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Covid live: Austrian province to restrict unvaccinated people; Netherlands considers new partial lockdown | World news


Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at Exeter University College of Medicine and Health, has told Associated Press that in Western Europe the large pool of unvaccinated people combined with a widespread post-lockdown resumption of socializing and a slight decline in immunity for people who got their shots months ago is driving up the pace of infections.

Many European countries now use Covid passes — proof of full vaccination, recovery from the virus or a negative test result — to access venues like bars and restaurants. Pankhania warned that the passes can give a false sense of security since fully vaccinated people can still get infected — though their chances of dying or getting seriously sick are dramatically lower.

Thanks largely to vaccination, hospitals in Western Europe are not under the same pressure they were earlier in the pandemic, but many are still straining to handle rising numbers of Covid patients while also attempting to clear backlogs of tests and surgeries with exhausted or sick staff.

Mike Corder for Associated Press writes that the question now is if countries can tamp down this latest upswing without resorting to stringent shutdowns that devastated economies, disrupted education and weighed on mental health. Experts say probably — but authorities can’t avoid all restrictions and must boost vaccination rates.

“I think the era of locking people up in their homes is over because we now have tools to control Covid — the testing, vaccines and therapeutics,” said Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh. “So I hope people will do the things they have to do, like put on a mask.”

Spain, once one of Europe’s hardest hit nations, perhaps offers an example of how the risks can be managed.

It has vaccinated 80% of its population, and while face masks are no longer mandatory outdoors, many people still wear them.

While infections have ticked up slightly recently, Rafael Bengoa, one of Spain’s leading public health experts, said that given the high vaccination rate, “the virus won’t be able to dominate us again.”

Pankhania says that no single measure will control the pandemic. “To really control it, it has to be multi-layered … avoid crowds, avoid poorly ventilated places, be immunized, wear your mask,” he said.



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