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The ‘total storm’ blew up the wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in Western Europe

The ‘total storm’ blew up the wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in Western Europe
Passengers wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at Heathrow Airport in London, England, January 7, 2022. Photo: THX/VNA

After more than a month of recording a decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases across most of the region, countries such as the UK, France, Germany and Italy have all witnessed a resurgence of the disease wave with a sharp increase in the number of cases. in recent days.

In France, the number of new cases has increased by more than 33% in a week since the government of this country lifted most of the epidemic prevention restrictions on March 14.

In Germany, although the number of new cases per day was at a record high of nearly 300,000 on March 18, the National Assembly of this country still passed a decision allowing the lifting of most restrictions across the country on time. March 20th. However, most German states still maintain these epidemic prevention restrictions.

In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government over the weekend announced a plan to gradually lift almost all restrictions by May 1, despite the increasing number of new COVID-19 cases.

In the UK, where 1 in 20 people is currently infected, the government lifted the last international travel restrictions on March 18.

Meanwhile, facing an increasing number of new cases, Austria over the weekend announced it would re-impose the FFP2 mask wearing rule, just weeks after Vienna lifted this measure.

While some argue that the increase in epidemics is due to the hasty easing of restrictive measures by governments, epidemiologists point out that the BA.2 subline of the Omicron variant, also known as Omicron. is the “stealth Omicron” that is dominating in many countries. BA.2 is estimated to have spread about 30% faster than the original Omicron variant (BA.1).

Virologist Lawrence Young at Britain’s University of Warwick attributed the rise in new cases in Europe to “a perfect storm” of three factors: lifting of restrictions, a decline in immunity. outbreaks over time after vaccination and the rate of spread of the BA.2 subline.

Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, agrees on this issue, adding that there is a “strong correlation” between the new COVID-19 outbreak and the severity of the disease. Air pollution is on the rise in Western Europe.

Meanwhile, Professor Simon Clarke, professor of cell microbiology at the University of Reading, said the BA.2 sublineage seems to be the cause of the sharp increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases and this again reflects situation can change rapidly as the virus mutates.

To bolster dwindling immunity, some countries like France have begun rolling out a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The UK is also planning to launch a similar vaccination campaign this week for people living in nursing homes, people over 75 and immunocompromised cases. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that it is likely that new variants will continue to appear if rich countries continue to give booster shots to their citizens instead of sharing vaccines with other countries. There are many people who have not received any vaccine against COVID-19.

For his part, Jean-Francois Delfraissy, chairman of the French Government’s Scientific Advisory Board, warned of potential variations that could emerge this fall, or even earlier. No scientist knew in advance whether that variant would be more transmissible, more virulent, and able to evade immunity generated by vaccination.

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