Brussels is warning of a vaccination “plateau” in the EU despite the rising number of Covid-19 infections as it urges member states to step up campaigns before autumn and winter.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said there is a risk of people being caught off guard during the summer months and health ministries need to do more to prepare for wider outbreaks although “fatigue” is understandable. about the pandemic.
“We need to increase vaccination, we need to expand the reach of boosters, and we need to make sure health systems are ready for future waves,” she said in an interview. “I’m concerned that vaccinations have dropped over the past few months, and we realize tracing and testing may not be as intensive.”
Kyriakides’ comment came after the Financial Times report The EU, member states and BioNTech/Pfizer have held talks to delay part of their deliveries to 2024 amid multiple efforts, with the plan receiving tentative backing from companies and Brussels.
The current contract only runs until 2023. Some Moderna deliveries are likely to be pushed back to the first few months of next year, even if the contract is only for 2022.
Kyriakides said after write for EU health ministers to warn of a “disturbing increase” in cases underway in the EU, including increasing rates of serious illness and hospitalizations and intensive care, prompting urged them to do more to prepare for what could be a tough fall and winter on the block.
The steps the commissioner is urging include deploying year-round testing and surveillance capacity for acute respiratory illnesses this winter and beyond, as well as aligning care supplies health and prepare to reintroduce masks and social distancing.
But she made it clear that the bland pace of vaccination campaigns was a top concern given the short time faced before cold and flu seasons.
In early July, European health authorities recommended expanding eligibility for a second Covid vaccine to people over 60 years of age, as highly transmissible variants increase the odds. hospitalization rates across the continent.
Despite that advice, less than 65% of adults are health-promoting in the EU, while almost 15% are completely unvaccinated.
“The summer months are the months when we need to ramp up our preparedness for what might be ahead, in terms of vaccines, treatments and medical devices,” she said.
For people over 60 and vulnerable groups, use a supplemental booster immediately to ensure they are protected against the ongoing wave, Kyriakides said. When asked if she thinks there is a need for new shots adapted for the latest variants of infectious diseases in the EU, Kyriakides insists that existing vaccines are still effective. against circulating versions of the virus.
The committee said the slow pace of vaccination could be partly due to the fact that people are waiting for the arrival of vaccines adapted for new variants, which could be approved in September, commissioner said. But instead, individuals need to be immunized “as quickly as possible” with current vaccines.
The plateau, she said, is due to a variety of issues, including “a feeling that the pandemic may be going down or over,” as well as a feeling of vaccine fatigue.
“There’s been a lot of talk that conventional vaccines don’t offer protection, so let’s wait for the new, tailored vaccines to come out in the fall or winter. There are a lot of elements there.” But she insisted: “There is no time to lose.”