in parts of Europe on Wednesday, with the continent once again the epicenter of a pandemic that has prompted new traffic brakes and is causing health experts to rethink booster vaccines .

Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary have all reported new highs of daily infections as winter grips Europe and people gather indoors as Christmas approaches, offering a ideal breeding ground for COVID-19.

The disease swept the world in the two years since it was first identified in central China, infecting more than 258 million people and killing 5.4 million people.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the EU’s public health agency, has recommended vaccine boosters for all adults, with priority for those over 40, in a major change compared to its previous guidelines which suggested that additional doses should be considered for the elderly. frail people and those with weakened immune systems.

“The available evidence from Israel and the UK shows a significant increase in protection against serious infection and disease after a booster dose in all age groups in the short term,” ECDC said in a report released Wednesday.

Many countries in the EU have already started giving booster doses to their populations, but use different criteria to set different priorities and intervals between first injections and boosters.

ECDC chief Andrea Ammon said the boosters would increase protection against infections caused by declining immunity and “could potentially reduce transmission in the population and prevent additional hospitalizations and deaths.”

She advised countries with low immunization levels to speed up their roll-out and warned of the high risks of a further increase in the number of deaths and hospitalizations in Europe in December and January if the recommended measures are not introduced.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, acknowledging Europe was again at epicenter of pandemic, warned of ‘false sense of security’ over vaccine protection .

“No country has come out of the woods,” he told reporters, adding that he hoped a consensus could be found at a World Trade Organization ministerial meeting next week for a intellectual property waiver for pandemic vaccines, already supported by more than 100 countries.

Sweden will start gradually rolling out boosters for all adults, government and health officials said. Booster injections of mRNA vaccine have been offered to people 65 years of age or older, with a view to possibly extending the injections to other groups.

“We are facing an uncertain winter,” Health Minister Lena Hallengren told a press conference. “You can help by staying home if you’re sick or getting the shot if you haven’t already, and taking your booster when offered.”

Slovakia reported its largest daily increase in cases on Wednesday, just ahead of a government meeting likely to agree on a short-term lockdown to quell the world’s fastest outbreak of infections.

Neighboring Austria has already locked up its population this week for at least 10 days, becoming the first to reimpose such restrictions. The entire population will also have to be vaccinated from February 1, exasperating many in a country where skepticism about state mandates affecting individual freedoms is high.

The Czech Republic reported its biggest daily increase in infections, with cases surpassing 25,000 for the first time and putting more pressure on hospitals. The government is seeking to introduce mandatory vaccines for people over 60 and certain professions, such as healthcare workers.

Hungary has reported a record 12,637 new daily cases of COVID-19.

The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, which opposes new containment measures for fear of stifling the economy, launched a vaccination campaign this week, offering vaccines without prior registration.

But the idea of ​​compulsory vaccinations has also raised concerns among Hungarians.

“Making the vaccine mandatory is a difficult thing because it could severely limit people, including making a living, so I think such a decision should be made very carefully,” Zsuzsanna Koszoru said as she stood in line. for a reminder.

France will announce new COVID containment measures on Thursday as the infection rate rises nationwide. Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said he wanted to avoid major impediments to public life, preferring to strengthen social distancing rules and speed up his recall campaign.

Italy should restrict access to some indoor sites to people who have not been vaccinated. The Dutch government will announce new measures on Friday.

Many parts of Germany have already started to impose tougher rules amid the country’s worst COVID wave to date as the curtain falls on the Angela Merkel era, including requiring those vaccinated to test negative for attend indoor events.

Outgoing Health Minister Jens Spahn said Monday that by the end of winter almost everyone in Germany would be “vaccinated, cured or dead”.

First publication: STI


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