The fourth wave hits Europe

Credit: Jan Hetfleisch

AUSTRIA Unvaccinated people who go out on the streets will be fined 500 euros (Credit: Jan Hetfleisch)

NETHERLANDS Faced with the increase in contagion, the government resumes measures of social isolation (Credit:Jeffrey Groeneweg)

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned skeptics and deniers to change their minds about the need to get vaccinated. The number of Covid-19 cases in the country has grown at high speed in recent weeks and confirms the arrival of a fourth wave of the disease, which mainly afflicts Northern and Eastern Europe, precisely where there is a persistent anti-vaccination movement. As has been happening in other countries, Merkel called the local situation “dramatic” and called for a concerted effort to get booster shots distributed in Germany more quickly so that people can immunize themselves. “It’s not too late to opt for a first vaccine,” the chancellor said at a convention of German city mayors. “Everyone who is vaccinated protects himself and protects others. This is the way out of the pandemic.” But the situation at the moment runs counter to Germanic logic. The number of infected Germans has increased exponentially and is approaching 100,000 deaths. The immunization campaign has stalled because on the continent that boasts of Enlightenment rationality, a high number of people deny science and refuse the vaccine.

GERMANY Angela Merkel called the situation in the country dramatic (Credit:AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The European Union’s Center for Disease Control (ECDC) declared that the epidemiological situation in the block is “a rapid and significant increase in cases and a slow decline in the mortality rate”. Countries like Belgium, Holland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic are in a situation classified as “very worrying” by the agency. And the explanation is clear. In Bulgaria, for example, first dose vaccination coverage is around 30%. The director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Europe, Hans Kluge, said that the region was once again the epicenter of the pandemic. Overall, the performance of national vaccination campaigns is poor – 90% of Covid cases occur in unvaccinated people. The head professor at the Institute of Chemistry at Unicamp, Luiz Carlos Dias, says that this situation was foreseen. “The pandemic will continue to spread among the unvaccinated and in this group, serious cases of hospitalization and deaths will increase”, he says. “Furthermore, sooner or later, these people must transmit the virus to immunized people.”

RUSSIA Population rejects vaccination and the number of hospitalizations and deaths increases (Credit:Ilya Pitalev )

In the case of Germany, the situation only gets worse. There were 53,000 infections registered this week, 13,000 more than the previous week, in addition to 294 deaths in 24 hours. In Russia, records of infections and deaths are broken weekly, even as the country is under strict containment rules. “The virus is a specialist in the human organism, people will have to choose between getting vaccinated or dying”, says Gonzalo Vecina, a health doctor. He understands that the more waves of contamination there are, the more highly infectious mutations, such as Delta and Gamma, can appear. Disinformation caused by false news is an answer. “The force of fake news hits idiots and they are all over the world”, emphasizes Vecina.

However, there are points outside the curve like France, with 75% of people immunized, and Spain, with almost 80%.
The challenge now is to convince the unvaccinated to get immunized. In Austria, faced with a new record of contagion, the government decreed a lockdown for people who refuse immunization. If they go out on the streets, they may be fined 500 euros (R$3.3 thousand). The measure made Austria the first European nation to resume strict confinement, as happened last year at the beginning of the pandemic. So far in the country, only 65% ​​of the population has been vaccinated, a percentage lower than the European average, which is 67%. Netherlands, Belgium and Germany also resumed restrictive measures. As the European winter approaches, a period of greater susceptibility to respiratory infections begins. What is not acceptable is for people in the most developed regions of the planet to selfishly despise science, without taking into account the impact on society of their resistance to immunization. If there is a striking feature of this fourth wave that devastates Europe, it is that the responsibility for it can be placed entirely on the back of the deniers and the anti-vaccination movement, which are limiting the scope of protection and generating inopportune doubts among the population.

About Abhishek Pratap

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