For most of the fall, the UK suffered the worst Covid-19 wave in Western Europe.
However, a surge in coronavirus infections and hospital admissions on the continent in recent weeks in opposition to the fast-paced booster launch in the UK has sparked a change of fate.
The UK’s daily number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 currently lags behind more than 10 European countries, including Belgium and Greece, while the UK’s daily rate of Covid-related deaths per 100,000 is 40% lower than the EU average. Time analysis of official data.
Some Western European countries now have a lower incidence than the UK, but last week increased by 30% in Germany, 59% in Spain, 83% in France and 8% in the UK.
According to scientists and officials, much of this can be attributed to the successful UK booster jab campaign, while a combination of low vaccine coverage, reduced immunity after infection and subsequent unlocking has left much of Europe on a different trajectory. have been put
Former French health minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, who now serves at the United Nations, said Britain “acted wisely”. [its] We need to pay attention to boosters before the rest of Europe.”
The number of eligible people aged 60 and over in the UK has increased by almost 80%, easing the burden on hospitals in the past two weeks. About 70% of people who received a second dose at least 6 months ago in the UK had a booster dose, compared to 52% in Germany and 43% in Italy.
Jeroen van der Hilst, associate professor of immunopathology at the University of Hasselt in Belgium, said: “The UK has chosen long and broad peaks, but most of Europe will have small but very high peaks.”
“One day unvaccinated people will get infected and they will have to face a breakthrough infection. . . Britain was wise to do so in a relatively calm summer. [as] We are just doing it now.”
Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, added: [over winter] occurred separately.
“In a country like Austria, it’s all happening all at once, creating a perfect storm.”
The UK’s primary immunization rates are also ahead of Europe’s worst-hit countries. In the UK, only 13% of those over 12 years of age did not get their first vaccination, while in Germany and Austria this figure is above 20%.
But John Edmunds, professor of epidemiology modeling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, noted that Britain’s coronavirus strategy “has not been costly”.
As Britain came out of lockdown in early summer, around 15,000 people died from the virus and more than 100,000 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized.
Between mid-July and the beginning of the European wave in October, the UK had the fifth-highest death toll per capita on the continent, but eastern Europe’s surge in deaths has since moved more to several other countries.
Video: How Covid-19 Transformed Hospital Care
Edmunds added that countries like Spain and Portugal, where vaccination rates are high, infection rates are low, and mitigation measures such as wearing masks are still in place, are “in a much better position”.
Woolhouse noted that the UK “has had a huge amount of natural exposure” due to high levels of infection since the summer. This means that overall immune protection could be “top-notch” in Europe.
Viola Priesemann, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Epidemiology and Self-Organization in Göttingen, said Britain and Germany’s responses could stem from “calculating different risks.”
In Germany, daily Covid-19 cases are approaching UK levels, and outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel warned this week that current measures are “not enough”. In contrast, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson argued this week that “there is nothing in the data suggesting a move to Plan B”.
“There is a fundamentally different attitude to accepting pressure from hospitals,” Priesemann said.
AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot said a coronavirus vaccine developed this week with the University of Oxford could help prevent serious Covid-19 disease in older people longer, in contrast to lower hospitalization rates in the UK than in many parts of Europe. mentioned that there is.
But Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said: [the difference] in one way”.
Priesemann added that England will “probably get more” from the booster campaign because of the “more dramatic weakening of immunity” associated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.
Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, predicts that a “negligible amount” of people will be hospitalized during the winter.
According to the UK Health Security Agency, protection against symptomatic infection was 93.1% for people over 50 who originally received the AstraZeneca Zab and 94% for BioNTech/Pfizer recipients two weeks after receiving the Pfizer booster.
“acquisition [those with boosters] Deviating from the equation will prove essential to the healthcare system,” Spector said.
Nicola Low, an epidemiologist at the University of Bern and a member of the Swiss government’s coronavirus science task force, said, “It will take a terrible time to overcome the acute phase of the epidemic. . . Yes, the third dose will be important.”
She added: “Really, we should stop calling them boosters and start calling them third doses, because the triple dose regimen is most likely what you need to protect you.”
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