The Covid-19 pandemic is returning to the center of fears in Europe. Germany, France, Denmark, Austria and Eastern European countries are showing increasing rates in the number of cases and deaths from the disease. Infections are also increasing in Russia, which is divided between Europe and Asia.
On November 4, the World Health Organization (WHO) issue an alert Europe is once again the epicenter of the epidemic. According to the World Health Organization, countries in Europe and Central Asia have different levels of vaccination implementation. In the statement, the organization said that only 47% of European and Central Asian citizens had completed the vaccination schedule. While eight countries have already passed 70% coverage, the rate in two is still less than 10%.
According to the World Health Organization, where adherence to the vaccine is low – in the Baltic states, Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans – hospitalization rates are high.
“We must change our response tactics to the Covid-19 outbreak to prevent it from happening in the first place,” Hans-Henri Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said in a press release.
Experts advise them CNN Help explain the epidemic scenario in Europe and warn of how the epidemic will affect Brazil in the coming months.
As winter approaches, temperatures begin to drop in most temperate countries, such as Europe. Unlike Brazil, the coldest season of the year is usually very cold, with closed weather and the presence of snow.
Climatic conditions favor changes in behavior, which causes people to spend more time together indoors in search of comfort and warmth.
Eastern European countries such as Slovenia, Croatia, Georgia, Slovakia and Lithuania are among those with the highest rates of new cases on the continent (See the table below). Other countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Russia also have increasing numbers of the disease.
And Germany, Thursday (11), recorded another daily record of cases, with more than 50 thousand new infections within 24 hours. The country’s moving average of cases is around 31,000, just below the UK’s 33,000. On the other hand, Russia submitted an average of 40,000 new cases per day in the past week.
“During the winter, people tend to congregate in enclosed spaces, and associated with that, countries are becoming more resilient regardless of the vaccination coverage rate,” said Julio Cruda, an infectious disease specialist at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Viocruz).
It is worth noting that what changes is the behavior of people, not the virus itself. According to virologists, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, has similar transmission capabilities in hot and cold environments. To reinforce the hypothesis, experts use as an example the large number of cases recorded in Brazil between December 2020 and March 2021, the period of summer in the southern hemisphere.
For infectious scientist Julio Croda, the increase in hospitalizations and deaths also reflects gaps in Covid-19 vaccination programmes.
The vaccine protects against symptomatic infections and prevents 50% of transmission. The vaccine has its role and effect in reducing transmission by generating group immunity,” he says.
“If your vaccination rate is between 50% to 70%, the rate is still not ideal, there is no herd immunity, and the virus can continue to spread. If the vaccination rate is not high, there will be an increase in hospitalization and mortality,” he continues.
The researcher Vucruz estimates that vaccine adherence is difficult in Europe, which does not suffer from a shortage of doses but is facing resistance to the anti-vaccine movement.
There is denial, a very strong anti-vaccination movement, and a lack of governments to enforce restrictive measures such as the permissibility of vaccination, persuasion and communication strategies to make people aware of the importance of vaccination. A vaccine is not an individual action, it is a collective action, if everyone is vaccinated, we will have less spread of the virus,” he highlights.
Although the anti-vaccination movement in Brazil does not have the same impact as countries in Europe and the United States, the Vuecruz researcher stresses that the global context should serve as a warning to the country.
“Brazil has to be concerned, yes. Last year, at this very moment, we had fewer cases. We made it more flexible, there were clusters associated with end-of-year celebrations and there was an increase in cases in the country with the emergence of the gamma variable ‘, he points out.
alert for brazil
For professionals, advances in vaccination in Europe led to an early relaxation of restrictive measures, including the removal of the mandatory use of masks.
“These countries have made the use of masks more flexible, which is something Brazil is trying to do without having the conditions yet, without proper vaccination coverage for the second dose. The countries that, in a way, have the worst indicators are the ones with the least vaccination coverage. in Europe.
For the researcher, this year the impact tends to be lower, due to the advancement of vaccination. However, increases in hospitalizations and deaths can occur mainly in states with low rates of full vaccination coverage (2 or 1 doses of Janssen), such as Roraima (28%), Amapá (34%) and Pará (39%) .
According to Kroda, the safe resumption of activities and social interaction depends on complete immunization and maintaining the use of masks.
“Ensuring you are fully vaccinated reduces transmission. A group able to receive the third dose should do so as soon as possible to ensure further protection. Maintaining the use of masks and avoiding clumps are key, as these are measures that reduce transmission,” he concludes. .
Researcher Jose Eduardo Levy, of the University of São Paulo (USP), highlights the need to expand testing for Covid-19 in Brazil. “It is important to invest heavily in surveillance as a public health measure. Testing is still not easy and prevalent in Brazil, to enter schools or the work environment, for example,” he said.
The virologist stresses the need to intensify monitoring of variants of the new coronavirus, especially with the increase in cases in Europe. According to him, the emergence of a new strain, with a greater potential for transmission, such as the delta variant, could lead to new waves of cases and hospitalizations.
Currently, there is no alternative that would justify this significant increase in cases in Europe. Still the same delta. I don’t think there is a justification for closing the borders, as long as there are no new variables there, but constant monitoring is necessary,” he concludes.
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