“We need a set of measures,” said Spector, who directs the ZOE Covid study at King’s College London. “How much we want those rates to be determined by our indolence and laxity of some of the rules that we set last year that I thought were over the top, and now I think this year they are not enough.”
Despite this, vaccination rates are the most important factor that explains the disparity between countries such as Croatia and Italy.
Many Eastern European countries have lower rates of vaccination than some of their neighbours: Croatia has a full vaccination rate of 46%, for example, while Slovakia is 43%. (The European average is about 56%). Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said when he announced his country’s new lockdown: [daily infection] The rate of the unvaccinated is more than 1,700, while the vaccinated is 383″.
When vaccination rates are higher, the result is less serious illness and death – even if transmission is high. In the UK, 80% of people over the age of 12 have had two doses of the Covid vaccine, for example.
“The best performing countries are those with high vaccine coverage and effective measures,” Salati says. The worst countries are those that do not have either. Most of them are in the middle.”
But even when vaccination rates are high and case pressures are relatively low, this may not be sufficient for long-term protection—especially given the efficacy of vaccines waning over time.
“The UK launched a vaccination program earlier than most countries, so it experienced the effect of waning immunity earlier,” says Michael Head, Senior Researcher in Global Health at the University of Southampton. “It is clear that the reinforcements here in the UK are having an impact in terms of hospitalizations and new cases in the elderly.”
This means that continuing to vaccinate people, and boosting the immune response of people vaccinated early in the cycle, are still very important.
“When we see uncontrolled outbreaks, we also see the emergence of new variables that are of interest and concern, and we don’t really want any new variables to become dominant and have a greater impact on the efficacy of our vaccines,” he says. “Ultimately, the world cannot fully rest until the vast majority of the world is vaccinated. The combination of hesitation with vaccinations and not getting vaccines is everyone’s problem.”