Third wave of Covid hits Europe, France and Germany, expect more closures


Members of the medical staff verify a patient’s information in the pulmonology unit of the AP-HP Cochin hospital, in Paris, on March 18, 2021, as the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 is increasing in the capital French.

CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT | AFP | fake images

More than a year after the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, Europe continues to fight the virus amid a third wave of infections and increased lockdown measures.

At the same time, vaccine launch from the bloc remains sluggish, plagued by manufacturing issues and supply issues, as European Union leaders meet this week to discuss, once again, the introduction of potential Vaccine export bans.

It comes as a handful of countries reintroduce lockdowns to stem a third wave of infections, with France, Poland and Ukraine implementing stricter measures over the weekend that will last at least several weeks.

A month-long partial lockdown was reintroduced on Saturday in Paris, as well as 15 other regions of France, in an effort to overcome the growing number of cases, largely attributed to new, more infectious Covid variants.

However, the latest partial lockdown is less strict than previous ones, leading some to question the meaning of such a move, while others have said the new measures are confusing. The curfew remains in force and interregional travel is still effectively prohibited. Around 21 million people in France are affected by the new rules.

The country reported more than 30,000 new cases a day on Sunday, bringing the country’s total number of infections to more than 4.2 million. More than 92,000 people have died from the virus in France to date.

Meanwhile, Europe’s largest economy, Germany, could be poised to extend a national lockdown until April as the country also battles a third wave of Covid-19 cases. Several states have reportedly called for an extension of the current restrictions, as the Covid incidence rate exceeded 100 cases per 100,000 people, a level the government previously said would lead it to implement an “emergency brake,” a stalling of the lifting of the blocking measures, to prevent further spread.

The move would be a blow to Germany, which had begun to ease closure measures, allowing schools to reopen in February and some non-essential stores to admit customers again earlier this month.

Vaccine fights

With much of the EU experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, the bloc’s vaccine launch remains slow and contentious.

EU leaders will meet virtually on Thursday to discuss whether to block vaccine exports while supplies within the region remain tight and its vaccination program lags behind those of other developed nations.

The EU was criticized for ordering bulk coronavirus vaccines later than the UK and US, and subsequently had to deal with supply problems, despite two of the vaccines it has authorized for use, the injections from Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-University of Oxford. being manufactured in the EU.

There are reports that the EU could block exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine that is being manufactured in a Dutch plant, a move that could also jeopardize the successful launch of the vaccine in the UK. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to reach out to his European counterparts to try to resolve the stalemate over vaccines.

The launch of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine has faced several hurdles in recent weeks, with a handful of European countries suspending use of the injection due to concerns about a possible link to reports of blood clots.

The World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency conducted safety reviews of the vaccine, and the latter ruled last Thursday that it is safe and effective and that the benefits outweigh any risks.

The finding prompted a revocation of the vaccine’s suspension in most (but not all) European countries that had suspended its use, but the move could damage public confidence in the vaccine, which was already unstable due to questions. misplaced about the efficacy of the vaccine. triggered in those over 65.

Since then, real-world data has shown that the vaccine is highly effective in reducing severe Covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in adults. The vaccine got another boost Monday when the results of a large US trial were released showing the AstraZeneca vaccine to be 79% effective at preventing symptomatic illness and 100% effective against serious illness and hospitalizations.

However, a YouGov poll released on Monday showed that the decision by some European nations to discontinue the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has “greatly damaged public perception of the safety of the vaccine in Europe.”

The survey, conducted in seven European countries (UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark and Sweden) between March 15 and 18, found that people were more likely to view the vaccine as unsafe than safe in France. , Germany, Spain and Sweden. Italy. It should be noted that the survey was conducted during the week in which the vaccine’s safety credentials were questioned, and especially before the EMA published its safety decision on the injection.

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